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Managing Marriage Conflicts in Healthy Ways

Air Date 09/26/2017

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Dr. Greg and Mrs. Erin Smalley explain how conflict, if handled well, can actually strengthen a marriage, and offer practical advice for navigating disagreements, so that they lead to relational intimacy, rather than division.

Episode Transcript

Opening:            

Teaser:

Husband: What do you mean, we don’t talk anymore?

Wife: When was the last time we sat down and just had a conversation?

Husband: For crying out loud! What do you think we’re doin’ now? I could be watchin’ the game. I could be playing the computer.

Wife: Watch your silly game, okay?

Husband: Fine!

Wife: Alone.

Husband: I usually do.

End of Teaser

John Fuller: Wow... there is a better way to communicate in your marriage (chuckle)-- that is not healthy! But, all too often, we react-- we say the wrong thing without thinking; emotions escalate-- but today on Focus on the Family, we’re going to help you learn how to stop those kinds of angry interactions before they become ugly and cause damage in your relationship. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, the fact is, conflict can be a good thing. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but every marriage I know has some areas of disagreement or different perspectives. That’s called being a person. And we tend to see those differences as negatives, things we’ve gotta fix or change or, you know, kind of mold our partner into seeing things our way. Maybe, God has brought the two differences together in order for you to complement each other; that’s a more biblical approach to this.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: We’ve heard many times on this program learning how to work together to find a consensus and common ground as a couple, even when we disagree, can actually make our marriage stronger. And I think that’s right.

John: And that’s our hope for today’s program; to help you agree with us (laughter) that conflict can be healthy. We should clarify though that we’re talking primarily to couples who are in a pretty good place in their relationship.

Jim: Right, kind of a tune-up program.

John: Yeah.

Jim: I would say. And our guests today have a lot of great advice and practical help for each one of us, including Jean and me. I love these kinds of shows because I will take one or two things away from this show that will help me.

John: And we trust that’ll be the case for you too. We have our colleagues, Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife, Erin, back with us. Greg is the Vice President of Marriage and Family Formation here at Focus on the Family and the Smalleys often speak and write about these matters, but more than that, they’ve experienced the challenges of marital discord themselves. And here’s how we began our conversation with Greg and Erin on today’s Focus on the Family.

Body:

Jim: Okay, let’s go right at it, because some couples who have had, maybe they married well. I mean, we use that term, “Oh, you married well,” because they don’t see a lot of conflict in their relationship. They seem to start Day 1; things go smoothly. The kids come along. It’s been a pretty easy sail for them. And when they hear of other Christian couples that struggle in certain ways, there can be a very easy propensity to kinda judge that, right?

Erin Smalley: Yeah and they … and many couples will say, “Oh, we don’t even have conflict.” But we look at it a little bit differently, that really conflict can be viewed as a gift, that really there’s gifts that come with differing opinions and how you work through it. If you work through it in a healthy way, it actually can lead to the gifts of understanding your spouse, understanding yourself and learning something about this marriage entity that is also there.

Jim: Let me differentiate, ‘cause it’s important. John alluded to it, but there is the normal strain of conflict and then there’s severe conflict. And we’re talkin’ about the normal stuff of life, correct?

Greg Smalley: Absolutely. The … the sign of a healthy marriage is not the absence of conflict. What’s the sign of a healthy marriage is we know how to work through differences and when we’re frustrated with each other, when we’re hurt by one another. I mean, that’s the mark of a truly healthy marriage. I would say that combat is bad. Conflict is good

Jim: Okay, well, let’s …

Greg: And I would distinguish it that way.

Jim: Let’s … let’s go right to it. What are some of those things uh … that we define as marital conflict? Just give us a label. What are the adjectives that describe it — marital conflict?

