Focus on the Family Broadcast

Thriving in the Early Years of Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Thriving in the Early Years of Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Bill and Pam Farrel explain how the first five years of marriage can be the best of times, or the worst of times, depending on how the couple approaches communication and conflict. With humor and personal examples, they explain the differences between men and women, and the danger of addictions, such as videogames, which rob time from the relationship. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: October 1, 2013


Woman #1: I would say that the best thing about being a newlywed is the fact that you never have to leave the person, but, um, that your love grows and grows.

Man #1: The best thing for us is experiencing life in a new way, in the new chapter with a companion and with my best friend alongside me doing life together.

Woman #2: One of the best things about being newly married for me is having someone to help with the yard work because I hate mowing the lawn. And so, it’s nice to have a husband who helps with that.

End of Teaser

John Fuller: Well, from the romantic to the practical, we’ll be talking with Bill and Pam Farrel today about how to make the most of those early years of your marriage. Welcome to Focus on the Family, with your host, Focus president, Jim Daly, I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I love those comments from newlyweds because it is such a special time for a young couple, but it can also be fraught with a lot of emotional landmines. And we’re coming back to a really great interview with Bill and Pam Farrel about this critical time in a relationship. And we wanted to air it again because it was so helpful.

John: Yeah. Uh, Bill and Pam do such a great job of sharing their highs, their lows, uh, from their marriage. And they really offer some wise advice about dealing with various situations. And, uh, as we jump into the content, Jim, um, why don’t you repeat a story that you told the Farrel’s at the beginning of our time together, about the first nine months of your marriage to Jean?

Jim: Well, we had a really unique situation and I don’t know if I’d recommend it (laughs) to anybody. Uh, we went on a nine-month working honeymoon as, uh, the technical team for a drug and alcohol prevention program at high schools across the United States, I think 17 states. So, we traveled from school to school, town to town and, uh, put on this production. And, of course, we were together all the time, 24/7. It was just the two of us. So when we were done for the day, Jean, the introvert, would say, you know, “I’m going to the grocery store to pick up a few things.” And (laughs) I would say, as the extrovert, “Hey, let’s go together.” (laughs) And she’d be like, “Uh, no, that’s okay, I just need a little time.”

John: Oh, my, She just wanted alone time. I get that.

Jim: (laughs)

John: And, uh, the good news is that you have worked through that kind of thing. And you’ve been married for what? Over 30 years now, I think, right?

Jim: Oh yeah. And I think 35 actually.

John: Awesome.

Jim: So, I think, um, you know, I figured it out soon enough and I gotta say, those early years are so critical in understanding one another and that’s going to be the focus of Bill and Pam’s book called, The First Five Years: Make the Love Investment That Lasts a Lifetime.

John: It really is an excellent resource for any younger couple. So, get your copy, uh, when you stop by Well, let’s go ahead now and, uh, get into this Focus on the Family conversation with the Farrel’s, and they really wanted to hear more about this working honeymoon that you had, Jim.

Jim: (laughs)

Jim: Welcome back to Focus on the Family.

Pam Farrel: Thanks, it’s great to be here.

Bill Farrel: Yeah, Jim and John, it’s good to be back with you. And, uh, h- those trips to the store were, they probably were lengthy shopping trips, right?

Jim: (laughs)

Bill: (laughs) Yeah, more than five or 10 minutes?

Jim: I’m out wandering the hall, just to…

Bill: (laughs)

Jim: What a problem, I was so dense, I didn’t even get till later. Like, I was feeling rejected. My wife of-

Pam: Aw. (laughs)

Jim: … a few weeks or months didn’t love me.

Bill: Yeah.

Jim: She wanted to be alone. Why would you want to be alone? I’m an extrovert.

Bill: (laughs)

Jim: I love-

Pam: (laughs)

Jim: … being with people.

Bill: A- and Jean, the introvert, in our relationship, I get that.

Jim: Yeah.

