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Establishing Good Communication in Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Air Date 07/06/2017

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Based on his book Honey, We Need to Talk, Dr. David Clarke explains how couples can strengthen their marriage by improving their communication skills. Discussion topics include typical communication styles of men and women, how men can be more intentional in initiating conversations, how to better navigate conflict, and more. (Part 1 of 2)

Episode Transcript


John Fuller: Pastor Mark Gungor offers a humorous look at a pretty common marriage scenario.


Pastor Mark Gungor: A woman can tell that her husband is stressed out. She loves the boy; she cares about the boy, so she offers to him her best and finest solution to stress. Talk to me. Why won’t you talk to meeee!

End of Teaser

John: (Laughing) Talk to me, please. Just talk to me. And many husbands say, “No, go away.” Well, you’re gonna hear how you can better communicate, more meaningfully communicate with your spouse and get them to talk to you on today’s “Focus on the Family.” Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, today we’re gonna talk with Dr. David Clarke, one of my favorite guests. He’s like this deliverer of gold nuggets or the way I like to think of it, anything wrapped in bacon. (Laughter) He just delivers. He can wrap anything. You can wrap asparagus in bacon; it tastes good, don’t you think?

John: I would agree with that yeah--bacon and asparagus.

Jim: Well, that’s what we’re gonna hear today, some great marital advice from someone who is funny, but very insightful. And we also have a number of guests in our gallery. They’re gonna be asking some questions toward the end of each of the broadcasts, this time and next time.

John: And we have a lot of resources beyond this program at when you call 800-A-FAMILY.

Now Mr. Now Dr. David Clarke, Mr. Bacon is (Laughter) a psychologist, a speaker and an author of numerous books. He wrote Honey, We Need to Talk and that’s gonna be the basis for today’s conversation.


Jim: (Laughing) Well, Mr. Bacon, welcome back to “Focus on the Family.”

Dr. David Clarke: Gosh, thanks so much. The blonde’s gonna call me Mr. Bacon now for months!

John: When Jim gives a nickname, it does tend to stick.

David: It does.

Jim: I’m sorry. Boy, I think in O’Hare airport, they sell chocolate wrapped in bacon.

David: Oh, man.

Jim: Now that doesn’t even sound right. I’ve not tried it, but there you go, John.

John: Well, your point is good though, because David does bring some great energy and humor and he really does bring insights that can help us in a relationship.

Jim: Well, in fact, David, you open your book, Honey, We Need to Talk, which is a great title, by the way.

David: I thought so.

Jim: Most every couple would say this is true, even if they talk a lot, they might not be talking about the right stuff, right?

David: Women love that title. Men aren’t so sure.

Jim: Yeah. (Laughing)

David: But men don’t buy books, so who cares?

Jim: That’s basically it. But you talk about a humorous story right from the git-go about marriage, your marriage and miscommunication in that marriage. I think it revolves around soap, which when I read it, I was howling, ‘cause this is exactly Jean and me. What happened?

David: Yeah, just a sliver of soap. We had a deal early in our marriage, we use bar soap, which everybody should use. Body wash is a waste of time.

Jim: We’re tryin’ to teach our teenagers that.

David: I know. So, we use the bar of soap to deal with. When it gets down to a sliver, as we all know, you can’t use it anymore and it becomes a real problem. Well, the deal was, when it gets down to a sliver, if you’re left with the sliver, it’s your job, even if you’re in the shower, you’re wet, too bad, that’s life, you walk 10 feet to the closet and you get the new bar of soap and you replace it.

Well, one day Sandy didn’t do that. I knew the last time I took a shower it was gonna be a sliver. (Laughter) It was gonna be her job, sorry. (Laughter)

Jim: How do you determine the sliver?

John: Yeah. (Laughter) And is this in the “pre-nups?”

David: It’s scientific. I’m a master of that.

Jim: Yeah, you get it down to just before a sliver.

David: Right, but she didn’t replace it. I thought, okay, two can play at this game. I’m not replacing that sliver; not my job. So, I used that sliver and then I went to shampoo. I was using everything. I was not gonna replace the bar because it was the principle of the thing. I didn’t say anything to her. I’m gonna beat her at her little game.

