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Saving Your Marriage From Divorce (Part 1 of 2)

Saving Your Marriage From Divorce (Part 1 of 2)

Dr. David Clarke shares that if you are struggling in your marriage that you are not alone and there is hope. He discusses the three main bad marriage types: “We’re unhappy but willing to work on it marriage,” “My marriage is stuck but my spouse won’t work on it marriage,” “My spouse committed a big sin marriage.” (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: July 19, 2018

Preview:

Dr. David Clarke: So you’re in a situation like that with your marriage that seems impossible, there’s just no way out. Look what’s happening, it’s been years like this, and Satan is pushing, you’re done. God may not be done and is not gonna be done with that marriage. There’s always a chance with God’s help. So God is asking you to step forward in faith, follow a series of steps, and let’s see what he can do. And we know He can do anything.

End of Preview

John Fuller: With God’s help there is hope for your marriage. And Dr. David Clarke is our guest on Focus on the Family. He’ll be offering some of that encouragement to you, and, uh, we trust you’ll stay tuned. Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: You know, John, in every marriage that I’m aware of, and I try to take little surveys when I’m traveling talking to people, um, you’re gonna hit times where there’s conflict, there’s misunderstandings, and maybe even hurt feelings, that’s kind of normal. Uh, in a healthy marriage, both spouses come together to work on their issues as they arise through good communication, healthy conflict, which is why we talk about strengthening your marriage so often here at Focus on the Family. But when we don’t deal with issues as they arise, a marriage can, uh, become stale, unhappy, and you and your spouse may get to the point where staying married doesn’t feel worth it anymore. And I’m telling you, that’s not a good place to be. Um, today, we’re gonna come alongside struggling couples and give you the hope that the power of God, and yes, some work on your part, uh, will be required for your marriage to be better and that can make it a much happier marriage once again. Uh, here at Focus on the Family, our heart is to strengthen and save marriages. One way we do that is through our Hope Restored program. It’s specifically designed for couples that are on the brink of separation or maybe even signed the divorce papers already. And if you’re hurting and, in that spot, uh, let us help you. Uh, four out of five couples, that’s what I said, four out of five couples who go through the program are still together two years later and doing better. So I think it’s worth your investment to check that out. Uh, maybe not for yourself, but think of the witness and testimony, as a Christian, that you have in Christ, it’s important that you be mindful of that as well.

John: Yeah, you can find out more about Hope Restored when you call 800-232-6459. 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, and we also have details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And Dr. Clarke has written a great book that we’ll hear more about today, it’s called, I Don’t Want a Divorce: A 90 Day Guide to Saving Your Marriage.

Jim: Uh, David, welcome back to Focus.

Dr. Clarke: Well, my pleasure to be here.

Jim: We love having you here. You’re just so energetic, number one. You’re fun to be with. I can’t believe you can contain yourself in a counseling session.

Dr. Clarke: (laughing).

Jim: You, you must be a very interesting counselor (laughing).

Dr. Clarke: I’m very active. I’m very direct.

Jim: Are you subdued when a couple is in front of you or are you just in their face?

Dr. Clarke: I’m never subdued.

Jim: (laughing) I can see that.

Dr. Clarke: I tell them what to do and how to do it, (laughing) that’s why they’re coming to me. I don’t say, well, how do you … I have never ever said in a counseling session, how do you feel about that?

Jim: You get right to the point.

Dr. Clarke: Oh, come on! Yeah, we’re gonna get right to it.

Jim: I love it. And, uh, let me ask you, you believe there’s some good news about bad marriages, uh, how?

Dr. Clarke: Three words, join the club.

Jim: (laughing).

Dr. Clarke: 99.9% of marriages get into the danger category at one point or another.

Jim: Huh.

Dr. Clarke: Five to seven years, huge problem area. The seven-year itch is real. And then you … if you clear that, then it’s gonna be the 18-to-20-year mark, another huge upswing.

Jim: Huh.

Dr. Clarke: Marriage breaks down. Annoying habits, male/female differences, uh, communication problems, conflict issues, plus, no one ever taught you how to be intimate.

Jim: Mm-Hmm.

Dr. Clarke: In, in a great Christian home, if mom and dad did that, they did it behind closed doors, I don’t know how to do it. So your marriage is gonna break down, that’s the bad news.