Bill: Yeah, there, there’s times I just need a break from the action, uh, to regroup.

Jim: But it did, you know, this is a good place to start because it did really, uh, rock our world a little, but we didn’t have the maturity to even talk about it.

Bill: Yes.

Jim: We just kind of had questions in each of our minds.

Bill: And it, it’s a great point because we go into a marriage assuming the other person is like us.

Jim: And knows us completely.

Bill: Yeah. Has the same needs, has the same approach to life, has the same way of recovering, likes to do a lot of the same things. They just look different than we do.

Jim: Yeah. (laughs)

Bill: A- and once you get married, you start to realize, “Wow, I really did marry somebody different than me.”

Pam: Which is good, that those opposites attract-

Jim: Sure.

Pam: … I mean, we don’t need another of us.

Bill: Mm-hmm.

Pam: We need that compliment that God has created.

Jim: Well, let’s talk about that big question, which is, um, what is God’s design for marriage-

Bill: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … and why did he do it this way?

Pam: Right, exactly. You know, one of the opening lines in, um, The First Five Years, is your marriage is designed by God, your unique creation as a team.

Jim: Mm.

Pam: You know, God brought you together for a reason. And what Bill and I have seen is if you really believe that God brought you together as a married couple for a reason, then that’s a bigger reason than my personal happiness or like, you’re kinda making me mad today. So I’m like so out of here. Um, but if you feel like, you know, there’s a bigger purpose here and we’re called as a team so-

Jim: Yeah.

Pam: … we can accomplish that purpose, you know, I’m willing to put up with a lot of idiosyncrasies in Bill and vice versa. He’s willing to put up with some stuff in me because we’re called to make a difference as a team. And there’s something, you know, noble about that.

Bill: Mm.

Jim: But how do you, as that early, uh, you know, newly married couple, how do you find that kind of wisdom?

Pam: Right.

Jim: Because you’re, you know, you’re younger, you haven’t had life’s experiences the way, uh, the two of you… How long have you been married?

Bill: 34 years.

Jim: 34 years.

Bill: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So you guys have had a lot of, uh, you know, a lot of life’s experiences. You’ve learned, you’ve written books about how to, how to create a marriage that works. Um, but again, if Jean and I were 25, um, talk to that person about, uh, how to find that foundation, because what you said, Pam, (laughs) the way that probably 80% of that group’s gonna react. Yeah, I’m not happy today, what’s wrong with that?

Pam: (laughs)

Jim: He’s making me unhappy.

Pam: Right. Right.

Jim: And that’s not ungodly. Why is he doing this to me?

Pam: (laughs) Right. You know, um, we have newlyweds in our family and, um, they have already grasped this purpose that God’s called them together for a reason. And one of the ways that they did that, I mean, of course they grab great mentors. They have a host of mentors, not just Bill and I, but they were smart enough to go get mentors. And, um, one of the things that they learned is, you know what, there’s something unique about us. You know, I am a strength coach and we met around athletics and so Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a good place for us to be plugging in as a newlywed couple. Like, what’s unique about us? They stopped to ask that question, and they’re starting to find their way as, you know, a mi- ministry couple and in a marriage. And so it’s fun to see them figure out who they are in… When they got married a part of their vows was, um, they wanted to be strong. He’s a strength coach, he lifts weights. So they wanted a strong love. And so just knowing their word, that kind of reflects who they are, that’s kind of a fun thing to have hanging in your house. You know, what word would describe us and our love?

Jim: Well, that, I mean, that is ideal, but, uh-

Bill: But see, I think young couples learn it by asking other people.

Jim: Hmm.

Bill: Because do we really expect young couples to have the wisdom you’re talking about? Y- you know, we live in a world where you just think it’s magic. You, you meet the right person and suddenly you just know how to do all this.

John: (laughs)

Bill: And it all works.

Jim: Yes.

Bill: And Pam and I discovered by accident that you really learn this from other people.

