05: How to grow a marriage with Megan and Francisco Villalpando

How do you grow a relationship after years of marriage? Megan and Francisco Villalpando are on the show to share more from their own experience after six years married. 

As the Western Territorial Young Adult Missions and Communications Director and California South Divisional Multimedia Engagement Specialist, respectively, Megan and Francisco are both engaged in ministry with The Salvation Army. Here they explore how they grew during the pandemic, marriage advice they received that wasn’t helpful, and how they show each other respect—sharing marital wisdom, even as they still feel like newlyweds.

Show highlights include:

  • Helpful tips people gave the Villalpandos for marriage.
  • The tips that were not so helpful.
  • Healthy ways the Villalpandos keep their marriage healthy.
  • How they honor and respect each other in marriage.
  • How marriage has taught them to be better Jesus-followers.
  • What the Villalpandos would say to other young couples considering marriage.
  • What they have to say about marriage in general.

Listen and subscribe to The Commons Podcast now. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

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Meagan Ruff: All right, today on The Commons Podcast, we’re going to be talking about marriage. Marriage and relationships are a topic that we want to come back to often. Mostly because Cassandra and I are not pros. I have been married for almost eight years. Cassandra, you have been married for– 

Cassandra Amezquita: –Almost nine years in September.

Meagan Ruff: So we’re not that far apart. I always forget that. I always think that you’ve been married for like a couple of years longer than me, but we’re not that far apart.

Cassandra Amezquita: I don’t even know where the time went. I don’t know how it’s been almost a decade since we’ve been married. 

Meagan Ruff: Yes. I remember being like, “when we hit our 10 year anniversary, we’ll do something really cool,” you know? And I’m like, Oh my gosh! We’ve got to start planning for something cool because that’s coming up.

Cassandra Amezquita: Yes, exactly. 

Meagan Ruff: It’s not far away. So marriage…honestly, what do you say about it? Oh, I remember what I was going to say. We want to have different perspectives and different episodes on this, so we’re going to be revisiting it because we want to interview people who have been married for a short amount of time. Maybe people that are just in a relationship and not necessarily married yet. And definitely we want to interview couples who’ve been married for a really long time. So, if you know someone who’s been married for more than 50 years and they want to be on a podcast, you let them know we’re looking for them!

Cassandra Amezquita: That would be awesome. 

Meagan Ruff: Wouldn’t it? 

Cassandra Amezquita: Yes. That would be really cool. 

Meagan Ruff: Or maybe even just like sound clips. Like if people wanted to send in a clip about what they think about marriage or relationships and they can tell us how long they’ve been married and then we can have this collection of–

Cassandra Amezquita: —Or even like little shout outs with a picture you can send us on Instagram.

Meagan Ruff: Oh, that’d be fun! Yes, for sure. So, Cassandra–what is, speaking of marriage, what is like the best piece of either you can think of, or that someone’s given you about marriage? Or something that, you know, a good piece of advice about marriage from your almost nine years?

Cassandra Amezquita: So lately we, I mean, ever since we’ve gotten married, we have tried to do either a devotional book or some book to invest into our marriage. And these past three years we have been in a different stage of our marriage because we have two kids now. We’re living in a totally different city and we’re working a lot more closely together. So, recently we started reading this book by Gottman. I cannot remember the name of the book, but we’ll link the info in our show notes. And one of the things that he keeps coming back to is this theme—how important friendship is in marriage and how to have moments that bring you joy and fun. And that playfulness, rather than just having the agenda where you’re just like, “okay, like this is the schedule for tomorrow. Or next week, like we just got to go, go, go.” And I think like sometimes we can fall into that habit easily, but just having those little things, like those little friendship building moments where we, I don’t know, maybe like we watch a show together, we have our little ritual, like every night we try to come together, watch your show, eat cereal on the couch.

Meagan Ruff: Always with the cereal.

Cassandra Amezquita: Definitely. Just have playfulness that helps us be more relaxed. And of course, I mean, I just want to acknowledge, obviously we have like our spiritual aspects we invest into. But just that lighthearted energy, that’s kind of new for us. So, it’s been fun to see that helping us be healthier together.