Jim: In fact, in this great book, I Don’t Want a Divorce: A 90 Day Guide to Saving Your Marriage, you mentioned kind of three basic marriage types, let’s start there.

Dr. Clarke: Good. First, we’re unhappy but willing to work on it. Our marriage is struggling, we admit it, we’re gonna be honest here, two adults, and we want to get better. Maybe … And there’s different categories in that main category.

Jim: But that’s a … not a bad place to be, that’s a good place. They’re recognizing, okay, we’re struggling, we’re roommates, let’s do better.

Dr. Clarke: Right. The couples who don’t have the honest conversation, I’m, I’m, I’m unhappy, you’re unhappy, we’re in trouble, those are the ones that end up getting divorced. If you’ll voice it and you’ll, you’ll seek a plan like my plan or your pastor or, or Focus’s resources, uh, and, and the intensives are awesome, they’re excellent, I send couples to them, you can make it. But you’ve got to have the conversation and you have to start doing something before it’s too late.

Jim: Let me ask you this, the want to, we’re gonna come back and get the other two real quick, but what about the want to that you’re describing. How does a couple recognize, okay, we still have, I want to do it better in us?

Dr. Clarke: Oh, good question.

Jim: I mean, that’s it.

Dr. Clarke: It’s usually gonna be a conversation brought up by one of the spouses, probably gonna be the woman, because they’re sensitive and they know what they’re missing. Your basic guy doesn’t know what he’s missing. If there’s food on the table, if we’re okay in the bedroom, uh, i- if my job is okay, we- were good. Hey, aren’t we good?

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: Don’t … Not realizing the wife is dying inside. So she’s gonna bring it up. My theory is a good man is gonna get it, you have to bring it up, you’ve got to be very direct. He’ll realize, uh-oh, and then we go through a series of steps and then if he loves his wife, and chances are he does, okay, what do I have to do? Initially, he doesn’t know what he’s missing, he’ll do it for her and that’s fine way to start. Eventually, a few weeks into the program, he’ll realize, oh, I’ve been missing, I’m not deep, I’m not close to my wife. So that’s where the, the want to comes initially from, I love you, you’re saying we’re, we’re in trouble, I’m gonna respond to that.

Jim: But what I’m also hearing you say is that want to can be an aha, you may not start there. I mean, I just don’t know what I want. And then when you start going through the process of, why are we not as strong as we could be? You start recognizing, oh, maybe I’m part of the problem.

Dr. Clarke: Oh, yeah, (laughing) I’m sitting with a couples at my office every week, had four or five this last week. The wife is there, she’s dragged the husband there and he actually has the nerve … she explains I’m upset, I’m unhappy, we’re not intimate, and he’s arguing with both of us saying, “No, we’re fine. I’m telling you, we’re fine.” I say, “What are you doing in a shrinks office? What are you out of your mind? You’re in trouble. Your wife is saying you’re in trouble, but there’s a lot of resistance to that.”

Jim: What’s the male thing about that? Why are we blind to that? What, is it ego? Are we saying, hey, even though we’ve got our issues, it’s, okay?

Dr. Clarke: Partly that. We’re, we’re into control and I don’t want to feel like I’m out of control in my marriage. But underneath the real reason is, uh-oh, if this is really a problem, much is gonna be required of me. I’m gonna have to learn how to be intimate, I’m gonna have to really get deeper with my wife, I don’t want to do that. I don’t know how to do it, I’m not good at it. And so if I can somehow convince her that we’re okay, then we don’t have to do this. Well, it’s the dumbest argument in the history of the world. She’s already saying, I’m unhappy. We need to have a response to that, sir.

Jim: Yeah. All right, let’s go to the other two. Uh, you mentioned they were unhappy stage but willing to work on it. What’s number two?

Dr. Clarke: Number two is, my spouse won’t change. Many spouses are in this situation, probably the woman, could be the man. But let’s say it’s the woman and you have a husband who is not gonna divorce you, but he is pretty much done with you. He is not gonna be intimate with you and he won’t do anything to change. He won’t read my book, I Don’t Want a Divorce, he will not go to a seminar, he will not go to an intensive, he won’t talk to your pastor, he’s not gonna make any changes. And this can happen over a period of years. And the wife’s dying inside, what am I supposed to do if I have a husband or a, or a spouse like that? What does the church offer me? Well, Dave Clarke through his book and Focus is we’re offering you a plan, a clear plan that will get his attention, hopefully motivate him, get him to repent from his sin, because that husbands in serious sin. If you’re saying, our marriage is in trouble, and I’m gonna do anything to work on it, I’m breaking one of God’s most important laws. And so that’s a sinner and we’re gonna confront that sin.

