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Adding Some Spice to Your Marriage

Air Date 09/30/2016

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Pastor and author Ted Cunningham combines humor with practical advice for enjoying more connection and intimacy in your marriage.

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Episode Transcript


John Fuller: Today on "Focus on the Family," Pastor Ted Cunningham shares some really fun insights into how you can have a more enjoyable relationship with your spouse, including the importance of good communication.


Pastor Ted Cunningham: Early in our marriage I had to tell her, I go, "Listen, baby, there's just not a lot of adventure left for men in the world anymore, okay. So, please let me find my own parking space, okay? I want to do it all by myself." (Laughter)

End of Teaser

John: (Laughter)

Jim Daly: I like it.

John: Well, stay with us as we laugh and learn on today's "Focus on the Family," with your host, Focus president, Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I'm John Fuller.

Jim: You know, Ted Cunningham, he has a real gift for humor and today he's going to combine that with some great ideas to promote intimacy between husbands and wives and humor works so well. This was actually recorded for our Date Nigh Challenge Comedy Edition, which gives churches an opportunity to host an event that couples can attend to enjoy an evening together, kinda like a date night and hopefully, strengthen their marriage. That's the goal. And if you like what you hear today, you can get a copy of the entire Date Night DVD when you get in touch with us.

John: Yeah, stop by to find out more. Now Ted Cunningham is founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri. He's written a number of books and as we said, he's talking to married couples about strengthening every aspect of the relationship, including physical intimacy and with that, here's our featured speaker on today's "Focus on the Family."


Audience: (Applause)

Ted: Well, it is good to be here. Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure." Now I grew up in an Independent Fundamental Premillennial King James Version-Only Baptist Church. (Cheers and Laughter) And so, I really shouldn't even be here tonight. (Laughter) Anyway I grew up in a church, in a home that taught me how to love Jesus, but I grew up in a church and a home that taught me how to honor purity, but not necessarily how to honor marriage.

So, you can imagine, seven years into marriage, one night my wife was in bed reading a book on how men think. It's not a real thick book. (Laughter) You can read it in about a night. (Laughter) And I remember her reading this book and flippin' the pages and I could tell she was gettin' more and more mad, (Laughter), getting' more and more frustrated.

And I told her for years, "The problem with our marriage is, you read too much. (Laughter) [If] you'd stop readin', we'd have a better marriage." And she's flippin' these pages and she finally sets the book down and she goes, "I have to ask you a question and I need an honest answer." She said, "Have you ever struggled with lust towards another woman?"

Now let me teach you somethin'. (Laughter) All right, you start by acting as though you didn't hear the question. (Laughter) "Huh?" (Laughter) "Have you ever struggled with lust towards another woman?" Tactic two, you act as though you didn't understand the question. (Laughter) "What do you mean?" (Laughter) But then I knew we were going there.

We were gonna have a long conversation about the way men think. And for the week as we discussed this, we'd walk into stores and anytime a woman would walk towards me, Amy would look right at me and I'd have to look right to the ground. That was (Laughter) for the whole week. At the (Laughter) end of the week—this is a true story—she comes up to me and she said, "I've been gettin' some discipleship. I've been reading everything I can get my hands on."

Who's the first person she had to go hear? Right, she had to find out what Beth Moore said about the subject (Laughter), 'cause if Beth Moore said it, Jesus believes it. (Laughter and Applause) And she said, "I'm gonna tell you somethin' right now, Ted Cunningham. I will be your only fantasy. Okay, there's a Hebrew term for that. You know what the Hebrew term is? Bow, bow, chicka, chicka, bow, bow. (Laughter)

But I think Christians should be leading out in this. Husband and wife, the marriage bed kept pure. We can have a lot of creative ideas in the marriage bedroom without bringing anything from the world into it. And all God's people said--

Audience: Amen!

Ted: --you're like, "I don't know. (Laughter) Depends on how far he's gonna go with this." I'm gonna start with the guys just to help you out, 'cause I love you and I care for you and this is pastoral uh … care tonight. I want to give you a list on how to prepare your wife for a night of romance, okay. And if you haven't taken any notes, this is the time to start. (Laughter) You get your phone out and you start writin' it down, because we believe in our home, men are microwaves; women are Crock-Pots. (Laughter) That's No. 1. (Laughter) We actually got a candle that we call the Crock-Pot candle and when that candle's lit, it means tonight's the night. (Laughter)

I taught my kids to play with matches. "You guys light that thing anytime you want." (Laughter and Applause) "I've lost count of how many times we've blown the candle out because of you kids." (Laughter) But the candle can be lit and it means, "okay, we have all day." So, guys this is all day we're preparing her for a night of romance.

