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Focus on the Family Broadcast

How to Avoid Bad Influences On Your Marriage

How to Avoid Bad Influences On Your Marriage

Dave and Ashley Willis encourage husbands and wives to share as much as possible, rather than have separate bank accounts, hobbies, and even friends. The risk is pursuing your own life rather than prioritizing your spouse.
Original Air Date: February 5, 2024

John Fuller: Today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, we’ll be talking about some of the good things and the potential bad things that can affect your marriage. Uh, I’m John Fuller, and to get us started, Jim, let’s, uh, review some inspirational quotes for married couples, for example, uh, “A great marriage is not when the perfect couple comes together. It’s when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”

Jim Daly: I think we could sit right there and think about that for a minute.

John: Okay.

Jim: But another one is, “At the end of the day, you can either focus on what’s pulling you apart or what’s keeping you together.”

John: That’s good. That’s good. Um, how about this one, a quote, uh, that couples might wanna put on the wall-

Jim: (Laughs)

John: “Against all odds and despite all obstacles, we are going to make it. We’re committed.”

Jim: And here’s one from our guest today, Dave Willis, who said, “Your marriage will not be defined by the size of your struggles, but the size of your commitment to overcome the struggles together.” And I really like that. I think the… It’s a healthy way to look at, uh, marital strife.

John: Indeed.

Jim: You know, we often say this, but it’s worth repeating again and again, a good marriage doesn’t happen. You gotta work toward that, and that should be a goal. Um, all of us can be a little lazy at times. It’s kinda like, you know, I practiced. I did the two-a-days. Now we’re in the season. I don’t need to work out that hard. You know, for all of us sports fanatics, that’s the analogy. But it is something you have to think about and practice and work toward. And it’s so funny, so often I’ll come home and say, “Hey, Jean, I, I’ve got two things we should think about in our marriage.” She’ll go, “Who, who did you record with today?” (Laughs)

Ashley: Yeah (laughs).

John: (Laughs)

Jim: You know, she gets me every time. She’s actually right. I’m bringing somebody else’s great idea home to try it (laughs).

John: (Laughs)

Ashley: Yeah.

Jim: But our goal here at Focus on the Family is to help you have the best possible marriage you can have, especially as Christians, but even non-believers can benefit from God’s natural truth and law, right?

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So, uh, today we’re gonna have a great discussion about encouraging you and helping you in your marriage.

John: Yeah, and, uh, this is gonna help take your relationship to the next level. And in many ways the conversation’s for couples in healthy relationships. We have a lot of resources here if you’re struggling, and we invite you to stop by our website or give us a call. Uh, the conversation with Dave and Ashley Willis is, uh, gonna be good. They’re fun, and they have a lot of great content. Uh, they’ve devoted themselves to helping men and women grow in their marriages. And, uh, they host The Naked Marriage Podcast. They write books, they speak, and, uh, they write for the XO Marriage Ministry as well.

Jim: Well, Dave and Ashley, welcome back.

Ashley Willis: Thank you.

Dave Willis: We love hanging out-

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: With you guys.

Jim: We’ve been having fun just-

Dave: We love it.

Jim: Just talking.

Ashley: I know. We have.

Dave: Yeah, thank you for having us.

Jim: It’s really good to have you guys. You’re a bright spot. You know, you come in and light up a room together.

Dave: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So that, that actually says something about your relationship too, I think.

Dave: Well, thank you.

Ashley: Aww.

Dave: Ashley is special.

Ashley: That means a lot coming from you guys.

Dave: She lights up a room. And (laughs)-

Ashley: No, you do (laughs).

Jim: No, it’s fun. It’s just, it’s, it’s life. That’s what that is. Hey, you both blog regularly, and we’re gonna pull… I think this content is really pulling from a lot of your blog stuff. So now you’re going, oh, what’d we say? What’d we say?

Dave: (Laughs)

Ashley: (Laughs)

Jim: And we haven’t told you ahead of time what we’re gonna ask-

Ashley: (Laughs)

Jim: You about, but, uh, for example, you tell couples to share everything they can rather than have separate bank accounts and hobbies and maybe even friends. Uh, what are you getting at there, not to do life separately?