Greg: Disagreements, hurts, pet peeves, expectations that go unfulfilled. Things that I think she should be doing that she’s not doing, just you know, any of those things I think we can put under the umbrella kind of conflict. And so, it doesn’t have to be this massive, we were throwin’ dishes at each other (laughter) and that’s how we define conflict. It’s … can be a silent suffering of, I just feel hurt and she said something and she didn’t probably even mean it, but it really hurt me. I mean, anytime that we’re disconnected from one another, hurt by one another, I think that … that’s what we mean by conflict.

Jim: And in your book, which that’s the basis for what we’re talking about, at least one of the keys that you talk about in The Wholehearted Wife: 10 Keys to a More Loving Relationship, this is one of the keys is healthy conflict. Uh, in that regard, what are the triggers? I mean, we described some of the adjectives of conflict, but what are those buttons? We always use that terminology, you know how to push my buttons. Or you’re … you’re hitting the trigger. Why do we use that to describe what’s going on?

Erin: You know, there’s both the topics that are typical for couples to be fighting over, you know, money, in-laws, kids, you know, their sexual relationship, whatever it is. There’s, you know, the topics, but yet, there’s these buttons that are underlying, kind of these … these sensitive areas that we all have. We’re … we’re yet to meet someone who doesn’t have buttons and …

Jim: Why do we have those buttons?
Erin: They’re … really what they are, they’re just sensitive areas in our heart that have been sensitized for a reason, through an experience or something that happened to us, how we interpreted that experience, how …

Jim: Disappointment, pain.

Erin: Disappointment, pain, feeling criticized, feeling not good enough, feeling unworthy, feeling invisible, whatever it is we all have ‘ em.

Greg: I think they’re for me, they’re … they’re deeper emotions that we’re just really, really supersensitive to. For me, it’s anytime that I feel like I’ve made a mistake as a husband, as a father, here at work. And I hate to feel like a failure.

Jim: When you feel that way, what do you do?

Greg: So, what happens, what’s interesting is, that your heart instantly closes. It’s like that little roly-poly bug, you know. When you flick it, it just rolls up into a ball. I’m telling you, that’s what happens to our heart. Our button gets pushed.And again, we’re not thinking this through — this happens at some, you know, level far away from our awareness, our hearts close and then we just … we start to react. And so, for me, what I usually do is, I start to defend myself. I’m trying to …

Jim: Even before the battle begins.

Greg: Oh, yeah.

Erin: And he’s very consistent.

Greg: Thank you. (Laughter) I’m very good at it by now.

Jim: That’s an area to be consistent at.

Greg: I … in other words, my … my goal is if I can explain the … the truth, if I can explain what I was thinking, if I can explain it in such a way to Erin, my hope is that she’ll go, “Oh, well, o … okay. Now oh, I get it. Yeah, okay, fine. I … I just misunderstood you. We’re cool. Everything is fine.”And uh …

John: Does she ever say that?

Greg: Never … one time (Laughter). It hasn’t quite gone down that way, ‘cause usually when I’m defending myself, that’s gonna push her buttons.

Erin: Uh-hm and typically, when he starts defending himself, my big button, actually I have two that are pretty big — invalidation, because when he defends himself, then it pushes the invalidation button for me, because I don’t feel like he values or gets what I’m feeling.

Jim: Hm.

Erin: Or that my perspective isn’t accurate, therefore, it’s not good enough or … and so, then I go … my heart closes. I go into reaction mode and like Greg said, this just happens. I mean, it can happen in 2.5 seconds and you’re completely unaware of it. Yet, it completely changes your behavior.

Greg: We … we’ve been teaching this for years and we still … I mean, this still happens.

Jim: Yeah, probably less frequently.

Greg: Less frequently—

Jim: Yeah.

Greg: --but it still …

Jim: Yeah, I mean, we’re human.

Greg: We … we were teachin’ a marriage seminar and got into a big old argument—

Jim: Okay--hold on. Now you’re in Japan doin’ a marriage seminar?

Greg: (Laughing) We were!

Erin: Yes.

Jim: What happened?

