Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

The Best Choices You Can Make for Your Marriage

The Best Choices You Can Make for Your Marriage

Dr. Ron and Jan Welch will talk about communicating well, choosing forgiveness and unselfishness, and challenging unspoken truths. If couples can learn to show respect, honor and love each other, a lot of their conflict will go away.
Original Air Date: December 17, 2023

Dr. Ron Welch: It’s a daily decision if you want to be in love that day. And, we have this language that talks about it happening to us, like it’s an outside force and we fall into love as opposed to making a conscious decision to say, “I want to love you. I’m going to love you and I’m choosing to love you.”

John Fuller: Dr. Ron Welch is our guest today on Focus on the Family and he and his wife Jan have some simple advice for your marriage that can really, uh, be implemented today. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Hey, John. Um, if you think about it, every day of our lives is made up of lots of little decisions. Uh, we decide whether or not to hit the snooze button. Did you do that this morning?

John: I wanted to.

Jan Welch: Me too.

Jim: Or, uh, perhaps, uh, what shoes to wear.

John: Hmm.

Jim: I’m pretty set on one pair.

John: I noticed that.

Jim: I make it simple. Maybe what to put in your coffee. Some days I put cream in, sweetener, and some days it’s just straight black. I don’t know about you.

John: Black.

Jim: I think you’re a straight black kind of coffee drinker.

John: Just straight black. Yeah.

Jim: But researchers say that on average, a person makes about 35,000 decisions a day.

John: No wonder I’m tired.

Jim: Well, I said this to Jean and to Troy last night and they said, “Yeah. I could see that.” I said tell me. Whether to get up right now. Whether to scratch my head. Whether to walk across the room. When you put it in that context, yeah, I could see how we would reach 35,000 decisions a day. But here’s something we often don’t think of as a decision. Loving our spouse.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Uh, Hollywood often paints love as this, you know, huge romantic… You hear the theme.

John: The big build-up. Yeah.

Jim: The big music and the… You know, the theater release. Diamond rings. All of that. But, as we’re going to learn from our guests today, it’s actually the small, simple choices that can transform your marriage in a big way.

John: And that’s good news. Uh, Dr. Ron Welch is a clinical psychologist. He specializes in marriage and family. His wife Jan is a teacher. She works with at-risk children. And, they’ve been married for over 30 years, have two grown boys and two grandkids. Dr. Welch has written a book called 10 Choices Successful Couples Make: The Secret To Love That Lasts a Lifetime. And, we have that of course at our website,

Jim: Ron and Jan, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Dr. Welch: Thank you so much for having us. We’re glad to be here.

Jim: Okay. Well, let’s get into it. You’ve been married over 30 years now. I understand you, uh, decided to get engaged only four days after meeting each other.

John: Wow.

Jim: Okay. Everybody’s going, “What? Honey, did you hear that? Four days.” What’s that all about?

Dr. Welch: I think this is my wife’s story to tell.

Jim: Oh, nice punt. I’m going to punt this one right over to my wife.

Jan: Um, Ron and I were at Denver University together and I realized he was such an intelligent, kind person and we ended up, um, doing a project together and we were able to, um… He asked me out and, um, he was… When we left, he wanted to borrow a quarter because he was going to move someone from our date to another date.

Jim: He was going to make a phone call.

Jan: Make a phone call.

Dr. Welch: Yeah. And, I don’t look very good in this part of the story, just so you know.

Jan: And, thank goodness the line was busy because I asked him what it was and he says, “Well, explain that.” And, I was like, “Uh, I like movies.” And, we were never apart.

Jim: Ah.

John: That’s a really fast, condensed story there.

Jan: So, we talked all night.

Dr. Welch: I had to move one date around to make room to another.

John: Yeah.

Dr. Welch: So, it didn’t turn out to work very well.

Jan: He didn’t have that date.

Dr. Welch: But, the end result is we spent a lot of time together over the next few days and after three or four days of spending time together, we looked at each other and said, “Should we go look at rings?.” And, we’re like, “Yeah, let’s do that.”

Jim: Okay. So, then you get married.

Dr. Welch: Yep.

Jan: Mm-hmm.

Jim: How did that go in the early days of your marriage?

Dr. Welch: We had to get to know each other after we got married.

Jim: Right.

