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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Rejecting Divorce and Choosing to Stay (Part 1 of 2)

Rejecting Divorce and Choosing to Stay (Part 1 of 2)

Carey and Toni Nieuwhof’s marriage wasn’t always happy and filled with love. There was a time when they were on the brink of divorce, and though they tried to make amends, they kept falling into a cycle of fighting, anger and distance. Today, Carey and Toni say they can’t imagine considering divorce. Through their honest and vulnerable stories and advice, they’ll help encourage couples considering divorce to save their marriages and take a path toward healing. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: July 18, 2023

Woman #1: He makes me so angry! I don’t know how long I can put up with this marriage.

Woman #2: No, it’s not abuse or cheating, or anything like that. It’s just…we’re always fighting…over every little thing.

Man #1: Oh yeah, I thought about it. I thought about leaving many times.

Man #2: I know we’re gonna make it. I just don’t know how.

John Fuller: Well those comments reflect great pain and the desperation that couples feel oftentimes in a struggling marriage. And you may have made a lifelong commitment to each other at your wedding, um, but now, you’re wondering, can we really even go on together? Well today on Focus on the Family, we’re gonna offer some godly hope to couples who are in trouble and really don’t want to give up. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Hey John, it can be heartbreaking when husbands and wives reach a point of hopelessness, that feeling like it’s never gonna get better. But over time, you know, life happens and things can go downhill. You gotta work at, um, marriage. Uh, Jean and I have those times too. We’re realizing we’ve gotta put more into this ’cause it’s not where it needs to be. So, you know, I have to do that in my own marriage. And, uh, eventually for some people, that D word can leak into the conversation, and that’s divorce obviously. And you certainly don’t want to be moving in that direction. Before you make a decision like that, I think there’s some really important things to consider, and we’re gonna talk about that today on this program.

John: Mm-hmm. And one of the things here that we so often speak of is our Hope Restored marriage intensives, which are an opportunity for you to spend some time one on one with some counselors and some other couples who are fighting for their marriages. We have details about Hope Restored at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Today, we’re gonna hear from a husband and wife who have had a very difficult journey, but they’re experiencing restoration, and I’m so glad that Carey and Toni Nieuwhof are here to share their story with us. Uh, they’re speakers, authors, and podcast hosts. Tony is a family law mediator, but has also worked as a divorce attorney for a number of years. Uh, she’s written a book about her background and the journey of their marriage called Before You Split: Find Out What You Really Want for the Future of Your Marriage.

Jim: Carey and Toni, welcome to Focus.

Carey Nieuwhof: Ah, it’s great to be here.

Toni Nieuwhof: Hey. We’re thrilled to be here.

Jim: It’s so good to have you here. Now first of all, we’ve gotta start with this issue where you’re, you’re both attorneys.

Carey: Ah.

Jim: How in the world did God pull you together?

Carey: (laughs)

Jim: That had to be a miracle.

Carey: Was that my fault?

Jim: (laughs) What happened?

Toni: I’ll let you start because you were the first one.

Carey: Yeah. So, uh, we both ended up at the same law school but didn’t know each other. And law school’s an interesting thing because, you know, when I finished my undergrad, y- I had a couple of friends going to law school, but there’s so many law schools and not a lot of people going. I was the only one I knew at-

Jim: (laughs)

Carey: … Osgood. And so, you’re meeting everybody for the first time. And then, I think there were maybe five sections in first year. So we were section D. It’s like there’s A, B, C, D, E. I was section D. These are the people you’re gonna do all your core curriculum with. But again, I know nobody. So we’re sitting in lectures, and all of a sudden… Well actually, it was before that. We were lining up to get books. And I saw this amazingly gorgeous woman that I had no idea who she was. It was like there was a shaft of light coming down in the-

Jim: (laughs)

Carey: … in the lobby.

Jim: She came from Heaven. (laughs)

Carey: She did come from Heaven. Mm-hmm. And I, I saw her, and I thought, who is she and how do I get an introduction. Then, we go into one of my classes and I’m like, “That’s her.” So I stared at her and really was not paying attention.