Jim: Hmm.

Bill: Because when we got married, we both came from homes that were not real healthy.

Jim: Right.

Bill: And we didn’t wanna repeat that. And, and we had heard, if you focus on what you don’t wanna be, you will become that.

Jim: Wow.

Bill: So I went-

Pam: That’s all you ever think about!

Bill: “Okay, but where do I go from there?” I, I, I was just kinda lost in the process.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Bill: I was enamored with Pam, I thought she was the most beautiful thing to ever hit the face of the earth.

Pam: Thank you.

Bill: And I’m like, “Well, I, I hope love is enough. ‘Cause she’s just awesome.”

Jim: She just sat up really straight in her chair.

Bill: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Jim: The, the physical response to that-

John: The power of the good words.

Pam: That’s right, it’s still good.

Jim: … I think she just blossomed when you said that.

Bill: But beyond that, I was like, I have no idea what I’m supposed to do here.

Jim: L- let’s turn it back, we gotta connect with a little bit of real here.

Bill: Okay. (laughs)

Jim: The first five years of your marriage-

Bill: Yes.

Jim: … you’re not gonna get away with that [inaudible].

Bill: (laughs)

Pam: (laughs)

Jim: ‘Cause I’m sure it wasn’t perfect.

Bill: Oh-

Pam: Oh, no.

Bill: (laughs)

Pam: It’s like so not perfect.

Jim: In fact, you have like a Christmas story that I know about. Uh, I want others to hear this. You, you had a humorous Christmas story. Um, what happened?

Pam: You know, we went home after our honeymoon. We had a second reception. So we’re really newlyweds. We’re talking-

Jim: So you were just married.

Pam: …We’re talking…weekend.

Jim: Yeah.

Pam: Yeah. And so I went back to my hometown and we’re staying with my mom and my grandparents give us this wonderful party. And bill met probably 70 relatives, Bill went from having four people he was related to, to like 74 people in one day. So he was a little overwhelmed to begin-

Jim: A little overwhelmed.

Pam: … with.

Jim: Did you win the lottery or what happened?

Pam: (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Bill: Well, my, my family was just very isolated, ’cause my mom was afraid of people.

Jim: Oh, okay.

Bill: And my dad broke with his side of the family. My mom broke with her side of the family. So we didn’t do relatives.

Jim: Yeah.

Pam: And we’re all about family on my side, you know, food, family. And um, so we’re getting ready to go to a big family, Christmas thing. And I, and a really innocuous statement ask about which shoes I should wear. And everybody in my family gave an opinion and-

Jim: (laughs)

Pam: … it became a crisis because whose opinion do I listen to? I mean, in the Bible says I’m supposed to leave and cleave and Bill’s opinion on shoes is different than my mom’s opinion on shoes. And I have to make a big decision right now on whose a be- I’m gonna start crying. Yeah. Like total melt-

Bill: And it was that bad.

Pam: Oh, a total meltdown. Because I thought my mom’s been through so much, I wanna honor my mom, and this is so hard on her. But then, you know, I have to take a stand. I’m a newlywed, and yeah, I need to line up with my husband. And so-

Jim: What happened?

Pam: … I just started to cry and went to the other room and bill came in and he’s like, “It’s okay, it’s okay.” And my mom’s like, “It’s okay, it’s okay. Wear his shoes, wear his shoes.” (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Pam: She was smart enough to know, this is a leave and cleave moment.

Bill: And of course too in my mind I’m thinking, “We’re doing this over shoes?”

Pam: Shoes. Is that shoes, yeah.

Jim: That’s a-

Bill: Yeah, and I’m smart enough to know don’t say anything right now.

Jim: Yeah. Okay. So you’re a young man of unusual wisdom.

Bill: (laughs)

Jim: I wasn’t that smart.

Pam: He was like, what will help you, Pam? What would be the most helpful?

Bill: Yeah, but every fiber of my being is saying so if all of this is a simple thing?

