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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Experiencing a Fulfilled Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Experiencing a Fulfilled Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

“Our marriage was totally dead!” In a dynamic message of marital restoration, Patricia Ashley shares her testimony of a painful five years with her husband, Vernon, and how the Lord worked a miracle in their hearts when they joined hands to pray for a friend. She encourages wives with practical ideas on how to employ biblical principles in their marriages. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: May 9, 1995


Mrs. Patricia Ashley: But when you give your husband true compliments, it is like putting water on a plant. I know what I’m talking about. Do you all hear me? Even if they reject it, even if they act like it didn’t move them, believe me, if you walk out of the room and peek back at ’em (Laughter), they like it.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: On this edition of “Focus on the Family,” Patricia Ashley shares her remarkable and rather humorous testimony of how God saved her marriage and she’s got ideas you can use in your relationship today. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus president, Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, I think all of us would admit if we’ve been married more than a few years, no marriage is perfect, not one. And when that realization hits you, the critical question is, what do you do now? Do you choose to lovingly confront your spouse and work through those issues? Or do you ignore the problem and hope it just goes away? If the problem continues, then what? Today’s speaker has the answers to those tough questions and she’s sharing with us out of her own pain, from a marriage that was in terrible trouble.

But now Patricia Ashley and her husband, Vernon have been married 46 years and they are enjoying their life together. So, let’s roll it, John.

John: All right, here’s Patricia Ashley at a women’s conference in Indian Wells, California on today’s “Focus on the Family.”

Patricia: My testimony is that when I got saved, I didn’t know that God was gonna save my marriage. I thought He was just gonna save me. And it was like my marriage being saved was a by-product of me bein’ saved. It wasn’t as a result of anything that I did to develop my marriage to work on my marriage.

At the point where I was saved, I was sick of my relationship and my husband was equally as sick of his relationship with me. (Laughter) Do you understand me? (Laughter) We mutually say that to people. You know, we were literally at the end. Our marriage was dead, waiting to be buried. Do you all hear me? (Voices from Audience)

I mean, when I say it was dead–and some of you all are gonna relate to what I’m sayin’ if you’ll be honest–when I say it was dead, I mean that I didn’t love my husband. I didn’t hate him. I wasn’t glad to see him come. (Laughter) I wasn’t glad to see him go. (Laughter) It didn’t make a difference what time he came in or if he came in at all. (Laughter) Do you [understand]? That’s dead, huh? (Laughter) No feeling. He didn’t make me happy. He didn’t make me sad. (Laughter) He didn’t even make me mad anymore. (Laughter) That’s where our relationship was. It was dead.

And so, you know what that does to a marriage. And along with about five years of being unsaved, in the military with no one to be accountable to, we were literally at the end, burnt out. And we just had one thing in common. We both dearly loved our two children and that was what God used to hold us together. But after a while, that wasn’t reason enough, okay?

And so, I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior and as a result, I began to read my Word, not knowing what God was gonna do with that. And my husband, he accepted Jesus in our dining room and he began to read his Word and our lives were so isolated, we were so divorced emotionally, spiritually and physically, that he would read his Bible in one room and I would read my Bible in another room. And as far as I was concerned, he had his Jesus (Laughter) and I had mine. (Laughter) You understand what I’m sayin’?

Now were we at the end? I mean, even after getting saved, after so much hurt, after so much disappointment, after so much disillusionment, you understand, [it was] just dead. Now I don’t even want to feel good about you no more. (Laughter) Do you understand what I’m sayin’? Follow me now, ’cause we [are] gonna be real in here. (Laughter) I don’t even want you to make me feel good anymore. ‘Cause see, to feel good, then I gotta feel bad again. My emotions must surface and let’s just leave ’em alone and that’s where my marriage was.

And as we grew in the Lord and as we began to read the Word, not even trying to be friends with each other again, not even trying to develop a relationship, we just started reading the Word and loving the Lord and allowing ourselves to learn who Jesus was, God allowed a situation to happen in one of our friend’s lives and we had to pray together. And when I found myself with my husband at the foot of our bed, on our knees praying, we prayed and as we began to cry out and pray together to the same God, little did we know that when we raised up our heads and we looked at each other, God had quickened our dead marriage. (Shouts from the Audience) Do you all hear what I’m sayin’? He had quickened it and He had made it alive.

The God that we serve, He specializes in resurrecting that which is dead. (Voices and Applause) Some of us, rigor mortis has set up in our marriages. (Voices from Audience) And I mean, when we look at our marriage from the perspective of what God has designed for marriage, we’ve gone so far from what God intends for the marriage to be and we need God to resurrect it. We need God to make it alive again and with that will come healing, but it’s only at the feet of Jesus. That’s the safest place to get it, at the feet of Jesus, in His presence. Because as I grew in the Lord and began to read the Word and just focus on the Lord, I had no expectations of my husband, only of the Lord and God began to fill me with His love. And with that love, God started healing me.