Jim: And we’ll come, uh, back around on each of these, we’re gonna explore them more, but, um, we wanted to get the basics right up front. And the third one then is, uh, what, my spouse has sinned big time and I don’t know that he deserves being married to me any longer.

Dr. Clarke: Right. This is the catastrophic crisis when the roof just caves in. I found out my husband is looking at pornography, and it’s been a pattern. I found out he’s got an emotional affair going with someone at work, or Susie that he knew back in junior high, whatever, or, or he’s got a full-blown affair, or there’s been alcohol problem, a drug problem, financial irresponsibility, he’s gambling, he’s wasted our money. He’s done something that, or she’s done something just outrageous, it’s extremely sinful, and it’s a massive crisis. How to heal, how to enter the system at that point and get the sinner to repent and get into recovery and then heal from what has happened, that’s the challenge in that situation.

Jim: Right. And I’m gonna say, you know, every time you’re voicing the, he did this, you’re, you’re really saying, he/she, the spouse, but it’s fatiguing to always have (laughing) to say he/she. So you know, unless it’s specific to male behavior, you’re, you’re really trying to refer to both genders that could be in trouble, right?

Dr. Clarke: Oh, exactly.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: And, and women are, I hate to say this, women are catching up in the sinning category (laughing), so it could be either way.

Jim: Well, yeah, I mean, that’s it. Well, let’s spend the rest of time right now talking about marriages where both spouses are unhappy, but they’re willing to work on it. We’ll go a little deeper with each of these. Um, how do you think these couples typically get where they’re at? What creates the roommate mentality?

Dr. Clarke: I think it’s the nature of the beast, it’s just what marriage is like. And it happened to the blonde, Sandy and I, and we didn’t even expect it to, but it did.

Jim: So this is pretty normal.

Dr. Clarke: It’s very normal. You’re infatuated, you’re in love, you get married. Then you start living together and find out just how hard it is, massive adjustments, uh, annoying habits, I can’t believe she’s like that. Sandy found out that I’m a slob, she didn’t know that because we weren’t living together. Unbelievable world class slob.

Jim: You thought she knew that about you.

Dr. Clarke: Yeah, Dave Brown, (laughing) my roommate in college didn’t care because he was a slob too. I, I never got the memo here. So that was a big issue. And then things are already starting to break down and we don’t know how to be intimate. When you lose the rush, the adrenaline, the power of the infatuation, oh, you don’t have anything left and now we have to learn how to develop intimacy.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: No one’s ever taught us, don’t have a clue. You’re, you’re given often in the church, and well-meaning people and they’re wonderful, and church is wonderful, but you’re, you’re given the, the goal but you’re not given the how to.

Jim: Yeah, that’s a good point.

Dr. Clarke: Man! So-

Jim: That’s why (laughing) Focus is here.

Dr. Clarke: Exactly.

Jim: Think about that.

Dr. Clarke: And you do a wonderful job. No one else does it like Focus. And then you’re already kind of on the edges and then you do the one thing that’s guaranteed to kill your passion, stone cold dead, you have a child.

John: (laughing).

Dr. Clarke: You know what, what were you thinking? What are you out of your mind? Then it’s all about the baby. I remember when our Emily came, our first, it was just like catastrophic, we, we just … our lives were just came to a stop.

John: (laughing).

Dr. Clarke: We got to keep her alive.

Jim: (laughing).

Dr. Clarke: And then it was, we got to stay alive, she’s killing us.

Jim: (laughing).

Dr. Clarke: She was yelling all the time, she’s very feisty, she’s a wonderful person, but oh … So that, that-

Jim: I don’t know where she gets that.

Dr. Clarke: (laughing) I, I can’t imagine – exactly.

Jim: I just got to say it. That’s so funny. You also, uh, give some advice in the book about this kind of marriage. You suggest we take these marriages out back and shoot them. (laughing) What, what are you getting to? What is that all about?

