Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley discuss biblically-based strategies to help couples build a romance that will last a lifetime. (Part 2 of 2)
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Announcer: Marriages in trouble don't always look like they're in trouble. In fact, Christian couples often struggle in silence. Why? Because people are afraid to talk about their problems, because they're ashamed of how they feel inside. If that describes you, call the Focus on the Family Help Center. We'll listen to you, pray with you and help you find counseling if you want it. Just call us, weekdays at 1-800-A-FAMILY, the Focus on the Family Help Center, just a phone call away at 1-800-A-FAMILY.
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Mrs. Erin Smalley: And for me, I would look to him. You know, tell me I'm valuable. Tell me that I'm good enough and it was, in many ways, love me, but also, you know, value me as a person, which isn't a bad thing, but the myth is that we look to someone else for that, that really the truth is, is that we are fully, completely loved by this amazing God. And I wish 24 years ago, I would have recognize that and known that walking into our marriage, that I am loved. I am accepted. I am valued and I'm good enough.
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John Fuller: Insights from our guest on the last "Focus on the Family" broadcast, Erin Smalley and she and her husband, Dr. Greg Smalley have returned today. They're gonna share more with us about some secrets for a lifelong marriage and we're so glad you've joined us. I'm John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: You know, I love Greg and Erin's heart for marriage. They have such a sincere desire to see all marriages thrive and do well and that's the heart you need in this culture today to be in marriage ministry. Here at Focus on the Family, it's our passion to be there for you. And we have caring Christian counselors if you need help. We also have Focus on the Family's Marriage Institute, if you're in that more desperate place. They have almost an 85 percent success rate and I am grateful for that. Folks, we are putting all hands on deck when it comes to marriage and helping save marriages. Greg and Erin walk in the door every day here at Focus on the Family, thinking how can we do it better? How can we save more marriages? What can we do that's fresh and new and helps people? And I'm so grateful for their day-to-day leadership.
John: And if you'd like to learn about those resources or just general tune-up kind of things for your relationship, we've got a lot of great materials for you. We're a phone call away. The number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. And Jim, as you said, Greg and Erin are on staff here. They've been married for 24 years and they've been on the broadcast a number of times. It seems that we always get a strong response from our listeners when Greg and Erin are here, because they have such great insights and they tell some good stories, too.
Jim: Well, they do and what I love about then is they're transparent. And you know, I think generationally, maybe that generation before us, they were a little tighter with the reality of what went on in their own home and that's okay. That's the way they were wired. But I think today, people are looking for what does it mean to be an authentic Christian? And when you can talk about the struggles in your marriage, even though you still love each other, that resonates with people, because, you know what? They're not perfect. You're not perfect. We're not perfect and everybody seems to be on the same field at that point. So, with that (Chuckling) introduction, Greg and Erin, welcome to imperfection. (Laughter)
Greg Smalley: Wow! I want you to be our herald. Just walk around and (Laughter) introduce us everywhere we go.
Jim: It's so good to have you back and Greg, of course, you were raised in the household of Gary and Norma Smalley, your mom and dad. And you learned some things, but you didn't come into marriage in a perfect way, did you?
Greg: Not at all. You would think that, based on, yeah, growing up there. You know, I guess there's a big, big difference between hearing and then doing.
Greg: And that was where I struggled and quite fra[nkly], you know, hey, honestly, walking into marriage at 23, I had a lot of growing up to do. There was a lot of stuff that I hadn't dealt with, that I needed to deal with and probably for me, the biggest thing was, you know, growing up in that home with Gary Smalley. He was such a spiritual giant, that I probably leaned too heavily on him as far as my own—
Greg: --spiritual relationship and identity. And it took a couple years to really struggle through some things before God really got ahold of me. And then I was able to figure out my own relationship with God, which then really made a difference in our marriage. But I feel like every time I say this, I need to apologize to my wife (Laughter). So sorry—
Erin Smalley: Great having you—
Greg: --about those first—
Erin: --sit right here.
