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Kay Warren is an evangelical leader, author, AIDS activist, and co-founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Along with her husband, Rick, Warren founded Saddleback in 1980 with just a[…]

Don’t give up just yet.

Question: How do you make your marriage work?

Warren: Well we’ve been married almost 33 years. It’s been 32½ , and sometimes we jokingly say we’ve been married something like, you know, 28 happy years out of those 32. Our first couple of years were really rough. We are so different, and we had a very strange and unusual courtship in that . . . which is a long story which I won’t go into, but the bottom line is we didn’t really know each other when we got married. And so all the things that we tell couples today like, “Really get to know each other. Spend at least a year. Go through every season – you know spring, winter, fall, summer. See each other in the good times, the bad times.” We didn’t do any of those things. And if we were to take one of those E-harmony, or some of those dating quizzes that . . . every red flag would come up because we’re so different. But we have learned . . . I think the great thing about that is it has taught us how to . . . how to share, how to be unselfish. Because we are so different, it would be easy to just wanna do everything our own way.

Rick is . . . he’s brilliant. I don’t know anybody like him. But he is so fun. He is this total sanguine. I think my kids . . . One of my kids’ favorite memories is . . . I’m always the rule follower. I’m like, “You gotta go to bed at this time. You got school. You got homework.” And Rick could come breezing in, you know, from out of town and go, “Hey it’s 10 o’clock. Let’s go on one of daddy’s magical mystery tours!” Get ‘em out of bed, take ‘em somewhere and get ‘em ice cream and I’m going, “They’ve got school tomorrow!” But he’s so spontaneous and he’s so fun. He’s brought a lot of lightness to my life. And I think because I’m really serious, and intense, and really passionate about stuff that . . . and much more realistic . . . So I’m the one who’s always taking his feet and yanking ‘em, you know, back down to planet earth while he’s soaring around, you know, thinking of this or that. And it’s really good that we’re different. It’s taken a long time. I think our differences pulled us apart for many years. It’s taken a long time, but I think now we really do appreciate the fact that we see life differently. We approach life differently. We approach situations differently. Our lives are richer because of that. I think a lot of other people would’ve gotten divorced. The amount of differences that we have and the way that it did pull us apart, I think a lot of people would have just said, “This is too hard. This relationship is just too hard.” But we were committed. We took a vow before God that we were gonna stay together. And we were just telling some folks last night at dinner that when we got married almost 32 years ago, we just knew almost nothing about each other. We didn’t know how to communicate. We fought about all the things – money, sex, communication, in-laws, children – we fought about it all. But on our 25th wedding anniversary we renewed our vows to each other. One of the sweetest days of my life, because then we knew what we were saying. And we could really say . . . not just with hopes and dreams, but really the truth, “I am committed to you.” You know we’re different. We are so different, but I can’t imagine my life without you. And I would really encourage people to . . . Most people give up on marriage too soon.

Recorded on: 12/11/07