Dave: Yeah, I think it’s important. I think the healthiest couples, and like our mentors, those we look at, those who’ve been married 50, 60, 70 years and still are best friends, one of the trends we’ve seen in them is that they, they share as much as they can. And they, they don’t divide up their lives as his and hers, you know, his dreams, her dreams, his money, her money, his friends, her friends. Now, of course, you’re gonna have some stuff that, that you do that’s more of a hobby for you or more-

Ashley: Sure.

Dave: Of a pursuit for you, but as a whole, the more we can share, the more we can, we can overlap and realize that our lives or goals, by God’s design, are meant to be unified in a really special way-

Jim: I like that. That’s good.

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: I was a little worried there, because, uh, I, I do enjoy golf, and Jean does not-

Dave: Yeah (laughs).

Jim: Like to play golf.

Ashley: (Laughs)

Jim: I thought, oh goodness, if she doesn’t play, then-

Dave: No, no.

Jim: I gotta give this up?

Dave: You could-

Ashley: Like what?

Dave: Yeah, you can keep… You keep your hobbies for sure. I mean, you don’t have to… You’re not Siamese twins in marriage.

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: I mean, you can still-

Ashley: Yes.

Dave: Do some stuff, but, but just as a whole, the more we can say how can we share more experiences, I think, is a good place to start.

Jim: Ashley, uh, you also talk and blog often and write, uh, about young couples putting their relationship on hold during the early years of parenting. We, we definitely didn’t intend for that to happen, but man, parenting is exhausting.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: And it’s easy to say, okay, here’s some areas I could carve out a little time to sleep and-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You know, not be as attentive with my spouse-

Ashley: Right.

Jim: Et cetera. Uh, why is that dangerous?

Ashley: Man, I… Listen, we really fell into this dynamic too because you’re just so busy, and you’re, like you said, you’re so exhausted. But it’s so dangerous ’cause I think a lot of couples tell themselves, well, our kids need our attention right now, and they need our best attention right now. We each understand that, so you just need to know that I love you and like deal with it, you know, and then we’ll reintroduce ourselves to each other kind of when our kids grow up and are out of the house.

Jim: (Laughs)

Ashley: And what we… I mean-

Jim: That’s a long time.

Ashley: I know. It’s a very long time.

Dave: Right, yeah.

Ashley: But this really is… I think on a subconscious level what couples do and what we’re finding is they end up with an empty nest and an empty marriage. And there’s-

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: Like an epidemic of couples, you know, raising their kids, getting to that kind of finish line of, um, getting kids, you know, launched, so to speak. You never really finish parenting. You’re always a parent. But you know, they, they all of a sudden have, have this house to their selves again, and they’re like I don’t know this person.

Jim: In that context, though, looking back, uh, especially for couples that may not have done that well, they did pour into their kids, the made it a kid-centric-

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: Home, and that’s what you’re talking about-

Ashley: Right.

Jim: Versus a marriage-centric home-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And the kids are just there, which, uh, which is really healthy. That’s the way to do it.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But you know, again, if you’re halfway into it, the listeners, the viewers that are, uh, you know, hearing this right now, what are some things you can do to kinda say, okay, we gotta change that? ‘Cause that’s really-

Ashley: Yeah.

Jim: Hard. A, a-

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: Mom’s heart is for her kids.

Ashley: Sure.

Jim: I mean, so it’s hard to say, okay, I’m gonna change some things. What does that look like?

Ashley: Well, it looks like looking at your schedule, because there are some things that happen to us in life that we don’t have control over, but we as adults can have control over our schedule. And so I know for us it looked like not doing every single activity our kids wanted to do in every season of their childhood, putting some things on the shelf and saying like, okay, you know, we have four boys. You can do one activity right now so that Mom and Dad can have a date night. Like in our house, Mondays are date night. We call it Mon-dates. And they call it Mom, Dad time. Like they… It’s just, it’s just how our kids, you know, refer to it. It wasn’t always that way, but we had to put things kind of in the schedule to make sure that, that we had time together and we were being really intentional about that. But also preparing our kids for that time, because we hear a lot of parents say, “Well I don’t… You know, I would love to go on a date, but my son or daughter’s gonna lose it. They’re gonna be so upset. The babysitter’s gonna call me. We’re gonna waste that time and that money, and I’m gonna have to come home anyway. It’s just too hard.” And I get that, but it takes working through a couple of hard times where the kids don’t get it and just prepping them, saying like, “Listen, this is because Mom and Dad love each other, and we love you so much that we wanna have a really good marriage. We’ll be home in a couple hours. Don’t worry. We’re coming back.” And eventually the kids do rise to the occasion, but it takes working through a couple of hard moments.

