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Saving Your Marriage From Divorce (Part 2 of 2)

Saving Your Marriage From Divorce (Part 2 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 2 of 2)
Original Air Date: July 20, 2018

Preview:

Dr. David Clarke: The couples who don’t have the honest conversation, “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.

End of Preview

John Fuller: You’ll hear more from Dr. David Clarke today on Focus on the Family about what to do if you feel stuck in an unhappy marriage. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, our discussion last time with Dr. Clarke was so packed with practical advice. I’ve taken notes and thinking, “Okay, I got to do this. I got to do this.” It was awesome. If you missed it, get the download. Uh, download the app for your smartphone. Get it. We’ll send you the CD. Just get a hold of us.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But there were so many very good ideas to help a couple who are, um, not doing well in their marriage, and that’s okay. Uh, as Dr. Clarke said, last time, that’s like 99% of us. At some point, you’re going to hit a dry patch. And the question is what you do there? Are you going to water it, so something grows again? Are you just going to burn it down? And, uh, I think, uh, Dr. Clarke gave us some fabulous advice on what to do next. Uh, another thing I loved about what David shared last time is that to have a good marriage, you need God’s help and strength. Fundamentally, that’s the foundation. And if you haven’t called out to God in prayer before or if it’s been a long time, uh, he’s nearby.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: God never goes away from you. We always move away from God. Uh, here at Focus, our heart is to strengthen and maybe even help save your marriages with the help of the Holy Spirit. One way we do that is through our Hope Restored program, and that’s a marriage intensive, specifically designed for couples on the brink of separation or divorce. If you’re hurting and, in that area, call us, get ahold of us, and, uh, we will be there for you.

John: Hmm. Yeah, you can call or visit our website. Uh, the number is 800-232-6459. 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Um, or get the details you need about Hope Restored and other helpful resources for your marriage at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And when you get in touch, ask about Dr. Clarke’s great book, I Don’t Want a Divorce: A 90 Day Guide to Saving Your Marriage.

Jim: David, welcome back to the program.

Dr. Clarke: Great to be back.

Jim: You are a lot of fun, but you are a bit, uh, I could say tenacious, cantankerous. You don’t let go of your couples that come to you for help, do you?

Dr. Clarke: No, I’m [inaudible].

Jim: You’re like in their face.

Dr. Clarke: I’m it.

Jim: I like it. You’re like a Marine Drill Sergeant.

John: Hmm.

Dr. Clarke: I am.

Jim: (laughs)

Dr. Clarke: I become their best friend, but that’s not what it’s like at first, because I’m really hard on them.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: This is going to be a tough program and we got to get all hands-on board.

Jim: It’s almost what we need as human beings though, don’t we? We need somebody. I remember playing football and I was kind of lackadaisical. I’d kind of run the wind sprints. And my freshman football coach grabs me by the face mask, “You want to play on this team? You better run faster. You better finish first.” I mean it’s; I don’t know if you can do that legally now grab someone by the face mask. But man, it, it taught me to shape up.

Dr. Clarke: Marriage boot camp, right?

Jim: We need that, don’t we?

Dr. Clarke: I do marriage boot camp.

Jim: That’s it. Uh, let’s start here, uh, by having you recap something you said yesterday, and that is that what many couples need to do is take their marriage out into the back backyard and shoot it. That’s a good word picture.

Dr. Clarke: It is. You know, you’re done. Your first marriage is over. It’s not working out. That’s why you’re in my office. That’s why you’re reading the I Don’t Want a Divorce book. That’s why you’re calling Focus. You’re in trouble and that marriage, we’re not going back to that marriage. You don’t know what you’re doing. It’s broken down. It’s done. It’s like an old car. We’re going to push it over the cliff. We’re going to shoot it. We’re going to start fresh.

Jim: Yeah, and, and you reshape it. You recreate it in a way that’s healthier, especially in that area that we covered last time, communication, uh, positive comments to your spouse, those things that should have been going on for a long time. How to, how to have conflict, healthy conflict and not tear each other apart. And again, if you missed it, get it because it was really good. Today, I want to talk about what you call being married to a stick. (laughs) What? Okay, now what’s that?