Do you understand me, what I’m sayin’? Fifteen years ago, God resurrected my dead marriage and He started healing me and it didn’t happen because I wanted it to happen, but because I knew it could happen. My marriage is right now a bonus of my relationship with my God. (Applause) Come on now! Praise Him! (Applause) I’m tellin’ the truth! (Applause) It is. It is not because I had the sense or the wisdom enough to do the things that God required of me as a godly wife. Ladies, let me tell y’all, my husband got saved just ’cause God wanted him saved. I didn’t have sense enough to pray for him to get saved. Do you all hear what I’m saying? (Voices from audience) God just saved him, saved him.

And as a result of that, because we just both started growin’ in our relationship, God knitted our hearts back together. And now the love that we experience, it’s different. Do you all hear what I’m sayin’? (Voices from audience) The commitment is different. And what we began to do is, we began to go to the Word after we realized we liked each other again. (Laughter) That’s where we started at. We just [were thinking], “I just like you. Let’s not deal with all this other stuff and let’s not try to get romantic or you know, I just like you again. I respect you again.” Come on now. You know how you can do that. (Voices from audience) You lose respect for [him]. They lost respect for you. They become bitter and indifferent and cold and you become angry and hard and cold yourself. You know what I’m saying?

And what we began to do was, we began to invest time. When we saw that God had invested in our marriage, we made a commitment to invest into it. And then we went to the Word and we began to look at what the Word of God had to say about marriage. Because you see, what we found out is, all the way back over in Genesis, that marriage itself originated in the heart of God. It was in the wisdom of God. It wasn’t because somewhere in time, man found woman, woman found man. It wasn’t in the heart or the mind of man.

God didn’t just create man and woman and let them discover each other. He made them for each other. In the beginning, man, God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone,” or woman to be alone.

The Word says in Proverbs 18:22, it says that, “Whosoever,” meaning your husband, “findeth a wife,” meaning you, “he has found a good thing.” Hey! “And has obtained favor of the Lord.” So then ladies, I want you to go back home and tell your husband (Voices from audience), “Precious,” call him “precious.” (Laughter) Speak faith. “Sweetheart, you have found a good thing (Laughter) in me. And because you have me, I don’t care what you act like, but just because you have me, you have favor in God’s sight.” Hallelujah! (Laughter) Now that’s what the Word say[s]. You must say what the Word say. How many of you believe in sayin’ what the Word says? (Voices from audience) That’s what yougot to say. Now you might not think he’s worth it. (Laughter) Come on now; sometimes we don’t. We don’t think they deserve us as being a good thing.

And some of us have been so beaten down and so criticized and so unappreciated, that we don’t feel like that’s the heart of God. But God says, “Be healed today.” And get the mind of God. Think the thoughts of God. Know that your husband just don’t know and you have to tell him. I don’t care what he’s actin’ like, tell him, “You found favor with God, because you found me.”

Now what does that do to you? It puts you in a position where you’ve got to be a good thing. (Laughter) Meaning that his heart must be able to safely trust in you, that you will do him no harm, meaning that you are going to be sensitive to him and that you are going to adapt your lifestyle to what his needs are. Ooh! (Laughter) Ooh! (Laughter) Say what! (Laughter) That’s what the Bible says. If we can get the mind of God. I know we got to get healed and we got to get a new attitude, but if we just say what the Bible says.

The Bible says that when God looked at man, He saw that he needed a helper. And so, we as females, were created to be helpers. Come on now, now I know, in this New Age movement, where the god is within us, and [if] we believe it, we can achieve it. And you have to make sacrifices, so Honey, sacrifice your marriage; sacrifice your children and you have to achieve some of your goals in life, Honey, because when you sacrifice yourself and give your whole life to this man and to your children, they will all up and leave you one day. That’s the kind of foolish counsel that we get from the world and sometimes from sisters in the church. (Shouts from Audience)

And so, it’s necessary for us, when we’ve been hurt, when we’ve been mistreated, when we’ve been misunderstood, unappreciated, all of that is real, we must take that to the very feet of Jesus and let Him heal us. And we must allow God to strengthen us and to give us His attitude and to give us His wisdom as to how we are to handle the different situations in our lives.

John: Wise counsel from Patricia Ashley on today’s “Focus on the Family.” And you can get a CD of this program with extra content to listen to again or to share with a friend, when you call 800-A-FAMILY or stop by Let’s return now to Patricia Ashley on “Focus on the Family.”