Jim: You warn couples about turning into cable company marriages. Now, I’ve never personally worked for a cable company, so-

Dave: (Laughs)

Jim: Not sure how-

Dave: Right.

Jim: They operate, but what’s going on with that analogy?

Dave: Well, uh, so the, the thought came… Like we had this guy that was going door to door in our neighborhood and selling like, you know, internet and cable and, and all this stuff. And, and he was like, “Man, I got, I got the, the, an amazing deal for you as a new customer, the, the best.” I’m like, “Oh man, you’d do that for me?” You know, like, you know, uh, d- It, it was the best price, the best service, all this stuff. And he was like, “And it lasts for 12 whole months.” And I’m like, “Well, what happens after 12 months?” And he’s like, “Well, you know, that’s… this is our initial offer for new c- but after 12 months, you know, the price will go up. You’re not gonna get all these same services.”

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: And I’m like, “Wait a second. You’re telling me, you’re telling me, like, you’re giving me the best you got right up front, but then after we’ve developed a relationship and, you know, you’ve, I’m committed, then you give me as little as you can to keep me around?” And he sort of laughed, and he said, “Yeah, but that’s how everybody does it.”

Jim: (Laughs) Oh, wow.

Dave: And I, I, I got thinking. I said you know what? I think in, in our marriages, in our culture, there’s some of that mentality, the kinda the, the cable company mentality. It’s like at the beginning of the relationship, I’m gonna give you everything I got. I’m gonna-

Jim: All the goodies.

Dave: All the goodies.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Dave: Everything. You know, you’re number one priority. You are the most important thing in my life. But then after the, the introductory period wears off and the deal has been sealed and I feel like I’ve got you, then people start saying, well, what’s the least amount of effort I can give to keep this person around?

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ashley: Right.

Dave: And, and marriages… We, we just see an epidemic of marriages that sort of operate like that, with this consumer mentality of I wanna get as much as I can from this relationship, give as little as I can to this relationship. And it’s just, it’s toxic, and it’s broken, and it’s the opposite of what God intended marriages to be. And so what we challenge ourselves to do and challenge couples to do is continue to pursue each other, continue to try to out serve one another, to give each other your best through every season of marriage. And if you’ll do those things consistently, then your marriage really can grow sweeter and richer over time instead of drifting apart and, and the great divorce that we’re seeing with, with these new empty-nesters getting divorced at an alarming rate. And it, it can keep getting better. Even if you’ve had sort of that cable company mentality up to now, you can start right where you are and say, wow, you know, I’m realizing that I’ve, I’ve, I’ve blown it in this area, and I wanna restart. I wanna do it better. I want to start serving you and pursuing you again.

Jim: I’m smiling because I’m thinking of the buzzword or the keyword. You know, a lot of us couples will, to escape a situation-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You’ll have a certain, uh, like first base coach signal.

Dave: Right, right.

Jim: Or something like that. But in this case, it’d be, “Have you paid the cable bill, honey?”

Dave: (Laughs)

Ashley: (Laughs)

Jim: Right? That’s your… Uh, hey, you’re-

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: Coming from the wrong direction here.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jim: So-

Dave: Yeah, that’s good.

Jim: That’d be a good little, uh-

Dave: (Laughs)

Jim: Signal to your spouse, “Have you paid the cable bill?”

Ashley: Right. Yeah.

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: (Laughs)

Ashley: I like it.

Jim: I’m not here for the old, uh, contract, but-

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: Ashley, let me ask you this. Uh, outsource… You talk about this in your blogs… outsourcing your friendships, et cetera. Uh, why is that, uh, kind of a little, uh, dangerous to do that? And, and what do we need to guard against? Because I… Like for women, uh, you often hear in marriage counseling that, “You know what? Your husband can’t meet all your emotional needs.”

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: “So you need these strong friendships with women that can help, you know, fill in that blank.”

Ashley: Right.

Jim: And all the husbands said, “Amen.”

Ashley: Yeah (laughs).

Dave: (Laughs)

Jim: But you’re saying be careful.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: So, uh, illuminate that for me.