Jim: That’s not a great way to start-

Carey: (laughs)

Jim: … just by staring.

Carey: No. No.

Jim: Just a little bit of advice for you.

Carey: Yeah. Okay. All right.

Jim: (laughs)

Carey: You probably couldn’t get away with that anymore. But-

Toni: I, actually, one of my friends-

Carey: I was smitten.

Toni: … one of my friends said, uh, “Toni, I think that boy likes you.”

Carey: Uh huh.

Jim: (laughs)

Toni: “He keeps staring at you.”

Jim: ‘Cause he doesn’t stop looking at you.

Toni: (laughs)

Jim: That’s pretty funny.

Carey: So anyway, uh, uh, of course, you didn’t notice me at all.

Toni: No. (laughs)

Jim: Who is that? Who is that?

Toni: You’re-

Carey: I’m just one of 1,000 law students-

Toni: Yeah.

Carey: … and probably near the bottom of the pecking order.

Jim: Yeah.

Carey: And then, we went on this orientation event. And w- there were buses taking us from place to place. So again, I didn’t know anybody. I got off. I was working a radio station at the time. Got off late, joined at mid tour, jumped on the bus, sat down not knowing anybody. Who walks on the bus but Toni. I didn’t know her name. She sits right behind me, and I’m like, this is my moment. So I spin around and I’m like, boom, I’m locked in, and we talked for five hours that night.

Jim: Wow.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Did you realize that was the kind of strange person staring at you at the classes? (laughs)

Toni: (laughs)

Jim: Did it come together at that moment? Like uh oh, I sat behind him.

Toni: It, it, no, it didn’t quite come together. Um, but, uh, eventually, it did. I mean, we, we were friends. We were only friends at the beginning, even though we talked for five hours on the first night, because Carey actually-

Carey: Yeah. We didn’t start dating.

Toni: … had a girlfriend.

Carey: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Unfortunately.

Jim: Okay. No.

Toni: Hm.

Jim: It’s, it works. And I so appreciate that introduction for folks to hear that, that this relationship started in a normal blissful way.

Carey: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And you guys connected emotionally, and obviously the attraction was there. Let’s move the story, assuming everything kind of moved between now and what I’m about to ask you, in normal. Um, that vulnerability is terrific, but you hit a point in your marriage where I think you took off your wedding ring and said, “This is over.”

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Carey: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Now, that’s a big leap, but what happened there?

Toni: Hm. That was about 15 years into our marriage. Uh, we were struggling. We were… I, you know, both of us went into our marriage expecting that it was gonna work out. But we-

Jim: I think we all do.

Toni: Yeah.

Carey: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah. Of course.

Toni: And we found that, in so many ways, we were very, very different people. And, and I think we both clung to that mistaken belief perspective that, you know, I’m really the one who’s right here.

Carey: Yeah.

Toni: Like, you’re not quite normal.

Jim: You think that way too? (laughs)

Toni: (laughs)

Jim: I thought it was only me.

Carey: (laughs) Apparently I’m not normal, so there’s that. Uh-

Jim: I felt guilty. I thought I was wrong.

Toni: (laughs) Well, it led us into this vicious cycle of conflict-

Jim: Hm.

Toni: … that neither of us wanted to be in, but we also couldn’t find our way out of. And-

Jim: Yeah, but, a- let me ask you this question.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Jim: ‘Cause people hearing this, they’re in that spot.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And, you know, you guys, you go to law school. You’re attorneys. You’re a divorce attorney. And my goodness, you couldn’t figure out the way through this.

Toni: Hm.

Jim: Why that cloudiness, the haziness.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Carey: It was a shock to me. Like I remember that day. We were doing a lunch date, and we had what I would call garden variety conflict that just got worse and worse. It was like the just this tension, this deep tension. And I thought I was right. Toni thought she was right. But what shocked me that day was, and y- you can tell the backstory to it, but when you took off your wedding ring and you threw it down on the floor of the car-

Jim: That’s a wakeup call.

