Interviews With Wives – Tammy Oberg De La Garza

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Tell us about you!

I am 47 years old, married to Rey for 20 years, living with two teenagers – our son at home and our daughter in college. I also have two step-daughters – both in their early 30’s and married with kids. I am a professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and the author of Dare to Respect. My friends have described me as transparent, caring, and down-to-earth.


What sort of difficulties have you faced as a wife?

This question is easy because I’ve been recently working on this marriage difficulty – and that is my super-sized, desire-to-control. God has given me a brain that loves to plan, organize and make schedules. Whenever possible, I am quick to propose my plans and attempt to convince everybody that my ideas are best. This, of course, has led to many conflicts in relationships, but especially in our marriage. I’ve been slow (painfully slow) to recognize how brilliant my husband is, and even slower to respect his input.


Where there any unhealthy expectations you had going into marriage that you later learned were not helpful?

I came into marriage expecting Rey to be as amazing in the new role of husband, as he was a father. I was eager for him to miraculously heal every past hurt I carried and fulfill all my needs for love, affirmation, nurturing, and adoration. I also anticipated that he would instinctively know how to fix every mechanical, structural or electrical problem in our home. These expectations were ridiculous of course, because we both had to learn how to develop a healthy husband-wife relationship… in many ways with more effort and time than it took for him to master plumbing, carpentry and remodeling!


How did you struggle with housework and/or differences in amount of work each spouse does?

I am able to spend a portion of my time working from home, so I have more opportunity to do housework. My house will never win a “cleanliness award” because I am not disciplined to do “a little every day.” I wait until inspiration strikes and I go into Commando-Cleaning-Mode!   I tackle most of the housework, from light dusting and vacuuming to heavy-duty overhauling (i.e. garage, basement, etc.). Cleaning is less important to Rey and thankfully we both recognize that there are other things in our lives that take priority. It would be nice if we didn’t stumble over shoes in the entryway, but in the grander scheme of things, the people living in the home are more important than the house itself.


How do you or did you struggle with intimacy?

I believe that God gave us physical intimacy as the “glue” that unites husbands and wives. Much like the oxytocin hormone bonds a mother to her nursing baby, the pleasure and adrenaline that comes from sex in marriage also maintains a connection. Some women withhold sex as an incentive to motivate husbands to be more loving. I am fortunate to experience the opposite – a husband can demonstrate more loving behaviors when physical intimacy is present in a marriage.


How do you struggle with communication with your spouse?

Communication takes a lot of work! No, seriously. A LOT of work!

Because Rey is the person who knows me better than anybody, sometimes I assume he knows the context of every idea I share. I can’t tell you how many times he’s looked at me with a bewildered look on his face, and said, “Huh? What are you talking about?”

Over the years, I’ve recognized that my husband can’t psychically interpret my thoughts – and so I must speak them out loud! I wish I could say that this wisdom is employed every time we communicate, but I have improved over the years, and I’m quicker to back up and self-correct, when I see that quizzical look in his eyes.


How do you and your spouse connect the best? What does it require of you? Despite my love of talking, I recognize that men are not built to enjoy an abundance of words. When I am quiet(er) and give my husband time and space to connect… he does! A great time of day for this to happen is first thing in the morning – when he is fresh and I’m still too sleepy to speak. The physical and emotional space between us shrinks when I allow him to come closer without fear of a running commentary. I’m not saying wives should be silent, but the more prudent I am at “getting to the point,” the better we communicate and connect.


How did you connect with your spouse when you were raising your children? Wow… how I wish I could say that we had romantic dates, held hands and connected through life-altering conversations… but when our kids were young, life was REAL. REAL busy. REALLY messy. REALLY noisy. And REALLY exhausting. I was constantly rushed by all the special moments I wanted to create for my kids’ memory banks – from story-time to physical outings to holiday traditions. Finding time to use the bathroom in solitude was challenging, let alone carving out time for meaningful connections with my husband. When we did connect deeply, it was in the middle of family life – typically via wistful looks over the heads of our beautiful children who were completely engrossed in activity and unaware of our presence.


