Focus on the Family Broadcast

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

Pastor Kevin Thompson explores three primary roles in marriage – friend, partner, and lover – and explains how spouses can live out those roles optimally by investing in their relationship mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Original Air Date: March 25, 2021


Kevin Thompson: And whenever I think about what it means for me to be a husband, what does Jenny need from me? She needs me to be, to be a friend to her, that walk alongside of her all throughout life. She needs me to be a partner that shares the busy-ness of life with her, uh, and then she needs the intimacy, uh, of what love looks like.

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John Fuller: That’s Kevin Thompson, and you’ll hear more from him today on this Best of 2021 episode of Focus on the Family. Thanks for joining us, your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller

Jim Daly: You know, marriage is at the very heart of what we do here at Focus on the Family. It’s the foundation on which family is built. It’s a beautiful picture of the gospel, and it’s important to God. And it’s important to us. Every day we help couples with challenges in their marriages. That’s just the reality of being in such an intimate relationship with someone. It’s hard work and there are bumps in the road, inevitably. But when you stay the course, you can have a wonderful marriage. And today we want to help you explore and better understand your role as a spouse in order to make your marriage strong, resilient and thriving. And Pastor Kevin Thompson has some great insights and tools to achieve just that.

John: He does, and Kevin is the married life pastor at Bayside Church, which is just outside of Sacramento, California. He and his wife, Jenny, have two children, Ella and Silas, and he regularly meets with and counsels couples. He’s also a marriage and parenting conference speaker and the author of several books, one of which you’ll hear about today, Friends, Partners and Lovers: What it Takes to Make Your Marriage Work. And we have that here at Focus. Just give us a call. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY or stop by Let’s jump in now, Jim, is you were greeting Kevin. Here now a best of 2021 conversation on Focus on the Family.

Jim: Kevin, welcome back to Focus.

Kevin: Thanks so much for having me.

Jim: Hey, okay. You’re a pastor, uh, you see a pretty wide array of disarray…

Kevin: (laughs)

Jim: … in couples…

Kevin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … if I could say it that way. Um, in fact, you had an older couple, Eugene and Joanne, who had been married for 70 years. I wish I could’ve met them. Uh, what an, what an amazing thing to be married 70 years. And what did they tell you was the secret? These are people we should listen to for sure.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: What was their secret for 70 years of marriage?

Kevin: Yeah, Eugene and Joanne. They were both in the military. They never had children. They actually never went to church until in their ’70s.

Jim: Wow.

Kevin: Uh, some, some people in our church built a relationship with them. They came, came to know Christ and uh, just became some of our favorite people, uh, around the church. At that time, this is about 15 years ago, so our staff was all really young, they never had children. So, we kind of adopted them…

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: … as grandparents. So, one day they stopped by to bring me some pumpkin bread…

Jim: Oh, good friends.

Kevin: … and they were talking, and we were having…

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: … a great conversation. Several staff members kind of came in. Uh, and then it came time to give me the bread and neither one of them had it. A- And they had a little, little lovers, uh, spat at that moment, blaming the other one for not getting it.

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: So, Ms. Joanne was in, in a better shape. So, she ran home to get it. As we were sitting there talking to Mr. Eugene, uh, one of my coworkers said, “Mr. Eugene, what’s the key to being married 70 years?” And without, uh, a hesitation, he said, “Tell her every day that you love her.” Thought how beautiful is that? Well, she came back with the pumpkin bread. She walked in and I said, “Hey, Ms. Joanne, we were asking Mr. Eugene, what’s the key to be married 70 years?” And she said, “Oh, tell him every day that you love him.”

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: But how great is that? Right? So about six months later, uh, he was in hospice, on his death bed…

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Kevin: … and I went to go see him. And it was just me and him. And I recounted that story. And I said, “Mr. Eugene, is that really the key to marriage?” And he goes, “Yep. Memorize her answers.”

Jim: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Kevin: (laughs)

Jim: There’s probably some truth to that.

Kevin: I thought, how great is that? But unfortunately, marriage can’t just be something that you memorize, but there are some very basic principles that I think they go all the way back to God’s design of marriage, that sin hasn’t changed. And those are the basic roles that you and I are supposed to play as husbands and that our wives are supposed to play. And we can narrow that down to friends, partners, and lovers.

