Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

Can We Talk? Communication Advice for Husbands and Wives (Part 2 of 2)

Can We Talk? Communication Advice for Husbands and Wives (Part 2 of 2)

Psychologist Dr. David Clarke offers couples practical advice for breaking down common communication barriers in a discussion based on his book Men are Clams, Women are Crowbars: The Do's and Don't's of Getting Your Man to Open Up. (Part 2 of 2)

Original Air Date: September 5, 2019



Dr. David Clarke: That’s why opposite-sex relationships are God’s plan. Uh, same sex, you can have a great friend of the same sex, but it’s never gonna be that intimate because you’re too much alike. The differences, if we manage them the right way, create never-ending intimacy. They can also drive you crazy. Uh, so you have to – have to get the balance.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Dr. David Clarke is back with us today on Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, if you walk through the aisle of a store in that greeting card section, um, and you pick up maybe a wedding card.

John: Mmm hmm.

Jim: …You’ll often see something from 1 Corinthians in there. “Love is patient.”

John: The love chapter, yeah.

Jim: “Love is kind.” Uh, those verses are easy to find on a wedding card but much harder to actually do in marriage. Why is that? I think it’s because marriage surprises us. Uh, we don’t anticipate things accurately. And while dating and engaged, we think we really know the other person. “They understand us. We’re made for each other. This is awesome.” But then after marriage, we start wishing there was a – a translator in the house.


Jim: “She doesn’t understand me at all.”

John: Hm.

Jim: “And he doesn’t understand me.” That’s why I’m so grateful for the conversation we had last time with Dr. David Clarke, uh, who gave us some valuable insights on the male and female brain and how we interact and how, in some cases, we’re not constructed to communicate well together. But we can learn to do it better, and that’s what I’m grateful for.

John: Hm.

Jim: “And he doesn’t understand me.” That’s why I’m so grateful for the conversation we had last time with Dr. David Clarke, uh, who gave us some valuable insights on the male and female brain and how we interact and how, in some cases, we’re not constructed to communicate well together. Uh, but we can learn to do it better, and that’s what I’m grateful for.

John: Hm. Yeah, my wife and I went into marriage thinking, “Oh, the communication thing is easy!” And then we got married and realized…there’s a lot to work on here.

David has written a great book called Men are Clams: Women are Crowbars: The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Your Man to Open Up. And if you didn’t catch the first part of the conversation, be sure to listen.  You can do that through our mobile app or even on YouTube.  


Jim: Hey, David, welcome back to Focus.

David: Well, thanks for having me.

Jim: OK, for those that are joining today and didn’t listen yesterday, give us the quick briefing on – on clams and crowbars and how it applies.

David: Well, men are clams – most men are clams – 80% of men are clams in that they don’t share personally, and they get defensive when the woman, who’s the crowbar, tries to get them to open up.

Jim: (Laughter).

David: They forget – because they feel controlled, they get defensive, and they shut down, and they will not give her what she wants and needs. Now, the crowbar: she married for closeness, she wants connection, she wants understanding, she wants vulnerability and breakthroughs and connections emotionally, so she presses too hard. She’s got the crowbar. She’s gonna open that clam up. I’ve got 40 years. I’m gonna do it. And so, she tries to open him up, but the very act of trying causes the clam to close up even more.

Jim: Yeah.

David: That’s a fundamental problem almost all couples – in fact, all couples have. Sometimes the roles are reversed…

Jim: Right.

David: …And the woman is the – is the clam, and that means man the man’s the crowbar, but the same principles apply.

Jim: But – and the couples will know that. You know where you’re at. In fact, today, I was even talking to Jean as I was getting ready for the program. Uh, and I said – you know, I often am the one coming in saying, “How was your day?” – and asking her questions. But when it comes to the deeper stuff, she’s always the one initiating that conversation.

David: Right.

Jim: So, I don’t know if – who’s the clam and who’s the crowbar in that case.

David: Uh, you’re still the clam.


David: Just telling you.

John: Yeah.

Jim: I was – I was fearful…

John: And he (unintelligible).

Jim: …That was the case.


Jim: Well, listen, uh, in fact, the producer of the show, Kathryn, she’s been married only a couple of months now. So, this – just think of her when you’re answering this question. One key, uh, way to improve communication in marriage is to understand that your spouse (laughter) is very different from you. So, if the producer, Kathryn, was sitting right here at the table, rather than behind the glass, um, explain the key differences between male and female brains.

