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Kickass Couples Podcast

How to Develop Faith & Moral Code in Your #1 Human Relationship – Ep. 97 SPECIAL – Ft. Kristen Hartnagel & Dr. Chris Cadenhead

By April 5, 2023No Comments



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Kimberly Hoffman, Matthew Hoffman, Kristen Hartnagel, Dr. Chris Cadenhead


Matthew Hoffman  00:01

Welcome back to the Kickass Couples Podcast. We are excited to be back with you again today in a special episode, which is titled How to Develop your faith and moral code in your number one human relationship. Kim and I have two fantastic guests with us today and I’m going to give you a quick turnover so she can tell you who’s joining us today.


Kimberly Hoffman  01:51

Our first guest today is Kristen Hartnagel. Kristen is a personal brand expert and coach at the globally renowned brand builders group, working with clients, including New York Times bestselling authors, celebrities, CEOs, business owners, coaches and entrepreneurs guiding them to tap into their unique gifts and talents to attract the right opportunities and people into their lives. As a keynote speaker and professional singer. A beautifully effective way to deliver her message is with keynote concerts, through her company evolve. Now, Kristen is a master at drawing out your best, helping you to shape build and scale your business as well as your personal brand. In addition, we have Dr. Chris Cadenhead. Chris’s education includes a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from Furman University, a Master’s of Arts in Psychology from Wake Forest University, a master of divinity from Duke Divinity School, and a Doctorate of ministry and worship studies from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary with this thesis on connecting baptism to an ongoing process of spiritual formation. Chris joined bond SEC Baptist Church as its head pastor in 2014, in addition to his pastoral work at Bond SEC Baptist church, he is also pastored in Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina. He and his wife Hubbard had been married for over 25 years and have two daughters, Ashlyn and Addie. And they have a Golden Retriever named Buddy.


Matthew Hoffman  03:29

Can’t forget those furry friends. Right? Well, welcome. We’re so glad you all could join us today.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  03:34

Thank you, it’s honor to be here.


Kristen Hartnagel  03:36

Thank you for having us.


Matthew Hoffman  03:38

 Our pleasure. You know, you hear a phrase thrown around all the time, everybody says you just gotta have faith, right? It’s one of those ubiquitously phrases that we seem to hear as often as just do it. And it doesn’t really shed much light on or give us much instruction, how we’re supposed to do that, or how do we grow in it, and a Kickass Couples Nation, we have 14 key pillars that all represent qualities that we feel pretty strongly have to be present in any relationship where to be successful, and thriving. And one of our pillars is the faith and moral code. And we would love to talk to you all today, we’re going to have a great conversation. We’ve got some questions for you. But how do we check the balance or the level or the strength of our faith? How do we develop it if we want to? And how do we know that we’re expressing it not just individually strong, but as a couple? If this is a relationship that like mine, and yours and many people that might be listening us today who said I do and they’re in it to win it for one person for the whole rest of their lives? That can seem overwhelming and daunting. And I know that in addition to Chris being a pastor, he’s an author, a counselor, spiritual advisor. And one of the things that I heard about Kristen is that she specializes in breakthrough coaching and spirit total alignment. And when I heard that, I thought, we’ve got to have both of these two together on this episode today. So I’d like to kind of lead into the first question. And either of you can go first on this, but we’d love to hear from both of you is, what do you really think faith is? And why do we need to have it in our lives individually? Or as a thriving couple?


Kristen Hartnagel  05:22

That faith is the test to your endurance? For whatever happens in life? How at peace can you be with what is? How are you able to stay calm and present in the face of what might feel like chaos or disturbance to to your well being. And so the degree to which you have faith is the degree to which you can maintain that sense of peace and well being. It’s a trust, it’s a trust in something greater than yourself. 


Matthew Hoffman  05:59



Dr. Chris Cadenhead  06:01

Yeah, the that word trust is critical speaking from a Christian perspective, that’s probably the best definition of trust of faith. And that is the word Trust. Faith is not just a set of ideas that I have in my head to which I give intellectual assent. But it’s, it’s a posture of trust. And more specifically, trust in God, through the person of Jesus Christ, which implies a relationship. It’s not just ideas that I like or agree with, but a relationship which I actively pursue. You said a moment ago, the common catchphrase is just have faith, which implies a certain degree of passivity, you just sit back and just hope that somehow down the road things work out. But but any relationship requires intentionality and investment, and I can’t develop my relationship with my wife that way, I can’t develop my relationship with God that way, it takes intentionality that moves me towards a posture of trust.