Jim: And we’re gonna, uh, get into that content. Let me start with this question, though. What, what is, from your research, what is the number one reason for divorce?

Kevin: Yeah. And it’s a common question. ‘Cause we think if we can attack the number one reason, then, then it will lower a good number of divorces. And a lot of people think, uh, that it’s money. Many people these days thinks that it’s social media, uh, obviously communication difficulties, and all those are accurate, I think. They’re all issues within marriage, but I think they’re all symptoms. I think behind that, the biggest issue that I see is a lack of intention whenever it comes to marriage. That you and I do, tend not to drift and do good things. You’re not gonna see somebody and they, they’ve lost 30 pounds and they’re in great shape a- and ask them, “Hey, how’d that happened?” They’ll say, “Well, you know what’s the strangest thing? I just, one day drifted into a workout facility.”

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: “I just, one day drifted into the vegetable aisle.” I- I- It takes this tremendous intention to make change within your life. And marriage is the same way. And we begin relationships extremely intentional. You intentionally call the person and ask them out. You intentionally plan the dates. You intentionally think about the gifts you’re gonna give them. But over time, the busy-ness of life, we tend to lose that intention. And as we lose that intention, we drift into a second-rate marriage.

Jim: Boy, that’s really good. You identify three roles a spouse should fill. And then, uh, you know how that fits with God’s design for marriage. What are those and, and how do we see them fitting into God’s word?

Kevin: Yeah. So, you go back into Genesis 2, and God creates man and says, it’s not good for man to be alone. Uh, a- and we, we, he wants to create a, a helper fit for him. And so, you have all the animals that are created, a lot of good things that are there, but none of them are the perfect fit. And so, then you have the creation of woman and, and that moment you have this great compatibility. And yet they’re also given a task. And then at the end of Genesis 2, you see this very unique intimacy that they’re going to have. And so, whenever I think about the original design, before the leaves, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Kevin: Before, (laughs)…

John: Yeah (laughs)

Kevin: … before sin entered the world…

Jim: Right, right.

Kevin: … what did marriage look like? Well, marriage was this friendship. There was a companionship that Adam could have with somebody who was like him, different, but like him, unique from the rest of the animals. They had a task to play. So, they were supposed to partner together in being stewards of God’s creation. And then there was this very unique relationship connection between them and that is intimacy. And whenever I think about what it means for me to be a husband, what does Jenny need from me? She needs me to be, to be a friend to her, that walk alongside of her all throughout life. She needs me to be a partner that shares the busy-ness of life with her. Uh, a- and then she needs the intimacy, uh, of what love looks like. A- and whenever I’m doing marriage conferences, I always have couples stand up. And I say, “Okay, he- here’s how this works. Everybody stand side-by-side with your spouse and hold their hand. That’s what it looks like to be a friend. You’re walking through life together. Now, turn and stand back-to-back.” Uh, a- and I’m scanning the horizon 180 degrees this way, my wife is scanning the horizon 180 degrees that way, looking for threats, looking for opportunities. Uh, as partners we always have each other’s back. Now stand and look face to face. And what’s funny is in that moment, I lose the attention of the audience. I’ve had it the whole time…

John: (laughs)

Kevin: … but all of a sudden in that moment, there’s smiles, there’s laughter, there’s little comments, there’s touch. It’s interesting. We don’t look at our spouses enough in the eye, but that’s what intimacy looks like. That somebody is going to see the fullness of who I am and still love me, friend, partner and lover.

Jim: That’s a good exercise.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Uh, I’m gonna talk to Jean about that tonight.

Kevin: (laughs)

Jim: (laughing) Let’s face each other here.

Kevin: Yeah.

Jim: But uh, you mentioned that friendship is really the key and uh, that’s um, the, perhaps the most important, I’m sure all three are important, but friendship being the most important. Uh, you had a little, uh, trip to McDonald’s I think in the book that helped illustrate this, how’d that go?

Kevin: No, I think so. And to me it’s almost like a house, that friendship is the foundation, partnership are the walls and then the roof i- is really intimacy that protects you. But whenever my kids were little, they loved to go Mc, uh, McDonald’s.

