Woman #1: I’ve been married 19 years.
Man #1: We just had our 10th anniversary in July.
Man #2: Well, it’ll be 40 years this summer.
Woman #3: In June – June 24th.
Man #2: Where did it go?
End of Teaser
Jim Daly: (Laughter).
John Fuller: Well, the time does fly. And no matter how many years you’ve been married, I’m pretty sure that there’s one single thing that you share with every other couple, and that is you want to be happy. Welcome to Focus on the Family today. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.
Jim: John, I so relate to that woman saying, “June – June 24, maybe, sort of” (laughter).
John: Get in the neighborhood, yeah, somewhere in there.
Jim: (Laughter) It’s somewhere close. I mean, uh, Jean and I do that all the time. “What’s our anniversary date again?” And it’s fun to have that little banter. Um, I love the verse in Ecclesiastes, which is, “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love.” And I think that’s the way life should be. It’s a good reminder that having a happy, joyful marriage isn’t just God’s will for you. It’s a calling for each one of us. And some days it may be easier to feel that contentment. Other days it probably tests us in certain ways because we all have certain temperaments, certain styles, and we can rub each other the wrong way sometimes. Now, I know, John, someone listening is going to send a note to us saying, “Hey, my husband and I, we have a great marriage,” and that’s great. But about 98% of us probably live in days that are wonderful and some days that are a little more of a struggle. And we’re going to talk to that 98 percentile today.
John: Yeah and of course we’re sensitive to the fact that there are some couples who are really struggling or maybe in a dangerous situation even that involves abuse and if that’s you, please get to a safe place. Reach out to us for help. We have counselors and other resources for you. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. Or you can find help at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Well, our guest today is Jen Weaver who has a book called A Wife’s Secret To Happiness: Receiving, Honoring, and Celebrating God’s Role for You in Your Marriage. Jen’s been married to her husband, Jared, for 11 years. And they have two young boys. And, uh, we’re also pleased, Jim, to have your dear wife, Jean, in the studio with us.
Jim: Hey, welcome to both of you. Thanks for being with us.
Jen Weaver: Thank you for having me.
Jean Daly: It’s always a pleasure being here. Thank you.
Jim: (Laughter) I always love it when you’re here. It’s so much fun. Jen, let’s start with you. Uh, you and my wife have something in common. This is, I guess, a revelation. You’re both avid planners (laughter). And I – I appreciate that…
Jim: High-five, there you go. There’s something unique about that, where you want to plan many things. And tell us about the time when you thought a beach trip was going to be a magical moment for you. And, Jean, this is so you.
Jen: Oh, goodness. So, in my defense, my boyfriend at the time, who is now my husband – but he took me ring shopping a full year before he proposed.
John: Oh wow.
Jean: Oh. Ugh.
Jen: So, I had the clue. And then every time we’d go anywhere, I thought, “This could be the moment. Here in the grocery store next to the bananas…”
Jen: “…He could bend down on one knee.” And so, one time we had went on a day trip, and so we’d gone out on a day trip to go to the beach. We left really early in the morning. He picked me up. We got Starbucks, hit the road. And I fell asleep as we started getting close to the beach. So, I woke up, and our car’s parked – his car’s parked at the vantage point at the beach lookout, but he’s not sitting there next to me. And so, I get out. And I’m looking as the sun is rising over the waters, and everything’s sparkling and glistening. And I’m walking along the cliff’s edge, and I see him walking back towards me. And I so I say, “Hi,” and we’re just kind of walking toward each other. And I happened to glance down, and in the sand at the base of the cliff, it says, “Will you marry me?”
Jen: Scrolled into the sand. And so, my eyes start filling with tears. And I look back at him. And he reads my face. And confusion floods his face. I mean, he turns ghost white and looks down at the sand and looks back at me and starts shaking his head no.
Jen: This was not from him. So, someone else had gotten proposed to.
Jen: Isn’t that the craziest thing?
Jean: Oh, that’s terrible.
Jim: I feel horrible for him (laughter).