Carey: … that we were sitting in, I was like, it’s that bad? Are you kidding me? Like, okay. Now I don’t know what to do.

Toni: Mm-hmm. Well in our cycle of conflict, uh, we had these dynamics that were going on, and we’ve realized after the fact that our conflict was actually multifaceted. There were layers to it. There was, there was, you know, our, our mud, our trauma. There were different styles of conflict resolution. So just to pick on the, the conflict part of it, uh, Carey would typically want to address something and keep going at it until it was resolved. I would typically, um, need some processing time.

Carey: Mm-hmm.

Toni: Um, but also mixed in with that was the repercussions of trauma that I had gone through in my childhood that made it a much stronger tendency for me to withdraw or to dissociate.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Toni: And so, we had this back and forth. And, and meanwhile, I didn’t call it that. I called it keeping the peace. So I’m trying to keep the peace. I’m doing air quotes.

Jim: Yeah.

Toni: And Carey is, you know, as I’m saying, being aggressive, and a-

Jim: To get to a solution. Hm.

Toni: … a- to try to get to a solution. But the problem was, we never really did reach a solution.

Jim: Right.

Toni: And then we would have this tension that we would just kind of u- it’s almost like putting a, a lid on a pot of boiling water.

Jim: Hm.

Toni: Where the boiling doesn’t stop and it’s still there under the surface until something else lifts off the lid.

Jim: Right.

Toni: And so, that moment in the car was like that.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Toni: It was, it was… Carey said something like, uh, “We said noon and that was 15 minutes ago.” And then, I-

Carey: ‘Cause I like to be on time.

Jim: Yeah. (laughs)

Carey: And just-

Jim: Obviously. (laughs)

Carey: … notice we were not late today.

Toni: Yeah. (laughs)

Carey: We were not late.

Jim: You were right on time today.

Carey: Right on time.

Jim: We’ll make sure we end on time.

Carey: I just try to be on time, and it was a, that was a thing that was a shock to me. It was a garden variety-

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Carey: … challenge-

Jim: Right.

Carey: … where-

Jim: It shouldn’t fall into that-

Carey: No. I-

Jim: … boundary of divorce. What are you talking about?

Toni: Hm. Yeah.

Carey: I took time off work.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Carey: You took time off work. I think we were supposed to meet at noon or something. You came out 15 minutes late. And I think I just said exactly what you said. You know?

Toni: Hm.

Carey: “Hey,” (laughs) “This was supposed to be noon. That was 15 minutes ago.” And then I rolled my eyes.

Toni: Yeah. And, and for, for-

Jim: Well, at least she didn’t say, “That’s $400.”

Carey: (laughs)

Toni: (laughs)

Jim: … as an attorney.

John: Let me bill you.

Jim: (laughs) Yeah. I’m gonna be billing you. So.

Toni: So, I think it was the, the context where any little thing could trigger me.

Jim: Yeah.

Toni: And this was one more thing-

Jim: Yeah.

Toni: … on top of a long history. And so, I became triggered and it was heated and I was frustrated, and I had no idea at that point whether we could ever be in love again, whether our relationship was going to work out-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Toni: … because there was such a long pattern of this negative dance that we couldn’t-

Carey: Well-

Toni: … get our way out of. And so, I did. I, I forced my ring off my finger and I said, “That’s it, you have it. I don’t want it anymore.”

Jim: Wow. That’s a huge statement.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I mean, that’s coming from a deep place in your heart.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And, uh, how did you respond to that?

Carey: Well, we’re both Christians. I was a pastor at the time. So it was just shocking to me. And like I thought it was six or seven out of 10 bad, and clearly Toni thought it was 11 out of 10 bad. And so, it was a real shock to me. And I think I was just kind of, of stuck.

Jim: Hm.

Carey: And, you know, with my training, I thought, oh, we’ll, we’ll find out how to deal with this. But all of my attempts to talk through it, uh, weren’t going as well.

Jim: Hm.