Patricia: For those of you that are married, you’ve gotta give an account for how you were a wife to your husband. It doesn’t matter how he acts. Do you understand what I’m saying? (Voices from audience) And the one thing I learned early, when I started askin’ God to show me, He showed me, He said, “No. 1, this man, you are not gonna stand as a couple in My face to be judged for your works. You are not gonna stand as a couple. You’re gonna stand as an individual (Voices from audience) and give an account. So, now you can make a decision to unconditionally obey Me as it relates to your responsibilities as a woman and as a wife.” How’s that? It’s a little tight, but it’s right.

Listen, I remember one day reading a book by this woman and I believe the title was Kneel by Him and it was a little book (Laughter) and it was 99 pages, penny a page, 99 cents. God couldn’t send anyone to me to tell me or teach me the principles of submission. I was that strong-willed and that self-willed and that determined. So, God allowed me to pick up this little book. And this little book is a hammer, okay?

When I read the book, I fell on my face when I got through with the last page and I cried out. I said, “Oh, God! You don’t know him.” (Laughter) Come on, now. I said, “Listen, if I do what this woman says (Laughter), he’s gonna have me doin’ all kind of crazy things.” (Laughter) But God took me back and He said, “Listen, I wrote this Book.” (Voices from audience) And what she’s sharing from her book is as a result of what she got from this Book. (Voices from audience) And heaven and earth will pass away, but I will not change My mind.” (Voices from audience)

And God really brought me to a point. He said, “It’s not an issue of your submitting to him. It’s an issue of your submitting to Me.” (Voices from Audience) He said, “‘Cause when you can submit to Me, you won’t fear submitting to him.” Do you all hear me? (Voices from audience)

And He said, “When you submit to Me, I can change his heart.” (Voices from audience) Come on now. He said, “Now certainly if I could clamp the mouths of the lions” (Shouts and Applause), He said, “If I could do that” and He said, “If I could open up the Red Sea (Shouts from Audience) and let the children of Israel cross on dry land, who is this little man? (Laughter) Who is he?” Come on now.

Now, ladies, look. I don’t want to paint a[n] ugly picture of my husband, because he is so precious,but he’s a man, man. Do you all hear what I’m saying? And bein’ in the military, he’s a military man. And they believe in order and structure (Voices from audience) and I told him, “God gave me to him to balance his life out.”

Audience: (Laughter)

Patricia: Hallelujah! But listen, when God dealt with me, I watched God change his heart and God began to soften him up and do you know, when God began to show me, me and that’s what we need to do. We need to talk to ourselves. We need to say, “Self, shut up. (Voices from audience) Self, sit down, listen.” And see, when we hear the word “submission,” we go way over to the extreme.

But I’m dealing with this because it’s an issue that kills God’s design for our marriages. And I don’t care how many books you read. You can go to secular counselors, but I promise you, because God designed marriage; it was in His heart, that the institution of marriage was ordained and created. And because He did it, it’s not until we find out what was in His mind as it relates to marriage, that we’re gonna experience fulfillment. So, we will never have a fulfilled marriage. You will have temporary satisfaction doin’ it the world’s way, temporary satisfaction.

You get you a friend. Get you a sister to be accountable to, a prayer partner that would like to invest in your marriage. I believe that we should choose people that [are] committed to our husbands. If your girlfriend will sit and help you criticize your husband, get rid of her (Laughter) or stop her. (Laughter) Stop her. I’m serious. Stop her.

And I think we should understand each other. We should let each other bleed. You know what I’m saying, in a safe environment, but don’t bleed on a woman if she is not committed to the success of your marriage. (Voices from audience) Come on now. (Voices from Audience) Don’t bleed on her, ’cause she’s gonna do one or the other. She’s gonna put your marriage asunder or take your husband. (Laughter) She’ll do one or the other. I know I’m tellin’ the truth. I would sit and listen to women and I do it now, because you know what? We need to do that.

I think that’s why so many marriages are falling apart now isbecause women don’t have those circles that they can move in, that they can [share]. We are so busy with our job. We come from work to home. We have to cook; we have to take care of the kids, get ready for the next day. Some of you all commute 20 and 30 miles and some probably more. And you don’t really have the energy and the kind of time that God requires of you to invest into your marriage.

And so, the first pressure or the first trauma that your marriage experience[s], it starts to fall apart, because you don’t have that network. You don’t have that support group, but God would have us to network in a safe godly environment, where you can leave here feeling, “I’m committed to the success of my own marriage first” and then begin to ask God to give you someone that’s committed to the success of your marriage.