David: Well, here’s the bad news, Kathryn – and since you’re married, we’re not gonna change that. That’s the good news.

Jim: (Laughter) That’s the good news.

David: The woman’s brain is geared, especially in communication, to just be wide open. I mean, the two parts of Kathryn’s brain are connected. OK, her husband’s brain is not connected.


David: There’s a lot of loose connections. But anyway, and so when a woman talks and shares, every – everything kind of just flows out, and she processes as she talks. A woman has no idea where she’ll end up when she starts talking, and she doesn’t care. I’m just gonna start talking, and let’s just see what happens. Would you join me in my conversational adventure? What am I gonna say next? Even I don’t know. She does it all verbally, and it’s all out there. “How about this? How about that? No, I don’t mean that. I’m not really feeling that.” And she just kind of expresses. 

Men are just the opposite.

Jim: You know, let me interject this with men because sometimes – some might think we’re bashing the guys. But actually, in the womb, when a male baby is developing, there’s a – a testosterone wash that eliminates some of the brain connections – about half. And – and that’s…

David: Right.

Jim: …Just part of it – left and right hemispheres aren’t as well connected in the male…

David: Right.

Jim: …Brain compared to the female brain.

David: It’s biology. Well, it’s God. I mean, God knows what he’s doing, and he’s in charge of the testosterone wash. So – so when – when they’re talking, they expect the man to be similar. And when he talks, he’ll do the same thing. No, he won’t. It’s all internal for the guy. First of all, he doesn’t know what he’s thinking and feeling. Women are always in touch with that – thoughts, feelings, uh, connections, uh, fears, pain, emotions. All that is right there for her on the surface. The man is not in touch with that. He’s gonna have to look for it. Men have to process. I call it riding the train. We’ll get to that. He’s got to process and find it. When he finds something personal, he doesn’t blurt it out. You’ll never hear a man say, “You know what, Honey? I’m not sure what I’m feeling, but here goes,” and just start talking.

John: (Laughter).

David: No, that’s crazy. That’s what the woman does. He will find it, hopefully chew on it, mull it over, organize it, collate it, kind of figure it out on his own, never verbally with the woman or anybody else, maybe God, if we can include God in this, but it’s just him. And then when he’s ready, he’ll offer it to you. That takes time – more time than the lady would like to have happen. But as he learns, he can shorten the time.

Jim: Yeah. And it’s so different. Uh, you mentioned the train, and that was a great concept in the book. In fact, Jean and I talked about that. Describe the train and why it is so important to understand the train concept.

David: This literally – I wouldn’t say saved our marriage, the blonde and I – but it revolutionized it, no question, because we were not having deeper conversations. So, the way the train works is you have a woman and a man at a train station, and the trains on the tracks, and they’re waiting to board it. OK? Well, they’re in a conversation on the platform – woman talking, sharing. Man’s there. When the man feels the need to get some space and do some processing, he doesn’t do it with her on the platform. That would be heaven. That’s not heaven. Heaven down here is – is real life. So, the man needs the train. He’ll hop on the train and go down the track some distance alone. She doesn’t board the train; she doesn’t chase the train. He’s got to do it personally. He could be sitting right next to her in the car, in a couple talk time, at a restaurant. He’s got to process internally.

Jim: So, you’re saying, emotionally, he just needs some distance to think.

David: Oh – oh, yeah.

Jim: Right.

David: Every single time before he shares something personal. The woman thinks, “Why can’t you share it just now? We’re right here. I shared. You’re listening. What’s the matter with your brain? Isn’t it connected – the two halves?”

Jim: “I want to be on the train with you.”

David: I’m telling you – oh, and she’d love to be on the train, too. No, no, you can’t get on the train. She’ll be stopped. Now, the key is it’s a looped train. It’s just a big loop, like these commuter trains in large U.S. cities – New York, uh, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia. If you stay on the loop train long enough, it’ll always come back to where you started. That’s where the woman’s waiting to hear what you have to say. So, it’s not getting on the train and never coming back. Every woman listening is saying, “Oh, Dave, really, tell me something I don’t know. I know all about the train. He’s always getting on the train, and he never comes back.” The blonde’s saying that now. “Really? What a genius.” OK, well, when you figure out that train is only God-designed preparation to talk to your lady, it works.