Meagan Ruff: Yeah, definitely. I really enjoy having those little hobbies or fun things that Aaron and I like to do together. We play, we have a couple board games that can be two player, especially because we live in Hawaii and we don’t have a lot of people to play games with. I mean, we have a few more now, but also with the pandemic, it hasn’t been easy to get together with groups of people. But sometimes we’ll try to play a game together or play a video game. There’s a couple of video games that we both like, but I have this problem where, I don’t know, I think I don’t blink when I’m playing video games. I mean, I do, but not enough. So we’ll be playing and I’m like, “Oh, my eyes hurt. They’re so dry.” And Aaron always laughs. So we don’t play video games for very long.

Cassandra Amezquita: You gotta have those eye drops nearby. 

Meagan Ruff: Well, Aaron says he’s going to get me gaming goggles. He was like, “those help,” and I’m like I’m not wearing goggles to play video games. Anyway, I’ll link our favorite games in the show notes, because maybe you also like to pretend to be a raccoon who cooks meals out of a food truck.

Anyway, it’s fun, but it’s also a little hectic. I was going to say like, for me, as far as like a piece of advice—one of the things that Aaron and I read in a book before we got married was the idea that if you consider that your spouse or your partner, whoever you’re in a relationship with, if you consider that they almost always want good for you then arguments or disagreements will just feel a little bit different. So for example, I try to remember this when Aaron and I disagree about something. And rather than my initial thought, like my thought would be like, “well, Aaron just doesn’t want me to be happy. He doesn’t want me to enjoy this. Or he wants to ruin my fun” or whatever it is. I go back to like, “no, Aaron does want me to be happy and there is probably a reason that he doesn’t want me to…” you know, whatever it is. Like he doesn’t want us to go spend money on such and such or paint this wall black, which is something I want to do. Whatever it is. I try to remember that, you know, he doesn’t have an agenda against me. He is for me. And obviously there can be caveats to that, you know, if you’re in a relationship that is abusive, either mentally or emotionally or psychologically or physically, that’s not the same. But if those things aren’t present, then like yeah. When it comes to things that you don’t agree about, it’s really good to have that reminder that like, “no, Aaron loves me. He’s not doing this because he wants me to be upset,” you know? And it doesn’t make a disagreement necessarily easier. Like it doesn’t make me happy about not agreeing on something, but it does help kind of ease the tension and then be able to work through whatever it is that we’re disagreeing about, I guess.

Cassandra Amezquita: Yeah. Exactly. I think empathy is so important in marriage. Just like we practice it with friends or even like, I practice it with my children. Just having that habit of, you know, integrating it into our marriage is not easy, but it’s so helpful.

Meagan Ruff: Yes. Definitely.

Cassandra Amezquita: So today we are interviewing our guests, Megan and Francisco Villalpandos. They have been married for six years and we loved hearing their perspective on marriage. It was more fresh because like they said, they still feel like newlyweds. Six years is like a good amount of time, but also it’s pretty early if you compare it to like 50 years. 

Meagan Ruff: Yes, exactly. 

Cassandra Amezquita: So they’re going to have a baby soon, in July. We’re so excited for them and they shared some good stuff. So hopefully you’ll benefit by hearing their story. And like we said before, we’re gonna have marriage as a recurring topic in our episodes, in the future. So here they are!

Meagan Ruff: All right, Cassandra, do you want to start with rapid fire questions? I don’t have them up on my screen anymore.

Cassandra Amezquita: That’s all right, I can do them. So, first of all, what’s your guys’ favorite food?

Francisco Villalpando: Oh, I think I’ll say it’s probably like Italian food. Yeah. Italian foods. It’s a way up there.

Megan Villalpando: Yeah, definitely. We went to Italy for our honeymoon. So, for our anniversary, we always get Italian food. Basically. It’s like our thing.

Meagan Ruff: Do you have a great place that you love in your area that is authentic Italian? Or do you change it up

Francisco Villalpando: We know a really good spot. It’s like in Venice beach, down there on Abbot Kinney, it’s called Scopa, Scopa Italian Roots and that place is—It’s really good. It’s a way up there for sure. In terms of like really good Italian food. 

Megan Villalpando: Yeah. If you’re ever in LA and you really want some good Italian, check it out. 

Cassandra Amezquita: Yes. Awesome. I love Italian food. I’m glad you guys are on the same page about it too. That’s fun because me and my husband don’t like all the same foods.

Meagan Ruff: Yeah. That makes it easy to choose a nice dinner.

Francisco Villalpando: Yeah, totally. It’s like a tie too between like Italian and probably like Mexican.

