Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

Avoiding the Chore War

Avoiding the Chore War

Shared responsibilities are a key to a successful marriage. Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley describe how they came to realize that household chores was a bone of contention in their marriage. After identifying the problem, working together, and communicating expectations, they were able to resolve a lot of conflict. Host Jim Daly's wife, Jean, highlights common reasons for a couple's "chore wars" and shares additional insights for creating a positive home environment, communicating expectations clearly, and reaching a win-win situation for both spouses.
Original Air Date: January 7, 2015

Jim Daly: Uh, Greg, let me ask you, what are some things you do around the house to help out?

Greg Smalley: Oh, boy.

Jim: (laughs).

Erin Smalley: Yes, Greg.

Greg: (Laughs) It’s funny you should ask that.

Jim: Right here in front of millions.

Greg: You know, my, the thing that I really have been focused on lately is-

Jim: (Laughs) Oh, my goodness.

Greg: Mine is the dishwasher. Loading and unloading the dishwasher is now my responsibility. I’ve taken that over.

John Fuller: Well, there you go. It’s one thing you can do-

Greg: (Laughs).

John: … to help out at the home, a- and it’s the season of the dishwasher for our guest there, Dr. Greg Smalley. Uh, this is Focus on the Family, and we’re gonna be talking about household chores and how to navigate, uh, the assignment and the, the working out of household chores. Our host is Focus president Jim Daly. And, uh, Jim, we have Greg and his wife, Erin, here. And you’re a little bit on the hot seat, because I think that kind of question you asked Greg is going to be coming your way, as your wife Jean is here at the table as well.

Jim: No, it’s not.

Greg: (Laughs). Yes, it is.

Jim: There’s no way. Yeah. This is not fair. Where’s Dena? How come Dena’s not at the table?

John: Well, I did not want to shame anybody here-

Jim: Yeah.

John: … at the table, because I’m so good at this at home.

Jim: Well, thank you, John.

John: (Laughs).

Jim: I appreciate you inviting Erin and Jean to the table but-

Jean Daly: I’m gonna call Dena this afternoon.

Greg: (Laughs).

John: (Laughs).

Jim: It is good to have you with us, Jean.

Jean: Thank you. It’s fun being here.

Jim: And it’s great to have you here too, Erin-

Erin: Thank you so much.

Jim: … even though you’re going to hold us accountable to things that we don’t want to be held accountable to.

Greg: I’m going on record saying it’s not good to be here-

Jim: You know-

Greg: … after that opening question.

Jim: (Laughs). Let me ask you this.

Jean: (Laughs).

Jim: Uh, some recent Pew Research showed that sharing household chores is the third highest ranked key to a successful marriage. Uh, that’s unbelievable. You would think communication. That’s probably one or two. But when it comes down to chores, really? The third highest ranked item in a marriage is “help me”? That’s incredible.

Greg: Yeah. You know, I think it has so much to do with just this fact of that we are sharing all these responsibilities. I mean, you think about it. To manage a home, children, work, I mean, all the things that we have to do, if we’ve developed a system where we’re really sharing that, what it’s doing is communicating that you matter, we matter, our home matters. You know, for, as a guy, uh, I think it’s easy for me to think about, “Well, hey, I’m, I’m out there providing, you know. I’m protecting my family. I mean, those are my responsibilities.”

Jim: Shhh. These are all the things I’ve said (laughs).

John: (Laughs).

Jim: What, what are you doing?

Greg: Jean-

John: You’re blowing our cover, Greg. (Laughs).

Greg: … Jean gave me a list, by the way, but, uh-

Jim: Oh, great.

Greg: (Laughs).

Jim: This is good. Well, l- let’s jump in. Uh, how did you discover the household chores issue in your own home? And of course, I know this is gonna boomerang, so-

Jean: (Laughs).

Jim: I ask it very cautiously. How did you discover your need to chip in?

Greg: Well, because-

Jim: Erin?

John: (Laughs).

Erin: Yeah. It didn’t take long (laughs).

Jim: (Laughs).

