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Connecting With Your Busy Spouse

Connecting With Your Busy Spouse

Mark and Susan Merrill of Family First suggest some fun and creative ways a husband and wife can strengthen their marriage amidst the demands of a busy schedule.
Original Air Date: October 9, 2017

Excerpt:

Mr. Mark Merrill: I love to say that more marriages might survive if people remembered that better often comes after worse. We married for better or worse. And when we walk through those worse times together, those difficulties and challenges together, and come out the other side and the Lord is shining brighter through us there’s no greater experience in the world than that.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Well, that’s Mark Merrill. And he and his wife Susan join us today on Focus on the Family. And your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I’m so excited to have Mark and Susan with us today at Focus on the Family. They are good friends who share the same heart and passion as we do here for marriage, for parenting. And I kind of like to say, they’re bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. And that is our goal today, together, to help strengthen you in your marriage. We’re going to talk about that. These will be wonderful ideas to help you better understand your spouse, and especially if you’re having some communication difficulty. This isn’t the deep stuff if you’re suffering through really traumatic things in your marriage. That’ll be a different program. Today, it’s for those of us who are kind of just feeling like, I’m not on the top of my game when it comes to my marriage. For us guys, that we’re not concentrating on developing our relationship with our wives the way we should be. And maybe for you, wives, you’re thinking okay, I’ve maybe slacked off a bit loving my husband the way he needs to be loved. This is the program for you.

John: It is. And let me just tuck in a mention that we do have counselors here if you are struggling. And we’re a phone call away. 800-A-FAMILY. Well, Mark and Susan are the founders of Family First, which is, uh, on mission to provide parenting and marriage and relational truth to help you love your family well. And they’re speakers and bloggers, and they’ve got a companion set of books that they’ve put out. One is List to Love by for Busy Wives. And, of course, the companion is List to Love by for Busy Husbands.

Jim: Hey, welcome to both of you. Thanks for…

Mrs. Susan Merrill: Thank you.

Jim: …Being here.

Susan: Thank you for…

Mark: We are…

Susan: …Having us.

Mark: We’re grateful. Thank you for having us.

Jim: Hey, um, before we get going, I love this kind of day because this is the tune-up. You know, this is where we can just talk with a light heart in many ways about what’s happening and hopefully be a bit playful with it. Um, in that regard, how did you guys meet? I mean, what – how did God…

Susan: (Laughter).

Jim: …Bring you guys together? Let’s go right to it.

Mark: Well, well, Jim, we have different stories, but I’m gonna…

Susan: We do.

Jim: (Laughter).

Mark: I’m gonna give the executive summary today.

Mark: Mine’s too long.

Jim: Okay, good.

Mark: And, uh, the executive summary is we – I was actually in law school, and Susan was an undergrad at University of Florida.

Jim: Susan, you were pursuing a – a legal guy? (Laughter)

Mark: Can you believe it?

Susan: No, I wasn’t pursuing him.

Jim: A lawyer.

Susan: Now, that’s where the story might vary.

Mark: I practiced for a while. I’m a recovering attorney now, always recovering. But we met – actually, I remember seeing her, ultimately, at the sorority house. And I thought, boy, that girl is cute. She was doing this barbershop quartet number.

Jim: (Laughter).

Mark: And I just looked at her, and I said, “I need to know who she is. She just looks wholesome and cute and wonderful.” And so, that’s where it all started. But you know – and so after we met, what really was attractive, for me, to Susan was that she was just lively. She had so much character and so much excitement. She was spontaneous and creative. And they say that before marriage opposites attract. And after marriage is opposites attack. What was appealing was now annoying and…

Mark: And you know how many couples just went, “Yup, yup, yup.”

Susan: Yup.

Mark: Yeah.

Susan: Yup.

Mark: And one of the things that was really interesting is I had this expectation, and I thought Susan would be organized. I thought she would be disciplined, all the things that I was. And I – I expected her to be more like me. And so, those early years in our marriage, I became somewhat critical of her, because I wanted her to be more like me. And so, she started to become more like me. And guess what? I didn’t like it.

Jim: Huh.

Mark: I was real – it was really bothering me that she was becoming more like me.

Jim: That’s pretty amazing.

Mark: And so I – the – I had to have a confrontation. And the biggest confrontation I had – I had to have wasn’t with Susan – it was with myself.

Jim: Right.

Mark: I needed to change the way – I think I needed to change our expectations for our marriage.