Megan Villalpando: We’re doing a lot of Mexican too. That’s good too. Okay.

Cassandra Amezquita: Can’t go wrong with Mexican. I see you guys post a lot of food pictures. So I’m curious, like those Bierria tacos like that you dip, I still am craving them because I haven’t, like I went one day, and they were closed and I was like, great. Like I drove all the way over here. But, I’ll have to go back. So another question is what does a lazy night look like for you two?

Megan Villalpando: That’s like every night during the pandemic. Usually we watch something on Netflix. Well, we’ll make dinner and then just kind of like watch something on Netflix and chill, like Netflix or chill. Can you edit that out? I forgot that it has a different meaning. [inaudible] so we like to hang out when I say chill, I mean, just hang out on the couch and watch Netflix.

Cassandra Amezquita: You guys are expecting a baby–

Megan Villalpando: –In July, yeah.

Cassandra Amezquita: Which brings me to my next question. Do you guys have any baby names?

Megan Villalpando: Good question. Choosing a baby name is really hard. I just have to say some people know right away. That has not been our case. We have been thinking for the longest time.

Francisco Villalpando: Yeah. My grandma basically called and well, she talked to my dad and asked—and she’s from Mexico—so she speaks like, not a single word of English. And she’s like, “please just, just tell them like, whatever name they choose. Like I want to be able to pronounce it.” Yeah. So like, okay. I guess. Yeah. That’s cool. Well, we can, we can make that happen.

Megan Villalpando: So we’re still working on that.

Cassandra Amezquita: That does narrow it down. I remember doing the same thing. Like, we had all the baby names that were chosen were only names you can pronounce in English and Spanish. 

Megan Villalpando: That’s smart. We need to make a list like that.

Cassandra Amezquita: Because they will be made fun of in our culture. 

Francisco Villalpando: For sure, totally.

Cassandra Amezquita: Okay. So the last question is what’s your go-to song lately?

Megan Villalpando: Oh, that’s a good question. Okay. This is like, as of this week, but I don’t know. It came across this random, like Dave Grohl, acoustic thing on YouTube from last year. So I’ve been listening to Everlong acoustic. Like, I don’t know. That’s my, my song this week. Random. 

Meagan Ruff: That’s great.

Francisco Villalpando: Yeah. I listened to a lot of different types of music, so I don’t necessarily have like one per se, but I’ll say one of the bands that I’ve been listening to really recently a lot is a band called Krung Bin. And they’re like from Texas and it’s like this really cool. Like, I don’t know, like bluesy middle Eastern, like all these weird influences into the music. Very little lyrics, a lot of just music, a lot of guitar, like some good funk in there and yeah, it’s, it’s been, it’s been on the, I don’t know.

Megan Villalpando: I feel like we have to give a special shout out to Maverick City too. Like we have been listening to a lot of Maverick City lately and we love it. 

Cassandra Amezquita: That was my pandemic playlist.

Megan Villalpando: That is so my pandemic playlist. That and the playlist that I made that I literally call, “high school years.” And it’s like ridiculous amounts of old emo music and like John Mayer and ridiculous stuff. But I’m like, “Oh, this just reminds me of being in high school. And it’s so fun.” So no, I know how my mom felt when she would listen to her favorite music from when she was younger and I would be like, “mom, why are you listening to this?” I get it.

Cassandra Amezquita: Okay. So we’re going to go into the marriage questions. Megan, do you want to start?

Meagan Ruff: Yeah. Okay. So, my first question is what has changed either for the better, for worse, about your relationship through the pandemic? Like just being together more? I don’t know if you’ve been working from home a lot or if things like that have changed, but what are some, what are some things that have changed since that?

Megan Villalpando: That’s a good question. Well, the pandemic brought a lot of—this whole year has been just a year of change for us. I feel like cause I don’t know, the first few years that we were married, life was kind of pretty much pretty routine and stuff and then the pandemic hit and I was furloughed, my husband switched jobs, temporarily. And trying to think what else, there’s a lot of changes. We moved and so they’re just kind of like a lot of stuff.