Dr. Clarke: A stick is a person, could be the husband or the wife, that really is not into the marriage, not going to change. They are happy with a very low level of intimacy. I mean real low. And they can live 40, 50, 60 years in a marriage just like that.

Jim: I want to, now you’re going to come after me on this. I want to be a little sympathetic to the stick, maybe because I got a little stick, you know, in me. What happens to a person who develops that kind of emotional disconnection? There’s something else going on there. It’s not like you grow up saying, “I don’t want to be connected.” Is it trauma? Is it protection? What have they learned as a child or as a young adult that makes them a stick?

Dr. Clarke: Well, great question. It’s a wound of some kind. That’s exactly right. And I, if I stay a stick, I never have to deal with that wound. It’s a dad. I had a dad that, that modeled being a stick. I learned from him. I saw him abuse and mistreat my mom forever, and so that’s, that’s what I learned. That’s what I know. And so it’s not just modeling. That hurt me too. If I’m a boy in that kind of a situation growing up, that hurts me every day. To deal to and to cope, I’ve got to get a very hard veneer over me. I want to be married. I want to have a marriage. I have no idea what that’s like. And I want to be just like my dad. So that’s what happens.

Jim: Huh.

Dr. Clarke: Now that could be, the stick can be a good guy, or it can be a bad guy. The stick that’s a good guy is when the wife comes to him and says, “We’ve got a problem. I’m not happy. Uh, and, and we need to make some changes.” A good guy will always, listen to me, always say, well, some resistance, but after that will say, “You know what? I love you. You’re right. What do we have to do?” A bad guy will say, “No, get out of my face. You’re wrong. I’m right. I’m not going to make any changes. Tough.” Now that’s a sinning guy.

Jim: In, in part is that response because they are comfortable, too comfortable with who they are?

Dr. Clarke: Oh yeah. They don’t want to make any changes.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Clarke: I’m fine. Just the way I am. Thank you very much. What you’re asking of me would not only be way outside my comfort zone, but it’s going to get, they don’t say this, it’s going to get me close to my wound. It’s going to get me into my wound.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Clarke: I’m not doing that.

Jim: Okay, so let’s go to it. Um, so you’re married to the stick. You want changes. You want more intimacy. You don’t want a roommate. Um, so this is that second phase that we talked about last time. Uh, one spouse wants change, the other spouse doesn’t. Now we also spoke about both spouses wanting change last time. So this is the other side of that coin. What does the person, the wounded spouse begin to do to confront this?

Dr. Clarke: Well, what you don’t do is follow the typical and very traditional Christian approach, which is keep on loving him. If you love that guy, who’s a stick for 30 days. I’ve, I’ve heard 60 days, I’ve heard five or six months. You meet needs. You don’t make an issue out of anything. He’s going to turn around miraculously and start loving you. That’s the dumbest thing anybody ever said. It’s not true. It’s never been true.

Jim: Okay, to the believer in that though, you, you’re saying, “I’ve seen thousands of couples that have tried that. It’s never worked.”

Dr. Clarke: It’s literally never worked. If you got a stick, now that works with a really great guy who’s in the first category. We’re not in the first category anymore.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Clarke: That guy will respond to that.

Jim: We’re both want to work something out.

Dr. Clarke: Right. That works like a charm, but it’s also applied to the stick and that even a good stick will not respond to that.

Jim: Huh.

Dr. Clarke: He, you keep loving me, even if I’m a good stick, if you keep loving me, I think you’re fine. I have no reason to change. You’ve not gotten my attention.

Jim: So what’s confrontation look like from the healthy person?