Matthew Hoffman  07:08

Well said, I agree with that, and appreciate the perspective.


Kimberly Hoffman  07:14

So does faith mean religion? Can I develop a strong faith and a moral code without following any specific religious creed? How would that work in a relationship?


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  07:32

Kristen, why don’t you take that first?


Kristen Hartnagel  07:34

In my opinion, you can develop faith in many ways. But the faith that feels the most life giving is the one that is connected to something larger than yourself. And I think that that is what religion gives us pathways to, how can we have a relationship with that source of something that is larger than ourselves, to develop faith outside of that context is, is your own spiritual quest? Maybe. But I think religions have done a lot to help give us a roadmap to that relationship. But I think both are necessary. I think if you have a religion that gives you a pathway, but you’re not doing the work of developing that relationship yourself, it’s not going to be as robust a relationship as it could be. It does take that intentionality and your own personal dedication to having that come to a more full sense of kind of that two way give and take. 


Matthew Hoffman  08:40



Kimberly Hoffman  08:40

Sure, so the the spiritual foundation, and then also it is the person working within intentionality, and developing that faith as well.


Kristen Hartnagel  08:53

That’s what I believe.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  08:57

So the question is, If faith means trust, if that’s how we’re defining faith, what is it that you have trust in? And from my particular religious perspective, I don’t know how to think about that in any other way than to speak of having trust in the God who is greater than me. If my trust is in myself, and in my ability to ultimately figure things out, well, I’ve got 52 years, almost 52 years of experience on this planet to tell me things are probably not gonna work out too well for me. And that really is the heart of the Christian faith that that I have to have trust in the Savior who comes from beyond me to do for me what I cannot do for myself. And so, is religion necessary? Well, and we Christians love to have a debate about is Christianity a religion? Technically, yes, but ultimately beyond the religion, there’s the relationship. And so I could be engaged in all of the religious aspects of the faith but not really working on forming that personal relationship, in which case the religion does does me no good. But the religion gives me the content and the shape of that faith so that I understand who this one is and whom I claim to have trust.


Matthew Hoffman  10:15

Sure, and I think that’s kind of a natural lead in. And, you know, we talk about faith and having, I think you both mentioned it, that higher power, God is something outside of ourselves, it’s not faith in me and my human ability, Chris, because I think we would be an have been, I know from personal experience, constantly disappointed in our inability to measure up and you know, it’s kind of a little bit of surrender, that has to happen and understand that it’s not about you and getting that alignment. But when we’re in a marriage relationship, we do have to have faith in our partner, and faith in the relationship, faith in them and their inherent goodness, because they were created the same way we were. So how do we, what’s the difference between having faith in our partner in our in our spouse, and having faith in God, that supreme power? And how do we? And then how do we kind of meld those things together so that they’re working hand in glove, so to speak?


Kristen Hartnagel  11:13

I appreciate Chris, you’re saying you go first, so that we don’t, you know, both speak at the same time. So we’ll just stick with that order. I’ve been interpreting that to mean that if I believe that everyone is a child of God, then I believe my spouse is also a child of God. And so if he is showing up in a way that is pushing my buttons, then I can say, hey, that reveals that I have a pushable button, and I want to work on that. So rather than trying to expect him to change, my prayer becomes help me heal this button, like I can’t come to this situation without my Kristen-ness, like I will always bring my past experience, I’m just going to surrender this, I’m going to hold this up to you and say, show me how to see this differently. Because you know, all there is to know. So rather than having faith that he needs to be a certain way, I would rather have the faith that I’ll be shown how to show up in a way that’s going to benefit our relationship. If it’s important to me, then it’s work I need to be doing.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  12:22

That’s very well said, I got to work on myself before I can work on changing what I don’t like about my partner, because nine times out of 10 I’m the problem. What? So again, let’s go back to the definition, we’re using faith equals trust. When it comes to faith in God, what does that mean? It means I have trust that God loves me and that ultimately, God’s intentions for me are good. So that even when I’m going through difficult circumstances that I may not understand. I still at the end of the day, come back to Yeah, but I’ve got enough experience with him to know that what he intends for me is right and good. And I can surrender to that. Well, that same principle I think would apply to my wife. I’ve got 25 years of experience that tells me she really does have my best interest at heart. And so even when she may do something that irritates me, not that she ever would. But in the purely hypothetically speaking, if something happens in our relationship that creates discomfort, or conflict, at the root of that conflict has to lie in my confidence, yes, but she still has my best interest at heart. And, and with that as our foundation, okay, we can work through this, we can come to some arrangement or understanding. Because I know that ultimately she loves me. That doesn’t mean she’s going to do everything the way I want her to or the way that I would prefer her to. But it does mean that even when she’s being uniquely her, and living out her uniqueness, she’s still doing it in a posture of good intentions towards me.