Greg: I mean, it was wh… I, I’m telling you, i- it is the most obvious thing, yet it completely transformed this whole shared responsibility household stuff for me. I walked in. I’m here working at Focus on the Family, so I drive home. I walk into, through the garage and into the kitchen. And I just notice there’s just chaos. Man, Erin is making dinner, and the kids are on the, the island area, and they’re doing homework. And our youngest daughter, Annie, just spilling something. It was just total chaos. You know, I know that you have to go through that a lot of the time. So I, out of the absolute goodness of my heart, walk up to my wife and go, “Wow. Man, there’s a lot going on here. How can I help?”

Jim: Oh, it sounds reasonable.

Greg: I mean, I thought-

Jim: (Laughs).

Greg: I thought, “This is awesome.” You know, I mean, d- now, I’m telling you, I wasn’t doing it to score points. I genuinely was going, “Wow. There’s a lot going on here. How can I help?”

Jim: Erin didn’t take it quite that way?

Greg: I was stunned at what she said. I was hurt. She literally goes, “You know what?” She goes, “You’re a big boy. You’re a grownup. Why don’t you look around, notice what needs to be done, just jump in and do it?”

Jim: Okay, Erin, tell us-

Jean: (Laughs).

Greg: I’m like, uh-

Jim: All the women just, “That’s right.”

John: And guys are-

Jim: Thata way to go girl.

Erin: I’m hearing that’s how he heard it. I’m not sure that’s how I said it.

John: (Laughs).

Jim: (Laughs).

Erin: But, but, I mean, really-

Greg: I journaled it, all right, that night, so…

Jim: (Laughs).

Erin: He, he hit record on his cellphone right then and there.

Greg: (Laughs).

Jim: So what were you communicating?

Erin: Well, uh, when he said, “How can I help you,” in essence, it was like, “This is your disaster that’s going on here. Your chaos. How can I help you with your chaos?”

Jim: Ahh.

Erin: But in essence, this is our children, our family, our home. And I, he, I mean, he sees exactly what I see. It was chaos. And so, really, offering to help implied that it was mine to take care of-

Jim: It’s interesting.

Erin: … and that he was just helping me.

Jim: Yeah. Uh, Jean is nodding her head yes very solidly. So I mean-

Greg: (Laughs). I, I heard her neck popping a few times.

Jim: Why, why are you, uh, identifying with what Erin is saying?

Jean: Well, it’s-

Jim: Please, tell me.

Greg: (Laughs).

John: (Laughs).

Jean: Yes, especially, I can remember when the, the boys were young. You do, as the mom who is staying home with the kids, or who is with the kids at that time, you’re not happy that it’s chaotic. We don’t want it to be chaotic. And I know that I would feel guilty about that. I didn’t want it that way when you would walk through the door. And so, feeling anything that had, uh, the slightest bit of-

Jim: Oh my goodness. What’s going on?

Jean: … maybe condescension.

Greg: (Laughs).

Jim: (Laughs).

Jean: Yes. Yes.

Jim: Like you did, Greg.

Jean: Yes. It was hurtful.

Greg: And I’m telling you, and that’s, I promise, on no level did I mean that to come across as condescending. I, it, literally, I just, I noticed that there was a lot going on, and I wanted to jump in.

Erin: Well, I think-

Jim: How do we start the conversation? Say, “I know there’s a lot going on here. What can I do?” I mean, what… Coach us. What would be a good way to do it?

Erin: And I think, like Jean said, that that’s not the scene that we wish to create. We wish that the children were sitting quietly and doing exactly what we were hoping for and dinner was ready and everything was perfect. But it’s not. Real life can get messy. And so, what I appreciate so much is when Greg comes in and simply takes initiative and initiates jumping in wherever he sees that help is needed. I trusted his heart that night. I probably snapped at him, because I was irritated and stressed out and whatever. But I trusted that his heart was good when he said, “How can I help?” But really, taking initiative and jumping into our partnership, our team, our home shows me that he also cares about our team and our family. And just taking that initiative means the world.

