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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Loving Your Wife With Your Words

Loving Your Wife With Your Words

Ryan Frederick helps you as a husband learn how to better love your wife in the way you speak with her. From seemingly small efforts like thinking before you respond and asking insightful questions to building a shared language, you’ll pick up some great tips on how to better communicate for a stronger bond with your wife.
Original Air Date: June 3, 2024

Ryan Frederick: My wife is tough, but she shouldn’t have to be tough on account of me.

Jim Daly: Mm.

Ryan: She shouldn’t have to be-

Jim: That’s a good statement.

Ryan: … I shouldn’t be the reason that she is calloused, right, in some way. I should be the safe place for her and I think so many times as husbands, we wield our words, uh, without that occurring to us. That we just-

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: … We’re so familiar and, uh, we- we are overly- overly tough and over- overly combative at times with our wives. So, that was a conviction I had and, uh, and so I’m encouraging men to, uh, think more clearly about their own, uh… We- we talk about this toughness in terms of work but also just toughness in terms of familiarity.

John Fuller: That’s Ryan Frederick and he joins us today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and thank you for listening and watching.

Jim: John, you know, right at the heart of Focus on the Family, it’s about marriage. I mean, that is the foundation. Of course, first, is your relationship with Christ. But, second is marriage and then the kids and making sure that’s all moving in a godly direction.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And man, we believe in marriage and we also believe marriage requires some work. You got to work at it-

John: Mm.

Jim: … in order to make it thriving and good and sometimes we do it well and sometimes we don’t do that very well. And today is going to be one of those days we’re going to be talking to men, and, uh, and you wives about how men should be communicating. And this is going to be a little rough for me. (laughs).

John: (laughs) I’m glad you’re smiling about that-

Jim: Well, yes.

John: … I think most of us know, I have some shortcomings when it comes to marital communication.

Jim: Okay. So, right before we are going to air here, I was talking to a colleague and she said, “Oh, yeah. I just called my husband the other day and my plan was to ask him what he wants for dinner. He answered the phone, like, ‘Yeah, what do you want? I’m in a… I- I’m in a pinch here.’ And she said, ‘I just want to know what you want for dinner. Why don’t you get out of your work voice?’”

John: (laughs).

Jim: That’s kind of what we’re talking about today.

John: Yes.

Jim: So, how do we lead our spouses in a better way when it comes to communication?

John: Right. And Ryan Frederick, uh, has a passion for this, uh, and he is an author and, uh, he and his wife, Selena, have been with us here before on the show.

Jim: Yeah.

John: Uh, they minister to couples and families. And, uh, of the books he’s written, we’re talking today about one that is r-… uh, right in alignment with what you’ve been saying, Jim. How a Husband Speaks, uh… the subtitle is Leading and Loving Your Wife Through Godly Communication. And of course we have copies of the book here at the ministry. Stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or give us a call, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Ryan, welcome back.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: Good to have you.

Ryan: Yeah. Thank you for having me. It’s a joy.

Jim: That’s so good.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: Hey, uh, you’ve taken up a bold charge here to help men, uh, strengthen their marriages through their communication. So, I guess the right first question is what led you to do this?

John: (laughs)

Ryan: Yeah, that’s an excellent question. I think what led me to do this is my own need…

Jim: (laughs).

Ryan: … to grow in my own, I think, experience in growing. Uh, you know, I’ve been married 20 years plus. Got married young. It wasn’t until, I think, in my 30s that I actually feel like I understood communication at- at least the way God would have a husband communicate. And I’m thinking maybe I can help some guys not have to wait quite that long.

Jim: Yeah, we’re all going, “You did that in your 30s?”

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: Way to go.

John: (laughs) yes!

Ryan: (laughs)

Jim: (laughs) I’m still working on it.

John: I’m an underperformer.

Jim: (laughs).

Ryan: I think I became aware that I need to work on it. I’ll put it that way.

John: Yeah.