Dr. Clarke: You set a meeting and it’s a very serious come to Jesus meeting with your stick who’s a husband, he’s the husband. It could be the wife, but it’s a husband in this case. “Um, honey, in three days, we’re going to have a very serious meeting about our marriage and uh, the kids are going to be out of the home. We’re going to sit down. I’m going to make a presentation. And I want you to think and pray before the meeting, so will I.” That will get the man’s attention. Hopefully, if it’s a good stick, he’ll respond. But we’re, we’re edging into he’s not a good guy, but we’re going to give him an opportunity. He’ll say, “I want to talk about it right now or I’m not going to talk at all.” It’s going to be three days. And it’s a one-way conversation, uh, when you do sit down and it’s, “I’m going to make a presentation of five to 10 minutes. I’m going to speak the truth about our marriage. And I don’t want any response.” Because what you’re going to get is defensiveness, and I can’t believe you’re saying this and all that stuff. Forget it. I’m going to say, “You’re not even going to entertain the response. If you interrupt you, you’re going to walk away and give him a note that says the same thing. You’re not going to have a dialogue.” Because he’ll give the same dumb response he’s always given, and you’re sick of hearing that. And you should be frankly. “So I’m unhappy in our marriage. Here’s why I’m part of the problem too. I’m not saying I’m not. I, let’s go through a series of steps in I Don’t Want a Divorce for example, that, that it’s going to turn our marriage around. I’m asking to think and pray about that. I am not happy.” You don’t use the words. I love you in that first meeting.

Jim: Huh.

Dr. Clarke: Because if he hears that, you’re done. I think I’m okay. She loves me. It’s all he’s going to hear.

Jim: So he hears nothing else?

Dr. Clarke: Boom, exactly. So after 30 years, you figure some things out. So, plus, I’m a guy. So you, you lay it on him and literally, you get up and you walk away.

Jim: Hm.

Dr. Clarke: You’re asking for a response …

John: Mm.

Dr. Clarke: … within the next week. If he’s a good stick, it won’t take him a week. It’ll take him 30 minutes. It’ll take him 25 second. He’ll be following you down the hallway. If he does not respond or responds in a very negative way, now we know we get a serious sinner on our, in our, on our hands. He’s not going to change.

Jim: Now, this sounds like Matthew 18. Is that the basic biblical principle you’re applying here?

Dr. Clarke: Yes, that’s exactly. I apply.

John: And, and what’s the, what’s the sin you’re seeing here. Just I don’t want to change that? I don’t remember that being listed.

Jim: Just lack of connection, right?

Dr. Clarke: Yeah, it’s, any, anything short of loving your wife as Christ loved the church is, in my book, a sin. Now it’s not a sin if you get the guy attention first phase or first category we talked about, if he changes right away and there’s repentance. We’re done. We’re, we’re going to move on. We’re going to build a new marriage together. But if I resist you on that, I am in serious sin. I’m attacking the most precious institution God ever created on the earth, and that’s marriage. That puts me in a serious sinful position. So no that’s a whole different category. You’ve got to, the Bible says you’re going to confront sin, so I apply that passage, Matthew 18:15-17 to the marital situation. Not many people do. I do, and I’ve seen it work.

Jim: You, you know, we’ve concentrated on the “he” part of the story, and I appreciate that. And I know you do that in the book. You come from that male perspective. But, um, you also talked yesterday about women are also, uh, more so now engaged in some of the disconnected behavior. Describe what this looks like from the other side of, of the marriage, when it’s the woman who’s not emotionally intimate. Maybe she’s the distant one.

Dr. Clarke: In this scenario, she was raised in a home where there was abuse, there was neglect. She’s very wounded. And so she’s not taking any chances to get close to any man. She wants to be married and she is married. But again, her level of intimacy is going to be way lower than his. Now the roles are reversed. And I, I’m not giving my heart to anybody. And women are even more sensitive than men, so it’s even less likely she will. And she will resist that. She’ll cook your food. She will be in the bedroom with you. She will be the best wife in other areas, but she’s not going to open up her heart to you, which is exactly what this man needs.

Jim: Huh.

