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Focus on the Family Broadcast

How to Experience Great Intimacy and Love in Your Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

How to Experience Great Intimacy and Love in Your Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Dave and Ashley Willis help husbands and wives rediscover God's design for a marriage that enables them to be emotionally, spiritually and physically vulnerable and transparent with each other. They share their own love story and describe how “love is not enough” to sustain a lifelong marriage; couples need to commit to serving and sacrificing for each other. (Part 2 of 2)
Original Air Date: January 4, 2024

Ashley Willis: I would just encourage husbands, it may not be a dance teams for your wife, but like find a way to give her that time. And then I’m telling you, when she sees you being intentional about giving her that time, it, naturally she feels cherished. And she’s gonna lean in more to you because she knows you’re trying to, to be a true partner.

John Fuller: That’s Ashley Willis talking about the need to be intentional in your marriage, and she and her husband, Dave, are once again with us here at Focus on the Family. Thank you for joining us. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, we had a great conversation last time. It’s always good to talk to Dave and Ashley. They bring great energy and wonderful content to help in some areas, marriage, parenting, kind of core to what we do.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And we’re gonna continue this discussion, uh, based off their, uh, two companion books, 7 Days to a Naked Marriage and everybody goes, “What? What did he just say?” But it’s talking about that intimacy and last time they mentioned, you know, “God Himself said, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed.” And that is a good metaphor for where we need to get to in our intimacy, emotional intimacy, intellectual intimacy, physical intimacy, as we move into our marriage. And I’m telling you, more marriages would be thriving if we could be vulnerable like that.

John: Mm-hmm. Yeah, we’re glad to have Dave and Ashley back. Uh, they’ve written. They speak a lot. They do, uh, a lot of different things. They have a podcast, an online marriage community, strongermarriages.org and, uh, you can learn all about them and these great books, 7 Days to a Naked Marriage, the Husband’s Edition and the Wife’s Edition. Uh, you can-

Jim: And do not get those confused.

John: Yeah. (laughs)

Ashley: (laughs)

John: They’re even color-coded, right?

Jim: (laughs) Yes.

John: So, uh, be sure to look for all the details about the guests and the resources, uh, at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Dave and Ashley, welcome back.

Dave Willis: Hey.

Ashley: Thank you.

Dave: Thank you for having us. We love, love hanging out with you guys.

Jim: It’s day two.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And the content is so good. This is what I love. And I hope, I hope you, the listener, and the viewers on YouTube, you’re enjoying this, because it’s great content, and it really does help if your heart’s open. And if you’re in a tough spot, we didn’t say this last time, but you know, marriage is we go through different seasons. If you’re in a more difficult place where it is hard, give us a call. We have counselors and other resources that would be geared to you. But this is, you know, great tune-up content, where maybe you’re just flat. You don’t know why things aren’t the way they used to be. (laughs) These are wonderful habits that you need to develop in order to have a healthy and strong marriage. In fact, last time, uh, we began to talk about kind of the vows. We didn’t describe it that clearly, but the books really of through the marriage vows.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And you guys do a wonderful job talking about, uh, to love and cherish, and we were able to touch on that last time. Uh, for better or for worse, as an example. Maybe we’ll be able to get to that a little more today. But that concept is what we’re going after. And we will loosely do it because I think we’re all extroverts, so I don’t know if we can stay on track. But let’s get it going. Uh, the next wedding vow on your list deals with finances, for richer or for poorer. Uh, we tend not to talk about that much. It does create a lot of pain. It usually, in the folks that are responding to us with marital difficulty, it’s up there, number one or two.

Ashley: Right.

Dave: Oh, yeah.

Jim: It’s usually physical intimacy or financial struggles are causing fractures in the marriage.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: So speak to the vow for richer or for poorer.

Ashley: Yeah, no, that’s a big one. And it’s one that Dave and I, going into marriage, you know, we talked about premarital counseling. We did talk through this, and honestly, we got married so young, that we weren’t managing a lot of money or anything at the time.

Dave: Yeah, yeah.

Ashley: We were really just trying to make-

Dave: We were so broke.

Ashley: … ends meet. So broke.

Dave: There was not money to really talk about. It was just like-

Jim: That sounded like a joke, setting up. We were so broke.

Dave: We were.

