Focus on the Family Broadcast

Taking a Health Journey With Your Spouse

Taking a Health Journey With Your Spouse

Dave and Ashley Willis offer tips for you and your spouse to get healthy—mind, body, and spirit. With personal stories about Ashley’s journey through anxiety and depression and Dave’s health issues, you’ll see how your overall well-being affects your relationship.
Original Air Date: May 12, 2022


Ashley Willis: I kind of tried to just handle this by myself, which I do not recommend for a while. Because I, I believed the lie too that it was just my problem. But in marriage, I wanna make it very clear, it’s never his problem or her problem. Every problem and every struggle is our problem, our struggle.

End of Preview

John Fuller: That’s Ashley Willis and she’s with us today on Focus on the Family, along with her husband, Dave. And, uh, your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us, I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Uh John, as most people know here at Focus, we like to talk about marriage. I would say about 40% of the broadcast is about marriage. And I like that because we’re trying to do everything, we can do to strengthen your marriage and to make it the best marriage you can possibly have. And that we realize there’s gonna be challenges. I, you know, hopefully you’ve heard that when John and I talk about our own marriages. Um, you know, there’s things that pop up. Sometimes Jean, I remember one day she said, “I love you; I don’t like you right now.” (Laughing). And I said, “How could you not like me?” (Laughing). Which is probably the reason she said it, right?

John: It could be.

Jim: But we want to equip you to manage that better. Not always push each other’s buttons and that we just know how to do that in marriage.

John: It’s wired in me to do that very naturally with Dena, and I always hate doing it (laughing). So I’m glad that we have a couple of folks here to help us avoid some of that-

Jim: Yes, button pushing diagnostic tools.

John: Is that the, uh-

Jim: That’s our guest today.

John: They are equipped to do that (laughing), they’re qualified to do that. Dave and Ashley Willis are here. Uh, they’ve been on the broadcast before. They’re gonna have insights and some really practical tips for you. They’re part of the XO Marriage team, which aims to build stronger Christ-centered marriages. They, uh, speak at events across the country. They have four sons from elementary school to high school. And in their spare time, and I’m smiling as I say that they oh, they record and produce podcasts and they write books and a variety of other things. Wow, they’re busy folks. Uh, the book that, uh, is gonna form the foundation for our conversation today is called Naked and Healthy, Uncover the Lifestyle Your Mind, Body, Spirit and Marriage Need. And you can learn more and get your copy when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by

Jim: Dave and Ashley, welcome back to Focus.

Dave Willis: Well, well, it is a privilege to be here (laughing). I mean-

Ashley: It is.

Dave: I was just so excited to start that I couldn’t form those first words.

Ashley: I know (laughing).

Dave: But it is an absolute privilege.

Ashley: We are always excited.

Dave: To be back.

Jim: No, it’s so much fun. And listen, you know, with the XO Marriage effort that you have, you must talk to a lot of people. What I was talking there about pushing buttons.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That’s probably a very common thing, right?

Ashley: Absolutely

Jim: (laughs).

Ashley: And we always- we always say at our conferences we’re like listen, marriage can be hard. You know, marriage is awesome, and it can be like the best thing in your life, but it can be hard.

Jim: Have you ever had somebody say no, no, no mine’s been really easy?

Ashley: Yes, yes.

Dave: And they’re usually like we’ve lived apart for 40 years, you know (laughing), we haven’t seen each other since the ’80s but.

Jim: I’m in the oil business.

Ashley: It’s true (laughing) that’s right. No, it is, it is that scenario or they just haven’t been married very long. So I’m like, you know, the longer you’re married, the more you see this because we see the good, the bad and the ugly, you know. As, as married people, we see it all.

Jim: Well, that’s so true. And, you know, in the book you mentioned that the, uh, (laughing) the phrase in sickness and in health is probably the most important aspect of the wedding vow.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Now that may be true actually when you think about it, because that’s when a lot of marriages can break down. So describe why you picked that particular phrase out of the marriage vows?

