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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Making Your Marriage a Picture of the Gospel (Part 2 of 2)

Making Your Marriage a Picture of the Gospel (Part 2 of 2)

D.A. Horton and his wife, Elicia, offer insights to help married couples fight for a stronger relationship and live out their faith through grace, forgiveness, and accountability in a discussion based on their book, Enter the Ring: Fighting Together for a Gospel-Saturated Marriage. (Part 2 of 2)



D.A. Horton: And the thing that we began to recognize is we were just tired. We were tired of fighting. We were tired of fussing. It was the small, little landmines. It was things that we didn’t deal with. We never sought resolution to our conflicts. We would sweep things under the rug. We were peace-faking, as Ken Sande would say. We were doing all those things…

Jim Daly: Peace-faking.

Elicia Horton: Yeah.

D.A.: …That we thought that, you know, it’s – “Let’s just put a – put a – put a Band-Aid on it.” But it’s a gaping wound that goes back to our childhood, that goes back to past relationships. And we just began to realize, there is a lot of depth to the baggage.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Pastor D.A. Horton describing the aftermath of an epic argument that he and his fiancé, Elicia, had just a few months before their wedding. The good news is D.A. and Elicia are still happily married, and they’re  back with us today on “Focus on the Family.” Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim: John, we had a great and, I would say, at times, eye-opening conversation with D.A. and Elicia about their love story. It was beautiful. It was tragic.(Laughter) It was reparative. It was all of those things. And the most important thing it was was God-centered. And I know the listeners would have heard that last time. If you missed the broadcast, uh, get a copy. Just let us know. You can download it or, you know, contact us…

John: Get the CD…

Jim: …And get the CD.

John: …Mobile app – lots of ways.

Jim: All those ways. Obviously, God worked in their hearts. And those are the principles that they’ve written about in their great book Enter The Ring. And I love the analogy. I know some go, “Oh, don’t talk about fighting.” But you know what? If you’re really into it, if you’re passionate about your marriage, you’re gonna have disagreement at times, and you’re gonna have to work these things out. And don’t step back from that. Uh, go in full force and let the Lord work in your relationship.

John: Hm.

Jim: John, I think one of the – the profound things I heard last time from D.A. and Elicia was this idea don’t fight against each other, fight for each other. That’s a takeaway. And today, we’re gonna hear more great insights about how to be spiritually healthy in your marriage, which is floor one.

John: Yeah. And if you’re thinking, gee, we fight a lot, but we’re not fighting about the right things, then, uh, as Jim said, get a copy of the previous conversation, get this book by D.A. and Elicia called Enter The Ring. Talk to one of our counselors. We are a phone call away. It’s 800, the letter A and the word family.

We are a phone call away. It’s 800-661-9800.

And like you Jim, I appreciate the vulnerability and the commitment to really stay together that our guests communicated about. They had a lot of opportunities where…

Jim: (Laughter) Yeah, they did.

John: …Uh, couples would hang it up, but they didn’t.


Jim: D.A. and Elicia, welcome back to Focus.

Elicia: Thank you.

D.A.: Thank you so much.

Jim: And we talked about that six-hour marathon argument that you had. (Laughter) And we’ll just let people be in suspense there. If you didn’t hear that. (Laughter) You got to – you got to listen to it.

But let’s pick it up today on some of the tools that you talk about in the book Enter The Ring that helped you in your marriage and has, uh, you know, really brought you to a much healthier place. That idea of communication and conflict as the big banner – uh, you two have had those epic arguments, uh, and you’ve been able to make it through there. I know some couples listening right now are saying, “How did you do that?” And that’s what (Laughter) we want to talk about. Tell us about the day when you were about to, uh, do some marriage counseling with another couple and all of a sudden things went haywire. I mean, it…

D.A.: Yeah.

Jim: …Set the – it’s a picture. (Laughter) Because this… (Laughter) Jean and I can relate to this one.