Jen: I know. So, he told me later, he almost thought about using the proposal because it was so perfect. But he hadn’t gotten the ring yet. And so, someone else had proposed and didn’t think to erase the message. And so, I’m…
Jim: You’re only one of five couples that had that problem that day.
Jen: Probably, probably.
Jean: Oh, that’s awful.
Jen: Isn’t it? Just like a movie, just like a movie. And so, I get my composure back. And we – we move on. And I’m trying to pretend like I’m not really stressed about it. And we had a great day at the beach. And then several months later, he did actually propose. And so, it was beautiful and very heartfelt, with a scavenger hunt and a book of love poems and all the things…
Jen: …That I had dreamt of. And then I asked him if he wanted to see my wedding plans, which I had been working on for six months.
Jim: So, you had a book?
Jen: Oh, I did.
Jim: The book of wedding.
Jen: Yes, yes, the Excel book with colors…
Jean: I like it (laughter).
Jen: …And dates and all sorts of things.
Jim: Did he faint at that point?
Jen: Uh, he paused.
Jim: He was a little worried, was he?
Jen: Yeah (laughter).
Jim: Well, Jean, that’s kind of – it’s so funny, you’re giving me the impression that all women are big-time planners because Jean’s very much like that, too. And we didn’t quite – I didn’t make your plans or fulfill your plans…
Jim: …Quite the way you anticipated.
Jean: Well, that’s true.
Jim: What happened?
Jean: I had a four-year plan for myself…
Jean: …And whoever my future husband would be. We were going to date for two years and then be engaged for two years – perfect, great plan. But then, uh, after Jim and I had our first date, it was four months later Jim proposed to me.
Jim: Hey, got to work fast, you know? (Laughter).
Jean: Now, I – I was good with that.
John: That was your plan, though, right?
Jean: That was – that was…
Jim: That was not the plan. I didn’t know the plan, actually. It had never been shared with me.
Jean: No, I never revealed the plan the plan to him. But that was – that was good because I was…
Jean: …Madly in love with you and we were madly in love with each other. And I thought, “Well, that’s good. I still have two years to work the engagement plan.” That was – that was OK. And – and so, it was all still good. But, um, and then Jim moved up to be – so we could be near each other.
Jean: He lived with his brother at the time. And I was over at their house one day – this is several months after that – and Jim got a phone call from a friend, Paul Fullwood, asking him, “Do you know anyone who would like to work for this Christian company showing motivational films to high school students? It’s a ministry.” And they…
Jim: You go out in teams of two.
Jean: Yes. And Jim said, “Well, could Jean and I do it?”
Jean: And Paul replied, “Well, you’d have to be married.” And I’m not kidding. Jim put the phone on his chest and said, “Hey, do you want to get married in six weeks and travel around the country for a year?”
Jean: And I – I, uh – I said…
Jim: I know exactly…
Jean: …”Um, could I have a little time to…”
Jim: You said, “Could you tell him – can we answer the question tomorrow?” That’s what she said.
Jim: But what a great experience that you were spontaneous. That’s not the normal planning reaction.
Jean: I was. No, thankfully I was open enough to the Holy Spirit to sense that – that God was behind this. It was not my plan. And yet, I had, uh, the sense to realize I should not pass this up.
Jim: And that’s kind of hard to do. And Jen, that’s your point. I mean, that’s one of the major points of your book. Um, we all know that fairy tale dream that many young women have about how they’re going to get married. But you say wanting more from our marriages is actually a God-given desire. And that’s important. So, where’s that – how do we go there? Explain that for us. You know, if we want too much, maybe a husband-to-be is saying, “Wow, you’re really expecting a lot out of me already.”
Jim: But why is that good? And what are the pitfalls in that high expectation area?
Jen: Yeah, so I believe that our plans are actually really often shortsighted. So, we’re looking for the fairy tale moment. We’re looking for the thing that we thought it was going to be in our specific timeline with our specifics and the type of house and the number of kids and all of these things, which aren’t bad things, but that oftentimes God wants to replace our plan with His plan. And so, we need to lean into what He’s doing. What is God saying about this? How is He leading us? And sometimes the whole fairy tale thing actually limits what we’re able to receive from our spouses and from our marriage because we’re looking for the fluffy things. We’re looking for the Christmas holiday movie special instead of leaning in to be with each other and for each other in the hard times and learning how to grow together through difficulty and be there as a team instead of the fluffy ball gowns.