Dr. Welch: Um.

Jim: I would think there were some problems.

Dr. Welch: Not the… Uh, not the best plan. Uh, as you hear our story unfold a bit, uh, you’ll find that one of the reasons that I wanted this to happen so quickly was that I was a really insecure guy. Um, I needed to control things and be in charge and I really believed at that point that if she really got to know me, then what would happen is she probably wouldn’t want to marry me.

Jim: Ah.

John: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Welch: And so, I wanted it to happen quickly and soon so that God could move things along, um, because I was pretty insecure about how that would work otherwise.

Jim: So, did that come out pretty quickly then?

Jan: Yes. Yes.

Jim: Uh, what I would describe as a marriage trap in some ways. Not to… I’m not trying to be unkind, obviously, Ron, but.

Dr. Welch: No.

Jim: When you try to compensate for those insecurities, it’s kind of like get the girl and then we’ll deal with my issues later.

Jan: Right. And, to the point of the controlling, I couldn’t leave the apartment without him and if I chose to do something, I would kind of pay for it because it would be an inquisition. He would keep asking questions.

Jim: Oh, that’s tough.

Jan: What did you do? Who did you see?

Jim: Yeah.

Jan: And it got to the point and I said it’s not worth that.

Jim: Yeah.

Jan: And.

Jim: And, in fact in your book, you talk about the difference between falling in love and jumping in love. What’s your distinction?

Dr. Welch: You know, that’s where these choices come in. Right, Jim? It’s a daily decision if you want to be in love that day. And, we have this language that talks about it happening to us, like it’s an outside force and we fall into love as opposed to making a conscious decision to say, “I want to love you. I’m going to love you and I’m choosing to love you.”

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Welch: And, in my case, after a year, she told me, “This is not working.” And, in God’s perfect world, I would’ve been healed. Everything would have been great. In reality, it was probably eight or 10 years, um.

Jan: A little longer.

Dr. Welch: And, there’s… There’s nothing I regret more in my life than the fact that she had to help me become the man God wanted me to be.

Jim: Well, and the irony is that is in part what marriage is about. Um, unfortunately.

Dr. Welch: It is.

Jim: In the modern world, we’ve lost that understanding.

Dr. Welch: Yeah.

Jim: Of completing each other. And, we’ll unfold some of that as we move through the story. You also mentioned something called choice theory.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Uh, you say that it can bring hope to any marriage. So, walk us through choice theory.

Dr. Welch: You know, I think there’s a level of expectation people have and there’s a level of understanding that makes them think this is just the way it is and it’s the way it has to be and there’s not much more we can do about it. Choice theory says that in every single situation, you have opportunities. God created us to be a certain kind of person in his image and we can act in that image if we so choose or we can act not to. And so, what I’ve done in my understanding of choice theory is to apply that to how couples make choices, whether it’s getting up in the morning and deciding today I’m going to honor my wife, I’m going to look at her in the face and tell her how beautiful she is, or I’m going to be someone who will honor and respect and love my wife or my husband in a way that is more about me than about them.

John: Hmm.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Welch: And, I think that’s where it comes from.

Jim: Let me, uh, ask you this question about the early years of your marriage.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: The first eight to 10 years. Then, Jan, you had to be unselfish.

Jan: Yes.

Jim: To recognize Ron’s controlling.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You know, temperament. How did you survive that?

Jan: Well, my father was very similar in a way of a control and so it was very easy for me because I wanted him to be happy and I would sacrifice everything that so he could be happy and that things would be good. And, I really wish I’d had someone tell me that you have to hold them accountable. And, that’s what happens, I think, in a lot of those things because for your insecurities, whatever reason, you hold back some of the things you might have said to the person.

Jim: Right.

Jan: And, you just kind of keep doing that and so it’s not always beneficial in your marriage.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Jan: So, when controlling, you also have a part in allowing that, if that makes sense.

Jim: I want to… Yeah, and I appreciate that honesty, really both of you to talk about this first eight to 10 years. I think for a couple that may be in that situation right now, they’re still at year four.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Let’s just imagine that couple who’s listening. Uh, how can we cut their pain in half? They don’t have to go eight to 10 years. What were some of those things in those, uh, years six, seven and eight that begin to change things for you? What was it that woke you both up to this unhealthiness?

