Tag Archive: steve heineman


I tried to write about being married for 7+ years without mentioning kids, but it’s kind of like trying to discuss a laundry machine without mentioning clothes. Let’s get one thing clear straight off the bat: once you have kids, the length of time you are married ceases to be a very important thing. This article is about being married with kids. Deal with it. Kristin and I have been married for seven years, and we have three kids: a five-year old boy, a three-year old girl, and a one-year old boy. As soon as we figure out where they come from, we’ll stop having them.

What has changed since that memorable December day 7+ years ago when we said “I do”? Everything. Has our relationship gotten “better”? No. Oh, so it’s worse? Also no. What? It has transformed into something completely different than what it was, in the same way that you are not the same person you were at 14 as you are today. Am I going to do this whole article by asking questions and answering them? No. I hate it when that literary device gets overused. Don’t you? Yes, yes you do.

The short story of our marriage to this point goes something like this: We focused on each other, worked two jobs, and lived happily and extremely unfettered lives. Then we had kids, and life got harder. One job, shifted focus, more fetters. I was told by a wise friend that, once our first kid came around, my time with my wife would be cut by about 25%. He was dead-on. (Roughly the same ratio works each time you add a kid, by the way. I assume that, if we have 6 kids, we will be actively ignoring/avoiding each other 50% of the time.) Our relationship slowed down, just like traffic does when there’s a bad accident across the grass median. After the first few months, we got a handle on parenting enough where we could have normal conversations again and we discovered our relationship had changed.

For better or for worse, we had sworn. It wasn’t better. It wasn’t worse. When we looked at the structure of our lives, we realized that we had the added responsibility of making sure our son didn’t die because we forgot to do something like feed him, or buckle his car seat, or not sit him on the counter next to the knife block so we could answer our phone. Our focus drifted from each other to the dumber, needier entity in our family. We were in this thing together still, but we were now side-by-side… not face-to-face.

Two years later, our second child was born. Suddenly, the relationship changed again. I used to think that “having a kid” was the threshold, but there is added responsibility to your partner when there are two little ones to watch and keep away from the dog poop in our front yard when we don’t even have a dog (thanks a lot, neighborhood jerk). We began to realize that we were both burdened under this responsibility, and that there was no longer the expectation of “not having one child assigned to me at all times”. Two kids, two parents, one-on-one “man” defense. The best thing we did for each other during this early period was letting the other one get out of the house for a few hours. Those nights, if the stay-at-home partner had energy, we had great connection time with each other. We understood that we were taking turns taking bullets for each other. We appreciated it and loved each other all the more for it.

Our third kid came around, and our relationship hit a wall. You would think we would have expected it by now, but the truth is that parents keep thinking the next newborn will be easier to handle because we have experience. The truth is, we were now outnumbered. Zone defense, and the other side is always on a power play. The “easy” job was to just be responsible for one of the three kids. There were no “several hour breaks” like we allowed each other with two kids. There was a heavy sense of guilt if I decided to leave for a few hours and let Kristin handle the kids. I knew that it wasn’t earning me any points, and if I took advantage of time outside of the home that I could expect to go to bed after reading for awhile- and nothing else. No connection time. Kristin would be mad or spent or both.

Not that sex was (or is) used as a carrot/stick situation. Good Lord, let me try to avoid analogies when talking about sex. That just sounded creepy and gross. What I mean to say is, each successive kid has made it that much harder to have any energy or focus left for each other at the end of the day. It is very likely that one out of three kids will be having a bad day on any given day and require extra attention. That means that the other parent pulls “double duty” caring for the other two, and… sorry, my brain went to sleep typing that. I had to put all three kids to bed by myself tonight. Kristin is babysitting elsewhere, so I know we’ll both be spent by the time she gets home. I might even go to sleep before she gets home.

We celebrated seven years together as I assume any couple does: I went to the pharmacy and got her a cheap card, as well as some anti-itch cream and some scratch-off tickets (I was going with the whole “7-year itch” theme. I’m hilarious in my own mind). She didn’t get me anything, which is exactly what I was expecting: she had purchased me a 6-pack of beer from a “fancy” brewery earlier that week, and I still had some left- that was my present. We both knew it; it didn’t need to be said. She was exceedingly happy about the card and the stupid, cheap presents I got her. I was so happy I went overboard and had two beers, which is a lot when I’m tired and the kids will be up in six hours. Then we settled down to watch TV together. And do nothing else. Ah, sweet wedded bliss.