Ashley: Yes, I mean, seriously. I was still in college. Like I had another semester and a half, or I guess a year and a half to finish up college. And Dave, like he graduated college one weekend, we got married the next weekend, and then we started working for our college. Like that was his first job. And so, we weren’t, you know, we didn’t really have a lot of money to manage, but we, we really got into the trap of credit card debt.

Jim: Mmm, because it’s easy.

Ashley: Oh, my gosh, it’s so easy. And-

Dave: Oh yeah, yeah.

Jim: Makes up the gap.

Ashley: It does. It does. And we just didn’t really, we didn’t really at the beginning know how to communicate about that. But it kind of, you know, real fast, we were like, we got to get a hold of this.

Dave: We, yeah.

Ashley: And um, and really not see each other as the enemy. Like we, again, we had to see that we’re on the same team. We’re going to work through this together.

Jim: Well, this is year one of your marriage.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: That’s pretty mature.

Ashley: Umm-

Jim: Some people in year 10, 20, don’t even have, you know-

Dave: Well, it’s-

Jim: We got to get a hold of this.

Ashley: Well-

Jim: And work together. We’re on one team.

Ashley: We, we tried. I mean, I’m saying we knew we had to get a hold of it.

Jim: (laughs)

Ashley: Getting there was a whole nother thing.

Dave: Right. It was a process.

Jim: Okay, okay.

Ashley: It was a, a long process.

Dave: Yeah. Dave Ramsey has not used us as a case study in what to do right.

Ashley: This is true. Yes.

Dave: Because we did a lot wrong. Um, but we just didn’t have much money, and we were, we were spending credit cards, on credit cards, and then rolling over balances, and trying to manage all of that. And we realized quickly, like all right, we’ve, we’ve got to have a plan. We had not ever budgeted. We had not ever really talked about money. We were just like well, if we need something, we’ll buy it and we’ll figure it out. And that wasn’t working. We were digging ourselves into a hole. And it was creating so much stress. So much unnecessary just stress on our lives. And so we started a process of, of getting out. We, and it really comes down to communication, really. We’re going to talk about purchases. Um, if we’re going to make any purchase that’s outside of kind of the regular bills and groceries, we’re going to call each other, and say, “Hey, is there money in the bank for this? Is now a good time to, to get this thing?” And just keep each other in the loop.

Ashley: Right.

Dave: When couples start hiding purchases from each other, or, you know, hiding money at all, I think that, that’s such a toxic thing that will create a wedge in your marriage. But we just decided, listen, it’s all God’s anyway. Like He owns everything. We’re temporary stewards of it, whether it’s a little or a lot. At that time, it was very little.

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Dave: And so let’s manage this well, and let’s figure out how to make this work with what we have.

Jim: You know, it’s really good that you’re saying it in that context, because I’m sitting here thinking of naked and unashamed. You know, kind of the theme of the books. And that’s an area where, where people hide.

Dave: Oh, sure.

Ashley: Oh, majorly, yes.

Jim: You know. Because there’s issues there. There’s insecurities, binge-buying. There is a medicating effect, too, for a lot of, not just women, but men too.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: Where, you know, you, you soothe some of those aches by over-spending.

Dave: Um-hmm.

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Jim: And you know, you just got to get control of that. And I guess one of the key questions there is, having little, I mean, I’m sure the school was paying you $3.16 an hour.

Dave: Oh, man.

Ashley: (laughs)

Jim: That’s a windfall, man.

John: Lucrative.

Ashley: Yeah. Very.

Jim: But, but, you know, at what point can you discern between we actually, if we spend wiser, we have enough.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: It may be just enough, but there is enough, if we’re wise about what we have.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: That’s the problem. How do you discipline yourself to do it? What did you guys do practically to say okay, here’s what you get. You don’t get to go out for a coffee for $5.

Ashley: Right.

Dave: Yeah, yeah.

Ashley: No, we really, we really just dialed in our spending be- because we had to. Because we knew that just being disciplined in our spending is the path to freedom. And I think that that’s what we don’t understand so many times, is we feel like it’s this straight jacket on us when we can’t spend whatever we want. And we can’t just, you know, load up on the credit cards. But we, we realized like we’re going to be a slave to the credit card. A slave to having all this debt. If we don’t get a grip on this and pay off this debt as fast as we can, and also really get our spending, you know, just dialed in. And, and I think the more we saw that balance come down on our credit card, that felt good.

