Focus on the Family Broadcast

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

Thriving in the Early Years of Marriage (Part 2 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 2 of 2)
Original Air Date: October 2, 2013


Bill Farrel: 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, and Jim, I’m thinking, what- 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 Daly: Yeah.

Bill: Like, my wife just gave this emotional outburst, uh, and- 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?

End of Preview

John Fuller: Well, have you been there? I know I have. Those are uncomfortable moments, uh, but we have some great advice for you today for those kinds of, uh, tricky situations, especially in the early years of marriage. This is Focus on the Family with Focus president and author, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim: That’s right, John. Uh, last time we had a really lively discussion with Bill and Pam Farrel about the unique aspects of the first five years of marriage. And if you missed that, uh, please get in touch with us. We can send you the entire message on CD or audio download, or you can get the Focus on the Family app for your smartphone. And we’d also recommend the Farrel’s book. It’s called, The First Five Years: Make the Love Investment that Lasts a Lifetime.

John: All of that and more at, or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Today, we’re delving into one of the key points that Bill and Pam made, why it’s important to be tough on yourself and your own flaws, yet tender towards your spouse’s. Uh, Bill and Pam Farrel speak worldwide on the subject of relationships and have a marriage ministry called Love-Wise. Uh, they’re the authors of over 50 books. Uh, they have three grown sons, three daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren.

John: Well, here’s the second part of our great conversation with Bill and Pam Farrel on Focus on the Family.

Jim: Bill and Pam, welcome back to Focus on the Family.

Pam Farrel: Thanks. It’s such a joy to be here.

Bill: Thank you.

Pam: You know, Focus helped build our marriage, ’cause we came from such crazy backgrounds.

Bill: Mm-hmm.

Pam: We would tune in every day, and now, it- we’re here being able to help other couples. It’s wonderful to be able to boomerang that help back. That help.

Bill: Yeah. I can’t even tell you how many times in the first five years of our marriage we asked the question, “So, did you hear Focus today?” (laughs)

Pam: Right? Yeah. (laughs)

Bill: Because it became a part of our family conversation.

Pam: Yeah.

Jim: Hmm.

Bill: Helping us develop the skills we’re talking about today.

Pam: That’s right, that’s right.

Jim: Wow, it’s so good. And Dr. Dobson did such a great job with guests that came in, talking about the area of marriage and- and we get that when we travel quite a bit.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: People will talk about what they’ve learned, and that’s, that’s a privilege. And we wanna say thank you to those that pray and support us financially-

Pam: Yeah, donors make a difference.

Jim: Because that makes a difference. I think, as we move forward in the culture, the strengthening of family, Christian families in the culture, is going to become more and more important as the culture, um, does less and less to invest in family.

Pam: Yes.

Jim: And, I think it’ll be God’s design as we move forward, to be a witness to the world. Um, that’s a different topic, but let’s pick up from where we left off last time. Um, we were talking about selfishness, (laughs) and John, it was good of you to say you’re so selfless.

Pam: (laughs).

John: I don’t recall saying that, Jim, but-

Jim: (laughs).

John: But I’ll continue staying married so God works on that aspect of my-

Jim: Yeah.

Pam: (laughs).

Jim: We talked about what women need in that relationship, that ability for a man to (laughs) say, basically, “Is this a problem-solving moment, or you just need me to say uh-huh?”

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And for women to realize that their men, uh, we have fragile egos.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And we really need the, um, affirmation of our-

Pam: That’s right, little cheerleader for your man.

Jim: Yeah, we need the cheerleaders to step up.

Pam: That’s right.

Bill: Like, Jim, there’s no secret why flirting works.

Pam: That’s right.

Bill: Because, when a woman flirts with her man, he gets this sense of confidence, he gets this, uh, this sense that, you know what, somebody in my life believes in me. I don’t have to compete with everybody in my life.

Jim: Hmm.

Bill: ‘Cause, when we go to work, we know we’re competing.

Jim: Hmm.

Bill: When we are in a sporting event, we know we’re competing. Often when the guys get together, we banter with each other because we’re competing with one another. But, when we go home and there’s a woman at home flirting with us, we’re like, “Oh, I don’t have to compete with this one. She’s proud of me. She believes in me. She sees in me what other people don’t see.”

Pam: Yeah.

Jim: Okay, but the question in that is, why after a couple years maybe, maybe a couple of weeks or a couple of months for newlyweds, that begins to diminish? The desire to flirt that way. Because now, I mean, I’m seeing this guy in the morning when he’s eating his oatmeal.

John: Yeah, we get a real view of one another.

Jim: And it’s not a pleasant sight. (laughs).

Bill: Yeah, but like we all got used to living with ourselves.

Jim: Right.

Bill: Like- like, I know there’s areas in my life when I put effort into them, they grow really fast. It’s exciting. There’s other areas in my life, I put an enormous amount of effort and it moves an inch. And I’ve gotten used to that me. Suddenly I bring somebody else into my life that’s got the same thing going in her life.

Jim: Mm-hmm-

Bill: And I’m not as patient with her slow growing stuff as I am with my slow growing stuff.

Jim: Ooh, now we’re on it.

Pam: And so we had this principle that if you ask, you know, Pam and Bill, what is it, when you boil it all down, that made two people from such dysfunctional homes be able to have a happy marriage 35 years later? What did you do as newlyweds? What was the key? We would say we were tough on ourselves and tender on our spouse.

Jim: Mm-hmm-

Pam: Because that’s counterintuitive. When you get into conflict, what you want to do is be tough on your spouse. Like, you need to change. And you need to fix this. And if you were in God’s word, you would be listen, and He would, like, straighten you up.

Jim: (laughs)

Pam: And uh, but we don’t look in the mirror.

John: Sounds like you’ve said that before.