Greg: --couple years. (Laughter)
Jim: Well, Erin's nodding. No (Laughter), I'm kiddin'.
Erin: Nodding and agree[ing].
Greg: Well, she should be.
Erin: Well, and—
Erin: --that's why we're—
Greg: Yeah, right.
Erin: --calling this book, Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage, because, I mean, marriage can be crazy, right? I mean, there are the ups, the downs, the chaotic days, the days of, you know, cars sliding into trees when you're just trying (Laughter) to have a family adventure. And you know, I like to refer to it as my beautiful chaos, that it's a beautiful thing that God is doing so much through it, but it can be chaotic at times.
Jim: Well, one of the big advantages I see in you and your relationship is humor. And you touched on that last time, Greg and for those that didn't get a chance to listen last time, I'd encourage you to get the download or call us for the CD. It's available. I think it's important to know the context of the conversation. But you talked about your sense of humor and the way you make each other laugh.
But sometimes people feel like, well, I don't have Greg Smalley's sense of humor. I don't laugh that much. What would you say to that person about life and how you do you get over some of the bumps when you don't have that kind of perspective?
Greg: Yeah, early on in our marriage there came a point where we were struggling so much that I really began to wonder if we even should've gotten married. I mean, should we have done this? I was so discouraged. My heart was so shut down and that's, see, when Satan plays on your mind. So, he's the one in my mind going, "Yeah, maybe you shouldn't have gotten married."
And I think what began to happen for me is, I lost sight of how incredibly valuable our marriage really was. I was focused on all the negative stuff, but the truth is, is that our marriage is full of valuable things. And so, for the person who maybe goes, yeah, but we don't have that kind of fun and we don't laugh like that. I'll tell you what, one of the best things you could ever do is just to make a list of, here are the things that I value about my own relationship.
Maybe it's this togetherness. Maybe it's the fact that they're raising kids together. Maybe they're serving, you know, on a mission field together in some way. Maybe it's, you know, just being married to a best friend. I mean, there's dozens and dozens of things that'll make your marriage valuable.
And for me, a counselor told me this one time and Erin, one day, when we needed help, we actually went and got help. And the counselor really challenged me at some point, goin', "You know, when I listen to you talk about your marriage, it's all so negative." He goes, "I want you to go home this week and I want you to bring back a list and fill it full of anything you can think of, of what you love about your marriage."
And I tell you , that had a huge, huge impact, because I started to see, yeah, you know what? There are things. When God says in Hebrews 13:4 that marriage should be honored by all, I think that's the part of how we do that, is that we figure this out, reminding myself of what I appreciated about our relationship, even through the pain and the frustration. It changed my perspective.
Jim: Well, there's a homework assignment, John. Are you gonna take it up?
Jim: Create that list tonight?
John: I will. I think that's a good idea.
Jim: Yeah, it's a good thing for everybody. It'd be, to you know, when you get home, sit down with your spouse and list those things that you're excited about—
Greg: It can make a difference.
Jim: --in your relationship. Sure can . Hey, last time we talked about those 12 secrets that we alluded to. I want to dig into one of them, maybe two of them. Secret No. 3 is about romance. It's called True Love Strives to Know and to Be Known and I really am curious, what did you mean by that, "to know and be known?"
Erin: You know, really what we're talking about is, you know, to know your spouse, but then also to be known as an individual in the relationship. So, to not only know Greg, but to also for him to know me as a person and the only way to do that is through communication. That communication is gonna allow us to truly know who we are and who we are as a couple, who we are as individuals. And so often couples stop talking.