Ashley: We absolutely need friendships. And, and this, you know, the person we marry can’t fulfill every single one of our needs. They… And they shouldn’t, you know.

Jim: What?

Ashley: And that’s a dangerous place.

Dave: (Laughs)

Ashley: I know.

Dave: I don’t fulfill all your needs?

Ashley: I know. And I can’t-

Jim: Is this the first time you’ve heard this?

Dave: I’m just now hearing this.

Ashley: Oh, you know. Um, and after 22 years, he, he knows, man. And it’s like and I, I think it’s, it’s wrong to put that on our spouse. We’re really setting ourselves up for disappointment. So we need really good, Godly friendships, but where, where I kinda see this go wrong is we see… Both men and women can do this, but especially with women I see it, ’cause this is my world, you know, that I live in… I see women form these really strong bonds with their best friends, and they plan, like they always have something on the calendar with their best friends, with their ladies. They’re always gonna have a girls’ trip. They’re always gonna have a ladies’ night.

Jim: So they’re intentional.

Ashley: So they’re very intentional about that, but won’t be intentional at all about date night. And maybe their husband isn’t being intentional about that either, and then it just becomes like a lot of times… And we’ve counseled with people going through this… it becomes eventually like a husband bash fest, like, you know, I have my girls, I’m getting through life with my girls, and, and then we just kinda talk bad about everything our husband is doing wrong. And so then after you’re with those people who you love and, and I’m sure have some good things to say, but there’s this… when you’re bashing your husband, you come home and you’re gonna treat your husband in the way that you were just talking about him-

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: And they were talking about their husbands. And so it can breed negativity. So I just always warn women, like it doesn’t mean you can’t have a trusted friend to talk through some of your marital issues with, but you need to make sure that friend has four qualities. They, first of all, need to love God. They need to love you. They need to love your spouse, okay?

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ashley: And also be for your marriage. And if they don’t have all four of those qualities, you can’t really trust what they’re going to tell you. They can tell you stuff about other things in your life, but if they don’t have all four of those qualities, then they’re not gonna give the best marriage advice. And I would also be very leery of, of taking marriage advice from someone who’s bashing their husband all the time, because they’re probably in a really rough spot. It doesn’t mean they’re not a great person. I’m not trying to, to hate on people who are going through that, ’cause I, I know people go through really rough times. But we don’t need to go to them and start, you know, getting marriage advice from someone who clearly is just down on marriage right now in their life.

Dave: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Yeah, I like that.

John: That’s good insight. Uh, seek out wise counselors for your relationship. Uh, we’re listening to Dave and Ashley Willis today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. And we have resources for you and your marriage. And one we’re pointing to is written by the Willis’. It’s called The Naked Marriage: Undressing the Truth About Sex, Intimacy and Lifelong Love. Details are at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And then we also have a free marriage assessment available for you. Uh, it’s gonna help you understand your strengths and navigate potential obstacles to a healthier relationship with your spouse. About a million people have taken this. Why don’t you join them? Uh, the free marriage assessment can be found at marriagemilestone.com.

Jim: Dave, uh, you use a term the snoozer marriage. Uh, it makes me laugh. I mean-

Dave: (Laughs)

Jim: I was thinking, okay, I, I could get into that. I mean, sometimes I think husbands… If we’re talking about women who connect with friends and very intentional-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And it leans in the wife’s direction. I, I would say that’s probably true-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Not to be stereotypical, but, um, there’s that relational connection that women have-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That’s different from men.

Ashley: Sure.

Jim: Our problem is the snoozer marriage. I like this, where you, you kinda hesitate and move away from conflict. You know, you just hit, hit the snooze button. We’ll deal with that-

Dave: Yeah, exactly.

Jim: Later. And guys are really… I, I’m really prone to that. I don’t really wanna deal with that right now. Snooze.

Dave: Yeah, snooze (laughs.

Jim: (Laughs)

Ashley: (Laughs)

Dave: Snooze. Like that’s… Let’s just pretend it’s not there, right?

Jim: Right.

Dave: And-

Jim: And let’s not deal with it, ’cause you know what’ll happen.

Dave: Yeah, but you got-

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: You gotta do it though. You know, you gotta deal with stuff. It’s kinda like having a… If you got a tumor, a cancerous tumor inside your body, you can walk around for a certain amount of time and pretend it’s not there-

Ashley: Yeah.