Jim: Yeah, and one of the things it sounds like is we – and I think men – husbands and husbands-to-be, we fail to recognize this because I think at times, our expectations aren’t quite in the same place as our wives.
Jim: So, these high expectations are formulated, and we just don’t meet them. And then there’s great disappointment. Um, and I think this gets to the question of the whole time together. What’s your secret to being a happy wife? I mean, is it minimizing those expectations or realistic expectations? Some people would say, “No, keep your expectations high. And he better meet them.” I mean, so what – what is – what is it to being a happy wife? What’s the big secret?
Jen: Yeah, so for me, the crux of a wife’s secret to happiness is seeing our marriages as expressions of our faith, not separate. So, it’s not that my Christian faith is over here, and my marriage is this separate category. But what I do as a wife is an expression of my faith. And it begins with my relationship with Jesus. And then that naturally will impact my marriage. So, in A Wife’s Secret To Happiness, I go through – every chapter has a specific blessing that God wants to give a wife through her husband, independent of what he does. So, he doesn’t even have to know that she’s implementing these things. But by her positioning herself to receive from God through acts of faith, through acts of obedience, she can receive blessings in her marriage independent of what her husband does because she’s a child of God.
Jean: Absolutely. And it is something I think many of us do come into marriage with these – these perfect, unrealistic expectations that – that no human being could ever meet.
Jean: And we’re not perfect. But that is taking me a lifetime. I think that is what you write about, Jen, in your book, the secret to happiness is, in a sense, dying to ourselves, submitting to God. It’s all about our relationship with God. And Jen, I know in your book you talk about a frayed wife vs. a braided wife. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Jen: Yes. So, uh, one of the fun aspects of my book is I talk about wifestyles. So, our habits and tendencies as wife is our style of being a wife. Like, you have your fashion style or your home style. And so, one of the wifestyles that I contrast is between frayed and braided. And so, a frayed wife is trying to hold everything together herself. She’s trying to bring everything together and tie knots places, so things don’t fall apart and make things happen and fix her husband. And it’s tiring and heavy.
Jen: And I know because I’ve been in those tendencies.
Jean: Mm hmm.
Jen: And contrasting that, the braided wife sees the Lord as part of that third strand in their marriage court. So, it’s her, her husband and the Lord. And she trusts the Lord to do His part instead of – sometimes even the frayed wife will try and do God’s part for Him and say, “See, Lord, I’ve started this over here, complete this work,” (laughter) instead of letting God do the thing He’s already intended to do and leaning in with prayer and with faith.
John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller. And our guests today are Jen Weaver, the author of the book A Wife’s Secret To Happiness, and, uh, also Jim’s wife, Jean Daly, is here. You can get the book and other resources at our website focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Jen and Jean, one of the things I want to clarify here is we’re talking about those marriages that might not be, um, running at their full potential. I mean, not the kind of marriages where there may be verbal or physical abuse. And if women, particularly – if you’re in that situation, call us here at Focus on the Family so we can help you. And, you know, we have something called Hope Restored if your marriage is really, really struggling, maybe at the last knot in the rope, and you need that kind of what I would describe as desperate help. We’re here for you in that way as well. But today, we’re talking, you know, about how to improve, hopefully, your already good or average marriage and how to move it into something deeper, which the Lord wants for you. Um, I would think there would be that woman – Jen, I want you to respond to this – that is saying, “Oh, you know, I’ve tried all of it. I’ve – I’ve been the high-expectant wife with all these great ideas about how my marriage should run. Then I realized my husband just can’t fulfill that, so now I just live in this place of mediocrity. It’s just – it’s just what it is.”
Jim: Speak to that because sometimes we buy the line that, you know, it’s just going to be what it is, and there’s no hope for improvement. So, speak to that heart of despair, if I could put it in that class. There’s nothing wrong going on. It’s just not exciting. It’s not fulfilling. What does that wife do?