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: And so, one day I took them. Uh, and as we were sitting there eating out, our happy meals, I looked over and there was this couple that looked retirement age, uh, and they were reading the newspaper. There was a cookie and they both had coffee. And, and then he’d put his paper down and he’d say, “Hey, have you, have you seen this?” And they’d have this little discussion, uh, about what it, it was he was reading. And then the paper would come back up and, uh, and then they’d go about the thing. And then all of a sudden, the woman would say, “Hey, what’s a, what’s a six-letter word for this?” And he’d put his paper down and, and look at, at…

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: … what was taking place. And I thought it was this beautiful imagery of what friendship is like. As you’re walking side-by-side through life together, you’re experiencing life together. But then you’re bringing back to the couple, tho- what those experiences are like. Uh, a- and to me, it is this inner weaving of being by ourselves and then being together. Uh, and I thought this couple just gave an image of that, that was so beautiful of what my life to, with Jenny needs to be. I need to experience life that, that she’s not gonna be alongside of me at every moment, but bring back the good, ask for help, uh, with the things that I need help with. And it’s this constant weaving, back and forth. I think that’s one of the powers of technology. We talk about all the downsides of technology and rightfully so, but to be able to text your spouse and say, “Hey, I’m thinking about you today.” Or to, I mean, what I’ve done this mor-

Jim: Does that count?

Kevin: (laughs)

Jim: I hope so, ’cause I do that a lot. But…

John: (laughs)

Kevin: But even this morning, uh, I, you know, being in beautiful Colorado Springs, I shot a picture of the mountains and sent them to Jenny. And, uh, you know, part of that’s love part of that’s jealousy. It’s, (laughs)…

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: … it’s all, it’s all the same thing, right? But there’s playfulness that can come into that, I think it’s a beautiful picture. And, and, uh, I think for me, it, it’s not that a good marriage necessarily has fewer negative events in their marriage, it’s that a good marriage has more positive events.

Jim: Yeah.

Kevin: And so, we have to be intentional about coming back to our spouse with good things, with happy things, with meaningful things and sharing that part of our lives with them.

Jim: Yeah. Well, you know, Dr. Greg Smalley on our team here, he often will talk about how marriages can fall into business relationships, right? So, you’re just managing the budget, you’re just managing schedule together and you don’t have, um, kind of the deeper, good attributes of marriage. Y- You’ve mentioned a couple of ideas on how to develop that friendship, do you have some other ideas on how to nurture friendship?

Kevin: Yeah.

Jim: And especially I think of guys who, you know, we like the rooftop, what you talked about, the intimacy is the roof. So, we like to go to the roof (laughing) pretty quickly.

Kevin: Exactly.

Jim: H- How do we slow that down and make sure that the foundation of friendship, as you described it, is really healthy?

Kevin: Yeah. I think the very first thing is we have to make sure our spouse is our first person that we turn to.

Jim: Now that’s interesting, yeah.

Kevin: And so, if something were to happen today, good or bad…

Jim: Yeah.

Kevin: … who’s the first person you call? Uh, the- there’s something about the first telling, the first telling has more emotions, specifically for men. Uh, i- if men really struggle in their relationship with showing their spouse the emotion, then they need to make sure that the first person they tell the good or bad story to, is not their buddy, i- it’s not a co-worker, instead it is their spouse, because that first telling tends to have a lot of emotion. Whenever I do funerals, sometimes I’ll prepare, and if I think it’s gonna be an emotional funeral, I’ll go through it several times to get the emotion out. Well, i- if, if, if your wife is saying that you need more emotion in your conversation, you need to get the emotion in. And a lot of times what’s happening is, good things are happening, and we go to a co-worker, and we tell them.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Kevin: And/or a struggle’s happening, and we go to a friend on our way home and tell them, so that by the time that we’re talking to our spouse, that emotion is gone, a- a- and our spouse feels like they’re getting something else.

Jim: Yeah.

Kevin: And so, I think to build a friendship first and foremost, you wanna make sure that your spouse is the very first person you turn to in good and bad. And then beyond that, there’s a variety of things. I mean, the, the simplest recommendation I give to couples all the time, is take a walk.