Jim: I… you know, it’s so funny because that’s one of the things that has struck me. I think mentally I understand it. Of course I read the word, and I pray, and have a relationship with Jesus. But that… this area is an area that we… I certainly struggle with. I can’t speak for every guy but I think generally, the guys I know and talk to about this, we all kind of struggle with how we-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … express ourselves in tone and in-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … uh, tenderness or lack thereof regarding our wives.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: And I think that illustration I mentioned a min-, a moment ago is really indicative of the problem, right?

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: When your wife calls you at work and you’re going, “Yeah, what do you want? What do you want?

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: What do you need?” And she’s going-

Ryan: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … “Hey, I’m not your business colleague. Stop talking to me like that.” (laughs).

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: So what is she expressing when she responds like that?

Ryan: So, it’s what I call the husband paradox, right? So, right… Straight back to the- the garden. Men were created to work, to do things and- and we have a certain potency in that regard. If we don’t know how to flip that switch when it comes to cultivating and we, and- and we come back home and we’re not actually seeing our- our bride as the gift that she- she always was. You have to turn the toughness off, right? So you have to be outwardly very tough for your wife but inwardly, in- in- inside the household very tender with her. And so it’s that paradox of being… having to be tough for her but tender with her.

Jim: Let’s go to the general communication idea.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: So, you know, what impact does communication, good or poor, have on a marriage? And who- who’s responsibility is it to-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … kind of be the gardener of that communication?

Ryan: Yeah, so, you asked why I wrote this book and I think another reason is because communication is, I think, the- the lynch pin for marriage, right? And if you can communicate well, you can get through almost a- anything.

Jim: It’s typically why divorce occurs.

Ryan: Right. It starts with-

Jim: A lack of communication.

Ryan: Yeah, and so if you, if you’re not communicating eventually that turns into bitterness, turns into anger-

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: … turns into affairs and things because you’re not actually working through things. You’re not going to your spouse in the covenantal context that God’s given you.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: So I think if- if men… You know, you asked who’s in charge of it. This is why I wrote the book for men. I think men are the… the buck stops with them, right? Women, wives need to be good communicators as well and they’re not off the hook but the buck stops with the husband.

Jim: Hmm.

Ryan: Like when- when- when Eve ate of the fruit and then Adam ate- ate of- of the fruit, God looked at Adam and said, “What- what had happened?” right? he looked at him. And so we… I think we are the ones that are, um, charged with loving in this way, leading in this way. If the communication culture in the household is souring, or we’re growing distant, kind of look to the husband and say, “How are you gonna solve this? How are you gonna break the ice? How are you gonna start melting the ice? How are you gonna start reestablishing those lines of communication?” If you can do that, as a husband, uh, you can work on anything once you get the communication lines cleared, so.

Jim: Yeah. I hadn’t thought of that. W- What should Adam have said?

Ryan: (laughs).

John: Oh.

Jim: Got any ideas?

Ryan: Well he, uh, you know what, we know what he did say, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: “It was this woman.” He blamed her-

Jim: “She made me do it.”

Ryan: And it… by the way it’s not just the woman, it’s the woman you gave me. So he’s blaming her and he’s blaming God, he’s not taking responsibility for himself. But instead, God is looking to him and so he should’ve said-

Jim: So, has man’s character ever changed?

Ryan: (laughs).

Jim: We’re still the same aren’t we?

John: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: They did it. Uh, let’s look at some underlying premises of- of communication. Uh, we know from Genesis that a husband and wife are made to complement each other.

John: Right.

Jim: We talk a lot about that here at Focus.

John: Right.

Jim: So often opposites attract because we’re attracted to something we’re not.

Ryan: Sure.

Jim: You know? If we’re extroverted, introverted-

Ryan: Right.

Jim: … they tend to go together. Not always. And I know that’s the 80/20 rule, uh, but, uh, some couples take issue with this idea of complementing each other and, and being each other… well, being a helpmate for a woman-

Ryan: Right.

Jim: … let’s say that. So roles, biblical roles in the modern age now, are very distorted.