Dr. Clarke: I tell most of my couples that and they’re shocked out of their heads. We’re sitting there at the end of the first session, I say, “Look, I got to tell you, this marriage is awful, it’s dead, take it out back and shoot it, we’re done.” And they look at me like, “Why are we here? I thought you were … I thought he was a Christian, uh, Betty, uh, Bob.” I say, “Look, your first marriage is over. We’re not going back to that one, we’re gonna redo. We’re gonna heal from what’s happened, and with God’s principles, we’re gonna put into place the brand-new marriage which is gonna take you the rest of the way.”

John: Mmm.

Dr. Clarke: So that’s a little juxtaposition I use, and it really seems to work.

Jim: No, it’s true. Um, okay, to successfully build a stronger marriage you believe couples must strengthen their relationship with God. I … Everybody that feels that way is now saying, yes, we’re getting to the spiritual component. That’s so true. That’s foundational, we would say. What does that look like though in practical terms? What does it look like to strengthen your relationship with God when you’re in this kind of marriage?

Dr. Clarke: Well, here’s the nuts and bolts, I’m assuming, and it’s a good assumption, because I always ask couples when I see them, “Do you know Jesus Christ personally? If not, we’re gonna do that like right now. Because without God’s help, you’re not going to make it.” Uh, but then the second point is, how are you personally doing in your relationship with God through Jesus? Church attendance maybe a little lacks, uh, I’m not having a quiet time. You’re not close to God. Sir, if you’re not close to God, or Ma’am, you- you’re not … we can’t do the steps in my book, we’re gonna have to … we start with that. Let’s get your faith back where it belongs. One of Satan’s most effective tools is using marital unhappiness to draw you away from God.

Jim: Huh.

Dr. Clarke: He’s a master at it. I don’t want to go to church, we’re unhappy, you know, and we’re just drifting apart, and so we don’t want to pray together, everything falls apart. But it’s you and God that’s the main thing, so we start getting that back. And most of the couples at my office hang their head, they know exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t get pushback. They say, “You’re right.” And the man will say, “I’m the leader, I should make sure we go to church.”

Jim: You know, let me ask you, David, that’s an interesting observation with the couples that come to you, how many come to you that are struggling that are … do have a, you know, a good, healthy relationship with God? They’re reading the word regularly, they’re praying regularly, maybe hopefully praying together regularly. How many of those couples come in for help?

Dr. Clarke: 3%.

Jim: 3%, think of that.

Dr. Clarke: I mean, seriously, that’s, that’s, that’s why it’s in the book, it’s majorly, I am not close to God. It’s only with God’s power that I can love this opposite sex person. Once I lose that connection, I, I literally cannot do it.

Jim: You know, that fits with national survey work that it’s somewhere around 1% to 3% that, uh, the whole, the whole country of Christians would say that. If we’re engaged with each other, if we’re healthy spiritually, very few people have marital difficulty at the level that it’s gonna tear it apart. Let me ask as you this, you believe the breakdown in most marriages is a breakdown in communication, and we see that here at Focus. It sounds so simple. I, I was talking to Jean the other night and we, we were talking about, how many generations do we have to go through? (laughing) You know, when will we say, oh, it’s communication? Because we’ve been talking about it for like 2000 years.

Dr. Clarke: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: You know that we need to communicate better. We need to love and respect each other. Uh, why is this so hard to do if it’s so obvious?

Dr. Clarke: You know, nobody knows how. When you’re dating and even early in marriage you think you know how, you think you’re having deep conversations. In fact, you are not, because you don’t know how. Every parent listening should actually sit their kids down and there should be a crash course over the course of, of years actually teaching them how to communicate with the opposite sex. Nobody does it, because you don’t think to do it. Well, that’ll just work out, we worked it out, they’ll work it out. No, we, we need to have, as part of premarital education in this country and the church can be involved in that, very clear, I’m gonna teach you how to communicate. That’s what I do with my premarital couples.

Jim: Wow, think of that.

Dr. Clarke: Just huge.

Jim: Yeah, huge.

Dr. Clarke: They think they already know; they don’t know.

John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Our guest is Dr. David Clarke. And, uh, you can contact us to get a copy of his book, I Don’t Want a Divorce. We also have the entire conversation with David on a CD or it’s available as a download. Stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast to learn more, or call 1-800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. And now more from Dr. David Clarke on today’s episode of Focus on the Family.