Erin: With our 17-year-old daughter, Murphy with us—

John: As witness?

Erin: --yes.

Jim: Yeah, right (Laughing) or as judge.

Erin: Yes. (Laughter)

Greg: It … it seems like a part of my role was to kinda be tour guide and I had the maps and I would study where we’re going. So we were going to this one real famous, kind of this antique shrine and so, I mapped out the route and I knew exactly where we needed to go and big huge park, beautiful park. And I, you know, mapped out the route and where we would go. And there were some really cool things to see. And so… When I get us there, it took a little longer (Chuckling) than it looked like on the map. And so, honestly, when we got there, we were all pretty tired. (Laughter)

Erin: Well, this was in … let’s just add in… that this like day four of walking the city of Tokyo and …

Jim: And it’s one big city.

Erin: Yes and we were exhausted. And so, we get to the shrine. We finally walk in. It’s this beautiful outdoor park area and for some reason, Murphy and I wanted to go one direction, but you had some real strong opinions about going a different direction.

Jim: Oh, conflict!

Greg: There was this really cool bridge and we could be on the bridge and take this great family photo and all this. So, in my mind, I wanted to take us the scenic route. They’re so tired, they want to go the most direct route. And so, it bothered me. It felt … and see, in that moment, I … I think what happened is, I felt disrespected.

Jim: ‘Cause you had done all this work--

Greg: I’d done all this--

Jim: --mapping it out.

Greg:--work and then—

Jim: And they ignored you.

Greg:--and they ignored me. And so—

Jim: No man can relate to what you’re talking about. (Laughter)

Greg: So, they start takin’ off in one direction. And so, I’m thinking … well, actually what happened is that they … I think I reacted and …

Erin: Yeah, we were stunned by his reaction to this and he—

Greg: I’m like, “Fine!”

Erin: --he …

Greg: I threw like a temper tantrum.

Erin: He did.

Greg: I’m like, “All I—

Erin: And … and he was

Greg:--worked all this time to figure this out and you guys don’t want to go the way I want to go,” blah, blah, blah, blah…

Erin: And Murphy and I, we’re like, what’s goin’ on? She was like, “What’s goin’ on with dad?” I’m like, “I have no idea.”  And so, we immediately, being the pleasers that we both are, we’re like, “Oh, no, that’s … that’s fine; we’ll go that way.” So, we start to go his way, while he goes the opposite way.

Greg: I’m mad now.

Jim: Because your way now.

Greg: Yeah, so, I was like—

Erin: And goes our way.

Greg: --forget it, fine.

Jim: ‘Cause you’re gonna prove a point.

Greg: Oh, yeah.

Erin: Yeah.

Greg: So, I … now, so I’m thinking, certainly we’re in a foreign country. They’ve never looked at a map. They don’t know where they’re at. They’re not gonna walk off. They’ll follow me. Certainly, they’ll follow me. So, I’m walking and I turn around and they’re nowhere. They kept goin’ the other way.

Now I know the map, so I know that it’s gonna end … the trails are gonna intersect, so I’m thinkin’, well, now I’ll really show them and that they shouldn’t be leaving me, ‘cause I have the map and everything.

Erin: And we’re going the other way going, surely dad’s gonna follow us. He won’t leave us alone in a foreign country and you know, walking on this isolated path. But no Greg.

Greg: They underestimated my stubbornness.

Erin: Yeah, no Greg. We got to the end and the … where the … it should’ve crossed over and no Greg.

Greg: And we don’t know what happened. Now I can’t find them. So, then I panic. So, I’m thinkin’ they’re gone. Someone’s taken them.

Jim: So, you’ve gone from mad to uh-oh.

Greg: Yeah, like I’m gonna have to use all my skills and find ‘em and fight off the bad guys and get my--

Jim: Get your pocket knife out—

Greg: --my daughter. But yea, exactly. So, we finally end up, I … I find them. They’ve already now gone through the shrine, so they’ve seen all the really cool stuff. And … and …

Jim: You’re still outside.

