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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Never Stop Looking Up in Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Never Stop Looking Up in Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

In a discussion based on their book, Vertical Marriage, Dave Wilson and his wife, Ann, encourage couples to look to God instead of to each other to find purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in their life and their relationship. (Part 1 of 2)


John Fuller: You know, in some ways, marriage is like a dance. In the beginning, you’re so excited to hold hands and move to the music, and it’s fun and easy. But then life happens, and the tempo gets faster, and it’s harder to dance together in the marital relationship. And sometimes, you might accidentally step on your partner’s toes or something.

Jim Daly: Yeah, at least.

John: This is Focus on the Family. We’re gonna hear from a couple who have let each other down in their marriage dance, both literally and figuratively. But in Christ they have found rhythm again. They’ve learned new steps. They’ve figured out how to hold onto the relationship. And your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.

Jim: Hey, John, when there’s conflict in marriage, most couples seem to have two responses, either they panic and worry they married the wrong person. Now, be honest. Have you ever thought that, you, the listener? Has that ever crept in? Or you know what, you just shrug your shoulders and say, “Okay, I’m gonna accept the conflict. I’m gonna accept it the way it is. And this is part of being a Christian in my marriage.” Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3 that God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. Just let that sink in for a minute.

Um, it’s possible for you to have a God-honoring, joyful, probably not perfect, but a healthy marriage. It really is! But here’s the catch – are you willing to stop focusing on your spouse’s flaws and work on your stuff? And the answer typically for all of us as human beings is, “No, I’d rather work on the other person.”


Because we’re selfish creatures. Our guests today, Dave and Ann Wilson, they spent a lot of years thinking that their marriage would be better off if only their spouse would straighten out. And, you know, I’m in there, too. I mean, I’ve often thought that. I’m sure Jean has thought that as well. “If Jim would only do this, we’d have a far better marriage.” And that’s probably true in so many ways. It’s how you lay your life down for one another, how you become selfless, that’s the bottom line in my mind. And that’s why God has set it up this way. He lets opposites attract so that you can irritate each other into the kingdom of God and become more like Christ. It’s an awesome plan. And I hope today’s program will bring you hope.

John: And the Wilsons are co-founders and teaching pastors at Kensington Community Church, which is a national multi-campus church. And they’ve been married for 39 years, have three grown sons and four grandkids.


Jim: Dave and Ann, welcome to Focus for the first time, right?

Ann Wilson: Yes. Thank you.

Dave Wilson: First time and we are glad to be here.

Jim: It is so good to have you. Well, you two, um, accidentally – I’m going to start right with your most embarrassing story – your dance contest.


Dave: Really? That’s where you want to start?

Jim: It may not be your most embarrassing story, but it certainly is funny. This to me is the quintessential miscommunication in marriage. I mean, I was telling my wife about your story this morning. She was howling going, “Oh, man.” And I’m so glad I didn’t make this mistake, Dave, I mean. So what happened? How many years were you married? What went on with this little miscommunication?

Dave: It was actually our 25th wedding anniversary.

Jim: Oh, man!


Dave: We’re in Mexico at an all-inclusive – we’d never been to an all-inclusive. So I’m a tightwad, and I’m loving this place because it’s free…

Jim: All you can eat!

Ann: Yes.

Dave: …All you can eat, you swim up to the pool and get a Coke, I mean, everything’s free. So we ended up at this dinner theater where I guess every night all the couples go…

Ann: Yeah, they have a show every night.

Dave: …We didn’t know. We were just in our own little world. So we end up there. They want volunteers. We end up backstage. We were cued that it was the newlywed game. So we thought we were volunteering to get a newlywed game. We didn’t know until the curtain opened, emcee walks out and goes, “Tonight is dance competition night.”

Jim: Right up your alley.


Ann: Oh, it’s terrible. Like, we are terrible dancers.

Dave: We looked at each other like – yeah, we love to – yeah, but we can’t dance.

Ann: And they – and they said, “We’re going to be having music from – and dances from around the world.” And so, you know, we’re going to do music that’s the waltz. And so we have to – you know, Dave’s like, “What’s the waltz?”


Jim: Dave.

Dave: And so it’s going to be voted off by the crowd.

Jim: Okay. And the prize is what do you think?

