About the Guest
Love can have its ups and downs. That's what Christian singer and songwriter, Michael O'Brien, and his wife, Heidi, found out after they got married just a few short months after they met. Today on the broadcast, hear more about their courtship and the challenges they faced after getting married.
Love can have its ups and downs.
Bob: It’s easy to fall into the trap when you see a Christian singer or, for that matter, anyone who has a public platform – easy to fall into the trap of thinking “That person’s life must be all together. They must have it completely wired.” That was not the case for Michael O’Brien when he was the lead singer of the group New Song. Here’s Michael’s wife, Heidi.
Heidi: For many years in our married life there was not a foundation of trust, and our first year was so rocky. But as you walk through life together and you grow together and you build trust and you persevere, that goes away little by little. You just absolutely get to a place where you think, “No, I am the only person in this man’s heart.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today® for Monday, September 5th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Today we’re going to hear how Michael and Heidi O’Brien have persevered not only through the first years of marriage, but through their entire marriage. It’s a great model for all of us.
Heidi: He made me swoon. I don’t know what else to say. He just, he did. He made me swoon.
Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. I was thinking, when you and Barbara – you got married in ’72, right?
Bob: So you are coming up on 39 years of marriage this year.
Bob: And you were both in ministry when you got married.
Dennis: That’s correct.
Bob: And did you think at the time that being in ministry would be an asset or a liability to your marriage?
Dennis: Oh, no question.
Bob: It would be –
Dennis: Asset, all the way.
Bob: That ministry would make it easier.
Dennis: Oh, yeah. The thought was you’re headed together toward a common mission, a common goal. You’re in spiritual battle together. How could you ever turn against one another?
Bob: And when did you find out that there might be some liabilities associated with being married and being in ministry together?
Dennis: Probably on the honeymoon.
And for sure in the first year of marriage after there were a lot of tears. I mean, our first year was – I wouldn’t want to repeat our first year.
Bob: What is it, though, about ministry that makes it uniquely challenging to the marriage relationship, do you think?
Dennis: Well, I think first of all you’re on a spiritual mission together, so if I understand the Bible, we are in an unseen battle. There is a battle that rages around us, and sometimes in our midst that is known as spiritual warfare. I think a marriage that is engaging around God’s purposes ultimately comes under attack itself. I felt like many times our marriage was – well, that there was an enemy trying to drive a wedge between Barbara and me. And even a couple with good hearts headed in the right direction can end up squandering their birthright, their spiritual birthright.
Bob: You’ve talked to a lot of pastors; you’ve talked to a lot of guys who are in ministry. One of the challenges you face is that ministry seems so right and so noble that how can it be wrong to be back out traveling to speak here, or doing this ministry assignment? How can that be wrong? Even if it is hard back home, shouldn’t that be something your wife just understands and deals with? Right?
Dennis: Certainly there are those who have secular jobs, if I can use that term. I actually think we’re all employed for spiritual purposes, regardless of what we do. But there are those who have to travel as a result of their job, and because of that have some extra stresses that are placed on their marriages. I don’t think a person who is in ministry is excluded from this battle, Bob.
Many of our adjustments, arguments, conflicts, battles occurred around either leaving for a trip, traveling, or coming home and readjusting to one another. I mean, while I was gone Barbara would do fine, pretty much. She learned how to independently function on her own, and then all of a sudden I show up.
Bob: Some guy’s back in the house.
Dennis: And he’s got some issues, you know. When it was just her issues, she only dealt with hers, but now it’s both of us, and that can have an impact on a marriage relationship.
Bob: We have some guests who are joining us in the studio today who – actually, the two of you started off kind of in ministry together. Michael and Heidi O’Brien are in the studio with us. You met while you were both involved in a singing ministry, Michael. Is that right?
Michael: That’s correct. I had auditioned down in Miami and Heidi had auditioned where she was living at the time in Dallas. And then actually we first met in Dallas when I went for my second audition.
Bob: This is audition to be a part of –
Michael: -- a group called Heritage Singers.
Michael: And we basically met in the hallway there at the hotel, and I was dating somebody else at the time, and so she wasn’t interested at all. And I was completely absorbed.
Bob: Now, wait. You were dating someone so she wasn’t interested. Does that mean you were?
Michael: No, not at the time. No.
Bob: Okay, just wanted to make sure.
Michael: I was dating somebody else, so --
Bob: When did you get interested?
Michael: I checked out on this relationship that I was in about a month later.
Michael: And I didn’t want a girlfriend. It was too complicated.
Dennis: So you broke up.
Michael: Yeah, we broke up. But she stayed in the group too, so there was a dynamic there that was kind of tough.
Dennis: You were traveling a lot together on the road.
Michael: Yes, we were.
Heidi: There were eight singers.
Michael: Eight singers, sound man.