I would say we kind of settled into a new routine. It was a little weird at first. Just cause we were so used to doing our, you know, we would get up in the morning, we would go to work and then we wouldn’t see each other most of the day until the evenings generally. And we went from that to being around each other kind of 24/7, all the time. And at first, I mean, I guess it did take some adjustment, kind of getting used to that. It wasn’t something where we’re used to just kind of having our own sort of independence and stuff. But now that we’re like a year, a year and something later, I don’t know, I like it. Like when he goes back to work or I go back to work in person, I think we will—I know I’ll miss, just our kind of routine that we have now. He, you know, we definitely like to work independently, but then we’ll go, we’ll take breaks, we’ll go for a walk. So we’ll do different stuff like that. So I think I’ll definitely miss, like, having lunch together, that kind of stuff. I do enjoy that aspect of it.

Francisco Villalpando: Yeah, definitely. I’m going to miss all the Chick-fil-A runs that we do for lunch and Raising Canes and stuff or whatever. I think just overall, honestly, like, it’s been good. I mean, we’ve, we’ve definitely obviously worked together. Like we’re in the same space, you know, doing our separate things, but it hasn’t been a situation that’s been difficult to kind of manage. I mean we like each other, so it’s like, no problem. Just kind of like being around one another. And just kind of doing our thing. 

Meagan Ruff: Yeah, In that way, it kind of, obviously people want to get back to normal and going to work in person and doing all of that stuff. But in that way, there are some sad moments of like, “Oh, I kind of like it being like this,” you know, that’s how I feel. At least there’s certain things that we’ve not done in the pandemic that created time for things like that. Like you said, walks or just like even just making lunch together at home because we are working more at home. Where I’m like, “Oh, I definitely miss this when it gets back to being a little more hectic, when we’re a little busier.”

Cassandra Amezquita: Yes. Definitely. Especially with little ones, like kind of like sharing that responsibility again when a lot of the stuff had to be split or like, “Hey, you stay home today. I’ll see him tomorrow.” That family bonding is pretty unique these days.

Meagan Ruff: Okay. Do you have the next question? 

Cassandra Amezquita: What are some helpful tips people gave you for marriage early on? 

Francisco Villalpando: Before we got married, we went through premarital counseling, just to kind of get some added tools, get some added kind of like, you know, I don’t know if training is the right word. But really be exposed to some things we should be considering, even like possible, you know, potential challenges that may be ahead. So I’m really just, that was really, really incredible, incredibly helpful. I think one of the main ones that really stuck out to me and it’s just kind of, I think based off of like statistically, like people get divorced, I think one of the top two main reasons, one of them is finances. So really, getting, you know, having us, getting that advice of like, it’s important to talk about finances, it’s important to talk about where you’re at with that. The importance of having things that are super practical, like having a joint account, you know, having that type of clarity, just like openness in a relationship. I think that that type of advice was really, really helpful, I think for me.

Megan Villalpando: Yeah. I think I would suggest this to anybody who’s even thinking about getting married. Definitely do premarital counseling, ask for it, seek it out if you can at all. Because we had, they’re retired officers now, but they did our premarital counseling. They did our wedding as well. And one thing we just always admired about them is their friendship. I don’t even know how long they’ve been married. They’ve been married for a really long time, but they just really enjoy spending time with each other. And that was something that we wanted. They just did such a good job of modeling that and we wanted to learn from them. And that was part of the reason why they just gave us so much advice during that time. But one thing that I learned from them is it’s important to agree on things. You don’t always have to see eye to eye, but at the end of the day, they’re like, “you guys have to agree on decisions to move forward. Don’t move forward on things until you guys are on the same page and you’re in agreement with things.” And I think they said that in every single session, so it always stuck with me. It’s honestly been so helpful to us. I really like that. Yeah. I mean, I read recently, somebody said that bottom line, like you and your spouse hopefully want the same thing and it may not always look the same, how it’s going to get there, but always coming back to that, like, we both want, for example, our kids to be in a healthy relationship or have healthy coping skills or however, and then like hearing each other out. It helps to remember that.

Meagan Ruff: Yeah. I like that too. Agreeing on everything. Cause yeah, there’s definitely times I can think of where like my husband and I had definitely completely different ways of approaching a problem and it’s important. You’re right. Like you have to choose one, you don’t get to choose both options. And so if we go with, you know, what Aaron wants to do, then I have to be like, okay, I agree with this situation. I’m not going to hold it against you if it doesn’t work. And I’m not going to complain that we didn’t go with my situation or my idea. Right? It really does help a lot. Yeah. And premarital in general, that’s one of the things we require if someone wants us to do their wedding is they have to do premarital and not necessarily with us if they’re not able to, but we’ve only done one wedding and they did premarital with someone else because they weren’t near us. But it is a requirement when people ask, if we can marry them, we’re like, “well, you definitely have to have time to do premarital counseling before we’ll do that.” It’s important.