Dave: Well, they said, “Grand prize.” And we’re thinking another free trip back here.

Jim: Yeah, that’d be a grand prize.

John: That would be a great prize.

Dave: That would be a grand prize. And he kept saying, “Grand prize.” So we’re like, “We gotta win this thing!” Well, we get voted off first couple. We’re out. They vote us off because we’re terrible.

Ann: We’re terrible.

Dave: We can’t dance. And there’s 8 couples or 10 couples. And we’re off. And we’re going to our seat. And as we’re going the emcee says, “Who are you and where are you from?” So we say, “We’re Dave and Ann from Michigan.” And the crowd starts roaring. And he goes, “You want them back on?” And they go, “Yeah.” And we’re like, “No, we’re fine.” We’re sitting down. He goes, “No, you’re back on.” And we…

Jim: Were you a fan favorite because you were that bad?

Dave: …We’re that bad.


We think there were people from the Midwest.

Ann: Yeah, that’s the only thing that it could be.

Dave: They must’ve heard Michigan like we represent them. So we end up back. We get to the final three. Again, don’t ask me how. They have to be blind, right? And then the final dance – you know, before that we’re all dancing together. Now he says, “Dave and Ann, Michigan, you go first. One couple at a time.” He goes, “Last category of music.” It was all categories. He goes, “‘60s music, acrobatic.”


That’s what he said. And I laughed like Jim did. I’m like, “What you mean acrobatic?” And he goes, “The more acrobatic you are, the better chance you have of winning” – and he said it again – “the grand prize.” So I look at Ann – nobody there knows this but me – but she was a gymnast her whole life.

Jim: Oh, okay.

Dave: She can do aerial flips and round offs and one – I’m not kidding – one arm pushups, guys, she could push…

Jim: You’re going to win this thing?

Dave: Oh, yeah.


Ann: Dave has this glimmer in his eye, like, “We’re gonna win!” And so he bends down to me and he says, “You do you – end with the one arm pushups and we’re going to win.”

Dave: Yeah, and she gives me the look, like, “Got it.” So I’m…

Ann: And we’re both pretty competitive.

Dave: …Yeah, we’re in the final three now, so we’re going after this grand prize. So I back up out of the way because I can’t dance. And I just do my John Travolta and…

Jim: “Stayin’ Alive” thing.

Dave: …You know, I do nothing. And while I’m doing this, she starts running across the stage. And she does aerials. You know what those are?

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: They’re cartwheels without hands, I guess. I don’t know. She – bam, lands this thing. And the crowds, “Oh.” And then she goes the other way, F-F-F, bam, oh. And it’s like fireworks are going off. This place is loving her. And I’m just, like, “Go girl, go girl!” It was just hilarious. And then the music’s starting to end. And I’m at one end of the stage. We’re 20 yards apart.

Ann: And so we look at each other like, “We need to end this really well.” And so we look at each other, like how should we end it?

Dave: And I get this great idea – at least I thought. I put my arms in a big circle…

Jim: Out in front of you?

Dave: …Like a Hula-Hoop.

Ann: It didn’t look like that to me, Jim.

Dave: It was a circle.

Jim: This is the communication part.

Dave: Here we go.


Jim: So you think it’s a circle for her to dive through.

Dave: Yeah, I’m, like, you know, SeaWorld, I mean, Shamu goes through that thing.

Jim: Well, I’d go to maybe a dolphin.

Ann: Thank you!

Dave: All right, a dolphin, okay.

Jim: Don’t go there. This is the piece of marriage advice.

Ann: Yes, thank you.

Dave: Thanks for that advice.


Jim: Okay, there you go. And you’re thinking?

Ann: I’m thinking, “What’s he doing?”


Jim: This is a good time to call a timeout.

Ann: Yes, but I look at it and I think, “Oh, he’s holding his arms in a way that he’s going to catch me like Jennifer Grey in that old movie, Dirty Dancing.”

Jim: There you go.

Ann: And I think, “He’s going to catch me, and we’re going to spin around, and we’ll end it and we’ll win.”

Dave: My arms were in a circle, no question.

Ann: No. So we look at each other like, “Got it.”

Jim: Okay.