D.A.: Sure. So Saturday, uh, evening, it’s in the fall time – November. And it’s chilly. We’re living in in Kansas City, Mo., at this time. And we have a couple that’s coming over for marriage counseling. And Elicia has been cleaning the house. She’s been making her world-famous lasagna, bread, salad, the whole nine. Kids have been cleaning. And all of a sudden, I get out the shower, get my clothes on. I’m ready. And I ask Elicia how I can help.

D.A.: And this is in the 11th hour. And she just looks (Laughter) at me and says, “Oh, now you want to help, when I’ve been cooking, and I’ve been cleaning, and I’ve been getting after the kids. I’m glad you got a shower. I didn’t get a shower, but you got to get a shower.” And she’s just sitting there. And I’m like, “OK, you know what? I’m just going to wash the dishes and let you kind of deal with your flesh. Why don’t you just go get a shower?”

Jim: (Laughter) Oh!

Elicia: Yeah.

D.A.: “Go get ready.” (Laughter).

Elicia: I know.

Jim: Man, gloves are off.

Elicia: Those are fight words.

D.A.: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: Forget gloves.

Elicia: Literally, forget gloves…

D.A.: It was. She comes right back and says, “You know what? I’m sick of being in a loveless marriage.” And when she said that…

Elicia: That was a trigger word. I knew it would get his attention.

D.A.: Just like the previous broadcast, I said, “I rebuke you” – that was my thing for her. She – when she says loveless marriage, that is – that’s where I go from zero to 100 immediately. So I just slammed my fist on the counter, and I said, “Then, forget it. I’m done.” And I walked out with just jeans, my Timberland boots on and a hoodie in the middle…

Elicia: In the middle…

D.A.: …Of November.

Elicia: In November.

D.A.: It was cold outside.

Jim: And you have guests coming for dinner…

D.A.: We have guests coming…

Elicia: We have guests coming…

Jim: …That you’re going to be counseling.

Elicia: …That we’re going to be counseling.

D.A.: …That we’re going to be counseling for marriage counseling (LAUGHTER) and teaching them how to have togetherness and oneness.

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: And – and…

Jim: OK, so what’s the next frame look like?

Elicia: Oh, gosh.

D.A.: Yeah, I’m walking around frustrated, praying outside.

Elicia: My kids are back home thinking Daddy’s gone. You know, I’m trying to console them, make sure everything’s OK, also contact the couple – tell ’em, “Hey, probably tonight’s not a good night.”

D.A.: Probably. (LAUGHTER)

Elicia: Can we reschedule? Yeah.

John: Oh, my.

Elicia: So we’re literally just trying to figure out, OK, how do we talk about this but not make this a knockout, drag-out conversation?

John: Hm.

Elicia: Um…

D.A.: I ended up coming back to the house and consoling the children – let them know sometimes this happens. Um, you know, they had not seen us act like that. Uh, it’s not because we didn’t have arguments, but it just never escalated to that degree, um, and them being old enough to be aware that Mom and Dad ain’t good right now.

Jim: Yeah.

D.A.: And so we had to let them know, no, divorce is not an option, that’s not on the table. Dad got frustrated. But it’s the whole day, it’s not just the blowup. And so from there, you know, we contacted the family. And, you know, I got to get up the next morning, and I got to preach (Laughter) before our congregation. And I don’t hide these things. So you know, I’m – I’m just saying, “Man, it was a rough night last night” – walked through the passage. Then we have a meal as a – and we had an Agape feast the very next day. And so the couple is members of our church. So they come up and say, “Hey, we’re sorry about last night.” And we said, “We got to be honest with y’all.”

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: “Look; we got into an argument. She said we in a loveless marriage. I lost it. I was out walking the streets for, like, 30 minutes trying to, you know, temper myself down.” And they just…

Elicia: They just…

D.A.: …Busted out laughing.

Elicia: …Laughed.

D.A.: They were like (Laughter) …What?

Elicia: They were so relieved and…

Jim: Yeah.

Elicia: …Just thankful that we could just be vulnerable and real to let them know, yo, we don’t have it all together. (Laughter) We don’t. And so I felt like that kind of helped tear that wall down…

Jim: Yes.