Greg: And I’m telling you, for me, I’m just saying that what changed in me that day is I realized that there were, there were elements and aspects of our family that I had, I had almost literally gone, “That’s more her responsibility. My responsibility is this. Her responsibility is that. You get your stuff done. I’ll get my stuff done.” I know there’s crossover and overlap. But I mean, I think it just… I heard that differently and where I realized, “No, no, no, no.” I told her. I said, “You know, from this day forward, this is, I’m equally responsible for all of it. And so, let’s just then figure out how are we gonna divide this up?” But it’s no longer, “Hey, how can I help when I’m at home?”

Jim: Okay. Now, you did this after 22 years of being married. This was about a year ago.

Greg: Yes.

Jim: I appreciate that (laughs).

Greg: I’m just being honest.

Jim: Um, you know, one of our things early on, Jean, if you remember, and I’m sure you do, it was, uh-

Jean: (Laughs).

Jim: Uh, uh, just the pace, you know, with the two small kids particularly, uh, when Trent and Troy were young. And it, it was chaos (laughs). And I’d come through the door. And I remember one night particularly. Uh, it was, you know, 5:30, 6:00, whatever time. And I walk through the door and the kids were running around. And she was like, “You take them.” And I don’t think my second foot had actually entered the door yet.

Greg: (Laughs).

Jim: It was like my left foot was in, my right foot was just about to land, and it was already, “Take the kids. I- they’re driving me crazy.” And I was like, “Ooh, can I change my clothes first?” (Laughs).

John: (Laughs).

Jim: Um, that can be a problem.

Jean: That can be a problem. And we had to sit down and talk about that. And Jim describes that as the Gordian Knot. I had been home all day with very young children and any mother that has gone through that, you are, you’re just done by the end of the day. And you are counting the seconds before-

Jim: Help arrives (laughs).

Jean: … your husband walks through the door, yes, before help arrives, just to give you a mental break. Now, Jim was coming home from a very busy day of work. He needed a mental break.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Jean: And we did discuss it. And I’ve heard some great advice about this since then. I think Jim just said to me, “I just need to come in, you know, 10 or 15 minutes even, just to come in, change my clothes, just have a short period of time to even just get your thoughts together, transition into the home.”

Jim: (Laughs) Gear up.

Jean: And that was really important for us. And I could survive 15 more minutes with the… (Laughs).

Greg: (Laughs).

Jim: Well, it was, you know, the kids were just running around and doing what they’re doing. But it was, it was good.

Greg: But, I mean, that’s where a lot of the conflict though and disagreement comes in, because I, I think that’s been a part of the power struggle is that we don’t always really, truly understand what the other’s going through. So we get into this “who’s done more, whose job is harder, who really deserves the break.” And that’s the part that gets people stuck.

Jean: Mm-hmm.

Jim: (Laughs) And the selfishness shows up at that point. Let’s listen to an audio clip of someone who’s dealing with this right now.


Man: My wife and I each have jobs. Actually I’m workin’ two jobs and she’s only workin’ part time. And she doesn’t do a thing around the house and it looks like a wreck. I can’t stand living like this anymore. Now when I complain, nothing changes and all we do is argue about it. What can we do?

End of Clip

Jim: Well, there you go. Classic situation. Kind of what we’re talking about. Overstressed and, uh, everybody thinks, “That’s your job. Not my job.”

Greg: Mm-hmm. You know, I, I think, for me, couple things hit that, one, I think if both people are posturing that, to run our entire life, that we both have to be equally responsible, that we are on the same team. If there’s this attitude that, that “We’re in this together. You’re not my enemy. You know, that we’ll figure this out together.” Then I think part of what’s going on for this guy is that he also needs to be aware of some of his expectations and his preferences. I mean, there’s a lot to get done. It sounds to me like he’s expecting the house is gonna work a certain way, look a certain way. And so, it would be one of those to where he needs to sit down and they need to have a conversation about his expectations for what needs to get done, because it, all it seems like he’s doing is trying to manipulate her into keeping the house clean according to his standards.