Dr. Clarke: And what can happen is over time, of course, that this breaks the man down, because even the physical part of the relationship, if you don’t have a willing partner, boy, does that get old, checking something off a list. That doesn’t work, and so it really breaks down, but she will fight hammer and tongs, any kind of opening up. She’s got her own wounds. So my approach is to try to shake that person up so that they will enter the system and maybe, God willing, make some changes.

Jim: Yeah, and again, these are delicate situations that are all unique. So we’re trying to apply your experience as a counselor. People are hearing this. Uh, if it applies great. And obviously if it doesn’t, but you’re still hurting, you got out to call us.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And that’s what we’re here for. And we can give you more specificity on these ideas and hopefully put this resource in your hands by Dr. David Clarke, I Don’t Want a Divorce: A 90 Day Guide to Saving Your Marriage.

John: You’re listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. And if you’d like to get a copy of Dr. David Clarke’s book, give us a call. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Here’s the conclusion of our conversation with Dr. Clarke on today’s episode of Focus on the Family.

Jim: David, let me come back to that question of the confrontation. You have some very specific steps that, uh, a spouse in this situation, again, we’ll just say the wife, what she can do to begin to reset the platform for a marriage. Go through some of those steps of confrontation. You talked about the meeting, call the meeting and then move on from there. What’s next after the meeting?

Dr. Clarke: He’s going to blow you off. He’s done it 1,000,001 times, and he’s going to do it again. Let’s make that assumption. He’s had the opportunity. He has failed once again. But this time you’re not just going to be miserable and ring your hands and pray and hope for the best. Now you’re going to do something, a series of steps. And the next thing you’re going to do is you’re going to develop a support team, because now you’re moving into the, the other stages of Matthew 18. We have a serious sinner on our hands. He’s not responded. What do we do? We widen the field of people we talk to. So you’re going to have a solid support team, family, friends. You’re going to go to your pastor, church leaders. And now it’s the one or two witnesses. Now your husband’s going to have to weather and it’s going to be a surprise visit because he won’t do it if it’s not a surprise. One or two godly men, if they have the guts, this isn’t the church yet, but it’s men that he knows. If you can find men with the guts to do it, could be his brother, could be his dad, could be someone that knows him and will actually you tell them the truth about your marriage, you may not have done that to this point. “Here’s what’s happening. I’ve confronted, no response. Would you talk with my husband? Would you come over to the house, a surprise, visit? Me and the kids can leave, whatever. You’re going to have a serious conversation. You’re going to confront him and ask him to make changes.”

Jim: Huh. All right, let’s keep going though, uh because, it doesn’t get any easier. So let’s go through what that next step could look like, the shunning, I believe. What, what do you mean by that?

Dr. Clarke: If this guy, who now is in the dirt ball category and that’s what I call him, um, as sitting dirt ball, has weathered the church leadership coming to him, that’s heavy duty. That’s my spiritual leadership. If he is weathered that, and he’s not going to change, “I’ll stop going to that church, whatever,” well then now we’re going to go into shunning mode. That’s according to the Bible. Now we’re in Matthew 18. That’s the next step. You’re going to tell your kids what’s going on. Uh, if they’re small, of course you do your best. You use words they could understand. We never trash dad, but we tell the truth. “Dad’s not been meeting my needs. Here’s the story.” Older kids, maybe they’re at college. You make the call. Here’s what, because when you start shunning, they’re going to notice, obviously, this is big time, uh, confronting of sin. So you tell them what’s going on. The support teams on board and now you’re going to go into shunning mode. Could be a week, could be two weeks. God will guide you, but you just shut down the relationship. I don’t talk to you. I don’t say anything to you unless I absolutely have to. I don’t do your laundry. We’re sleeping in separate bedrooms. I don’t sit in church with you. This is upping the ante and hopefully shaking that sinner up.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Clarke: Hard to do. With God’s hope you can do it. You’ve got to have the support team. It is heavy duty. But the man’s asking for it because he’s not responded to the other reasonable steps. He could have answered your first confrontation and avoided all this. The one or two witnesses, if he’s weathered that, if he’s weathered the church leaders, so now we’re going to ignore him. You’re not going to make food for him. You’ll make food for the family. And it’s as if he doesn’t exist. Now we’ll see how he likes it. This is now again, this is, it’s a form of punishment, but we’re trying to actually shake him up, bring him back to the Lord so things can change.