Cassandra Amezquita: Yeah. So something I’ve noticed is when you’re pregnant or about to get married, people always give out advice. Is there any advice that was not helpful? 

Megan Villalpando: I feel like you, you have some —

Francisco Villalpando: Well I just have one and this is maybe like a matter of like perspective. Maybe somebody might have a different perspective. This is just my kind of perspective. And that’s like, I’ve always heard the phrase, and it’s hurt a lot, you know, “happy wife, happy life.” Right? And, I understand the sentiment behind it for sure. But I think like one thing that I’ve kind of thought is that for somebody that takes that to the extreme, that can be kind of like unhealthy in the sense of if you’re only thinking about the other, like you’re the other person and you’re sacrificing your wants, your needs, or even who you are as a person for the other person. I think that’s probably something that can be problematic in the future.

And you see a lot of, kind of like situations that happen, whether it’s like infidelity or different things of that sort, because somebody was giving up on themselves completely. Now I do, obviously I do feel like as a married couple, like we should be reaching places of compromise, places of understanding what another, I just think it has to be like both ways. It has to be reciprocated both ways and having that essentially like that, that type of, uh, of a compromise. So, yeah, and like I said, it’s a matter of perspective. That’s just kind of like my perspective on it. I like, I’ve seen some, like individuals, even friends that have kind of like, in a sense, like they, they’ve kind of lost themselves, like kind of lost some of their own personal identity by trying to appease the other, their partner or their spouse completely. And when I think it should be, it should be kind of like a two way, a two way.

Megan Villalpando: Definitely. Right. Yeah. I think kind of like what you were saying, it can definitely lead to resentment and bitterness, even if you’re not–your intention is to yeah, just have happy wife, happy life, or I don’t know if there’s a catchy phrase for the other way, like happy husband, uh, it doesn’t rhyme as well. But if you are constantly just like, “well, I guess I just won’t do anything that I like in order to keep them happy.” Yeah. That can be detrimental.

Francisco Villalpando: Yeah, totally. I would say it goes the other way too. Right. Like if the focus is completely on whatever the husband’s needs are and you know, there’s no focus on essentially the wife, like that’s not, I don’t think that’s a healthy kind of space. 

Meagan Ruff: Yeah. So Megan, did you have any, like bad marriage advice or like a silly phrase that someone said that you were like, Ooh, I don’t know.

Megan Villalpando: I think the main one that comes to mind is just, I’ve heard a lot like, Oh, marriage is 50 50, right? You, you both get 50 50. Um, and I don’t know, we always kind of disagree with that or like, no, it’s like a hundred hundred, you both need to be giving like a hundred percent of, of, of everything. This is a huge commitment. It’s probably one of the biggest commitments you’ll make, besides your relationship to God, but like, this is like a huge, huge commitment. And so no, like we should be striving to give a hundred percent of who we are, even when it’s uncomfortable sometimes or feels out of our comfort zone, that kind of stuff. But I think that’s where some of that growth comes in. 

Meagan Ruff: Yeah. I love that. Um, what are some ways that you guys have found to keep your marriage healthy? Some intentional ways, whether it’s, you know, you’d be like a book or a study or keeping in contact with the officers you were talking about that did your premarital, like, do you have things in place that really help with that?

Megan Villalpando: I would say one thing is just, this is really simple, but we just communicate every day. During the pandemic it’s easy cause we’re around each other a lot. But, prior to the pandemic, you know, we would be, sometimes we’d be traveling, I’d sometimes for my job, I’ll be gone for two weeks at a time or things like that. Um, so I would just say, Oh, you know, we just always try to make a point to connect with each other every day. Um, whether that be a conversation, how was your day kind of debrief the day or something, even if we’re apart from each other, just kind of checking in and seeing how, how we’re doing. Um, and then the other thing that I always tell people is like for us. So for us, we have kind of our identity together as a married couple, but we also have individual identities.

Right. We are our own people too. And so we both, in our case, what worked well for us is like, we both have full-time jobs and we’re both, again, I’m talking more pre-pandemic, but like, you know, we go to work and we, we, we have our own ministries, we have our own things that we do independently that we’re passionate about, that we really care about as individuals. Um, but then we have things that we care about together. And so I think that that’s been, something that’s kind of helped us is just having, having an identity outside of just our, who we are as a married couple as Megan and Francisco or whatever. Um, but I think that that’s been really, a key for us.