One thing we’ve noticed in the past year- and are actively working to defeat- is the situation that crops up from time to time where we are more roommates than a married couple. I’m sure you have read some of it here and it appalls you. Maybe you identify with it, and are secretly celebrating that someone else realizes it isn’t all goo-goo eyes and roses. It is so easy to get comfortable in routines, especially when we tell ourselves- and each other- that the kids need so much attention. It is easy to accept that the finances suck so we won’t be celebrating each other in any real fashion. It is almost a badge of honor to know that I don’t need to say anything, and Kristin will remember to feed the dog and take her out. (We got the dog, an Australian Shepherd mix, shortly after having our third kid. I have no idea how I convinced my wife it was a good idea. I sometimes even bring myself to clean the poop in the front yard. Sorry, neighborhood jerk. I misjudged you, and it was wrong of me. I understand you so much better now.)

The best thing about our marriage is that we DO talk, fight, cuddle, cry together, worship together, and spend free time with each other on purpose. I expect things to get a little easier when the kids get a little more self-sufficient, mainly because people with older kids have told me that’s how it works.

We have a couple of simple rules that we laid down when we got married, and they have served us well:

1. Do not ever mention divorce. Don’t joke about it in the same way you don’t joke about rape. It isn’t a funny thing. Don’t think about it hypothetically, and don’t leave it open as an option. Things may get bad, but we will only get through it together. We will emerge stronger.

2. Don’t lie, even about little things and especially about money. If you bought a $4 coffee, admit it. If you overdrew the account because you used the wrong card, tell me. If I am spending too much on fast food, let me know before it becomes a problem. We handle things better as a team with a common problem and a common goal than we do as two individuals with different information.

3. Don’t sneeze when you’re holding hands. We’re pretty sure that’s how she keeps getting pregnant. 

[For the next post on Year 9 of marriage with Anthea and Philip Godsmark, click here]

Firstly, I want to thank Brett for giving me a podium and his trust. Secondly, I want to thank you for your courage to read anything about the struggles people face with porn and masturbation.

This is not a really short story, but perhaps it is a familiar one. I pray that it is as helpful to you to read it as it was for me to write it.

I was introduced to masturbation before I was introduced to porn. When I was in 7th grade, I played in the school band and one of the older kids- he sat next to me because we played the same odd instrument- brought it up. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but as we usually do in 7th grade, I acted like I did. That night, I went home and tried out what he was talking about. I was hooked. After awhile, I realized visual aids helped the experience along, and I descended into porn addiction.

This was back in the “pay per minutes used” AOL internet days, and I learned quickly where the best and fastest places were to look for porn. The family computer was in my dad’s study (he was a pastor), so I also had to be sly with my surfing- deleting my browsing history (that smile of yours is the smile of recognition, my friend), having multiple screens open, etc. I got really good at hiding my tracks. Too good.

Things continued along these lines for all of high school- I went to a couple of different Christian high schools, where the topic of porn and especially masturbation were never, never discussed in class. I don’t know why. So many of us were looking for direction, wondering what the Bible really had to say about it, who it was really hurting, whether the authority figures in our lives had ever had to deal with these urges in pre-internet times… we never got answers.

When I went to college, things changed. People accepted porn and masturbation as natural, good, normal, and all those other modifiers that made you feel like everything was okay. I went to a large public institution, and they had high-speed internet plugged into every dorm room. It was the worst possible situation for a guy who still didn’t understand the toll porn can take. I would watch tons of it, to the detriment of any social connections I could make. It led me to make the worst decision in my life- sleeping with my girlfriend- because of the enormous pressure and acceptance exerted in the setting I was in. I don’t exactly blame college; I blame my own weak walk with the Lord, my reliance on other structures instead of His will for me.

I left college after that first year, running from myself as much as running to God. I joined an international ministry where I thought I would be safe. I was wrong. While leaving a situation is a good idea in most cases, you can’t very well leave your body or mind behind somewhere. I brought my problems with me. I thought that maybe, if I just had a girlfriend, or if I just got married, this issue would go away. I was looking for the cure in every place I could except through confession, forgiveness, and repentance.