Dr. Welch: So, I remember the day God slapped me across the face with this.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Welch: Um, my sons were starting to talk to my wife in that same manner. “Why aren’t you where you’re supposed to be? Why didn’t you get me here? You need to do this for me.” And, I gave them the dad lecture. Right? Don’t talk to your mom that way. And, I remember God just slapping me across the head and saying, “Who do you think is teaching them to disrespect women?”

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Welch: “I’ve taught you a different way to value your wife.”

Jim: Hmm.

Dr. Welch: “Why are you doing this?.” And, there was this inconsistency between my faith and between what I was and I think that’s that couple you’re talking about in year four. I think there’s an inconsistency between I love you, I’m going to church with you, I’m telling you I value you, but when we get home I’m telling you what you need to do for me. Let me give you a quick example. I would ask Jan, um, something like, “Where do you want to go for dinner?” I really wasn’t asking her where would you like to go for dinner. I wanted to start a conversation about barbecue. Right? I mean-

Jim: So, you actually knew.

Dr. Welch: Yeah.

Jim: See, I’m the guy that really doesn’t know where I want to go for dinner. I could care less.

Dr. Welch: Yeah. And, I wish I could portray myself in a better light, but I can’t because it wasn’t just Jan I did that with. That was how I worked my life because.

Jim: What’s the root of that?

Dr. Welch: Insecurity. It’s like I’m so scared about things getting out of control that as long as I can control everything, it’ll be okay and I fight that every day, trying to say if I trust God and God has my back, why am I so anxious and worried?

Jim: Hmm. Where did that come from?

Dr. Welch: My mom. God bless her. She was an anxious woman but she was kind of like the glass wasn’t just half empty. It was draining rapidly, if that makes sense.

Jim: Oh, it does.

Dr. Welch: She could look around the corner and see all the things that could go wrong.

Jim: So, fear and anxiety.

Dr. Welch: Yeah. And, I got really good at trying to do enough.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Welch: To maybe prevent those bad things.

Jim: Yeah.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I mean, that… That… There usually is that, you know, early childhood development issue.

Dr. Welch: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: That people encounter.

Dr. Welch: And, it worked well until I got married and then it caused a lot of problems.

Jim: Yeah. No. And, I… I understand that.

John: Yeah. Our guests today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly are, uh, Dr. Ron Welch and his wife Jan. And, Ron has written a book. 10 Choices Successful Couples Make: The Secret To Love That Lasts A Lifetime. He unpacks this choice theory and, uh, has a lot of great insights in the book. We would commend it to you. We’ve got it at or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Yeah. I think many people are going to lean into this next question because it affects all of us as human beings. It’s just part of being on this earth. Uh, you mentioned a choice that you outline is choosing to let go of old baggage. And, Jan, I think, uh, this was especially difficult for you even though we’ve heard Ron’s letting go of some of that baggage. How has your past affected your, uh, marriage?

Jan: I think it impacted it a lot. As I said, I… Being controlled was kind of normal for me. I didn’t know something different. Um, and pleasing somebody. And, that was my…

Jim: So, you were pretty much always controlled by your own parents. Right?

Jan: Yeah.

Jim: Okay.

Jan: My dad, pretty much.

Jim: Do you think that helped you make a decision to marry Ron, because you saw that in him?

Jan: Yeah.

Jim: And, comfortable.

Jan: I… I don’t think I saw that in him.

Jim: Okay.

Jan: I didn’t really realize it until after we were married and then it was like, oh, I married my dad. But, in a good way for many because people… There’s so many wonderful qualities about him. He’s an amazing person. That was just a part that we needed to work on and I really didn’t do my part in holding him accountable, saying, “No. I’m going to go and be with my friends.” And-

Jim: Well, Jan, in fact in the book, I think you position it as blaming yourself, which, can I say this so that women can hopefully release this. Women are so quick to look at their own selves.

Jan: Yes.

Jim: And, sometimes that’s good.

Jan: Yes.

Jim: But, sometimes it can become unhealthy and that’s what you’re describing.

Jan: Yes. It was very unhealthy.

Jim: If you’re always blaming yourself, that’s not the right spot.