Jim: Well, and let me ask you this, Erin. We're so busy and it sounds like a great excuse. But you can get movin' so fast; you have so many appointments. You get home. There's so much to do with the kids. We've gotta get 'em ready for this. In fact, tonight I'm going to a concert where Troy's playing the baritone and—
Jim: --you know, all those kind[s of things]. And it just seems that's like life. That's the way it is and to stop and say to Jean, "Let's know and be known with each other." (Laughter) I mean, it's like, are you serious? We've got baritone practice.
Erin: Yeah. (Laughing)
Jim: But rattle my head a little bit here. I don't want to sound like I'm just giving excuses. How do we in a modern culture, committed to each other, say okay, we gotta somehow slow this train down so we can do what God wants us to do in our relationship? That's job one. How do you do it?
Erin: You know, and it doesn't have to be such a big deal. I think sometimes we make it into such a major undertaking. You know, truly if you're prioritizing your marriage, then you're gonna take action with that and you're gonna invest in this thing called marriage. You have to. It's not self-sustaining. And so, truly you know, really we like to say, take a daily pause. You know, just take, you know, 20 minutes when you get home. Sit down with Jean.
You know, have a conversation that's heart to heart and just, you know, offering what's happened to me today? What's God doing in my life? And asking the questions. Greg, what's goin' on for you? You know, where are you at emotionally? How are you doin' with the kids? You know, just simply having that heart-to-heart connection. It doesn't have to be a major undertaking.
Jim: How does communication styles play in this? 'Cause I'm thinking of all the personalities types here.
Greg: Oh, yeah.
Jim: You want me to do what?
Greg: I mean, even to hear her describe that, it causes angst in me, 'cause that's just—
Greg: --well, because that's not how I love to connect.
Jim: (Laughing) How do you connect?
Greg: Well, I like to do things. So, I like for us to go on a walk. I like to go on an adventure. I like to go out and do a date night. I mean, I think for a lot of guys, it's about doing something together. I think for a lot of women that think of that coffee shop, that's sitting down, facing one another, getting into a very deep conversation.
But what I've learned, that's what Erin loves. And so, this whole idea of a daily pause, see when you say, you know, how do you have good communication? It came out too simple. What? How? What? How do you do that?
So, honestly, the goal for me now is, I want to know my wife, so I want to keep updated. I want to keep current. In other words, I need to keep asking her questions. That's that daily pause. What it does is, that at the end of the day, let's say, for 10, 15, 20 minutes, I'll just ask Erin some questions. Now I had to ask her what could I ask you that would be meaningful?
Jim: Just say, where have you been today?
Erin: Like yeah.
Jim: What did you buy?
John: If you've gotta ask (Laughter), then you don't know me very well.
Jim: Yeah, I mean, you can ask questions or you can ask questions.
Greg andErin: Yeah.
Greg: John, and that's the myth, is that if I knew you so well, then I would know what to ask you. What I did is, I went to Erin and said, "You know what? Okay, I like this idea of a daily pause. I get that I should be asking you questions to stay current to you, update myself on what's goin' on in your life. What do you want to know? What could I ask you?"
And she went, "Oh, I've got four that you could ask me." And it was like, I went, "No, think about it for a second." She goes, "If I think about it, I'll have eight. How many would you like?" (Laughter)
John: So, stop at four.
Greg: So, I said, "Four's fine." She literally went, she goes, if you ask me how am I feeling? She goes, if you ask me, how things are going between me and the kids? Ask me how things are going between me and my girlfriends? This is Erin asking. And then, "What is one thing that God's been teaching you as of late?" That gave me four.
Jim: Those are good questions.
Greg: So, I had to learn though to switch 'em up, because usually I'd say, "So, how are you feelin' today?" And then 20 minutes later I'm goin', "Okay, wow, that's a lot of feelings." And what I've discovered is, that actually just by asking some simple questions like those and whatever your spouse would like, I mean, it's whatever, that what it's done is, it honestly keeps me current in what's going on.