Dave: Well, we’ve seen just in the work that we, we’ve done and in our own lives, you know, folks when they come to that crossroads of there’s a, a real health challenge. And that health challenge can be, you know, physical health, mental health it can be a variety of things. But it can create such friction and tension. And I actually watch, watched my parents who’ve been married for a really long time walk through this recently, my dad went through a couple years of very, very serious health challenges. And it, it took their marriage and their faith to a place that it had never been before. And the tenderness with which mom really cared for him during that time, um, when he was just hurting in every possible way, uh, it really inspired us. But we’ve also seen couples that kind of go the other way when that hardship comes, they just think you know what, I’m gonna deal with this on my own, or you’re gonna deal with this on your own. But we’ve got to, we gotta lean into God and lean into each other in those moments, cause it’s gonna happen in some level, it’s gonna happen to all of us.

Jim: Sure. And, you know what’s interesting with that is you’re describing what I think the character of God in us would display, you know, as we love each other deeper and deeper over time, when those difficulties come, we know how to be selfless, we know how to give, we know how to treat one another hopefully. But mentioning that pressure point where some couples go the other direction, what, what do you think is going on there at the core of their difficulty? I, I’ve got my guess, but you guys lay it out there.

Ashley: I feel like they both have different expectations of what it’s supposed to look like. I think that’s a huge button that is pushed on both parts, you know-

Jim: Boy that can sour somebody, expectations are such a killer.

Dave: Yes.

Ashley: It really is. And, and we’ve seen this, you know. We saw Dave’s parents handle this well. And it wasn’t all sunshine and roses I mean they-

Jim: Oh, of course not.

Ashley: Definitely had days where they’re both getting on each other’s nerves and they’re both frustrated. But, you know, they were always there for each other. But we’ve seen other couples where, for example, I remember years ago we were walking through just in the, in, in the ministerial work that we do, walking through kind of a, a cancer struggle with this couple. And the, the wife was going through, you know, she was facing cancer. And the husband because he just felt so ill-equipped, he just ghosted her. I mean he literally did not go to appointments, he would, didn’t wanna talk about it because if he didn’t talk about it, it didn’t exist in his mind.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: And it deeply, deeply wounded her. And so thank God she came through that. But in the aftermath of that, she felt like I don’t know if I can continue this marriage because in my biggest time of need my husband wasn’t there. And he didn’t-

Jim: Right.

Ashley: You know, he didn’t do the things I needed him to do. And so in counseling then we really had to talk through that. And, and God really moved in their marriage and really showed them that it was really expectations and communication issues. And he, I mean he apologized over and over again, and he’s really been there for her.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: But, you know, we have to decide really beforehand we’re all gonna face trials and hardships, and a lot of that may be around health. But we really need to decide now when maybe we’re not facing that, you know, how we’re gonna handle that, like being there for each other. What kind of expectations we do have?

Jim: Boy it, it’s so good to hear that because I think those are coping mechanisms that we develop either in our childhood or somewhere along life, right?

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Let me, uh, move to what you described as three simple rules that are at the heart of what you do. I mean every, okay get your pens out everybody (laughing), get your notes on your phone, get ready to dictate. But what are those three simple, simple rules for us to have healthy marriages?

Dave: Well, there are probably truth be told more, more than three.

Jim: Yeah (laughing).

Dave: But I’m a simple guy and I have to kind of boil things down. And so we try to boil things down into, into things that we can kind of grab onto. And there are probably hundreds of principles and there are hundreds of principles that, that our books in the overall ministries had. But if it comes down to three, I think it’s maybe these three. And one is that a healthy marriage requires two people who are committed to their own personal health, mentally, physically and spiritually. Because I think sometimes in marriage when we’re talking about a healthy marriage, we forget that, that marriage requires two individuals who both need to be focused on helping the other be at their best, but also themselves being a good steward of the mind, body and soul God’s given us. Number two, your spouse’s health must be a priority for you, and your own health must be a priority for you. And we talk about this in the book.  And then three, your marriage will never be healthier than you are. And when we say that we don’t mean like when you’re going through a diagnosis, when you have cancer, it means your marriage is not healthy. Because the truth is your marriage can be strongest in those moments when physically you’re weak with illness, because you’re leaning on God and leaning on each other. But we’re talking more in this way about spiritual health. And health is a mindset and health is a commitment. Health saying no matter what comes our way, we’re going to make sure that we’re focused on being as healthy as we can for one another. And if we’ll do those three things, then God can really move through our marriage in a unique way.