Jim: You know, to help the listener, you know, they’re probably connecting somewhat, but give us an example of that critical spirit that you had, the control that you were exerting that was frustrating her. But you’re trying to be the good wife…

Susan: Right.

Jim: …Be the right spouse. So, you’re changing…

Mark: Well…

Jim: …As you said in the opening. You were changing who you were, Susan, to meet Mark’s needs. People can identify…

Susan: Yeah.

Jim: …With that. But…

Susan: Yeah.

Jim: But that created frustration, right?

Susan: I can give examples early in the marriage, especially because we got married and literally, a year – two weeks short of a year later, had our first child. So, you went from a couple who was out there doing law and banking, and this and that, and going, going, going. And all of a sudden, I’m a stay-at-home mom. And so, where I was like, whoa, this is going to be so much fun. And we’re going to play, and we had another one right after that. And we are playing, and I’m doing manipulatives. And we’re creating. And it’s a hot mess – a fun hot mess. Great for me because I’m thinking – and great for my girls because they are exploring, and I was very much into child development. And I’m a researcher.

Jim: You were the super mom. I can see it right now.

Susan: Oh, we are just having so much fun…

Jim: (Laughter).

Susan: …And enjoying every minute. Like, I did not have a struggle making that transition. I loved being a creative mom. But Mark would come home. And it – and, you know, dinner probably wouldn’t be ready. And I’d be so excited, like, look what we made today and…

Jim: Look at this mess…

Mark: Yeah…

Jim: …I – we made today.

Mark: …Volcanoes, and so we’d…

Susan: Yeah.

Mark: …Eat on the patio.

Susan: And I’m like…

Jim: Yeah.

Susan: …Pulling him into it, going come join us. This is so awesome. And he’s more like, Okay, wha – wha – this is too much chaos for me.

Jim: Okay, now most guys can identify that. We won’t admit it. It’s politically incorrect. But did you ever come home and say, what have you been doing all day…

Mark: Oh, yeah.

Jim: …With this place?

Mark: And my – and maybe I didn’t say that…

(LAUGHTER)

Mark: …With my words because I was trained by my…

Jim: Oh, you were smart enough.

Mark: …Focus on the Family training and all the radio shows…

(LAUGHTER)

Mark: …I’ve listened to back in the ’80s. But it was something that I thought in my mind, like, you know, I’ve been working so hard all day. And really, I don’t have, you know, great expectations. But I’d like some dinner, and I want some organization…

Susan: Quiet.

Mark: …And, you know, basically, everybody come greet me at the door and oh, worthy father, you are home.

Susan: (Laughter).

Mark: And it just doesn’t work like that. And really, I really started squashing Susan’s spirit there. And that fun-loving, creative, wonderful, wonderful woman, I was snuffing it out. And so that’s where I really had to come to grips with this and really seek her forgiveness and just say, “Lord” – just to cry out – “I’ve been so wrong in this.”

Jim: You know, a lot of people, they may not have come to that realization that I’m squelching or crushing my spouse, no matter what the direction – male to female or vice versa. How does a person begin to get that awareness?

Susan: I would say, for me, I finally found the words to say, “When you come home, or when we interact, I feel like there is a flavor of the week – an ice cream flavor of the week – that I need to meet. Every week, you’re working on me in some area. And you’re saying, ‘Okay, this week, can you do the laundry this week? Or this week, when I come, can dah, dah, dah.’” And – and I am a pleaser. And what robbed my joy in our marriage and in our family was that I couldn’t please in every way every week.

Susan: And that was debilitating to you…

Susan: It was debilitating.

Jim: …I’m sure, depressing.

Susan: Yes. And – and so, I – I said to that, “I have to understand – what is the big win for you? What – if I could just do…”

Jim: Wow.

Susan: “…Three things for you, what would it be? And I will try to meet those three. And then you have to let me, um, you know, just be the person I am.”

Jim: That, right there, is powerful – just the three things. Can you help me? Man, that is – I’m thinking I need to do that with Jean.

Mark: What really…

Jim: What are three things I can do?

Mark: What really resonated with me was not you never do this, you always do this, I don’t like when you do this. It was her expressing her feelings to me and says here’s how it makes me feel. And then she gave me this wonderful word-picture – this flavor of the week – that there’s always something that you’re critical of. There – you’re never satisfied with anything. And I was looking for my happiness and my satisfaction in Susan rather than in the One who created Susan and I, the Lord. And, um, so I had to come to a reality of, you know what? I got – I’ve got to really focus on what’s important here and what are those two or three things that are important to me. I shared those with her, and then I had to start letting go all these other things that were maybe a one, two or three and focus on the eight, nines and 10s. And so, actually, we do that sometimes…

Susan: We do.

Mark: …Together. We’ll say…

Susan: Is this a one to you?

Mark: …Is that an eight, or is that a nine? What is that on a scale of 1 to 10?

Jim: That’s good communication.

Mark: How important? And so…

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: …Now – not everything can be a 10. But now I do throw away those other things, like even now, the bathroom drawers are still pulled out and open. And I’m organized.

Susan: (Laughter) Stop telling…

Mark: I want everything in its place.

Susan: Stop telling my stuff.

Mark: But you know what?

Susan: (Laughter).

Jim: I with you.

Mark: I let it – I got to let it go. It’s not a – it’s not an…

Susan: It’s not a 10.

Mark: …Eight, nine or 10. And so, I’m just focused on two, three things.

John: Mark and Susan Merrill are our guests today on Focus on the Family. And the book that they have is called Lists to Love By. We’ve got a copy for busy wives and also a copy for busy husbands. Contact us and we can tell you more. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

John: I’ve got to ask. So, even if you have this kind of a conversation, you know, just three things and you make that mental reset, how long does it take before that becomes kind of a natural part of the rhythms of your marriage? Because there are expectations that, there, I said my three things, and now we’re all good, right?

Susan: Right.

Jim: (Laughter).

Susan: So, successful marriages do consistently what average marriages do occasionally. And that’s the trick. And that’s why the structure of these books are simple short chapters. So, you can even peruse the table of contents and go, okay, these are the five topics that are really tough for us, so we’re just going to work on those till they become a habit. And that’s the point. We’re so crazy busy today, we’re not taking the time to develop those habits that love each other well.

Jim: I think the other – the other – uh – concern, if you’re not organized, Mark, as you’ve described yourself, Lists to Love By doesn’t sound very inviting (laughter). I’m already living by that list that Jean creates everything weekend for me.

Susan: (Laughter).

Jim: Let’s get into some of those lists, some of your favorites. Uh, this is from your heart, and you’re speaking to those married couples, which you do at Family First so often.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So, let’s start with your favorites, Mark. Where – where do you find yourself in – in this great list of lists?

Mark: Well, I have several favorites. And – but one of them is, uh, three keys to unlock the door to intimacy in marriage, which is – I think is such an important one. And that’s what – people are really – they’re so lonely today. And you and I have talked about that, Jim, where people are lonely, and they’re lost, and they’re longing for something more and something better in their relationship. But they don’t know how to find it and where to find it. And we know one thing that if they don’t have that foundation of trust – trusting the Lord, but also trusting one another – in that relationship, then they are not going to be traveling down a – a very smooth road in the future. There’s going to be a lot of bumps and a lot of potholes. So, that trust issue is the key to intimacy.

Jim: Yeah. And – and when you talk about that loneliness, there’s been lots of articles appearing in various publications around the country right now about the loneliness in marriage. Why do you think that’s occurring? What’s – what’s happening in marriages today, generally, that create that loneliness?

Mark: I think part of that – and Susie might chime in on this as well – but in the Lists to Love By books we talk – it’s for busy husbands, and there’s one, also, for busy wives. And I think busyness leads to neglect. And there have – I can tell you that each and every one of us, this week, have spoken to somebody who said – you said, “Hey, how you doing, John?” And they said, “Oh, I’m doing fine. I’m doing fine. I’m just crazy busy.” Everyone – we almost where it is a badge of…

Jim: Correct.

John: Yeah.

Mark: …Honor. But it leads to neglecting our spouse, and we become the two proverbial ships that pass in the night. And then we start becoming lonely because we have no fellowship, just like if we’re not convening and spending time in prayer in – in God’s Word with the Father, we experience the loneliness without Him and the same in a marriage relationship. But we’re not really spending time and just sitting down and talking one-on-one.

Jim: So, that’s one of the lists – talk one-on-one together.

Mark: Yes, yes…

Jim: And what would be…

Mark: …No question about it.

Jim: …Another example of how to close that loneliness gap?

Mark: Yeah.

Susan: I think loving well starts with empathy and time. And so, one of, you know, the different things we talk about in all the lists is are you sharing time together? So, if I am exhausted from working, and I come home, and Mark has had something deeply hurtful happen to him, and he starts talking about it, but I’ve got my to-do list on, I’m not going to empathize with him. I’m going to be like, okay, suck it up, you know?

Jim: (Laughter) Right.

Susan: And that’s what creates that loneliness then because, although I may, with my eyes and my face pretend to listen, I’m really not entering deeply. I’m thinking, does he know what I have to do?

Jim: Now, that – that’s kind of amazing because it’s usually the shoe on the other foot for you to have that kind of attitude. I would think a lot of married couples are experiencing this where the – the husband might come home. He compartmentalizes. He’s not going to talk about what – he’s just upset. And his wife doesn’t know what’s happening, and he’s not really thinking, I don’t want to waste more time about what happened at work today. I’m just done with that, rah, rah, rah, rah. And he’s just grumbling. And he’s just fed up with everything. She’s trying to figure out what’s going on. He won’t connect with me. He can’t connect with me. He’s got a problem with intimacy in that way – emotional intimacy. That would be a more typical way, do you think, or do you disagree?

Susan: I do, but I think times may be changing. The demands on women today are definitely unreasonable, I think.

Jim: So, we’re all grumpy.

Susan: I think – yeah. Yeah. Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

Susan: I talked to so many women today who are in those child-raising years. And the demands of the kids’ schedules at school, the demands of the extracurricular activities. Many of these women are working part-time or full-time. And so, they’re – you only have so much capacity to be empathetic and so much time. And if you then feel like you have to give that to your kids, then your husband’s getting leftovers.

Mark: And that’s why it’s so important, Jim and John, that – that, too, when you’re lonely in marriage, I believe because that busyness is always there, um, you know, stealing your time like a thief to really make sure that we’re creating a – I call it a stop-doing list. And that – we – how many things that we all four of us are doing that are bad things? Well, hopefully none.

Susan: None.

Jim: Yeah.

Mark: But they’re – it’s a stop-doing list of good things that aren’t God’s best things. Oh – I always say, “Only do what only God would have you do.” Only do what only God would have you do. What are the most important things that He would have us do in our marriage relationship, in our life, with our kids? And then create a stop-doing list of other things that may be good but may not be the best that God has for us.

Jim: What did that list look like? I get it. And I try to do that. What did the list look like for you when you started to take that inventory?

Mark: When I took the inventory, I saw that I was serving on some different committees. I was serving on…

Susan: Boards.

Mark: …Some additional boards and I serve on one board today and that’s it – at Family First. And I took off all those other things that were wonderful things in good organizations and even things – get this – at church that may not be our highest and best use. Instead of doing 10 things at church, maybe there’s one thing that we should be focused in on.

Jim: Hmm. Those are good points.

Susan: Mm-hmm. And I think for women, you know, don’t feel like you have to do everything for your kids. A, even in the home.

Jim: Say that again.

Mark: (Laughter).

Susan: Don’t feel like you have to do everything. We really do so much today for our children. And then we also do so much that we feel everyone else wants us to do, like, your kids have to be in sports. They have to learn to play musical instruments. They have to do this, they have…  No, they don’t. Because at the end of the day – we have grown children now – we know this.

Jim: Yeah.

Susan: Um, it’s…

John: But, Susan, if you don’t do it for that child, it’s not going to get done, right?

Susan: And they’ll learn.

Jim: And that’s a good thing.

Susan: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: Now we’re into the homework discussion.

Susan: Yes, yes.

Jim: Hey, Susan, in fact, you had an acronym in your book, Lists to Love by For Busy Wives. I think it was L-Y-L-A-C-C-C.

Susan: Oh, yeah.

Jim: (Laughter) Is that lilaccc?

John: That’s easy to remember.

Susan: Love you like a chocolate chip cookie. So, that’s just one of the…

Jim: Love you like a chocolate chip cookie.

Susan: …Fun codes.

Jim: Tell me what that is.

Susan: So, when my kids were at, um, camp or wherever they were, or if I did lunchbox notes for them, they know how much I love cookies in particular.

Jim: (Laughter).

Susan: And so, I would make up all these different acronyms. And they know that’s our code.

Jim: Love you like a chocolate chip cookie.

Susan: I love you like a chocolate chip cookie – L-Y-L-A-C-C-C

Jim: That is fun. I love that one. Give me the things to do about developing that intimacy. In fact, you refer to it, uh, kind of flirtatious – creative ways to flirt.

Susan: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: And so, every guy’s ear just opened up right now, right?

Susan: Yeah, so…

Mark: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jim: So, what were you getting at?

Mark: I want to hear these things.

Jim: Yeah, yeah, there you go (laughter).

Mark: Let’s do it.

Susan: Well, we have five kids. And when we adopted two and just went from three to five quickly because we adopted a 9- and a 12-year-old, my days went into overtime big time. And that’s where I hit some things I need to say no to. But Mark came to me to talk one day and said, “You know, I miss my wife. And, you know, you’re the fun in our marriage. You’re the whatever.” And I realized I just wasn’t giving him the look anymore. I wasn’t giving him the lip, the tease, the cute over the table in front of the kids going gross, honey, you know, I want you.

Jim: If you don’t hear your kids saying gross, there’s not…

Susan: Yup…

Jim: …Enough flirtation…

Susan: …You’re not flirting.

Jim: …Going on.

Susan: You’re not flirting.

Mark: Exactly.

Jim: That’s kind of fun though. But what…

Susan: It’s fun.

Jim: What crushes that desire, particularly for wives? Uh, and speak brutally honest, Susan.

Susan: Right.

Jim: What takes away from the desire to do that? It is so important.

Susan: Yeah. Exhaustion.

Jim: Yeah.

Susan: Again, we’re running on empty. And we forget why we started this journey. We forget that I was madly in love with you and what it felt like, and that at the end did this game with our kids, it’s going to be you and I again. And at the end of the day, is there not the highest calling for us is to love one another. It’s the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor. And I firmly believe that, in God’s eyes, my closest neighbor is my husband and my child, a close second, but my husband. So, how I treat him first and foremost and the intimacy that we have that other couples can see in us and draws them to marriage…

Jim: Yeah.

Susan: …You know, how many more marriages would we have if the world could see, as believers, how in love we are and how we’re fulfilling that commandment?

Jim: Well, I appreciate that. You know, someone once described a woman’s heart like a rose. And we can tend to not water, as husbands, water that rose. And over time, it just shrivels up and dies – that emotion inside them to want to be flirtatious, to want to be having the fun that they experience when they were dating or when they were first married. So, I got to turn to you, Mark, and say what do we do, as husbands, that we’re not watering our wives’ heart roses that cause them to no longer really notice who we are? And we, as guys, let’s face it, we want to be talked to in that way.

Susan: Yeah.

Jim: You know, stroke my ego.

Susan: Yeah.

Jim: Love me because I’m super strong or super good-looking (laughter) or whatever…

Mark: I love that.

Jim: …Whatever we think of ourselves.

Mark: Jim – Jim, let me kind of take us to a deeper level on this answer because I could give you some superficial answers. But here’s the bottom line is if we’re to love our children well, I have got to love Susan well – love her as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for to make her holy. Uh, and we know that – right? – as believers. Uh, but if I’m going to – how do I love Susan well? Well, the only way to love Susan well is to love God well because God is love. And we first loved because He loved us first, right? And so, we are only able to love our spouses well if we love God well. So, ultimately, what I found creates the greatest intimacy, the greatest joy in our relationship that – that has even, just in the last year, has gone deeper for us, is just to be reading God’s Word together. She and I were reading the Psalms together in the morning. I mean, some people would say, “What? You did what?” We’re reading the Psalms together and the joy of the Lord and what God is doing in our lives and then praying together with one another. What greater way to create intimacy with one another than to be – have that intimacy with the Father together.

Susan: In the chapter, one of the lists is six things you must know about your husband. And obviously, there’s a counter chapter to six things you must know about your wife. But we give practical things like, what is their love language? What’s his biggest dream? What spells romance for him? Nail those simple things down. And, you know, at the end of – every chapter’s only four pages. At the end, there’s questions to nail those down. And then go back and remember, you know, I just don’t feel close right now. Let me go back to what’s his love language, again? How can I create that?

Jim: Do you ever – do you ever encounter fear that if I do that then I’m accountable to deliver? Do you know what I’m saying? In other words, it’s interesting. Sometimes, we don’t want to tread into those waters because now I’m aware of what the need of my spouse is.

Susan: I would say if that’s where you are, if that’s what you’re feeling right now, conquer it now because, you know, your highest calling in your marriage is to be one. And you can’t be one if you don’t intimately know them. And so, you’re on a path then that I would be fearful, again, then, for your marriage.

Jim: Well, and I love that, and I support that 100%. I just – I’m thinking of folks who – uh – you know, might shy away from wanting to do the hard work.

Susan: Right. It’s hard…

Jim: And it’s better to…

Susan: …And heart work.

Jim: …Live superficial – it’s easier to live superficially.

Susan: Yeah.

Mark: It is. But then, we have a choice here. Live superficially, and then you’re never going through those challenges and difficulties together, or you can have that deeper relationship where you experience this great intimacy and this great joy with one another. And, uh, I love to say that more marriages might survive if people remembered that better often comes after worse. We married for better or worse. And when we walk through those worse times together, those difficulties and challenges together, and come out the other side and the Lord is shining brighter through us, there’s no greater experience in the world than that.

Jim: Well, that is so good, and I appreciate that. I want to end with another little section of the book where you talked about five powerful words for your marriage. Let me just touch on them, and you come back and fill in a bit. One was respectful words for each other, affirming words toward each other, caring words, encouraging words, appreciative words. I think that is so critical, and I love ending here because I think our tongue, as the Scripture says, carries a lot of weight and can either kill or lift up. And that’s probably going back to the rose analogy. Uh, we, as husbands, can often use our tongues to kill the spirit in our wives and vice versa.

Mark: Yeah.

Jim: Um, speak to those five.

Mark: Yeah, the tongue is the most powerful part of our body. I mean, James clearly tells us about that. And we really need to chain it, tame it and train it, as I like to say. And so, words are extremely, extremely important. And I’m a wordsmith. And so, those respectful words are important. Affirming words are important. I remember Truett Cathy, our friend…

Jim: Chick-Fil-A.

Mark: …Founder of Chick-Fil-A. Truett once said to me, “Mark, how do you really know someone needs encouragement?” I was like, “I don’t know, Truett. How?” He said, “If they’re breathing.”

Jim: (Laughter).

Mark: Those affirming words, those words of encouragement, I think are some of the most important words that we can provide to our spouse and to our children because, you know what? – everybody needs encouragement, especially in today’s world. There’s so much going on. And we need to encourage one another.

Susan: And encouraging words is my love language. And, Mark, if you go back to the beginning of the segment, his critical spirit was exactly what the enemy was using…

Jim: To crush you.

Susan: …To (unintelligible). So, you got to – you got to use – lift each other up.

Jim: Well, what a great, great reminder. Mark and Susan, this has been really good.  Let me – let me end with this. One phrase or one word for husbands, Mark, and the same for wives, Susan. What would you say, Mark? I’m struggling tonight. I haven’t had this kind of relationship with my spouse. I’ve blown it. I’ve crushed her. I haven’t watered the rose in her heart. What can I do tonight that’s going to be different around the dinner table?

Mark: The word that came to my mind initially was persevere. Marriage is hard work. It’s heart work, as well. And just press into God and watch Him work through you and into your life. And then just love, love, love your wife well, even when she’s unlovable. And the same for the wives. Love your husband, even when he’s unlovable because that’s how Christ loved us. Love them with an unfailing love, like the unfailing love we receive from our Father.

Jim: Wow. That is well said. Susan, I don’t know if you can add to that, but…

Susan: Don’t be overwhelmed.

Jim: That’s good.

Susan: There are simple steps you can take to love well. And it will grow and grow and grow. Do not be discouraged.

Jim: Great advice. Thanks for being here.

Mark: We’re grateful.

John: And I trust as you’ve listened along you were able to pick up some tips from Mark and Susan Merrill on today’s episode of Focus on the Family so you can better relate to your spouse and really show them how much you love them. Now, let me mention our Focus on the Family Marriage Assessment. Um, it’s a great tool. It’s a quick little quiz on our website. It’s going to highlight the areas of strength in your marriage and maybe an area or two to work on. It takes just a few minutes and it’s really insightful. And today’s broadcast is an example of the kind of ministry that we just can’t do without your help. You pray and you give faithfully, and those donations help us to help marriages like Mark and Susan’s. And then they’re, of course, in turn able to help other marriages. So, please join us in encouraging and equipping couples to have a stronger relationship across the globe. And when you make a donation of any amount today, we’ll say thanks for joining the support teams by sending a copy of both editions of the books by the Merrills, List to Love by for Busy Husbands and List to Love by for Busy Wives. Donate and get your copy of those books when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Well, tomorrow you’ll hear how God intervened in a dramatic way to save a young woman from a real pit of despair.

Teaser:

Mrs. Lacey Sturm: And he said, “Can I please pray for you and ask Jesus to take the pain out of your heart?” And I was just, like, at that moment where I’m like, I’m either going to go die or I’m going to wait a minute and let this guy pray for me.

Today's Guests

'Lists to Love By' Book Bundle

Receive the books Lists to Love By for Busy Husbands and Lists to Love By for Busy Wives for your donation of any amount!

Recent Episodes

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Finding Space to Connect With God

Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory share ideas on how you can find the space and the place to spend time nurturing your relationship with God. They reflect on some of their imperfections and the abundant grace God offers to cover those shortcomings.

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Saving Your Marriage From Divorce (Part 2 of 2)

Dr. David Clarke shares that if you are struggling in your marriage that you are not alone and there is hope. He discusses the three main bad marriage types: “We’re unhappy but willing to work on it marriage,” “My marriage is stuck but my spouse won’t work on it marriage,” “My spouse committed a big sin marriage.” (Part 2 of 2)

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Affair-Proof Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Pastor Dave Carder offers couples practical advice for protecting their marriages from adultery in a discussion based on his book Anatomy of an Affair: How Affairs, Attractions, and Addictions Develop, and How to Guard Your Marriage Against Them. (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Affair-Proof Your Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Pastor Dave Carder offers couples practical advice for protecting their marriages from adultery in a discussion based on his book Anatomy of an Affair: How Affairs, Attractions, and Addictions Develop, and How to Guard Your Marriage Against Them. (Part 2 of 2)

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 1

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

How a Former Abortion Doctor Became Pro-Life

As an abortion doctor at Planned Parenthood, Dr. Patti Giebink believed she was helping women. Later, she began reading scripture and God gradually changed her heart on the abortion issue. Patti tells the story of her long journey from abortion doctor to pro-life and encourages listeners to share the message of life with compassion.

Headshot image of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Patti Giebink

Mrs. Patti Giebink

Dr. Patti Giebink is an OB-GYN who serves on the board of the Alpha Center, a well-known pregnancy center located in Sioux Falls, S.D. She also travels intermittently to work in mission hospitals in Pakistan and other countries. After completing her medical training, Dr. Giebink worked for Planned Parenthood from 1995-1997, during which she was the only abortion-provider in the state of South Dakota. She eventually experienced a radical change of heart on the issue of abortion after receiving God’s grace, forgiveness, and love, and she is now a passionate advocate for the pro-life movement.

Cover image of the book "Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life"

Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life

Unexpected Choice is told from the perspective of a doctor who actually performed abortions through Planned Parenthood. The book chronicles her journey from being a pro-choice physician to someone speaking on behalf of the pro-life movement.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 2

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

Cherishing Your Spouse Every Day

Do you love your spouse, or do you truly cherish them? Gary Thomas encourages couples to make a daily effort to go beyond the ‘duty’ of love, and combat the natural inclination to drift apart, by choosing to see the best in their spouse.

Mr. Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas is an international speaker and best-selling, award-winning author whose books include Married SexSacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting. He has also written numerous articles for several prominent national magazines. Gary and his wife, Lisa, reside in Texas and have three children. You can learn more about Gary by visiting his website, www.garythomas.com.

cherish front cover

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

“Most marriages survive by gritting teeth and holding on. But marriages can and will not only survive but thrive when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another.” Those are the powerful words of bestselling author Gary Thomas in his newest book–Cherish. And in a world desperate for marriage redemption, it is needed now more than ever. Thomas shows that although there are a countless number of marriages consisting of two people just going through the motions, there are real ways this pattern can be reversed: when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another in proven, loving, and everyday actions and words.

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Newest Release - Episode 2: Heroes Providing Hope

Discover the amazing work our PRC’s Directors, Nurses, and Volunteers are making in their communities! You’ll see firsthand testimonies of a PRC in action, and that there are other options outside of abortions! You’ll also discover how your family can support your local PRC!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

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Newest Release - Episode 4: Sometimes the Choice is Hard

Hear real life stories of parents who have made the decision to choose life even though the circumstances were overwhelming. You’ll see why “ALL” life is precious to God and why choosing life is always the right decision!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

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Newest Release - Episode 3: The Power of a Picture

Have you ever wondered what a baby looked like in the womb? With today’s technology, Moms and Dads can see the baby’s heartbeat, facial expressions, and movements! You’ll find out why more women choose life once they hear their baby’s heartbeat and realize it’s a real living human!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

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Newest Release - Episode 5: It’s Going to be Amazing!

After a couple has chosen life, hear the heartwarming stories of children that culture would have cast aside, yet are making tremendous impacts in their communities. Whether the diagnosis was adverse or the circumstances were difficult, these stories will inspire you to come along side of families who have chosen life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

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Newest Release - Episode 6: Families Helping Families!

So, after all you’ve seen through the SeeLife ‘21 Episodic journey; what can you do now? We’ll share how you can partner with some amazing organizations that are making significant impacts in the pro-life movement! You want to Celebrate Life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 2

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Effective Habits to Embrace in Parenting

To be an effective parent, you must be a leader in your child’s life, guiding with a gentle hand and setting a solid example. Dr. Randy Schroeder provides the insight you need to be a leader-parent. As he explores the foundational Rs—relationship, routines, responsibilities, and rules—you’ll better understand the role you play in your child’s life. You’ll learn great phrases to employ such as “Either/Or/You Decide” and “When You/Then You”. While there is no perfect parent, this nuts-and-bolts material will equip you to lead your child in a loving, confident manner.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder has spent more than four decades writing, counseling, speaking, and teaching. For nearly 25 years, he was Vice President of Student Personnel Services, Dean of Students, and a professor of pastoral counseling at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. He’s also led a successful counseling practice helping individuals, couples, and families to thrive in their lives and relationships.

Cover image of Dr. Randall Schroeder's book "Simple Habits for Effective Parenting"

Simple Habits for Effective Parenting

Effective parenting is now within your grasp! With this inspiring how-to comprehensive book, achieve extraordinary results in raising a child to be self-assured, self-reliant, and responsible! You will be able to successfully lead and lovingly encourage your child toward a Godly life!

The Spiritual Battle for Your Marriage

God designed marriage to reflect His love to the world; and because of this, the enemy wants to destroy God’s beautiful design. Based on his book, Defending Your Marriage, Dr. Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff share about the reality of spiritual warfare against marriages, and how to combat the enemy’s lies with the truth of God. Couples will be encouraged that they’re not alone in the fight for a godly marriage and better equipped to be a shining example for the world around them.

Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff Cropped

Dr. Tim and Mrs. Noreen Muehlhoff

Dr. Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California where he teaches classes in family communication, interpersonal communication, apologetics, gender, and conflict resolution.  Tim and his wife, Noreen, are both on staff with Biola’s Center for Marriage and Relationships  where he is a co-host of The Art of Relationship podcast. 

Defending Your Marriage

Is your marriage under attack? Sometimes it can feel like the world is trying to tear your marriage apart. Internal conflicts or external pressures might make you wonder if something sinister is going on. How can you tell if you’re facing spiritual opposition? And what can you do about it? Tim Muehlhoff provides a straightforward resource for protecting your marriage from the threats of the evil one. He looks at what Scripture says about spiritual warfare and how our everyday struggles have deeper spiritual realities. And he provides practical steps for guarding our marriages with the whole armor of God.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 1

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 2

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 2

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage - Part 2

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 2

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

As a spouse, you have three roles to play—a friend, a partner, and a lover. On this one-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Pastor Kevin A. Thompson explores those different roles and challenges you to live them out by investing emotionally, physically, and mentally in your relationship. As friends, he suggests we learn to play and laugh together. As partners, he equips us with solid ways to handle conflict and communication. As lovers, he offers some thoughts on how to bring back the sizzle. He shares five keys to saving your marriage: humility, respect, mercy, communication, and resilience. You’ll be encouraged to intentionally invest in your marriage.

Headshot of Kevin Thompson

Pastor Kevin Thompson

Kevin A. Thompson (MDiv, Beeson Divinity School) is lead pastor at Community Bible Church, a growing multi-site church with four locations in western Arkansas. Every year he meets with nearly one hundred couples with a range of needs, from pre-marital counseling to navigating the most serious betrayals. A marriage and parenting conference speaker, he and his wife, Jenny, have two children and live in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He blogs at kevinathompson.com.

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

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

With engaging stories and clear, simple language, pastor Kevin Thompson shows how to live out three distinct roles in marraige. Using solid biblical principles, he helps you and your spouse grow your friendship, be supportive partners through the good times and the bad, and develop a healthy and satisfying sex life.

Sharing Your Faith with Grace and Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faith—you just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the “Columbo” tactic of asking questions, the “self-defeating argument” tactic to find holes in your opponent’s arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

Tactics front cover

Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, you’ll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 1

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!