I love there's a line from a song that says "the joy of rediscovering you." And that's become sort of my quest. I want to keep rediscovering my wife, 'cause she keeps changing. And so, that's the idea of being committed to knowing her. But then I have to be willing to also, to allow her to know me. And maybe as a guy, that's where it's a little bit more challenging.
John: Well, that's Dr. Greg Smalley and he and his wife, Erin, are our guests on today's "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly. Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage: 12 Secrets for a Lifelong Romance, that's the book they've written. We have it and a CD or a download of this program and our mobile app, as well, so you can listen on the go, all of that at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Or call us, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
End of Program Note
Jim: Erin, we've heard Greg's list that he thinks about for you. What do you think about for him?
Erin: You know, I always start with, you know, how are things going with you and the kids? What is God teaching you as of late? But then, a big one for men is, you know, how are things goin' at work? Because as a man, you know, the success, feeling like he has what it takes, it's a good question to just check in and you know, how are things goin' for you at work?
Greg: I usually say, my boss is mean to me. (Laughter)
Jim: John, like John, why are you so mean to Greg? (Laughter)
Greg: I'm kidding. (Laughter) No, but it is, and usually and quite honestly, as much as she can go forever on the "How are you feeling?" which is a great thing for her, boy, she can mine that question and "Hey, how are things goin' at work? What's goin' on?" And she just mines that and keeps asking me questions. And all of a sudden, I am being known by her. That's the point.
Jim: You know, Greg, and I don't mean this as a scapegoat at all, but even brain science, when you look at MRI scans, I mean, women are well-wired between the two hemispheres of their brain. That's where you get books like, Spaghetti and Waffles and Venus and Mars and you know, women are thinkin'. I'll ask Jean and I'll be in the nowhere zone. I'm not thinkin' about anything and Jean, I can just see her wheels are trying to say, "What are you thinking?" And she goes, "Well, I kinda got two lists going. One is for this and one is for that." And I'm going, "That sounds exhausting." But that's how the female brain works, isn't it?
Greg: It's beautiful and it's confusing, yeah and 'cause I don't think that way. The key that we've discovered, so we take this daily pause and that's really more to get to know Erin. I mean, I think that's more how guys can pursue their wives.
But what I've learned is, that when we do a, what we call "a weekly escape," to get out of the house, we go do something. So, we will pick an activity. We'll just walk around. Well, we'll do whatever. That's what hits for me. See, I don't want to sit down and deeply stare into your eyes, Jim.
Jim: I think that's accurate.
Greg: That's really—
Erin: That's really awkward.
Greg: --it's a good thing. (Laughter) That's not me. I mean, gettin' into this deep, deep con[versation], that's not me, but we just say, you can hit both what feels good to a woman is that daily pause, that just asking questions. But also for the guy, you can then hit on this set. I want to do something. And I want a little bit of adventure here. And by the way, in the midst of all that, we're still talking. So, the woman's also getting that need met.
Jim: How does this differentiate with another one of your secrets for marriage and that's true love nourishes. These sound very similar. What's the difference between "nourish" and being known to each other?
Erin: You know, nourish is really, you know, based on that you value your relationship, that you're investing in your relationship by being known and knowing your spouse. Then you're taking action and you're nourishing your spouse. And really, this is based on Ephesians 5:29, "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ loved the church."
So, you know, to nourish and to cherish. Cherish is, you know, valuing your marriage, your spouse in your mind, but then nourish is to take it a step further and to them treat them in valuable ways.
Greg: You know, which I love that. For me, nourish is all about knowledge. It's all about learning what is it that Erin wants from me that helps her to feel loved? So, nourish means to grow. In other words, how do I help Erin grow? How do I help her grow as a wife? I need to learn something. What does she like? I need specific things that she needs from me in order to feel loved.
And one time we saw that it was so funny, we were gettin' ready to go on a vacation one time and one of our daughters, Murphy, at the time was 4. And she had this little animal, stuffed animal, this little praying bunny.