Dave: That was good.

Ashley: I mean, that felt like a path to freedom.

Jim: You were making it.

Ashley: Yes. We were making it.

Jim: Making a difference.

Ashley: We were. And we were paying more than the minimum payment because we were really drastically seeing it come down. And then really seeing, like, like you said. We really had more than we really needed. Like we had a hot meal, we had a, a roof over our head. And it was like the joy that we found in not being, not fighting over money.

Dave: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Ashley: Not feeling like, you know, a lot, a lot of times we’d feel like failures. You know, you’d feel like a failure when you get that bill.

Dave: Well, I was especially. I was like, I’m the man-

Ashley: Yes.

Dave: I’m supposed to be a provider, and I can’t, I can’t provide. And she was so tender and compassionate and caring, you know, with me, to affirm me, during those very, very lean years.

Ashley: Yeah.

Dave: But, but we both realized is like the freedom and peace that comes with, with not being in this crippling debt is so much better than anything we could buy to put us into debt.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: Yes. Like a paid-off car-

Dave: Oh, man.

Ashley: … is the best kind of car.

Dave: I still drive a, I still drive-

Ashley: You know what I’m saying?

Dave: … an old, beat up car. And I love it.

Ashley: Yes.

Dave: Because-

Ashley: It’s paid off.

Dave: … a paid off car smells better than a new car smell.

Ashley: It smells great.

Dave: If uh, if uh, you got a car payment. So-

Ashley: Yeah.

Dave: So yeah, we still try to live lean.

Ashley: And God provides.

Dave: Oh, yeah.

Ashley: You know what I’m saying?

Dave: Yeah.

Ashley: And I think we also, one thing that I was not accustomed to growing up was tithing. But this is something that even as lean as we were, Dave was like, we’re going to tithe. And, and again, I even though, you know, my family, uh, you know, we went to church and everything, it just wasn’t a practice. And so I had to learn about that.

Jim: Huh.

Ashley: And at first, I was really like, ooh, I don’t know. And Dave was like, “Well, you, we have to trust God in this.”

Jim: Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s good leadership, too.

Ashley: And I’m telling you, He does provide. He provides.

Jim: Yeah. So true.

Dave: And it’s easier to establish at the beginning-

Ashley: Yeah.

Dave: … than to go back later, you know.

Jim: Um-hmm.

Dave: Because tithing 10% of nothing is nothing. Right?

Ashley: Yeah. Well, a little something.

Dave: So, like you start early, and you, you build up. But He’s, God’s been so, so faithful. And we’ve-

Ashley: Yeah.

Dave: … and we, we’ve been so thankful for that. And again, we’re still, we still, you know, we’ll splurge on things, but we try to be lean. I mean, I been shoving-

Jim: Yeah. Well it gets you in the habit.

Dave: Yeah.

Ashley: Yes.

Dave: I’ve been shoving the free snacks here at Focus in my pocket all week.

Ashley: No, he has not, I promise you.

Jim: Security’s going to shake you down, by the way.

Dave: Right. They’ll frisk me on the way out.

Ashley: (laughs) Oh, my goodness.

Jim: No more Fig Newtons for you.

Ashley: That’s right.

Jim: Let’s move on to the next one in terms of the vows. In sickness or in health. Uh, how’s the application work there? I mean, obviously, people go through difficulties. Sometimes early in their marriage, but more typically, it’s later.

Ashley: Yes.

Dave: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: And there are tragic stories and people call us where their spouse has left them because they hit a health wall, and man, that’s, that’s so-

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: … discouraging.

Dave: It is.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, that’s the most extreme, where a couple can’t hold together through that.

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Jim: But describe what you’re getting at with in sickness or in health.

Dave: Well, I mean, it’s a privilege. You have to see it as a privilege to serve your spouse in those times when they, they really, they need you.

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Dave: Uh, not a burden, but a privilege.

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Dave: And Ashley and I, even though we’ve not experienced some of the, the extreme situations of sickness that many have, and for those who have, you know, our, our hearts go out to you in those situations. We’ve, we’ve experienced what for us has felt extreme at times. And I know that I’m sure over the years, we’ll experience more. I know Ashley’s, uh, she went through a long mental health battle fairly early in our marriage we walked through. In more recent years, um, I got diagnosed with a, thyroid disorder. An autoimmune disease that um, was just bringing my energy down, my, my hormones were off. My mental clarity was off. Like everything was off.