Jim: Yeah, David in a world that is all about accommodation …

John: Hm.

Jim: … and being kind, this sounds really rough.

Dr. Clarke: It is rough. And most ladies listening will go, “Wow. I don’t know if I’m strong enough.” Yes, you are. We have the Bible story after story. In fact, every story in the Bible is of a person who, with God’s help in power, did and said things they could never do on their own. You can do it. And of course the book will guide you through, I don’t want to divorce, but this is something that you can do. And you now, you’re listening to me now you have spent 5 years, 7 years, 10 years, 25 years doing it the other way.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: How has that gone? Accommodating, loving, putting up with, keeping the secret, it has not worked.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: And you’re about finished as a person.

John: What about the fear though? Uh, let’s say I’m the guy and I’m, I’m going to shun her. And the fear is she’s going to actually run and go find somebody else?

Jim: Or the peace that that spouse finds in that setting. Wow, this is so much easier. Why stay married?

Dr. Clarke: Oh yeah. Yeah. Those are bonafide options that could happen, and I say, that were going to happen anyway. That person’s already gone. People say, “Well, if I do this,” yeah, like John’s saying, well then there, there could be leave for sure. They’re already gone. I am telling you, at this level of confrontation, we’re into the system here, if you have to shun for heaven’s sake that person’s gone, they could care less about you. There’s no love.

Jim: Wow. I mean, this is deep stuff. It’s biblical. It’s there. But um, man, it is difficult.

Dr. Clarke: It is.

Jim: Um, that next step after that shunning phase would be a separation. I’ve had marriage experts sit here, John, and say, we need actually a bit more separation in marriage to make people appreciate what they have. I don’t know that that is the right thing but talk about the effect and the good outcome of separation.

Dr. Clarke: Well, this is the last stage of Matthew 18. You don’t want to go there, but God says, “Now this is not yet …” If we have someone who doesn’t respond to shunning, okay, now you’re going to circle the wagons. You’re going to get financially ready. You’re going to make your sure your kids ready. You’ve got your support team and operation. You’ve got your church on board. And, and now you’re going to, you may have to get a job, get retrained. You’re going to have to see an attorney. All these things are important now for the separation. It’s a big deal, but you know what? That’s to protect you and your kids, that’s what it’s really about now. Plus it’s the last gasp of a chance for this incredible sinner. “I’m not going to live with you. I’m not going to be allow you to destroy me and destroy our kids, maybe our grandkids. I’m, I’m done with that.” That’s a very strong message. Now, if he wants you back, he’s going to have to get you back.

Jim: Yeah, and that, again, the goal is all good. It’s just tough getting there. And uh …

Dr. Clarke: Right, this, this is, I’ve seen this save many marriages, because even these guys that are really sinning, there’s a chance, with these series of progressive steps, more and more intense, of course that’s what the Bible, it’s the Bible it’s the word of God, it works, can turn this kind of person around. And if it doesn’t, you follow the Bible and they’re done, they’re gone.

Jim: Let’s move to the third category, as you described the three marriage types, two of which I just gave. The third one is where that spouse does something so egregious, uh, maybe it was an affair. Let’s assume that. Uh, let’s put it in the, in the opposite order this time, let’s say a wife, a woman has the affair, in this case.

Dr. Clarke: Yeah.

Jim: Uh, what did the dynamics of that look like?