Jan: No. That’s not good. And, baggage is what kind of weighs you down and when you unpack it, it stays in the marriage and you use that as a crutch. And so, un… Getting rid of that baggage.

Jim: Yeah.

Jan: And, really looking at it, it helps so much. Uh-

Jim: When did you find the courage to say, “Hey, Ron, can I challenge that a little bit?.” Did you ever have…?

Jan: Our first anniversary.

Jim: The first anniversary.

Jan: Yeah. I said, “I feel like I’m in a golden cage because there’s other good things but I can’t get out of the cage because you won’t let me.”

Dr. Welch: And, I didn’t listen at all.

Jim: So, that was the beginning of an eight more year journey.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jan: I think a little… Few more years.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Yeah.

Jan: Because, my part in not really trusting in it because at some point it always came back up again. You had to work through that.

Jim: Well, speak for a moment to those deep patterns that we learn.

Dr. Welch: Yeah.

Jim: As children.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And, then how we, you know, manifest those as adults. This is, you know, almost compulsive behavior. It’s hard to grab a hold of that and when you have that thought to grab it captive, just like The Word talks about.

Dr. Welch: Yeah.

Jim: To take that captive so it doesn’t come out of our mouth, as James talks about.

Dr. Welch: Yeah.

Jim: The power of the tongue.

Jan: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So, what discipline have you applied, self-discipline, to change those things?

Dr. Welch: I had a student. I’m a professor up at Denver Seminary. I had a student ask me that exact question maybe a year or so ago.

Jim: What a bright student he is.

Dr. Welch: Because, they wanted to know… Yeah. A very good student. Very good student. And, part of the answer was you can’t start by trying to change your entire life. You can’t just say I’m going to be different tomorrow.

Jim: Wow. That’s good.

Dr. Welch: We’re all done. You have to start with a small choice and say, “So, what could I do today that would lead me to make a selfless choice or an unselfish choice as a pared to selfish choice?.” So, it might be something like, okay, you said you wanted to play softball. I’m talking to the guys out there. They assume they have a softball game so they should just go play softball. But, they don’t ask their wife whether the wife would take care of the kids that night. They just assume, oh, it’ll be fine. She wants to go out with the girls and there’s like some permission needed. That’s a power issue. That’s not okay. Everybody should say.

Jim: Right. When one needs permission, the other doesn’t.

Dr. Welch: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Welch: It should be a matter of saying, “So, how can I serve you today? What would you like to do tonight so you could really get closer to God? If you want to go to Bible study, I’ll take care of the kids.” But, more of the time, you look at people’s schedules. I have the couples I work with. I’m a marriage therapist, so I have the couples pull out their planners and you’ll see everybody in there. You’ll see their job, their dog, some guy named Frank. I mean, everybody shows up in their schedules. But, their own names don’t show up in each other’s schedule.

Jim: Hmm.

Dr. Welch: Because, they don’t plan time. They don’t think about the week and say, “When are we going to be married this week?.” So, one of the choices I try to make with Jan is to say, “Today, when are we going to be married today?.”

Jim: That is so good.

Jan: And, it’s great. You know, um, especially when you know that person is thinking about you and really cares about what you may want to do, which such a change, um, in our marriage because it was always what did he want to do. If he wanted barbecue and I wanted Mexican, we would go get barbecue.

Jim: In the old days.

Jan: And, now he’s like… In the old days. And, now he’s like, “Where do you really want to go?.” And, I’m like, I feel like I can say that. I know it’s a simple thing but it really impacts your life in other ways.

Jim: Well, I’m with you. Let’s go get Mexican food.

Jan: Amen. Sounds good to me.

Jim: You know, uh, Ron, I wanted to ask you this too. You have a, uh, statement or a, uh, descriptor called the Niagara Falls analogy.

Dr. Welch: Yes.

Jan: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That helps couples de-escalate.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So often, I mean, even for Jean and I, that’s what we need so often is how do I de-escalate this because I’ve said something that obviously has triggered her and, uh, sometimes I look for that de-escalation and sometimes I don’t. So, speak to that. How do I Niagara Fall this in a healthier way?

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: How do I pull back, especially if you want to win in this moment, which is a competitive nature thing, which I do possess? And so, you know, it’s about, hey, can… How do I win this argument?

Dr. Welch: Uh-huh.