Elicia: …For them to really see us as just regular people who have regular issues…

Jim: Did you…?

Elicia: …Who need to help each other.

Jim: Yeah. Did you eventually do that counseling with them? And what…

D.A.: Yeah.

Jim: …Did that…

Elicia: Yeah, we…

Jim: …Sound like? How did that go?

Elicia: We actually started at the Agape feast.

Jim: Yeah.

Elicia: And we started talking to them and just, you know, sharing what happened. And I don’t – I think we did schedule another time with them. But that point, after we got up from that table, the wife came to me and said, “I am just so thankful that this has probably been one of the best counseling sessions we’ve ever had. So thank you for your vulnerability. Thank you for your openness. And thank you for helping us see that. We’re gonna be OK.”

D.A.: Yeah. And we – we just walked them through some practical steps that we’ve had to develop in our own rhythm of marriage to say…

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: …How do we go from the point of escalation to conflict resolution?

Jim: Well, they had to be all ears.

D.A.: Oh, they were. Oh, they were. (Laughter).

D.A.: And a few other people were…

John: Yeah.

D.A.: …Too. (LAUGHTER)

John: In terms of – of the projections, I think a lot of us feel like we have to put out there a – I’m – I’m –  we’re a together couple. You know, we – we have our act together. We don’t have issues. So why is that? And how many couples do you deal with that that’s really the barrier to honesty and to – and to oneness?

D.A.: I think there’s, for us – number one, we’re millennials, so we’re just gonna put that out there. That may encourage some of y’all. That may discourage some of y’all. But what I recognize is one of the virtues generationally, generally speaking, that we value is authenticity. And so I think in our generation there’s a little bit more of a segue to be honest about brokenness and being human beings…

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: …Rather than previous generations, from what – what I’ve seen and my own limited understanding, is this facade that everything is all together, we got the picture-perfect family. Uh, it doesn’t work that way anymore. And we recognize we’re not tired – we’re tired of playing the charades. Like, we really want to make sure that people understand Jesus meets us in our mess.

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: And people need to see that and realize that. And so that way when you take down that facade, people recognize, man, if God can work on y’all…

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: …Then He can work on us.

Elicia: Amen.

Jim: Right (laughter).

D.A.: So it actually gives more hope…

Elicia: Hope, absolutely.

D.A.: …To say Jesus is more accessible than what you think.

Uh, so I think that’s one of the things that’s helped us help couples, um, deconstruct those walls. I think of that language in Ephesians 2 where Paul talks about, you know, just Jesus’ finished work. It just dissolved the barriers of separation that we, as human beings, can segregate ourselves, specifically in the body of Christ, whether it’s ethnic or gender.

D.A.: But I think that we build these walls of self-preservation. Elicia has helped me see how I even build walls of self-preservation, but Jesus came to destroy those walls…

John: Uh-hm.

D.A.: …So that I can be who He wants me to be.

Elicia: Amen.

Jim: And it’s really well-said. I – and it really – it goes right to the root of our flesh.

Elicia: Absolutely.

Jim: I mean, that’s why, again, in marriage, we become more selfish, not…

D.A.: Yeah.

Jim: …Selfless. And that’s, I think, again, why the Lord set it up.

You identified four what you call nevers…

John: Yeah.

Jim: …The things never to do in marriage. Um, let’s go there for some practical help.

Elicia: Absolutely. Um, I’ll start, and do you want to – we’ll piggyback off each other. OK.

D.A.: Sure.

Elicia: So one of the things I realized is when we came back from the fight and had to talk to our kids we wanted them to understand we never want to avoid the issue. You know, I think that’s one of the things that couples often, um, fall into – this idea that we’re just gonna avoid it, we’re just gonna pray that it goes away, and we’ll never bring it up again. And then they sweep it under the rug, and they trip over it. And so we want to make sure that even though in our moment in the heat of the flesh we don’t want to, um, escalate things with our flesh, we just say, “Hey, let’s table this for another time when we can actually talk sensibly and more lovingly and be more civil about it.”