Francisco Villalpando: Yeah, totally completely. To piggyback off that too. And just say that yeah, having that same sense of independence, you know, like maintaining your interests. There are things that we both mutually have interests in, like we both enjoy, but we also have our own separate kind of things that we like to do or are interested in on our own and just kind of giving each other that space to explore. That has been really helpful.

Megan Villalpando: Yeah. And I just want to throw one other thing out there: trust. I mean, I think we have pretty good boundaries that we’ve set for each other in our relationship and we trust each other within those. We don’t check up on each other’s locations or we don’t like to. For us, that would just, I think that would drive us both crazy. It’s different for everybody, but for us specifically, we just have a certain level of trust in each other. And I think that’s really key in keeping our relationship healthy as well. 

Meagan Ruff: One of the, the thing that you said about having your independent, like the things that you, you love that are separate, that’s one of the things a lot of, couples have talked to us or a lot of friends have talked to me and been like, Oh, you know, my husband, like, he just plays video games and like, I hate video games. Um, that’s one of those things that I recognize as my husband does like video and he likes to play with his friends. We live in Hawaii, none of our friends live here. So I recognize that it’s one of those things that I’m like, that’s Aaron’s time. That is something he loves to do, that he can still connect with his friends who aren’t here. And there’s things that I like to do that are special to me, that he definitely respects as well. So I can see how, especially when you’re brand new married, it feels like no, we should like all the same things and do all the same things and everything should be together. But, it is, that’s really, really great advice. Like you got to keep those things that are important and special to you as well. and don’t lose that. 

Cassandra Amezquita: Yeah, exactly. Definitely. So along the same lines, how do you honor and respect each other in your marriage? More? I would say more like biblically or in your, in your faith, maybe even in your different cultures that you might have, like, how do you bring that honor and respect? 

Francisco Villalpando: I think like one thing, or one way of respecting each other is like understanding those things that triggered the other person. And just kind of like avoiding those things. I think that’s incredibly important. Just in general to maintain the peace in your household. Like I guess in a sense sometimes, like not all arguments are worth winning, you know, at the expense of the other person’s wellbeing or peace. So really just like understanding what the other person, like, you know, me understanding what’s going to trigger, you know, Megan, whether it’s like a phrase or a tone or something along those lines, like trying to avoid that and just being a better communicator. I think in that sense, you show respect towards the other person.

Megan Villalpando: Yeah. I think the same is true for me. Just understanding what does trigger kind of each other, like for me, I am kind of a clean freak. So like if the house is messy, I don’t like it. Or, like for him he’s pretty clean himself too. So it works out. I think that eliminates like 99% of possible arguments. But just knowing those boundaries and there’s times where sometimes I’ll catch myself. I don’t mean necessarily to say something in a kind of maybe serious way or a sharp way or something, but it can come across that way or maybe the way he says something to me. So we kind of have learned those, we know each other pretty well. So we know kind of those boundaries and just trying to stay in respect of those boundaries and kind of therefore show respect to one another through that. 

Meagan Ruff: Yeah. That’s great. Having boundaries is so important, not only in marriage, but in all relationships, in all of life. We kept coming back to that theme of boundaries as we were preparing our show and going through all of our different episodes. And we were like, it’s probably going to come up in every episode and you obviously show that today. It goes exactly with what we’ve been talking about. So that’s perfect. 

Francisco Villalpando: I was gonna say something too. Like I think Cassandra kinda raised the interesting thing too. Like the importance of understanding our own kind of backgrounds, you know, we came from like, you know, different kinds of cultures, I think, like a way of respecting each other. And I think Megan’s done a really good job of understanding like my experience in terms of growing up, you know, understanding my family the way that sometimes my family does things differently than her family does. And just really like having an open kind of mind at that, like not coming at something with the prejudgment or, you know, or something, but just really having an openness. I think that’s been really helpful just in terms of respecting, you know, the respect factor.

Megan Villalpando: Yes, definitely. I mean, and that goes both ways too. Definitely. Like, I come from a big family. There’s six, six kids of us and so life is loud and crazy and that’s just how we grew up. You know, we all kind of talk over each other. We’re all opinionated and stuff. And for him it was mostly him and his sister. And so like him walking into a situation where everybody’s just a lot of girls and we’re all like chatty and stuff. Just kind of getting used to that kind of environment versus, I don’t know, his upbringing was more like, I say him and his sister a little more quiet, a little more calm, you know? Just being open-minded and giving things a chance too. I think it’s been really good for us. 