Jim: Yeah, that’s good. Ashley you, you saw an interview I think of a woman whose husband had died at an early age.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: Um, it had a really profound impact on you. What was it?

Ashley: It really did, yes. It was, it was an interview just on one of the major news stations. And it was this woman, you know, watching her husband go through a horrible trial and then he eventually passes away. And I remember that this husband told the family, he would always tell the family, even in this hardship that he’s facing, he would encourage them and say, “You can do hard things.” And so the woman, even after he passed, she kept on kind of took this on as a mantra of sorts for the family and would say that to herself and to the kids, you know, you can do hard things. And I remember watching that here, here’s this family and as a mom myself and, and a, and a wife, you know, I just thought man, that’s such a great loss. To think that you can do hard things and, and carry that on with your kids in, in just such great grief and such great hardship even, because this mom faced a lot of hardship after he passed just in trying to pick up the pieces. And just holding onto that and knowing that with God’s help we can do hard things. It just meant the world to me because I do think that so many times when we are going through trials and we don’t feel like maybe, maybe we’re trying to be healthy, but our body isn’t cooperating, or maybe our mind isn’t cooperating. I think a lot of times, you know, we, we think about physical health, but really mental health is a huge issue for so many people and is a big part of my own testimony. And I think that, that having someone in your life and even just taking on this mantra yourself that, that we can do hard things. That yes hard things come, but we can get through it.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: It really is strengthening.

Jim: Yeah. And I, I mean that’s, that’s the goal, right?

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That you can get through this life loving the Lord, trusting the Lord.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: And when difficulties come it doesn’t shake your faith.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: Um, that’s an ideal place to be.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: Um, okay I’ll put you guys both on the spot. So how have you applied that in your own lives? I mean, to do those hard things. You mentioned your testimony, what was going on?

Ashley: Yes. So years ago, fairly early on in our marriage, I, uh, I had some anxiety and depression, but at the time I, I didn’t really recognize it as such. I just kind of chalked it up to worry, and just chalked it up to this new season of life. But then with the birth of our first child, it really settled in hard. So I had postpartum depression.

Jim: Yeah, and what, what did it look like just to help-

Ashley: Sure.

Jim: You know, women listening? What were those behaviors like? What was going on that you brushed them aside but actually you came back to recognize them?

Ashley: Yes, that’s a great question. Well, first of all I just, I did not, it, it’s like the commercials for antidepressants where they’re like do you not enjoy things you once enjoyed? Like I mean it sounds cheesy, but truly I didn’t have the desire to do the things that I really did enjoy doing. And I just felt like this heaviness on me all the time. And with the birth of our first child I remember thinking where are the feelings? Why aren’t the feelings coming to me? I know I love this child, I’m so grateful to God for this child, but I don’t have all these motherly feelings and these instincts and what’s wrong with me that I feel this way? So then I let the lies set in, you know, we start believing lies. And a lot of the lies I was believing is well, you’re damaged. You know, clearly something is deeply wrong with you that you’re not looking at your child as a mother should, you must be a terrible mom.

Jim: Wow.

Ashley: I mean tho- those horrible lies. And it would plague me. When it got really bad, and it was always like 3:00 AM when I would have the worst kind of depressive thoughts and anxious thoughts. I would think you know what, Dave’s gonna leave you. You might as well just give him permission because you are not the wife that he married. And if he really knew, if he really knew the thoughts that you had, he would never wanna be with you.

Jim: What, what a spiritual battle.

Ashley: Oh, it was horrible, horrible. And I would, you know, I just wanna make it really clear too, the thoughts were going on all the time, but then with the mental health issues, it manifests in physical health issues. So I would be sweating profusely, my heart would be beating outside my chest. Um, many nights I would get physically ill because the toiling. I mean I felt, I just remember feeling like in, in my worst moments, God, you know, what have I done? Like I mean kind of like we read in the Bible in, in the, in, you know, when we hear people are weep, about people lamenting. I was like God, what have I done? What’s wrong with me? Am I just, is this my life now? Like I remember thinking this is just life now. And if this is my life now, what kind of mom and wife am I?