Dave: Because it’s gonna be painful to have that thing cut out, but it has to come out, or it’s gonna grow, it’s gonna metastasize, it’s gonna get worse. And within relationships, within marriage specifically, when there are th- these un- un-dealt with issues, uh, they’re kinda like a tumor. Th- It has to be surgically removed. It has to be dealt with, identified, taken out, and that can be a painful process. It can be a messy process-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Dave: But you gotta do it. And I think, I think for men, just to challenge the guys for a second… Again, not to be stereotypical, but women tend to do a better job of being able to lean in and, and re- have real discussions.

Jim: They want that resolution.

Dave: Yeah, they want the resolution.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Dave: And guys, we tend to be better, I guess is probably… It may be the wrong word, but better… at ignoring stuff, you know, just pretending that it’s not there. And even… I think about even in our like male friendships, we can keep stuff on the surface. Like I’ll go hang out with my friends and like, “Hey, I had, had lunch with Bob.” And sweetie is like, “Well, uh, how are, you know, how are his kids? Is his kids still struggling?” I’m like, “Bob has kids?”

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: And like-

Ashley: Yeah, seriously.

Jim: Forget the struggle part.

Dave: Right, right.

Jim: Bob actually has kids (laughs)?

Dave: It’s like, “What? He has children?”

Ashley: I’m like, “What?”

Dave: She’s like, “What do you guys talk-

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: “You didn’t talk about family? How’s his wife?” I’m like, “I don’t know.”

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: “I didn’t ask him that stuff.” Like what are you talking about?

Jim: And it’s four and a half hours (laughs).

Dave: Right.

Ashley: I know.

Dave: Right. Like, “We were just, we were just talking about football. I don’t know.”

Jim: That is so-

Dave: Like-

Jim: So true.

Dave: We gotta lean in a little bit more-

Ashley: Yes.

Dave: In all of our relationships, but especially in marriage, to get to the root of what’s going on-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Dave: And to not be content with just living on the surface.

Jim: Ashley, uh, emotions in marriage… Huh. Are there emotions in marriage?

Ashley: (Laughs)

Jim: Um-

Dave: (Laughs)

Jim: But they, they aren’t reliable.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: I mean, love cannot be built simply as an emotion. It’s-

Ashley: Right.

Jim: A commitment. It’s a decision that you make all the time.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Um, discuss that idea, that if we’re trying to live just on the emotional side of love, when that tank is dry-

Ashley: Right.

Jim: You may end up doing or saying things that are not helpful for the relationship. So you have to move it out of the emotional area and make it a decision.

Ashley: Right. Man, this is so true. We, we’ve experienced that in our own marriage where we’ve gone through like dry spells where you’re just, maybe you’re not feeling all gushy about each other because life is hard. You know, for us it’s been transitions like moving and not really feeling part of the community and then kinda taking it out on each other, but not necessarily yelling at each other, which I’m, I’m sure that, that happens too, but just kinda not being as kind to each other just in our countenance, in our tone and things like that. You know, I’m reminded just by you asking that question about emotions, years ago I was going on a girls’ trip with two dear friends of mine. And in the car, our friend who’d been married for 10 years says, “I’ve decided to leave my husband.” And we’re all like, “What? Have you not-

Jim: Yeah. I mean, wow.

Ashley: I mean, uh, dropped a bomb.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: And we were like, “What is going on? Oh my gosh. I didn’t things were bad.” She goes, “No. Things are fine. There’s not been any infidelity. He’s pretty good to me actually.” She’s like, “I just, I just don’t have those feelings anymore, and I need to have those feelings.” And, um, so my friend who was also traveling with us, we both really were kinda praying in the spirit, you know, just like, Lord, give us the words. And we did, we just kinda asked her some questions about, “Well, do you think that maybe you could go for this amount of time and see a counselor? C- Have you read this book?”, you know, just different things that have helped us through our marriages. And we really shared our testimony about going through hard times. And let me tell you, by the end of that trip, I saw God do the miraculous in my friend. And it was like she stopped really depending on her emotions to guide her marriage, and she was like, “You know what? I, I’m letting my emotions drive this, this marriage. And I do wanna feel those feelings, but,” she said, “I’m gonna focus on the commitment, and I’m gonna go home, and we’re gonna get help.” And I’m here to tell you, they did the hard work, and they ended up, you know, getting through that hard time. They ended up having another child, and today they’re still married and they’re in love more than ever. But it goes back to not letting emotions be that, kinda that gauge to judge your marriage, so to speak, because yes, we need to look at our emotions. I mean, there’s something to look at and to say like why am I feeling this way? But we can’t let that be our compass. You know, God is our compass. God is our foundation. And we have to really follow our commitments. And we hope our f- our commitments are built on the foundation of Christ and knowing that he can get us through anything.