Ashley: And a lot of mood, mood.

Dave: Yeah. I was moody. Like I was just off. And I hate going to the doctor. So I, for years, I just didn’t go to the doctor. I’m like, “I’m fine, I don’t need a doctor. I’m not going to go sit in that waiting room.” And, you know. But Ashley finally encouraged me to go. And I went and got blood tests and realized I, I had a lot that was off, and, uh, it put us on a journey. Like getting the medications right, getting the, getting everything that needed to happen to get back to just being normal. But, but it was a process. And through that process, I wasn’t at my best. I was grumpy, I was moody. Um, I was just the worst version of myself. And Ashley, instead of responding to me being grumpy and not myself, with her grumpiness, she instead, she showed extra grace and extra kindness and I’m just so thankful for that. Uh, the, the tenderness she showed though that whole season, um, and I’m, I just publicly want to say thank you, my love. Like it was so amazing how you kind of walked with me through that, to kind of get to a place now where I’m back to myself, and feeling great again, and… But it was a process.

Ashley: It was a long process. Yeah.

Dave: I mean, there were several years where I just felt off. I, I didn’t have energy. I didn’t have, um, I, I don’t know. I mean, I can’t even put words to it, but I was-

Ashley: Yeah. Yeah, it was hard.

Jim: Yeah. Let me ask you, Ashley, because uh, again, these are forks in the road, I guess you could say.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: As a married couple. And again, it doesn’t have to be the D word, but-

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Jim: There’s a fork in the road.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jim: And you’re going to say, come on. One fork, we’ll say.

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Jim: Come on, Dave.

Dave: Snap out of it.

Jim: Let’s go.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: Get to the doctor. I told you 14 times to go to the doctor. What’s your problem?

Ashley: (laughs)

Jim: And the other fork is to do what you did.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: But unfortunately, it’s human beings. That’s the more… It’s like the forks, one’s downhill, our flesh, and the other one’s uphill.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: Our spirit to respond with that.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: So how do you do that? How does a spouse say, okay, I get it. Quietly, in their own heart.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: And then say this is what he needs. This is what she needs. And then you put it in that gear, and you go.

Ashley: I know for me, and I, I didn’t always do this perfectly. I mean, Dave’s been so sweet to, to sing my praises over here. I mean I’ve had frustrating moments with Dave in this, in this journey.

Jim: And we’ll get to those in a minute. (laughs)

Ashley: Oh, of course, of course. I mean I have a lot of stories there too.

Dave: Get the book for full details.

Ashley: But I would say to be very honest, and this may sound like such a, an obvious answer, but I mean, truly, it, prayer is what paves the way. Like prayer is what makes that path clear. But keeping a tender heart is huge. And I know there were times where Dave would just, I mean, he would just be in a mood. And Dave is generally, you guys know Dave.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: He’s generally a happy guy.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: But he, when his family, his brothers, okay you know brothers love to call it like it is. They call him BMD, Bad Mood Dave, because they’re like Bad Mood Dave is like really Bad Mood Dave. Okay? He’s just like everything rubs him the wrong way, you know? And it’s not that he’s yelling at anybody. He just, his whole being, you can just sense like he’s just not in a good way.

Dave: I just did this negative spiral that I couldn’t pull out of.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: Um-hmm.

Ashley: Yes.

Dave: And, and again, my serotonin was off. My hormones were off. And I would recognize like, I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to act this way. But I didn’t know how to pull out of it.

Ashley: Yeah.

Dave: And your, your tenderness really helped through that season.

Ashley: Well, what I would say is, sweetie, because sometimes I don’t even think he even realized how, like negative.

Jim: Yeah, how bad it was?

Ashley: And even towards the kids. And I would go up to him and I would say, “Dave, you probably don’t realize what’s coming off here, but I know that if you would not want to be the way that you are right now. Like you would have regrets. So, just be aware.” And he’d be like, “Ah, I kind of feel it, you know, I am, I’m going to go take a moment over here.” And like for Dave, sometimes going on a run would help, or you know, maybe we need to go like, you know, just different things that I would know would help him.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah.

Ashley: You know, we would try to make sure we bring out the best in each other in those hard moments.

Jim: Yeah. It’s good.