Kristen Hartnagel  14:03

I love that. And I would add that early in our relationship, that is something that became really a commitment that we both had, is that we can get through anything as long as we can talk about it. So if there’s ever something that you feel like you can’t talk about with me, that’s even a bigger sign that we need to talk about it. Because we’re not going to agree on everything. And we have to be able to own up to what isn’t feeling right or it can’t be worked out.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  14:36

And to go back to something Kristen said a moment ago. Maybe the more important question to ask is not do I trust that my wife has my best intentions at heart. But have I given her enough reason to trust that I have her best intentions at heart? Have I responded to her consistently in a way over time that gives her confidence that even in a moment when we may have to have a hard conversation and she’s still trust that I love her. And then even more than that I like her, and that I want her in my life. That’s where faith, my personal faith in Christ really propels me to work on myself, and to repent and change in the things that I may or may not be doing that or preventing her from having that trust.


Matthew Hoffman  15:23

Sure, and I want to I want to follow up on something Chris, you said, you know, a lot of people when they hear the word repent, they they think that’s Oh, that’s religious jargon. And really, when you get to the root of that word, pent pensive, it comes from to think. So if you think of it as we think it means to think again. So wait, I got to think differently about something. It’s so it’s not giving up. It’s saying change your frame, you know, back up, look at the evidence. And let’s see if you come to a different conclusion.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  15:53

Absolutely. The Greek word is metanoia, which literally means to change one’s mind. I used to think this now, I think that and that it’s a word that can apply in so many areas of life, but my mindset, my instinctive way of reacting to the world and to my spouse, sometimes that needs to change, because the way I am responding isn’t helpful or useful or even right.


Kimberly Hoffman  16:19

What about the people who are lacking in that faith? You have couples that really need to practice growth in that area? What would your advice be? To those people who are needing to work on growing faith in the relationship?


Kristen Hartnagel  16:37

I think one of the first things that I would recommend is to get clear on what is it that makes a good relationship in your mind? Why did you decide to go through life together, recalling all of the reasons that you fell in love and made a commitment in the first place? So that if you can come from the perspective, that it’s less about the expectation of somebody else’s behavior, and more about what is going on in my mind about that relationship? How am I being while I’m doing that? That’s a just a check in for yourself, so that you can see what do I need to do to develop more faith, if anything is feeling hollow, if anything is feeling superficial, a deepening is required. And the first thing I need to do is check my expectations, and then ask for support. And most of the time, it’ll come through that dialogue through that relationship with God, to give me clarity as to how I can show up differently in that relationship. So to answer your question, my faith journey in my what my recommendation for somebody who’s struggling in a relationship is to check in with their own faith first, do their inner work first, and then see how that informs what might be required in the relationship.


Kristen Hartnagel  18:07

 Sure. And how would you start that question? With your spouse?


Kristen Hartnagel  18:12

I would say How are you feeling about where we are? How am I making you feel appreciated and loved? I mean, there’s so many secular books like The 5 Love Languages. 


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  18:27

Yeah, 5 Love Languages. 


Kristen Hartnagel  18:29

Yeah. Just knowing that what I interpret as feeling like love is probably not what he is natural at giving. So can I be at first? Because without context, how can he give it? You know, his love language is something different. So I have to offer it to give him the context. So he can better be it. And then I need to check in i What is your love language? How, how does that feel? How does that look? And then can you model that for me so that I can have more context to be able to give it? 


Kimberly Hoffman  19:02

Sure, starting that conversation with asking about love languages is great, because it’s different for everyone. And if you’re pushing, if you’re hitting a love language that might not necessarily be theirs, then you’re not going to make any progress there. So I love that suggestion, Kristen.