Okay, No. 1, it starts early in the morning. No. 2, give her a non-sexual touch before you leave the house. That's what we call a NST, okay? Dr. Gary Smalley says, you need 12 of those a day and it's not, one, two three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12. (Laughter) You know what a non-sexual touch is, right? It's the hair over the ear. It's a hand on the back. It's maybe opening a door and the hand on the small of the back. Driving down the road, a hand on the thigh, holding hands, a gentle kiss on the cheek. That's a non-sexual touch, okay?

Call her during the day. Just add it to the list. Call her during the day for no purpose other than to connect with her, just to say, "Hey, hey, how're you doin'? Just callin' to say, I want you to know, I'm at work, but I'm thinking of you." Mm! (Laughter) Get home a little bit early. Do something domestic. (Laughter) If you beat your wife home, get the dishwasher started. The key here is you don't even need dishes in it; just get the dishwasher started. (Laughter) The sound of the dishwasher goin' on does somethin' to my wife! I can't explain it. But when I do any sort of cleaning around the house, she just looks at me; we don't even have to communicate with words anymore. She looks at me like, "You're my man." (Laughter) The candle is lit. (Laughter)

Download a lovemaking playlist. Oh, this is good. We got songs. You got songs? We grew up in the '80s. We got songs. All I have to do and if I don't even play it, if I sing it, it's even better. (Laughter) And I want to give you permission to join me as I start singin' this song, okay? See, some of you know, oh, it's gonna be good, but it's good.

Listen, all I have to do is walk into the kitchen and start singin' this (Singing), "Now I had the time of my life (Laughter), no never felt like this before. (Laughter) This I swear." And she jumps in the air. I grab her (Laughter and Applause) and off we go.

Now see, all of this is building, right? And I try to help my brothers along in this, because they're like, well, we don't really connect all day and we've been tired and well, she's workin' and I'm workin' and we're doin' the kids' activities and we're getting' home, but I always like to go into the kitchen about 9 o'clock and tap her and be like, "Hey, baby, do you want to go?" (Laughter) And she says, "No. (Laughter) Like you haven't prepared me." Right, for a woman, sexual interest is driven by energy.

This is why you have to remove distraction. In our home right now, we got a 10-year-old distraction and a 12-year-old distraction. (Laughter) And most nights, the candle's lit, I have to run around the house goin', "Stay away from your mother," right. "Leave her alone; go to your room right now." (Laughter) "I just have to say somethin' to mom." "No, you're gonna say nothin' to mom." (Laughter) "You're gonna leave mom alone." (Laughter) "You can talk to her in the morning." (Laughter)

Amy, honestly after a couple hours, she'll come out of the bedroom after taking a bath or something, she's like, "Hey, where are the kids?" "They're safe. (Laughter) That's all you need to know. You focus." (Laughter) You stay … I bet that you guys know what I'm talkin' about. You've done all this work. You've worked for 12 hours (Laughter) and the kid can say or do somethin', "Oh, I'm not really in the mood." "You stay focused! (Laughter) I'll take care of the kids." (Laughter)

You gotta bring some candles into the bedroom and this is where the ladies start to go, "I'm kinda insecure about my body." Well, put a votive in the far corner of the room. Make 'em squint, but get a candle." (Laughter) Okay, that's enough for the guys.

Ladies, here's my list for you on how to prepare your husband for romance. Show up naked. That's it. (Laughter and Applause)We don't need no calls during the day just to see how we're doin'. (Laughter) We're fine. (Laughter) The house doesn't even need to be clean. You would be amazed at how dirty it can be. (Laughter) Marriage should be honored by all. You know, that means every single, every married, young, old, it doesn't matter, all of us are called to esteem marriage as highly valuable.