Ryan: Yeah, so the- the challenge there is, you know, if you, if you embrace that, like what I’ve just said about husbands being kind of the… the buck stops with you. That goes back to the garden but I think it also goes to the New Testament. Obviously, Ephesians 5, um, where Paul says, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.” Husbands and wives are both called to love one another. We’re both called to honor the Lord in our marriage but the call to husbands was to love like Christ. And what did Christ do to love? He died, He loved sacrificially. We don’t see that call to wives. Now, as Christians, wives are called to love sacrificially but in the marriage, like, if anybody’s gonna die for this thing, it’s gonna be the husband. It’s gonna be the husband putting himself on the cross, so to speak and saying, “I’m gonna love you sacrificially so that the marriage can flourish.” Now the- the flip side, and this is the part that bristles against our culture, is the, uh, wives submit to your husbands. That’s the helper side. And this, I think, the main thing that needs to be articulated is it’s not about power, it’s not about, um, greater worth, instead it’s about roles and order and it’s about the structure that God gave us so that we might flourish. It’s not about, uh, what our society would make it out to be.

Jim: You know, I read that. It’s kind of interesting because, of course, in corporate structure you need that.

John: Yeah.

Jim: Uh, here at Focus we do that, it’s your job description-

John: Yeah.

Jim: … and- and it outlines what you have authority to do-

John: Yeah.

Jim: … what you don’t have authority to do. It’s kind of interesting to bring that into the marital concept.

Ryan: Hmm.

Jim: I mean, it’s a little rough to say, “It’s like a job description.”

Ryan: (laughs) Yeah.

Jim: But it does function well when there are clear roles. But there is a bristling, I mean there’s… We don’t have a woman at the table to say, “Wait a minute guys,” you know.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: So, you know, kind of give us that overview of why the roles are important and-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … you know, it’s kind of like how we describe the abortion issue. We’re constantly saying, “This is a moral issue taken over in the political arena.”

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: It’s not a political issue. This is about the heart and soul of the country and do we-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … you know, do we kill the next generation of children? I would say definition in marriage has that same Christian conviction, or should.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: We know what God has said, we can read the word. He laid out the descriptions for us. But we, you know, men can abuse that and then it gets all-

Ryan: Oh yeah.

Jim: … off on our own track. And, uh… But when it’s functioning in a healthy way it’s beautiful.

Ryan: Yeah. I mean, you ask, “Why is it important?” And- and then you, I think, answered your own question. It’s because God gave it to us that way. He said, “Do it this way. This is the way that I’ve designed it so that you might flourish.” And are we, as Christian men and women, looking at that saying, “Let me weigh that against my own sensibilities. Let me weigh that against what culture is showing us,” or are we saying, “God has spoken. Now, how can I obey?”

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: How can I trust him-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: … as a husband? And choose, and choosing to trust him and now lead as a result. The wife choosing to trust God, now submit as a result. Not- not- not because somebody else has said it but because God has spoken. And if not… If that’s not what makes it valuable I don’t know what would.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

John: Yeah. As- as we’re talking, kind of, up here, at this level, about communication, you’ve expressed in the book that you see an element of grace, or that communication itself as a grace.

Ryan: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

John: Um, unpack that a little bit for us.

Ryan: Yeah. So, God has revealed himself to us. And how has He done that? Well, He spoke creation into existence, right? We have general revelation, we see God in a sense. We see His fingerprints on creation, I should say. But then He revealed Himself again, through words, through Scripture-

John: Hmm.

Ryan: … through the incarnate Word, Christ Himself. So, words are a grace. Words are how we know other souls. Like, we wouldn’t know what God hath decreed unless He told us, unless He made it known to us. That we might then listen and- and hear the ideas and He’s given us the grace to understand. So in marriage it’s, I think, exactly the same way.

John: Hmm.

Ryan: It- it’s a miracle, it’s how you… Like, think about the, everything that happens in mechanics that goes into us talking right now. Right, you’re thinking thoughts, you’re putting them together into words, you’re- you’re- you’re flexing various muscles that make air come out through your- your- your vocal cords. I’m saying things, they’re coming across, they’re vibrating through the air going into your eardrums. You know, your eardrums are reverberating. Like, all these things are happening and you’re processing it instantaneously and we’re sharing meaning. Like, I can know you because you’re telling me something.

John: Hmm.