Bob: Oh, wait. Eight singers, and your ex-girlfriend is one of them.
Bob: In the bus all the time with you.
Dennis: Oh, this is Three’s Company, isn’t it?
Heidi: Very crowded. Very crowded bus.
Michael: It was. But at that time, you know, Heidi is doing her own thing. I was doing my own thing.
Bob: You guys are friends, that’s it.
Heidi: Okay. The truth of the matter is I was very young and very infatuated and a major groupie of him. I thought I was hiding it, this major crush, but everybody, everybody knew it.
Dennis: You were a groupie of Michael?
Heidi: Oh, yeah.
Heidi: Oh, I just heard him sing and he just made my heart pitter-patter, and –
Dennis: So were you aware that there was this kind of cult following?
Michael: One of the girls in the group, not my ex, but another girl said one day while I was eating that she was interested in me. I didn’t really think much of it at the time.
Bob: Said that Heidi was interested –
Michael: Yes. That Heidi was.
Bob: And you thought, “Oh, well that’s interesting.”
Michael: Yes, and then one day I saw her and this is a true story, walk across the parking lot while I was in the bus, and I looked at her, and I thought, “That is the most amazing walk I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Bob: Now you’d been on the road singing with her for how long?
Michael: Two months.
Bob: And all of a sudden that walk got you?
Michael: It was just like “Wow, she –“
Dennis: Had you not looked around the van to see who all was in the group, huh?
Michael: I don’t know what happened. It was just like a light bulb –
Bob: How long before everybody else in the group knew that Michael liked Heidi and Heidi likes Michael and something’s going on here?
Michael: I was pretty childish at the time – kind of boyish in how I approached Heidi. I remember even saying “The word for the day is ‘yes.’” Am I right, honey, when I said –
Heidi: Yes, but you’re skipping a little bit ahead. We actually had our first kiss on November 1st, and we were married a couple of months later.
Michael: Not a couple, honey.
Michael: Is March 3rd a couple?
Heidi: November, December, Jan –
Michael: After November?
Bob: November, December –
Heidi: Oh, no, no. I’m sorry.
Bob: January, February.
Heidi: I’m bad with numbers.
Michael: She’s really good in details --
Heidi: I’m bad with numbers. I admit it.
Michael: -- but really bad with numbers.
Heidi: I’m a words person.
Bob: She remembers November 1st.
Michael: Well, so do I. I wrote a song about it.
Bob: Oh, you did?
Michael: Yeah, I did.
Bob: Would you mind?
Michael: Oh, you’re going to make me do it?
Michael: It’s not – well, okay. I guess I could try.
Bob: Sure you can.
Dennis: We have a little keyboard here in the studio.
Bob: We’ve set this up, because we know that when a man and a woman meet and fall in love, there are lots of songs that get written that nobody ever hears except the wife, and we thought, “Well, that’s no good. We want to hear about the first kiss.”
Heidi: You’re going to like it.
Bob: Am I? Okay.
I know it was cold and heavy in the autumn,
But to me it was spring instead.
Stars fell from the sky,
I think I must have caught them
The way they danced around my head.
And my heart was beating like a drum,
The first of more to come,
I remember November’s Kiss.
Wasn’t there a symphony? I swear
I heard the music playing there
When I took you into my arms.
Wasn’t there a grand display of fireworks,
Or was it just the sparkle in your eyes?
In the dead of night was a day I started living,
And oh, what a life it’s been.
With you every day, there’s a need for thanksgiving,
And I am ever grateful for
Now and then and the rest that’s yet to come,
And the love that started from
That tender, November’s kiss.
Dennis: I have two comments to make. Number one – why is it that some guys get all the lines? There are some great lines in there. I’ve never had a line like that in my life.
Bob: I can attest to that, too, by the way.
Dennis: But the other thing I was going to say is, I was watching Heidi. She was closing her eyes, and she was back to November and the first kiss. I have to ask Heidi, is that right?
Heidi: Really. I hate to be corny, but it was. It was like a movie moment for me. It was absolutely fireworks and he made me swoon. I don’t know what else to say. He just – he did. He made me swoon.
Michael: I remember going back to the hotel room. I was staying with two guys in the group.
Heidi: Not us together.
Michael: No, we were separate. It was the sweetest kiss I’ve ever had in my life. I mean, I kept on looking at the guys like, “Guys, you don’t know. You just don’t understand.” It was amazing.
Bob: Okay, now. Even hearing that story and hearing that song, here’s where it starts getting a little problematic. There are women who were driving along listening to that song and you singing that on the radio, and they were starting to swoon, too. But they were swooning about you, because you’ve got that great voice and they were imagining you were singing it about them, and all of a sudden they’re off in this romantic fantasy.
Dennis: Do you think?