Pam: It’s shoes, man.

Bill: If we’re fighting over shoes, what’s- [crosstalk], what’s the marriage gonna be like?

Pam: (laughs)

Jim: Welcome to marriage.

Bill: (laughs)

Jim: In fact, the subject of leaving and cleaving, uh, it’s a good one, it’s one of the most difficult things that a young married couple experiences-

Bill: Yes.

Pam: Yeah.

Jim: … and they, they need to get it right. And your example of the right thing for the man to do is a good example. Let’s hear a clip from a- another, uh, worried person about what to do.


Woman: My mother-in-law drives me crazy because she calls my husband every single day just to chat. And I just wish that my husband would talk to me that much. And so it’s really frustrating for me because I feel like he talks to her more than he wants to talk to me. So what am I really supposed to do about setting those kinds of boundaries with he and I and our relationship?

End of Clip

Jim: Wow. I mean, there’s a big one.

Pam: Yeah.

Jim: Okay.

Pam: Yeah.

Jim: That’s a, that is a pattern.

Pam: It is, it is.

Jim: It’s a good way to describe it. What would you say to that young married woman?

Pam: Well, and her true feelings were not that the mother-in-law calls and talks all the time. It was, I wish my husband would talk to me that much. That’s the real statement in there.

Jim: What has to happen there? Ha- how does she begin to address this with her husband? What does she need to say? How does she need to say it, so that it doesn’t alienate her from her mother-in-law?

Pam: Right, right. ‘Cause her mother-in-law is probably her best advocate i- in most cases. Um, so it’s just an adjustment that needs to be made. And, uh, but this is a conversation she has to have with her husband before it just builds up into resentment and explodes in an ugly way, in an argument like, “You don’t love me, you only love your mom.” And yeah, that’s all bad. And so if she could simply sit down and say, “Okay, I value your mom. She’s made you a wonderful godly man. And I so appreciate the fruit of what your parents have put in your life. So because of that, I long for more time with you and how can we work it in? It seems like you have a natural way of talking with your mom several times, you know, a day. I would love for us to figure out what that’s gonna look like in our new relationship-

Jim: Hm.

Pam: … so could we sit down and figure out how we can connect, um-

Jim: Hm.

Pam: … on a really good level with our time together?” And you know, when you come with an attitude, that’s not against anybody else, but for all of us, um, it usually will turn into a winning conversation. It’s when you start blaming that then fireworks go off.

Jim: Y- you know, it points to something that is so true in marriage. And I’ve said this many times, when you look at marriage, uh, you know, th- to me th- this life is a metaphor for the spiritual life, what God intends for us. So he could have created, um, a way that we could reproduce without anybody else.

Pam: Right.

Jim: And the animal and insect-

Bill: Sure.

Jim: … kingdom do it.

Pam: Yeah.

Jim: But he decided no, we’re gonna put two people together. And they’re going to really rub the selfish edges (laughs) off of each other.

Bill: (laughs)

Pam: (laughs)

Bill: Yeah.

Jim: And it’s almost like God is-

Bill: Yeah.

Jim: … wanting us to learn something very godly through our union as man and woman.

Pam: Yes.

Jim: And one of those things is selflessness.

Pam: Yes.

Jim: And what I hear you saying that, Pam, is how she can, uh, uphold the value of her mother-in-law and their relationship, but teach your husband how to connect with her.

Pam: Right.

Jim: And it’s so critical. So often when we get bumped, what’s in us spews out.

Pam: Yes.

Jim: And if we haven’t prepared ourselves in a godly way, in a spiritual way, reading the word, um, ugly things can come up.

Bill: Well, your point is so well taken Jim, because we love to teach about selflessness. We’d like to talk about selflessness.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Bill: We don’t actually like to be selfless-

Pam: (laughs) Right.

Bill: And marriage forces selflessness upon us-

Jim: It does.