Jim: Yeah. And I wanna keep unpacking that a bit. I wanna stress something that’s really important. And I struggled at this because I remember Jean and I we were, she had a really devastating situation in her family. And I remember saying well, you know, we gotta pick ourselves up, we gotta keep moving. Kind of what like that mom you described saying.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: And she, I remember she looked at me and she said, “Jim, not everybody’s wired like that. I can’t do that.”

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And it was, uh, a kind of an epiphany. And I want you to address this.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jim: When you’re wired that way, you know, and, and your spouse isn’t, how do you come alongside that spouse and slow down-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And and sit down emotionally.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: And just talk about the pain rather than fixing it.

Ashley: Right. That’s probably the biggest question we get because, you know, Dave, finally I, I kind of tried to just handle this by myself, which I do not recommend for a while. Because I, I believed the lie too that it was just my problem. But in marriage, I wanna make it very clear, it’s never his problem or her problem. Every problem and every struggle is our problem, our struggle.

Jim: That is good.

Ashley: And so I finally in de- in desperation, just having a really rough night, I woke Dave up at like 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, told him what was going on through tears barely, I mean just blubbering, just barely able to get words out. And he said he, he, you know, and I’ll let you speak more to this sweetie. But he just said he felt so ill-equipped. He was like-

Jim: Right.

Ashley: And, and he said he did wanna fix it. He was like I just wanna take the pain away, and I just want my wife back. You know, I want you to be you and I, I generally am a happy person, I’m an upbeat person. And he’s like I don’t, I like at that point you’d never really seen that side of me. And we’d probably been married five years at that point. And I think it was scary for him like oh no.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: And, um, what he did that helped me was it wasn’t the words he said per se, it was really the fact that he would look me in the eye that it didn’t scare him. Like I needed to know cause my, my thoughts scared me.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: It really scared me. And the fact that it didn’t scare him meant we’re gonna get through this. Like it really, it really just knowing that he would look me square in the eye with compassion meant a lot. And then also just like crying with me, not necessarily shedding tears, but just feeling, having empathy goes such a long way.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: And um, you know, at the time you really didn’t understand what I was facing but, uh, years later you did, cause you’ve walked through it yourself. And it, it brings a whole new meaning when you walk through it.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: But even in the moment when you didn’t understand it, I just wanna encourage anybody who’s walking through this with their spouse, you don’t have to be a major in psychology or theology or have all the words or the verses. Really just being there, praying for them whether out loud or in your spirit just, just letting them know that you’re not leaving, that you believe that God will get them through this is huge.

Jim: That’s like the first pedestal that you need to step-

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: In the right direction. That your-

Ashley: Huge yes.

Jim: Your spouse is with you.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I mean that helps. Dave any-

Dave: Yeah, and that’s-

Jim: There’s a lot there.

Dave: Well, that’s all I knew to, to say, cause I knew this was out of my league, right?

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Dave: Like I knew this was above my pay grade, but-

Jim: Well that’s the first sign of wisdom.

Dave: Right (laughing).

Jim: Seriously, right?

Ashley: True yeah.

Dave: But I also knew I had, I had an opportunity and a responsibility and a privilege to be present with her in this. And so I just reminded her over and over again God’s with us in this, and I’m, I’m with you in this, you know. And the, the Bible says love is patient. And we’re gonna be as patient as it takes. And, you know, I can’t be the one to fix this, but God is gonna fix it in His timing, and we’re gonna together walk through this and we’re gonna learn everything He wants us to learn in the process. And this isn’t how it’s always gonna be, He’s gonna lead us to a place of healing. And, and He eventually did. And now that aspect of Ashley’s testimony has helped so many others, and it’s helped shed light on the fact that so many people have moments of, of darkness and pain and depression and anxiety. And they’re not alone, and they’re not being punished by God. And they, they haven’t done anything sinful to bring this on. In most cases, it’s just, it’s something that they’re, they’re dealing with that God’s gonna help get them through. And if you’re married to someone who’s going through that, don’t let them face it alone. Just let them know I’m here for you, I’m not going anywhere and we’re gonna get through this together.

Jim: Well, I think you would reinforce this don’t cocoon.

Ashley: Absolutely.

Jim: Whichever position you’re in.

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: If you’re the one affected emotionally, um, don’t hide-

Ashley: Right.