Meagan Ruff: Yeah, I love that.

Cassandra Amezquita: Yes. When you get married you kind of walk in with your literal baggage, like boxes of stuff that you collect, but you also walk in with emotional baggage and everything else and you kind of have to figure each other out and even yourself out. And as you mentioned, your own identity and then you have your little blend together. 

Meagan Ruff: That’s one of those things we talked about in our premarital counseling and they were the pastors that went through it with us. They were like, “okay, so let’s talk about something that seems kind of weird, but like who in your family took out the trash?” And that was like, “well, obviously my dad did.” And Aaron was like, “well, my mom did.” And I was like, well, I’m not taking it out because my dad took it out and Aaron was like whoever just sees the trash full should take it out. And it was not a real argument, but it was like, even things that you don’t recognize as part of your baggage or your family, just how things went in your family, you totally take into marriage immediately, unless you recognize it. You assess how your family is going to work. So it’s important to know your spouse’s family and also know your own family and what you bring in.

Cassandra Amezquita: Yeah. So how has marriage taught you both how to be better Jesus followers?

Megan Villalpando: So we were both kind of thinking about this question. I think for me, something that comes to mind is like, I feel like Francisco is really graceful towards me. I think he shows me a lot of grace. Just when I’m emotional, or I’m going through something, or I don’t know, just like this year alone, like I mentioned before, has just been really crazy. A lot of ups and downs and a lot of trials honestly. But I just feel like he shows me a lot of love and a lot of grace and I just really feel like that is just a reflection of Christ, you know, in a sense I’m not comparing you to Christ. I just feel like that’s a gift that God has given him. And I get to like kind of, he shows that to me and I really do appreciate that and I feel like it kind of leads me to want to show more grace to others and show more love to others in my life in a more tangible way. However, just being more vulnerable with people. And I’m a one on the Enneagram, so I like things structured. I like things, you know, orderly and sometimes I’m even a little reserved. I’m more of an introvert. So like, I guess that grace that he shows me it really, I don’t know, like I say, I want to show that to other people be more transparent, more vulnerable with others and you know, hopefully in hopes that they will feel Christ through me through those actions. 

Francisco Villalpando: Yeah. I’ll say one thing that I really, really admire and have learned from Megan is like, in terms of her work, in terms of, let’s say her work ethic in terms of like her working for the Lord in a ministry kind of role. I’ve been able to see excellence. I’ve been able to see the amount of excellence in work and thoughtfulness she puts into her work because at the end of the day, it’s about people. So like, what I’ve learned is like, you know, what service can look like in a form that is essentially excelling in a form that is, you know, considering other people in a form that is going to essentially have a really good effectiveness or ultimate effectiveness. So like, that’s kind of like in part of like, I’ve learned the beauty of serving people and serving people well through her example.

Cassandra Amezquita: Well now I’m curious Francisco, what’s your Enneagram?

Francisco Villalpando: So, I am a nine. I’m a peacemaker. Yeah. In terms of like, if it’s like the Myers Briggs type of thing, I’m an introvert as well. But like somebody has said, I’m kind of like a loud introvert.

Meagan Ruff: Nice. That’s fun. We like sending each other Enneagram memes all the time. So like, “Oh my gosh, this one is so me, this one is so you.” So Cassandra and I do that all the time. So it’s fun when people bring it up because then we can talk about it. 

Francisco Villalpando: What are your numbers?

Cassandra Amezquita: So I’m a six, although I do have like a very high number on the one scale. But mostly I was 20 out of 20 on six.

Meagan Ruff: Yes. And I would say like, as your friend, I think you definitely are a six, like definitely makes sense. When we first found out about Enneagram and Cassandra was like, I’m a six. I was like, “okay, wait, what does a six like?” and I looked it up and I was like, “yes.” I’m a three, So like you said “not all arguments are worth winning.” And I wrote it down because I was like, “really?” I like winning. But yes, I’m a three, so it’s fun to do that stuff. I love it. Okay, what would you say to other young couples who are considering marriage?