Program Note:

John: You're listening to Pastor Ted Cunningham from a Date Night Challenge event on "Focus on the Family." And in a few moments you'll hear how to find joy in your relationship with your husband or wife. Now get a CD or the audio download of this entire broadcast or a DVD of the entire Date Night Challenge Comedy Edition, featuring Ted Cunningham, John Branyan and Jason Earls, as well, when you call 800-A -FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or learn more at Let's return now to Ted Cunningham on today's "Focus on the Family."

End of Program Note

Ted: I think we've gotten away from this next key uh … verse in the Scripture. It's found in Ecclesiastes. I love the book ends of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 1, "Life is hard." Ecclesiastes 12, "Then you die." (Laughter) That's a … it's why a lot of people avoid that book, but generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. And then you get to chapter 12, and it says what? "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come when you say, 'I find no pleasure in them.'" It's old age.

Here's the book ends: life is hard, then you die. But in the middle of this book is Ecclesiastes 9, 7 to 9. It says this: "Go and eat your food with gladness. Drink your wine with a joyful heart." We were independent, fundamental, premillennial, King James version-only Baptists. We never did that part. (Laughter) We left that part out. (Laughter)

It says eat your food with gladness. Drink your wine with a joyful heart, for now God favors what you do, but not the Independent Baptists, but God favors it. (Laughter) "Always be clothed in white and always anoint your head with oil," speaking there of joy and festivity. And then verse 9 says this: "Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all your meaningless days, for this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun."

In other words, you can enjoy life and marriage at the same time. Part of esteeming marriage as highly valuable is reminding all of us that you don't have to choose between life and wife. (Laughter) I want you to think about this for just a second, just a second. E-Harmony,, comes on the screen. (Laughter)

But think about the guy who's sittin' at home right now in a bad marriage or in a stuck marriage or the wife is in a bad marriage, a stuck marriage. They see the twirling couple on the screen. You've seen 'em. Guy comes on. "They found their soul mate. We have an algorithm that all you have to do is take a test. It puts you with the perfect person." And he's goin', "Oh! Look how happy they look. They're enjoying life. I'd like to enjoy life like that maybe again one day. I did before marriage. (Laughter) But now I'm married and our problem is we never took a test." (Laughter)

You know, our culture really is fallin' for this idea, that compatibility is something you find or something you test for and that's just not true. Compatibility is something you create. You learn to enjoy one another. You learn to be compatible. My wife and I, we are different. I grew up in a home that taught savings was money you put away for a rainy day. She grew up in a home that taught savings was the different between the actual price and the sale price. (Laughter) Does anybody know what I'm talkin' about? (Laughter)

But with our money, we're learning to become compatible and here's one of the little tools that we've picked up. And actually I picked this up from my friends, Jason Earls and John Branyan. They're comedians and they what's called in comedy "The callback."

The callback, it's what makes your favorite comedian your favorite comedian. It's what makes your favorite sitcom your favorite sitcom. And here's how it works. Something happens. There's an event. You put a little space between the event, but then you bring the callback in at a later time. It's Jeff Foxworthy, right? Anytime he says, "You might be a redneck," we all die laughin'. Bill Engvall, "Here's your sign," right. Those are the callbacks those guys have.

And we've decided we need some callbacks in our marriage in order to enjoy one another. My wife, she's a foodie. Do we have any foodies in here? Let me see the hands of all the foodies. Okay, I'm not a foodie. What a "foodie" means is, you go into a restaurant and you never leave full. That's the definition of a foodie (Laughter)--small portions, big prices.

We're in New York. She walks me into this restaurant and I sit down. I'm like "Oh, this is gonna be bad." I'm not gonna get enough food. [The] waiter walks over. He has a plank and there's a mint leaf sticking out this side and a mint leaf stickin' out that side and I asked him, is that the salad? (Laughter) Is this where we're startin' this thing? And I kid you not, he says, "No, here's what the chef recommends, that you take the mint leaf and you begin rubbing it over your lips (Laughter) and under your nose and on your chin and just really begin. It's gonna prepare you for the meal."