Jim: Get that out on the table. And if you’re the spouse of that person engage it. I mean that’s what I’m learning and-

Dave: So good.

Jim: It’s a far better way to do it than being isolated.

Ashley: Absolutely.

Jim: Cause it’s just like the word says I mean, when the enemy of our soul isolates us-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Trouble happens.

Ashley: Yes.

John: Dave and Ashley Willis are our guest today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. And, uh, we’re covering a lot of, uh, the territory in their book, Naked and Healthy, Uncover the Lifestyle Your Mind, Body, Spirit and Marriage Need. And uh, we do encourage you to get a copy of this book or call us and, uh, request a time of, uh, a free consultation with one of our counselors. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY and, uh, details are at

Jim: Dave, Ashley commented on this a minute ago. You also found yourself in some difficulty. Uh, can you describe that? And then how Ashley responded to you and was it helpful?

Dave: Oh, she’s, she’s the most helpful. Like she’s wisely said before, and I love this. She said a strong marriage rarely has two strong people at the same time. It’s usually a husband and wife taking turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other’s weak. And she has been the strong one 95% of the time. So that, that one season she described was one of the, one of the opportunities I had. And I did count it as a privilege to be strong for her in those moments, even though I still was out of my league and completely unsure of what to do. I knew if I can just be present and be the place where she can lean and the place where she feels safe, then, then I’m gonna be doing my part as a husband. But she’s done that for me over and over again, through a variety of different things. But fast forwarding to more recently, I’ve had some health challenges. Um, I kind of thought I’m never gonna have health challenges, right? Um, you know, I, I never would go to the doctor.

Jim: At least in your mind you think-

Dave: In my mind I’m like I’m healthy (laughing).

Jim: Then something happens.

Dave: And she-

Ashley: Exactly.

Dave: She kept saying you need to go to the doctor. And I’m like I hate going to the doctor, they make you fill out the same clipboard over and over. It’s the same stuff I filled out last time and it’s, it smells weird in there and I just don’t like going.

Jim: (laughs).

Dave: And she’s like well, you need to go I feel like something is off. And I’m like nothing’s off I’m just, just stressed, nothing’s off. And so eventually she said, you know, I made an appointment for you Tuesday at the doctor. And I was offended. I’m like (laughing) I’m a grown man. I’m, I make my own appointments I’m not going. So there I was Tuesday at the doctor’s office.


Dave: and um, doing, doing what my wife had asked cause she’s usually almost always right, and she was right about this. And they did some blood work and long story short they were like oh yeah, you got all kinds of stuff wrong. And I’d had a, my thyroid had stopped working. I didn’t even know what a thyroid was. It’s this thing in your neck if you’re interested, you can Google it, it does a lot.


Dave: And, um, so I had to learn about all that. And because of that, my hormones were off, my testosterone was really low, which, which impacts everything from, from energy level to sex drive and a bunch of other stuff too. And I was just off, like she was so right. She had wisely seen my blind spot and said, you know, you need to, you need to do this to help be at your best. I’m gonna love you no matter what, but I feel like there are solutions we could take. So that’s kind of put me on a long journey of trying to get those things right. And it hasn’t been easy, and I’ve been frankly I’ve been moody, and I’ve been just, just kind of off why are you laughing?

Ashley: I’m just glad you mentioned mood because that was a big part of this (laughing).

Jim: Okay now we’re getting somewhere.

Dave: Yeah.

Ashley: Right (laughing).

Dave: Now it’s turned into counseling, how much do you guys charge by the hour (laughing) this, this could take a while. You have a couch I could lay on?

Ashley: But to his credit, like if you look up kind of these issues like with the thyroid, it does affect your mood. I mean it really-

Jim: Oh, sure.

Ashley: It can also send you-

Dave: No it doesn’t.

Ashley: I know, no stop it. It also sends you, and it can send you into a depression, it can even give you anxiety.

Dave: Yeah.

Ashley: And so there’s a lot of these different things. And we’ve had to educate ourselves. And as your wife, I mean I wanted to educate myself so I could best support you. And really, I just remember, you know, especially when he would have moments of anxiety and depression, I counted it as a privilege to just help Dave in what I’d learned through my own journey.

Jim: You knew exactly what was going on.