Jim: So that area of communication, another one and this I think is, if not equal to maybe greater than because it starts everything else, selfishness. I mean, I think, Dr. Clarke, the main reason God set it up this way, why opposites attract. I mean, he’s probably smiling a bit because he’s moving us toward his character, selflessness in marriage. Uh, speak to that issue of how selfishness can destroy a marriage.

Dr. Clarke: Oh, boy, it works every time it’s tried, and it’s tried every time. And I- I- I’ll think of my marriage specifically, I was spoiled. I come into marriage; everything had been taken care of. And I was a great kid, don’t get me wrong, I was a great kid. And I really was, uh, didn’t give them too much trouble.

Jim: Except you were really messy.

John: Except you were a slob.

Dr. Clarke: Well, except for the slob part, that’s right, but mom didn’t seem to care, she shut the door.

Jim: (laughing).

Dr. Clarke: I come into (laughing) marriage with Sandy, oh, my goodness, the expectations.

Jim: Is she a first born by chance?

Dr. Clarke: No, she’s second born, but she really is more of a firstborn. She’s a doer, she’s a mover, she’s a shaker. She tells me what to do, and I do it. (laughing) She’s a rock. But I, I came in totally unprepared. I thought that if Sandy just met all of my needs, well, of course, I’d be happy. And then if I’m happy, she’d be happy. A lot of guys feel that way. Well, it was the dumbest thing in the world. So I had to really revamp at loving her. We had some great conversation. Talking about communication, she sat me down early in marriage and said, “Look, I’m doing everything here, Dave. We’re at Dallas Seminary, I’m doing the laundry, I’m working full time, and I’m typing your, uh, your papers late at night.” I would hand them to her and say, “Would you type this?” And I’d go to bed.

Jim: Oh, my goodness.

Dr. Clarke: I mean, it was incredibly selfish.

Jim: Okay, snares, daggers are flowing right at you right now. My goodness, what kind of a husband was that?

Dr. Clarke: Terrible. Sandy said, “You’re out of your mind.” And so I started doing the laundry, started doing the dishes when she cooked. I, I got a part time job because the burden was too much on her and I did my own dumb papers. But more than that, I had to learn how to love this beautiful blonde, I had no idea. And so I had to learn how to, how to talk with her, how to make time with her, how to, how to really meet her needs and have conversations that would be deep for her. Our first year was rough. Rough, rough, rough.

Jim: Yes. Okay, for the men that are listening, let me ask this question, what does a deep good conversation sound like?

Dr. Clarke: (laughing).

Jim: I mean, we’re down to 101 buddy.

Dr. Clarke: Well, you, you … Literally, first you let your wife define that, because a guy might think, this was a great conversation about me fixing the car engine or whatever it might be.

Jim: The box scores.

Dr. Clarke: Exactly. You know what, I don’t think so. So you let her … You si- … If you’ve got the guts, you sit down with your wife today and you say, honey, what is a deep conversation? She’ll laugh her head off, huh, are you kidding, you’ve never asked that. She’ll probably faint, but that she knows exactly what she wants, here and you let her know, and she’ll let you know what, what she needs. Well, we would talk about a topic, and you would say this, and I would say that, and you’d ask me certain questions. She knows.

Jim: Is that a good question to start with?

Dr. Clarke: It is. What is a deep conversation with me? What would that look like, honey? She knows the answer. And your particular woman will be able to tell you and choreograph it, and you’ll say, okay, I’m gonna work on that. So it’s like a training exercise. Women have a PhD in communication.

Jim: So we shouldn’t be shocked by the speed in that reply (laughing) when you ask that question?

Dr. Clarke: No, there will be no pauses.

Jim: Don’t be upset it was so quick, because she’s been wanting to answer that question for a few years maybe.

Dr. Clarke: She has. And that’s male leadership, you need to be asking her, what are your needs? And that’s one of her key needs, let’s start working on that. She will be beyond thrilled. And then together, yeah, I mean, she’ll teach you how to communicate, she absolutely will.

Jim: Well, and that’s a beautiful picture of how it could work too, is for the wife to maybe knock some of that edge off of her anger, that he needs to be taught.

Dr. Clarke: Right.

Jim: I mean, it’s hard for us to say that we don’t want to be taught about anything, we could fix that and then we totally mess it up (laughing). But even in this area to be taught, you know, so, honey, can you teach me how to be deeply intimate with you?