Jen: Mm hmm. My encouragement, if you’re that wife, is lean into Jesus. We talk about – in the book, we talk about a season called a relationship winter, where Jared and I went through a particularly hard season in our marriage. And that was after my first son was born. And we just couldn’t get on the same page, or we couldn’t stay on the same page, and it felt lonely and isolating and heavy. And one of the things that I learned through experience in that season of time was that it wasn’t about Jared and I giving to the same page. And it wasn’t about me fixing him or him fixing me. It was about both of us getting closer to Jesus.
Jen: And God never gives up on the things that He’s called us into. He is always calling us closer to Himself. And in a marriage, He’s always calling the husband and wife closer to each other. And I love that you gave that, uh, encouragement at the beginning about women who are facing abuse because if there’s abuse in your relationship, your husband or – or the wife, if you’re the abuser – has abdicated the role. You’ve abdicated the role to do good to each other, and you need Christian help to help build and bring some of those, um, wounds to a healthier place, to bring healing to those wounds.
Jen: And so, for a wife who’s struggling with wounds, I encourage you, don’t give up. Sometimes we stay in those hard seasons longer because we’re still trying to fix them according to our own ways.
Jim: Acting out of the frayed wife rather than the braided wife.
Jen: Yes. Yes.
Jen: And we need to, um, lean into what God wants to do and hear from Him. Lord, what is your plan for my marriage? Please, help me have more hope in this circumstance. Show me what You’re wanting to accomplish and helped me align and partner with that instead of me trying to get You, God, to align with what I want to do.
Jim: Another thing that caused discontentment for you as a wife was your tendency to be overly independent. Did I just say that, John?
Jim: Wow. Do not write me about that. But, you know, it’s interesting to think of it that way, that – that discontentment can come from being overly independent. Explain what you mean by that.
Jen: Mm hmm. So, I am a strong woman. And I like that about myself. God made me that way. I can do things. I’m a doer. But sometimes that has been less than helpful for me because I will wait to ask my husband for help until the very last minute. And I will go to try and solve problems on my own instead of partnering with him. And I will put off having a hard conversation until I’m about bursting with all of this pent-up emotion and perspective instead of partnering with him earlier in the process…
Jen: …And along the way and really learning how to – to lean in as partners together.
Jim: In fact, in the book, I think you used dance lessons…
Jen: Mm hmm.
Jim: …To describe that. Help us with that illustration.
Jen: Oh, goodness, yes, OK. So, my husband can dance. I have no rhythm.
Jen: I have no rhythm whatsoever. But one year, I got us dance classes. And so, one of the things I learned in that process was that I like to take the lead. So, the instructor would give instruction, and I would try and lead with his part and not let him lead with his part.
Jen: And so, it was this great visual for me because for the dance to actually work, I needed to follow the instruction from our instructor and let my husband lead so we could move together.
Jean: That’s a good analogy.
Jim: In fact, you call that dueling or dancing, right? (Laughter) Which is…
Jen: Yes, am I going to fight for my own position in my own way or are we going to groove together?
Jim: But, you know, Jen, in a – in a healthy, Biblical context, um – here’s another taboo – the whole submission issue. Wow, is that a very debated topic in modern culture today. What’s the Biblical definition of that idea of submission? And how should it work in a healthy context? And how should it work in a healthy context within our marriages?
Jen: Yes, so it is a very taboo topic…
Jim: (Laughter) It is.
Jen: …Uh, which is why I laugh all the time that the Lord wanted me not only to learn it, but then write about it.
Jen: Um, so really, the Biblical definition of submission in marriage is that a husband is first to love his wife and give himself for her like Christ gave Himself for the church. And a wife is to submit to her husband. And so, as a husband gives up himself sacrificially for his wife, she in turn is able to submit to his leadership. She is able to yield to him as the leader of their home. And it’s been misunderstood and misconstrued. And I believe it’s been misinterpreted by the enemy to try and get us to avoid submission because it’s actually a means of being granted authority because of the way that authority is transferred through hierarchy. And so, God gives submission to a marriage so there can be a greater level of partnership between husband and wife, not that the wife is silent or demeaned in any way.