I’d like to say that I found the courage one day to confess my problem. Truth is, I ran from every opportunity to do so. Only slowly- through the working of God and His people present in my life- did I begin to let others know that I was in trouble. I couldn’t say it straight out, but I beat around the bush and dropped enough hints to find out something amazing: I was not alone. Some others in my same boat found the courage to open up to me about their problems, and that allowed me to feel safe enough to let mine out too. It turns out that it is like every other addiction- if you bring it to the light of day, get some outside help and support, and work actively against it, you CAN overcome it and find happiness without it. Porn addiction, sex addiction, these can only be overcome when you stop fighting them alone. God will help you; but He will use His own method to do so. We all want this sin burned out of our lives instantly, never to return. For a few- a small group of people- it happens that way. For the rest of us, the healing process is a journey fraught with fear, peril, vulnerability, and yes- consequences. Don’t tell me your porn addiction hasn’t cost you something. You know the price, mentally and spiritually, that you’ve been paying. You know the relationships you’ve affected, the lies you’ve had to tell others. You know the fear of exposure. I did, and I do.

Some of you know me and will be hearing about this for the first time. The journey is a part of me, of who I am, and it has given me a greater ability to love sinners and accept all kinds of people who I used to judge. I’m still afraid, of course; I’m afraid of what confessing this will do to my reputation. I’m afraid of saying something wrong and hurting someone’s walk and chances for freedom instead of helping them. I’m afraid you’ll not relate to this in some way, and that you’ll dismiss me as a freak. But more than my fear, I am hopeful. I hope that you hear my heart. I hope you know that I am not cured; I am rehabilitated, and it is a daily fight. I hope you see God’s love in my journey. And I hope, most of all, that you feel the courage to confess your sins and confront them with help from your peers and mentors in Christ. God bless you.

i attended a workshop by Brian Mclaren entitled ‘Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?’

now anyone who knows my Brian Mclaren history knows it didn’t start well – i read a book of his whose title i can’t remember but who most fans of his writing have told me is not one of his greatest books and i wasn’t that impressed – don’t even know if i finished it – at the same time i had heard some stuff about him and seen some of his statements and just generally decided that i wasn’t a big fan [or at least that there were a bunch of other writer/speaker types who were more helpful and healthy to follow back then]

then we flew to americaland and i stayed at my friend [who i met on the internet playing a silly facebook game – have made some good friends that way!] Steve Heineman’s house and he had just finished reading ‘A Generous Orthodoxy’ by Brian Mclaren and told me it was really good and so i borrowed his copy and started reading it… and really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it for hungry, open-minded Christians to read – basically he breaks down a whole bunch of labels like catholic vs protestant, pentecostal vs evangelical etc etc etc and says how he is all of them, taking a look at their strengths and weaknesses and seeing how we can learn from all of them – really took me a long time to read cos i would read a chapter and then take some days to think about it, but really a great read.

so i attended his workshop – ‘Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?’ – which is also the title of his upcoming book, with a bit of trepidation as the interfaith question makes me a little bit nervous – i do believe we can learn things from each other and that we can work together, but i don’t believe that ‘all roads lead to Rome,’ or heaven really…

and really enjoyed it. i would say i agreed with about 95% of what he said and while there was some stuff i would like to think more about and maybe have some more dialogue on i can’t say there was anything i strongly disagreed with.

here are some brief highlights but i imagine this might be a book worth checking out [they were handing out free proofreading copies but i got there too late and so hopefully i will be having a copy mailed to me sometime soon]

one thing he spoke a lot on was that Jesus never created an us vs them – he was all about showing benevolence to the other rather than hostility towards the other – reaching out to the kinds of people the religious and other leaders were encouraging Him to stay away from – and being accused of hanging out with the wrong kind of people… interesting thort.

another thing he said which describes much better what i have been trying to say with my soccer player $40 million blog post a while back was this: “if seven billion people want to live the way we live, we have a crisis.” – the system works for the rich – it is awfully tragic for the poor.

and lastly, the punchline of his book title, ‘Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?’ is “to get to the other!” which is brilliant and what i believe Jesus would be wanting us to do – in conversation, through relationships, in support and love.

oh and one last idea which i may think about more and blog about further was the idea that we have recognised and dealt with “selfishness” a lot when it comes to Christianity and how we live in the world and beyond, but something new we may need to consider needing to deal with is the idea of “Groupishness” where we do the same kind of destructive things based on who we are as groups or the church.

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