Jim: But who – who initiates the return? How do you get into that dialogue again, especially if the man’s not coming back on the train ride?

David: Another good question.

Jim: Does she come and say, “Hey, I’m on the platform”?

David: She’s allowed one adult-to-adult reminder. Now, we’re hoping the guy – again, we’re talking 25-30% of the time of the topics she shares, hopefully he’ll ride the train and come back with a response. That’s not 100%. That’s not 80, but it’s enough to carry things. Now, if you want the man to ride the train and it’s an important topic for you – because one category is, “I’m just going to talk about a bunch of things. If you want to ride the train on one or two of these things, go ahead. I don’t care which one, and you let me know.” He’ll come back on his own. But if the lady really wants him to respond to a topic – that’s maybe 10, 15% of topics. “This is important to me. I need to have a response.” Tell the man that because he won’t know. Everything you say seems to be important to you.

Jim: Yeah. I would think that can be frustrating for the wife that she has to say that. I mean, I’m just sensing it…

David: It is. 

Jim: …that I have to say, “This one’s important to me (even though you should know that). So please respond to me, even though you should know that.”


David: Exactly. And you don’t want to be edgy because then he’ll clam up, but it’s true. It’s frustrating.

Jim: You’re not saying the second part, but is that hard for someone to discipline themselves in that way?

David: Oh, it is very hard. But I say to the wives, gently and lovingly, “Get over it, because it’s a guy.” It’s only a few words, and then he’ll know this is a 10. “I need to have a response on this.” Otherwise, he doesn’t know it’s that important.

Jim: That’s even good – to give it a score.

David: Yeah, that can help.

Jim: Like, “This is a 10. Can you help me here and respond to me and don’t take the train?”

David: Right. Guys think in terms of numbers.

John: So, what is that about? I mean, I remember early on in our marriage, Dena would look at me and say, “Well, if I have to tell you, then you’ve totally missed it.”

David: (Laughter).

John: And I’d be looking at her like, “I – I don’t get it.”

David: Penalty flag (laughter).

John: Yeah. So – but what – what was inside of her was saying, “You should get this, John? Well, I shouldn’t have to explain this need to you?”

David: You know who’s at fault for this? The Hallmark Channel. I’m just telling you now because everything seems to work out. And women want to know – this is kind of ingrained in them, I think, as little girls as they grow up. “Boy, if you really love and are connected to me, then you would know,” as Jim says and as you’re saying, John. “And you would know this is important, and so you would respond.” Wouldn’t that be, like, perfect? I have to convince the ladies ain’t ever going to happen.

Jim: (Laughter) Right.

David: You married a man. He – he’s not made that way. So, with a few – and the beauty is, the payoff is with a few extra words – “Honey, this is important to me, and I want you to know. It’s a 10. Please get back to me.” Walk away at that point. Don’t press him, and that would be good. No, don’t tap your foot. Then he actually will ride the train. There’s a chance he’ll do it – pretty good chance – come back and then initiate, and that’s what you want. So, we’ve got to get him past that, “Oh, if this just would work out. I shouldn’t have to share my needs.” No. That – that’s not reality.

Jim: David, I really want to ask this question because as a clinical psychologist, but – and that’s good. That’s good training, but you’re a Christian. Foundationally, that – it’s your faith. What was God thinking? (Laughter) I mean, why? I mean, I don’t want to be irreverent, but I’m thinking there’s got to be a big purpose in this. I – personally, I think it’s to train us to be more selfless, to be more like him. 

That’s why he designed it this way – to be somewhat frustrating so we have to become more giving in our marriages. And by learning that, we become more giving in all – all of our relationships. But add that God component to this – I mean, we talk about the testosterone wash and brain chemistry. Sounds very OK, observational. But what was God doing?

David: Well, he knows what he’s doing, but it’s a good question. On paper, marriage is a disastrous 

idea. He does that, first of all, because we have to have him. He’s gotta be at the center. We’ve gotta be both connected to him and sharing him spiritually together in order to have any chance to do these things. God won’t be left out of anything. Uh, if you leave him out, it – it dies. The second thing is he wants us to really work at it. If you – love is, “I do the tough things. I will work on this for you. It’s not I’m good at it. I don’t want to do it. For you, I will do it.” And so that really – the working together leads to the deeper level. If it was just easy like – like infatuation and – and courtship (pfftttt), that would be a superficial relationship.