Jim: And – and, you know, even humor can be wrapped into this. Let me give you an example. Some woman listening right now is going, “Oh, Jen, you don’t know my husband. I mean, I’d never submit to that guy because he makes all the wrong decisions. And he just – you know, he’s – he’s silly,” or whatever.
Jen: Mm hmm.
Jim: But you begin to justify that position. So, I mean, in that reasonably healthy relationship, how do they get control of that? And how does a man not overdo it? And how does a woman just avoid it altogether? What’s a healthy way?
Jen: Yes, so it’s not the man’s job to instruct his wife to submit to him.
Jen: So, that’s a good starting place…
Jen: …’Cause that never goes well. Like, if my husband came to me and said, “You know what, babe? You really need to submit in this,” like would be…
John: I usually get a look when I jokingly say that.
Jim: I’m remaining silent here.
Jim: But yeah, that’s right.
Jim: You can’t – you don’t want to overdo that. What – so let’s state it. What’s the right spiritual position for the husband? What does he need to be thinking and saying to his wife?
Jen: So, I believe that as a husband gives of himself sacrificially for his wife, he lays the groundwork to make it easier for her to submit to him. And so…
Jen: …Sacrificial, yes.
Jim: I like that. Now, on the – on the wife’s side, who’s got maybe that – that resistance to this…
Jen: Mm hmm.
Jim: …Because she’s bought into, “Man, submission, that’s archaic. That’s what they did in the medieval days,” um, how can she adjust her thinking to where it’s healthy for her and for her husband?
Jen: Yes, so I believe that starts with turning your heart as a wife toward your husband. So, you are volitionally choosing, “I’m going to voluntarily submit my heart to him. Practically, I am going to, um, seek out his perspective.” When you need prayer for something, do you go to everybody else before you go to your husband to ask him if he’ll pray for you? When you want counsel for something, do you listen to what he has to say? Do you want to know what’s on his heart and his mind? When you’re passionate about a decision for your family, do you wrestle each other until somebody wins or somebody gives up? Or do you yield to your husband and say, “Babe, you know, I’m going to share my thoughts” because your thoughts are valid. You have a voice. And then I’m going to ask You, God. “Will you pray with me about this? And I’m going to trust the Lord to give you insight into this. And I want to align with what He talks with you about.”
Jim: That is really good.
Jean: That’s right. That’s good advice.
Jim: Uh, Jen, in fact, you have a powerful story about dreaming with your husband during a painful time in your marriage. Um, tell us about what you were dreaming and how God used that to bring you and your husband closer together.
Jen: So, part of our life testimony is delayed fertility. And so, in the season that I talk about in the book, we didn’t know yet that it was just delayed fertility. It was infertility. And we were praying about, um, starting our family and had some issues getting started with all of that. We actually had a miscarriage. And, uh, our doctor encouraged us to look into some fertility treatments. And I was ready. I was ready to have kids. I was ready. I will – I’ll do all the things. You tell me I need to, like, jump through hoops like a dolphin. Like, I will do all the things. And, uh, my husband did not have peace about doing fertility treatments.
Jen: It just – it didn’t sit well with him. We kept praying about it. And every time I’d – “OK, I have peace. Do you have peace?” And he’d say, “No, the Lord hasn’t given me peace.” And so, in that season, I knew I didn’t want to force my way. I probably could have fought really hard, and it could have created discord in our marriage, and it could have been a separating factor that maybe would have resulted in having kids earlier. But I knew that it was more important to prioritize unity with my husband. And so, we agreed, we’re not going to move forward until we both have peace about it. And so, about a year later – so a year of waiting and praying and hosting baby showers and going to baby showers…
Jen: …And releasing that dream to the Lord, uh, and asking Him, “God, when Your – when it’s Your timing, when it’s Your will, please, clue us in. We want to move then.” Uh, so about a year later, my husband had peace about it. And so, we actually went through fertility treatments. And at that point, something that wasn’t previously covered by our health insurance was fully covered. There was all of these details that had lined up very differently, had we moved forward too quickly. And I believe that God didn’t have peace – He didn’t give us unified peace in that because He wanted us to wait. And so, my firstborn, Dillon Zane, was born on Thanksgiving Day in 2014…
Jim: That is great.