John: Yeah, our guests today on Focus on the Family are Dave and Ashley Willis, and we’re so glad that they’re here. They have covered so much in their books. 7 Days to a Naked Marriage. I say books, because there’s a husband’s edition and a wife’s edition. And we have the bundle here for you. Give us a call. 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast for all the details. And as we’ve worked through the wedding vows, we’re going to turn now to a problem that often ruins marriages. And, uh, parents, we’re going to recommend that you direct the little ones elsewhere, or pop your earbuds in, uh, as we’re going to talk about some mature content now.

Jim: And I appreciate that, John. Thanks for the warning. Uh, but it’s part of your story.

Ashley: Yeah.

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: And again, I appreciate the vulnerability. It takes a lot of courage to do this. And but Dave you struggled in that area of pornography. Uh, some of the you know, the recent data, as many as 50, I’ve seen 60%, but 55% seems to be a pretty solid number of men in the church.

Ashley: Oh, yeah.

Jim: Okay, everybody catching this? Men in the-

Dave: Yeah. And we’ve seen this-

Jim: … church. Not the world.

Dave: It’s terrifying.

Jim: Are hooked to some degree, looking at pornography at least once a month.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: I mean, think about that. 55%. Um, talk about zapping the spiritual intimacy.

Dave: Oh, yeah. It’s toxic.

Jim: And the blessing that God gives. I mean, you’re living in these two worlds. And here’s the thing, everybody. God sees you. You’re not hiding. He understands it. He wants to heal your heart. But how did this hit you, Dave?

Dave: Yeah, so, so I got wrapped up in porn as a teenager. And I, I hated myself for it. And this is long before there were smart phones and all the access that people have today. I mean, you had to go, go looking for it more back then. But I got exposed, then it planted those toxic images in my mind, and I didn’t take the biblical path of breaking free, or getting accountability, or confessing, or any of the things that you’re supposed to do. I did what pride tells you to do, and deal with it on your own. And then that secret struggle bled into the early years of our marriage. And then Ashley saw where I had been looking on the computer, and I didn’t even have the courage to confess. She had to find it, which wounded her in so many ways, and, and that brought it all out into the open. And I’m so thankful it did come out, because that’s the only way healing can ever happen. And it was a long journey of working through that. And now in the work we’re doing now, we, we spend a lot of time talking specifically about porn, not because it’s a comfortable topic. Uh, it’s, you know, it’s-

Jim: But it’s, it’s a big one. It’s where people are.

Dave: Yeah, I mean, I’ve, you know, I’ve shared my porn testimony with my mom in the front row, which is an awkward day.

Ashley: That’s an awkward day.

Dave: But, you just uh, you have to-

Jim: Okay, that’s, uh-

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: I’d like to talk to your mom, like I had no clue.

Dave: She’s a, she’s a saint.

Ashley: She’s a trooper.

Dave: Mom, I love you.

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: Uh, but, so many, like you said, Jim, so many people are struggling with this. And so, we just try to shed light on it. Like on our Naked Marriage podcast, we just interviewed a former adult film actor, who then got saved and became a pastor, named Joshua Broome. Amazing man, and he talked about just the darkness of that industry. How it dehumanizes-

Jim: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Dave: … the consumer, but also the people involved in and behind that shiny veneer, how toxic it is. And he said in the 10 years since he left the industry, he had, he’s had 30 friends in the industry die by either suicide or overdose.

Jim: Oh, my.

Dave: 30 friends.

Jim: And you don’t hear about that.

Ashley: It’s heartbreaking.

Dave: You don’t hear about that, no.

Ashley: No.

Dave: And, and him sharing just about the exploitive nature of all of it, and um, the people that are trapped kind of in that cycle, um, even thought they’re given a certain level of celebrity money, how they’re really such broken folks. And how he was there.

Jim: Well, it, it’s true, and then you look at, man, again, as the metaphor, at this whole life as a metaphor to God.

Ashley: Right.

Dave: Right.

Jim: Trying to point us there. Even the habits that we have. Uh, the addictions that we have. The Lord is wooing us out of sin.

Dave: Yes. Yes.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: Trying to say, come to me.

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Jim: And uh, this is probably one of the most powerful ones. We can debate theologically why it is. But you go back to the garden, and the whole concept of naked and unashamed.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: I mean, this is attacking the very creation of God in us.

Dave: It is. It is.