Carey: And Toni had said to me maybe a couple years earlier, or maybe it was around the same time, you know, timelines become blurry over time. Um, she had started doing some counseling work, and she said, “You need to go and get some counseling.” So I had either gone just before or just after this. Do you know which it was? Was it just before?

Toni: We had started counseling already-

Carey: We had started counseling?

Toni: … by this point.

Carey: That was one of the hardest things I did-

Jim: Hm.

Carey: … because in my mind, I thought I was fine and the problem was, Toni needed to come around and try to figure stuff out and work on some of her issues. But I remember my first counseling appointment. Went up to see a friend, a pastor, who also specialized in counseling. And the hardest journey was the 30 feet from my car to the front door of the church where he did his counseling. And I just, there was so much pride there-

Jim: Hm.

Carey: … and so much fear. And I just thought to myself, I send people to counseling. I don’t go to counseling.

Jim: Hm.

Carey: What am I even doing? And I spent the first (laughs)… This is, I mean, I’ve done years of counseling, as many people have. But the first session, I just went in. His name was Jim. And I just complained to Jim for 45, 50 minutes about everything that Toni was doing wrong.

Jim: Hm.

Carey: And then, he just stopped and he looked at me deadpan and he said, “Now that we’re done talking about Toni, can we talk about you?” And that started a 20 year journey into realizing, oh, I’m a bit of a mess.

Jim: Hm.

Carey: And I have a lot of work to do. So, I thought I was better than I was in that moment, but it was a wakeup call for me. And, you know, divorce was never an option. I had heard that phrase for many years. Take divorce off the table. And that’s what I intended to do. But I think it was much more in the air for me at that time than it ever was for me.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Toni: Yeah. Once-

Carey: Well-

Toni: … once we reached that desperate place, I saw much more clearly how much, uh, more humility-

Jim: Hm.

Toni: … I needed. And we actually heard a message about that, um, 1 Peter 5, first five, um, where it says, “All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, um, for God opposes the crowd but shows favor to the humble.” And while we were struggling so desperately, it hit me. Like, I definitely do not want to be setting myself up in opposition to God. Like right now, I, I do not need God as my opponent. And, and that’s never what I wanted. We, we prayed all the way through this.

Jim: Hm. Mm-hmm.

Toni: I had always, I had never stopped morning devotions through all this period of struggle. And, um, uh, a- and we j- I just couldn’t make the pieces come together.

Carey: Yeah. I-

Toni: But I realized I needed God’s favor.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Toni: And I n- so I needed humility.

Jim: Right.

Toni: And that gave me a new level of openness when I talked to the counselor and when I prayed and searched and it made all the difference.

Jim: Well, I was gonna say, in so many ways, that the fact that you could pray and pray together and read the word, I’m sure, and give each other scriptures, that, that’s a big distinction from-

Carey: Yeah.

Jim: … other marriages that are also in the ditch but they have pulled back even emotionally to have that kind of interaction as Christians.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So that’s, that’s really strong that you were able to, uh, still have that communication.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Carey: It was a really perplexing time, and you know, as we’re talking about it today, it, it kind of reminded me, oh yeah, that happened like in our timeline about a year to two years before I burned out. So I would say, looking back on that, I was not in a very healthy place. And it’s really weird. I mean, I was doing my devotions every day. I was reading the Bible. I was praying. We would pray together. Um, you know, there were many things about our relationship that on the surface seemed well, and I was leading a very rapidly growing church at the time. We became one of the fastest growing in our denomination in the country, and I think the second largest. And so, one of the challenges for me was it was going so well at work.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Carey: How could it possibly be this bad at home?

Jim: Hm.

Carey: Like, can’t you give me the kind of respect that I get in the office, or that I get from other leaders? Like, why don’t you give… And th- you know, I look at-

Jim: I’ve never heard this argument before. (laughs)

Carey: You’ve never heard that before? (laughs)

Jim: Never. (laughs)

Carey: Jim? Really?

Jim: Never, ever.

Carey: Oh.

Jim: (laughs)

Toni: (laughs)

Carey: Well, (laughs) ouch.