Elicia: So avoiding the issue shouldn’t be something that we do, um, but we make sure that we say, “Hey, it’s not a good time to talk about it. So how we – how can we come back and talk about it at another time?”

Jim: Yeah, that’s good.

D.A.: I think in addition to that, also, uh, we want to try to develop a rhythm of not fighting back. So never fight back. And what I mean is, like, in the situation that we just talked about, Elicia said a trigger word. I could have came right back with another trigger word. I could have said something that would have made her upset. I could’ve said, “I rebuke you.” And then that would have been fighting back.

D.A.: So what we recognize is that you know what? It’s OK to walk away. But in the way that we – in which we walk away has to be dealt with tenderly and filled with compassion, to say, “Listen, I’m walking away from the moment, I’m not walking away from a marriage. I’m in my flesh. I’m so tempted to fight back. And right now I know that we should never fight back. So I need space. I’m gonna give you space. Let me get alone with the Lord. Let me gather my thoughts.” And we will come back so that, again, we won’t avoid the issue.

Jim: So we have, never avoid the issue, never fight back. What are the other two nevers?

Elicia: Um, the other one we would say never act as if you don’t care. Um…

D.A.: Yeah.

Elicia: …I feel like for me I think one of the greatest things I can do to hurt him is act like I don’t care about his feelings and emotions. After he just laid it all out there and expressed his heart, that – I think the most hurtful thing that I’ve done to him before, out of my own hurt, was act like I just don’t care about what you just said. And so I feel like that’s a trigger. Don’t – try to avoid that. And try to make sure that you are actively listening but also acknowledging the fact that they just laid their emotions out there, so what are we gonna do about it?

Jim: So if you’re not ready for that discussion, how would you say it to D.A.? If you  don’t want to act like you don’t care, but he’s just told you something that really irritated you…

Elicia: Yeah.

Jim: …What would you say to him?

Elicia: I would say, hey, like, I think it’s – I hear your heart, but I’m – I’m – I’m just gonna be honest, I’m stuck on my – my hurt right now. And if you can just give me some time and space to be with Jesus, so that way we can come back together and, uh, revisit the conversation…

But I feel like he’s – he’s really good about giving me that space. That’s why I said creating space would be important. Because in that moment, if the person’s not ready to talk about it, let them have that space.

Jim: Yeah.

D.A.: Yeah. And I think that’s one thing that we’ve had to learn – is that, you know, for someone – for the spouse that this has just been brewing – um, I had to use the analogy just a few weeks ago to help Elicia understand, I am not being emotionless; I’m not a robot; but you interrupted my train of thought when I’m working on something – deeply concentrating on something, and you came to me with something that you’ve been thinking about.

So we grew up in the Midwest. It gets very cold the winter. And I said, basically, it’s like you’re a warmed up car, and you’re coming to me. And when you engage the conversation, you’re warm, you’ve been running, the heat’s working, you’ve been on the freeway. You’re all (Laughter) gears going. But I’m just now getting the ignition started on my car, and I’m cold. So I’m cold compared to where you’re warm.

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: Give me a few minutes…

Elicia: That’s right.

D.A.: …To disconnect mentally from the work that I’m doing so that I can give you full attention and that you give me space to let the car – my heart – warm up, so now we can go on this drive together.

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: And we’ve had to learn because I do the same thing. She’ll put it all out there, and I have nothing to say, and she just takes that as the worst offense because she just literally gave me her heart.

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: And I’m like, I don’t know what to do with this. And a lot of that is – I’ve talked to other men. They’re like, “I don’t know what to say. I don’t have the right words. Am I gonna say something” – I’m like, I know. I have all those thoughts going on in my head. I think in that moment you just gotta be honest to say, “I don’t know what to say other than thank you for trusting me…”

Elicia: Trusting me, right…

D.A.: “…With the content of your…”

Elicia: …Acknowledging, yeah.