Jim: Huh.

David: To get deeper, with God’s help, you got to work at it. It’s worth it, but God wants to make it tough. Anything in life is tough. Christian life is tough.

John: Hm. Well, if you’re struggling in your marriage, uh, and you need a tune-up, we have some great resources for you This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and our guest is Dr. David Clarke. His book, published by Focus on the Family, is Men Are Clams, Women Are Crowbars: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Getting Your Man To Open Up. And we have that, of course, at our website: 

Jim: David, there’s probably two or three kind of real sensitive conversations or topics that every marriage tends to avoid. So, from one clam to another clam, do we need to talk about those, or we can just let them slide?

David: No. You’ve got to talk. It’s the things we don’t talk about that end up killing us.

Jim: OK, so…

David: You’ve got to have the conversations.

Jim: What – with all of your experience with the couples that you’ve counseled, what do some of those topics look like – the taboo topics?

David: Could be, um, any significant issue in the marriage. It could be our communication. It could be our intimate life. It could be, uh, the church that we’re going to attend. It could be the spiritual differences we have. Could be parenting styles that are so different. Could be any big decision. We’ve gotta sell our home and buy another one. We’ve gotta buy a new car. We’ve gotta – we’ve gotta choose, uh, where to worship. Are our kids gonna be homeschooled? Are they gonna go to a Christian school? Are they gonna go to a public school? These are hard topics.

Jim: Mm.

David: And coming into those topics – classics scenario – we’ve had this a million times, Sandy and I. We’ll have different points of view.

Jim: Yeah.

David: And so, all these things – now, it could be family. The woman feels like the guy’s – he’s too close to his mother, for example (laughter). This is not true of me, of course.

Jim: (Laughter).

David: But that – that was an issue for us. And we had to kind of work it through. My parents are wonderful, but there were some issues there – issues on her side. So, you have to talk these things through, and men don’t want to do it. Women don’t want to either, but they’re more likely because they know how important it is. But men go, “I don’t want to go there. It never goes well. It’s gonna blow up and make it worse, so. I’m not going there.” 

Jim: Yeah.

David: These are tough, but they’re important.

Jim: Uh, David, help wives understand the importance of timing when it comes to these painful topics. Because, you know, that’s gotta be one of the big, important things that – that’s considered. What are signs it’s a good time to start that conversation? And how can they do it? How can they get into it?

David: Well, you don’t spring anything on a man. You just can’t do it. He’s not prepared. He’s not ready. Men like to be prepared. If there’s a big work meeting, you want to know what the agenda is. You want to be ready for it. Men want to be prepared. Plus, they can ride the train to a degree and process before they get to the meeting, so don’t just spring it on him. And he can’t be doing anything else at the time you bring it up, or it’s a disaster.

John: Now, I like that you ask that question, Jim, because right about now, I’d like to pull a clip out that our producer found…

Jim: Hey, you guys aren’t allowed…

John: She talked…

Jim: …To talk to Jean anymore.

David: (Laughter).

John: She talked to Jean, and it was about when Jean learned the difference between the good time to ask and the not-so-good time.

Jim: (Laughter) OK.


Jean: I used to take the opportunity, while Jim was watching a football game, to talk to him about pretty deep things. I actually thought that that was a good time to have deep discussions. I mean we’re sitting down in our basement. I’m on [our] comfy couch, he’s just watching a football game, and I would actually launch into these deep conversations. Now, that was before I was a Bronco fan.

We had just moved to Colorado. And I got some very wise advice. I had to be coached to say to Jim, “Is this a good time to talk to you about something?” And I needed to let Jim have permission to be able to say, “Well, yes, I want to talk to you, but could you wait until after the fourth down or…”


Jean: “…the touchdown or halftime?”


Jim: It’s true. It’s true.

David: That’s good.

John: That’s good you could articulate that.

Jim: And I thank the Lord for whoever coached Jean on that.