Greg: Yeah and I … and I’ve been … I’m sweating. I’ve been running back and forth.

Erin: He’s fuming, the—

Greg: I wasn’t built to jog—

Erin: --steam coming out of—

Greg: --so … yeah.

Erin: --his ears.

Greg: Oh, I was mad. So, we …

Jim: But now you have actually committed two crimes. You didn’t—

Greg: Thank you, Jim Daly--

Jim: --follow ‘em the first time and then you took the time to go through the uh … museum—

Greg: Yes.

John: Without him

Jim: --without him

Erin: Okay, yes.

Greg: Yes.

Erin: Yes.

Jim: Without even thinkin’ about him!

Erin: Yeah.

Greg: Finally.

Erin: I just kept thinking— (laughter)

Greg: Someone gets it.

Erin: --well, eventually he’s gonna show up.

Greg: Ah.

Erin: I mean, I hope, unless someone—

John: So, you found them—

Erin: --took him.

John: --you found them and just hugged and kissed ‘em and told ‘em how—

Greg: No—

John: --much you loved them.

Greg: --it was such a beautiful reunion.

Jim: Thought they were kidnapped or something.

Greg: So we get back together and we were, you know, sarcastic with each other. And we’re, you know, shut down and we just started walking in some direction, not talking. I didn’t want to talk. She didn’t want to talk. Murphy is like lookin’ at both us going, “This is so awkward. I hate when you two fight.” (Laughter) And … and I … here … here’s the cool part in all of this.

And we will say this over and over and over and over again, that I’m tellin’ you, there is a way to use that kind of a scenario to where, all of a sudden, we are so disconnected. We are so frustrated with each other. I mean, Satan’s attacking our mind. I mean, I’m runnin’ my mind silently, just you know, I can’t believe, you know, they did this and how disrespectful and they don’t value all the work that I put in. There … there is a way to actually go from that level of disconnection to a spot of deeper intimacy and connection—

Jim: Well, how do we de-escalate that--

Greg: --than we had before.

Jim: --especially—

Greg: That’s …

Jim: --as believers? How do you do that? How did you do it or how would you do that differently?

Greg: The thing that I’ve learned is the worst possible thing you could do in that moment is to try to work it out relationally first, the absolute worst.And I think that goes against what everybody’s taught. You know, we’re taught to in the moments when we’re in conflict, we need to somehow sit down and … and start talking. And we need to work this thing out. It is honestly the worst piece of advice. The greatest thing that I’ve learned is not to try to work it out between my wife and I first. Jesus laid it out really nice in Matthew 7, where He basically is saying, “You hypocrite. Why do you look at the dust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye?” I like it where He says, “First,” He literally is giving us an order, He says, “First get the log out of your own eye.” First deal with you.

I need to go between me and the Lord and I need to get my heart back open.

Jim: Hm.

Greg: That’s the problem and that’s why conversations between spouses when we’re angry and mad and frustrated and shut down, our hearts are closed, why that doesn’t work is because you can’t have a good conversation when your buttons have been all stirred up and your heart’s shut down. It just won’t ever happen. That is … that cannot be the formula for success. It just doesn’t work.

Erin: And I would say that we would say, first and foremost, that they have to take a break, that it has to … they have to get away from what is going on, whatever the topic is, whatever … from each other. You know, in … the … the thing is, is that you have to let each other know if you’re gonna leave physically, if you’re gonna go into another room. You know, let your spouse know. Hey, my … um … I … I’m stirred up. My heart’s closed. I’m gonna take a timeout here, take a break and I’ll be back. I’ll come back and we’re gonna work this out, but right now, I want to go get my heart open.

Or if you’re in a situation like in … in Japan, where you just kind of emotionally step back and you … you quit engaging around the conversation, but your goal is to get your heart open.