D.A.: “…Heart. Like, Thank you. I don’t know what to do with it. I know you don’t want me to solve the problem because when I try to solve it, you tell me you don’t need an answer.” (LAUGHTER)

Elicia: Right.

John: I’ve learned that.

D.A.: I don’t know what to do.

Elicia: Right.

Jim: I’m sitting here on pins and needles (Laughter) going…

Elicia: Yeah.

 Jim: …Don’t solve it, don’t…

D.A.: Right.

Jim: …Solve it!

D.A.: Yeah.

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: Yeah. (Laughter) So it takes time.

Jim: That’s good.

John: Hm.

Jim: That last one is never use manipulation. Boy, that can be – you can be blind to your own manipulation. So how – A, I guess, how do you – how do you become aware of when you’re manipulating? And then how do you back off?

D.A.: Yeah, I think that’s what Colossians 3, where – you know, Paul tells us to put on compassionate hearts, to be tender-hearted, full of compassion, full of forgiveness.

When – when your spouse is becoming vulnerable, they’re like clay in your hands. And if you have evil intentions, impure motives, carnal thoughts, you can shape them by shaming them and guilting them…

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: …And turning the entire issue back on your spouse. And you think you’re scot-free. You win an argument, but you could potentially lose your spouse.

Elicia: Right. And…

D.A.: It’s not worth it.

Elicia: And I think, for me, Philippians Chapter 2 is when I often have to go back to – is saying do not – nothing from selfish ambition, but consider others’ needs more significant than your own. And if in that moment I’m not thinking about my spouse’s needs and what he needs from me at that time, I’m gonna easily manipulate the situations  for my outcome, for the betterment of me…

Jim: Yeah.

Elicia: …In that moment even if it’s the satisfaction of winning an argument. So…

Jim: Hm.

John: Well, our guests, once again, on “Focus on the Family” are D.A. and Elicia Horton. And, uh, they’ve written the book Enter The Ring: Fighting Together For A Gospel-Saturated Marriage. We’ve got that and, uh, the entire conversation from last time and today on CD or as a download when you stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast…

And, of course, we have our mobile app. You can pull that up, listen on the go. And, uh, that’s available as well. Or if you’d like to call us, our number is 800, the letter A and the word family.

Jim: Hey, another area that really creates marital strain are the finances. And I know in writing the book you took a close look at that. I think you identified a stat of 35 percent of couples admit that finances are the core reason that they have such, uh, disharmony in their marriage.  Um, you, too, experienced that, like most of us as young couples. Uh, what was your story when it came to finances? And what was going on?

Elicia: I always tell people, um, when Damon and I got married, um, I had a checking account and savings account, um, with money in it. And (Laughter) he came with, uh, red numbers, right?

D.A.: Four different (Laughter) checking and savings accounts all with red numbers (LAUGHTER) on my end.

Elicia: And so we’d obviously had, um, different perspectives when it came to our finances.

D.A.: And we still do. We still do. We don’t – we don’t see eye to eye on everything, but there’s a lot more harmony now than there was when we first got together.

Jim: So what were some of the colossal, uh, missteps that you had? What was – did – did you hit a bankruptcy moment or…?

D.A.: We did. Early on in our…

John: Oh.

D.A.: …Marriage – uh, so we grew up in poverty. We grew up in the inner city. And, uh, we always believed in the American dream – that that was the – the reason for living. And so our faith in Christ, everything – giving to the local church – all that came as a footnote to the American dream.

Um, and so, you know, at a young age – we were a year and a half into our marriage – we got approved for, uh, a loan – much more than we should have got approved for. Uh, this was, you know, in the 20 – 2007-2008 era.

Jim: Oh, right at the bubble time.

D.A.: Yes.

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: And, um, so we took all that equity in the home, and we added a basketball court, you know, redid our, uh, basement – 51-inch screen TV – cars, family trips, timeshare that we never used, credit card debt. And we were just racking it all up. And the entire time, I can’t even think of one time we ever contributed to the local church.

Elicia: Hm.