Dr. Clarke: It takes guts to ask that.

Jim: Huh.

Dr. Clarke: Women tend to think he knows and he’s holding out on me.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Clarke: No, no, here’s the secret, he doesn’t have a clue.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Clarke: He needs to be taught and if he’s open to that, you’ll do it together. Like every area of your relationship, parenting, I mean, in the bedroom, the physical, the spiritual, you got to work together and teach each other.

Jim: Again, you mentioned it, someone is gonna be working to tear you apart, the enemy, and, uh, he’s so successful. Uh, David, you mentioned writing a letter of responsibility to your spouse, um, that sounds, again, a little intimidating as I read it. Uh, what does it mean?

Dr. Clarke: I’m sitting with a couple, this is second session, we’ve established some of the foundational things as we’ve discussed, and now we’re gonna talk about … in fact the homework assignment is going to be, and they bring it in, the letter of responsibility.

Jim: (laughing) That just sounds bad, sorry.

Dr. Clarke: It does, but you know what? I don’t care.

Jim: (laughing) I know that.

Dr. Clarke: I’m tough, you know that. And, and I, I explain it, look, you … because they come in for a session and it’s all about the other person. She, bap, bap, bap, bap, you wouldn’t believe. And then she goes back, oh, yeah, well, how about you, bozo? Bap, bap, bap. I say, this is not helpful. You’re probably right in what your partner is doing wrong, but it doesn’t help, you can’t do anything about that. So stop the rocks in the bottles, I’m gonna have you look in the mirror very solidly, pray over this and write … actually write out the mistakes you’ve made in the marriage for next time. You can hear a pin drop in the counseling session. But you know what, that’s how we start. That’s how Dr. Clarke starts, that’s how the Bible starts. It starts with looking in the mirror, the log in your eye, take a look, be very honest about mistakes, regrets, things you have to work on, that’s A. And then B is what you’re gonna do, what you want to do to change those things.

Jim: Mm-Hmm.

Dr. Clarke: Couples that come in and, and a lot of them try this, because of resistance they’ll come in and they haven’t done the assignment, I’m not gonna see them again.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: Th- this is a progressive series of steps. I’m not mean about it. Well, sometimes I am depending on if I’ve had my chai tea or not in the morning. Anyway, (laughing) so I will say, no, I … this is … in fact we’re gonna cut this session short because you don’t have the homework, I have no other agenda here.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: And, and you can go now and you’re gonna pay me. That nips it in the bud.

Jim: That’s good. You know, another one that you talk about is focusing on your spouse’s positive attributes. That could be so hard. And, uh, you know, especially if you, if you have a, a critical nature, which I think all human beings do, it’s whether or not you let it out of the cage.

Dr. Clarke: Yeah.

Jim: And, uh, because it’s so fleshly to be critical. And you know, that’s, again, one of the things Jesus talked about is, bite that tongue, you know, don’t go there. And, uh, how would we think about being less critical or not critical and more positive about our spouse? How do we do that?

Dr. Clarke: Well, it’s a great question, Jim. When a marriage breaks down, as you know, it’s all negative. When they’re sitting in front of me, they’re all negative, the positivity is all gone. That’s how they started in their relationship with positivity, so we bring that back, and it has to be forced.

Jim: Mm-Hmm.

Dr. Clarke: I say, “You’re not gonna like hearing this, you’re not gonna want to do it, we’re not worried about your feelings, you just have to do it. Faith in God, faith in this process, and hopefully, love for your spouse is gonna be developing.” Comp- … We start with complements. I’ll say, “This next week, I want you to come up with a list of 14, very impressive and real complements for your spouse.”

John: Mm-Hmm.

Dr. Clarke: Physical attractiveness, character, what they do for you, uh, spiritual qualities. Has to be a real list. And then you’re gonna drop in, in seven days, two compliments a day, one in the morning, one in the evening.

Jim: Hmm.

Dr. Clarke: That beg- … And it’s the most awkward thing in the world, they don’t want to do it. I can’t think of anything positive. Don’t come back to my office until you have thought of positives, because they’re there, they’re just totally buried by your dysfunction and Satan’s pushing them way out of, way out of whack. So when they start … After that week, things are starting to change, simply because they’ve said something that is true, and it starts to connect them.

John: Mmm.

Dr. Clarke: So we start with that.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: And it works.