Jim: Right. And it’s so good. And some people might be saying, yeah, you know, I’m committed, but it’s so dry.

Ashley: I, I know.

Jim: That’s where the work we’re talking about-

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: Comes in. Just put work into it.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: And it does require some of that, and, and your marriage will be in a better place. Believe me, we are up on all the statistics. We’re reading all the social science coming out. I think Brad Wilcox, Dr. Brad Wilcox out at University of Virginia has a, a relatively new book out. It’s just called Get Married.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Because all the data is you will be happier, more joyful. Life will be better for you-

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: If you’re in a loving marriage.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And it’s unsalable. This is it. This is like 50-year research that they’re looking at.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jim: So-

Dave: Societies will be better. I mean, like-

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: Communities-

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: Will be better. Families will be better.

Jim: How about that? God’s plan, it works (laughs).

Dave: It really works.

Ashley: (Laughs)

Dave: Yeah, it’s amazing.

Jim: Duh. Yeah, but, uh, there we are. Dave, I understand you have a friend named Josh. He’s been a good encourager for you. You were training for a marathon. How did he man up with you to-

Ashley: (Laughs)

Jim: Say, “Come on, dude”?

Dave: Yeah, yeah, well, you, you gotta have, you gotta have friends in your life that push you, like Ashley did with, with her friend in that moment of, of real turning point of like th- this marriage could end, or it could move forward. And the voices that you allow to speak into your life when you’re coming to a crossroads are so important. Uh, so if you’re right now listening and maybe your marriage is in a hard place or whatever, make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who love you, love your spouse, are gonna speak truth. And we all need friends who will push us in other areas as well. And-

Ashley: Sure.

Dave: The, the one time I finished a marathon… I’d, I’d tried once on my own. I didn’t finish ’cause I hadn’t trained right. And so there’s this marine friend in our church named Josh who is, like his blood type is testosterone.

Ashley: (Laughs)

Dave: He’s just this-

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: Manly dude and had run marathons, but is also still like really muscle-y. I’m like, “How do you run distance with that much muscle? It doesn’t make sense.” But he, he does it. And I’m like, “Hey, could I run with you? Would you show me how to, how to train to do a marathon?” And he’s like, “Yeah, we start tomorrow.”

Ashley: (Laughs)

Dave: “6:00 AM.” You know, I’m like, “Whoa, hang on. 6:00 AM?”

Jim: Bootcamp.

John: No donuts.

Ashley: No donuts. Yeah.

Dave: Like wait, 6:00 AM? I’m a pastor. I’m not Amish. I don’t-

Jim: You also need to-

Dave: Wanna get up at 6-

Jim: Expand your definition of friends.

Dave: Right. Right, yeah.

Ashley: I know. I know.

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: And he’s like, “No, we start tomorrow.” So, so we get out there, and like, and I’m like… He’s like, “All right, today, seven miles.” I’m like, “Wait a second.”

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: “Am I gonna like ride a bike for this or-

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: “Want me to drive for five of it or what”… “Seven miles.” And he had this whole plan. And I’m running with him. And, you know, I’m running faster than I would if he’s pushing me. I wanna quit constantly. It was terrible. And, you know, and he… When I would try to quit, he would just keep pushing me. There… Tease me when I needed teasing, encourage me when I needed encouragement. One day my knee was really hurting, and I was like, “Hey, man, does your knee ever hurt when you’re running?” He’s like, “All the time.”

Jim: (Laughs)

Ashley: (Laughs)

Dave: And I’m like, “Well, what do you do?”

Jim: All six of them.

Dave: Yeah. What-

Jim: (Laughs)

Ashley: (Laughs)

Dave: “What do you do when it’s hurting? What’s the trick for that?” He goes, “I’ll tell you exactly what to do.” He said, “Open up a can of man,” (laughs) “and keep moving.”