Kristen Hartnagel  19:22

 Thank you.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  19:23

If the question is how, how do we develop faith in our marriage relationship? There’s a there’s a, that’s assuming something already in evidence, which is that I have a faith to begin with, but I can’t bring into my relationship, something I do not already possess. And that’s true across so many arenas, I mean, take emotional health if I’m not emotionally a well person, then getting married isn’t suddenly going to make me emotionally balanced and healthy. All I’m going to do is bring my emotional baggage into the relationship. If I’m not financially disciplined I’m not suddenly going to become that because I happen to get married, I’m just going to bring my financial mess into another person’s life. I have to work on those things myself first, same thing is true when it comes to faith. The Christian faith is a profoundly personal thing. It’s lived in community with other people, and certainly that includes my spouse. But I can’t live in community what I do not already have on my own. So I can’t assume it’s not my wife’s job, to it’s not her primary responsibility to nurture my faith, that’s my responsibility, through whatever practices and means are available to me to do that. Now, if our relationship is unfolding in a healthy way, then we’re going to nurture that in each other, but I can’t nurture in her what she does not already have, and vice versa. So I often say when people are joining our church, we have a class that they go through. And we include an add up a short lesson on some of the classic spiritual disciplines like prayer and scripture reading and service and generosity, just the these are the classic things that down through the centuries, Christians of all traditions have found useful. And I will often say to them, this church can’t be any more spiritually healthy than the individuals who make her up. So we need you to put these things into practice in your own life, because we can’t do them for you. But if you will, and if we will all make that commitment, then we will find that our communal experience is going to be stronger and healthier. Same is true in a marriage, I’ve got to work on those disciplines in my own life. And then I can bring that into the conversation with my partner.


Kristen Hartnagel  21:46

I would agree and I also feel that, like, in a relationship, in my relationship, I would say that we had very different levels of faith. And so instead of feeling like I needed to change anything about the way he was experiencing his faith and belief, just by living into the strength of my faith and modeling, what an amazing relationship with God can look like. And then the joy that comes through you because of that relationship. It’s like I want what she has. And so there is a catalyst for growth, just by seeing the strength of that relationship and what is possible. 


Kimberly Hoffman  22:29



Matthew Hoffman  22:30

Yeah, the action is words are great. But it’s the demonstrated action that speaks volumes. And when you’re living that example, in your faith, where someone says, How are you so happy? How are you so successful? What’s your secret sauce? Right? There’s your golden opportunity to say, well, you know, let let me tell you, Well, you know, it all starts with my faith. And I love that. And, you know, do you curious, do you guys, do you feel that love requires faith?


Kristen Hartnagel  22:58

I would say love is another word for faith. I think faith and love, to me have such a similar essence. Love is a belief in in something good, something unconditional, something that cannot be diminished or extinguished. And that to me is faith, we can have a faith crisis, we can have a love crisis. But to me, they’re one in the same faith equals love.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  23:30

Yeah, I would agree. Again, to go back to something I said a moment ago. What does it mean for me to say I love my wife hopefully means I have certain emotions towards her. But but we all know emotions come and go. Fundamentally, it means I trust her. I know, I trust her with my life. She knows the most vulnerable things, the most sacred things, the most troubling things about me more than any other human being on the planet. And I trust that she’s never going to use any of that against me. That to me is love. And so therefore I can live with a degree of contentment, because I’m not anxious that the most important person in my life is going to say or do something intentionally to hurt me or put me in a bad spot. And I would ultimately hope that she would feel the same way in the opposite direction. 


Matthew Hoffman  24:26

Sure. I think one of the things around that question about love and faith, I think that, you know, Faith abolishes fear and fear, whether it’s of self or I hope, I don’t, I hope they don’t. Right. So when there’s fear in a relationship, it’s probably because there’s just a smaller amount of faith than what may be needed. And I love the idea that when we’re demonstrating that faith, it’s you can’t be faithful and fearful at the same time. And so, you know, I think that that faith is a great antidote for fear, whether it’s about you about your spouse or relationship or really anything you face. And when you’re both standing in that faith is really acting as a bastion against fear coming in to the relationship. And I think that, and that’s a beautiful demonstration. And then Kristen, as you said of love, because they’re, they’re tightly you know, they’re on each other’s heels, they can’t really, one can’t be there without the other. And I like what you both had to say about that.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  25:26

I have a friend who is a therapist, who once said to me, in a certain context, he said that the strength of any relationship is inversely related to the number of things that you can’t talk about. So the more subjects that are off limits for conversation, the weaker the relationship is going to be. Well, how do you have hard conversations about essay hardcopy? How do you have conversations about difficult subjects? What faith has to be at the root of that, if I don’t, I know there’s certain things that are hard even for us to talk about after 25 years of marriage, because I don’t want to deal with this again. But I know that when we do finally get around to talking about it, she’s not going to walk out the door on me. It’s not going to bring an end to our relationship. It may just be something that I don’t want to deal with the discomfort of right now. But I know that ultimately, it’s something that is open to discussion, because we have faith in each other. And I love this conversation of faith and fear. I think that’s what that speaks to.