Jim: Together. (laughs)

Kevin: Together. Yeah, yeah. No, that’s exactly…

John: (laughs)

Kevin: Well…

John: [Crosstalk] Sometimes take a walk can be-

Jim: Yeah. (laughs)

Kevin: Sometimes by yourself. [crosstalk].

Jim: Why don’t you go take a walk? (laughs)

Kevin: Take but take a walk together. Absolutely.

Jim: (laughs) Yeah.

Kevin: Think about this picture of friendship being side-by-side in life, think about the, the things that you do side-by-side with people.

Jim: Now, that’s good.

Kevin: Uh, I- I play golf, you ride side-by-side in the golf cart. Uh, many people go fishing, right? You think about movies, you think about car rides, those are side-by-side activities. And so, you need to look at, how can we get side-by-side? Picking up hobbies, but a walk i- is just a productive, conversation’s going, you’re seeing other things. It is a productive thing.

Jim: Yeah. Let’s conclude the friendship part, uh, and just mention the healthiness or unhealthiness with friendships outside of marriage. Wh- what’s a good approach?

Kevin: Yeah. And- and so your spouse, your spouse really should be your best friend. I mean, that’s the way it’s created.

Jim: Right.

Kevin: That’s the way it’s built. Uh, I, I don’t doubt that at all. Uh, and then you need to have healthy relationships outside of that, which means there have to be strong boundaries. A- a- and as spouses, you, you work through that. I mean, I- I firmly believe in the wife veto. If Jenny is uncomfortable with one of my friends, I’m gonna trust her on that, male or female. I- it could be that she doesn’t like this guy friend that I have because his values are so radically different than mine.

Jim: Yeah.

Kevin: I’m gonna trust her on that. A- and so it doesn’t mean that she has to like every friend of mine or I have to like, you know, necessarily enjoy hanging around with every friend of hers. But it does mean that h- her friendship to me is so important that she’s gonna be first, and then she’s gonna have a deep inf- impact and influence on the friendships that I have. And they have to be strong and boundaries to say that this relationship with my spouse is unique, it is special, and nothing is gonna touch it in a negative way.

Jim: Yeah, and that describes, again, a healthy marriage.

John: Hmm. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and our guest today is pastor Kevin Thompson. We’re talking about some of the concepts in his book, Friends, Partners, and Lovers. Get your copy when you call 800-A-FAMILY or stop by

Jim: Kevin, I so appreciate the illustration, you mentioned it a little while ago, about the house and the foundation being friendship, and the structure being partnership. And then the roof being that intimacy, lovers as your book title says. Um, moving to the partner component, describe the role of partner. Um, you know, it’s a word that’s thrown around a lot in our culture today. Uh, how do we assess the partnership role in our own marriage? How do we see that and score it, I guess?

Kevin: Yeah. If you would’ve told me… So, Jenny and I have been married 21 years, right? If you would’ve told me 20 years ago, uh, about this idea of partnership, I would have been like, well, that’s kind of cold.

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: That’s kind of, you know, what’s the point of that?

Jim: Sounds like a business deal.

Kevin: No, that’s exactly right.

Jim: Right.

Kevin: But actually, at this point, this is the area of marriage (laughing) that actually excites me the most from the standpoint of it’s so overlooked and yet there’s such potential within it. Uh, and so yes, partnership does talk about the idea of just managing the household, and raising the kids, and making the money. But I think it’s far more than that. Uh, I think it is, it’s this idea that every single day, there’s somebody in my life that wakes up and thinks, “How can I make his life better? And how can I help him create the life that he desires to have?” That’s what partnership ultimately is about. How can I make her dreams come true?

Jim: Mm.

Kevin: So literally, I get this picture of Jenny and I standing back-to-back, and I’m scanning the horizon, 180 degrees, looking for threats and opportunities. Uh, and then she’s doing the thing, same thing. And so immediately my vantage point is broadened because of Jenny. There are things that she takes care of that I don’t have to worry about in any way. We laugh all the time. For whatever reason with our children, I take care of the ears, she takes care of the teeth. So, I have a daughter with down syndrome who has ear problems, so I always take her to the ENT. Always, no questions asked. Jenny always does the dentist and orthodontist, have no idea how that happened. It just kinda happened. And, and, and we, we reevaluate it on occasion. Is this working for you? But it’s just, life is easier. I don’t have to worry about teeth. Jenny’s got the teeth; I got the ears.