That went one for two weeks! Finally I said to Sandy, “You gotta be kiddin’ me. You win. Why didn’t you replace the bar of soap?” She said, “You dummy. I started using body wash. I haven’t used that bar of soap for two weeks.” I said, “You’re kidding me. Why didn’t you tell me you did that?” Of course, it was my fault. It’s always my fault.

Jim: Well, that one sounds kinda like your fault. (Laughter)

David: Thanks. (Laughter)

Jim: I’m just sayin’, but it’s a great illustration. I mean, Jean and I go through that same thing with the bar of soap. We don’t have rules though. It’s just like, you know, replace it. But it seems like I’m always the one diggin’ under the cabinet, lookin’ for that extra new bar of soap.

David: Yeah, I bet you are and that’s not right.

Jim: I need to check to see if she’s using body wash. (Laughter) Maybe that’s true. There [are] so many bottles in there; who knows what they are. (Laughter)

David: Oh, women have a sea of stuff. So, I couldn’t tell; it’s all shampoo.

Jim: Oh, that is funny.

John: How does this lead to communications? I’m still kinda wondering.

Jim: I’m thinking we’re in trouble right here. (Laughter) We might as well sign off. Thanks for listening.

David: There’s gotta be a point in here.

Jim: Well, there is a reason that you wrote this book. What are you seeing with the thousands of couples that you help, especially in this area of communication, what is the breakdown when it comes to communication? I would think most of our marriage counseling that we do now out of Branson at Hope Restored, the communication issue is the No. 1 issue. Why?

David: Oh, it’s truly central. We think we can talk on a deep level and at an insightful level before marriage. That’s not true. You’re infatuated. “I have a rock in shoe” becomes an incredibly insightful statement. I like Bugs Bunny. Gosh, so do I. I mean, it’s ridiculous.

Once you get married and you’re living together, it all breaks down and we don’t know how to talk on a deep level. No one ever taught us how. If mom and dad did it, it was behind closed doors. We’ve never seen an intimate conversation between anybody typically before we get married.

Jim: And in fact, in your book, Honey, We Need to Talk, you mention clam and crowbar as an analogy between men and women, which I was howling. I don’t know, John, if you caught that.

John: It was a pretty good one, wasn’t it? (Laughter)

Jim: I mean, what do you mean by clam and crowbar?

David: In every relationship there’s a clam. Now it’s usually men. Men are clams. Women are crowbars. It can be the reverse.

Jim: Okay, explain that quickly (Laughter).

David: A clam is someone who doesn’t like to talk on a deep level.

Jim: Okay, so they clam up.

David: Clam up; I’m clamin’ up; I’m not gonna give you the insights, the personal things. I’m a man or I’m a woman. I wasn’t raised that way. It’s not my personality. And the crowbar wants to get the clam open, that’s why I married you, not just for your wonderful physique. That was part of it, but I want you to talk. I want us to share life. And so, this becomes a battle early on in just about every marriage. Talk to me. No, but I try to press you. I won’t talk.

Jim: Okay, talk about the crowbar, typically the female, you’re saying, but not always, but typically.

David: Typically, she is.

Jim: That sounds a little more aggressive, crowbar. (Laughing)

David: It does, but it’s the truth. This is the woman who doesn’t replace the bar of soap (Laughing), I’m just tellin’ ya. (Laughter)

Jim: It all goes back to the bar of soap.

David: People think she’s nice.

John: So, we’re back to the soap. Good.

David: I’m sorry, people think she’s nice. Oh, she is nice. She’s a wonderful person. She’s more expressive. She’s a woman, so by nature she shares and wants to share and she wants these deep intimate conversations with her man. That’s why she married him.

And she can’t settle. The guy can live 45 years, 50 years and die without ever having a deep conversation. He can die with a smile on his face. [He] doesn’t get it. The woman can’t do that. It means everything to her. So, she presses. She asks questions. How do you feel? What happened today? And she doesn’t get the response. She’s not getting’ the deep conversations.

Jim: Right, so typically in the courtship, that seems to be flowing pretty well in the pursuit mode.

David: Oh, yeah, she thinks she’s got it. She’s (Laughter) sure of it.

Jim: Why do men clam up after the marriage vows?