If you could do the season over with young kiddos, how would it look different?

This isn’t easy to admit, but in our early parenting days I was not the loving, respectful wife I am today. I was frequently hard on Rey because of the impossible expectations I held up to him. If I could re-do my season with young children, it would be filled with more husband-affirming words, honor, and respect for the man that showed up every single day – not the imaginary one I envisioned.


What do you see young wives struggling with today? What do you wish they knew?

In many ways I see young wives today doing better than I did. I think women are beginning to recognize we can’t DO it all and shouldn’t HAVE it all. Rather than trying to be the “perfect” cook, lover, housekeeper, body-type, mother, and/or wife, I hope women understand that the “perfect” concept is a waste of effort and energy – because perfection is not attainable. Life is not perfect – no matter how beautiful it appears on the social media pages of our friends and family. The best moments of marriage, parenthood and life happen in between the big moments we are trying to orchestrate (i.e. when the basement floods and the two of you are mopping stinky water towards the ground drain at 2am). Soak in in.


If you were to look back at yourself on your wedding day, what do you wish you would’ve known?

I wish I would have known that God had plans for our marriage and our family. I wish I knew that my weakness would be the path to healing. I wish I would have known then, that no matter how imperfect we were, that we were enough for God to mold into people that He could use for his Kingdom.


How did Tammy’s story encourage you? We’d love to hear! 


Tammy Oberg De La Garza is an Associate Professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois. She is the author of Dare to Respect and the lead author of Salsa Dancing in Gym Shoes, and has been involved in educating children and adults for more than 25 years. Tammy’s countless hours in women’s ministries, small groups, marriage ministry, and step studies have helped her understand the vital importance of developing healthy relationships in marriage, as well as with women of varying ages. Tammy is 47 y/o and married to the love of her life, Rey. She is familiar with playing the role of hockey/rugby mom to their son Alex, and delights in the long “girl-talk-sessions” with their daughter, Sierra.

Some of the difficult lessons I’ve learned are those facing the 6 women in Dare to Respect – alcoholism, addiction, isolation or infidelity. My weaknesses and mistakes have fertilized a passion for helping wives strengthen their connections with husbands so they don’t fall prey to the evil one who schemes to destroy marriages, families and communities. God gives us plenty of insight into marriage – we need to understand how it still applies in our present culture.

You can purchase Dare to Respect, here!


4 thoughts on “Interviews With Wives – Tammy Oberg De La Garza

  1. I told my husband he wasn’t a Christian. Now for over a month he won’t say the words I Love You ! He with held intimacy from me for about 3 wks. It is as if he wants to punish me fir what I said. And he won’t go to our church with me. I’m praying God will work in his heart, I love my husband very much, but his relationship with Jesus is not strong. I know all the right things to do its just soooo hard when I feel soooo unloved by him. We’ve been married 6 yrs. This Christmas. Any thoughts?

    1. Laura, you are not alone. I’d love to chat in more depth with you, so feel free to email me at amanda@amandadavison.com. For anyone reading, if your husband’s relationship is not strong, the BEST thing you can do is make your own relationship strong. Rely on God for EVERYTHING in EVERY WAY. Having a heart for the Lord will cause you to love your husband just where he is! As you rely on the Lord to love your husband as He wants you to, let God do the work in him. We are not the Holy Spirit, so we ought to move out of the way and let Him work. Let go of trying to get your husband to do things and instead love your husband like you never have before, trusting in the Lord for His timing. Praying for you and your husband, Laura! God is bigger than this!!! Get on your knees and pray, girl!!!

  2. Amanda! This was a great read. The communication part was my fav. The statement ” men are not built to enjoy an abundance of words” REALLY hit me! So true & a huge AMEN! Thank you for sharing this article full of truth & done with much grace.
    In His grip,

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