David: That’s good. See, that’s so important. Timing is important. In fact, I would recommend – Jean’s on this same track – you tell – the first step is never even the meeting, it’s, “Honey, I have a difficult topic to discuss.” Even tell them what it is. Give them the category. Fair enough. We’re not gonna talk now. I want you to think and pray and process. Let’s – let’s schedule a time. It could be a half an hour later, could be the next day, could be later on. You negotiate the time you’re gonna meet and talk. Are kids taken care of? Schedule things. And so that’s the first thing you do. Now, he’s already getting prepared, which is so important. You haven’t – you haven’t blindsided him. Then when you actually have the meeting, we’re gonna go slow in conflict. Speed kills in conflict…

Jim: Huh.

David: …Every time. So, when you – when you’re sitting down – let’s say the wife has the issue. She’ll go first. She’s gonna give an opening presentation of maybe five, six, seven, eight minutes, and she’s going to say, “Honey, I’m just gonna talk here. I’m gonna share my point of view about this issue, what I think we should do, the whole nine yards. Listen, reflect, please. But I don’t want any response from you at this time.” That lets them off the hook. See, if we allow a response, it’ll be defensive, it’ll be I feel controlled, I – here’s what I think, and we’re gonna have the problem. He hasn’t even processed yet, hasn’t ridden the train. So, she shares and (unintelligible) goes, “Thank you for listening.” And – and then we talk about when we’re gonna have the next conversation. “Honey” – now, it’s up to the guy. I – process a couple of days, couple of hours, whatever you need – could be fast, could be slow – but then let me know, and we’ll have the next meeting, which is – will be his response.

Jim: Huh.

David: And then we get to – that could be the next day. You’re gonna be married 60 years. You got the time.

Jim: Yeah.

David: It’s OK.

Jim: Let me ask you this question. And again, I – I talked to Jean about this earlier today. You know, I tend to engage in that conversation in this way – she’ll be giving me details or telling me something, and I’ll fill in blanks when she’s struggling…

David: Right.

Jim: …To get to the right word.

David: Women love that.

Jim: And I…

David: Yeah.

Jim: (Laughter) Yeah, right. I see it as, you know, it’s kind of engagement. I’m – I’m with her. I’m intently listening.

David: You’re helping.

Jim: And I am. It frustrates the dickens out of her…

David: Right.

Jim: …When I’m doing that. And she’s going, “Can you just stop and listen?” So, coach me why – why is my engagement and my expression of this engagement to complete her sentences not well-received?

David: Well, because she’s not looking to be fixed. As she says herself, she wants to be listened to and understood. And she’ll work it out as she talks. We discussed that last time. She has to talk it out and feel understood. The guy’s thinking, I can solve this with two sentences.


David: I know what’s going on. I think – and this will be so helpful. (Unintelligible).

Jim: Ouch.

David: And even if – even it was the greatest solution in the world, it falls flat because I – I want you to understand me and what’s going on. And let’s be a team as we work through this.

Jim: Yeah. OK, let’s move into spiritual bonding. And, uh, I guess the basic question is why is that so important?

David: Well, God is important. He’s absolutely everything. If you have a marriage where you don’t have God at the very center of it, it’s going to die. It may take 40 years, but it’s dying over the entire course of that time because the things we’re talking about in these broadcastings that I have on the Men Are Clams, Women Are Crowbars book, you can’t do on your own – impossible. Don’t even make the attempt. God is the one who has the power to allow you to manage the differences and connect in communication.

Jim: Yeah.

David: No one else does.

Jim: And – and the emphasis that you place in the book is to read together and to pray together. And describe, for couples that aren’t doing that regularly, what does that look like in a healthy way?

David: We’ve got these four couple talk-times a week. If you’re doing it the Dave Clarke way – seven days of the week – on four of the days, with the man leading and scheduling on four of those days, you have a 30-minute couple talk-time – no kids, no pets, no distractions. Take five minutes of each of those talk-times and have a prayer time – could be beginning middle or end. We share our request. You might even write them down. You can – I have couples who have a… a record of how God answers prayer, and it – it’s solid and very encouraging. Or you can just do it verbally. “Here’s what we’re gonna pray about,” and then the woman she will choose two or three items. The man has the rest. Holding hands, you each pray out loud. That’s intimate. It’s bonding. God’ll just bless you for doing it. But at the same time, you’re spiritually bonding, and it will help you get to a deeper level of emotional conversation, too.

Jim: Yeah. And has that – how’s that impacted your marriage?

David: Well, it’s revolutionized it. You never have a bad prayer time. We have never prayed together, holding my wonderful blonde’s hand, and we open our eyes and she says, “Well, that was a dud of a prayer time.”