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: And, and that compounds in every aspect of life. Uh, and I think in marriage, in a strong partnership, a strong partnership will literally divide your weaknesses and multiply your strengths.

Jim: Mm.

Kevin: Think about that. If I’m weak in something and Jenny is strong, well, she gets to take the lead in that area and my weakness is covered up. It’s downplayed, it’s diminished.

Jim: Hmm.

Kevin: If I’m strong in an area, Jenny’s strength can now multiply my impact and what’s going on, how I can go, uh, about it. Even, even in writing books, she’s a tremendous editor, I’m, I’m a horrible editor, right? Uh, my son, the other day, he was diagramming sentences and he said, “Dad, can you help me with this?”

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: This is, this is, this is homeschooled…

Jim: Run!

Kevin: … thanks to COVID, right?

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: And I said, “Buddy, I can’t do that.”

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: And, and he goes, “But you write books.” And I said, “I have nine editors.”

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: And he said, “Can we send it to one of them?”

Jim: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Kevin: (laughs) And so… But the idea of, I know what Jenny’s strengths are…

Jim: Yeah.

Kevin: … and that covers up my weaknesses.

John: Yeah.

Kevin: A- and so I truly believe that it divides my weaknesses and multiplies my strengths. And, and partnership to me is where many couples, I think don’t understand, the potential that lies within marriage, that this can really be a fun aspect of their relationship…

Jim: Sure.

Kevin: … and not just a cold aspect.

Jim: And I think, again, it’s points exactly to God’s design, because we look at Genesis, it’s the completer. You know, we typically marry people that are somewhat opposite to us, extrovert marriage, Mary’s an introvert, et cetera. So, it’s almost like we come together, and we complete each other. And then we’ve gotta lean on those strengths of each other and that’s where some of the friction comes in marriage, where we don’t. We believe our instincts are better than our…

Kevin: Hmm.

Jim: … spouse’s…

Kevin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … so we’re gonna do it this way. And the spouse knows that’s not true, I’m stronger in this than you are, and it creates friction. L- let me ask you, uh, we’re three guys sitting at the table here and we’ve talked about the roof quite a bit, that idea of intimacy. I like the fact that you’re positioning that in such a way that the structure is partner, and friendship is the foundation, again, because, uh, sometimes I think we as men and I wanna represent the female thought at this table in this moment, just knowing my wife, Jean, well enough, you don’t build the walls on top of the roof. (laughs) And so, meaning intimacy, physical intimacy.

Kevin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So, I think speak to that aspect. How do we make sure that we’re, we’re building the partnership, walls, strong so that the rooftop goes on and the partnership can hold the roof up, that rooftop of intimacy?

Kevin: Yeah. What I really think the idea of you think about if you were to start a business and you were gonna go in with a business partner, who would you want as a business partner? You would want somebody who’s gonna give an equal amount of effort, of care, just as much as you are gonna care, or you, is gonna work just as hard as you’re gonna work. But you do not want somebody who’s just like you, because what’s the point? If, the more you can diversify your strengths and abilities in that partnership, the stronger the business can be. And so, it is with marriage. And so, my question for, for couples, whenever it comes, uh, to the partnership wi- within the relationship, i- is not, are you doing the same things? I don’t want you doing the same things, you’re supposed to complement one another. My question is, are you putting in the equal amount of work, of effort, of attention, of desire? Is that happening? And where that is happening, there’s unlimited potential for a couple. What’s scary to me is when I see couples who are in trouble, many times, they have devolved into a parent-child relationship.

John: Hmm.

Kevin: One of them is not taking the full responsibility of the relationship, of the partnership, and instead is acting like a child. My kids don’t have to care where the money comes from, my kids don’t have to be concerned with how food’s gonna show up on the table, they just know it’s gonna happen. It’s just gonna magically appear, right?