Jim: Well, and again, we’re talking about something that The Pew Research, right behind faithfulness and intimacy, physical intimacy in marriage, um, why especially in the Christian community, why do we not understand how to do this better? Why is there so much energy around this topic? And we’ve all got it. You guys have been very open. Jean and I, the same thing. I think my expectations of coming home and, uh, what the environment should be like, she felt, uh, guilty. Is that fair, Jean?

Jean: That is. And for us, I would say, today, we have worked that out really well. It’s just fallen very naturally into roles. I tend to do the chores for the inside of the house, for the most part, and you do the outside of the house. When the kids were younger though, I think what I was feeling was that I was working just as hard as you were.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Jean: And I think that’s what a young mother feels. It’s different type of work, but we’re working just as hard. And then we are expected at night or whenever we, our children have gone to bed, or whenever we can fit it in, then we do all the rest of the chores for the house. And that’s really overwhelming and I think that it just feels like it’s discounting the job that we’re doing in the home during the day.

Greg: And I think, I’m telling you, I think that that’s the heart of most of what goes on-

Jim: That feeling of being discounted.

Greg: Well, I think it… Because any time you venture down this path and you have this discussion, this is honestly one of the conversations that Erin and I so struggle with is that, the moment we get into this kind of, “Well, I’m doing this. But I’m doing this,” it just, it goes south so fast. And I think at the heart of it, it’s that the moment I start to pick up any hint or whiff of, even if I’m reading into what she’s saying, if it appears to me she’s saying, “You’re not doing enough. You’re not pulling your weight,” it feels so marginalizing to what I do and bring to the table that I just, I shut down. I get so upset. And I know vice versa.

Erin: Mm-hmm.

Greg: You know? And that’s what makes this conversation so difficult.

Erin: Well, and I think, in this day and age, women… And I know, for me, I work part-time and then manage four kids and, you know, the house and, you know, the chores and that… I’d say the average woman today is feeling pretty overwhelmed.

Jim: Pulled in every direction.

Erin: Yes. And as women too, we’re multi-taskers. And so, it’s hard for us to really, truly take a break and relax. Even when we’re relaxing, we’re multi-tasking.

Jim: ‘Cause you’re thinking of the next things you have to do.

Erin: Yes. There’s another load of laundry to turn over. I got to put that away. I got to wipe the counters down. I mean, there’s, there’s always something to be done. And so, I think just the pressure that when, you know, Greg appears, I see him as, you know, my help. M- he can come in and help me and, and take some of the pressure off. So I think it’s, there’s the two sides of this coin that women today, we are feeling enormous pressure and, uh, a lot of, um, pulled in many directions. So I think it’s exactly, you… There’s a side to the coin that you experience and then I think, as women, we experience something different.

Greg: Well, and I’ve, Erin and I had this conversation as of late.

Jim: (Laughs).

Greg: And I’m, I’m saying to her that we both are working a ton outside the home and inside the home. There’s just more that has to get done than is humanly possible to get done. And what I’ve told her what’s frustrating is, to me, then it comes down a lot of the times to preferences. She wants the house to look a certain way or certain things to get done, whereas I’m going, “Hey, I could literally work 24/7 to get everything done. I don’t want to live my life that way.” What has to give? Something’s got to give. That’s then where we battle is on, “Well, I think that can give. I don’t know why we have to do that chore. I’d rather go and, and watch TV for the next hour than to do that thing.”

Jim: Well, and here’s the bottom line. I mean, there’s, I would think there’s roughly a third of the folks who are identifying with what we’re talking about. They’re living in that space. A third have probably managed this pretty well, and it was never a big issue, so they’re thinking, “Why are you even talking about this? What’s the spiritual application to all this?” And the other third, they’re desperate, because they’re dying. This is an area that it, it’s the oxygen hose of their marriage and it’s being crushed-

Greg: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … because they’re not relating well. They haven’t found a way to relate in this area. They’re hurting each other emotionally, because they haven’t found a way to do it. And so, no matter which third that you’re in, I hope you can appreciate what we’re talking about is communication in your marriage and being able to find the tools and the, the resources you need to be able to communicate in such a way that it doesn’t create a, you know, a discussion that goes like this. “I’m tired of him.”