Jim: No, and, and it’s so true and it’s so important. It goes back to communication, like you’re saying. Um, let’s end today talking about conflict, which is, you know, again, another … all of these are so critical. I keep saying this is important, this is important. But the lack of communication and dealing with conflict in a healthy way is what got a lot of couples to the point they’re at now, right? The point that they need help. What does healthy conflict look like? And David, you know this, folks are gonna email us or contact us and say, “If you’re Christian, you shouldn’t have any conflict.” Address that too.

Dr. Clarke: Yeah, those people have big problems (laughing). There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, and I’ll tell couples this, than a couple that has no conflict.

Jim: Why?

Dr. Clarke: Oh, my goodness.

Jim: It sounds right though. It sounds like a good thing.

John: It sounds-

Dr. Clarke: And very Christ like, that’s not true. Christ had a conflict with a lot of people, and they killed him, that was, that was pretty conflictual. And he always told the truth, which got him in all kinds of trouble, even though it was done with love. Yeah, if you’re avoiding, you’re avoiding what is actually going on.

Jim: So you’re burying things, potentially.

Dr. Clarke: Absolutely, right. And that’s, uh, keeping you far apart. And so those kind of couples, if I’m avoiding all these issues that are really bothering me, I’m not talking about a lot of things I should be talking about.

Jim: Mmm.

Dr. Clarke: And so you pull away apart. You’re gonna have conflict, you actually want to have conflict, it’s built into God’s system. And if you handle it the right way, there’s all kinds of passion in conflict. Working it through, finding out things about your partner you never knew, closeness results, that making up is sweet. The whole thing works.

Jim: Well, that’s good. David, man, we have flown through this. But we’re not done, we’ve covered topic one, you know, when the couple is unhappy but willing to work toward it, we still got to come back to the, uh, one spouse not being willing and kind of dig into that. And then finally, when the, the big sins occur, whatever that might be, infidelity, or abuse, or where there’s something happening that needs more serious contemplation, maybe separation, those kinds of things. Uh, let’s come back next time and cover that. Can you stick with us?

Dr. Clarke: I’m not going anywhere.

John: That’s how we concluded part one of our conversation with Dr. David Clarke about his book, I Don’t Want a Divorce: A 90 Day Guide to Saving Your Marriage.

Jim: John, I’m so energized whenever we have David in the studio. He has a gift of saying what needs to be said and challenging us to live out our faith in our marriages. Uh, we need to do things God’s way if we want to experience the joy and peace and intimacy that he intended for us. I wholeheartedly recommend David’s book to our listeners, especially if you or someone you know is struggling to save their marriage. Uh, we also have Hope Restored where we provide intensive counseling over several days to couples who may be on the brink of divorce, that’s not uncommon. But we’ve seen God move in those marriages, and four out of five of those couples who go through Hope Restored are still together two years later and having a more satisfying relationship.

John: We would be happy to tell you more about Hope Restored and other resources we have for your marriage. Uh, we have a team of caring Christian counselors and so much more here. Just call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459 or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: And John, so often I hear from folks who say to me, uh, the need for Focus on the Family could not be greater than right now. They instinctively see the downward spiral of the family, divorce rates, all the hassles and the mayhem going on in family. So if you’re in a good place, join us in ministry, let’s be that difference in Christ to a hurting and painful world who’s looking for solutions. Your ongoing support makes this broadcast, and the podcast, and websites, and everything else we do, uh, counseling, all possible. It’s only with your support and God’s guidance that we can do this work together. So please, support Focus on the Family today. Uh, send a gift of any amount and we’ll say thank you by sending you a copy of Dr. Clarke’s book, I Don’t Want a Divorce: A 90 Day Guide to Saving Your Marriage. And maybe you can pass it on to a neighbor or a friend who needs it. I know many families are going to benefit from this powerful book.

John: And once again, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Or donate and, uh, get the book online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we continue the conversation with Dr. Clarke and once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

I Don't Want a Divorce

Receive Dr. David Clarke's book I Don't Want a Divorce for your donation of any amount!

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Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff Cropped

Dr. Tim and Mrs. Noreen Muehlhoff

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Kim Meeder

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Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

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Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

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Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

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Pastor Kevin Thompson

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Mr. Greg Koukl

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Tactics front cover

Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

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Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

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Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

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Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

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Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

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Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!