Bob: You don’t think? C’mon. You know that, don’t you?
Heidi: Well, yes, I mean.
Bob: You know that when your husband is singing these love songs, I mean, you know it’s about you.
Bob: But there are women out in the audience wishing it was about them.
Heidi: Well, I think that that’s true, but that would be true – Michael has gotten that. Whenever you’re on a platform of any kind, women want you. They do. They see that. Women crave leadership, and they see that person on the platform, especially on a spiritual platform, no matter what women say and whatever the feminists say, down deep inside women want a spiritual man to love them, to protect them, to lead them, to cherish them.
So whether you’re a pastor or a Christian singer or anybody that has a kind of a platform and they’re going to see you, you’re going to have women who want a piece of that.
Bob: So does that bug you?
Heidi: There was a time.
Bob: Has that bugged you?
Heidi: Yes. There was absolutely a time. For many years in our married life there was not a foundation of trust. And you know, I can completely relate to that first year. Our first year was so rocky. It was just crazy. I feel like we are a miracle. I don’t know how we made it through our first year, and I don’t know how we made it through what we call our personal dark ages.
Really and truthfully, yes, it really did bother me. But as you walk through life together and you grow together and you build trust, and you persevere, that does away little by little. You just absolutely get to a place where you think, “No, I am the only person in this man’s heart.”
Dennis: What you’re describing is an enduring love.
Dennis: I don’t mean to demean your song in any way, because when you sang that song on November 1st and that moment occurred and the magic of that event, and the romance of that – that’s all real, but that’s puppy love.
Dennis: I was going to ask you – would you trade what you had then for what you have now?
Michael: Not in a second.
Dennis: Not in a second. What about you, Heidi?
Heidi: Oh, my goodness. You are so much better with age and to mature and grow and become who you are. Not a chance.
Bob: You were a nice boy, but you’re a nice man.
Michael: I’ve had a lot of people speak that into my life, like “You need to stop being a boy and you need to be a man. Be a man.” I’ve heard that probably the last seven years over a hundred times. “Be a man.”
Bob: When you proposed, did you sing your proposal? Did you write a song for your proposal?
Michael: No. I have to be honest again. I was not a romantic. We were in a mall. We were in a mall.
Dennis: I’m just glad you didn’t do it on the bus with the rest of the band there.
Michael: And I said, “Hey, do you want to go elope?” And she said, “Yeah,” because we had kind of been talking about it. And I called information –
Bob: Hey, you wanta go elope? Yeah. Oh, man. This is going to sell a lot of romance records right here.
Michael: Yeah, it’s not good. But eventually we ended up downtown Fort Worth and the jail Justice of the Peace married us.
Michael: Five minutes. Manuel Valdez.
Dennis: That easy? Huh?
Dennis: You can actually do that today.
Heidi: Well, we had to write up an excuse as to why we didn’t have to have the regular three-day waiting period, and we explained “We’re in a traveling singing group. We don’t have a car. We just happened to be in my home town and had access to this car.”
Michael: No blood test in Texas.
Heidi: And we had to go present this summary of our argument, and we had it signed in Divorce Court.
Michael: This is a true story.
Heidi: The judge that was there. He goes, “I hope we don’t see you here again.” We’re like, “Why?” “Well, you just had your marriage license signed in divorce court.”
So the actual regular Justice of the Peace had left for the day, and literally we’re running. I don’t know why we’re telling this story. This is horrible. Nobody do this. This is just – don’t – this is not a good, Godly way.
Michael: It was not good. It wasn’t good.
Heidi: But it is a funny story.
Dennis: You’re running where?
Michael: We’re running to the jail Justice of the Peace because the other Justice of the Peace is out, so we run to get in line.
Heidi: Well, in the correctional facility there’s, you know –
Michael: Yeah, the inmates are getting married, and we ended up going in there. Manuel Valdez married us in five minutes.
Bob: So was it back on the bus and singing that night?
Michael: The next day. But we didn’t tell anybody. We wanted to have a marriage celebration, which we ended up doing later in the year.
Dennis: Hold it, hold it, hold it. I’ve got to figure out where you went from – was it Juan Valdez?
Michael: Manuel Valdez.
Dennis: Manuel Valdez. Where did you go from the jail?
Michael: We went to eat dinner.
Heidi: Oh, this is an awful story.
Michael: We went to eat dinner with her parents and the whole family.
Heidi: My family.
Dennis: You went out with your family!
Heidi: Oh, yeah. It’s terrible.
Dennis: And did you tell them?
Heidi: No, I didn’t. They had just told me and warned me not to run off and go get married.
Michael: Dr. Rainey, you understand that we were very childish –
Heidi: Very foolish!
Michael: -- in some of the decisions that we made when we first got married.
Dennis: I want to know how many lashes her father gave you when he found out.