Jim: Okay. Help me out, Mr. Therapist.

Dr. Welch: You betcha.

Jan: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Welch: I’m so glad you asked about that, Jim. This is the single most effective thing I’ve ever seen in counseling, by far.

Jim: Oh, this is important.

Dr. Welch: It is so amazing. I was in the prison system for many years. Um, I guess I…

Jan: Not in the prison.

Jim: Which side? Yeah.

Jan: Not in prisons. You have to clarify.

Dr. Welch: As a psychologist. I was not an inmate. I guess I should explain that for your listeners.

Jim: Yes. I got it.

Jan: Prison years.

Jim: Just kidding.

Dr. Welch: But, I worked with a lot of inmates with a lot of anger problems and I met a guy named Bill Fleemin who was doing work on Niagara Falls, looking at how that affected anger. And, I said, “Man, can I use this for marriage?.” And, afterwards his organization let me use this with marriage couples and what I do is… Have you ever been to Niagara Falls?

Jim: I have.

Dr. Welch: Big waterfall.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Welch: Lots of water. My Canadian friends want to make sure I say the Canadian side is prettier. So.

Jim: Probably true, actually.

Dr. Welch: Probably true. But, what most people don’t do is go back upriver about two or three miles. It’s calm. It’s peaceful. You can get in and out of the water. You can make choices about what you want to do. As you get closer to the Falls… When we’ve been there, it was… You know, you have a roaring sound of the water. There’s like a sign on the side saying, hey, you in the barrel, get out. That kind of thing. Right? And, then you get closer. There’s even a cable trying to save people.

Jim: Well the pace picks up.

Dr. Welch: Yeah. There’s a point of no return. And, this was what happened with the inmates I worked with, where two days before in the lunch line when someone elbowed them, they could make a different choice. When they’re down on the rec yard with a shank trying to stab somebody, it’s too late to make a different choice. They’ve already made their call.

Jim: They’re over the falls.

Dr. Welch: They’re over the falls. And so, with couples, I say… I ask them to make four lists. I ask the husband to make a list about how he knows when he’s okay and when he’s not okay. I ask the wife to make a list about how she knows when he’s okay or not okay because sometimes, uh, our wife or our husband knows a lot more.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Welch: About how okay we are than we do. Right? And, then I ask the wife to make the list about the husband and about herself. These four lists give you all sorts of ideas of how you know things aren’t okay and I ask them to rank order them. What they do then is they use these lists and I have some couples that have had huge picture laminated of Niagara Falls up in their kitchen wall and they just identify. What are our warning signs? When are we getting close to the falls? When are we getting anxious or upset or angry or frustrated? And, they choose to make choices way upriver before they go over the falls.

Jim: Yeah. Those are, in essence, the cable, the safety cables.

Dr. Welch: That’s right. That’s right.

Jim: No, that’s really good.

Dr. Welch: Hmm.

Jim: Uh, another choice you mention and talk about with couples is the choice to, uh, communicate positively. I think I get that one, but… And, I think the power of that… I’m doing that more in my marriage now than I have in the past and it is really good. Make sure you’re more positive than negative.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm. I… Jan, I… If I can ask you to comment on that. She does this naturally. She doesn’t have to work at it. I have to make it a statement.

Jim: Oh, this is good. Yeah.

Dr. Welch: This is who you are. I mean, you’re just naturally the kindest, gentlest person. So.

Jan: He’s sweet. Um, yes. I… I like to think about what I can do to make someone else’s day better. Is there something that I can compliment them on? Is there something…? If I can tell they’re worried about something, do you need to talk about it? Um, I work with children and you need to be able in many ways to kind of see if things are hap… Bad things are happening and you communicate with them. You pull them out. You can talk to them. Um, I love being able to make someone else’s day better and I think by being positive and communicating that, and sometimes you just don’t know. A smile could make somebody’s day.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Welch: Oh, yeah.

Jan: If they’re having a really rough day. Um, unfortunately, many teenagers are needing that a lot more.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Yeah. I would say double down on the positivity with your teenager.

Jan: Exactly.

Jim: Because, at that stage of life, there’s so many negatives coming at em.

Jan: Exactly.

Dr. Welch: I would also add delivery matters.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Welch: Uh, the attitude, the tone of voice, can throw a message right out the window. So, you gotta deliver it positively.