Ryan: You can know me because I’m communicating something. In marriage it’s the same way. I think the challenge is, we either take that for granted or we’re not sending signals that are really meaningful and so not communicating well what we actually mean. And, so we talk about, in the book, um, sifting through the signal and the noise, being high fidelity communicators. Knowing, as a communicator, I need to get rid of as much noise as I possibly can. And then, as one receiving communication from my wife, I need to try and identify the signals she’s sending and- and sift out the noise, things like tone, things like-

Jim: Sure. You know, Ryan, one of the things… temperament must play into this too.

Ryan: Sure.

Jim: And… and you have a spectrum of capacity for communication.

Ryan: Sure.

Jim: I would say a more introverted man struggles communicating. I… Not to lay a label on it because there’s no stereotypical type but, you know, the quiet guy.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: The quiet man. It’s probably what may have attracted-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … her in the beginning, he’s solid as a rock-

Ryan: Right.

Jim: … he’s steady, he’s quiet, and just goes about taking care of things.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: Um, but at some point that may raise it’s head, and the men say, “Well you- you knew what you married. You knew I wasn’t very verbal. I told you I loved you at the altar and that should have been enough.”

John: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: I’ll tell you when something changes, right?

Jim: I mean, that’s the old saying-

John: Yeah.

Jim: … right?

Ryan: Right.

Jim: So how- how does a guy reevaluate that and keep trying to improve in that communication? Not just rest and give himself that label that, “Hey, you know, I’m just not that type.”

Ryan: Yeah, and that’s one of the main thrusts that I try to get across in the book here too, is that communication is a skill. Like, it’s not something that it comes wired and you’re kind of just given whatever wiring that you were born with and-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: … you need to just deal with that. Because a lot of guys, yeah, I’ll talk to them… and I was this guy. Or I’d say, “Hey, I’m- I’m just not a talker. I don’t need to… I don’t need to process things in this way. I don’t need to, you know…” And- and- and- and some of that’s still true but for- for the, for the sake of loving my wife I can learn a skill that will allow us to flourish. I can learn not to just fall into whatever my basest tendencies are, in terms of under-communicating or reading into things the wrong way. Um, and so, it’s a skill that can be learned and I encourage men to do that and- and to do it… and to master it.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Don’t look for the excuse like we talked about with Adam.

Ryan: (laughs) Yeah.

John: (laughs)

Jim: I mean, that really is-

Ryan: Yeah.

John: It’s all on her.

Jim: … It’s her, it’s her fault.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: She married me.

John: Yeah.

Jim: She knew who I was.

John: Hmm.

Ryan: Yeah.

John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and our guest today is Ryan Frederick. And, uh, we’re talking about some of the content in his book, How a Husband Speaks: Leading and Loving Your Wife Through Godly Communication. And of course we have copies of that here at the ministry, call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Ryan, I met your wife Selena when you were both here and we were covering your book-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim:Fierce Marriage.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: And, yeah, that’s a good title for her-

Ryan: (laughs)

Jim: … she seems like a tough-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … as nails kind of woman.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: Uh, how would that play into those heated moments of conflict between you? We’re kind of revisiting that content but-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … you know, two- two powerful people talking something through, that- that can-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … be either good or bad.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

Ryan: Um, this was a conviction that, just as a young husband… And looking back, you know, a- a- any guy would say this, right? Look back and say, “Man I can’t believe the- the- the guy that I used to be.” And I- I used to be pretty harsh. And- and, uh, and- and we never, we’ve never had… We don’t call each other names, uh, we don’t have kind of a lot of vitriol. But you have your own way, as a husband, right? You can be overly harsh with your wife or you can… And so, the conviction I came to is that, “Yeah, my wife is tough but she shouldn’t have to be tough on account of me.”

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: She shouldn’t have to be-

Jim: That’s a good statement.

Ryan: … I shouldn’t be the reason that she is calloused, right, in some way. I should be the safe place for her. And I think, so many times as husbands, we wield our words, uh, without that occurring to us. That we just-

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: … we’re so familiar and, uh, we- we are overly- overly tough and over- overly combative at times with our wives. So, that was a conviction I had and, uh, and so I’m encouraging men to, uh, think more clearly about their own, uh… We… I talk about this toughness in terms of work but also just toughness in terms of familiarity.