Ashley: Yes, yes. Even though it can manifest slightly differently in men and women-

Jim: Right.

Ashley: Uh, you know, a lot of times with women you see a little bit more of the sadness and the crying. With men, and this is very generally speaking, it can look a little different person to person. But with men it o- often manifests itself in anger.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: And it was an angry season for Dave. And, and it was-

Dave: Yeah.

Ashley: Anger too that you’d be like I, I don’t even know what’s causing this, you know? And when you can’t really point to an actual, not to discount anger, but like if you can’t point to something-

Dave: Yeah.

Ashley: Then you know something’s chemically off here.

Dave: But there were a lot of those moments where I, I, I would just be like all worked up and she’d be like explain to me what’s wrong?

Ashley: Yeah, like what’s-

Dave: Like I’m so mad because, and I’d really start thinking about it and I’m like well, um, I don’t know. But I’m, but I’m still feeling this way.

Ashley: But I’m so mad (laughing).

Jim: You know, it’s a really good indication though when you’re trying to identify signs, you know, what’s going on-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: When something’s out of balance.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: Just like the word says, right?

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Jim: When something’s out of balance and you probably need to step back and have a little deeper discussion.

Ashley: Right.

Jim: And talk about what’s going on. Um-

Ashley: Absolutely.

Jim: That seems elementary.

Ashley: Yes. And bring in professionals, like go to the doctor, go to a Christian counselor.

Jim: Yeah.

Ashley: You know, and, and in my own journey I had to do this. And I think one of the biggest things I would tell anybody listening who maybe is experiencing a physical, mental or even spiritual health crisis, you know, it’s a process. It generally speaking, God could take it away in, in a minute if He wanted to. And He, you know, we have accounts of this in the Bible. But most of the time it’s a process where He’s growing us, He’s healing us, we’re learning a lot on the journey. And I think if we remember that it’s not gonna just happen overnight, that it’s a process that He never wastes our pain. That alone kind of brings us some peace in the midst of the storm.

Jim: Yeah. And so often, you know, simple things are what you need to think about.

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: You have a story in the book about your, I think your boys building a fort and it kept blowing down.

Dave: Yeah.

Jim: Describe that, and what you helped them and probably yourselves learn about what was going on.

Dave: Yeah, we had this empty lot next to our house and, and the kids, anything to get them off screens. I’m like go, just go out and play in that empty lot.

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: And so they started-

Jim: That’s good.

Dave: Building-

Ashley: Yeah.

Dave: This fort, uh, in the empty lot. But the fort kept falling down cause it was uneven ground, and every time wind would blow through it would just blow it over. And I was like well, this could be a teaching moment. Even though I know nothing about engineering (laughing), I’m terrible with tools. She is way better at tools than me. Her dad can fix anything, she thought all men were like that.

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: And then she married me.

Jim: I’m with you bro.

Dave: And I (laughing). My toolkit looks like a child’s fishing tackle box (laughing). It’s like so small she’s, she’s the one with tools. But I did know this I was like listen guys, it needs a strong foundation. And I told them the story that Jesus told about building our life with a strong foundation. You’re either gonna build it on the rock, which represents God’s word and His truth. So when the storms come, no storm is gonna be able to break that foundation. Or you’re gonna build it with no foundation on shifting sand, which is like building our lives on all the, the fickle things of this world. And I’m like right now that fort is built on the sand, it has no foundation and we’ve gotta give it a strong foundation. And so we, we kind of shored up the foundation and sure enough that, you know, we, we built a little fort that actually, actually lasted (laughing) and-

Jim: To your surprise.

Dave: To my surprise.

Ashley: I know.

Jim: I could see it in your face. (laughing)

Dave: I’m like I was literally surprised. I was like I’ve built something that worked. So, so Jesus’s construction, uh, instructions work just like all of His other things. It’s all true-

Ashley: Right.

Dave: Everything He taught is true. But it was also a, a life lesson for us. I think sometimes in our lives we get so busy that we forget the foundation part.

Jim: Yeah.

Dave: We’re like let’s just get on with it, you know-

Ashley: Mm-hmm.

Dave: Because foundation takes time and it’s, it’s hard and it, it’s not glamorous. But when stuff’s coming up, when the walls are coming up, that looks cool, so we wanna start with that. In marriage and life we’ve gotta come back to the foundation though.