Jim: Because it’s so core to how He created us.

Dave: Um-hmm.

Jim: Ashley, let me ask you this, uh, because obviously you’re here. And I don’t mean to um, denigrate any woman’s response, there is so much pain in this.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: Because you can roll through it. I’m not enough. The shame that they feel that my husband had to go use porn.

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Jim: That is ill-placed, obviously.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: But it’s what they feel.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jim: And I’m sure you felt it. Speak through that whole collage of things that a woman goes through, and that, you know, that anger that can come in there. The sense of betrayal.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: I mean, all the adjectives that come with this are dark.

Ashley: Yes, they are. They’re very dark. And when I found that, you know, at first I couldn’t believe it. I think your first inclination is like, this couldn’t be my husband. You know? I mean not Dave, not my Dave. Because we tend to hold each other on a pedestal. And it was like in that moment, I had known, it was like the Holy Spirit reminded me I had felt like there was a wall between us. Because you know, as spouses, we know when something’s off.

Jim: Huh.

Ashley: We don’t always know what the thing is. You know? And I, and I had been kind of thinking over and over again, like what is it? You know, what could it be? Is he just stressed at work? Like what is it? And it was like in that moment, you know, God revealed it. And it was, you know, Dave always says it was the best day and the worst day all at once.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: And it was terrible. He hated to see, like when I called him to confirm it, because that was the first, like after I, I was angry, I was sad, I was disgusted, I was mad, I was in disbelief. I mean, I had all these feelings. And yes, I felt like, oh my gosh, I’m not enough. Like he’s not attracted to me, um, I’m not satisfying to my husband. Like this is, I’m a disappointment. Like I had all those feelings.

Jim: Oh, yeah.

Ashley: You know what I’m saying?

Jim: Yeah, I do. Let me ask you this on behalf of women listening. Some that have encountered this with their spouse, others that may yet to have encountered it.

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Jim: Again, that state 55%, it’s almost like yeah, it’s over 50/50 chance you’re going to encounter this.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: As a spouse. Those feelings, though, Ashley, that’s what I’m really interested in because I’m sure you’re a wonderful person, and you have a deeply rooted faith in Christ. That’s obvious because of how you responded. But as we talked a moment ago about that Y in the road, that fork in the road, and the degree of descent and ascent required, this one is big.

Ashley: Oh, it’s big.

Jim: Because it’s betrayal.

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Jim: And for you to respond with almost like a therapeutic, spiritual approach. Okay, Dave, I know. Let’s work on this. A lot of women are going how did you do that? I’d be slapping him. I’d be doing more, you know. Just lashing out at him. And maybe some of that happened.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: But how do you get that righted in the right context and express unconditional love to him, and a hope for the future?

Ashley: Right. I mean, it was, and again, it was a process. And I definitely had better days than some of those days where I would lash out.

Jim: That’s good to know too, that the up and down.

Ashley: Oh, absolutely. I mean, definitely up and down. It was a messy road, right sweetie? I mean it was very messy.

Dave: It was, yeah. It was.

Ashley: Um-

Jim: But you were committed?

Ashley: So committed. And I think what I kept coming back to on the days when I would have a pity party. Which is fine. I mean, yeah. He broke my trust. Like it’s okay to be in those feelings and work through those feelings. But would I start propping myself up because that’s what pride does. Is like, you would have never done this to Dave. You’ve not done this to Dave. Like how dare you? Like you know, I feel like the enemy loves to get a foothold that way, like, you’ve been a perfect spouse. Which is just far from the truth. When I would even have that thought, it was like the Holy Spirit would reckon with me, and be like, how many times did, did you need Jesus today? Which is like all the time every day. You know? And I think too, another thing I was reminded of is that, you know, this sin that Dave had been involved in with pornography, is something, is a sin that he was involved in, but it doesn’t define him as a person. You know what I’m saying? That we are all, we are all people who need Jesus every day. And though pornography hasn’t been my sin, I have plenty of other things that God has, is working on in me. And so I had to remember that, and even call it out to him because there were a lot of days where he would be like, “I’m a failure. I don’t know if I’ll ever get through this. I’ve been involved with this since a teenager. Like will I ever be free from this?” Especially like in relapses. And in those moments, as disappointed and frustrated as I was, I knew that, you know, we talk about the power of our words, I knew that I needed to, to remind him, like yes, I am disappointed. Yes, you hurt me. But this isn’t who you are. This is not who you are.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: You know God has better for you. And there is freedom for you from this. It’s going to take everything that we have.