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Kevin: Well, they have a mother and father that take care of that for them. It’s supposed to be that way. That’s not supposed to be that way for me. Jenny’s not my mom, right? Now, we do different things, and yes, there are some things that she does that I don’t, they just appear and it’s great, but there are other things I’m doing too. There’s equal effort that’s going on. And in, in many relationships where the couples are struggling, um, the, the woman is spending money without any thought or concern about the budget and the man is struggling to keep it all together in some way, right? Uh, the, the, the woman is working all day and then coming home and doing 100% of the things around the house and the guy i- is just on the couch. Well, the person on the couch is a child, th- that’s how a child comes home after school, right? They do a couple of chores and then they’re done, the majority of the work goes to the parent. And so, whenever I see partnership breakdown, it, it, this inequality forms, in which one is doing a majority of the work, and the investment, and taking responsibility and another one isn’t. And that becomes a very dangerous place.

Jim: Yeah.

Kevin: With a parent-child exist, you need professional help.

Jim: What I was gonna ask you, I think, uh, with, jumped into my mind, is who gets to score the test, (laughing) right? And that points right to the marital conflict, ’cause whoever’s feeling like, uh, an equitable, uh, reciprocal relationship is not here, uh, that’s usually the one who’s scoring the exam, right? They’re the ones rating the relationship. And that’s where frustration, bitterness, resentment begins to build. Now we’re right on the core issue of why marriages are breaking down, because they’re not healthy in the way that you’re describing it. Um, staying in love, this is a much better area. Staying in love (laughing) really is a choice. Uh, uh, I mean, you know, 70 years like Eugene and his wife, that’s a long time. Um, it helps to look back, uh, at that moment when we fell in love. And I think you recall a special moment with, uh, Jenny, about your first date in the book, what happened?

Kevin: You know…

Jim: First date memories. I love these.

Kevin: Well, that’s, that’s exactly right. A- and so I was a pastoral ministry major at Oklahoma Baptist University with a, with a minor in psychology. And so, I was actually taking a, (laughs) a family intimacy course at that moment, which is hilarious to look back on now.

Jim: (laughing) Yeah.

Kevin: I would love to sit back through that now, right?

John: (laughs)

Kevin: A 20-year-old kid, what, what did I know? Right?

Jim: Yeah, yeah. I’m sure you could pontificate.

Kevin: (laughs) Oh, there’s no, no doubt. So, but I remember r- reading in that class, that idea that generally speaking, uh, women tend to make the first touch. That, that is, that tends to happen. I don’t know if that’s true or not.

Jim: Hold a hand, touch an arm.

Kevin: Yeah. Some kind of touch of some sort of a- and that the man needs to reciprocate that. And that there’s this kind of intricate dance that’s going on, that the couples aren’t really even aware of, that anybody listening who’s, who’s not married currently on their next date, they’ll notice, right? And so, I asked Jenny out, we went out, uh, downtown, Oklahoma City. We walked around for hours. I- it was beautiful and, uh, I’ll never forget. We were, we were talking, and I made a joke and she hit me, kind of just, you know, just kind of punched me, just very lightly, playfully. And so, we kept on walking, and it suddenly hit me, oh wait, she just touched me. I have to touch her back. (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: (laughs) There has to be some way to touch her back.

Jim: Some kind of mental decision.

Kevin: No, that’s exactly right.

John: You touched her back.

Kevin: … class had taught me, right? (laughs) That’s exactly right.

Jim: Touch her back.

Kevin: So, I just looked for a, just a, a touch on the shoulder, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Kevin: Very easy. But it’s interesting looking back on that, of the power of non-sexual touch…

Jim: Hmm.

Kevin: … and the importance of that. A- and how that really kinda goes back to friendship. It really does. That, that idea of touch goes back to friendship, it- it plays into the intimacy, no doubt. But you think about it. I mean, if, if I make a great putt on the golf course, my buddy’s gonna high five me, right? I- If I’m grieving, my, my friends are gonna embrace me. And so, there is this necessary, uh, non-sexual touch, that I think if couples would increase, they would then see the intimacy increase and notice what’s happening. I- If, if you wanna be a better lover, generally speaking, how do you do that? Become a better friend and a better partner.

Jim: That’s right.

Kevin: Build the foundation and the walls, uh, I’m not saying it goes just that easily, but generally speaking, for the average couple out there, that’s in a decent marriage and they want it to be just a little bit better, what they need to be thinking about is friendship. I say in the book, that skittish is the opposite of sexy.