I look over, my wife's totally into it. (Laughter) I'm still holdin' mine. (Laughter) And I told the guy, I said, "You know, I grew up in Illinois (Laughter) where we grew a lot of produce, we just never once thought about rubbing it on our faces." (Laughter) "And I think if a husband and a wife are gonna rub vegetables on their face together, I think it should be done in privacy and you don't even need to be here right now." (Laughter and Applause)

He wouldn't leave; he wouldn't leave. I decided I'm gonna wear this mint leaf out, so I'm (Laughter) rubbin', I hand it back to him and he takes it off. But now watch the callback, 'cause my wife knows that is just not a comfortable situation for me. And I hear guys say this to me a lot. They'll say things like, "Oh, that's her thing; it's not my thing." But compatibility is her thing becoming your thing and your thing becoming her thing, finding ways to enjoy it.

So, here's the callback on that one. Now when we're at my favorite restaurant, "Le Cracker Barrel ," (Laughter) all I have to do is lean over, grab a piece of her broccoli and go like that a little bit (Laughter) and she's ready to go. (Laughter) We've become more compatible in this area, too. Early in our marriage I had to tell her, I go, "Listen, baby, there's just not a lot of adventure left for men in the world anymore, okay. So, please let me find my own parking space, okay? I want to do it all by myself." (Laughter) "I want to provide it for my family." (Laughter) She'd point a spot three spaces in, I'd drive 20 spaces down (Laughter) and she used to look at me with those eyes that said, "You stubborn, stubborn man," but not anymore.

You know what part of becoming compatible requires, and enjoying life together requires? You have to fire one another as the source of life. Jesus is our source of life, not one another (Applause) So, here's what we did and I'm gonna ask you, I'm gonna invite you to be a part of doing this with us. I'm gonna have you raise your right hand and repeat after me. Go ahead. This is the participatory part of the night.

Raise your right hand; repeat after me, "I—

Audience: I—

Ted: --state your name.

Audience: --state your name (Laughter)

Ted: Everybody's part of the comedy tour now. (Laughter) Do hereby resign—

Audience: Do hereby resign—

Ted: --as general manager of the universe--

Audience: --as general manager of the universe—

Ted: --and my spouse.

Audience: --and my spouse".

Ted: Okay, now watch this; this is the best part. Take your finger for the very last time, that finger that has been pointing blame at your spouse for years for your unhappiness, point it at your spouse for the very last time and say these words that will set you free in Jesus. Say, "You're fired."

Audience: "You're fired."

Ted: "You will no longer suck the life out of me." (Laughter) "Jesus is my source of life, not you ." You don't have to keep repeating; I'm teaching now. (Laughter) But some of you are really gettin' into that. "And I'll say another thing!" (Laughter) Okay, so stay with me. We're almost done for the night.

So, now because we fired one another as the source of life, no more "You will not." So, now guess that does? It turns conflict into fun, turns it into that callback where we're able to enjoy one another even in a parking lot. And so, now we pull in and she points. I've told her. The rules of the parking lot have not changed. From the foundations of the earth, God set up the rules. When a woman points out a spot, [it] automatically disqualifies that spot. (Laughter) It's no longer an available spot. (Laughter) So, I'd go pass her third space in, 20 spaces down and there I sit. And you know what she does now and I love it. She leans over and she starts massaging my bicep. (Laughter) And she'll say (Whispering), "You did this all by yourself." (Laughter) And I can't fully explain it, but it does somethin' to me. (Laughter)

You know what I caught her doin' a couple years ago? She knows those Andes Candies at the end of an Olive Garden meal are like crack to me. I love those Andes Candies. (Laughter) She bought a bag of 'em. She keeps 'em in her purse for when I do something good. (Laughter) And it was in a parking lot I received my first one. She pulled it out (Laughter), she handed it to me. I grabbed that out of her hand. I'm openin' it up and I realized (Laughter), "My wife just gave me a treat." (Laughter) " She is rewarding my good behavior." (Laughter) "I am dog!" (Laughter and Applause) I was all right. I opened it up and I enjoyed it anyway. (Laughter)

That's turning conflict into a callback and you just have to make the decision, right? The decision to stay married flows from your character. Commitment flows from character and character trumps compatibility. Compatibility flows from your character and we have received some great callbacks from those out on tour.