Jim: What so much if it could be-

Ryan: And staying soft.

Jim: … it can be a look, it can be… it doesn’t even have to be words.

John: Hmm.

Jim: It can be an eye, the way you look at her.

John: Yeah.

Ryan: Or even, your, uh, uh, your- your own… your posture.

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: You know?

Jim: Hmm.

Ryan: We’re- we’re posing.

John: Yeah.

Ryan: You get larger, you know?

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: Ne- never use your- your stature to intimidate your wife.

Jim: I remember Jean saying that to me regarding the kids. You know, she goes, “You’re a big guy. And when you’re upset with the kids-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … get down on a knee and look at ’em eye-to-eye, because I think you’re, like, intimidating them.”

Ryan: Right.

Jim: And that’s not what you wanna do.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Same thing in marriage.

John: Yeah.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: Especially if, you know, a guy has size and… that can be really intimidating.

Ryan: Right.

Jim: And you don’t even mean to. Uh, uh, I totally was taken by that. I was like, “Seriously?”

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: She goes, “Oh, yeah. I could see it. They-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … they are backing up.”

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: And I was like, “Wow!” Because I, you know, there was no physical abuse or anything.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: But she just said, “Your presence is big.”

Ryan: And, as a man being, uh, a- aware of that and willing to serve your family in that way-

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: … I think-

Jim: Oh, yeah.

Ryan: … I mean. Look, at Christ, right, the Lion, the Lion-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: … of the tribe of Judah, but also the Lamb of God-

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: … he humbled himself to death on the cross. If he can do that, like, we can-

Jim: It’s a great point.

Ryan: … we can humble ourselves a little bit and understand.

Jim: Yeah. Hey, in the book you talked about climbing Mount Rainier and what I really-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … wanted to ask you is, Why? No, I’m kidding! (laughs)

Ryan: (laughs) because it’s there.

Jim: I have flown over it a few times on my way to see-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … Apple or whatever, but-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … it looks like a great mountain to look at.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: But you decided to climb it and what did you notice about the peak when you got there? Which, way to go!

Ryan: (laughs)

Jim: I’m glad you got there!

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah, well, if you’ve ever flown over a mountain peak, or you’ve climbed it, it occurred to me, uh, that noth- nothing lives up there. Like, nothing. Like, it’s completely barren, completely-

Jim: Just dirt and rock.

Ryan: Yeah. And- and so I- I think… And the reason I brought that up in the book, I talk about that experience, is that there’s a mountain that many men climb and if they don’t… if they try to stay up there, whether they mean to or they do it unwittingly, uh, stuff dies, right?

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: And I- I call it Mount Foolish and I talk about the Dunning-Kruger effect where-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: … as you learn a new skill, uh, sometimes your own, uh, your own pride will get ahead of your competency. So, a lot of guys, they- they think you… they look… they think they- they don’t need to learn how to communicate better and they, kind of, stay on Mount Foolish before they are humbled to the point where, “I need to learn and I need to not- not pretend I know more than I know.” And so it’s urging guys to say, “Hey, I don’t know everything that can be learned about how to communicate with my wife. I’m gonna, I’m gonna descend off this peak where everything can die, Mount Foolish, I’m gonna come down into Hum- Humility Valley that I might learn how to love my life well.” And then, over time, your- your competency grows com-… in a commensurate rate with your, uh, with your ability or-

John: Hmm.

Ryan: Yeah.

John: R- Ryan, we pray before our broadcasts and so I know what’s gonna happen. Some guy is hearing this tonight and- and he’s gonna walk into what he thinks is a trap, it’s a communication thing, he gets home. He’s gonna be humbled. And so, how does he take what you’re saying right now and get off of Mount Foolish and back into a space-

Ryan: Hmm.

John: … where something is alive and growing?

Ryan: In those moments, I think the wisest thing a husband can do is just to not react, right? The difference between a reaction and a response is about three seconds.

John: Hmm.