Jim: (laughs)

Kevin: Right? Skittish, what does that mean? There’s no trust. And whenever I think about these roles, friendship is built o- on this concept of trust. Partnership then is built on the idea of respect. Well, if you have trust and respect, intimacy can be pretty good. But if either of those two aren’t present, you’re in trouble.

Jim: And we’re right near the end. And that was really the next question, the five keys. And your, you’ve mentioned a couple of them, the five keys to saving your marriage, which you list, and, and I’ll read them. And then you can just give us a highlight or two. Humility, respect, mercy, communication and resilience. So, I mean, they’re right there in the book. These are, I think those are really strong. Uh, ha- ha… Let me just pick one, resilience. How does resilience i- in your marriage help you have a long-term committed marriage, a lifelong marriage?

Kevin: I- it is this idea of we’re gonna make it, whatever it takes…

Jim: No matter what.

Kevin: Whatever it takes, we’re gonna make it. No- now knows what that means. ‘Cause a lot of couples think we’re gonna make it, but then they’re not willing to, to go get counseling. They’re not willing to go to Hope Restored. They’re not willing to, to take the next step. Whatever it takes means that I’m not gonna care about my appearances, I’m not gonna care about my reputation, that literally I will sacrifice everything in order to make sure I do whatever is necessary for Jenny and I to have a successful relationship. Uh, and that is our mindset. Uh, a- and so what that means, if we have a problem, we’re gonna go get help. Well, we’re in a small town, what happens if somebody sees us? Well, they see us.

Jim: (laughs) Good.

Kevin: So be it.

Jim: Yeah, I like that.

Kevin: Uh, uh, a- and so it is this idea. We- we have a counselor th- that’s down the office in our church hallway, a- and I’ll, I’ll tell couples on occasion, you need to go see this counselor. And sometimes they will say, “Oh, I can’t, I can’t walk this church hallway with all these staff people and them see us go in.” And I always tell them, “You know what we’re thinking in that moment? Good for them. Good for them. They’re getting help.” Well, I don’t sit back and judge, go, “Oh, I wonder why they’re walking in there.”

Jim: Right.

Kevin: I think to myself, there’s a thousand reasons why I need to be walking there.

Jim: (laughing) Right, that’s a better attitude.

Kevin: And so, resilience really does mean to me that we’re gonna do whatever it takes, which means we’re gonna confront the true issues in our relationship, uh, a- and not push them aside because we’re gonna do whatever it takes to make it.

John: What an inspiring message and what great insights from Pastor Kevin Thompson on this Best of 2021 episode of Focus on the Family, and this is really content that any couple in any season of marriage can use.

Jim: Absolutely, John. And let me turn to our listener. I hope, you know, Focus on the Family is here for you. As I said at the top of this program, your marriage is important to us and it’s important to God.

John: And that’s why we have great resources, like Kevin’s wonderful book Friends, Partners and Lovers: What it Takes to Make Your Marriage Work.

Jim: Yeah. And when you donate today, a gift of any amount we’ll send a copy of that book to you as our way of saying thank you for doing ministry with us. When you order that book through Focus, the proceeds go right back into helping couples on the verge of divorce, families in crisis, bewildered parents, frightened mothers considering abortion, and others who just need a touch of hope. As Christmas approaches, you can share that hope as well as the healing, the peace, the grace and the joy that Jesus Christ came to give each one of us. Through your support of Focus on the Family, you can come alongside those who are struggling and give families hope. And now, through a special year in matching opportunity, your gift is going to be doubled, dollar for dollar. God will use your gift to bring healing and redemption to twice the number of families. So, on behalf of the families, you’ll be reaching through Focus on the Family in 2022. Let me say thank you.

John: Donate and get your copy of Friends, Partners and Lovers. You can do that by calling 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY or online we’re at We’ll have a terrific weekend and plan to join us on Monday. We’ll continue our best of 2021 presentations and have some encouragement for the mothers of sons.


Rhonda Stoppe: Because we get so caught up in the moments of everyday, just survival. We forget that God has called us to this incredible ministry of motherhood to raise a man.

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Today's Guests

Cover image of Kevin Thompson's book "Friends, Partners & Lovers"

Friends, Partners & Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

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