Jim: Dave, let me ask you. I mean, yeah, I get it was hard, but hearing that from Ashley as your spouse, it had to be like wow, naked and unashamed. She knows me.

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: You may still be ashamed, but you worked toward that. Like there’s no greater vulnerability than your spouse knowing all of these-

Dave: No, it’s just not as-

Jim: … secret closets.

Dave: It’s what the whole naked marriage is, is about. It’s God wants us to get to that place, where our spouse can see us warts and all, and she saw all the, all the ugliness in me.

Jim: Yeah. It doesn’t get much uglier.

Dave: It was ugly. And I felt ugly. And I felt broken. And she helps me to see myself again through God’s eyes, and, and that she was so affirming that through her eyes that, that she still loved me, and affirmed me, and respected me, even, even when I had done something so disrespectful. And her, her helping me through that, in that tender, loving way, um, it really was her and Jesus are the heroes of that story. And I’m so thankful. I’m so thankful to have come through that. And I’m so thankful that God’s used that as part of our testimony to hopefully bring help to other people. But I can just tell you on the other side, for anybody out these listening that is maybe caught up in porn, and has believed the culture’s lie that it’s not harmful, it’s just entertainment, or it spices things up. Whatever lie you’ve believed, let me just tell you, instead of quoting countless Bible verses and showing you a bunch of stats and all these things that we’ve done other places to show you how toxic it is. Let me just tell you as somebody that’s been in it, and been out of it, that the freedom that comes, the connection and intimacy that comes when you’re not being governed by porn in any way, is something that is so amazing in our marriage. And our marriage is so much better now. Every aspect of our marriage is so much better now.

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: Than it was when I was caught up in that sin. And so if you’re caught up in it now, you’re, you’re robbing yourself and your spouse-

Ashley: Yes.

Dave: … of what God wants for you.

Ashley: Um-hmm.

Jim: Well, and this is under that banner of the vows forsaking all others.

Ashley: Yes. Yes.

Jim: And I didn’t say that at the beginning. But we’re not going to have time to get to until death do us part. But that’s why you need the resource. Buy the book and get far more information. I think you can see, it’s really helpful. And Dave and Ashley, this has been so good. I just love you guys. I, I love the way you approach life and obviously even in your examples that tenderness for each other, even in some really difficult moments. And it’s such a testimony now to point the way for others. You know, that’s how we live and learn in this life. We can look at others that have done it well. Coming from a pit of despair, and say okay, it is possible. They did it, we can do it too. And I hope you feel that. Thanks for being with us.

Dave: Oh, thanks for having us.

Ashley: Thank you.

Dave: We love you guys. It’s been great.

Ashley: We do love you guys.

Jim: And I’d love to get this into your hands. Just get in touch with us, and we will, you know, let you have this. If you can join us in ministry, that would be great. Monthly or a one-time gift of any amount. We’ll send it as our way of saying thank you. If you can’t afford it, we’ll get it to you, uh, because we’re a ministry and we want you to do better in your marriage. Just get in touch with us. And for the marriages that are really struggling, kind of where you guys were.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: Our Hope Restored program is almost specifically designed for that moment in your marriage where maybe you’ve even signed divorce papers. It’s still possible to save your marriage. And we have an incredible 80% post two years, we go back to all the attendees and ask them how they’re doing. Over 80% of those attendees are still married and doing better. If that sounds like oxygen for you, get in touch with us. We have uh, locations around the country that can get you into this four-day program. And I’m telling you, it could change your lives.

John: Um-hmm. Yeah. And we’re only a phone call away. Uh, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. And we also have more information about Hope Restored at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And when you contact us, request resources like this pair of books that we’ve been talking about the past couple of days, 7 Days to a Naked Marriage. Send a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today, and we’ll get those books right out to you. That’s our way of saying thank you for supporting marriages. And coming up tomorrow, Pastor Phil Waldrep explains why it’s much better to forgive than to seek vengeance.

Preview:

Pastor Phil Waldrep: Can I tell you something this morning? You can try all you want to get even and get revenge. And even if you succeed, you won’t be happy. Because you’ll still be in bondage.

End of Preview

Today's Guests

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