Jim: Okay. Yeah. No, that’s good. It’s-

Carey: No. And, and that’s why, you know, if men… I don’t know whether men actually gravitate toward respect, but you know, you think about the vices available to a pastor. Alcohol, no. I’m not gonna get drunk. Drugs, no. Only as prescribed by a doctor and then probably for a stomach ailment. Like no, no. I’m not doing drugs. Not doing alcohol. So for me, it was food and it was work. And the vicious cycle for me at that time is if it’s going bad at home… Like, we couldn’t even agree on when the kids had to go to bed and that kind of thing, so I’m like I’ll just open up the laptop and work more. And when I did that, things went better at the church. And then when you’re leading a ministry and you’re like, well God must clearly be blessing this, uh, you know, it was all that twistedness that I had to untangle. And within a year or two of that incident with the wedding ring, I hit a wall and I hit a really deep burnout.

Jim: Hm.

Carey: And I look at my life as a hinge point. There’s me before burnout and then me after burnout. That was in 2006. But that produced such a crisis in me that it caused me to go right back to the core of who I was. I had to reprogram how I do my time, my energy, my priorities. Had to figure out leadership in a new way, which I did. But then I also realized I’m a bit of a wreck. Like, I’m, I’m a mess. And more counseling. And I would say, even though I would read about the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the fruits of the Holy Spirit were not present in my life at home. They were more present in my leadership.

Jim: Hm.

Carey: Less present in my life at home.

Jim: Hm.

Carey: And now, we still pray. (laughs) We read the Bible. Uh, I mean, we prayed together before coming here. But, uh, 17 years later, you know, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, self-control, those things are not fully present in my life but far more present in my life.

Jim: Hm.

Carey: My goodness, does your marriage ever go better.

John: Well, this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller. Our guests today are Toni and Carey Nieuwhof, uh, Toni has written a book capturing their story, and, uh, boy, they’ve been so transparent with us here so far. Uh, get a copy of the book Before You Split: Find What You Really Want for the Future of Your Marriage. Call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: You both describe, uh, perhaps the lowest part in your marriage in the book, uh, with another date night fiasco that ended up in a screaming match. Now first of all, again, I started this with saying amazingly open and I so appreciate that, you know, your vulnerability on this. And couples are going, “Oh, I can connect with that.” So throwing the ring on the, on the floor of the car and saying, “Hey, I don’t want this anymore, it’s yours,” that was phase one. (laughs) You would think that would be the wakeup call, but we’re not rational people, human beings. You know? We lean into our sin, not our virtues, unfortunately. And so, then another date night pops up. You can tell us the distance between the two. But, um, man, what were you thinking and feeling in that moment, and what happened after the screaming match?

Carey: Hm.

Toni: We… This was probably a couple of years after the, the ring incident.

Jim: Okay. So you’re s-

Carey: So we had been working on it.

Toni: So we had-

Jim: Okay. You were.

Toni: … been working on it. Um, and it was one of those processes where, you know, it’s two steps forward, one step back. We’d be doing well for a while. Then we’d fall again. And so, uh, we, we would sometimes find that, uh, if we were over-tired and it had been a long week and we were out on Friday night, date night would, would become fight night.

Carey: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Wow.

Carey: Mm-hmm.

Toni: And so, this one night… In retrospect, it probably would have been better if we had stayed at home and rested that night-

Carey: Gone to bed.

Toni: … instead of go- going out.

Carey: (laughs)

Toni: (laughs) But we, we dragged ourselves out. We were tired. And we got into-

Carey: Well, and two kids, right? You’re in it.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Carey: So.

Jim: Right. Sure.

Carey: Mm-hmm.

Toni: And, uh, we got into a, an argument that became heated, and then very heated. And, uh, I’m embarrassed to say that, having been triggered and, again, feeling like I was at the end of my rope, I actually threw my coffee at Carey.

Carey: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Hm.

Toni: And that night was the first time we actually had a conversation about what would it look like if we split.

Carey: Yeah. So we ended up at the church that night, which-

Jim: Oh.