Matthew Hoffman  26:30



Kimberly Hoffman  26:31



Kristen Hartnagel  26:32

I would say the same. I believe that fear is a self centered emotion, it’s me worrying about how, what’s you know, how is this impacting me, something’s not where I expect it to be. And so if fear is thinking of myself, how can I think less of that, and more about what is good for the hole or for him? So if we can reframe fear, and say, fear is like, what, how can I look in the mirror and see that fear is showing me that I am being self centered? And I will feel less fear when I’m less self centered.


Kimberly Hoffman  27:16

And don’t you think the more vulnerable we are, I mean, really, truly vulnerable? The more intimacy we are creating with our spouse. I mean, sometimes, like you said, those conversations, Chris are really hard and really difficult. But at the end of the day, it’s that person on the other side, that truly loves us that’s trying to listen and understand us, that we’re really creating that bond and that intimacy with each other.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  27:45

Well, Kristen, we’ve broken the order here. You go ahead. Yeah, sure.


Kristen Hartnagel  27:48

I would just agree that it’s 100%, the ability to be vulnerable, that allows real conversations to happen. It’s a tenuous situation where I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable, because that’s fear based. And yet the faith comes in that I can trust. If I let this be aired, he’s got my back. He wants a he loves me. I know that just like Chris said, we’ve, we’ve got 31 years of evidence that he’s not going anywhere when the conversations are of a challenging nature. So the more vulnerable I allow myself to be and challenge myself to be the richer the relationships, so the reward is always worth that feeling of risk, because the feeling of risk is temporary. The growth that comes from having that conversation is lasting


Matthew Hoffman  28:52

Right, I’m gonna get a little more personal with you, Kristen. How does the How does faith and moral code show up in your own personal relationship?


Kristen Hartnagel  29:51

Well, I would say it shows up in like when he has an opportunity to go do something with his spreads, he never has to worry that I’m going to go, Well, you should be with me You shouldn’t do that. I am always about experiences go do that. Because there’s no jealousy. There’s no worrying. Who would I be if I did not want him to experience? If he wasn’t it lets he’s experiencing with me. So how that shows up is live life to the fullest. Say yes, say yes to all the things that come up as an opportunity for you that feel like they’re in alignment with what you’re trying to do for your own spiritual journey.


Kimberly Hoffman  30:42

How about for you, Chris? How does it show up for you in your relationship with Heather?


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  30:49

I think part of it well, let me go back to the word that you used a moment ago vulnerability. And I don’t know if this answers the question directly, but I think it’s related. For me, just coming from my own. I know my temperament. And I know my own tendencies and my own quirks, maybe not as well as my wife does. But for me, the opposite of vulnerability is, is anger. When something isn’t going the way I think it should, my my first response is not to make myself vulnerable. My first response is to get angry about it. And I can usually, on the backside, look back, okay, well, that probably wasn’t very helpful. Because I was coming from a place of anger, instead of a place of genuine vulnerability to say, here’s how this affected me, here’s why I think this is important. Instead, it becomes accusatory you did this, you did that. You made me angry. Even though I may not say those words. That’s clearly what’s coming across. So I think part of developing that moral code is being always willing to look at myself first before I point the finger and assign blame, to ask, Hey, what have I done to contribute to whatever this situation is? What have I failed to do to make it better? And, and in the process of doing that, that’s where I make my myself vulnerable. Instead of lashing out in anger. Now, you know, I don’t have a violent temper. It’s not like we have big shouting matches at our house. But even just a three line text message that gets fired off. Sometimes reflexively, because you did what? That’s not helpful. I need to look at myself first and examine my own instincts before I start pointing the finger at others.


Matthew Hoffman  32:40

Sure. There was something on I found on Christian Mingle in doing some research for this. I was not on Christian Mingle, looking for anything, really resources driven, because


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  32:53

They call that research Matthew.


Matthew Hoffman  32:55

She has faith in me, she trusts me. And it was titled faith and forever love and I just want to read something to you all, and then ask a question. There is no greater call to unite faith in relationships than regards to romantic love. A spiritual faith filled connection truly is the heart that beats for two people. In fact, it has often been said by elderly couples who share the secrets of their marriages, longevity, we never gave up on the same day. So my question is out of that is how do you see faith playing a role in romantic love in this lifelong relationship of marriage that we have of intimacy? And how does faith come into the side of the romance and the spark? And those bonds that we were talking about earlier? That when we’re deep and vulnerable, really gives us a greater sense of intimacy?