Greg: Yeah, for … for me, what I’ve learned, if … if I can, as Erin is saying, if I can just step away from her. So, now I couldn’t run off, it’s just pulling back into my own thoughts and going to the Lord. That’s the key, is that it’s …

Jim: So, you can still be physically present and just--

Greg: You can.

Jim: --seek God out in that moment and try to bite your tongue and don’t—

Greg: Yeah.

Jim: --respond with a negative—

Greg: Now I--

Jim: --comments.

Greg: --I can tell her and just say, “Hey, I need to … I need to go into a different room.” And there’s … there’s nothing wrong with that. Again, my job is to get my own heart open. That … that’s my responsibility. I love … there’s … there’s a verse in Mark 9:50 that says, “Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourself.” In other words, this … this is personal responsibility. That’s my … if somethin’ doesn’t have salt, it’s saying, I need to do something about that. I need to have salt in myself. I need to get the log out of my own eye. And what I’ve learned, I go before the Lord and I’ll start to pray. And usually my prayer is, “Uh! Okay, she’s Your daughter. You made her. (Laughter) What in the world is goin’ on? Can’t You speak to her? Can’t You let her know that she has wronged me?” And … but … but eventually, what I do is I … I … I begin to ask God, “God, what … what is in me that … that I need to deal with? What … what is within my control?”

Anytime we have conflict, there’s always some part of it that I can own and … and take responsibility. It could be that I’m tired, exhausted. It could be a part of my upbringing and I’m sensitive to certain things. You know what I’m saying? That there’s—

Jim: Yeah, so our …

Greg:--always something that I can own.

Jim: So, let me clarify. Are you saying the first step is to … to have that awareness. Where is this feeling coming from?

Greg: You …

Jim: To settle your own heart down?

Greg: Yes, see, you’re wanting … you’re ... You are focused on God. What do I need to be aware of right now? And … and as I walked, I mean, Erin and I are walking next to each other. She’s thinking about her and I’m thinking about-- and praying, just going, “God, what … what is goin’ on? Why am I so mad at my daughter and wife right now?” And that’s when I … I realized that I … it’s because I feel totally taken advantage of. They … I’ve been doin’ all the work and then I choose the route, ‘cause they’re making me do it all and they’re not following me. It feels so disrespected and ta … see, that’s when I began to un … settle into, see, that’s my stuff.

Jim: Right.

Greg: And that’s when I just turned to the Lord and just say, “God, that … man, I … you know, wh … wh … what do we do about this thing?” I mean, you just … I … I’ve just seen when … when I go to Him, that He begins to soften my heart through His perspective, through His awareness. He just speaks that into us. I love that John verse, “That you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” I mean, that’s what I’m looking for.

Jim: You talk about win-win solutions in the book. Describe how you get there. How is … you know, in the middle of that kind of disagreement or battle in a marriage, how do you … how do you take that deep breath and go, “Okay, how do I find the win-win here?”

Greg: Well, win-win solutions come because we are unified, because we’re committed to unity and we realize that we’re on the same team, which is why you’ll never get to a win-win if you don’t start from the place of committing to get your heart open first.

Jim: Let me ask you this, because it’s important. I think in the Western culture that we live in, it’s about winning. And it permeates us in every way, whether it’s sports or vocation and yes, in the church, um … it’s about being better, being on top of your game. It’s about winning. I think that’s why we’re attracted to leaders who exude winning and that kind of victorious attitude.

But it seems that Scripture, especially when you look at the New Testament, what Jesus is saying, it’s not about winning. It’s about loving Me and loving those around you and giving of yourself. It’s counterintuitive and in marriage, um … I think we take too much of the world into our marriages. Do you agree?

Greg: Oh, absolutely. But … but think of how many times God talks in … when … in context of marriage that we’re one, that we’re to be unified.

Jim: Yeah.