David: Because we married you; game over. I’ve killed the deer. The head is on the wall of my den. I’m done. It’s like, see, the competition is over. But what really happens is, the truth is, he was never talking in the first place on a deep level. He’s never done that.

Some of these conversations, we can talk for two, three, four hours. When you look back, there’s been some research done, so not much, but some and when you look back, those conversations aren’t really deep. Infatuation reigns and they’re not actually deep.

Jim: So, did God wire us for this blinding impact of infatuation? Is that right?

David: Yes.

Jim: He knew what was gonna happen after she’s taken.

David: Yes, He wants people to get married. (Laughter) Yeah, He said, “Wait. (Laughter) Let’s go.” That will do it.

Jim: Yeah.

David: If we knew the truth before marriage, there’d be a lot less marriages. I hate to say it, because it’s so hard. But the good news is, you can have the breakthroughs.

Jim: Well, in fact, you point to four steps to finding a solution specifically to the clam/crowbar problem. Go through the four. What are they?

David: First of all, you have to have the structural integrity in place. In matters you’ve got to make time to talk. If you don’t have time to talk, you’re not going to talk. So at least three days a week, I want couples to have 30-minute couple talk times, no kids. Above all, no kids. They ruin your romance. They ruin your communication, always about the kids, no dog, no pets. If you have a dog, it’s always about the dog. (paw, paw, paw, paw) Touch me; love me. If you have a cat, they won’t be there ‘cause they hate you. (Laughter) So, no cat, no cats, no dogs, no electronic devices, private, just the two of you.

How many couples do that? It’s in the single digits. That’s why communication’s such a problem. So, we create the time to talk, 30 minutes.

Jim: Three times a week.

David: Three times a week. And then typically, I’ll have the crowbar who’s gonna talk more and that’s fine. Let’s say it’s the lady. She starts talking and sharing about whatever she’d like to share about. Now here’s the key. She’s gonna share in two categories with the claim.

[The] first category is, I’m gonna throw a bunch of stuff out, ‘cause my mind is filled with a bunch of things and I don’t forget any of them and I’m just talking and sharing. And the first category is, “Honey, whatever you want to respond to, your choice.” If something strikes your fancy, if it’s interesting, you’ll want to continue that conversation, you do so. Up to you, potpourri, a banquet of possibilities.

The other category is, “Okay, honey, I’m talkin’ about something very important to me, personal. It might not seem important to you. It is to me. I want you to respond to this.”

Jim: And to cue him for that.

David: Men don’t a clue.

Jim: Right.

David: Everything seems important to the woman because she’s wavin’ her hands and she’s excited about buying a loaf of bread for half price. What? Is that important? I don’t know. (Laughter) It could be

Jim: Okay, I need to say though, there’s no woman at this table, so we need to defend women, too. So, I’m gonna play that role with you.

David: Please.

Jim: Sometimes it important.

John: You gotta wave your arms are you do that, Jim. (Laughter)

Jim: That’s good. (Laughter) If only our listeners could see us now. But okay, so that’s one and two, try to create this two separate approach[es].

David: Right.

Jim: And be forthright as the crowbar, if that’s you. Predominantly women will be in that modality.

David: Right, yeah and there’s no pressure. Let’s say tonight, this Tuesday night and we’re having one of our talk times, the first one of the week. The guy’s not gonna respond to anything tonight. He’s a man. He’s got to process it. Other than yes or I like what you said or I’m interesting or he’s reflecting. He’s not gonna have a personal response--you married a man--very unlikely. That’s why we have the second and third talk time.

If he’ll process and write some things on a pad and kind of, it has to be intentional, he’ll get back to you the next time.

Now I’m gonna have some response the first day, but even if there’s a response, it’s not gonna be super deep. We have to talk about that same topic and that’s the third thing. We have to talk about it again tomorrow if it’s a good topic.

Jim: Okay.

David: We’re gonna get deeper the second time than we’ve ever done.

Jim: So, step two is introduction of the topic, no response. Step three is time to respond.

David: Right.

Jim: Okay.