Kristen Hartnagel  33:48

I think it is just an amplification of what we’ve been saying all along. Is that that vulnerability is, is the ability to communicate and asking the questions, what is it that I can bring to this relationship that is going to deepen the romance? Not taking anything for granted, always wanting to touch base with how is this Are you okay? What’s going on here so that we’re just intentional. And, and at the same time, the vulnerability comes in to be able to express my own needs and to express how I’m feeling, openness, the ability to communicate that all pours into the romantic end of your relationship as well.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  34:39

Agreed it grows out of the connection. I just finished a couple of weeks ago, a several week long, Wednesday night Bible study on the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament, and you will not find any more blush worthy romantic poetry anywhere, once you dig into that book it is, it is PG 13. In some places, the romantic imagery just spews forth page after page, to the fact that a lot of people down throughout the ages have kind of scratched their heads and as why is this even in the Bible. But one of the things that I came to understand after that study that I hadn’t really ever seen before, when you read between the lines, the romance and the joy, that the lover and the beloved have in that song, the joy they have in their bond grows out of the commitment they’ve made to each other, not the other way around. It’s not let’s see if we can find joy in our bond, and then out of that will come a firm commitment. It’s exactly the opposite. We’ve made a commitment to each other. And now, because we’ve established that commitment, and there’s no going back on it, now we can begin to flourish in the joy that we have and our bond with each other. And I think that’s the model for marriage. Romance. And as somebody pointed out, during that study, this came from a time and a culture in which the vast majority of marriages would have been arranged. Marriages weren’t in those days and times largely the result of the romantic choice that somebody made for another person, they were arranged. And yet, even in that context, this kind of passionate romance could could flourish, because the commitment that they made was the root of that. And so yeah, I don’t I think faith and romance go hand in hand, they are not. It’s not what we say at one side. So now we can work on the other one grows out of the other. 


Matthew Hoffman  36:52

Well said.


Kristen Hartnagel  36:54

I think that one thing we did early on is, as we were deciding whether we wanted to be married, to agree that if we do decide to get married, divorce will never be an option. And if that is removed, then like it is just not something that interferes or distracts from the work you’re doing to improve your relationship. If this isn’t working out, so I can get a quick exit is on the table. It’s you show up differently. If it’s not an option, you’re totally faith filled, that we will find a way.


Matthew Hoffman  37:34



Kimberly Hoffman  37:34



Dr. Chris Cadenhead  37:35

Yeah. And I think that’s why it’s not a coincidence that in the New Testament book of Ephesians, towards the end of the fifth chapter, when the Apostle Paul is talking about marriage, he paints a remarkably mutual picture of marriage considering the ancient context in which he was writing, but then he turns it on a phrase and says, But I’m talking about the relationship between Christ in his church, the bond, that unconditional bond between husband and wife is reflective of something even deeper out of which it grows, it is a spiritual commitment. So again, faith and romance are intertwined together. And that was why I mean, this, this may be going in a different direction that you want to pursue, but the growing tendency now for cohabitation, outside of marriage, there there from what I don’t study the literature, but what I hear growing bodies of evidence to show that couples that start their relationship that way, are actually more likely to get divorced, rather than less likely, because they’re going into the relationship with a backdoor option on the table. And once that enters into your mindset, it tends to follow you. It’s that firm commitment you make to one another, that then becomes the basis for which your your bond grows. 


Matthew Hoffman  39:07



Kimberly Hoffman  39:09

What about when you don’t see eye to eye on specific issues in your relationship? Can you still have a strong faith with your partner? And in your partner?


Kristen Hartnagel  39:23

Yeah, I think to me, that sense of allowing is something that strengthens a relationship that if my children had identical parents, they would not have as rich a human experience as they had because we were different. We did not see eye to eye on some of our parenting decisions, but to trust that He loves me he loves them. How can I allow who he is? is to shine through in the way he wants to parent like, so something that we don’t agree on. I always want to go with him first and and say, what is it that I’m not allowing? And how can I work on that in myself first, that’s always my MO, because I know that I’ll get clarity when I surrender that and pray about that. That gives me the clarity about what I would bring to the relationship for us to work on together, if I’ve done that work first. So every conflict every time when we don’t see eye to eye, that’s the process that I follow what his mind to do, how can I allow? How can I get clear on articulating this in a way that if he is open minded to do something differently, it’s not coming from a selfish place? It’s coming from an open discussion and the ability to kind of have some input, some divine wisdom dropped in there, because I’ve asked.


Kimberly Hoffman  40:58

Sure, and a conflict really is an opportunity to understand, isn’t it Kristen?


Kristen Hartnagel  41:04

Most definitely. We’re not seeing things the same? Why would I assume I’m right, let me first see what is this so that we can kind of come to a place of agreement or agree to disagree? And that’s just as important.