Ryan: Read the room. Your wife is saying more than her words. She’s saying… her whole day is coming out in that moment so, as a husband, have your eyes open, have your wits about you. Don’t react, respond. And, how you respond, well, respond as Christ would respond. Respond in love, respond with, we talked about humility. So, yeah, I mean, uh, we all kind of, I think, in communication the- the traps abound, especially marriage.

John: And I didn’t mean she’s setting the trap. I just mean-

Ryan: Sure.

John: … we- w- we need humbling. I need humbling a lot, so-

Jim: What?

John: (laughs) I- I’ll invariably get a chance to-

Ryan: (laughs)

Jim: That’s so humble of you to say, John.

John: I’ll invariably have a chance to practice this.

Jim: (laughs) You know, we said earlier, uh, Ryan, that you hear from men who have hit tough spots in their marriages and they tell you they’ve tried everything.

John: Hmm.

Jim: (Laughing) that usually means they’ve missed something. Um, what do you say in response to them saying, “Hey, Ryan, I’ve done it all.”

Ryan: (laughs)

Jim: But it’s not working.

Ryan: Yeah, well, try more (laughs).

Jim: (laughs) Try.

Ryan: And keep communicating through it. And then, obviously, if- if you can’t do it on your own, then get good men beside you and get pastors beside you, yeah.

Jim: Well, it also might mean you’re not trying in the right way.

Ryan: Sure.

Jim: I mean, that would probably be the right, rational response to that. And, you know, doing something over and over and… again and getting the same result-

John: Yeah.

Jim: … is not what you want.

Ryan: Yeah, ma- ma- marriage takes two. So, if you’ve got a- a… there’s a lot that go into it now if a husband is at a s-, at- at a standstill and he is trying to communicate. He is… Men around him are saying, “Hey, you’re…” You know, you’re saying this clearly, that’s maybe a different conversation.

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: But many… in many cases, it’s just, yeah, you haven’t quite tried everything.

Jim: You got a powerful-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … illustration about compounding communication in the book.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: That 30-day thing. I- I was, like, floored by that.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: Can you explain what the-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … correlation was?

Ryan: Yeah, so the question is, if you could have $1 million today or, what is it, a penny that doubles every day for 30 days, what would you, what would you have? And, uh, of course, the question… the answer to these sorts of questions is always the- the non-intuitive one. And so, if you took $1 million today, that’s great, you have $1 million but if you waited 30 days, you would, you would have less than $1 million clear up to, like, day 20-something but then, after that, you would have… you would end at over $10 million.

Jim: (laughs)

Ryan: And the point I’m trying to make-

John: Wow.

Ryan: … you must-

Jim: I can’t do that math!

John: (laughs)

Jim: I’m gonna home tonight-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … and sit and count this out.

Ryan: It’s about a penny a day, it- it seems like you’re giving up a lot but then, the… it compounds over time. And the idea there is, uh, it comes from Proverbs 6, I think it says, uh, “Look to the ant,” right, “who is always working and always storing up.”

Jim: Hmm.

Ryan: There’s wisdom in the incremental gains. And so, encouraging guys to, not just try to fix it all at once, but just do one small wise change every day.

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: And keep doing it. Now-

Jim: Well, that’s-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … really important because guys can get overwhelmed, you know?

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: Our- our brains are pretty limited. We gotta-

Ryan: Right.

Jim: … focus on things, that’s why men, they say, psychologists, you know, men, the best chefs are men. We have this ability that God’s given us to z-… really zero in on a-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … on a task.

Ryan: Right.

Jim: But at the same time, it means we aren’t hearing anybody around us. We are focused. And that’s both a blessing and a detriment.

Ryan: Yeah. So, you don’t have to fix it all at once. You… that focus they can-

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: … project that and say, “I just need to do one thing that I wouldn’t normally have done. So, I’m gonna send my wife a loving note. I’m gonna, I’m gonna wait, I’m not gonna react, instead I’m gonna respond. Or I’m gonna, you know, I’m not gonna read into it like I normally would-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: … and say I’m gonna ask her to clarify.” So, these are all small little things that are… If the husband can just do one thing every day or so, yeah, I mean, you’ll have $10 million eventually.