Carey: … I don’t know how we ended up. Maybe we had to pick something up, pick up a commentary-

Toni: Oh, we were, we were driving-

Carey: … or something.

Toni: … we were driving by.

Carey: We were driving by, but maybe we pulled over.

Toni: And we were in such a-

Carey: Yeah.

Toni: … bad place. I said, “We need to go to the church.”

Jim: Hm.

Carey: Oh okay. Yeah. So we end up in the church parking lot. Toni throws her Starbucks at me. And I’m like, “That’s it.” We end up going in-

Jim: It was a Frappuccino, right?

Carey: (laughs) Yeah. It was a Frappuccino. Right.

Jim: (laughs)

Carey: So it wasn’t quite as hot as like-

Jim: Sure.

Carey: … just black coffee or black tea.

Jim: But that had to be another wake up call.

Carey: Well, I was furious.

Jim: Yeah.

Carey: And I, I don’t know if you do the enneagram stuff, but I’m an eight.

Jim: Yeah.

Carey: So get me unhealthy and I’ll come charging at you.

Jim: Yeah.

Carey: That’s why Toni said our pattern is, if we have a disagreement, I’m gonna drive a truck through it and we’re gonna resolve it. And Toni’s like, “Ah, back off, back off.” So there was that dynamic. But you had kind of explod- and we ended up in the church building. And I remember walking up to the front where I would preach. And something snapped in me. Your snap happened a couple of years earlier with the ring. And I had never… I ha- I had always resisted. I’m always like, “Not… We’re gonna make this work.” Like, it’s, it’s gonna be okay. I don’t tell this story very often. And, uh, I just snapped. And all of a sudden, I’m just like, okay, I’ve got a life without Toni. And I said, “It’s over. I’m throwing this ministry away. I’m throwing my leadership away.” I mean, it’s hard to ta- I haven’t talked about this really. It’s in your book, but it’s your version. And I just said, “That’s it. We’re getting a divorce. It’s over.”

Jim: Hm.

Carey: And, um, I don’t know. It was just, it was awful.

Jim: Hm.

Carey: And you were horrified. Horrified.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Carey: It was the first time I think I had ever shown in all those years we had known each other that I had the capacity to leave.

Jim: W- what happened there? What was going on in your heart and head when you saw this response that obviously was jarring to you?

Toni: It was jarring. I think in that moment, the, the real life consequences of us splitting crystallized in my mind-

Jim: Hm.

Toni: … because we turned to that in conversation. So then, I thought about what does happen with our parenting, what will happen with our finances, you know, who’s going to stay in the house, are we, we’re selling the house, are we relocating, uh, what-

Jim: Hm.

Toni: … happens with our ministry. And then, how can we let all of these people who we’ve been leading… Like, how can we let them down?

Jim: Hm.

Toni: And I think that’s what led us to sit at the front of the church and just look over all of the empty seats-

Jim: Wow.

Toni: … that we knew are filled with people who are searching for God and searching for love week after week. And, and I thought, I don’t really want to leave Carey. I just want to leave this painful version of our marriage behind.

Jim: Hm. That’s a big statement.

Carey: Wa- yeah. Mm-hmm.

Jim: I mean, I don’t want to run over that because that I don’t want to leave him but I don’t want this marriage in the shape it’s in, that’s big.

Carey: And you did all the things that night that I had hoped you would. You said you were sorry. You started clinging to me. You apologized. You seemed affectionate. And it’s great. I finally got everything I wanted and I don’t want it anymore. That’s what I felt like on the inside.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Hm. Wow.

Carey: Which was really weird. It was almost like-

Jim: Yeah.

Carey: … cognitive dissonance.

Jim: Right.

Carey: Like this wa- it’s, it’s almost like an out of body experience, which I’ve never had, but it’s almost like I’m watching us do this. And I think we ended up maybe praying about it.

Toni: Mm-hmm.

