Interviewing The Marriage of My In-Laws: Jeff and Lisa Byal

Hello readers!

Today’s interview is brought to you by my wonderful in-laws, Jeff and Lisa Byal! They have been married for 34 years!

How cute are they?!

Before you read any of this I want everyone to know that I literally have the BEST in-laws a girl could ever ask for. They are so kind, accepting, caring, generous, funny, and they treat and love me like their own daughter!

I always prayed to have a great relationship with my future Husband’s parents and I got that prayer answered ten fold.

A little background on the OG Byals…

They grew up in the small town of Webster City, IA. Funny because it’s only about an hour from my hometown!

They worked at the local McDonald’s together and one day, Jeff, asked Lisa to the winter formal.

She politely turned around and said, “Who, me?!” and then walked away!

But don’t worry, she later said yes and it is basically history from there on out!

They both attended Iowa State University, married young (20 years old), and moved to Louisville, KY. While living there Lisa obtained her masters degree in Audiology.

They had two boys, Brendan and Curtis. They moved to Omaha, NE, then to Austin, TX, and then back to where it all started, Louisville, Kentucky!

**Also, I have to note that Louisville is NOT said like, “Louis-ville”, it is properly pronounced, “LU-A-VULLLLE. You gotta say it like you have 4 marshmallows in your mouth.

I admire them, how they raised their boys, what they built together and their marriage.

So, I asked them what the hard parts about the last 34+ years they have been together, the good parts, and everything in between.

Without Further a due…. Jeff and Lisa Byal!

1. What is one of the greatest parts about being married? 

Lisa: Not having to go through life alone.  You have this other person you know you can count on for friendship, to share your day with, to learn from, to bounce parenting and other ideas off of, to hold your hand, to share your hopes and dreams with.  And to eat with. That’s big at our house!

Jeff: Our time together.  We belly laugh together almost daily.  I love spending time with my best friend – even when we’re apart a quick text brings a smile to my face, and I’m usually sharing some stupid people tricks I’ve observed during my travels, which are frequent!

2. What is one of the hardest parts?

Lisa: Selflessness.  As a Christian, everything I do starts from the perspective that I am a Christ-follower.  I look at everything through that lens, including my marriage. And to be a God-honoring wife, I must put Jeff’s needs ahead of my own.  Some days I don’t feel like it, and some days I flat-out fail at it. It’s something I am committed to working on for the rest of my life.

Jeff: Some days just sharing your agenda with someone else can be hard.  When you’re single, you can do what you want, when you want – not always when you’re married.  You have to plan around another person’s agenda for the day/week and accommodate. This generally works well for us though. 

3. What is your favorite characteristic about each other?

Lisa: His sense of humor.  He makes laugh every single day.  He takes time when he’s at work to send me a quick text, which is usually something funny and I love that it’s a way to connect when we’re apart.  A close second is his organization and attention to detail. Because I’m so NOT. He’s always looking for little ways to be on top of things, whether it’s our house, our finances, or our family.

Jeff: Lisa is selfless almost daily.  She is always looking for the good in everyone and how to uplift others.  I’m someone who really generally doesn’t care what others think or do, nor do I have a good filter on what I say, so she teaches me to be more aware and compassionate daily.

4. How has marriage changed you individually and why?

Lisa: I think we’ve met in the middle on lot of things.  Take the organization for example. I am messy by nature.  But I know tidiness is important to him, so I strive to be neater than I actually am.  And thankfully, he looks the other way when I’m not. It brings me joy to strive to please him.  It’s also helped me grow in my faith in ways I wouldn’t if I were single. There are days or seasons when you don’t feel as close as a couple, and in those times I have to lean harder into God and remember my commitment is not only to Jeff, it is to the Lord.  When I’m not feeling like giving my all, the Lord promises to be my strength. And He is faithful to do that if I rely on Him.

Jeff: Being married to Lisa and raising boys has made me complete.  I have purpose and responsibility for others in my life that I would never have had if I had never been married.

5.What was something that surprised you both about being married?

Lisa: That 34 years into it, it’s still fun!  We are shooting for being married for at least 70 years and I’m excited about all the adventures that still lie ahead for us.

Jeff: Just how fast time flies.  Whether it’s the years before children, or the years raising boys – don’t blink!  We have so much history together that a simple word or look carries so much meaning – especially epic quotes from movies we’ve seen over our decades together.  That shared history is so meaningful to me.

6. Did either of you have any expectations before you got married that were either not met or unrealized?

Lisa: We were very young, so I don’t think I had a clear idea of what marriage was supposed to be.  I do think I developed expectations over time that primarily had to do with work/family balance.  It took me a while to see that Jeff’s work ethic is one way he shows love to me and our boys by wanting to provide well for us as we were raising our family and into our retirement years.

Jeff: I’m pretty sure all of Lisa’s expectations in me have been exceeded!  

7. You guys have moved a lot while being married, what has moving and starting a new life together in a new place taught you?

Lisa:  I think the first move, which was right out of college and hundreds of miles from everyone we knew, really solidified our “we’re in this together” attitude.  All we had was each other! It was an adventure and we loved exploring, meeting new people, etc. That same spirit of adventure and togetherness has stayed with us through every move.  Moving is exhausting and very stressful, but the thing I feel most is excitement about experiencing the next new place with my best friend.

Jeff: Being such good friends, it’s always an adventure.  We like exploring new cities together. I like change and new things a lot more than Lisa does; it’s exhilarating to me, whereas she needs more time to nest and get in a routine – so I’m aware and give her the time she needs.  I’m already looking forward to our next move, and building one more house together…..okay, it’s really Lisa doing the building, but the next time I’m going to sneak into the process since I’ll be retired then! (shhhh)

8. What are some memories you have of your wedding day?

Lisa: It was a great day celebrating the life we were starting together.  The thing I remember most is the people who were there to celebrate with us.  Getting dressed with my bridesmaids. My dad’s calm reassurance just before we walked down the aisle together.   Hugging all our friends and family in the receiving line (that used to be a thing!). Chatting with guests at our reception.  Jeff dancing on his knees with my little nieces. Snapshots of a beautiful day. The beginning of a blessed and beautiful life.

Jeff: That was a LONG time ago!  After a full day of festivities (and it was a full day!), we drove 45 minutes alone in the dark to our new apartment and started our life together.  It was so exciting to finally be together forever. I also remember the cream cheese mints!

9. If you could both sum up your marriage in 3 words or less, what would it be?

Lisa: Friendship.  Laughter. Food.

Jeff: Agree 100%.  All are so important.  Did we mention food?!

Side note: Lisa, is an amazing cook! All of her food I want to eat more of.

10. What is one piece of advice you guys could give to other married couples out there?

Lisa: Unconditional LOVE and RESPECT.   If you are focused primarily on what you are giving to your spouse instead of what you are getting, most of the pitfalls will be avoided because your spouse is going to feel valued.  Learn their love language and be intentional about speaking it often, especially if it’s different from your own.

Jeff: Don’t be so uptight!  Life is such a gift and it’s okay to be silly, spend time alone, realize you are different people with different likes, passions, desires – if you were both the same, one of you would not be needed!  The intersection of your passions, likes, desires is where the fun together ignites.

Well, there you have it! Those are my wonderful In-Laws!

I hope you enjoyed this. I also hope this encouraged you in your marriage today (if you are married).

1 Peter 4:8 (NIV) “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

Thanks for reading,

~Erin, The Short Wife

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