David: Right and so, most couples don’t do that. We talk about one topic, one time, that’s it. Even if it’s a decent conversation, it’s not deep. It cannot be deep. Who’s got two or three or four hours anyway? You’re giving it 30 minutes. We’re not made that way, so the second time we talk about something, hey, I was thinkin’ about the movie, thinkin’ about your mother, thinkin’ about one of our kids. Thinkin’ about that topic, and I have something more to say, so something more to say that gets you deeper.

Jim: Okay, so for the guys, just even hearing you list those four things right now, I kinda went, whoa, that’s exhausting.

David: Okay. It’s tough.

Jim: I mean, so how do we overcome that quick knee-jerk response to tune out? How do we stay in tune, especially in the exploratory discussion where it’s all over the map and it really is fatiguing?

David: Oh, it is. (Laughter) I’m giving men a huge break here, because the woman may want to respond to everything she says. You can’t do that. Life’s too short. Why do men die eight years before their wives? Because they want to. (Laughter) That may edited out. (Laughter)

Jim: And it may not. You’re in trouble.

David: Who knows? No, because we can’t take all that. But now in my system, we’re changing it to, you decide what you want to respond to. Unless I tell you this is important to me, I need to have a response.

Jim: Okay now the fourth one? Did you just say that? You didn’t say the fourth step, did you?

David: I’m not sure if I did.

Jim: Okay, so that’s three of the four. What’s that fourth step in the four-step process?

David: The fourth step in my mind is centered on the man, whoever the clam is. And they have to be intentional. They have to then remember what is said, reflect first. Reflect what is being said, so there’s a connection. And then the things I’m gonna respond to, I do have to write down or I’m gonna forget them. If I’m a clam, I will forget it by tomorrow. I’ll forget it 10 minutes from now. I gotta jot this down.

See, love is intentional. It’s not just, gosh, we’re in love. Our relationship is the greatest. We never work at it. Nobody has a relationship like that after you get married, so I have to be intentional. Can you imagine? And we’ve had this experience, the blonde and I.

John: That’s your affectionate term for your wife, Mrs. Clarke, whom we’ve never met, but we hope to someday.

David: Yeah, my wife Sandy. Mrs. Bacon to you. (Laughter)

Jim: Mrs. Bacon. (Laughter)

David: Can you imagine, I come back to our second talk time in a week. I got things written on a pad that she’s mentioned that I’m interested in. And I say, “Honey, I’ve thought about some of the things you said. Here [are] some of my responses.” She goes crazy with love and respect and “You thought about me?” Women love to be thought about.

Rather than, I got nothin’. I don’t know what I’m talkin’ about. I forgot what you said. So, we gotta be intentional.

Jim: So, when you look at the number of couples that you have counseled, how many of them kind of are diagnosed in this arena, where the guy says, “I have nothin’?”

David: Well, just about 100 percent.

Jim: Yeah, so this could be on the core problems in marriage and certainly, marital communication--

David: Oh, I think it’s huge.

Jim: --that we’re not active in the process as men.

David: No.

Jim: And when we pull back, women get all the more “crowbarish,” if I could say it that way.

David: Exactly and the men have to believe and I try to convince the men in my therapy offices, I know you love her. You’d die for her, but you’re denying her one of the most important needs in her life and that is sharing yourself personally. You’ve gotta find a way to get your clam open. I do love her, but okay, we’re changin’ the scenery here, changing how we do it and that’s gonna work. And the benefits are awesome. She will love you. You’ll love her. You’re closer.

I will throw this in for the men, because they’re interested and it’s the God’s truth, it’s gonna improve your physical life like you wouldn’t believe.

Jim: Yeah.

David: Now I have Mr. Bacon’s attention. He’s like, oh. And so, that’s not the point. That’s a secondary thing, but everything works and a woman is made in such a way that if you love her and you’re open to her, she will give the love back 100,000 percent. It will just flow back to you.

Jim: Interesting. Let’s post those four, John and then we’ve got another list that we’re gonna talk about after this.

John: Yeah, stop by see that four-step list and try it out or call us. Our number is 800-232-6459.

Jim: And Dr. Clarke, you talk in the book also about what to talk about, because men are that lost normally.

David: Oh, clueless.

Jim: We don’t even know what we should be talking about in this moment of intimacy, these three 30-minute sessions per week, to move everything, all the distractions away—kids and animals and everything else—and actually really communicate. So coach us along. What should we talk about in that moment?