Bill: … because like it, it’s a hard answer to this young lady. She obviously cares about her marriage. She obviously wants to have a really strong relationship with her husband, but the hard message to her is she needs to not compete with her mother-in-law.

Jim: Right.

Bill: That her, her job is to captivate her husband not compete with her mother-in-law.

Jim: Hm.

Bill: And if she falls in the trap of trying to change his behavior, she’s in a position she cannot control. And it reminds me of a, of a story that actually led to the first chapter in our book. The first five years we, we call it, get in the game because this guy brought his wife into my office and obviously cared about his relationship cared about the marriage. Um, but he fell into the trap that so many people fall into. He sat her down in my office and started telling her who she needed to be.

Pam: “You need to do this, and the Bible says, you need to do that, and if you’d only listen to God about this.”

Bill: And honestly, you know, between all of us intellectually, he was probably correct on a lot of things. There were probably some things she needed to change. Um, and he was probably saying some of the right things, but the way he was saying it-

Jim: Hm.

Bill: … and-

Pam: She was not hearing it.

Bill: … the position he was taking it-

Jim: Hm.

Bill: … wasn’t working.

Jim: So speaking truth without love.

Pam: Yes.

Bill: Yeah. And I’m, and I’m praying, okay, “How do I break through to this guy?” And I knew he was into sport, so I finally just stopped him. I said, “You know what? You’re not even in the game. You’re like that guy that’s sitting in the stands, yelling at the referee, yelling at the coach. You’re not even on the field.” I said, “So you got, you have a decision to make, you either need to just, like, decide, you don’t want the game at all, or you’re going to learn how to, how to be a true husband-

Pam: And play by God’s rules.

Bill: … so get out of here and you call me again, if you wanna get in the game.”

Jim: Wow.

Bill: And I’m not sure what’s gonna happen at this point. But two weeks later, he called me. He said, “Okay, Bill, I wanna get in the game.”

Pam: I want in the game.

Bill: And he came back to my office saying, “I obviously don’t know how to do this. So would you teach me how to be a husband?” And that was the attitude, it turned their whole marriage around.

Pam: Yeah, they went from having divorce papers to having a happy marriage.

John: You’re listening to marriage experts, Bill and Pam Farrel on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. And you can get their book, The First Five Years, along with the CD of this entire conversation. When you call 800, the letter A and the word family, 800-232-6459. Or you can donate and request those resources at, Let’s go ahead and return now to more from Bill and Pam Farrel.

Jim: A- and you’re onto something here, uh, Bill and Pam that I think we should explore a, a little bit more, and that is those natural differences. You know, I was s- I found them so endearing-

Bill: Hm.

Pam: (laughs)

Jim: … those, those things that she did, uh, I mean, there are-

Bill: We’re so much alike. (laughs)

Jim: There are some fundamental sign differences here. And, um, we have an audio clip that kind of explains a little bit of the difficulty that we have encountering those and really embracing those differences.


Man: All right. “So my wife comes up to me and she’s super emotional and she just starts talking to me about these things. I have no idea where she’s going with the conversation, and I try to help her out by providing solutions, but she, (laughs) she just gets mad at me. H- how do I deal with that?”

End of Clip

Jim: So what’s the difference, and how does he approach that?

Pam: Yeah, that sounds a lot like our bestseller, men are like waffles and women like spaghetti. Yeah, we women tend to be very verbal jumping from subject to subject to subject-

Jim: In rapid fire.

Pam: Oh yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

Pam: You know, that book got its title, um, because of a couple like this. A man came up to Bill and- [crosstalk].

Bill: He said… he said, “Bill, can I bring my wife in? I think she’s broken.”

Jim: (laughs) Wow, that’s-

Bill: Now I’m intrigued.

Jim: … daring for a start.

Bill: But I’m intrigued. So I said, “Absolutely bring her in.” So they came in, she’s probably the most verbal woman I’ve met to this day.

Jim: (laughs)

Bill: So they, they sat-

Pam: Which is very normal.