Ann: And so I start running as hard as I can because, you know, as a gymnast, you go 100 percent and you go hard or else you could get hurt. So I run as hard as I can…

Dave: I mean, picture the Olympic vault. She is sprinting…

Jim: Right – boom, boom, boom, boom.

Dave: …At me. And I’m like, “This is awesome,” you know?


And so she jumps up in the air. And I turn to get out of her way because I’m like, she’s gonna do her little flip, she’s going to land, I’ll turn back around and there she’ll be. So I literally turn my back.

Ann: And I smash to the ground, barely catching my face from hitting and I am in pain.

Dave: She face plants. I hear it. I never saw it. I heard it, like, “Bam!” And the crowds, “Oh!” And I’m, you know, it’s one of those moments you’re like, “I know everything that just happened behind me just by the sound.”

Jim: And it’s not good?

Dave: Like, “She thought I was gonna catch her, oh, my gosh. When I turn around the crowd is looking at me like, “You jerk!” – right?


‘Cause it looked like I did it on purpose. And she’s laying there laughing – which is weird.

Ann: I am laughing so hard in so much pain. But I’m thinking, “We are the dumbest people on the planet. We’re old. We’ve been married 25 years. What are we thinking?” And I’m laughing thinking, “We are so dumb.”

Dave: And here’s all you need to know – we won first prize.

Jim: You know, that’s not all we need to know. You also had some major injuries out of this thing.

Dave: I’m trying to cover that part up.

Jim: Don’t forget that. Dave, this is going right to your pain. This is an intervention.


Ann: Yes, we end up finding out – this is after we got home – that I broke both my wrists.

Jim: So you had fractures?

Ann: Yes, and casts.

Jim: Did you not know they were broken?

Ann: Well, I just thought, oh…

Jim: Hey, it’s Mexico, you’re gonna go all out. We’ll take care of it when – you are tough.

Dave: She kept grabbing her wrists the rest of the trip, I’m like, “Eh, you’re fine, you’re fine.” We get back and go to the doctor. And, you know, she’s a tough gymnast. But she comes home with two casts on her wrists.

John: And what was the grand prize? I didn’t catch that.

Dave: Well, it was two free T-shirts.


That’s what we got.

Jim: I hope they gave your T-shirt to Ann. One for each arm.

Dave: I gave it to her. Yeah, she could wrap her wrists in them.

Jim: Wrap her wrists in them. Well, you know, you guys have really illustrated – like we said at the beginning – this is miscommunication kind of exhibit A – right? – be on the same page. But you know, relate this to the whole marriage journey. I mean, this is where we miscommunicate. And I think so often we’re hoping our spouse is going to meet all our needs. And we have that expectation, and – but we’re all flawed. We’re all sinners saved by grace. So, you know, where does it go from there? I mean, you’re 25 years in. But this is the basis of marriage – isn’t it? The dark side?

Ann: Yes, yes. And I would say that, too, I feel like Dave did drop me. And he’s dropped me many times. And I’ve dropped him many times in our relationship. And it’s so funny, when you first get married, you run hard. You go hard at it. You know, you’re like, “I’m all in. I want to do this. We’re going to be great.” And then our spouse lets us down or drops us, and they disappoint us and suddenly we stop running quite as hard. And we’re afraid…

Jim: A little more cautious?

Ann: …Yes, we’re afraid that we’ll be dropped. And pretty soon you don’t have either one running toward each other.

Jim: Wow.

Dave: Yeah, and I would add I think at some point you almost think you married the wrong person because you marry the person you think’s going to make you happy.

Jim: Yes.

Dave: And then they don’t or there’s some disappointment or discouragement, and you start to think there’s someone else out there that could. I mean, it happens all the time. And I mean, we’re in our first year of marriage and driving to our first job, which is in full-time ministry to be the chaplain for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and we’re screaming at each other in a car saying, “I wish I’d never married you,” because we’re so disappointed already. Never dreaming as two followers of Christ going into ministry we’re gonna be this disappointed with each other that quickly. And so many couples go through that. And I think here’s what they think – “I married the wrong person.” And our answer – the secret we talk about in the book – is “No, you didn’t marry wrong person, you’re looking in the wrong place.”

Jim: Huh.