Jim: That’s good. In fact, you have 10 rules for positive communication and, John, we’ll post those at the website.

John: Good idea.

Dr. Welch: Excellent.

Jim: But give me a couple of those. I mean, you mentioned one or two, but what’s, uh…

Dr. Welch: So, for example, nothing good tends to happen in communication after 9:00 p.m. Okay?

Jim: Oh, that’s close to the… Be home by midnight.

Dr. Welch: Right?

Jim: Because nothing good happens after midnight.

Dr. Welch: Pretty applicable in my home. Right. When couples… And, John, you know. If… If a couple starts talking about a conflict at 9:30 when they’re both tired, the kids just went to bed, it’s not going to go well. Another would be if… If you think about bringing up the past. You know? The great pancake incident of 2012 or whatever. You know? Just let it go. Don’t bring up the past and bring in new stuff. So, I think the rules have a lot to do with being fair in your communication.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Ron, uh, you say there’s something called unspoken truths and that they can be a silent killer in marriage. What do you mean by that?

Dr. Welch: This is all the things that you know about your wife right now that you believe to be true and you’re fairly certain that you… You really can’t talk you out of it. Um, you believe for instance something like you kind of are a lazy person or someone else thinks my husband cares more about work than me. Or, maybe, ah, you really probably are going to think of yourself before me most times. It’s the unspoken truths that are what in scientific world would be called givens. They drive everything else because they’re assumptions that are so powerful, they form the basis of what you choose. One of Jan’s assumptions was that she wasn’t worthwhile enough to stand up for herself and be treated the way she deserved to be treated, and so, she kind of took my inappropriate, ridiculous, immature behavior for many years. Uh, we call it learned helplessness. You guys ever remember the old animal experience?

Jim: Sure. Yeah.

Dr. Welch: They’d shock the dogs. Dogs would jump. Dogs come back down. Eventually, the dogs lay down and they say, “You can shock me, but you can’t make me jump.”

Jim: Right. I’m done

Dr. Welch: Yeah, and that’s… I think that was kind of what it was like for you. It’s like, why bother trying? He’s not going to listen.

Jan: Yeah, and sometimes especially, um, when I would bring something that was not, like, money or something and he could kind of explode out of that. Why did you spend that? Or, those kinds of things. And, those became my unspoken truths, so I’m not going to talk to him about money because it usually comes back on me.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So, you’d hide.

Jan: Hide it. Yeah.

Jim: Emotionally.

Jan: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Jan: And, then, you know, you buy something, you stick it in your closet in the back and bring it out and he’d be like, “Oh, is that new?” Well, it’s been in my closet for a while. You know?

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Jan: Because I knew that if I told him, he might react neg… So negatively and I already felt bad maybe about buying it. So, unspoken truths can really be… Strangle your marriage.

Jim: Okay. So, a woman is going, ugh, that’s exactly where I’m at today.

Jan: Mm-hmm.

Jim: What do you do to change that trajectory? How do you work up the courage to say we need a different way of doing this? We need a budget. Whatever it might be. How do you go about doing that?

Dr. Welch: I think if you can agree as a couple, even if you’re not going to make changes immediately, just to say it out loud. Um, there’s a way you can do this. You can say something like, “My husband always.” Or “I wish my wife wouldn’t.” And fill in the sentence and show it to each other and say, “I don’t know how we can work on this, but I want to say it out loud. I want to let God know. I want to let you know. This is not okay.” And maybe you can even say, “How does this work with the kind of man Christ called you to be? Is this consistent?” Just throw a little guilt trip in there. You know?

Jim: And, this is not the kind of thing, Ron, that a couple should just spring on each other. Right? I mean, I shouldn’t go home tonight and say, “Hey, I was thinking about things that you shouldn’t do anymore and here’s my list.”

Dr. Welch: Yeah. Let’s not start there.

Jim: Right? I mean, the context is very important here.

Dr. Welch: If they were going to start, I’d start with, “Here’s some things I’ve learned about myself that I want to do differently.”

Jim: That’s good.

Dr. Welch: Let’s share an example first and then say, “And, maybe if you have some time, it’d be great if you think of some things that maybe could be better for… On your side of the ”

Jim: And we’re right at the end, but I do want to grab that, that question for that spouse who’s saying, “I’m pretty good. I’m in a good spot.”