Bill: … down in my office. He looked at her and went, “Go ahead.”

Pam: And so she talked from subject to subject, to subject, to subject, to subject for 55 straight minutes.

Bill: Right.

Pam: Oh, and when halfway through that, he looked at Bill like, “See.”

Bill: “She does this all the time-

Pam: (laughs) Yeah.

Bill: … like, I think something’s wrong with her. She just goes on and on like this all the time.”

Pam: And bill said, “Okay, you just need to listen.” So he, uh, taught him some active listening skills. And so she hopped from subject to subject for 55 minutes and then she leaned back and she said, “Wow, that was really great, I mean, he really listened to me. Okay. So if I’m like spaghetti, you said that women travel and make connections. And if I’m like spaghetti, then what’s he like?”

Bill: And I said, “Well, you know, we’re, we’re done for today, but we’ll meet in a couple of weeks and I’ll let you know then.”

Jim: (laughs)

Bill: (laughs)

Jim: Yeah, right, that’s a counselor’s way of saying, “I don’t know the answer, but I’ll find out.”

Pam: Yeah.

Bill: And my boys were making toaster waffles in between those two meetings. And I went, “I think that might work.” ‘Cause I was looking for a guy way to explain this-

Jim: Yeah.

Bill: … and guys like food, so I figured it probably would work. And I explained to them that men compartmentalize their thinking. We really like to break life down to one issue at a time. That’s why we’re problem solvers. Like the guy said, “I, I wanna give her solutions.” Like that. That’s a sincere, motivated response from a guy. We really do wanna give solutions. We wanna break things down, give an answer, create a, a plan to move forward and be heroic.

Jim: That’s our brain chemistry.

Bill: That’s what we wanna do.

Jim: Yeah.

Bill: And so I explained that to this couple and I told her, “Okay, it’s his turn to talk this week, you cannot change subjects.” And it was really hard for her. Like six times in that meeting, I just stopped her and said, “You can’t go there, that’s not the subject.”

Pam: Back to his box.

Bill: Right. And so when we get married, we don’t realize that we’ve married somebody very different than us and that we have to learn new communication skills.

Jim: But in your first five years of marriage, how do both the man and the woman learn to compliment this rather than critique it and criticize it?

Bill: Hm, it’s-

Jim: How do they-

Bill: … it’s hard.

Jim: Take a deep breath?

Pam: (laughs)

Bill: It’s hard.

Jim: It probably creates the greatest amount of conflict-

Bill: Yeah.

Jim: … because you’re not communicating and you start shutting down.

Bill: Like, I remember we’re sitting in our living room, we’re having a nice conversation. And I said something I, to this day I still can’t tell you what it is that I said, but I got this incredible reaction from Pam. She just jumped out of her chair, ran to our bedroom-

Pam: “You don’t love me anymore.” Slammed the door-

Jim: (laughs)

Pam: … looked back to see if he’d follow me.

Jim: It sounds like Pam remembers what you said.

Pam: (laughs)

Bill: And she- wa- wa- first of all, what just happened? And then what am I supposed to do? Like, my dad never told me marriage was gonna be like this.

Jim: Hm.

Pam: One guy said, “Run Forest, run.”

Jim: (laughs)

Bill: And I was where a lot of guys are, we’re like, “Well, what do I do now?”

Jim: Yeah.

Bill: Like, my wife just gave this emotional outburst. Uh, and in my mind, I’m thinking, “Do I follow her into the bedroom and try to repair this? Or should I sit here in the living room and outlast this behavior that looks really bad to me? Maybe she just needs space.”

Jim: (laughs)

Pam: Right?

Bill: And I’m totally guessing.

Jim: Hm, and you’re wrong either way.

Bill: (laughs)

Pam: Exactly.

Jim: I learned that lesson-

Pam: Exactly.

Jim: … one time I stayed back. “Why didn’t you come in and talk with me?”