And one of my favorite ones comes from a guy. He said, "My wife called me at work one day and the toilet was running. And I told her to go over, take the lid off the top and look down. The chain's probably on the bottom. Just reach down and grab the chain, put it back." And he's explaining it to her and she goes, "Ew!" She says, "I'm not reachin' my hand in there. It's disgusting." And he goes, "Honey, it's clean water. It's like the water that comes out of the sink." And he has to talk her into it. So, he finally talks her into reaching her hand in there, but right before (Laughing) she does, she asks him the question, "Uh! Am I gonna get electrocuted?" (Laughter) And he came up with the most brilliant callback. He said, "Honey, you have to unplug the toilet first." (Laughter)

Thank you very much, Date Night Comedy Tour. It's been great bein' with you. (Applause) You've been a lot of fun tonight. Thanks. (Applause)


John: An enthusiastic crowd at the Date Night Challenge event, featuring Pastor Ted Cunningham and that's been our presentation on today's "Focus on the Family."

Jim: Yeah, Ted's a pastor, but what a great sense of humor he has and what a great way to share encouragement for our marriages. And I want to emphasize what Ted did there toward the end, John. He had everyone resign from the position of general manager of the universe and my spouse. And man, that hits me right in the heart. I hope you caught that, all of us men particularly, but wives, too. It reminds me of the saying, "You can't be your spouse's Holy Spirit." And I think this is one of the critical things in marriage. He said it in a funny way, but it is so deeply true.

And as much as we sometimes would like to, we really can't create lasting change in our spouse. And unfortunately, it's real easy for us to see what needs to be chanced in them when we can't see our own need to change. But if we can have this mind-set that we have resigned as the general manager of the universe and my spouse, we can relax a bit and accept our spouse and their faults and work on our own flaws instead, which is the key.You are the only person you can really change and that was his point. John, I gotta tell you, this is a real recipe for a peaceful home.

John: And I'm going to remember it next time I am just itching (Laughter) to tell Dena how to load the dishwasher.

Jim: Man, me, too.

John: Okay, because I go in there and I just need to let her do it her way and be a bit more light-hearted about it and use a little more humor in my approach.

Jim: Yeah, that's right and you know, humor really helps in any relationship, especially adversarial ones and that can sometimes happen in marriage. There [are] a lot of great ideas here to share with your spouse and not everyone, I get it, can attend a Date Night Event. So, why not get a copy of this event from us and create your own date night right there at home. Put the kids to bed and then watch it together.

The Date Night Challenge Comedy Edition DVD includes Ted Cunningham's entire presentation, plus so much more from John Branyan, who's been on this program in the past John and Jason Earls, another funny presenter. It's a full evening of entertainment and I want to say thank you to those who support the ministry who have allowed that and so much more here at Focus to happen. And when you donate, you'll be contributing to the work we do here at Focus on the Family to strengthen marriages in all stages--from engaged couples to those in the retirement years.

Here's just one success story from a listener. She wrote, "The 'Focus on the Family' broadcast has helped restore my marriage. I began listening several years ago when we were on the brink of divorce. By applying suggestions from your program, our marriage is now thriving. Thank you so much for obeying God and being a channel for His truth."

Man, that is good and I want to say, you, those who are supporting us and praying for us deserve that credit and obviously, it's the Lord working through each and every one of us. So, thank you for helping Focus on the Family be there. And I want you to be a part of this marriage-building team. And when you do that, I want to provide you with the Date Night Challenge Comedy Edition DVD.

John: And we can send that to you for a generous donation today of any amount, when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or donate at

And let me point out that, that DVD has a lot of great content in it. If you just want to review what you heard today, request the CD or the audio download. And regardless of which of those you order, be sure to look for our free marriage assessment tool online, which can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your relationship.

Have a great weekend and be sure to tune in on Monday, when Cynthia Tobias will explain that having a strong-willed child is a good thing.


Mrs. Cynthia Tobias: Some of the most successful people in the world have a really good strong dose of strong will. It's just when you're a parent and your strong-willed child is young, that's practice on you, 'cause I mean, when you think about it, who else do you want 'em to practice on, right?

End of Excerpt

John: Some great insights from Cynthia Tobias next time. You'll hear practical tips on bringing out the best in your strong-willed child without losing your sanity, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.

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Ted Cunningham

View Bio

Ted Cunningham is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Mo., and is a comedian on the Date Night Comedy Tour. He has authored five books including Fun Loving You, The Power of Home and Trophy Child. He has also co-authored several books with Dr. Gary Smalley. Ted and his wife, Amy, have two children.