David: Every couple says to me and mostly the clam, they’ll say, the guy will say, “I’m sittin’ there with my wife (Chuckling). Panic sets in. What am I gonna talk about?” “Sir, don’t worry; she’s gonna talk. She will start many of your conversations and that’s okay. We just covered that whole area and you’re gonna reflect and gonna show interest and you’re gonna respond to certain thing she said.

And then we have the carry out. So she’ll carry many of the conversations. She’ll start maybe. That’s okay, as long as you respond to a certain percentage, now we have a dialogue. You’re talking and we’re okay.

The second thing guys have to understand, it gets back to the past and this, most people use their phone for this obviously.

Jim: Taking notes you mean.

David: Exactly, so I go through my day. I’m now gonna share some original material, not just gonna be-bop off of what Sandy says. I’ll do that, ‘cause she’s got a lot of material. But she wants to know what are you gonna bring to the table tonight? And so, I go through my day and I jot down things I think look interesting—events, if I have a strong emotion. I had an interaction at the Budget counter yesterday that was not pleasant, all right. And I got through it. I tried to be like Jesus and it wasn’t easy, but that was somethin’ we talked about last night, Sandy and I. You know, anger and this and that. That’s something she wants [to know about]. That was part of my day, not a big deal.

John: She wants to hear it that you were angry?

David: Oh, she does, oh, yeah. Or really happy or disappointed or women are into emotions. So, most men would just bury that and move on. I know Sandy wants to know about that.

Jim: Yeah.

David: So, I’m gonna share that. If I’m on top of things and I’m stressed during the day and that was a stressful thing, somethin’ else happened, I jot that down and I’m gonna share that with Sandy when we talk. Last night was on the phone. That long-distance, but when I get home there’ll be a whole list of things with my trip with Focus that are interesting. I had a great time with the counselors yesterday, Larry, the book guy, (Laughter) our time, you know. A lot of stuff I’ll be jotting notes and I’ll be sharing that with her and she’ll be thrilled. “You thought about me. This is your life.”

If I don’t do that, typical guy, I go through my day, I got nothing. I’m asked, “How was your trip to Focus?” “I don’t know.” “Are you kidding me? Or “What happened today?” “Nothing.” That’s what most men say, though you can’t build a conversation on that.

But men have no memory. You don’t trust your memory. You don’t have one. If I jot things down, she’s impressed. I have material and I can now start more conversations. That’s good, because men get tired of the ladies always talking.

Jim: Yeah.

David: Well, you know what? Start talking yourself and you can start to balance things and it will go the other way.

Jim: Sometimes, David, the relationship has gotten to the point where maybe even that talking is, I don’t know, there’s a barrier there where she’s shut down.

David: Yeah.

Jim: And so, you have two people shut down and the communication isn’t happening. What can a couple do to ignite that once again if they’ve been clams toward each other?

David: I’d choreograph their talk times. Of course, the couple probably seems there, but that’s exactly where they are. They’re done. They’re seeing me because they’re thinking of getting a divorce and it’s total shutdown. We don’t talk. We don’t make love. We’re just co-parents and we’re business partners.

So, I will force them, if they’re gonna see me, they’re gonna have the couple talk time. I’ll give them a week or two to get through their resistance, but that’s so critical. And then I choreograph their talk times. The book’ll be very helpful.

If they will go through these 10 essentials areas, that [are] the basis of their initial couple talk time. I tell them exactly what to talk about. I teach the skills. They talk about what’s gonna block them and they practice. It’s ideal for that opening scenario, I think. “Hey, you want to talk? Here’s what you’re gonna talk about.” Real issues, but short chapters and not like super, you know, super in-depth, but you’re gonna get some breakthrough.

Jim: Yeah, that’s good. Okay, let’s go to questions from the gallery and it’s full of women, so we are gonna get some different perspective here.

David: Good, ‘cause men don’t talk anyway.

Jim: (Laughing) Yeah, right, so let’s hear from the first person.