Carey: And, but you know, uh, like spiritual warfare. Uh, I always believed it growing up in the church. And, you know, I thought, oh, well that probably happened back then. I don’t know whether it happens today. And then we got into ministry and I’m like, oh, I think this is real.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Carey: And the problem, I mean, CS Lewis and others have pointed out with this is, you know, for some people, there is no such thing as spiritual warfare or interference. For other people, everything is spiritual warfare. The fact that this tea was a little bit hot when I drank it is, oh, the devil’s in that tea. And I, I don’t think either is true. Right?

Jim: Correct. Yeah. I would agree.

Carey: But I think there was a lot of spiritual interference because we had-

Jim: Wow.

Carey: … no idea what was ahead. We didn’t know that we would make it. I didn’t know that we would go on and start Connexus Church and it would reach more people than ever. I didn’t know I’d be impacting millions of leaders a year, but I think, looking back on it, again, I don’t wanna overscribe things to Satan that maybe were just our fallible nature. But I think the enemy had a really good shot at blowing this to smithereens.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Carey: You never know what hangs in the balance of your obedience.

Jim: Yeah.

Carey: You just don’t know.

Jim: Absolutely.

Carey: And I had been thinking about, even before that, like this is not, a divorce is not the story I wanna write for my boys.

Jim: Hm.

Carey: They were at such tender ages, you know, heading into their middle school, high school years. And I’m like, this is not the story I wanna write for my kids. This is not the story I wanna write for my family or grandkids. This is not the story I wanna write with my marriage or our ministry. But I got pushed to the wall that night.

Jim: Yeah.

Carey: And it almost unraveled.

Jim: You know the difficulty is, we are right at the end.

Carey: Oh.

Jim: And we are gonna make a turn next time, and start to talk about how God did a work in both of your hearts and how-

Carey: Hm.

Jim: … he did mend your marriage and you’re in a far better place today. That’s the hope of the whole message. And, uh, I-

Carey: Yeah.

Jim: … just wanna say to the viewer-

Carey: There’s a much better ending. (laughs)

Jim: … yeah, to the viewer and the listeners, you gotta come back for part two because we don’t wanna leave you there in part one, which is, oh, they’re just like me, uh, because God continued to work in both, uh, Toni and Carey’s heart-

Carey: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … for resolution. And maybe in that way, Toni, what you just said a moment ago, uh, replenished that picture of your marriage so that it wasn’t I don’t, I like Carey, but I don’t like our marriage, to hopefully loving both.

Carey: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And I’m looking forward to hearing that story. Man, if, uh, this has touched you, get in touch with us. Uh, we have a great counseling team that can help you begin to sort out, uh, where you’re at and where you need to go. We also have Hope Restored, where we provide intensive counseling over several days, uh, for couples who, like the Nieuwhofs, were on the brink of divorce. 80%, that’s four out of five couples, who go through Hope Restored are still married two years later and doing better. Uh, God has something better in mind for your marriage. So let us help you with these resources. And here’s the vision. I mean, you look down the road, uh. We are at the point of the spear trying to get this culture back to a place of healthiness. The way we have to do that is to keep families together and to help them do the best job they can do in raising the next generation. You talk to all of the sociologists, everyone, policy makers in DC, this is the point of the spear. The breakdown of the family is really casting a pale over the nation.

John: Hm.

Jim: And we’ve gotta turn that around. So building up more capacity for Hope Restored, where we can save four out of five marriages, think over 10 years, 40, 50,000 marriages saved. Now, we’re making a difference in the rate of divorce. Can we count on your partnership today?

John: Contact us right away and make a generous donation as you can to Focus on the Family, and we’ll say thank you by sending a copy of Toni’s book, Before You Split: Find What You Really Want for the Future of Your Marriage. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459, or you can donate and double that gift, uh, and get the book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. We’ll continue next time with more from Toni and Carey Nieuwhof, and once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Before you Split

Before You Split: Find What You Really Want for the Future of Your Marriage

Receive Before You Split for your donation of any amount! Through your support of Focus on the Family, you’ll save marriages through efforts like our Hope Restored marriage intensives. And right now, DOUBLE YOUR DOLLARS to impact twice as many marriages through a $1.4 MILLION matching opportunity provided by generous friends of the ministry.

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