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: “I’m all right, but it’s my spouse. That guy, he’s this, he’s that.” How does that spouse…? And it doesn’t ha… You know. Just put in a generic term.

Dr. Welch: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But how does that person make that turn to not amplify the spouse’s negatives and amplify their righteousness?

Dr. Welch: I can only speak for myself. I had to look directly in the mirror, hear what God was saying, what God’s taught me to be, what the Bible tells me to be, and see the discrepancy between what I’m called to be and who I am. And, you have to be honest with yourself and God and say, I can’t keep living this way because this isn’t who you’ve called me to be.

Jim: Yeah. Ron and Jan, thank you so much again for your transparency.

Dr. Welch: Thank you.

Jim: And, for your willingness to, uh, be here. Love the book, love the content, and love the way you guys interact. It’s refreshing. Thank you.

Dr. Welch: Thank you for having us.

Jan: Thank you so much.

John: What a great conversation we had with Ron and Jan Welch on today’s Focus on the Family. I really appreciated the reminder that we have the power to strengthen our marriages just through little everyday choices.

Jim: Yeah. Ron and Jan really hit it. Uh, simple choices can make a huge difference in our relationships, particularly in our marriages. Uh, it’s all about intentionally loving each other every day and, you know, something that is constantly on our hearts here at Focus is helping you have a thriving, Christ-centered marriage. That’s why we bring you programs like this one. But, with growing economic challenges in our nation and a barrage of unhealthy messages from the culture, more and more marriages are in trouble. You can help husbands and wives just like yourself redeem their marriages through our Hope Restored Marriage Intensives.

John: Yeah. Dena and I attended one of those retreats a few years ago and, uh, really had some terrific practical help that we still use today. It really has changed our marriage. Uh, those marriage retreats are led by highly qualified marriage counselors and, uh, allow couples to really concentrate on the relationship and work through their issues.

Jim: And it works. Uh, we go back to those couples two years later and do a survey with every one of them and, uh, more than 80% of those participants are still married two years later and, uh, point to their Hope Restored experience that it improved their marriage and that they were satisfied.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So, that’s a great, uh, scorecard, I believe. 80% of those marriages saved, in essence.

John: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Jim: Currently, we’re hosting couples in Missouri, Georgia and Michigan, and because these intensives are so successful, we’re aiming to open other strategic locations across the country. We’ve just launched a program in Arizona and soon in Texas. So, my goal is that we can get 40,000, 50,000 couples through this program and we will put a dent in the divorce rate for Christians. So, I want to ask you to help us. In addition to Hope Restored, your support allows Focus on the Family to continue providing resources like this broadcast, podcast, counseling, uh, print and online materials, mentor training, special events, and so much more. $30 saves a marriage through our Hope Restored Marriage Intensives and other resources. But really, any amount is going to help. A little bit from a lot of people covers the bills. In fact, when you donate today, we’ll send you a copy of the book that we discussed, 10 Choices Successful Couples Make: The Secret To Love That Lasts a Lifetime, as our way of saying thank you for joining us and helping to save marriages and so much more. Join us today.

John: And, through a matching opportunity provided by generous friends who care about marriages, uh, your gift will be doubled to impact twice as many marriages today. So, please donate generously and get your copy of 10 Choices Successful Couples Make online at or when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. We hope you have a wonderful weekend with your family and your church family as well and plan to join us on Monday. Two mama bears will help you prepare your children for conversations in the classroom.


Amy Davison: Social media grooms teens to follow, affirm, retweet, because you don’t want to be seen as bigoted and unfollowed and unfriended. But, when we say, no, when you look at Jesus, you can stand firm in the faith, not compromised truth, and still be loving to people.

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Today's Guests

10 Choices Successful Couples Make

10 Choices Successful Couples Make: The Secrets to Love that Lasts a Lifetime

Receive Dr. Welch's book 10 Choices Successful Couples Make for your donation of any amount! Through your support of Focus on the Family, you’ll save marriages through efforts like our Hope Restored marriage intensives. And right now, DOUBLE YOUR DOLLARS to impact twice as many marriages through a $1.4 MILLION matching opportunity provided by generous friends of the ministry.

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