Michael: He never –
Heidi: It was devastating. It was, and that was part of that whole rocky first year, because we kept it a secret but somebody outed us, and my parents found out and were just absolutely – and rightfully so – I mean, I would be crushed – absolutely devastated. Drama, pain.
Dennis: What a great way to start a marriage.
Bob: And you stop and think – If I came to you with this story – Hey, Dennis, let me tell you about this couple I know –
Dennis: Yeah, yeah. And let’s talk about the odds of this thing going the distance.
Bob: Yeah. What would you say?
Dennis: I’d say they better have a fierce commitment to Jesus Christ, because that will be the only thing that will see them through ultimately to know how to love one another. And frankly, that’s all any of us have when you get right down to it. All of the romance and doing everything perfectly, it still boils down to two very different people – and we haven’t even talked about how they’re different.
I mean, here we’ve got Michael over here who, give them the Reader’s Digest version of where you came from?
Michael: Drugs and alcohol.
Michael: Miami, Florida. Pornography at the age of six.
Dennis: Singer, songwriter?
Dennis: Living from paycheck to paycheck?
Michael: Singing in bars, bar-managing.
Dennis: Yeah. And you married somebody who was exactly like you. Right, Heidi?
Heidi: Way polar opposites.
Heidi: Well, I just was raised in a generational Christian family with just so many boundaries and very protected, extremely sheltered, and I’d only dated really one other person besides my husband. So it was very different.
Bob: Your mom and dad send you off for a year or two with a Christian singing group thinking “There’s no safer place --
Heidi: That’s right.
Bob: -- that she could be than in this environment,” and she gets swooped up by Michael. You know, your story really is a great story, and we’re going to get a chance to hear the whole thing this week. But I also want to remind our listeners about the fact that you guys are going to be joining us in February for the second Love Like You Mean It® cruise that we’re going to be doing together.
Really looking forward to this. We’re going out in February on a Caribbean cruise. Gary Thomas, the author of Sacred Marriage, is going to be joining us. Voddie Baucham is going to be on the cruise with us, along with Sanctus Real and Matthew West and the Annie Moses Band, and Darleen McCoy and Paul Overstreet, Michael Jr., who is a very funny comedian, is going to be on the ship with us as well.
I was talking to our guys and I said, “How is the cruise going?” They said, “Well, we’re right at about 70% of the cruise is sold out.” And I said, “Well, before it all sells out, could we do something special for our listeners?” They said, “Well, like what?” I said, “Well, you pay for yourself to come and your spouse comes free.” You know, I thought, “Just try that,” right?
And they said, “Okay. We can do that, but we can only do it for a week.” So between now and next Monday, if you contact us and let us know that you are interested in going on the Love Like You Mean It cruise February 13th through the 17th, leaving from Miami, heading out into the Caribbean for a week, Valentine’s week – it’s a great getaway for couples – if you want to sign up before next Monday, you pay for yourself and your spouse comes at no cost.
Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link you see there that will get you all the information you need about the Love Like You Mean It cruise, or call 1-800-FLTODAY and we can answer any questions you have about the cruise. When you’re ready to register, you have to identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener. You have to say, “I listen to FamilyLife Today and I want to take advantage of that special offer.” That’s the only way you can register for yourself and your spouse comes at no additional cost.
So again, call 1-800-FL-TODAY, make sure you mention you’re a FamilyLife Today listener, or get more information online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on the link for the Love Like You Mean It cruise. We hope you’ll join us. It’s going to be a great five days in the Caribbean, Valentine’s week of 2012.
By the way, we want to say thanks to those of you who help make this radio program possible by donating to support FamilyLife Today. All of the costs associated with producing and syndicating this daily radio program are covered by listeners like you who, either from time or time or on a monthly basis as Legacy partners, contact us to make a donation to help support the ministry.
And if you are able this week to help with a donation to support us, we’d like to send you a copy of a book by Dennis and Barbara Rainey about praying together as a couple. It’s called Two Hearts Praying as One. That’s our way of saying thank you when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this week with a donation.
If you make your donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com, type the word “HEARTS” in the key code box that you find on the online donation form, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make your donation, and just ask for the book on praying together, and we’re happy to send it out to you. Thanks so much for your partnership with us in ministry as you make a donation to support FamilyLife Today. We really do appreciate you.
And we want to encourage you to be back with us tomorrow when we’re going to continue our conversation with Michael and Heidi O’Brien, and hear more of their story. In fact, we’re going to hear about a very rocky time in their marriage and how God got their attention in the middle of it. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
*Copyright music used in this program:
Song: No Words
Artist: Michael O’Brien
Album: Something About Us, (c)2007 Miracle Productions
Song: November’s Kiss
Artist: Michael O’Brien
Album: Something About Us, (c)2007 Miracle Productions
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