And we're gettin' ready to go on this trip and little Murphy had this thing in her hand as we're trying to leave to get to the airport. So, I'm thinkin', "Ah, she's gonna lose [it]. I mean, I don't want the chaos. You gotta leave this thing home." So, I'm tryin' to convince Murphy to leave [it]. Little Gracie is her name for this little praying bunny. Leave Gracie home, which is not easy.
And so, Murphy comes running up and I go, "Whoa, whoa, whoa." I said, "Hey, Murph," I said, "I see you've got Gracie." And she's like, "Yes." And I say, "Oh, honey, I hate to tell you this." And so, I'm tryin' to think in my mind, like what do I say? How do I get her to leave it? The only thing that came to my mind was I said, "Honey, you gotta leave her home, because the airline, it only allows us so much weight and so much luggage."
Jim: And that bunny's pretty hefty.
Greg: Exactly and I said, "And Gracie will put us over the limit." Now she's 4, so, I mean, so I look and it should work.
Erin: I mean, yeah.
John: Good odds it'll work, right?
Erin: Yeah, I'm literally sitting there going, "I think we finished 10 years of graduate school in psychology and that's what he came up with?" (Laughter)
Greg: Yeah, that's why you hired us to do the marriage and not the parenting--
Greg: --here at Focus. So, of course, Murphy's arguing and I'm saying, "Honey, seriously, you gotta go put Gracie back." And I'll never forget this. This is one of those moments, I couldn't believe what happened. She's [got] big tears. She asked me, "Now look, daddy," 'cause we were going to Disneyworld, she's like, "Well, are we gonna have fun a Disneyworld?" I said, "Yeah, I mean, it's the best place on earth and we're gonna do all these fun things. And so, see you gotta go put Gracie back."
I'll never forget this. So, she, big tears, she looks at me and she goes, "Well, daddy," she goes, "I love Gracie so much that if that's how much fun we're gonna have, I want you to take her and I'll stay home."
Jim: Aw, that's sweet.
Greg: There's nothing sweet about that.
Jim: That's totally sweet.
Greg: Oh, my.
Erin: I loved every minute of it.
Greg: So, I almost get at her for helpin'. She's just shakin' her head, laughing.
Jim: Come on, Gracie went, right?
Greg: You know, what Murphy did though that day to me is the epitome of nourishing someone and that's, that once she recognized Gracie's value and then in the moment that it mattered the most, she treated her in a valuable way.
And so, for us, how do I learn how to treat Erin in that valuable way? What does she need? And so, just over the years, you know, we've just learned those things. Well, actually, you came up with this. It is such a good idea that figured these, you know, like what do we need to feel love? How do we do that?
Erin: Yeah and so, just simply—
Greg: And you had a good way.
Erin: --asking your spouse to complete the statement, "I feel loved when you …" fill in the blank and come up with your list of, "This is how I feel loved." Because typically we're gonna try to love our spouse in the ways that we feel loved. But just having them simply complete that statement and come up with a list of ways that they're gonna feel most loved, awesome.
Jim: You have another one of the lifelong secrets [which] is looking inward. That one caught my attention. It's intriguing to me, because scripturally, it fits. You know, look to the plank in your own eye—
Jim: --before you look to the speck in your spouse's. Let's—
Greg: Why can't we rewrite—
Jim: --put it in that—
Greg: --that one?
Jim: --yeah, that context. I'd rather get the speck out before the eye.
Greg: Exactly, thank you.
Jim: But what were you intending for us to grab out of that as a marriage principle?
Greg: Yeah, I read this story about how certain hunters will trap a monkey. And it really hit me, because what they do is, they take a coconut and it's hollowed out, that has just this little opening. And then they'll put in some sort of delicacy, something that a monkey would want.
And then they chain this to like the ground or to a tree and what's fascinating is, that the monkey will come by and will see whatever's in there, will reach his hand and will grasp hold of whatever's in there, but his hand's flexible enough to get into the coconut, but while he's holding this, whatever—
Jim: When it forms a fist.