John: It’d be worth more than $10 million.

Ryan: (laughs) yes!

Jim: (laughs) yes, definitely!

John: (laughs)

Jim: You also, uh, talk about couples having a shared language. That sounds romantic and poetic, what does it mean?

Ryan: (laughs) shared language.

John: (laughs)

Jim: Uh, Jean, I… w- want some lunch with me?

John: (laughs)

Jim: You wanna eat a meatball sandwich?

Ryan: Yeah, I mean, that can go two ways, right? We talk about familiarity. Oh, well, you can be fa- familiar in a sense that it’s, uh, causing isolation in your marriage. Or you can have a familiarity where you can walk into a crowded room and you can look for your wife and you can make eye contact with her, and- and cast her, you know, some sort of smirk or a glance or a wink or something that you know is gonna speak to her. That- that’s built over time. And so, the same thing happens in terms of communication culture in your home, right? So, either your shared language is gonna be fostering a healthy communication culture that’s gonna be something that your kids are gonna observe. They’re gonna wanna kee-… because it’s- it’s building life. Or you can have a shared language that is, you know, negative or- or, you know, um, you’re walking on eggshells all the time because you’re always waiting for the next explosion to happen, type of thing.

John: Hmm.

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: So, I’m- I’m not sure if you were going there with that but, yeah, it’s… Couples can share language in many ways and they can share a culture and, certainly, build it together.

Jim: The last analogy I wanted to touch base with you on was, you talk about, in the book, uh, being quite a daredevil, jumping off high places-

Ryan: (laughs) yeah!

Jim: … into bodies of water.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And you wanna make sure certain things aren’t… debris fields aren’t there. Speak to that analogy and then what… h- how does that fit with marriage and communication?

Ryan: Yeah, so… uh, the- the example I share is, um, I was scaling the side of this cliff, uh, over, there’s a river in Mount Rainier. And it… the river has- has a- a logjam. And so I can… I’ve fallen into water, I’ve, you know, I’ve… th- that’s not a big deal. The water’s cold, I can swim. All that’s fine. But a logjam is virtually unsurvivable.

Jim: Hmm.

Ryan: And so I was genuinely scared. I thought, you know, “I might die in this place.” And I think a lot of guys get to that place in their marriage where they’re- they’re hanging on by a thread and they can see the logjam developing. They can see that they’re headed for it and they don’t know how to get out of it. And so, in the book, I give a number of tools to help them break that logjam, to… You- you… The only way you can break it free is, you just gotta pull one log out at a time. And what are those logs in your marriage that are keep the communication from flowing that are gonna kill you if you don’t break this thing free?

Jim: What are some examples to solve it?

Ryan: So, often we can overlook this, but just pray.

Jim: Hmm.

Ryan: Pray, ask God to help you, reveal areas in your own heart where you’ve been hardened and you’re blinded to, maybe, things that are too close to your face. The… Whatever He shows you, then repent of those things. Like, that… It’s funny how that has nothing to do with talking to your wife, right? You’re talking to God, you’re clearing the lines of communication between you and God. Then you can begin to see clearly what these logs actually are and you can out strategically and pull those out. Uh, some other ones would be, like, um, confirming and clarifying meaning. S- so we’ve talked about-

Jim: That’s important.

Ryan: … talked about tone being a big deal. Or, you know, or… My wife, she’ll say things and if I don’t confirm what she means, like, there’s been times I’m completely on a different page.

Jim: Hmm.

Ryan: She thinks I can read her mind (laughs)!

John: Yeah-

Ryan: Sometimes I can.

John: It’s fairly common.

Ryan: Right. And so, I… confirm that meaning and clarify, that’s- that’s a huge log that you start getting out of your communication logjam so that you can start to actually talk about these things again.

Jim: But, they do take discipline. One is overlooking annoyances (laughs) and, uh, offenses.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: And I think our flesh… we love to keep score.

Ryan: (laughs)

Jim: So, you know, you don’t wanna say, “Well, you remember 14 years ago-

Ryan: Hmm. Right.

Jim: … this is what you said to me.”

Ryan: Right.