Dave: We did the same thing. You’re trying to find life from a person, from a job, from an amount of money, is never going to satisfy you. You have to look vertical. That’s the whole point.

John: Yeah.

Jim: Right.

John: Well, that’s why we’re doing this broadcast with Dave and Ann Wilson. This is Focus on the Family. And stop by our website to get a copy of their book, Vertical Marriage: The One Secret That Will Change Your Marriage. We’ve got that and CDs and downloads of this conversation, lots of other great resources, focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Describe that situation for you. What were the fights like? Give us a picture into – and I appreciate the vulnerability – but give us a picture into that so people hearing us can say, “Oh, that’s just like us.”

Ann: Hm. I think I had an expectation of, “This is what it would look like for Dave to lead our family spiritually.” He’s a pastor. He was a chaplain for the Detroit Lions. And I saw him lead. He’s a great leader. And so he would come home, and I had this idea of like, “Oh, my gosh, you’re gonna lead us in prayer and this devotion.” And I had this picture of what it would look like in my head. And I would say things to him, like, um, “Why aren’t you leading us?” and “Maybe you should pray more and maybe you should teach – like, just lead us or do a Bible study.”

Dave: And she would throw names in there, too, like, “Can you lead us more like Jim Daly leads?”


Jim: Yeah, right. Jean, don’t listen to this broadcast. Everybody’s guilty of falling short.

Dave: Oh, yeah. And I – and I, I mean, I look back – you know, now we’re empty-nesters – but I look back on those days and I was leading strong outside the home. And I would come home and just want to rest.

Jim: Yeah, I was gonna ask you what was the disconnect? Because I think a lot of spouses, a lot of wives, see that in their husband. They may volunteer at church or do things really good outside the home. What is it about us men, we feel the home is our refuge? It’s not the place we want to work.

Dave: Right, I think for me I really did want to come home and rest. But I also – this sounds crazy because I teach men in many ways how to lead spiritually – I felt ill-equipped to do it in my home.

Jim: Interesting.

Dave: I felt like I could do it on a stage, I can do it with men’s groups, I can do it speaking at marriage conferences. When I walk in my family room, I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, I got my wife, I don’t know how to lead her. I’ve got three sons.” I really was, like, “Somebody tell me how to do this!” And, again, I don’t want to be a victim. I never saw it growing up. I never had that, so I never had a model. So I was really looking for help that way. But what I did, I just became passive. I came in the door. I almost had an attitude like, “Hey, I’m leading strong everywhere. Give me a break. This is a place where I don’t need to lead strong.” And she was longing for me to lead, and…

Ann: Well, and I think – I don’t think I responded very well because it wasn’t motivating. It’s not motivating for a person to have their flaws pointed out daily. I think it made Dave want to retreat, you know, to go somewhere where he was being praised and applauded, because at home I feel like I was probably critiquing him at that time.

Jim: What did that sound like? Again, for people to catch it, what does a wife – speak in the gender context – what is a wife saying that makes her husband run away?

Ann: Well Dave would leave – he would leave to do something great, like lead a Bible study, do a meeting at church or whatever. And I would say things like, “Seriously, you’re leaving again and I have to do this by myself? I hope the” – here, this is being really truthful – “I hope the boys remember who you are.” Wouldn’t you want to come home to me?

Dave: And it’s interesting…

Jim: Well, but I – it was out of frustration. I don’t want to miss – yeah.

Ann: Yes, and I felt like he wasn’t hearing me.

Jim: Right, that was frustration. You’re trying to voice it. I get that. You want remedy.

Ann: Yeah.

Dave: And it was interesting, when we communicated about this feeling, what I heard – I don’t even remember specific details like that. But we put a story in the book where we were asked to speak at a MOPS group. And actually Ann was asked…

Jim: Mothers of Preschoolers?

Ann: Yes.

Dave: …Yeah, at our church. And they said, “Hey, why don’t you bring Dave. It’d be good to hear a man’s perspective.”


And so I get up there. We haven’t talked about this. “What are you going to say?” I’m like, “I don’t know, I’ll just be color commentary.” And I riff into this story that I’d never said out loud. We’d never talked about it.

Jim: Oh man!

Ann: That’s not good.