Greg: I love in … in Genesis 11:6, where He’s talking about the tower of Babel. When He’s looking down, He says, boy, when all the people now have come together and they’re speaking the same language, wow, nothing is impossible for them. That’s marriage. When we are unified, when we’re speaking the same language, there’s nothing that’s impossible for us.

That … marriage is in … in our opinion, one of the most powerful forces on earth. I tell you what. Satan recognizes that, he fears what our marriage could become. And so, he goes out of his way to keep us “disunified.” And that’s why conflict is such an important part that we learn how do we manage and … and walk through this.

Jim: Okay, let me get down to it, ‘cause we’re wrappin’ up. It … tonight, give me three things we can do as a couple tonight to change the tempo, to change the defeat that we’ve had at the hand of the enemy. We want that victorious relationship. We want to honor Christ in our relationship. What can we start doing today that will get us on that path of … of real victory in our marriage, that the enemy of our soul will tremble because of what we represent before God?

 Greg: Rule No. 1, recognize that conflict is an opportunity. Don’t avoid it. Don’t shy away from it. Figure out how do we use conflict to grow closer, to understand myself better, to understand my wife better, to understand our marriage better. So, see it truly as an opportunity.

Erin: And then, also, I think it’s important to choose your battles, because you know, in the day in and day out busyness of life, we start picking at things that really aren’t, you know, big in the big picture. And so, choose the things that you really need to work on or communicate about or, you know, bring up an issue about. So, really take a step back. If there’s an issue, go to the Lord and ask Him, you know, is this … you know, how big of a deal is this? You know, where’s my heart at in it? And you know, do I need to go to him and confront this? Or is this something that I can set aside and … and turn the other cheek.

Jim: All right, let’s put everything into practice. In the story of Japan and how did you fall in love again after Japan?

Greg: So the … the biggest thing is that, if you take a moment and get your heart back open, I think it … it all falls into place. Erin and I and most people, we communicate really, really good when our hearts are open. See, the biggest barrier to our inability to communicate in those moments just is that our hearts are closed. That’s the awareness that I have to learn. That is always the place that I begin, is I’m not gonna try to talk to her until my heart is open.

So, as we’re walking, both of us went to the Lord and we … we got our hearts back open. It … there’s a … There’s a great verse in Proverbs 16:23 that “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth.” See, that (Laughter) … that’s our battle cry now, is that—

Jim: It’s good.

Greg: --so one … once we … our hearts were open and you … you know when your heart’s open, when you’re actually willing to be a listener and you’re willing and you … you start to go, “Wow, what was really goin’ on for her?” And you can feel that compassion and the empathy and all that return.

So, we … we … literally, we were walkin’ a ways apart. We … we just kinda walked back together and that’s when we just said, “Hey, what … what happened?” You know, “Erin, what happened?” “Greg, what happened?” And we were able to talk it through and she said, “What … what does that make you feel?” And I was able to tell, you know, “I just … I felt taken advantage of. I felt disrespected.” “Well, I felt abandoned.” We … we drew in our daughter. “Well, how did it make you feel when I left you guys?” And … and she said, “I totally felt abandoned by my dad.” And I’m like, “Oh!” But see, my heart was open then. Then I was really, “Okay, I got it.” And see, that drew us even closer together, ‘cause now we’re being real and wow, did it happen?

Jim: So, conflict can actually lead to greater intimacy.

Greg: See, that’s our argument, is that we … one … once our hearts were open, see, I learned something new about myself. I didn’t have any idea that I was feeling taken advantage of by my daughter and my wife. I didn’t know that, so I learned something about me. I learned something about my wife and daughter, about how they were really feeling.And then we … we were able to break an ineffective pattern.

Jim: Hm.

Greg: And so, you see, that’s the payoff. That’s … all of a sudden, now we were … we were joined. And then the final thing we did was, we just said, “So, how do we not let this happen again?” And we just all agreed that, you know, that I wouldn’t be so uptight (Laughing) on the … on having to go …

Jim: Let’s all agree; John, do you agree with that?