Jen: …Which is so sweet.
Jim: That’s a great story.
Jean: Jen, that is a beautiful story, especially because I feel how difficult that must have been…
Jim: Oh, that year.
Jean: …To wait upon the Lord and your husband because this is about having children.
Jen: Mm hmm.
Jean: And this is a really good thing.
Jen: Mm hmm.
Jean: And you wanted children so much. So good for you for…
Jean: …Submitting to the Lord and Jared, your husband.
Jim: Well, I think one of the questions – how did you refrain from nudging that conversation? Did you really just quietly give that to the Lord and you didn’t continue to talk to your husband like, “Honey, remember six months ago when we had that discussion?” I mean, did you really refrain from doing that? And…
Jen: I did. I didn’t stop talking about it. I just changed who I was talking to.
Jim: Oh, wow.
Jean: Hm, that’s good.
Jen: So instead of talking to my husband so much about it, I talked…
Jen: …Way more with the Lord about it.
Jen: And, uh, I – I have found one of my go-to choices when I’m trying to communicate, when I’m trying to embrace, um, submission in my own heart toward my husband is asking questions. Otherwise, as a strong, independent woman, I can come across kind of assertive, kind of demanding. And so, I will often come with questions. So, even in that period of time, it was, “Uh, babe, when would you like me to bring this up again?”
Jen: “When – when could we talk about it together? Would you be OK if we occasionally prayed about this together for our future children and for our family?” And “OK. You would? OK. Can I initiate those things, or would you like to initiate those things?” So just bringing up the dialogue allowed us to have more up-front communication.
Jean: That’s great.
Jim: And I applaud you for that because, again, I think the expectations for wives can be quite high about what their husbands are really grasping and understanding. And that kind of plainspokenness, if I could call it that is, really helpful to us because we – you know, we’re trying to figure out what’s going on. And we’re not that good at discernment sometimes, and we’re not thinking deeply on those issues.
Jean: Well, and you can’t read our minds.
Jim: (Laughter) And we can’t read your minds.
Jen: Mm hmm.
Jim: Thank you.
Jean: And I think a lot of us think that her husbands should be able…
Jen: Mm hmm.
John: Mm hmm.
Jean: …To read our minds.
Jean: And that’s a great example that you just gave…
Jean: …Of communication and clearly and respectfully conveying what we’re thinking and feeling.
Jim: Yeah. Uh, Jen, you have laid out some wonderful things for wives to really find joy. And I think you’ve brought some great wisdom to the listeners today. And I hope it has impacted every one of you listening. I want to say we’ve taken a light-hearted approach to this topic today, but if you’re facing serious issues in your marriage, please reach out for help. You do not need to stay in a situation that is abusive or dangerous to you or your children. Get to a safe place and then consult a counselor. And we’re willing to work with you in that regard. I want to say thank you to our financial supporters also. Because of them, we’re able to offer those in need a free phone counseling consultation. For many people, that phone call is the beginning of their journey to healing. But if your own marriage is in a good place, and you have a heart to help hurting couples. Please consider joining our team of supporters. I know times are tough. I’m seeing that in the news as well as you, but if you’re able and can, even with a small gift of 20, $25, that would be so helpful right now. And when you do, we’ll send you a copy of Jen’s wonderful book, A Wife’s Secret To Happiness, as our way of saying thank you for your support. And, also, let me say thank you to you, Jen and Jean, thanks for being with us.
Jen: Thank you for having us.
Jean: Absolutely. Thank you.
John: And right now, there’s a special matching gift opportunity where any donation you make will be doubled which means more help and more hope for the families that we serve together. So, please, be as generous as you can today and know your gift will be doubled. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. Or you can find help at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Next time, you’ll hear how a young man was able to, in spite of having cerebral palsy, become a doctor.
Dr. Tyler Sexton: If I couldn’t fall, then I couldn’t walk. If I didn’t get fun of the way that I’m walking, I wouldn’t be walking. So, I’ve learned to count my blessings and there are way too many to count.