Dave: And as I’m saying it, I’m like, “This is really how a man feels.” And basically I said to these women, as a man you grow up and you have people cheering for you. If you’re good as a little kid in sports, it’s your coach, your mom, your dad, your teacher, if you’re in music, you know. Ann’s sitting on the stool and I’m like animated now.

Ann: And I’m like, “Oh, this is interesting.”

Jim: You’re connecting?

Dave: Oh, yeah. The women are like, “Yeah.”

Ann: Yeah, the women are locked in. And I’m like, “Oh, this is good. I’ve never heard this before.”

Jim: And then…

Ann: And then…


…And he says – and he also said, “And then I met Ann, and she’s basically saying, ‘Of all the men in the world I choose you, Dave Wilson, you are the man.’“ And then he’s clapping. I’m like, “Yeah, this is good. I did do that!” And then he goes, “But then we’ve been married for a while, and we men walk in the door and all we hear is, ‘Boo! Boo!’“ And I’m like, “What?” I look at him…

Dave: Yeah, I turned when I said the boo and looked at her on the stool and I’m like, “Uh-oh.”

Jim: And this is the first time you’ve ever discussed this?

Ann: Ever!

Jim: Oh, man.

Dave: And I saw her look like, “Are you kidding me?” And I’m like, “Okay, this is going to be a long drive home,” you know. But what happened in that moment is I finally articulated…

Jim: Yes.

Dave: …What I as a man felt. I can’t tell you the words she said. I just felt like, everywhere else I go, they’re cheering me…

Jim: Right.

Dave: …At my church and different places. I come home – and she’s not literally booing me. But it feels like you want to change me; you’re not satisfied with me; you’re not a good father. And so, you know, it’s interesting. We know this as men. Men go where they’re respected. It’s like a magnet. And so I don’t want to come home. I’m not saying that, but I – and I do want to come home. But inside, I’m like, “Here we go. I’m going to walk in the door, and I’m not going to be enough of a man and a leader in the home.” And so it was really hard to work through that. And honestly, that was the beginning of a real turn in our marriage…

John: Yeah.

Dave: …Because Ann really started to say, “Do I do that?” And again, I’m not saying I don’t boo her. I mean, there was the cherish and love thing. But I can tell you this: nobody cheers me more than this woman today.

John: Hmm.

Dave: It’s – she believes in me. She speaks life to me. And again, it didn’t change in one day. But over, really, some months and years, she is my biggest cheerleader. I mean, it’s – she would start to say things like, “You’re an amazing man of God.” And I would honestly think, “No, I’m not.” Like, she’s raising the bar way up here.

Jim: So you started realizing your faults…

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: …Better than her?


Dave: Yeah, yeah. But it…

Jim: Or at least what was vocalized. Yeah.

Dave: Yeah, and I think we men know this. When somebody believes in us and raises…

John: Yeah.

Dave: …The bar that we’re not even there yet, we want to become that guy.

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: And I became a better man because she started speaking life rather than…

Ann: I was…

Dave: She started cheering rather than booing.

Jim: Yeah.

Ann: I was afraid to do that because I felt like it would – Dave would think I was satisfied, and it would enable him to stay the same, which is a weird…

Jim: And, doggone it, we don’t want our men to feel that way!

Dave: Yeah, never!


Jim: I’m sorry, but…


That’s just so funny.

Ann: It’s – I know. It’s this warped view that God – for me, God had to get a hold of me.

Jim: And we’re kind of into the – a bit of the solution side. And we’re going to have you guys come back next time. We’re going to cover more of this. But I wanna go to the neck problem…

Dave: Hm.

Ann: Oh.

Jim: …’Cause I think this is really good right at the end of today.

Dave: Well…

Jim: Um, describe the neck problem. I think a lot of people are assuming they know what it means, but from both of your perspectives, what was the neck problem? And then we’ll talk about what the solution to your neck problem was.

Dave: I’ll let Ann describe it from her side, but I’ll tell you this. This was the first chapter we wrote of the book, and it was nice…


Jim: You’re gonna go right to the weakest part.

Dave: I mean, it was never gonna be in the book. Never was – did we discuss, “Let’s talk about this problem.” And Ann wrote that chapter before anything else, which was so vulnerable. I’m like, “Oh, boy. Here we go.”

Jim: So tell us.