D.A.: And we’re walking with Jesus the whole time, you know, and we’re like, “Man, thank you, Lord, for these blessings, you’re reigning from heaven.” And – uh, and we hit – we hit the – the reality that, man, we have, uh, racked up a debt that there is absolutely no way we could pay off.

Elicia: Yeah.

D.A.: And, uh, we had to come to Jesus and repent. And in that moment of repentance, we recognized we surrender all these things, and we had to file bankruptcy – a Chapter 7. Uh, and we were at 20 – I was 27-28 years old.

 Elicia: Yeah.

D.A.: Yeah.

Jim: And how were some of those disagreements? I mean, did you guys – did you fight fair in that? Or did you pull together?

Elicia: Oh, no. No, we didn’t pull together because I felt that – and here’s the – here’s the kicker – it was the house right next door to my parents…

Jim: Oh, no!

Elicia: …That was also across the street from my brother.

D.A.: Yeah.

Jim: OK.

Elicia: So not just was it the American dream but a whole family was there. You know, and I felt that for me to walk away from this means I’m walking away from everything that I…

Jim: Your family.

Elicia: …Want…

John: Hm.

Jim: Yeah.

Elicia: …My family, everything that I ever knew, everything that I ever wanted to live for, you know. But obviously it was the wrong way to live.

Um, and so, yeah, we never came together on that. He wanted to go. I wanted to stay. And it was the Lord that really did a – a move on both of our hearts to say, OK, we’re gonna go in this direction. And He humbled us. And…

Jim: Yeah.

Elicia: …It was in a good way because we went to a Bible college. We stayed on campus. It was a two-room bedroom apartment that was an old Army barrack…

Jim: Right.

Elicia: …And, um, roach-filled, mold-infested. And that was some of the best times…

Jim: Yeah…

Elicia: …Of…

Jim: …Interesting. Huh…

Elicia: …Our marriage.

D.A.: Yeah.

John: In what ways?

D.A.: Oh…

Elicia: Because we felt that it was more of a simple way of life. We felt that we were able to concentrate on things that actually mattered versus trying to fill it with things that didn’t matter, um, and just really spend more time together and not be distracted.

Jim: I think the, uh, the move from the 51-inch TV to the 13-inch-Disney-princess…

D.A.: TV.

Jim: …Television (laughter)…

D.A.: That was our daughter’s. We borrowed that from our…

Elicia: Yeah.

D.A.: …Daughter.

Jim: That says it all (LAUGHTER) right there!

D.A.: Yeah.

Elicia: Yes.

D.A.: It does.

Elicia: Yeah.

D.A.: And those were – those were sweet moments, sweet memories because that’s when God began to allow us to form an interdependency.

Elicia: Yeah.

D.A.: So I had to shed my independent mindset, Elicia had to shed her codependent mindset, and we had to form this new authentic interdependency. And Jesus used that – that old renovated army barrack as – as the space that was our Beth-el. We met with God there.

Elicia: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah, and I – I think it leads us to the next kind of emphasis in the book that you talked about, and that’s suffering together…

Elicia: Hm.

Jim: …And the benefit of suffering together.

Jim: I don’t think in the western culture, certainly in the United States, that’s something we run to. I think we run from it.

Elicia: Right.

Jim: Even as you’re describing it – oh, how quaint that you had to go…

D.A.: Yeah.

Jim: …To this cockroach-infested area for a little while to get close to God. Isn’t that…

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: Right.

Jim: …Sweet you had to give up your big TV?

D.A.: Right.

Jim: That’s so sweet. But describe the benefits – the deep spiritual benefits of suffering. And I know people are cringing right now. They’re going, whoa, whoa, whoa, I didn’t sign up for this Gospel stuff to suffer.

D.A.: Yeah.

Jim: Well, then you aren’t really reading the Word.

D.A.: That’s true. You know, I think, from my heart, the idols of greed, consumerism, comfort and self, um, were the distractions that kept me from seeing the full radiance of Christ in my life but then also in my marriage and my parenting. Um, and then when Jesus stripped away all those things – because we would pray those dangerous prayers. Lord…

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: …Anything that you don’t desire for us that we’ve amassed take it away.