David: “I was really disappointed.” Never. It’s like, “Wow, thank you so much for praying.” And you’re letting the Holy Spirit operate, too, because as you get into this, you’ll pray for your list, but as you get a little further into it, Holy Spirit will open you up, and you’ll say things you didn’t expect to say.

Jim: Well, David, actually, we have a clip from Sandy saying it’s kind of a dud time. No, I’m kidding.


Jim: Look at your face. I had your face. It was good. Hey, you say there’s an overall gold mine of intimacy when we do these things. And describe that gold mine. What does it look like? What is it?

David: Oh, man, it’s – in a word, it’s intimacy.

Jim: All of it.

David: Intimacy – all of it. Intimacy starts, really, with God. Most couples don’t know that. We get married – it’s about you and I. It’s not about you and I. It’s about God. When the Bible says, in 1st

John, “God is love,” he’s not kidding. He’s the whole thing. So, it’s intimate. When you pray, it’s intimate. When you talk spiritually about – about what God is doing in your life and in your quiet time and struggles and victory, it’s intimate. Marriage is a discipleship relationship. When you read the Bible, God’s word, just a passage, and discuss it over the course of a week and… and meditate and then – and then share the results, oh, my goodness, it brings you so close.

Jim: Hm.

David: It’s magnificent. We – we figured that out.  [It] took us 15 years to figure that out. We were on parallel tracks spiritually, not doing much bonding at all, and it wasn’t helping us.

Jim: All right. So, the key question is for that couple that’s struggling – let’s say the wife is listening right now, and she’s going, we don’t have that. I yearn for that. I want that. What does she do to start that?

David: I’d say we have – this will be one of those difficult topics. And let’s assume the guy is not into it, not realizing – gosh, that’s so personal. She’d have to just stretch it out – “I have something important to discuss.” Schedule the meeting. She would share and have the guy take a week, even three or four days, to think and talk about what she’s discussed. “I want to have spiritual bonding. I think it’s important. Honey, would you think and pray?” Without it being defensive on the front side, because you don’t want a response yet, when he comes back, there’s a better chance he’ll say, “OK, how do we do this?” Well, that’s what the Men Are Clams, Women Are Crowbars book is for. I’ll tell you just how to do it. And we can – you start small, and you kind of build up slowly.

Jim: No, that’s good. What about the need for a third-party counselor? Um, when should a couple say, OK, now’s the time for some perspective?

David: When you’ve tried on your own, and you made a good faith effort, and you’ve – maybe the book is a bad template, but you’re blocking – there are – there are all kinds of obstacles you can’t seem to get past, that’s when you reach out for a Christian counselor.

Jim: Can I ask you this. Sometimes in the church, and speaking to the Christian community particularly, we can avoid that because we think, you know, if God is the center of our life, we, the couple, should be able to solve this. And it’s uncomfortable to go to a third party.

David: Yeah.

Jim: Speak to that… obstacle.

David: Well, it’s very often the case – and you make it a, if we had more faith, we wouldn’t have to do this.

Jim: Right.

David: It’s just like saying I’ve got a serious heart problem, but I am not gonna see the cardiologist. Not gonna do it. You want to know why? Because I’m gonna have faith in God to heal me. Well, that’s just dumb. Obviously, he can do anything he wants, and you’ll be praying in the process. But you see a cardiologist. He’s a specialist – he or she. And he’s gonna be able to do some things to save your life so you can keep serving God. So, it’s a very odd point of view, but it’s in many churches, as you’ve said – well-meaning people. “Well, I might see the pastor. We’ll get some pastoral counseling maybe.” But, you know, a professional that knows what they’re doing – this is what I do for a living. I’m better than your pastor. I’m just telling you. I should be after 30 years. Now, the pastor will always be involved. He’s the shepherd. He will pray. He’ll be knowing what’s going on. But let – let someone else do that. Even four or five sessions (snaps fingers) can be all you need.

Jim: Yeah. No, that’s good advice. And – and hopefully it’ll help. Husbands, I think, probably struggle with this more than wives, but not always. The shoe can be on the other foot.

Um… what’s your advice for that, um, spouse who there’s just no response? I mean, it’s a wall.

David: In the…

Jim: And it’s…

David: …Spiritual area?