Dave: “We’re gonna talk about that.” Go ahead, Ann.

Ann: Well, um, Dave and I were on staff with Cru. And as part of Cru spring break, you go to the beaches in Daytona and you share the Gospel with people. And so Dave and I were talking on the beach. You know, we’re standing on the beach as a married couple – first year of marriage. And Dave’s talking to me, and I’m talking to him. And suddenly, he can’t help but turn his neck, following these pretty girls in their bikinis down the beach. And so I’m like, “Hey, I’m right here.” He goes, “I know.” I said, “But you’re following these girls and watching these girls in these bikinis.” He goes, “No, I’m not.” I said, “Yes, I’m watching your eyes go down the beach.” And so that was the start of realizing, “Whoa, Dave has a neck problem.”

Dave: That’s what she called it.

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: You know, but – and I honestly denied it.

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: You know, it’s our first year of marriage. And I’ve had this problem my whole life…

Jim: Right.

Dave: …But I don’t know it. And she says, “You actually – when we’re in meetings, when we’re in events, a woman will walk by, and you’ll follow with your eyes.” I’m like, “No, I don’t.” And it was one of those things like, “Okay, I got to see if I do.”

Jim: So you didn’t even realize?

Dave: I didn’t even realize it.

Jim: That’s interesting.

Dave: I honestly denied it. And then she…

Ann: And we were new in our faith.

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: …She brought it up a few times. And I’m like, you know, “I do not!” And then one time, I’m at an event, and I’m like, “I’m gonna” – and I did. “Oh, my gosh!” And then it was like a fight not to follow some attractive woman. I’m like – it was one of the first times in my life where like, “Oh, my goodness. This is a real problem…”

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: “…That my wife pointed out. And now I’ve got to deal with it.”

Jim: So at least with that, you had credibility. I mean, what she was saying was true, right?

Dave: Yep.

Jim: And so where did that go?

Ann: Hm.

Dave: Well, it’s interesting. In the book, we have the neck problem – Ann’s perspective. And then after she wrote that, I said, “I need to give my perspective.” And I walked back through the neck problem becoming a pornography problem.

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: …Which, again, never thought we’d put in a marriage book. But it’s really honest and real, and I walk through that journey in my own life that began as a teenager, now is in my marriage, now is a decade into my marriage.

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: And it’s something that didn’t just go away like that. It was something like I had to…

Ann: Well, you would have times it would pop back up. It wasn’t a consistent…

Dave: Yeah.

Ann: …Thing in our marriage.

Dave: And I think so many people experience that, it’s – you know, it comes and goes. And I’d win and I’d lose. And…

Jim: Right.

Dave: …She was a part of that. She knew. And I told her…

Jim: Dave, let – let me put some perspective around that. And again, I don’t have the numbers right at my fingertips, but even men in the church – uh, something like 50, 60 percent of men going to church are experiencing some use of pornography or maybe addiction. It certainly would be in that number.

Ann: And those numbers are really rising among women, as well.

Jim: That’s huge and – yeah. For the guys listening, Dave, what gave you the final victory over that? How did you say, “Okay. Enough is enough?”

Dave: Oh, it was really, “I love my wife, I want to be a dad to three sons that’s honorable and I can’t carry this anymore.” So I’d say it’s…

Jim: So you had to correct that decision-making?

Dave: Yeah, I’ve just got to get help.

Ann: And it was amazing that he told me, and this became something. I think that is just a brave thing to do.

Jim: Well, it is, but at the moment…

Ann: Yeah. Right.

Jim: …Back to your response – let me say most women – you do – it’s an amazing capacity that women have…

Ann: Right.

Jim: …And that is to say, “What have I done?”

Dave: Yeah.

Ann: Exactly.

Jim: “How come I’m not enough?” And you had that fear…

Ann: Yeah.

Jim: …Anyway, right?

Ann: And I…

Jim: “Physically, am I…”

Ann: Yes.

Jim: “…Attractive to Dave?” Speak to that tenderness of a woman’s heart ‘cause you – you go right to it.