Bill: (laughs)

Pam: (laughs)

Jim: The next time it was, “Why’d you come in, I’m still angry.”

Pam: (laughs)

Bill: (laughs)

Jim: So I, the guy’s going, “Oh man, this is a lose, lose proposition.”

Pam: Rock hard place, yeah.

Bill: Well, and as men, we need to learn that women process, that they don’t always need answers. They process-

Jim: Yeah.

Bill: … and they’re connecting life. It’s one of the main ways that women build trust is they connect their life to the person they think is important.

Pam: Yeah, we call it the, “Do you need me to fix something?” Or is it a, “Aha” Conversation? And what that means is-

Jim: That’s good.

Pam: … “Oh, aha. Oh baby, yeah, aha.” You know, we just want empathy and sympathy.

Bill: Can I speak for the guys for just a moment?

Jim: Please.

Bill: Because like-

Jim: (laughs)

Bill: … like, when we get married-

Jim: Save us.

Bill: … women think guys know this, because all our girlfriends know-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Bill: … you know, “I’m just upset, I just need to talk.” “Oh, okay, you just [inaudible].” As guys, we all know that.

Jim: Yeah, we don’t have that compartment built yet. (laughs)

Bill: We need to be told.

Jim: Yeah.

Bill: And, and so many women get offended. “Well, well, if he really understood me, he wouldn’t need to be told, he would just know.”

Pam: Yeah, and I-

Bill: Well-

Pam: … I tell wives all the time-

Jim: (laughs)

Pam: … “No, just-

Jim: Help.

Pam: … tell him, just tell him-

Jim: Yeah.

Pam: … what you need.” (laughs)

Jim: ‘Cause she’s thinking, it’s a measure of how much you love me and care for me-

Pam: Yes.

Jim: … that you would know this without-

Pam: Yes.

Jim: … me-

Bill: Hm.

Jim: … having to describe it to you.

Pam: Exactly, that you should just-

Jim: And he’s going-

Pam: … read my mind.

Jim: … “Well, aah.” (laughs)

Bill: See, but it’s guys like, like Jim, if we’re friends growing up and you’re all upset like that, I’ll just tackle you to the ground and give you a noogie until you’re doing better.

Jim: Right, right.

Bill: I can’t bring that skill in a marriage.

Jim: Right, right-

Bill: (laughs)

Jim: … it doesn’t work well. (laughs)

Pam: It’s called, be interested, yeah that’s right.

Jim: Hey, listen, uh, you know, we’re talking about that, women can struggle to understand the way her husband thinks and, and his ego. I think on the, if it’s d- trying to communicate with your wives, if-

Bill: Hm.

Jim: … if that’s the male shortcoming. On the female side, she may not fully understand how much a guy needs to be appreciated.

Pam: That’s right.

Bill: Yeah.

Jim: And that’s one of our great weaknesses. Uh, Pam, how can you help a, a young married woman understand (laughs) the ego needs appropriately of her husband?

Pam: Right? Because it’s right on the surface. You know-

Jim: (laughs)

Pam: … I discovered really early in our marriage, we were, um, we were at a party and it was, you know, like a backyard barbecue kind of thing. But there was music playing and Bill’s like a really good dancer. And so he’s, you know, whisking me around the floor and he does this big dip move, super romantic and all, we’re newlyweds, you know, everybody’s staring at us, this is wonderful. Then he drops me off the floor.

Jim: (laughs)

Bill: Dropped her on the floor.

Pam: So I’m lying on the floor. I’m like, “Why am I on the floor honey?” And he, and he said-

Bill: “I just ripped my pants.”

Pam: And I, I got up and I looked, and I’m like, “Oh, you guys.” I spun him around, “Look, Bill just ripped his pants!” And I thought it was funny, all of our friends thought it was funny. Bill did not think it was funny.

Bill: Mm-mm.