Marty: Hi, I’m Marty. My question is, when I put myself out there and ask my husband for help on something, his response is not always stellar, meaning I wish that he would understand what it took for me to already come to him and ask for his help. It could be on something simple like finding my cell phone or getting our kids into bed. But sometimes his response is so negative that I don’t want to have to ask him again for help.

Jim: That hits a lot of couples.

David: Boy, that does. A guy’s really defensive and doesn’t respond well. What we need, Marty is a couple things come to mind. We need to have a conversation, a “come to Jesus” conversation with your husband. Men are so dense, they don’t get it. He’s treating you this way. He probably has no idea he’s really hurting you. There are some wounds happening here. No clue in the world probably.

So, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. And so, we have a meeting where you say, “Honey, I want to have a meeting with you in three days. It’s gonna be about our marriage. It’s very serious. And I want you to think and pray. I will think and pray. The kids will not be at home when we’re gonna have this meeting.”

Instantly, Mr. Dense becomes well, Mr. Bacon. (Laughter) He’s getting it. Oh, this is like a thing. And so, again, it seems dramatic, but you gotta get a man’s attention. It’s hard to get a man’s attention. Being upset and kinda crying over it doesn’t touch your basic man. “Get over it. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

When you sit, this is how the meeting goes. It’s gonna be a one-way conversation. “Honey, I’m gonna share some very important things,” it’ll be just what you said, Marty. “You’re responding this way. It’s really hurting my feelings; it’s affecting my love for you.” You get his attention.

You don’t mention any positives. That’s all he’ll think about. “Oh, but I love you.” Don’t go there. You do, but don’t say that. That’s all he’ll take out of the conversation. “Oh, we’re okay. She loves me. What’s next? What’s on TV?”

This is gonna be, “Here’s the problem. Don’t respond now. I don’t want your response.” That can avoid his initial defensive response, which you know you’re gonna get. “Oh, this, that, the other, you too.” “In three days or more, when you’re ready to respond, think and pray about this”—I’m assuming he’s a Christian man—”I want to get your response.” So, we stage it that way. The chances are he’ll have a better response.

If he does not, at least the dialogue’s started and [it] depends on how he responds, we’re gonna go into maybe some tough love things. You want him to know that he’s hurting you. We’ll have more conversations like that. But that first conversation, done that way, staging it and making him wait and even the response, that has a chance to work. I’ve seen that work many times.

Jim: Yeah and David, one thing I’m mindful of is often when we talk in these stereotypes, we’ll hear from that 20 percent that, I’m the communicator in the family. Why are you pickin’ on me? You’re always pickin’ on men. We’re not tryin’ to pick on anybody here. What we’re tryin’ to say is, how can we help you in your communication with your marriage? And probably 90 percent of couples need that kind of assistance. And you might be in the 10 percent. Just move with us here. Pray for those that are struggling if you’re doing well. And you know, just know the spirit in which we’re offering this input.

Let’s do one more question and then we’re gonna come back in day two and we’ll allow you to ask more questions at that point.

Liz: My name is Liz. I am probably one of the rare clam women. My husband’s the crowbar. And just tips on more effectively expressing to him when I talk to him, that I just would rather him listen and support, instead of trying just to fix problems, because I can fix them myself sometimes. I just want him to listen and support and be there for me.

Jim: You know, David, before you answer that, talk about the design. Why did God do this? It’s so predictable first of all and then go specifically to her question. But why do men tend to be “fixers,” rather than good listeners? And women tend to want to express and sometimes don’t want to listen.

David: These are qualities that He has literally built into us. It’s DNA, no question about that and it’s in a very positive way to be a leader and to lead your family and to get things done and not to be as emotional is a good thing.

Jim: Yeah.

David: Follow me. It’s a very hard time. Look at my calmness. We’re gonna handle this. That’s critically important and to make a living and to support the family. But emotion is critically important. Who wants to live a life without emotion? Well, most men until they change. Emotion is what makes life fun and exciting and leads to great dialogue and it’s a very personal thing. So, it’s by God’s design.

Jim: Okay, so in her case, she’s the clam. She wants her husband not to just give “fix-it” tips, but listen.