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: A can of man? And I started laughing so hard thinking about can of man that I forgot that I was hurting, right?

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: And then like, so then every time I’m like hurting, I keep thinking open a can of man, you know, push through. And, and, uh, now I like use that in our family when our kids are going through something hard, “Hey, open a can of man.” But, uh, having a friend to push you and encourage you and run the race with you… ‘Cause he was right there with me, you know. He was hurting too. He was right there with me… it makes a big difference. And I think all of us are called to have friends like that and be friends like that and be that kind of friend even to your spouse-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Dave: ‘Cause your spouse should be your closest friend. And the race you’re running with them is the most important one.

Jim: You know what’s interesting with that, as you say it, there… This is where the church, I think, has a disconnect with men, ’cause we’re… as a church community, we’re kinda soft on each other-

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: In discipline.

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, we’re a little harder on the world, expecting them to act like the church, but we’re pretty soft on the church acting like the church. I actually think if men stood up and were men, open a can of man-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: In the church context, one-on-one… Forget the re- Not with women, but one-on-one with each other… we would have a far stronger spiritual church.

Dave: Oh, without a doubt.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah. We need to do that.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Get me out there.

Ashley: (Laughs)

Jim: I’ll see you at 5:30 tomorrow morning.

Dave: I’ll open a can of man with you anytime.

Jim: That’s good. Let’s close with advice, uh, for couples, husbands and wives, who are maybe, uh, not clued into friendship building with your, your spouse. And this is such a big one. I mean, your best friend should be your spouse.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Uh, that’s the person who knows you the most intimately and also hopefully loves you the most.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So how do you, how do you build that friendship between each other?

Ashley: Man, I love that question because I truly believe the best marriages are built on a close friendship, you know, a best friendship. And, uh, I would say… And this was something I was challenged in kinda early in our marriage… is really be willing to enter into their world that is different from your world. And for us, I remember in the early years, I was just like I didn’t grow up in a sports family. Like I grew up as a dancer. I… Really an artsy family, but not a sports family. And, um, and I would just always in my mind and to Dave be like, “That’s just not me.” And I… But I saw how much it meant to you. And I remember one time you, you pretty much like begged me like, “Please just come to a pro football game with me. Please-

Jim: (Laughs)

Ashley: “Just come.”

Dave: Yeah.

Ashley: And somebody had good tickets, okay?

Dave: “You’ll like it.”

Jim: Yeah, good tickets help.

Ashley: Good tickets do help.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: So-

Jim: A shopping spree also helps.

Dave: (Laughs)

Ashley: Yes, it does. It does. So like we go. It happened to be in Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Jaguars, okay?

Jim: Oh, I get it.

Ashley: We were living, we were living-

Jim: (Laughs)

Ashley: Over there. I know, right? So I didn’t-

Dave: So the-

Ashley: Care-

Dave: So the tickets were cheap (laughs).

Jim: Yeah, right (laughs).

Ashley: I didn’t care… I did not care-

Jim: Big shopping spree.

Dave: Yeah (laughs).

Ashley: How good the team was or anything at the time. I don’t even remember, but I was like I’m gonna do this just to see why he loves this so much. Why go there? And it just so happened, y’all, they had the best game of their life at that time.

Jim: Oh, wow.

Ashley: And there was… They won by a kick or something.

Dave: A 50-yard field goal-

Jim: So it was exciting.

Dave: Time is going out, and Ashley looked at me at the end, cheering, she goes, “I get it.”

Ashley: “I get it.”

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: “I get it.”

Ashley: “I get it.”

Jim: (Laughs)

Ashley: Yeah. And I was like, “When are we going to the next game?” So then I’ve been to a Yankees game. I’ve been to, um, a Red Sox game. So, um, and now I wanna go to y-

Dave: Well, and-

Ashley: With you because-

Dave: And she-

Ashley: I see it, you know?

Dave: Pulls me like into her world, you know. I’ve d- I’ve gone to theater with her-

Ashley: Yes.

Dave: When it wasn’t my thing.

Ashley: I introduced you to that.

Dave: Like, you know, and all of a sudden I’m like, like, “Hey, this is pretty good,” right? I watch shows with her that I would never watch on my own.

Ashley: Never.

Dave: You know?

Jim: I just need to ask, though, was it as exciting going to the theater?