I remember my mother telling me, when my husband first left to goin the military, I didn’t want to leave Alabama and follow him. And my mother said to me, “Honey, you better go with your husband.” (Laughter) Now listen; my mother gave me this counsel. I didn’t think it was so wise, but I didn’t understand what It meant at the time. I later learned. She said, “Now listen.” She said, “When your bed get[s] hard, just roll over.” (Voices from audience). I said, “What?” (Laughter) Tell her. (Laughter) She needs to break this down and interpret this. I don’t understand what that meant. (Laughter)

But what she meant was, look, when it gets tight and when things don’t go right, you be committed. You stay in there and you work it out. And for those of us that are born again, pray through. Pray through, but be committed to it. Listen, it says that we are the leave and cleave.

The Word says that in Genesis 2:24, that for this reason, you will never be fulfilled in your marriage if you don’t leave and cleave. Some of us still have emotional ties. We still have soul ties with mom and dad. Come on now. We do. Now my husband was the youngest child that his mother had. She calls him her “Million Dollar Gold Piece.” (Voices from audience.” Now can you imagine what position that put me in. (Laughter) I couldn’t top that if I wanted to. And that was the way she treated him.

And a large amount of our struggle in our relationship was because there was a soul tie between he and his mother. And that thing had to be broken, but it wasn’t until we got in the Word that we realized that I was now his wife and his mother was his daddy’s wife. (Cheers from audience) Hallelujah! (Cheers from audience)

And so, we had been married and saved a long time before we realized this. what we had to do is, on one of our trips back home, he had to go to his mother and say, “I want to ask you to forgive me for taking that place and requiring that.” He said, “And I want to release you now back to your husband.” (Voices from audience) And he had to do this in front of me and his daddy. And his daddy was a glad brother. (Laughter) “Give me my wife!” But do you know what healing took place between he [sic] and his father? And that was how that was broken and God began to use my husband to minister to his mother and use his mother to minister to him. It got godly.

John: And with that, we’ll wrap up this portion of a presentation from Patricia Ashley on today’s “Focus on the Family.” And Jim, she has been so honest about the struggles in her marriage and the hope she found in doing things the way God suggests or commands, however you take that. We’re gonna hear more from Patricia next time.

Jim: Well, she’s using humor in such a great way. Isn’t it amazing that when we as individuals, start to seek God wholeheartedly, we see the benefits, not just in our spirit, but in our relationships, our work and even how we’re doing physically. And I just love the fact that Patricia didn’t demand that god rescue her marriage. She just began seeking the Lord with her whole heart and then, her husband got saved. Their marriage got saved and even her husband’s relationship with his parents improved. That’s what we’re talkin’ about in terms of the Christian life. When you live it out in authenticity, the benefits are there for you.

John: Uh-hm, yeah, it doesn’t mean struggles don’t exist, but God does bless those steps of obedience. And I hope Patricia’s story has motivated you as a listener to take that first step of faith toward making things right with your spouse and then wait and see how God can work in your marriage.

Jim: Well, you know what, someone has to take that first step and that’s the hardest step to take. We can talk all day long, but if your heart doesn’t open up and you don’t reach out to your spouse, nothin’s gonna happen. Let me just say this. If you are in an abusive situation, it is so important that you get to a place of safety for yourself and for your children. But keep praying for your spouse and for their hearing.

You know, strong marriages make for healthy families where children can grow up in a safe and loving atmosphere. Here at Focus on the Family, we want to do everything we can to help couples improve their relationship, like Patricia Ashley talked about today.

In fact, our research shows that we’ve helped save an average of 355 marriages a day over this past year. That’s amazing! I’m so grateful to the Lord for that. And if you’re a financial supporter of our work here at Focus on the Family and I hope you are, you’re part of that success and part of that harvest. And if you haven’t given in the past, can I ask you to consider joining us today, especially if your marriage has been helped by this ministry. We would love to hear from you. And when you make a donation, we’ll send you a CD of this program with some extra content our way of saying thank you.

John: You can make a difference very easily just by calling 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459 and we’ll send that CD to you when you make a generous donation of any amount today. Or visit us at to donate and get resources.

And let me mention that if your marriage is in serious trouble, if you’re really struggling, please ask about our Hope Restored marriage intensive. It’s a four-day counseling experience in Branson, Missouri, that has an 85 percent success rate.

Next time be sure to join us as Patricia Ashley continues and explains why it’s important to decide that God is able to help improve your marriage.


Mrs. Patricia Ashley: You get out of your husband’s face and you get in the face of god. (Voices from Audience) You stop talking and pullin’ on your husband and you begin to talk and pull on God.

End of Preview

John: You won’t want to miss the next “Focus on the Family” program with Patricia Ashley, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.

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