Erin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: In fact, let’s listen to this audio tape.


Woman: So my husband’s job is very physical and when he comes home, he’s super tired and he goes straight to the recliner.  Well, I work, too and I don’t have any time for myself, because I have to fix the meals, help the kids with the homework, get them ready for bed, etc., etc. I’ve asked him to help me, but he just ignores me. I don’t want him to do a lot, but a little bit of help would be nice. How can I get him to help me in the evenings?”

End of Clip

Jim: Uh, let’s, Erin and Jean, talk about that, what that woman is expressing and what she’s feeling. Uh, do you agree with me that, over time, that will erode her respect and love for her husband?

Erin: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. And actually, uh, it’s, the research has shown that it’s these irreconcilable differences that people are filing for divorce. It seems so small.

Jim: It’s not big stuff.

Erin: No, it is the day-to-day feeling like it’s unfair, feeling disrespected, feeling alone and isolated in this chaos that people really are ending up divorcing because of it.

Jim: Is that, would, would you say, uh, uh… Do you think that may be the reason for Christian divorce more than anything else? I don’t know what the research would suggest there. But to me, that would, um, make more sense of what’s happening with Christians who file for divorce. Certainly, it’s going to be the big things like you talked about. Infidelity and those things.

Erin: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Jim: But it might just be the accumulation of little things.

Erin: I think you’re on to something, that, really, it’s these little, small things that go on day after day after day, year after year after year. Often, couples who, you know, in the first year of their marriage are doing the same thing in the 20th year and nothing changes. It’s these patterns that get laid early on and then it, it causes hearts to close and, eventually, they harden and then they’re walking two individual parallel paths instead of being unified and experiencing unity, which marriage was designed for.

Jim: Right.

Jean: And isn’t the core of all these problems, it really gets down to communication. That, the clip we just heard, the woman is very frustrated, but she needs to be able to find a way to sit down and discuss this with her husband and to be able to feel safe and to help him feel safe and not hurtful, to be able to communicate this when she’s not angry. So isn’t communication really at the core?

Greg: Absolutely. They have to develop a way to, to really talk this through in a way that works for them, that leads to some sort of successful resolution or something. You know, for me, one, one of the things that I realized, as we talked about earlier, that a core value that maybe I was missing in some way was that, “You know what? Now, to get everything done, to manage all of our life together that we’ve built, both of us have to be 100% responsible.” That has to be our belief. There really can’t be, “Well, this is yours. No, this is mine.”

Jim: What does that mean though? That, that can be so… It sounds good. How does it play out practically?

Greg: So when I come home, I am 100% responsible for everything that goes on. Therefore, I’m not asking Erin how can I help? I’m looking around. I see kids doing homework. I’m jumping in there. I’ve told her that no longer will you do the dishes. That’s mine. I own that. So, but this is how I want it done. (Laughs). And we even began to ar… She, she wanted it, it done right after dinner. I said, “No, no, no, no. Everybody do- uses more dishes into the evening. Stack them in the sink. Before I go to bed, I’ll load it up, turn the dishwasher on, and I’ll unload it before I go to work. And she’s had to let go of some of that-

Jim: Hey, Jean, Jean, wipe that smile off your face.

John: (Laughs).

Erin: (Laughs).

Jean: Uh, well, no, I, I do want to jump in and say that is really important-

Jim: What part? (Laughs).

Jean: … for the women to accept the way-

Erin: Yes.

Jean: … that their husbands are helping them, because it’s not going to be the way you want it done.

Jim: Did you learn this through experience?

Jean: Yes.

Jim: (Laughs).

Jean: I have learned this through experience and we just really need to keep our mouths closed-

Jim: (Laughs).

Jean: … and to be thankful for the help.

Greg: They actually have a term for this called Maternal Gatekeeping. It’s a lot of the-

Jim: Maternal Gatekeeping?