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: And He did.

Elicia: And He did.

D.A.: And He answered our prayers…

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: …Which is a good thing according to 1 John 3 – that…

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: …Our heart’s not condemned, and God is answering our prayers in harmony with His will. So if that means shedding materialism…

Elicia: Right.

D.A.: …So we can have more of our Messiah, then so be it, so that our marriage can flourish.

And so we began to recognize that and realize that you know what? Come hell or high water, Jesus is with us, He’s never gonna leave us, and we’re committed to each other. And then came deaths in our families. Then came, um, a diagnosis with multiple sclerosis for Elicia. Then came challenges, uh, with God relocating our family from Kansas City to Atlanta to North Carolina then finally to Long Beach. Um, You know, all those seasons of change and suffering allowed us to recognize that God was forming us as husband and wife, uh, melding us together in those fiery trials, like what we read about in James 1.

Jim: Yeah. I mean, this is so good. I’m sure people are thinking I want that. I want that.

John: Uhm-hm.

Jim: The subtitle of your book is Fighting Together For A Gospel-Saturated Marriage. We talked about that last time, and you gave us some definition around that. Uh, you defined what that looks like, uh, so eloquently.

But you also believe that discipleship within your marriage is a key component for living our lives according to the Gospel. I’m sure some guys are backing up from hearing that just now. Discipleship (Laughter)…In my marriage?

D.A.: …Yeah.

Jim: That’s where I want to rest. That’s where I want to escape. That’s where I want to get away because I’ve been beat up all day, and work is tough, and I’m trying to be the best dad I could be. I can feel men backing out because it feels too heavy. You want me to disciple in my marriage, and you want wives to disciple their husbands in marriage. Describe that for us. Make that edible down to bite-size.

Elicia: I think for us, um, it just came with understanding that we both had a lot of spiritual immaturity. And I felt like for me, I – God had to really break me of my pride and help me to understand that I need my husband to pour into me and not just be my pastor but be one that brings me back to Jesus when I don’t want to go.

Jim: Yeah.

Elicia: And vice versa. And once we realized that we are our strongest accountability partners, and that’s a good thing and not necessarily a bad thing, then we both said, “OK, what does that look like on a day to day?” You know, can we stop and pray together? Can we go through a book together? You know, we began to see what fits our schedules and make time for that. And even if it came from, “Hey, I’m gonna listen to this podcast. Can you listen to it and then we talk about it later?” “Sure.” It came from both of us doing those things together. And we both felt edified, and we wanted to do more of it. So I…

Jim: Yeah.

Elicia: …Felt like those are some practical ways that we thought that we needed it, and it helped us. But it had – for me, personally, I had to realize I had to overcome my pride and say I do need discipleship in this area because you’re stronger in this area than I’m at.

Jim: You know, the examples, over and over again – to me, it keeps ringing in my mind that you’re creating intimacy.

D.A.: Yeah.

Elicia: Absolutely.

Jim: Everything you’re doing when you talk about the tools of a strong Gospel-saturated marriage, it’s creating intimacy, which is what the Lord does.

D.A.: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, that is his tool.

D.A.: Amen.

Jim: Be intimate with me, and I’m gonna take you places.

But I – you know, we’re down to the last few minutes. And there were some cutting questions, as I read the book, that really caught my attention. And these were questions you defined as for husbands to ask their wives D.A., what are those questions that you might want to start with?

D.A.: You know, in the area of communication, uh, basically, how can I improve the ways I communicate? Also, does my tone of voice and nonverbal body language reassure, or does it upset you?

John: I so appreciate (LAUGHTER) I so…

Jim: Look, everybody’s cringing right now.

John: Yeah, we’ve been married – my wife and I have been married for 34 years. These are questions I need to ask tonight…

D.A.: Yeah.

John: …Because I know I put her off sometimes. I know there’s an eye roll, or there’s a certain…

Elicia: Hm.

John: …Tone… (Laughter).

John: …That just – she hears it differently.