Jim: No, that is so good. And one of the things you stress in the book that I wanna make sure we get in today, and that is, and I think it’s affecting younger people, younger couples disproportionately to us older folks. But this idea that you go into marriage with one foot out the door, because so many marriages are failing. Maybe their own mom and dad’s marriage failed. I hear that unfortunately too often-

Ashley: Yes.

Jim: In Christian homes. And I get it, but, you know, the effect on young people in their 20s and 30s who are looking at getting married, they kind of say well, you know, let’s give it a try, but they’re not fully committed. That is terribly dangerous.

Ashley: It is. And, you know, we see it all the time. I mean it’s just; I do think it’s the narrative that we’re all surrounding with in our society of you can’t really trust anyone.

Jim: Right.

Ashley: Like that’s, that’s the lie that we’re believing is really no one, and you can never really know somebody. Like I hear that all the time. That’s on shows, like some of the most popular shows are you never really know somebody, so then you can’t really trust them. And I was reminded of this years ago, when a dear friend of ours, it was actually her second marriage. And, and as she was getting ready to go down the aisle, her mother takes her aside and says, “You have that, that secret bank account, don’t you? Because you know that the odds of this working out are not in your favor.”

Jim: Yeah, your exit plan.

Ashley: Yes, your exit plan.

Jim: That’s terrible.

Ashley: I know. And she said in that moment because she trusts her mom. And her mom, you know, her mom had been through a lot of relational, um, issues herself and, and just didn’t feel like she could trust a man. And she kind of put that on her daughter. And so in the beginning of their marriage she had that. She had that secret account, and she was one foot in the door one foot out. And for the first three years it just wasn’t working. And she realized, uh, in kind of reading marriage books and, and seeing what God really says about marriage, that she wasn’t all in. And that she’s, you know, if you’re expecting it to fail, it’s gonna fail. Like I mean if you’re just expecting for the shoe to drop, you’re expecting them to not hold up their end of the bargain, then you’re not really working on the marriage. You’re not really putting your whole heart in there. And even when we mess up, which we will, we need to go to them and not, not let that get a foothold, not act like it’s not there, not avoid the problem. But go to each other and say listen I’ve, I’ve messed up here. I need to do whatever I can to regain your trust to get the help that, that we need, whatever that path is. But really work to be all in all the time.

Jim: Well, that is excellent. Couldn’t say it any better I mean you’ve really hit it. Um, you know, one of the things, and we’re not gonna have time to get to it so people just need to order the book basically. But you do encourage couples to make the most of every moment, and you give great examples in the book, I’m gonna tease it that way-

John: All right.

Jim: Because we’re out of time. But man, uh, Dave and Ashley this has been so, so good. And for you, the listener, I mean this is like basic marriage 101 stuff, don’t go into marriage with one foot out the door. And this great resource, Naked and Healthy will help you really to concentrate on those very aspects of who you are, your physical wellbeing, your emotional wellbeing, and your spiritual wellbeing. And you want all of those things really hitting, uh, the right tone so that your marriage can be healthy, uh, through and through. And I want you to get a copy of this resource. And what we do often is just make a donation to Focus for any amount. We’re gonna plow all of that right back into ministry, it’s not paying a shareholder at some big mail order place. But, uh, all that goes right back into ministry, helping marriages, helping save a baby’s life. Send a gift and we’ll give you the book as our way of saying thank you,

John: Contact us today to get a copy of this great book, Naked and Healthy. Um, also to schedule a time with one of our counselors and, uh, while you’re at our website take our free marriage assessment, uh, as well. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, (800) 232-6459, and the links, uh, are all found at

Jim: Dave and Ashley again thanks for being with us, good stuff.

Dave: Man it’s been a privilege-

Ashley: Yes.

Dave: Thank you for having us.

Ashley: We love it.

John: And thank you for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Book cover for Naked & Healthy: Uncover the Lifestyle Your Mind, Body, Spirit, and Marriage Need by Dave and Ashley Willis

Naked & Healthy: Uncover the Lifestyle Your Mind, Body, Spirit, and Marriage Need

Receive Dave and Ashley's book Naked & Healthy for your donation of any amount!

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