Greg: --he can't get it back out. And what's interesting is, that monkey will never let go of what he's holding onto.
Jim: So, the hunters--
Greg: He will perish.
Jim: --or trappers have it.
Greg: [The hunters] will get him. And what I started realizing is that there are things in my own life that I've refused to let go of, that have sort of become my own monkey trap.
Jim: What does that look like? Give it a name.
Greg: Yeah, you know, for me, there's a way in which and I'm not even gonna look at my wife right now, 'cause I can sense her starting to smile as I start to share this. But somewhere along the line, that I just fell into this really bad habit of kinda being secret. Like if I eat something that maybe I shouldn't eat, I'll hide the wrapper or I'll bury the wrapper inside the trash, so that I know that my wife won't see. I won't tell her certain things and I'll justify it. That, that's not even that big of a deal. I don't want to bother her with that. I don't' want to burden her with that, so I'm just not gonna tell her about that.
I just started to realize that there's been so many ways in which that I'm secretive about things. And it really has caused problems within my relationship. There's ways in which, that I'm not fully known by wife.
Jim: Let me ask you this though. How do you identify those things? I mean, do you put a name to it? Do you say, this is my lack of patience? This is my tidy neat thing. I've gotta have the garage clean—my monkey trap. (Laughter) It also sounds reasonable to me and I sit there and debate, okay, is that really a monkey trap or is that a good thing?
Erin: You know, you start looking at what is it [that's] keeping you stuck? You know, is keeping the garage clean all the time keeping you stuck? You know, probably not, but there's other things that may be keeping you stuck. You know, what is it you need to let go of to experience freedom? You know, maybe it was a relationship with a parent.
You know, for me, it was really just getting complete freedom and healing from some of the stuff from anger with my dad. You know, just being set free from that. I thought I'd let go, but there were parts of me that were still holding onto that.
You know, what's keeping you from being healthier and more joyful? Is it an attitude? Is it, you know, bitterness? Is it a faulty belief? What's Satan telling you? Because he wants you to be stuck in that monkey trap.
Jim: So, these are all good things.
Greg: You have to buy into the notion that in a marriage, two negatives don't equal a positive.
Jim: Unlike math.
Greg: [It's] true in math.
Jim: (Laughing) Right.
Greg: But it's not true in our relationship and as long as you fully believe that I've gotta keep growing. And you know, for a long time, I was more interested in helping everybody else. I was more interested in helping Erin (Laughing), you know.
Erin: Oh, yes, you were. (Laughter) Very committed--
Greg: It's so much—
Erin: --to that.
Jim: Well, you've done a—
Erin: And me—
Jim: --great job. (Laughter)
Erin: --I've got the best of personal growth.
Jim: You're a wonderful person, Erin.
John: You've turned out really well, Erin.
Jim: Way to go, Greg.
Greg: You are welcome.
Erin: Way to go, Greg. (Laughter)
Greg: But it was that point, I went, you know what? I need to go talk to someone. And I actually went and went to a counselor and spent some time and we really visited this issue. And you know what? I tell you, like God really spoke through this person and I got some good insight on what was goin' on.
And God's really not only given me insight, but really has met me within that, to where there's been some healing. And you know, we've all got the monkey trap, so there's always gonna be somethin' that I'm grasping hold of, not wanting to let go.
Jim: Well, again, it's a great metaphor and in fact, you know, for those that may think of the Scripture as being antiquated, I've often been in discussions with people that don't embrace faith fully, they'll say that. Those are metaphors for a long time ago. But think of Adam and Eve. Think of that when they eat from the fruit that the Lord told them not to eat from, the first thing they did was to cover up and hide.
Greg: Yeah, there you go.
Jim: And we're still doing it today in different ways. It may not be fig leafs covering our bodies. It's emotional areas that we don't want anybody to look at and that's what you're describing and that's what struck me.