Kimberly Hoffman  41:18

Sure. And sometimes healthy compromise? And there’s a lot of different ways that you can, can do that. How about you, Chris, do you have anything to add to that?


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  41:26

I forget which wise person it is, I heard say that if the two of you are an absolute 100% agreement about everything all the time, then at least one of you is unnecessary to the relationship. It’s inevitable. Yeah, I think the word the key for me, the key word there is submit. We’re called to submit to one another in the church, husbands and wives are called to submit to one another in marriage. And what that word ultimately means is surrender to the other person’s needs. So when there is a point of disagreement, at some level, there’s got to be a fundamental question, is there some, is there some non negotiable moral principle at stake here? If there is okay, then we might have to dig in our heels, but 99 times out of 100. That is not the case. So barring that, am I willing to submit to this other person in this moment to seek her good, or to at least seek to better understand what she’s trying to accomplish here? I may not grasp it, it may not be what I have preferred. But if I in this moment, can submit to it, I might learn something from it and come to understand her in a better way. And so yes, I think it is inevitable. And hopefully, that’s a two way street, we are submitting to each other. And there will be moments when our recognize that this whatever is under discussion is something where she may be better informed than I am, and I need to listen to her. And then I would trust likewise, that there may be other moments when she would see it in the opposite direction and be willing to follow my lead because she sees that I recognize something that she’s not glammed. I think that’s the sign of a healthy relationship. Let me put it this way. It’s not the exception. It’s the norm.


Kimberly Hoffman  43:24

Right. And I love how you how you said that you defined submission as being really surrendering to your spouse’s needs, because I think when people hear submission, there’s a lot of misconception around that word. And so really, it is surrendering to your partner’s needs, which is really a beautiful vision. 


Kimberly Hoffman  43:45

Yeah, it’s not about well, you’re not surrendering to their will or their power. But you’re surrendering to their needs, because you’re committed to them, and you’ll love them. And that’s a beautiful way to reframe it. And that’s kind of a natural lead into one of the final questions we have for you guys is in a lifelong relationship, right? We’re in it to win it Kristen, there’s no back door, no Plan B, we’re going to work on the grass in our own yard and make sure it stays green. There are going to be things that destroy faith or in our partner and in the relationship. So when that’s happened, curious, what do you all think the things are that we can or should do, to try to restore that faith and get back what may have been lost?


Kristen Hartnagel  44:27

Well, what comes to my mind is something that is so life altering, really devastating, like the loss of a child or grieving a loved one when or something happening to your financial situation that could bring you to your knees, that to recognize emotions aren’t a state of being they’re a visitor it unless we let them weave in? And so to kind of, again, if I could be the witness and see what is what is it that I’m feeling? And can I allow it? And can I observe it? And then can I lift it up? Can I say, this is not how I want to be feeling? I’m going to honor that. The reality is I’m feeling this way. Can I honor that, but can I declare, this is not, this is not my natural state. I know, my natural state, my natural state is love, my natural state is joy. So anything that is rocking my world is, is a lack of my alignment, my my truth, my perception, and I am the only one who’s allowing it to be different. So that, again, is an opportunity when something rocks my world or my marriage, to say, what, what’s here visiting, can I allow it to be? Can I ask it to move through. And when I don’t know how, because I don’t know how I cannot do anything of myself, I need to ask for that support. I need to get out of my own way and allow that guidance to help me shift what needs to happen in order for healing to take place. I wrote a song, it’s Holy Spirit be my guide of myself, I can do nothing. Seems it’s always been my pride, shutting out what you’ve been offering. So I want to get out of my own way to let you guide me to the best route through this because you know, the fastest way to healing. So devastating things happen. Like who are we to think that life is just going to be rosy? Or that there’s going to be this point where I arrive and my marriage has Tada? No, it’s always work, and the willingness to do the work, the willingness to get out of your own way, and to allow an ask for that guidance is what’s going to be the fastest path to that healing.


Kimberly Hoffman  47:00

Or the curveballs are going to come whether we like it or not.