Dr. Clarke: I’m sitting with a couple and if that’s the case and let’s say they’re both sitting there, then I turn to the woman and of course I’m reading, I’m reading repentance. Are you sorry? When a affair is revealed and you know your partner knows, this lady knows her husband knows, if she doesn’t stop it and doesn’t break apart and fall to her knees begging for forgiveness, “How could I?” Serious problem, so if I’m reading that, we’re going to have to go to the tough love steps sooner than I’d like to. If we have repentance, that’s one thing. But I, I’m very clear on this, and a lot of Christians get this messed up and they’re not re-, they’re reading the same Bible, but they’re, they’re misreading it. That sin is completely that woman’s fault, 100%, not 98 even, 100. If I choose to sin, I sin. The Bible’s very clear on that. I can’t blame anybody else. So if I’ll I’ll ask her, “Are you owning 100% of this? Is there brokenness here?” And here’s a series of steps. And the first steps are, of course you stop the affair, completely. You make a phone call, you make a text, “I’m done. I’m out.” You break off any contact with that person, right stinking now. And if you don’t, I’m not seeing you again. I, I’ll see your husband and we’ll do some tough love things, but I, I’m done with you. That’s just what Jesus would say. Okay, I’m telling you on the authority of scripture to stop the sin, there’s no process of stopping sin. You just stop it in, in that context.

Jim: Hm.

Dr. Clarke: We’ll do the healing along the way but stop it. And then we’re going to focus on the affair. We’re going to focus on the sin. That’s the first phase. First two or three months, nothing but what you did wrong. I don’t want to hear about the marriage. We’re not doing that right now, that’s second phase. You’ll stop it and you’ll help your husband heal from this terrible thing you’ve done. You will tell the entire truth about the affair verbally, as well as you’ll write it out. I have them write out the narrative of the affair, might be 25 pages long if it was a two-year affair. It might be four or five pages, but I want the truth, not the gory details of the sex or the physical part, but uh, everything else. And that is a power, if someone who will do that, that’s someone who’s repentant.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: So I’m testing that right away, but when they actually read it in my office …Wow! God uses those moments of confession. Plus the other person can’t heal unless they know the truth.

Jim: Hmm.

Dr. Clarke: “I’m sorry I had the affair. We’ll keep it general. Gosh, I’m so sorry. Would you forgive me?” That doesn’t cut it. There’s no marital change. There can be nothing. What I say is if there’s true repentance in recovery, uh, with both of them, then that that’s the core. They’re getting reconnected even as we go through those steps and the person has to heal and forgive. Now the other partner, verbalizes questions and awful pain, and, and there’s a number of conversations directly on point about the adultery. And then that person writes what I call the document of response. You can see how popular this approach is, uh, initially.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: Because people go, “You’ve got to be out of your mind. My pastor or some well-meaning other book says, no, you don’t do this. You just kind of forgive and move on.” I say, “Don’t do that. I’m telling you it never works. This is the marriage work right now. We’re not getting to the nuts and bolts of it. But now we’re healing from what you did wrong.” He writes back, “How could you do this?” And reads that in my office. And that’s, that’s getting them reconnected and we’re getting past the sin. Based on that foundation now, we can rebuild the marriage.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Clarke: That’ll be the easy part, actually.

Jim: Yeah. I mean, this is hard, but it sounds right. It sounds good. And you’re saying, because it’s based on scripture. Let me ask you this from scripture, it says God hates divorce and I’m sure it applies even in these tough circumstances. Why? Why does God hate divorce?

Dr. Clarke: Well, it, it breaks the covenant. Every marriage is a sacred relationship between two believers. So he just, and it’s the very picture of Christ’s relationship with the church, for heaven’s sake. That is unbelievably sacred. He wants that to be permanent. And I’ve told couples this for 31 years, if you, it it’s a sacred relationship. You don’t feel that that way now. But if you, no matter how damaged it is and yours is frankly as a mess. With God’s help, it can always turn around, because the marriage is different. If you’re dating, break up, I don’t care. If you’re living together, whatever, stop that. I, I don’t mind telling people to break up, but if you’re married, different story. Let’s get this done. With God’s help, he can turn everything around and it can be wonderful, and he gets glorified.

Jim: Huh. That is good. Um, I’m thinking of the listener and the need for that final word of hope. Um, you draw an analogy of the Israelites and Goliath, uh, to that couple facing a bad marriage. What is that analogy?