Greg and Erin Smalley, authors of the book, Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage: 12 Secrets for a Lifelong Romance. This has been good stuff and again, John, we'll post those on the website. I think it'd be a great investment to get the resource and to sit and even read it together and talk about these things. Thanks for bein' with us.
Greg: Thanks for havin' us.
Erin: Yes, thanks for havin' us.
John: Yeah, there are so many good principles in the book and it will make for some great conversation as a couple when you get a copy. And thanks, Greg, for the description of the monkey trap. That's in the book and you'll find other great insights and some fun stories, as well, about marriage that will propel your relationship further.
You'll find the book and a CD or a download of the conversation and our mobile app, as well, at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or call us. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459.
And we'd like to say thank you for your support of this ministry, as we strength marriages and equip parents and proclaim the Gospel. We need your partnership and when you donate today, we'll send Crazy Little thing Called Marriage to you as our thank you for joining out support team.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly. Thanks for listening. Have a great weekend and Valentine's Day and do be sure to join us in honoring marriage on Sunday. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back Monday, when we have Kay Wyma sharing some really practical ways that you can raise more responsible children.
Kay Wyma: And so, it's this idea of rather than hearing that the way to best love your kid is to do things for them, maybe for a second consider the way to best love this individual that is in your home, who you are steward over their life for such a brief period of time, is to equip 'em. Put things in their backpack, so they can do all these great things that you know that they can do, so that they might know it, too. But the only way for them to know it is to do it.
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John: Well, once again, you'll hear some great ways to raise responsible children Monday, as we once again, help your family thrive.
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Greg SmalleyView Bio
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 twelve books including "Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage,” “Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage," "The DNA of Relationships," "The DNA of Parent and Teen Relationships," and "The Whole-Hearted Marriage". He and his wife, Erin Smalley, co-created Ready to Wed, a complete premarital curriculum for engaged couples and The Focus on Marriage Assessment.
Smalley’s passion for marriage began as a young boy. He is the son of Dr. Gary Smalley, a family counselor, president and founder of the Smalley Relationship Center and author of 40 books on marriage. Smalley regularly attended his father’s conferences and absorbed the importance of marriage. He frequently had people come up to him at events and say, “Your dad saved my marriage.”
Smalley knew early in his career that he wanted to be more hands-on in helping couples. After receiving his doctorate at the Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University in Southern California and a counseling degree from Denver Seminary, he and his wife, Erin, led intensive marriage seminars around the world and trained pastors, professionals and lay leaders on how to effectively work with married and engaged couples.
Married since 1992, Greg and Erin live in Colorado with their three daughters, Taylor, Murphy and Annie, and their son, Garrison. Smalley brings at least one child to every age-appropriate event, exposing them to the crucial role marriage plays in the family and society.
Gifted with the ability to demonstrate valuable relational lessons along with a heavy dose of humor, Greg and Erin deliver insightful, practical and passionate in-person conferences at your church to help couples deepen their marriage relationship.
Erin SmalleyView Bio
Erin Smalley serves as the program manager 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.
Before starting at Focus in 2011, Smalley served on staff at the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University. She has also conducted marriage intensives with her husband and counseled women individually.
Smalley has published numerous articles for ParentLife, HomeLife and Marriage Partnership magazines. She is the co-author of "Grown-Up Girlfriends" and "Before You Plan Your Wedding, Plan Your Marriage." She has also been a guest on the "Focus on the Family" daily broadcast and "Midday Connection" on Moody radio.
Smalley earned a bachelor's degree in nursing at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz. She worked as a labor and delivery nurse for eight years before going back to school for a master's degree in clinical psychology at Evangel University in Springfield, Mo.
Smalley loves being a biological and adoptive mom of four children: Taylor, Murphy, Garrison and Annie. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, reading, hanging out with her family and bargain shopping.