Greg: Yeah, a lot of the stuff that happen in the home, the care for the child, that flows usually through that mom. And so, she has this complete sense of ownership. So when the dad says, “Now I’m gonna take this part,” it can be challenging.

Jean: Yes.

Erin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Okay. So let me ask you that question, because a lot of husbands feel their wives are overbearing or controlling at home, you know, de- demanding things. Is that the essence of it? They’re trying to maintain control in order to maintain calm, in order to maintain a less chaotic environment?

Greg: We just have ways of, of doing things. I mean, y- you know, at work, I have the way that I want stuff done and I, people who are going to help do that. I think it’s the same way at home. But I think that’s where this comes in. “I’m responsible for this. I own this. I need to be freed to do it the way that I best see that.” Or then it’s gonna continue to be a power struggle.

Erin: Mm-hmm. And I think; uh, you said this, you referred to this earlier; that we both have to matter. We both are… A marriage is two people and two differences, two preferences, and different ways of doing things. I have gotten to where I… I think my issue was he would say, “Oh, I’m gonna do it before I go to bed and leave the dishes there.” I’d think, “Mm-hmm. Yes”-

Jim: Trust.

Erin: “Those dishes are gonna be there in the morning.” But he has consistently shown me that, yes, I can, the dishes can stay there and when I wake up in the morning, they’re gone. They’re done. And I cannot tell you how much the simple act of being responsible for the dishes has meant to me.

Greg: The difference for me, I’m not doing that stuff to score points, set up maybe later on, that evening. I’m not doing that.

Erin: Mm-mm.

Greg: I’m just saying, “You know what? I want to show up equally responsible for all of, of what it takes to manage our home.” So I think that’s one. I think another big one is the attitude has to be a sacrifice and being a servant. You know, for, like, uh, because, otherwise, this is not going to work. I mean, I, I have to show up also realizing that the son of God, my Lord and savior, Christ said that the son of God did not come here to be served. He came here to serve. And that needs to be my attitude. What if Erin and I got up every morning with our goal to out-serve the other, to sacrifice for one another? When I come home, when I’m tired, and there’s plenty of times where I’m like, “I don’t… Yeah, I can see there’s an area that, that probably needs to be vacuumed. I just, I’d rather watch TV. I’m just tired.” But if my attitude is, “No, you know what? I want to, I want to out-serve her. I want to sacrifice for her,” you see, I mean, that, that can motivate then towards doing some of these things that, that need to get done. So I think if I’m responsible, if I’m saying, “Hey, I want to, I want to serve.” Who was it that, that said, uh… I think it was the author George Eliot said that what do we live for if it’s not to make life less difficult for each other?

Jim: Well, but you’re-

Greg: You know, I mean, that’s being a servant.

Jim: Yeah. And you’re putting your finger on probably the biggest issue and the biggest collapse or the reason for the collapse in marriage today is that-

Greg: Selfishness.

Jim: … we as Christians are also selfish, because the culture is so selfish. And it’s hard to refrain from that behavior.

Greg: Yeah.

Jim: But that, at its core, is I think the biggest problem that we face.

Erin: But I think when the attitude is, “We’re on the same team, we’re teammates,” that there’s times that I am gonna pick up and do whatever Greg was supposed to do, because of whatever’s going on for him. Maybe he had a late meeting. And you know what? I had to do the dishes. You know?

Greg: Very demanding boss (laughs).

Jim: (Laughs).

John: (Laughs).

Erin: And so, I think (laughs) when you keep your heart in the place of being a servant, then when you jump in for your teammate, it’s okay. There’s no resentment or bitterness because of that. But we’re, you know, I’m doing what I need to do for our team.

Jim: But you’re describing something that’s critical I think. It’s an attitude. You said it right at the beginning.

Erin: Mm-hmm. Yes.

Jim: It’s an attitude that you wake up with every day hopefully-

Erin: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … that you can, um, get through the day with an attitude that shows that graciousness, s- shows a desire to help. And again, I don’t know why, in the marital relationship, the enemy of our soul seems to attack at that very point. Because it can divide you, it can separate you and conquer you emotionally if you’re on each other’s back about what the other is expecting and what you’re not doing for them.