Pam: And um, uh, it was a really, really quiet ride home. And I realized that day, probably not a good idea to criticize your husband in public. It’s not even a really great idea at home when nobody’s around, but it’s a really bad idea to make him look bad in public.

Jim: Hmm.

Pam: And it’s that whole male ego thing, you know? And one of the things that a newlywed wife can do to do herself a favor is to help her husband look good to the people that matter in his life, you know, help him look good to his boss and his family. And, you know, his friendship circle and those buddies on the ball field, you know, it’s okay to brag on your man- [crosstalk].

Jim: Now, Pam, a lot of women, I think I’m just sensing it, may be cringing at that, ’cause it just feels phony-

Pam: Right.

Jim: … and it doesn’t, you know, “Man, if he d- if he doesn’t know who he is as a man, how am I gonna help him as his wife?”

Bill: Hmm.

Jim: But what you’re saying is so true, we’re kind of fragile, aren’t we, us guys?

Pam: They are, I’ve raised three sons. They are much more fragile than you think. You know, these three strong athletes, they look like they could be Superman, any of them. Um, but their hearts are still tender, like a little boy is, you know, bringing you a little flower when he’s five years old, “Looky mommy.” And if you don’t give him that attention, he’s going to be crushed. That’s what’s deep, deep, deep, deep down in the heart of your man, is that sweet spirit. And I think that’s why men appreciate wives and why they want to get married to a wife, is that somewhere deep down, there’s this wonderful little boy, um, that he loves when his heart is cherished. And, and that’s why God gave women to men in marriage is that’s our special role.

John: Well the time always goes so quickly. Whenever we get a chance to talk to Bill and Pam Farrell, and we’ll continue this conversation next time on Focus on the Family.

Jim: Yeah, John, they are such a fun couple. And I really appreciate what they shared today. I think the most important point is that we are all naturally selfish and selfish people don’t miraculously become selfless, uh, when they get married. And part of God’s design for marriage is to help us become more like Christ by putting us together to smooth out those sharp edges. In Ephesians 4:2 the Apostle Paul encourages us, and I’m paraphrasing here, to bear with one another in love. with patience, humility, and gentleness. That’s a great place to start in your marriage.

John: I would agree, it’s not always easy though, which is why I so appreciate what the Farrel’s shared about finding a mentor couple, uh, that can be so helpful at any stage of your relationship,

Jim: Yeah, we all need to help each other. And that’s why Focus on the Family provides so many resources. Uh, we don’t want you to do marriage by yourself. So please, come visit our website and discover what we have for you. And I’d recommend starting with our free marriage assessment, which will help you identify the strengths of your relationship and maybe a few weaknesses, things to work on. Then you can start going to work on those weaknesses with a huge selection of marriage articles, devotionals, and by listening to our focus on marriage podcast. And remember you can always get a free call back from one of our caring Christian counselors as well.

John: Yeah, we are here to help and the starting point is

Jim: And if you believe in marriage and would like to help other couples, please consider joining our team with a monthly pledge, any amount large or small helps us develop tools and resources to help marriages and families thrive in Christ. And when you make a pledge of any amount, I’d like to send you a copy of the Farrel’s book, The First Five Years. Uh, get a copy for a young in your life. And if you can’t make a monthly commitment right now, we get that. We’ll send the book out to you for a one-time donation of any amount.

John: Yeah, just call 800, the letter A and the word, FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or you can donate online and request that book at

If you enjoyed today’s broadcast, please tell a friend to tune in next time. The Farrel’s will be back tackling more issues that tend to crop up in those early days of marriage, like this one.


Woman: So I’ve only been married for a few years, um, but my husband seems to be obsessed with video games. It seems like he spends more time doing that than he does with me or our two-year-old son. Um, how can I get him to recognize that he’s addicted to this?

Today's Guests

Cover image of the book The First Five Years: Make the Love Investment That Lasts a Lifetime

The First Five Years: Make the Love Investment That Lasts a Lifetime

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