Elicia: Uh-hm.

John: So I appreciate very much what you’re saying right there.

D.A.: Yeah, and it takes courage to ask, but it actually takes more courage and greater courage and discipline to listen and hear the answer…

Jim: Right.

D.A.: …And responses.

John: Hm.

Jim: Well, there’s a couple more, so hit those.

D.A.: Uh, for – in the area of listening, do you feel like I’m paying attention to you daily? Also, in what ways do you feel like I’m not listening well? I’ve had to ask her that on numerous occasions, and she gives me her honest feedback. And, again, it’s a come-to-Jesus moment where I’ve gotta confess and repent. And then finally, I think, in time together – in knowing Elicia’s love language, quality time is huge. So I have to ask her, am I paying enough attention to you? And do you feel like I make you a priority or not?

Elicia: I just want to add something here because I feel like these are some of the great questions that we often feel like is just the husband’s job to do and to ask. But I think for us wives, we need to be asking these same questions to them. So I don’t want to miss that. I want people to understand it takes both of us working at them.

John: So I can – I can tell Dena tonight that you have to ask these questions to me. (LAUGHTER)

Jim: Be careful with that, you know.

D.A.: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: Let’s ask Elicia…

D.A.: That’s a good point.

John: OK.

Jim: …How to go about getting that question asked (laughter).

Elicia: Yeah. I love when – when he leads in that, then I want to follow.

John: Hm.

Elicia: And when you follow – when I follow, I want to follow that example by asking him those same questions.

Jim: That’s good.

Elicia: So…

Jim: No, that’s really good. Man, this has been a great two-day experience. And I do appreciate that vulnerability that you’ve brought. And as you described the millennial attitude of authenticity, I mean, it’s good. That’s the way we should all be.

D.A.: Thank you.

Jim: Sometimes I feel – you know, sometimes, generationally, we – we ascribe too much. But there are things that are learned in a culture…

Elicia: Absolutely.

Jim: …And that you pick up. And I think authenticity is a great thing. It’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about the younger generation – younger leadership in the church – because I think they are connecting in ways that older leadership failed to, uh, slow down and take notice of or to change behaviors so that they are more real…

Elicia: Hm.

Jim: …And allow people to attach to the Gospel in easier ways. So I love it. I see what, uh, is being done, and I think it’s a – something that’s led by the Holy Spirit, frankly.

D.A.: Amen.


Jim: I think that’s what he’s up to. What a wonderful message. Enter The Ring: Fighting Together For A Gospel-Saturated Marriage – who doesn’t want this book? (Laughter) So just call us here at “Focus on the Family.” Get a hold of us. If you can afford to support the ministry on a monthly basis, that is great. It helps us to help other marriages, help parents do a better job, help save a baby’s life. I can’t think of anything that’s not worth, uh, supporting here!

Jim: But if you can do that on a monthly basis, that is great. It helps us with budgeting. If it’s a one-time gift, that’s great. If you can’t afford it, we believe in the content so much. Others will take care of covering the costs for that. Just get a hold of us, and we’ll get you a copy of the book.

But the bottom line is do something with what you’ve heard today. Act on it so that, tomorrow, it’ll change your life. It’ll change your life. And for that, I’m grateful. Thanks for being with us.

Elicia: Thank you, guys.

D.A.: Thank you so much for letting us be here.

Elicia: We appreciate it.

John: If you can, please, make a financial gift to Focus on the Family. We really would appreciate it. Generous friends like you have empowered us to rescue and strengthen tens and thousands of marriages each year, and we’d ask you to imagine just how many more hurting couples God can impact if we work together. Donate generously at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or, call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. And when you make a monthly pledge of any amount or a onetime gift, we’ll say thanks buy sending a complimentary copy of the great book by the Horton’s. And coming up next time on this broadcast, Dr. David Clarke reflects upon a need that every child has.


Dr. David Clarke: Time is so important for a child, even a young child. Love is made with time, the time you spend with them doing what they wanna do.

End of Teaser

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Enter the Ring

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