Erin: Yes.

Jim: I don’t think Greg should be so uptight …

John: I think he should loosen up a little bit.

Greg: But you know, I mean, we … we … I can … I said, I could be more flexible. I … I’m not gonna run this thing, you know, as we’re doin’ it my way. And I said, “Let me draw you guys in.” And they said, “Let … you shouldn’t have to be fully burdened with figuring all this out. We want to help in that.” And now that was our win-win.

Jim: Yeah, okay, that’s a good example.

Erin: And after … yeah, after we worked all that out, we had a great time, an even better time, because we were more connected and we knew where each of us were at. And it … I mean, that is the gift of working through conflict in a healthy way.

Closing:

John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly; I’m John Fuller and our guests were Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley sharing some wisdom from their book, The Whole-Hearted Wife: 10 Keys to a More Loving Relationship.

Jim: That was a great conversation with Greg and Erin and I really appreciate the work they’re doing here at Focus on the Family to help strengthen and rescue marriages. The primary takeaway from what we shared today is this: Married couples need to stay engaged in their relationship. Tragically, we hear from so many husbands and wives who have separated emotionally from one another. And they’re still married, but in name only. It’s kind of a business relationship-- they’re just living together like roommates! And that’s not a healthy place to be. And that’s not what God intended for your marriage. If you and your spouse are struggling in that way, if you heard what we talked about today and you did the self-assessment and said, that’s kind of where we are-- I hope you’ll contact us here at Focus on the Family. We have many many resources and tools to help you get back on track with your relationship so it can be a witness to those around you-- that’s the goal! Let’s let our marriages shine in such a way that people say, what is different about you?

John: Yeah, so get a copy of the book, The Whole-Hearted Wife by Greg and Erin Smalley and other helps as well when you call 800-A-FAMILY or go to focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Jim: John, I also want to mention the great work at Hope Restored, which is our intensive counseling group in Branson, Missouri. The great news is almost 85% of the couples that attend Hope Restored, two years later, their marriages are intact and they’re doing so much better. That should be incentive enough to say, let’s give that a try. This program is for those marriages that are in deep deep trouble and you need to really concentrate on how you’re going to salvage your marriage. And I again just want to stress, invest in this because those couples are far happier than those that choose divorce five years later. All the research is showing that to be true. So, do it! If you’re in trouble, don’t be embarrassed-- do what you need to do to save your marriage.

And for those who support the ministry or maybe you haven’t supported Focus-- could I ask you to consider giving to Focus? So together, we can help more marriages and save more marriages, to be bold. That is the work of the Lord right now, I think in the community of believers. We need to strengthen our marriages and reduce our divorce rates. And, uh, we can do that together, through Hope Restored.

John: And Hope Restored is really just one of the ways that friends like you have helped save more than 160,000 troubled marriages last year. And we want to thank you for that and ask for your continued support of Focus on the Family today. And when you donate a gift of any amount, we’ll send a complimentary copy of Greg and Erin’s book, The Whole-Hearted Wife, which, I’m sure, will be beneficial for you as a couple. Donate at focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459.

On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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More Episode Resources

Guest

Greg Smalley

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Dr. Greg Smalley serves as the vice president of Family Ministries at Focus on the Family. In this role, he develops and oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages and help couples in marital crises. Prior to joining Focus, Smalley worked for the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University and as President of the National Institute of Marriage. He is the author of 12 books including Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage, Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage and The DNA of Relationships.

Guest

Erin Smalley

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Erin Smalley serves as the Marriage Strategic Spokesperson for Focus on the Family's marriage ministry and develops content for the marriage department. In addition to her work at Focus, Smalley is a conference speaker. She presents with her husband, Dr. Greg Smalley, at marriage enrichment seminars where they guide husbands and wives in taking steps toward enjoying deeply satisfying marriages. She also speaks to women on faith, family and the importance of healthy friendships.