Greg: I’m telling you. Satan understands the power of a husband and wife working together. In that oneness, there’s nothing that they can’t accomplish. I mean, think about it in, in Genesis 11, where the, the whole Tower of Babel story. I think one of the coolest things God… It’s literally like he’s looking down. Says, says he’s looking at, at all the people who’ve assembled together in a city, speaking the same language. He says, “When they come together, speak the same language, nothing for them is impossible.” Think about that. That is God looking at these humans, saying when they come together and work, nothing is impossible. Now, sadly, they were building a tower for them and it was the wrong thing, and that’s why he separated them out with a different language. But I think about our marriage. Same thing. Satan knows that when we work together, when we’re unified, when we’re heading in the same direction, pulling in the same direction as teammates trying to out-serve one another, he knows the power of our marriage and he’s afraid of it.

John: What a great conversation with Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley, and Jean Daly on this episode of Focus on the Family. Uh, balancing those household chores. Uh, that’s just critical to having a successful marriage.

Jim: Absolutely. Both spouses, uh, have to own it 100% of the way. You have to be intentional in your communication with your spouse to nail down your expectations and talk, uh, them through. Let me simply say to Christian married couples. If you want to be a witness to the world, this is an area where we need to challenge ourselves. We don’t need to be perfect, but consistent. If you’re the husband who’s coming home with an attitude like, “I’ve done my part. Now the rest is up to her,” I hope you’re really listening today. This applies to me too, by the way. And you’re willing to shake that loose a bit, think differently. Think about owning it 100%. Think about how to serve your wife in a way that, at the end of the day, she can say, “Wow. Thank you for helping out.” And same for the woman. Thank your husband for working hard all day and affirm him in that role. Imagine what more effective communication and this kind of servant attitude will do for your marriage.

John: And we want to, on a regular basis, uh, just lift you up and feed this kind of information to you. It’s why Focus on the Family is here. We want to help you better understand those day-to-day struggles and conflicts in marriage and learn how to appropriately handle them.

Jim: Yes, it’s our mission to minister to couples in need, marriages that need strengthening or even those in crisis. If you are looking for answers, get in touch with Focus on the Family. In fact, we’ve launched a new weekly podcast with Greg and Erin called Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage. And they dig deeper into marriage topics that will help you and your spouse strength your relationship no matter what stage you’re in. You can find that wherever you listen to podcasts. We also have topnotch resources available like Greg and Erin’s book, Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage. And when you donate to the ministry of Focus on the Family today, a gift of any amount, we’ll send you a copy of their book as our way of saying thank you for supporting strong marriages.

John: Yeah, donate today and, uh, get a copy of the book, Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage. Uh, details are at or give us a call. 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. And next time, you’ll hear from Jodie Berndt about why praying for your marriage is essential.

Jodie Berndt: Malachi 3:16. It’s one of my favorite verses. It says, “Those who honored the Lord, those who feared the Lord talked with each other and the Lord listened and heard.” God’s listening in on those conversations. And I think that he might even receive those as prayers.

Today's Guests

Fight Your Way: How Healthy Conflict Can Take You to Deeper Level of Intimacy

Receive the book Fight Your Way and the audio download of the broadcast "Avoiding the Chore War" for your donation of any amount!

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Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

When God Allows Suffering (Part 1 of 2)

Joni explores the question of why God doesn’t heal every disease and every pain we suffer. She shares her struggles with deep depression after being paralyzed at age 17, and her ardent pursuit of healing from the Lord. After much disappointment, Joni’s perspective changed for the better when she realized that God was more concerned about healing her soul than healing her body. She also reveals the problems that her disability has caused in her marriage to her husband Ken, and how the Lord helped them through those difficult years. As a bonus on day one, we share a brief conversation between Jim Daly and Ken Tada about his deep love for Joni, and the Lord, and how having an attitude of service has helped him cope as the husband of a quadriplegic. (Part 1 of 2)

Pursuing Our Untamable God Part 2

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