Dr. Clarke: Well, here you are. You know, you’re facing the most intimidating warrior of his day. No one challenged him, because you would be killed. There was no way to beat him, humanly speaking. David could have been a tremendous warrior, but as you see in this story, not one Israelite adult man warrior even attempted it. Impossible. So you’re in a situation like that with your marriage. It 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 going to be done with that marriage. There’s always a chance with God’s help to, to gather up the five stones. David and David had to actually walk out there. God could have killed Goliath with a heart attack before, while he was waiting. “No, no, David, you’re going to have to walk out there. You’re going to have to actually throw the stone. From there, I’ll take over.” But that took incredible guts. 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.

Jim: That’s true. The only caveat in all of this would be the abusive situation. We haven’t mentioned that. And I want to be clear at the very end. If you’re in that situation, you need to get to safety.

Dr. Clarke: Right now. Oh yeah. I have never varied in 30 years. If there’s been any physical contact of any kind and it’s usually not one time, but even one time, you’re out. We have an immediate separation. We use the church, uh, as covering. Hopefully we have a, we have a shelter. People are stepping forward. Oh yeah. That’s beyond the pale. We’re separating now.

Jim: Yeah, that is good. And it’s good for people to know. Uh, David, this has been so strong. Thank you so much for being with us.

Dr. Clarke: Well, thank you, and for the having the courage to do this. I’m telling you it’s tough stuff.

Jim: Well, it is. And let me turn to you. Um, you’re listening. It’s touched your heart. Maybe you’re in a tough situation. Your marriage is hurting. You’re hurting. Uh, we want to help you. We have caring, Christian counselors available on staff to give you that initial consultation and kind of guide you in your next steps to recover and to restore your marriage. Uh, they can also tell you about our Hope Restored program, which is a marriage intensive for couples like you. And we believe so strongly that it will help you, that we want you to know about and act on it. Uh, 80% of the couples that go, two years later are still married and doing better.

John: And we want you to be able to experience that kind of victory in your relationship, so speak with a counselor today and find out more about Hope Restored. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. And due to the call volume, we may have to take your name and number, but we will give you a call back just as soon as possible.

Jim: Uh, today’s program, uh, it highlights why we exist. We want to save your marriage and to help save many others. So if you’re in a good spot with your marriage, would you help us help struggling couples in the name of Christ? Uh, your donation, it helps cover the expense for counseling that we offer for free. It helps sponsor couples who need but can’t afford Hope Restored. And it allows us to put this broadcast on air. Your financial partnership allows us to give couples the hope and the practical tools they need to trust in a God big enough to save their marriage.

John: Thank you in advance for your generosity to the ministry. And, uh, when you make a donation of any amount, either a monthly pledge or a one-time gift to Focus on the Family, we’re going to send a copy of Dr. Clarke’s book, I Don’t Want a Divorce. Donate online today at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. Coming up tomorrow, Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory describe how to find time and space to connect with God.

Preview:

Kathi Lipp: Failure is natural. Pain is natural. But when we stop going to God with it, when we trying to take care of things on our own, we only have so much reserve.

End of Preview

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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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.

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Mrs. Meg Meeker

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Mr. Gary Thomas

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cherish front cover

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Jodie Berndt

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Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder

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Cover image of Dr. Randall Schroeder's book "Simple Habits for Effective Parenting"

Simple Habits for Effective Parenting

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Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff Cropped

Dr. Tim and Mrs. Noreen Muehlhoff

Dr. Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California where he teaches classes in family communication, interpersonal communication, apologetics, gender, and conflict resolution.  Tim and his wife, Noreen, are both on staff with Biola’s Center for Marriage and Relationships  where he is a co-host of The Art of Relationship podcast. 

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Kim Meeder

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Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 2

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

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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

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Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

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

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

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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

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Pastor Kevin Thompson

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Cover image of Kevin Thompson's book "Friends, Partners & Lovers"

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

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Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

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

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

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

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

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.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

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!