Jim: Yeah, in all of it. I mean, you know, she’s trying. She’s praying quietly. She’s…

John: Hm.

Jim: …Saying this is a 10, and he’s just disinterested in fixing this. He’s comfortable. He comes home, he goes to the news, he watches weather and sports or whatever. He’s disconnected. Um, that would be a typical situation. And I would assume that person, that spouse, is very frustrated.

David: Oh, yeah.

Jim: And what is it – right at the end here, for that person that’s going, “I’m desperate. This isn’t, like, just, you know, a little fixer-upper topic here. This is the topic. This is what’s gonna make or break my marriage”…

David: Yeah.

Jim: …What do you say?

David: Well, there’s a series of steps, as the Bible would indicate in Matthew 18:15-17. Now we can establish this. Let’s say it’s the husband who’s doing all the blocking. Could be a good guy, could be a Christian, but if he’s blocking you, and you’ve made the attempts, and you’ve asked for a lot of things in the – in the Clams/Crowbars book, and he’s blocking, OK, now we’re gonna have to go to the big guns. It’s gonna be a tough-love scenario where you will make it very clear that there’ll now be some consequences for his lack of response. In increasingly dramatic fashion. Now, and you’ll – you’ll warn him ahead of time. “Honey, I’m not kidding; this is so important. I’m losing love for you.” You gotta be honest with the man.

Jim: That’ll catch his attention.

David: I think so. I – losing respect…

Jim: It should.

David: …Losing love – right. I don’t want to be intimate with you. OK, that – and these are all true statements Whoa. OK, so now he knows it serious. He doesn’t respond to that in – in a individual confrontation, that’s when you go to the one or two witnesses. Find a godly man that he knows – one or two guys that he knows. And you’ll… you’ll let the husband know, “I’m telling these guys.” And they’re gonna be – and that those guys will now confront him lovingly, firmly. This is a problem. The guy doesn’t want that to happen. If he allows it to happen, we know we’ve got a real problem on our hands. He doesn’t respond to that; we go to the church. I’m gonna go to the pastor, the leaders of our church. Some leaders will do it, some won’t. The Bible indicates you’re just simply gonna ask. And the – and the – and these are not vicious, nasty confrontations, they’re loving, but firm. Your wife is dying emotionally. This is a real issue. There are blocks in your life. And they’ll even tell the guy – because I’ve told husbands this – let’s be honest, you don’t know what you’re doing, and there’s personal blocks to what we’re talking about. That’s what we’re gonna deal with.

Jim: And this is good. I mean, this is how we, um, help dampen Christian divorce rates. I mean, what you’re explaining there is the right process, I believe.

David: Oh, yeah.

Jim: And it’s a good process.

David: Because if she doesn’t do that, she’s gonna hit the wall, and she’s gonna be done.

Jim: Yeah.

David: When the woman is done, forget about it.

Jim: Yeah.

David: It’s over.


Jim: David, this is really good. It’s tough. I mean, we’ve kind of ended on a tough note there, but Focus on the Family is here for you. If you’re in that spot, uh, call us. We have great resources, like David’s book. We have Hope Restored, which is an intensive counseling effort. And everything in between to, uh, help you in that way. We have counselors right here at Focus who can initiate that conversation and – and even point you to other counselors in your area. So, take advantage of that. 

That’s why we’re here. And, of course, David’s great book is a place to start. Men Are Clams, Women Are Crowbars: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Getting Your Man To Open Up. And, uh, we’ll give you a complimentary copy of that if you can support the ministry, either monthly or a one-time gift. Or if you can’t, we’ll get it in your hands because we’re committed to your marriage. Um, but get in touch with us, especially if you’re hanging by that last thread.

Hope Restored, the intensive marriage program, can really be the answer you’re looking for.

John: And we have so many resources, and it begins with a call. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or online, we’re at

Jim: David, again, this has been so good. Thanks for being with us.

David: Oh, my pleasure.

John: And thank you for joining us today for Focus on the Family.

Next time, Michele Howe helps you put the grand in grandparenting. 


Mrs. Michele Howe: I know what their standard is in their house. I want to uphold it, and applaud it, and elevate it, so that those grandkids love their moms and dads and respect them.

End of Teaser

Today's Guests

Men are Clams, Women are Crowbars

Men are Clams, Women are Crowbars

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