Dave: No.

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: It was not.

Ashley: You had tear… We saw Aida. It’s not on Broadway anymore. You had tears in your eyes.

Dave: It touched my heart.

Jim: Okay, but that-

Ashley: It touched your heart.

Jim: Yeah, a different kind of excitement.

Dave: A different kind of thing.

Ashley: (Laughs)

Dave: But I’ll watch stuff with her that I had no interest-

Ashley: Yeah.

Dave: In just to be with her. Like she’ll be-

Jim: Yeah, that’s good.

Dave: Watching these wedding shows, and I’m like, “We already got married. Why are we watching this?” You know, and she’s, she’s into… And they’re like, you know, “Why are these girls rating each others’ weddings? This seems lame.” But then-

Ashley: Four Weddings. Yeah.

Dave: After a few s- uh, episodes in, I’m like, “Oh, that venue’s not gonna work. And, you know-

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: “That, that catering-

Jim: That is funny.

Dave: Needs to change. And that, that dress is so last season.” You know-

Ashley: (Laughs)

Dave: Like and I’m… But you’re just leaning into each other’s-

Ashley: Oh yeah.

Dave: World. And the more you can share, the better your friendship’s gonna grow.

Jim: What does your can and man friend think-

Dave: (Laughs)

Jim: About-

Dave: I haven’t told him.

Jim: The wedding show?

Ashley: Josh doesn’t know.

Jim: Did you disclose this-

Dave: I, I-

Jim: To him?

Ashley: He doesn’t know.

Dave: Have a, I, I’ve had cash, cashed in a few man points.

Jim: (Laughs)

Ashley: (Laughs)

Dave: Josh, if you’re listening, I’m sorry.

Jim: (Laughs)

Dave: I’ll do pushups.

Jim: He did-

Dave: I’ll, I’ll punish myself for it.

Jim: He didn’t even know about that. You’re in trouble, man.

Dave: (Laughs)

Ashley: (Laughs)

Jim: Anyway, Dave and Ashley, this has been so fun.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: And, you know, it’s great to see how you guys interact. And your, you know, proof is in the pudding. We’re sitting here with you. You can tell you love each other, and it’s fun. And that’s the way it should be. And thanks for modeling it, and thanks for, not only the book The Naked Marriage, uh, but your blog and how you communicate. We’re thankful you’re gonna be doing our chapel here at Focus on the Family for the staff. So that is wonderful as well. We appreciate that. And, uh, man, if you are in that place, this isn’t, as John said earlier, that you know, if you’re looking at divorce, we have resources for that, like Hope Restored and some other things. But if it, it’s just clunking along and maybe some of the things we’ve talked about today, that emotion, that lack of friendship, direction, commitment, you know, it just doesn’t seem 100%, get in touch with us. That’s what we’re here for. It can be so much better. And we have this great resource for you, The Naked Marriage, as our way of getting you involved in ministry. If you can make a gift of any amount, monthly is great. That’s how Jean and I support the ministry. But a one-time gift is good too. So either way, send it and be part of the ministry. And we’ll send you the book as our way of saying thank you.

John: Yeah, donate today. Request that book. And, uh, find a variety of other resources to help strengthen your marriage. Our phone number’s 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, and we’ve got all the details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Also we’re gonna link over to our free marriage assessment. Over a million people have taken this. It’s a terrific little resource, maybe five or 10 minutes of your time, and it’ll lead to hours of conversation, uh, that you and your spouse can have, because it’ll point out things that are going well, and it will shine a light on some things that you might wanna talk about and grow in.

Jim: We love doing that as humans (laughs).

John: Uh, we… It’s a… Well, that’s why I’m inviting people to take this-

Jim: But it’s very productive.

Ashley: Yes.

John: Yeah, so we’ll link over to that free marriage assessment at the website. Dave and Ashley, thank you so much for being with us.

Dave: Hey, we love you guys. Thanks for having us.

Ashley: Thank you.

John: Mm-hmm. And coming up tomorrow, we’re gonna be discussing how to be more effective as you share your faith.

Preview:

Dr. Mike Bechtle: Real relationships is where things happen.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Bechtle: And any time I look at a person as a project where I need to find a way to present the gospel to them, it’s like I’m focusing on that outcome, but I’m not really having a relationship with them.

John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

End of Preview

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