David: Right, Liz. Liz is flipped. Yeah, please and again, Liz has already answered her own question I think. You have to choreograph that. You have to tell him every time the pre-step. And you’re thinking, doesn’t he know this? I told him before. Every conversation for a period of months, Liz you will say, “Honey, I’m gonna talk here. I’m gonna share. I don’t need to fix things. Just listen to me, unless I say, honey, I’d like you to fix this. Go for it.” He wants to be understood. You want to have a dialogue, really connect, ‘cause fixing is a way the guy can avoid the personal very easily, too.

Hey, do this; try that. I was in your spot a few weeks ago. Tried [to fix it]. Eer! She doesn’t want that. She wants a connection. And all women are bright. My lady is incr[edible]. She could run a corporation, she’s that smart.

She’s chosen to support me in what I do, which is phenomenal. Now she works with me, but she could do anything on her own. When she talks, I want to fix [it], too, ‘cause I love her. I don’t want her to feel bad. The feeling bad and the going through the emotion is where the connection is. Most men don’t get that. Let her cry and let her be upset. Let her talk for 20 minutes or so and listening and reflecting. That’s far better than (snap of fingers), “Try this.” But of course, you gotta tell him what you need.

Jim: And I think one of the things, David, we have to lift up is the celebration of marriage. You know, we talk constantly about what rubs the marriage nerve raw, rather than saying God has designed us this way. There’s purpose in all of this, to be complete, to be one flesh as the Scripture says to us. And I love the solutions-based--maybe that’s my guy thing coming out--kind of this solutions-based thing, where this should work well and if it’s not, there’s reasons why it’s not and there’s reasons to make it work better and this has been terrific.

Your book is packed with great insights. Honey, We Need to Talk, wonderful title, but you mentioned the four-step solution to the clam-crowbar, 10 things to get that conversation started, for men particularly. Here are things you can talk about and so much more, so thank you for packing it there. There is much more to talk about, so we’re gonna come back next time and talk again. Can we do that?

David: I’d love to.

Jim: All right, let’s do that. If you have enjoyed the content of the program, I would want to put this tool, I don’t want to call it a book, John. I mean, this is a “tool” to enhance your marriage and I would love to put this tool in your hand and for a gift of any amount, we’ll send this off to you today to say thank you for supporting the work of Focus on the Family.

Last year alone we were able to save 130,000 marriages through the work that we do together—you supporting us and praying for us and guests like Dr. David Clarke—touching the heart of someone who is listening, perhaps even thousands who are listening today who will embrace this and it will save their marriage literally. So, thank you for your role in that, David. Thank you, the listener for helping us financially. And again, if you can’t afford the book, let us know. We’ll get it in your hands some way and if you can help support that, we would be deeply appreciative.

John: Donate generously and get your copy of Honey, We Need to Talk when you call 800-A-FAMILY: 800-232-6459 or stop by

Jim: David, as we leave though, there’s gonna be that couple or that spouse who, they’re both in that deep clam state. They’re not talkingYou touched on that 10, 15 minutes ago. What is one simple step tonight where when they get together, maybe it’s gonna be at bedtime and they lay their heads on the pillow, what can they say to each other that’s gonna make a difference tomorrow?

David: I’d say this: our marriage is sacred. They can say that with authority based on the Bible. Every marriage is sacred to God. Our marriage is sacred. We’re not giving up. No matter how long it takes, we’re going to have the breakthrough.

This needs to be the mind-set. There is 100 percent hope. God is a God that can do anything and He particularly wants to, especially wants to save your marriage. It’s precious to Him. Even if it’s a mess, God says, “You know what? I want to show Myself. I want to be glorified. Trust Me. Follow some steps. You’ll get through.”

Jim: Love it. Let’s get back tomorrow and talk about it some more.

David: Great.


John: And that again, David Clarke, his book, Honey, We Need to Talk. Get your copy at Well, thanks for listening. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, I’m John Fuller, inviting you back, as we have Dr. Clarke here once more and help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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David Clarke

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David Clarke is a licensed psychologist with a full-time practice in Florida, where he does extensive counseling with individuals and families. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Western Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary in Portland, Ore. Dr. Clarke has authored nearly a dozen books including Cinderella Meets the Cave Man, The Six Steps to Emotional Freedom and A Marriage After God's Own Heart. He and his wife, Sandy, have four children. Learn more about Dr. Clarke by visiting his website: