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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Discovering God’s Design For Your Marriage

Discovering God’s Design For Your Marriage

The strength of your marriage depends on the strength of its foundation. Howard and Danielle Taylor, seasoned marriage coaches, describe how to build your relationship on rock-solid principles from scripture. They share relatable communication mishaps, encouragement for managing expectations, and ideas for reigniting fun and friendship in marriage.
Original Air Date: June 6, 2022

Preview:

Howard Taylor: What we landed on, we- and we believe purpose resides, we believe it resides in your testimony.

Danielle Taylor: Mm-hmm.

Howard: There are so many things that God allows us to go through that are uncomfortable to us, that are painful to us, that we believe hurts us-

Danielle: Mm-hmm.

Howard: And we don’t wanna discuss. But in those things, God had purpose.

End of Preview

John Fuller: That’s Howard Taylor, and he’s with us today on Focus on the Family, along with his wife, Danielle, and they’re gonna help you develop a biblical foundation for your marriage. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, I think marriage is fun most of the time. (laughing) Occasionally-

John: A qualifier there.

Jim: Occasionally it may not be fun when there’s a disagreement between you.

Danielle: Right.

Jim: But I remember for Jean and I, the first nine months, we took a job traveling the country doing drug and alcohol abuse shows for high schools.

Danielle: Wow.

Jim: So we were together 24/7 for the first nine months of our marriage. And poor Jean, I remember one time she wanted to, you know, get away, I think, as an introvert, just to refuel and go to the grocery store.

Howard: Right, she felt like-

Jim: And I- I said, “Hey, I’ll go to the store with you.” And she goes, “No, no, no, no, no. You just stay.”

Howard: (laughs)

Danielle: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Jim: “Stay here at the hotel. I’ll be back.”

John: Be a good boy.

Jim: I was like, what’s wrong with our marriage? What happened? Anyway. You know, the bottom line is, whether you’ve been married for decades or you’re just a few months into your relationship, we wanna encourage you to build the best marriage you can.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: That’s right.

Jim: And to build that that’s right on the rock of Jesus Christ.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: Because that’s the best place to build your house of marriage. And our guests today are gonna help us to explore that and give you some wonderful tools to make your marriage as strong as it can be.

John: Right. And, uh, Howard and Danielle Taylor are marriage coaches, authors, and speakers. And, uh, they have a ministry called Marriage on Deck.

Danielle: Yes.

John: Now they have a book called The Fundamentals of Marriage: Eight Essential Practices of Successful Couples. It’s a great workbook, and we have copies of that here at the ministry. Get yours when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Howard and Danielle, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Howard: Thank you for having us, yeah.

Danielle: Thank you for having us.

Howard: We’re so happy to be here.

Jim: It’s great to have you. We’re all originally- the three of us, originally from Southern Cal.

Danielle: Absolutely.

Howard: So Cal.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah. So- and now you’ve moved near Atlanta.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: So that’s a new journey for you guys. But let’s go to the marriage coaching side. When you began marriage coaching, you realized many Christian couples didn’t have good foundations for their marriage.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: I think that’s so true.

John: Yeah.

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: You know what’s weird, is we all go to- you went to Cal State Fullerton.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Absolutely.

Jim: I went to another Cal State. You- you study books to do business.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: Right.

Jim: Or to go into the sciences. Probably the most important thing you’re gonna do is get married, right?

Danielle: Yes.

Howard: Absolutely.

Jim: Not everybody, and I get that, will get married. And I get that.

Danielle: Right.

Jim: But most of us will get married.

Howard: Absolutely.

Jim: It’s like, there’s no manual.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Mm-hmm

Jim: There’s no class for that, per se.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: I’m- I mean, I’m encouraged that more and more churches do marriage counseling.

Howard: Yes. Starting to get better.

Danielle: Absolutely.

Jim: Premarital counseling, et cetera.

Danielle: Absolutely.

Jim: But man, we need strong foundations. Don’t we?

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Yeah. We do.

Jim: And in that way, what- what are these couples missing when they don’t have that strong foundation?

Danielle: Oh.

Howard: Yeah, they’re missing what we call the bedrock of their relationship.

Danielle: Mm-hmm.

Howard: The bedrock or foundation that they’re going to build their house on.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Um, their house of marriage. And so what we found as we coached couples, we would always ask, after they listed out everything they didn’t like about their marriage, or what bothered them about their spouse, they would list these things out, and we would receive them just to take note and get to know them and hear their heart, but then we like to throw in, “Well, okay, after all of that, either what do you like about him, why did you marry him?”

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: And what do you believe God’s purpose for your marriage is? And like statistics would suggest, most of them would say, “Well, I married her or him because-”

Danielle: Right.

Howard: “I love him.”

Danielle: Right.

Howard: So okay, that’s a great reason.

Danielle: (laughs)

Howard: We’ll unpack that. But why do you believe God has you married today? And it’s the blank stare.

Jim: Let’s go to the Bible and what the Bible says about marriage.

Howard: Yes.

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: What does it say as to the why of marriage?

Howard: Foundationally, we believe that the Bible starts out straight away in Genesis 1:28.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Beginning to give us instructions for marriage. Be fruitful. Multiply.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Subdue and have dominion. And so that gives us an idea, after God created male and female, of how He wanted us to coexist.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: And so we began to unpack, in our marriage, what does fruitfulness look like?

Danielle: Yes.

Howard: Well, of course we believe that that looks like childbearing.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Because God want’s godly children, as He says in Malachi, but what is the multiplying of that fruit? What is subduing? What does that even meant, to take control of something?

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: Yeah.

Howard: In our marriage.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: And then ultimately, when he says dominion, what does He mean by that? And so we began to unpack, in the first chapter of the Bible, what God gave us as instructions.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: Yeah.

Howard: We believe, as a blueprint.

John: Yeah.

Jim: So in that- in that respect, you talk about, in this great workbook that you do, The Fundamentals of Marriage that you’ve written-

Howard: Yes

Jim: Which has video components to it as well.

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: But in there, you’re talking about identifying your gifts and purpose as a couple.

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: I- you know, I- I think Jean and I have done that almost without being too deliberate about it.

Howard: Okay.

Jim: We could have been more deliberate, but I think we fell into the right groove.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: Mm-hmm

Jim: But I don’t think it was as intentional as it should have been.

Howard: Absolutely.

Danielle: Okay.

Jim: So- so help me understand, you know, purpose and gifts within your marriage.

Howard: Well, you know, when we think about purpose, we think about, you know, what is it that’s gonna be a adhesive to your marriage?

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Marriage has so many seasonality patterns, that purpose for Danielle and I, especially, it added a adhesive, a glue, a bond to that leaving and cleaving point that was more eternal, was more lasting.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Right? But what we found is, when we first got together, it was all our differences that provided conflicts. It was- it was not the things that complimented us.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: And so we began to get intentional about it. We began to say, whether it was a diagram, what are our similarities?

Danielle: Right.

Howard: What are the things that we have in us that complimented us? And I’ll tell you, what we landed on, we- and we believe purpose resides- we believe it resides in your testimony.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: Huh.

Howard: There are so many things that God allows us to go through that aren’t comfortable to us that are painful to us, that we believe hurts us.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: And we don’t wanna discuss, but in those things, God had purpose. And the testing was meant for you to be able to take control of that, subdue it, whether it’s in your home.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Whether it’s a wandering eye or pornography, or whether it’s lust, or whether it’s poverty that struck our home.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Or whether it was bad parenting, these experiences that Danielle and I went through, because we came from broken homes-

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: These experiences were core to our purpose, and us overcoming them allowed us to have a bond and a glue.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: And so when we saw our friends and our family members begin to get divorced-

Danielle: Yeah.

Howard: We started to see this carnage of marriage around us. Our heart was sensitive.

Danielle: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Howard: And it was prepared to take on our now life’s mission.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: And so we encouraged couples to look at what you’ve experienced in your life.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Look at where God has experienced you. Jesus didn’t look at the disciples and- and not relate to them being fishermen. He looked at their skillset and their experiences.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: And said, “Let me make you a fisherman of men.” And so we tell couples when we coach them, “Be practical about that process.” What is your testimony? What have you went through? These are the things that will cause you and your husband or wife to want to take control of that.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: And be impactful and serve others in that area. And that’s where we believe really being intentional about identifying purpose resides for your marriage.

Danielle: And it helps you stay together.

Howard: Yes.

Danielle: When people have a purpose that they’re working towards, they’re not so easily to break up or, “let’s separate,” or “I don’t wanna be with you anymore because you gained weight, or you lost your job, or you have this addiction.”

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: We have a common goal that’s, like, bringing us together and helping us.

Howard: And bonding us, yeah.

Danielle: Yeah. And bonding us.

Jim: You know, I like that. Let me- let me ask you about that idea of identifying, uh, your communication style, because that’s another thing that you emphasize. Howard, we’ll pick on you first. (laughs)

Howard: Sure, sure. Yeah.

Jim: But uh, what was your style, uh, communication style going into marriage with all of, you know, your youth, your experience as a child, obviously. And then how did Danielle confront you about that?

Howard: (laughs) Yeah, I was a- so I, you know, I- I always joke that I came from a great line of domestic debaters. It’s in the house, at a football game.

Jim: Everything is an argument.

Howard: Everything is an argument or a point.

Danielle: (laughs)

Howard: Or getting something across, or ultimately, a debate. And you know, what I found for that, is I brought that same habitual communication style into marriage. You know?

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: We can just be talking about groceries, or we could be talking about something that should have been fun, but I found a- a great point or debate in it.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: And it began to separate our communication, and so-

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: As I’m debating Danielle one day, she began to say, “you know, I- I don’t really wanna argue about that. Like, this isn’t an argument.”

Jim: (laughs)

Howard: I’m like, “No, I’m not arguing, I’m just making a point.” And I was always trying to make a point.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: And Danielle, very lovingly, just said, “No, there’s no point to be made. I was just saying to say it.”

Danielle: Right.

Jim: Yeah.

Howard: And so that helped me understand a blind spot in my communication style, which really was innocent. It wasn’t to argue with my wife, but it was developed, it was learned through what I observed.

Jim: Yep. I would identify with you in that way.

Howard: Yeah, and I brought it into marriage.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: I wanna make sure I get this, because the communication style you bring into marriage can reveal a lot about your upbringing.

Howard: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: And other things.

Howard: Of course.

Jim: You- to the point where you’re even unconscious about it.

Danielle: Oh, for sure.

Jim: You don’t even know you’re doing those things.

Howard: It’s a blind spot, for sure.

Jim: Yeah, and the more aware you can become of that motivation-

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: I- and- and you’re triggers-

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: I think the healthier your relationship’s gonna be.

Danielle: Absolutely.

Jim: Because you can go, “Okay.” ‘Cause I could relate to Jean saying exactly what you said to Howard.

Danielle: Yeah.

Jim: She would say to me, “You sound defensive right now.” “I don’t sound defensive right now, what are you talking about?

Danielle: (laughs)

Howard: Where did you get that from?

Jim: Yeah, forget that. (laughs)

Danielle: (laughs) Right, right.

Jim: Yeah.

Danielle: Which then turns into (inaudible)

Jim: She just needs a tape recorder right there.

Danielle: Yes.

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: But- but you know, speak to the- that idea of, you know, the deeper heart issues that you’re expressing when you’re going at it like this.

Howard: Wow. You know, well first, to piggyback off of what Danielle says, when you arrive to the sensitive heart conditions, someone has to tell you you’re defensive.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Or maybe you’re combative, or whatever it is. For us, what was very- we encourage couples, and it’s very important to know that you always lead with sugar, right?

Danielle: Yeah.

Howard: So if you’re gonna- you know, iron sharpens-

Jim: I like that.

Howard: Iron sharpens iron, but if you’re gonna breach these conversations and set aside time to help grow and sharpen your spouse, the best way to establish rapport with the individual, and that needs to be earned even with your spouse, is to let them know that you see the things that they do great.

Danielle: Right. Mm-hmm

Howard: And so Danielle was great, when we really helped cure my heart with communication, of highlighting my strengths.

Jim: Mm-hmm

Howard: And then she added after sugar, a little salt.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: And then if you’re a couple even today, finish with sugar.

Danielle: (laughs)

Howard: People will begin to look forward to your pruning.

Jim: That’s really good, and I like that, sugar-salt-sugar. (laughs)

Howard: Sugar-salt-sugar.

Danielle: Nice.

Jim: I’m gonna use that tonight.

Howard: Sugar-salt-sugar.

John: Be a little sweeter, not salty.

Danielle: Right.

John: Well, this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and our guests today are Howard and Danielle Taylor, and they’ve got a great workbook. It’s called The Fundamentals of Marriage: Eight Essential Practices of Successful Couples. And uh, you can stop by our website. Uh, that’s focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or call 1-800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY to get your copy.

Jim: You know, one thing, uh, I appreciated about the next section I wanna talk about is your emphasis on friendship in marriage.

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: And I- I think Jean is my best friend.

Danielle: Yay.

Jim: I can say that.

Howard: Amen, that’s right.

Jim: You know, I like that.

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: And, you know, I miss her when she’s on a trip. I miss her when I’m on a trip. And that’s probably a good indication.

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: But- uh but speak to that idea of friendship. It’s what you have when you’re dating. It’s what’s compelling you toward marriage.

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: And then it kind of gets you through the early years of marriage.

Howard: Mm-hmm

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: And then for some couples, it evaporates.

Danielle: Right.

Jim: You know? ‘Cause we get down to the business of marriage.

Danielle: Right.

Jim: Meaning, paying the bills, raising the kids. Getting things done.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: Did you call the plumber?

Danielle: Right.

Howard: Yes.

Jim: No, I forgot.

Danielle: Right. (laughs)

Jim: How could you forget to call the plumber?

Howard: Absolutely.

Jim: And it’s like, the business of marriage.

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: And you start not liking each other anymore.

Howard: Mm-hmm

Danielle: Right.

Jim: And speak to that idea of how to keep a friendship in your marriage, in your relationship.

Danielle: I feel like Howard, and I started off as friends as well, but over these years, we’ve always maintained that our friendship is first. So even though we’re married, we are friends first. When things got- we’ve had a lot of ups and downs with our child passing away, we’ve had a failed business. We’ve had just certain, you know, things that- trials that we’ve had to overcome.

Howard: Right.

Danielle: And things that we’ve had to deal with each other and our character, getting to know each other as we come together. And we think to ourself, “If we work together as friends,” friends first, right?

Jim: Mm-hmm

Danielle: Because sometimes in marriage we put these labels on each other.

Howard: Absolutely.

Danielle: And then we have these unrealistic expectations of perfection.

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: Because you’re my husband. You’re supposed to make me happy and be perfect for me. or my wife.

Howard: (laughs) Yeah.

Danielle: But when things get tough, it’s like, at the end of the day, we’re always friends.

Howard: Right.

Danielle: And when you’re friends with someone, you want the best for them sincerely. Right?

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: You wanna help them wherever they’re at.

Jim: How do you- how do you correct that course, though? Practically speaking. I mean, if- so, if you feel that going off the rails for some reason on a given day-

Howard: Mm-hmm

Jim: How do you get together and say, “Okay, time out.”

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: “I feel like we’re not being best friends right now.”

Howard: Yeah, it was- just- for Danielle and I, it was a safety net.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: So a lot of things that we go through in marriage are not just immediate and abrupt. It may be a season where you’re trying to heal some distrust, right?

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Well, friendship became the safety net to that. Um, and it gave intention in a way that the spousal relationship, if you were let down by your husband or wife, didn’t.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: Hm.

Howard: So even though here, I’m not particularly pleased that you did that as my husband or wife, but as my best friend and my bestie, I’m gonna fight for you. We have a chapter in our book where it’s called “Fighting For, Not Against.”

Danielle: Yeah.

Howard: And a lot of times, if you see your best friend in a fight or a scrap or- you don’t not defend them because you thought it was your fault. You come in swinging and ask questions later, to be candidly, right?

Jim: (laughs) Right.

Danielle: Yeah.

Howard: And what I found in our marriage is sometimes I had to protect Danielle even against me, sometimes. Right?

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: These, uh, preconceived notions that I had of marriage and perfection, this romanticized notions, as her husband, I realized, became a little suffocating at times.

Jim: Mm-hmm

Howard: The conversations and- and took the fun out.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: And so I had to start looking at her definitively as- as my friend, though, I want you to win.

Jim: Yeah.

Danielle: Can I just say that practically, we always like to have fun. We’re like, what do you wanna do? Where do you wanna go?

Howard: Date nights.

Danielle: Like, what vacations? Let’s do a vision board. Let’s have date nights. Let’s try something new and fun.

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: So we can get out of the- um-

Howard: Minutiae.

Danielle: The- yeah. You can get out of the routine.

Howard: Monotony.

Danielle: And the monotony of marriage and have fun and let your hair down.

Jim: Yeah.

Howard: Sure.

Danielle: Like-

Jim: You know, I- I see it in you. I mean, both of you, I think I especially see it in you, Danielle. Let’s go to the whiteboard. We’re gonna map our our year of fun.

John: (laughs)

Danielle: (laughs)

Howard: (laughs)

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: Which is awesome.

Danielle: (laughs)

Howard: You better believe it.

Jim: I’m thinking of couples, though, that they’ve even- maybe they never even possess that.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: You know? Because of their childhood, or whatever.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: But they haven’t really seen life as, “Let’s hit the mountain tops. How do we do that?”

Danielle: Yeah.

Howard: Mm-hmm

Jim: Let’s plan to hit the mountain tops.

Howard: Oh yeah.

Danielle: It’s never too late.

Jim: And it’s okay for Christians, too.

Danielle: Yes.

Howard: That’s perfectly okay.

Jim: Christians can have fun and be joyful.

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: I mean, that’s part of it. But speak to that person that maybe can’t even relate right now. She’s saying, “Wow.”

Howard: Hm.

Jim: “I lost my fun, like, the second week of our marriage.”

Howard: Wow.

Danielle: The first thing is to pray about that. That’s the very first thing, is to pray.

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: Secondly, go talk to your husband or your wife and explain to them what you love about them, what you like about them, how you notice their interests and their passions.

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: Do something that they will appreciate. Howard would surprise me with all kinds of things, of things that I was interested at the time, that he was not necessarily interested in at all.

Jim: In fact, with basketball, because Howard played-

Danielle: Right.

Jim: You- you could care less. But you decided, “I gotta check it out.”

Howard: That’s right. That is right.

Danielle: Right.

Jim: So what happened there?

Danielle: I did not like basketball games.

Howard: (laughs)

Danielle: I hated going.

Howard: Forgive her.

Danielle: I felt like I don’t understand the plays and the game. It just wasn’t my thing.

Howard: Mm-hmm

Danielle: Then I started saying, “Listen, this is important to him. This is his fun. this is fun for him. I wanna be with him, so if I can be with him, and he’s having fun-”

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: “I’m having fun just by being with him, even if that means I’m coming to the basketball game with a stack of magazines, ’cause I’m not watching the game.”

Howard: (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Danielle: We’re sitting next to each other.

Howard: Not at first.

Jim: Clipping coupons at the basketball game.

Howard: That’s where it started. That’s a true story.

Danielle: That’s- that’s where it started. It started with, I will be there, but I’m gonna be looking through my magazines, and-

Jim: That is awesome, though.

Danielle: And before you know it, the game’s over. But then that turned to-

Jim: What did that say to you, Howard?

Howard: I was happy she was there.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: Yeah, okay. Good.

Howard: Right?

Jim: Okay, sorry Danielle.

Howard: Happy she was there.

Danielle: No problem.

Jim: I just wanted to get that connection, ’cause it doesn’t have to be a lot.

Danielle: Yes.

Howard: It doesn’t.

Danielle: No, it doesn’t have to be a lot.

Jim: You’re just present.

Howard: Yes.

Danielle: You’re just present. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. Just show that you want to be with that person.

Howard: Yes.

Danielle: Let them know that you’re genuinely interested in hanging out with them. So the magazine watching came to, “Okay, well now I’m spotting the celebrities in the stand, and what- who’s dating who”

Howard: (laughs) Yeah.

Danielle: Then I start thinking, “Okay, I wanna be able to communicate with him. If I’m his best friend, I wanna talk to him about what’s going on in the NBA world.” You know?

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: He talks to me about everything I’m doing. So let me find out. I would start Googling his favorite team is the Lakers.

Howard: God bless them.

Jim: Of course, you’re L.A.

Howard: You know.

Danielle: Yeah. Things that are going on, and the trades, and the player, and the deals.

Jim: The drama.

Danielle: And I’d be like, “Can you believe that person got traded? Where’s he gonna go?” You know?

Jim: (laughs)

Danielle: And he started telling me, “I’m proud of you for knowing what’s going on.” (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Howard: You knew that?

Danielle: I would text him- yeah. I would text him. He’d say, “I didn’t even hear that yet.”

Howard: It’s incredible.

Danielle: And so that made me want to continue to stay on top of it so that I can show him, “Hey, I’m interested in what you’re interested in.”

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: That’s so funny. I’m laughing inside, because Jean, you know, with football, you know-

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: She began to take an interest.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: I so appreciated that.

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: But she said, “If you could tell me more about the players, like who- who they’re married to. Do they have kids?”

Danielle: Yeah.

Jim: I go, like, “Are you serious? I don’t know.”

Howard: (laughs)

Danielle: Right.

Jim: And uh, she’s going, “No, if we could do that, I’d be far more interested in the game.”

Howard: Yes.

Danielle: Right. Yes.

Jim: You know, so it was hilarious.

Danielle: That’s me.

Jim: I just- I started to figure out, “Okay, how many kids does-” you know.

Howard: Yes, yes.

Jim: Does somebody have?

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: Peyton Manning, what’s- what’s going on?

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: When he was at the Broncos, and all that. So it’s really funny. But you’re saying, basically, connect in a-

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: In a place that your spouse enjoys being.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: Each other.

Jim: And don’t- don’t needle them for being there.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: Absolutely.

Jim: Participate.

Danielle: Right.

Jim: I like that.

Danielle: Be present. Be present.

Howard: Absolutely.

Jim: Another- another theme you have in the workbook is about, um, the no breakup policy.

Howard: Oh yeah.

Jim: And I get that, and I think, again, back to your point, Danielle, earlier, so many Christians don’t really understand or read the word often enough to know it.

Danielle: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm

Howard: Mm-hmm

Jim: And that’s job one, right?

Howard: Mm-hmm

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: Read the word, ’cause that’s the heart of God.

Danielle: That’s the heart of God.

Jim: And that no breakup policy’s a great thing.

Danielle: Yeah.

Jim: Describe what it is.

Howard: Yeah. So the no breakup policy for us came in dating. So Danielle and I-

Danielle: Yes.

Howard: When we met and we were courting each other and just trying to figure out like, “What is this gonna look like?”

Danielle: (laughs)

Howard: Very early on, we started to experience conflict in our communication style, as we mentioned earlier.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: And there’s a pressure to just say, “Yeah, well, you know what? If you don’t like it, or if I don’t like it, we’ll go separate ways.”

Danielle: Right.

Howard: And we would see that. And oftentimes in relationships prior to our relationship, just- you could just break up with a person and move on.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: But what we- as we read the word, we realized that if we could just break up in our dating season of life, we could divorce.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: And we believe that God hates divorce.

Danielle: Yes.

Howard: As it says in Malachi chapter two, it- He hates it. And so we knew that we wanted to be with somebody for a lifetime if we got married.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: And so we didn’t wanna start practicing the muscle memory of breaking up.

Danielle: Yeah. Yeah.

Howard: We just- it was something that we wanted to discipline ourselves through while we courted each other and dated each other.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: So that when marriage got rough, we knew how to, in a stormy season, put up our umbrellas.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: Put on our raincoats.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: And dig in.

Danielle: Right.

Howard: Opposed to exiting stage left. And so that’s what our policy was. That was gonna be our policy. And the final piece was, it is if we broke up, we can never get back together again.

Danielle: Or dating.

Jim: And you know, for those that may be in that space where they’re thinking, you know, it’s a lot easier to give up.

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: I- you’re gonna take the same garbage into the next relationship.

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: That’s what they don’t realize it’ll just be easier because the first quarter’s so much easier than the fourth quarter. And- and-

Howard: Divorce rate gets worse.

Jim: Yeah.

Danielle: It does.

Jim: And what you’re saying is exactly right. This is part of growth in life, is working together to get through the tough stuff.

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: Right.

Jim: And you come out stronger. And Jean and I kind of had that same thing. We- you know, divorce was just off the table.

Danielle: Yes.

Howard: Mm-hmm

Jim: We were never gonna entertain it, and- you know, and I think that does give you a safety net, like you said earlier.

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: It- speak to that idea, that you also need that spiritual foundation to get through the- the storms of life.

Howard: Mm-hmm.

Danielle: Absolutely. Well, I was gonna say that, in my family and my parents, we have, um, five marriages amongst my mom and my father before he passed away. And so I saw divorcing and breaking up doesn’t necessarily mean that the grass is greener. Like we said.

Jim: Yeah.

Howard:  Right.

Danielle: That the divorce rate gets higher and higher. But what I didn’t see was the foundation in Christ to help keep those marriages together. Because-

Howard: Right, together.

Jim: You’re right. So that was missing.

Howard: Mm-hmm

Danielle: That was missing. Yes, yes.

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: Which my mom is saved now. Thank you, Jesus.

Howard: Amen.

Danielle: But at the time wasn’t, right?

Howard: Yeah.

Danielle: So Howard and I, um, when we got together, we would pray every day and we would read our Bible, because we knew that that is the foundation of our faith. We knew that’s the foundation of our lives. This is the only way this relationship is really going to work.

Howard: Yeah. Mm-hmm

Danielle: As marriage coaches, we could give people tips and, you know, activities and exercises and things to do to help their relationship. But none of that is going to work if you don’t really, truly invite God into the marriage. Right? There’s a scripture in Isaiah 65 that says, um, “The Lord says, ‘Here I am, here I am. But you don’t ask for my help.’” Right?

Jim: Right. (laughs)

Danielle: So that’s kind of how it is, I feel like sometimes with marriage, it’s like, God knows everything. He knows all of the problems in our relationship.

Howard: Absolutely.

Danielle: He knows the hearts and motives of ourselves and our spouse. And so He has all the answers, but we don’t go to Him to get the answer.

Jim: Well, and, you know, you say that, and of course we’re hearing from Christian couples frequently here at Focus, that are in a stalemate situation.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Mm-hmm

Jim: You know? And I think, again, because they’re not applying the word of God into their relationship.

Danielle: Right.

Jim: It- let’s end here where that couple, you know, that they really have found that they don’t like their spouse anymore.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Mm-hmm

Jim: And, you know, we have something called Hope Restored. It’s a four-day intensive. A lot of the couples that come to that, they’re kind of in that last knot of the rope.

Howard: Absolutely.

Danielle: Yeah.

Jim: This is the last thing we’re gonna try.

Howard: Absolutely.

Danielle: Right.

Jim: And it’s sad.

Danielle: Yeah.

Jim: Because you started loving each other.

Howard: Absolutely.

Jim: And uh, so for that couple that is feeling that again, they’re just- they’re just lost in that relationship, what advice would you have for them today?

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: What can they do differently tonight, over dinner?

Howard: Be intentional about connection.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Be intentional about how they connect. We talk about something called holistic intimacy, connecting physically, mentally, but spiritually.

Danielle: Yes.

Howard: The foundation of a marriage, a Godly based marriage, is your spiritual connection.

Jim: Yeah.

Howard: And so in that workbook, there’s many chapters about different things that disconnect us, whether it’s your finance that looks to disconnect you, whether it’s your communication-

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: That the enemy will to disconnect you and separate you. Whether it’s physical intimacy or money or whatever it is. We have to be intentional about cleaving to our spouse and making Jesus the foundation of that cleave. That comes through seeing your spouse through the eyes of Christ.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: We’ve seen couples look and say, “I can’t do it anymore. I want to divorce my wife; I want to divorce my husband. I don’t, I don’t love them anymore.” And we said, “But how does Christ look at your husband?”

Danielle: Yes.

Howard: Find out Christ’s thoughts, God’s perspective of your wife, and begin to look at em’ that way.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: Mm-hmm

Howard: That is the charitable a-

Danielle: Yeah.

Howard: Agape love that marriage is missing.

Jim: No, that is really good, and I hope people understand that. Danielle, I wanna describe something to you that I’ve heard years ago.

Danielle: Okay.

Jim: But it- the idea of a wife’s heart, particularly-

Danielle: Okay.

Howard: Mm-hmm

Jim: Being like a rose.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: And in the early stages of marriage, it’s open, it’s blossomed. It’s a great fragrance.

Danielle: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Jim: Her heart.

Danielle: Yes.

Howard: Mm-hmm

Jim: And then over time, if that is not watered if it’s not fed-

Danielle: Right.

Jim: How that rose closes.

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: And how it dies.

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: And I- when I heard that description and- of a- particularly of a wife’s heart-

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: That she just feels like the rose in her heart is dead.

Howard: Wow.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: It’s such a powerful word picture.

Danielle: It is.

Howard: Mm-hmm

Jim: And a husband’s job is to till the soil of that rose.

Howard: Amen.

Jim: And to make sure that rose is like, thriving.

Danielle: Right.

Jim: Um, speak to that.

Danielle: I think if your heart is, um, hurting, you know, God says He’s close to the broken hearted, but I would go turn in to God. I would turn in to Him.

Jim: Yeah.

Danielle: I don’t pray like, “Lord, you know, make Howard be faithful, make him be this, make him that.” He’s a faithful man. But my trust and confidence is in Christ to watch him.

Howard: Mm-hmm

Danielle: So I’m gonna pray and ask God to watch over him and convict his heart, if necessary, for anything.

Howard: Amen.

Danielle: And keep him safe, and all of those things. I’m not gonna be concerned about it. It’s God’s job to do that.

Howard: Amen.

Danielle: So I think that if we- um, as women and as wives, if we fall into the love of Christ, ’cause God loves us so much, He will mend our broken heart and allow us to see our marriage for what it can be.

Jim: Yeah, that’s good.

Danielle: So that we can speak positively to it.

Howard: Amen.

Jim: Those disappointments. Well, I think these are great thoughts and wonderful essentials to marriage.

Howard: Thank you.

Danielle: Thank you.

Jim: And I am glad you guys have come to talk to us about it.

Howard: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

Danielle: Thank you.

Jim: And I hope- I hope everybody, uh, you probably- if you’ve been married 30 something years like John and I, the skyscrapers, by the way.

Danielle: (laughs)

Howard: (laughs) Skyscrapers. Um-

Danielle: Absolutely.

Jim: Younger couples in your church, it- what a great gift.

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: To be able to give this to them, or even run a small group with them.

Howard: Yeah. Absolutely.

Danielle: Yes.

Jim: Which I would encourage people to do. Maybe Jean and I can do that. The Fundamentals of Marriage: Eight Essential Practices of Successful Couples. You’ve heard some of the themes. We didn’t cover them all here. But if you can make a gift of any amount, join us in ministry. Let’s make it fun.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Howard: Yeah.

Jim: Uh, support the ministry here to do what we’re doing, and we’ll send you a copy of the workbook as our way of saying thank you for participating in ministry. And of- of any amount. If you can’t afford it, we still wanna get it in your hands. We’ll trust others will cover the cost of that. Just get in touch with us, and uh, we wanna certainly strengthen your marriage and make it the best possible marriage it can be in the name of Christ.

Howard: Amen.

Danielle: Amen.

Jim: So get ahold of us.

Danielle: Mm-hmm

Jim: And let’s do this together. Let’s change the country.

Howard: That’s right.

Jim: This is one way to do it.

Howard: That’s right.

Danielle: That’s right.

Jim: Strong, healthy marriages will change a nation.

Howard: That’s it.

Danielle: That’s right.

Howard: Amen.

Danielle: Amen.

Howard: Amen.

John: Call us today. Our number’s 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, uh, to get your copy of this workbook, and to donate as you can. When you’re online, be sure to take a few minutes and uh, we’ve got a free marriage assessment there that may be five minutes of your time will help you see where you’re doing well, maybe an area or two of growth. And uh, look for that free marriage assessment when you’re at the website. And coming up next time, some practical help for your sacred journey of parenthood.

Preview:

Gary Thomas: As a parent, you’ll face levels of anger you have never experienced before. As a parent, I face levels of fear I never experienced before. I also face levels of happiness and joy and wonder. So there’s a positive as well.

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Today's Guests

The Fundamentals of Marriage

The Fundamental of Marriage: 8 Essential Practices of Successful Couples

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