Kristen Hartnagel  47:03

Yes, as reliable as breathing, every contraction is followed by an expansion, every expansion is followed by a contraction, and nothing, the only constant is change. So help me navigate the change by helping helping me get out of my own way.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  47:22

Yeah, those those hard moments they’re going to come, they can do one of two things. They can either pull us together or push us apart, and one of those two things is going to happen. And if we just allow things to go their natural course, they will ultimately push us apart. But we can be intentional about allowing difficult moments to bring us together. To come at it from a slightly different angle, you ask the question about loss of faith. To me, the word forgiveness is essential here. I’ve often only half half jokingly said I think one of the reasons God created marriage was so that we human beings got lots of practice that we’re giving at least one other human being. Because when you when you live daily with another person who is maddeningly different than you are, you’re going to have daily opportunities to practice forgiveness, because this person is never going to be what you need them to be. That’s just beyond their capability. So if we don’t learn to practice forgiveness, we will erode the faith that we have in each other. My observation over the years has been there are those critical things that can cause a marriage to fail infidelity, or other major events. But most of the marriages that I’ve witnessed that have faltered, have been because little by little one brick at a time, people built a wall between each other little things that in and of itself would have been insignificant. But when you stack it on top of all the other little things, and next thing, you know, you got a wall that you can’t scale. And the only way to change that is to practice forgiveness and one brick at a time. Take those bricks out of the wall. And so learning to practice forgiveness, with each other is indispensable and keeping our faith in each other strong. And keeping the bond between us firm.


Kristen Hartnagel  49:25

I love that.


Matthew Hoffman  49:27



Kimberly Hoffman  49:27

 Yeah, a great visual.


Matthew Hoffman  49:29

And wonderful illustration, beautifully said. You guys have been so wonderful with your transparency and your time. Are there any questions that we haven’t asked or topics that we didn’t cover? That you would just be remiss if we didn’t discuss on the topic of increasing our faith, or moral code and our relationship?


Kristen Hartnagel  49:51

I can’t think of something that you didn’t ask but I’m really glad that you allowed this space for something more to come because when Chris was talking about forgiveness. It’s like, Oh, I really want to talk about forgiveness. So I just validate so much that forgiveness is necessary in, in every relationship, not just your spousal relationship, but the ability to say if this is a child of God, then the essence of what they are, is is whole is innocent. And so it’s the fact that they’ve done something that I perceive as a wrongdoing. To me, that’s that pushable button. Forgiveness is the ability to say, what is the godliness in them? And how can I let that go, so that it does not come between this relationship? I really appreciate you bringing that the idea of forgiveness into the conversation, Chris.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  50:56

Yeah, it’s indispensable. And I wish I could say I always did it, but I understand the need for it. Because it’s there, when you live with another human being, they’re, they’re never gonna fit your your expectation and your mold. They just, they are their own person. And you’ve got to give them space to do that. And they are going to fail you at times. They are a fallible human being just as you are they I have failed my wife more times than I dare to count. She hasn’t left me though, because she has the power and the willingness to forgive me of those moments.


Kimberly Hoffman  51:38

Yeah, we’re all a work in progress. And we’re gonna fall short every day. And so we have to learn how to forgive each other. I know in our own relationship, that we’re asking for forgiveness constantly. But we’re always trying to learn and grow and to do better. And you know, this faith and moral code pillar is one of the most important in our relationship, it’s the foundation for me which I live and breathe and conduct myself. Right. And so being able to share that with my spouse, and my partner, creates this enormous amount and beautiful intimacy between us. So thank you both so much for your willingness to share and for your openness and vulnerability today, we are grateful it’s been fun having you here. If our listeners would like to reach you, Kristen, where can they find you? How can they learn more about you?



I have a website, it’s, there’s actually free music download if they wanted to hear some of the songs I said, I had mentioned that I wrote a song about the Holy Spirit. So that might be a way that they want to get a little bit more. So they’re they’re welcome to ask for that from the, website.


Kimberly Hoffman  52:58

Great, thank you. How about you, Chris, where can we find you?


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  53:01

Well, the best place is that our church website, you’ll find information about all the various ministries we have and what what little I have to contribute to that will be found on that web page as well.


Matthew Hoffman  53:16

Well, thank you for everything you’ve given us today. I loved this discussion for anybody who thought this would be boring and one dimensional, I hope after listening to this, you see is anything but and there’s so much more. It’s a deep subject. Kim said it is the foundation of our relationship. When people ask that question, how do you guys do it? That’s where I start, I talk about our faith and what and we have differences of opinion and some of those small things. But what we have in common is so much greater in that commitment and that faith journey. So thank you both. We’re glad that you joined us here today. And we hope that everybody if they want to learn more about these topics about these pillars about what it takes to have a kick ass relationship, that you will go to And check out this podcast and others are looking at some of our webinars. And there’s just one thing we want you all to remember is that happily ever after, does not just happen,


Kimberly Hoffman  54:15

it’s on purpose. Thanks for joining us.


Kristen Hartnagel  54:19

 Thank you.


Dr. Chris Cadenhead  54:36

 Thank you.