Jim: What? What? So, I mean, uh, uh, that’s a discipline, right?

Ryan: Oh, yeah. Yeah, but so often those- those, uh, types of, um, horr-… the things that are truly are not really forgiven at that point, if you’re still harboring it against them. And so even to set the stage, I think, as a husband to do that work. To say, “Listen, this is an issue that we have dealt with,” all right? If that’s what you’re talking about-

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: … but we need to actually sit down, have some time, what- whatever that means. Get the kids somewhere, get… you know, set the stage. That’s part of the plucking out the logs, right?

Jim: And in there the-

Ryan: Setting the stage.

Jim: … the two that seem contradictory, I know they’re not but I’d like for you to explain that. One is, use your manners. So that (laughs) that- that’s a good… that’s always a good idea.

John: Kind of basic stuff there, right.

Jim: But then, also, be honest in your communication. Guys can be brutally honest.

John: (laughs)

Ryan: Hmm.

Jim: We- we tend to, “Okay, yeah. You want my honest opinion? You don’t look very good in that dress!”

John: (laughs)

Ryan: (laughs)

Jim: But that’s not, uh, good manners. So, some of these things can collide, right?

Ryan: That’s part of, uh, being able to, uh, send clear signals because, yeah, you can say a true thing, but saying true things doesn’t mean you’re- you’re right. Now, it doesn’t mean you don’t say the true thing but you need to say it in a way that the signal’s not lost in the noise, right? Just the brash, “Okay, you want my honest opinion? You don’t look good, right?” Okay, well-

Jim: (laughs) I have never said that!

Ryan: Good!

Jim: Jean looks great in every dress-

Ryan: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Jim: … she’s ever put on (laughs).

Ryan: Just for the record, I would say the same thing about my wife!

Jim: It makes me, kind of, nervous hearing you say that.

Ryan: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Jim: I’m, like, “Dude! You need to write another book!”

Ryan: Yeah!

John: There’s a big pregnant pause right there (laughs).

Ryan: I know (laughs)!

John: You were feeling that.

Jim: But appreciate your honesty.

John: Yeah.

Ryan: Yeah. Or another one would be, like, “You want my honest opinion? I think your- your- your mom talks too much.”

Jim: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Ryan: Or whatever that… the thing is, right (laughs)? I’m just-

Jim: Man, you’re hittin’ all the hot buttons.

Ryan: I- I’m hittin’ all the hot buttons.

John: Yeah.

Ryan: But the point is, is you can communicate that in a way that is gonna be heard, or you can cloud it with all the noise of your inability to do it lovingly and articulately.

Jim: Yeah. Well, Ryan, this has been such good material. And Focus is here for you, that’s the thing, we gotta make sure that we, uh, alert you to that. We’re for your marriage. We’ve been at it over 45 years. Give us a call if you’re having some struggles. We will do everything we can do to help you.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: The first thing is a free assessment that, uh, couples can go to the website and do. You can do it as an individual or a couple. And it’s free. And it’ll give you some areas that you’re doing great in and some areas to work in.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And then, link that to some of the resources here at Focus that can help strengthen those areas where maybe you’re not scoring as high. It’s just a good way to get a gauge-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … on how you’re doing in your marriage. Of course, Ryan’s great book, How a Husband Speaks: Leading and Loving Your Wife Through Godly Communication, this is here for you, as well. And like we often do, if you can make a gift of any amount, monthly or one-time, we’ll send it as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry and helping other marriages to thrive in Christ.

John: Yeah, join the support team, find resources like that marriage assessment, Ryan’s book and we’ve got it all at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Ryan, again, thank you for being with us, this is great material.

Ryan: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

John: And tomorrow, we’ll talk about how you can pray for your adult child.

Jodie Berndt: My friend sent me a poem just this week, and she said, um… I won’t quote the poem, right, but the gist of it was, when you were little, I, um, I touched you and I covered you with a blanket, t- tucking you in. Now you’re grown, you’re out of my reach and I’m covering you with my prayers.

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

Today's Guests

How a Husband Speaks: Leading and Loving Your Wife Through Godly Communication (How They Speak)

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