Ann: Exactly. And I think most of us as women do feel that insecurity anyway because we’re always in comparison to the world. And especially with social media today, we’re comparing ourselves to millions of women around the world. And I think what it caused me to do is it caused me to go before God and say, “God, who am I?” You know, “Am I enough?” And so to almost – it’s kind of that vertical concept of going to God first. “God, what do you say about me? Who do you say that I am? What do you want me to know about who I am and how to respond to Dave?” And I – I did not do that well at first. But I think as I began to understand and even talked to Dave that this isn’t because you’re lacking anything. This is my deal. And so it became more of a partnership. And I wish I could say I responded well every time. There were kind of going back and forth of well and not too well.

Jim: Yeah, and that’s reasonable. I think people listening – you’re both growing.

Dave: Yeah.

Ann: Yeah.

Jim: But you know, at the end here, I need to ask you. Some women would choose to leave, having the hindsight now of all the years behind you and fighting through this.

Ann: Yeah.

Jim: And we’ll pick up next time with the tools in which you do this with in your other battles. I mean, this is a great book, Vertical Marriage, but we’re on the – the core message of the book right now, which is to find your identity in Christ, not in your spouse.

Dave: Right.

Ann: Yeah.

Jim: But in that – in that time space where you are deciding, I’m sure, “Is Dave the guy for me? Have I made a big mistake?” With all the years of experience, the growth that you’ve experienced as a couple in Christ, looking back on that, was it worth holding on?

Ann: So worth it. I think the beauty is that I know Dave, the ins and out. I know everything about him, and I still love him. And isn’t that the Gospel? He knows all of my flaws, all of my weaknesses and chooses – maybe not always feels like it – but he chooses to love me. And that to me is the beauty of marriage.

Dave: And I would just add it is worth fighting for.

Ann: It’s so worth it.

Dave: And it was – it was and is a fight. And there were days we wanted to give up. I wanted to give up. But now, yeah, looking at 39 years, grandkids, a legacy, it was worth it. It still is.


Jim: Well, and I so appreciate this, Dave and Ann, what a great beginning to an incredible story, a God story, in how you guys fought through these difficulties that are, you know, germane to every human being. We all struggle in some area – pride, lust, that doubt of being enough, all the things that we’ve touched on today. I want to come back next time, if you’re willing, and we’ll dig in even further with the tools to help strengthen many, many marriages. And turning to the listener, you, yeah, I am confident there are many who are struggling in this way, and you haven’t found the tools yet to really overcome these issues in your marriage. Maybe it’s not jumping through what you thought was gonna be the embrace of your husband and landing on the stage and breaking your arms. I still can’t get over that story.

Dave: Come on it wasn’t that bad, Jim. Just her wrists, just her wrists.

Jim: You know what? If you missed the beginning of this program, you got to get the download or the CD just to hear that story. But, you know, it’s evident that we need a Savior and we need to look vertically before we can be healthy horizontally in our marriage. It’s such a beautiful analogy. So let’s do that. And if you can support the ministry in any way – and even if you can’t – this book, Vertical Marriage, by Dave and Ann Wilson is worth it in my mind to put it into your hands. So call us no matter what. If you can help us with a gift, consider it our way of saying thank you for that gift. If you can’t afford it, we’ll get it into your hands because others will see the value of providing resources to make that happen.

John: Yeah, and our number is 800-A-FAMILY – 800-232-6459. Online, we’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let me mention a couple of things to look for at the website. I would include of course the book, as Jim just mentioned, Vertical Marriage. It is a terrific resource. We have counselors on staff. And it’s possible that some of our laughter covered up a little bit of pain on your part. And if that’s the case, call us. There really is a heart on the end of the phone here. And these counselors are great. We’ll schedule the time for you to talk to them. And then finally we have a free online marriage assessment. And it has helped I think about a half million people so far. Take that assessment. It’s just a few minutes long. It’ll help you see some strengths and maybe some growing opportunities in your relationship. Again, all of this available at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Dave and Ann, again, it has been so good to have you here. I’m sure people are saying, “If they can make it, we can make it.” I hope that’s the truth.

Dave: I hope so, yeah.

Ann: Me, too.

Jim: And let’s come back, if you’re willing, and keep the discussion going.

Dave: We’d love to.

Ann: Thanks.

John: Well, on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back tomorrow. We’ll continue the conversation with Dave and Ann Wilson and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Vertical Marriage

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