Francisco Villalpando: Oh, well, one thing I’ll say is in a sense, like do what you can to prepare yourself essentially for the future. So one of the things that I did personally, and actually have it here, is I started reading books about marriage. So one of the books that actually helped me was like, it’s a TD Jakes book and it’s called “Before You Do…” And essentially it kind of goes through a list of like every chapter is a list of kind of questions to kind of ask yourself for things to consider before you do certain steps or certain actions. So one of them is like, before you get engaged, before you get married, you know, before you think about having kids before you buy a home, before you do all of that stuff, things to kind of consider and really like, yeah. My advice would be like anybody that’s like wanting to like get married really would be like to read, you know, read, ask questions, ask, you know, look at Godly examples of people that like display, Godly examples of marriage and ask them questions. And even with like some of the, with your like future fiancee or whatever, future spouse. Yeah. Just ask questions, have discussions about, you know, some of the important topics that you should be thinking about things like kids, things like, you know, whatever else, that type of stuff. 

Cassandra Amezquita: Yeah, definitely.

Megan Villalpando: I, I think my main things that I would say is, when I think friendship is really important, don’t rush into things. Um, we dated for four years before we got married. I know I’m not saying everyone needs to do that or anything. Um, but you know, we saw each other through difficult times for really good times through a lot of like, life things happened in that time. And, it just really gave us time to grow together. Um, our friendship, we got to know each other’s families pretty well. And, yeah, I just, I can’t say that enough. Like, I think we enjoy being together. Like we like to be around each other because I think the friendship is there. We have a really solid like friendship kind of first and foremost. And, yeah, I would just say, get to really know each other and make sure that that’s somebody, you, you don’t just love them, but you like to be around them. I think that’s really important. And then, I would say also, this sounds weird, but like, don’t act like, you know, everything. It’s like tempting to, I don’t know, like you, you hear advice from people and you’re like already know this, already know that or whatever, but like actually give it a chance and listen, like really listen to what people are trying to tell you, because they’ve learned something they’ve been there. They know kind of like what stage you’re in. Um, so I think that’s important just don’t act like, you know, everything already. And then the last thing I would say is, uh, make sure you find friends, that are maybe in a similar life stage as you, or maybe even the next life stages you, but make sure that you have friends that are, like I say, like seeking God, love God and, you know, are really trying to live out their, their marriage or their family life in a manner that is honoring to God and, and surround yourself with people like that because it, it just can be such an encouragement and such a blessing. And, yeah, I think that’s been really important for us is we have some really solid, great friends that are just such an encouragement and always there for us. And we always try to be there for them as well. Yeah.

Meagan Ruff: I love that. That’s great. Well, that, that was all like wonderful advice. I think that’s a perfect place to kind of wrap it up. Um, those, uh, that advice to young couples or people who want to get married, not even, you don’t even have to be in a couple necessarily to know that you want to get married someday. And so I think a lot of that stuff is stuff you can, take right away. And even as someone who’s been married for a little while now, not a long time, but there’s definitely some things that I can take away from that, for my own marriage. So I love it. Um, and we want to thank you guys so much for coming on. Um, thank you for sharing so openly, and laughing with us. And, it’s been a lot of fun and I think our listeners are really going to love this.

Cassandra Amezquita: So this episode is going to air close to when you have your baby!

Megan Villalpando: That’s awesome. 

Cassandra Amezquita: Thank you for everything you guys both. Do you, I mean, both of you guys have been so helpful to me in, at some point in my life, uh, Francisco, you share awesome, uh, social media tips recently and, Megan, your passion for serving others is amazing. So thank you guys for being here today. We appreciate you both.

Megan Villalpando: Awesome. Thank you guys. So at first we were like, Oh, we haven’t– I mean, we’ve been married, it’ll be six years next week–

Francisco Villalpando: —on Sunday.

Megan Villalpando: Yes, but we’re like, we still feel like newlyweds. We aren’t seasoned married people, so we were a little nervous at first. So thank you for letting us not feel so nervous.

Meagan Ruff: No, that’s perfect. And like you said, you know, listen to the advice that’s given to you and don’t necessarily just be like, “Oh, I know everything.” And I think you guys have that attitude. Six years is still a good amount of time. It’s not a little, I mean, I’ve been married now for seven, so not much longer. And I still definitely feel like a newlywed, except that we have three crazy kids so that reminds me that it’s not so fresh. I think your perspective is going to be great for a lot of our listeners. I really love everything you guys shared. So I’m going to stop recording. 

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