Bill: (laughs)

John: (laughs) Well-rehearsed, isn’t it?

Bill: Like music in my ears, John.

Pam: Oh yeah. (laughs) Yeah. And- but we don’t oftentimes stop and look in the mirror and say, okay, what’s my part in all of this? And so we tend to be, by nature, tough on our mate and tender on ourselves, but we need to turn it around and say, “Okay, God, what do you need to do in me to grow me up so that this can get worked out in our relationship? What’s my side of the equation?

Jim: Mm-hmm-

Pam: What can you mature in me so that our marriage is stronger? And if a newlywed, either a wife or a husband, if they’re both doing that, then that means their relationship is gonna get stronger and stronger and stronger every year. If they just give in to being tough on their spouse, and tender on themselves, they’re gonna pull apart and they’re gonna become a statistic.

Jim: Mm-hmm-

Pam: I mean, one of the reasons we wrote First Five Years of Marriage is because one in four marriages don’t even make it out of the first five years.

Jim: One in four.

Pam: Yeah, they fall apart before they even get started.

Jim: Wow. What- and- and what you’re really saying there, uh, you know, so often we have a difficult time connecting scripture to our real lives, because we think that’s- well that’s kinda poetry and, you know, we don’t understand that it’s real.

Bill: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But you’re saying, in a different way, what the Lord said specifically, and that is, take the log out of your own eye before you take the speck out of your spouse’s eye.

Bill: Yes. Mm-hmm.

Pam: Yes. That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, yeah.

Jim: In this context. In your marriage. That’s exactly what you’re saying.

Pam: Mm-hmm.

Bill: Well, we talked about how marriage helps us be selfless. Like it is an act of faith for me to say, if I work on me and I become the husband that I should become, I can trust God to help Pam become the wife she needs to be.

Pam: And if I say, okay, if I work on me and become the wife that God has called me to, I can trust God is going to be doing that same thing for my husband.

Bill: And that- that sounds good, and that works for 24, 48 hours. And now the husband has said something that has, uh, really created a new, uh, less of a desire to do that. He’s annoyed you.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Pam: Oh, yeah.

Bill: And now you’re saying, okay, I’m not gonna be that wife I need to be, you start rationalizing in that direction.

Pam: Yeah.

Bill: Don’t you? Rather than staying the course and saying, regardless of how he responds.

Pam: That’s right.

Bill: Or she responds, I’m still going to be the- the man or the woman that my spouse needs.

Pam: Right? Because there’s no downside. If we choose to be the person that God created us to be, the very best us, that even if the worst happens and that relationship falls apart, which it probably won’t because love wins out. Um, but we become people that people want to be around.

Jim: Hm.

Pam: Like if we have the fruit of the spirit in our life, love joy, peace, patience, kindness, people are gonna want to hang out with us. But if we have the opposite going on, yeah. Our husband’s not going to want to hang out with this. And probably our friends won’t want to either, and we become toxic. And so the goal is to move ourselves from toxic to happy.

Jim: Let’s, uh, we have a clip from someone who struggles in this area with selfishness. And I think, again, it’s one of the key things, we touched on it last time, but let’s touch on it again. Let’s play this clip and have you respond.


Man: My wife and I got married in our early thirties, and we’re finding it difficult to transition from doing things my way and her way or my stuff and her stuff to our stuff and our way. It’s very frustrating, because we’re so used to living as single adults, and now we’re kinda thrown into marriage. So what can we do as a team? And how can we start thinking as a team?

End of Clip

Bill: First step is to expect it. If we go into a marriage, expecting it to be really smooth, it’s going to be easy, you know, we- we’re just so caring about one another. We’re gonna work all this stuff out really easy, and really what we should be telling couples, it’s going to be fun, but you should expect that you’re going to test one another because there are areas of insecurity in all of our lives and whether we voice it or not. I’m asking the question, can I trust Pam with the areas of my life where I’m insecure?

Jim: Hm.

Bill: And in all those areas, I’m going to test her.

Pam: We test our men all the time as women, especially.

Jim: What- what does that look like? Give me an example.

Pam: Do I look fat in this?

Jim: (laughs)

Bill: (laughs)

Pam: And there’s, like, no really good way.

Bill: Let’s use another example. (laughs)

Pam: Yeah. For a moment.

John: That’s the no win question.

Pam: Yeah. Yeah. The closest Bill has come to an answer for that is, I don’t know. I’m so bedazzled by your beauty. I can’t think straight.

John: Oh yeah, you’re good.

Bill: So feel free to use that one. Yeah, just repeat that one. (laughs)

Pam: That’s his default. Yeah. Um, but we do. We test each other all the time to see what is more valuable, your job or me? What is more valuable? That car or me? You know? And so…

Bill: And- and for- as a guy, okay, I know Pam’s real spontaneous. So first year of our marriage, I had us made a budget. Now, part of it was because I wanted us to be responsible financially. And I had heard the presentations about how important all that is. But part of it, too, is I wanted to see if Pam would keep a budget. Is her spot [crosstalk]

Jim: You were testing her.

Bill: I- Yeah. I hate to admit it, but yeah, I was.

Pam: Does she respect me enough to go along with, like, our agreements financially? And we have a funny story, actually, with that one. And- um, so we made this agreement that we weren’t gonna spend more than x amount of dollars unless we called and checked in with each other. So I’m an entrepreneur, I go to this conference, and I buy the magic beans. And um, on the way home, I had buyer’s remorse, because it is more than the amount that I was supposed to have called and checked in. And I-

John: Hm. So you violated the agreement.

Bill: Yeah.

Pam: Oh, I totally violated it.

Bill: And- and you know, these are-

Pam: And rationalized it, and oh.

Bill: These are the situations that blow things up.

Pam: Right, right.

Jim: Right. All the weaknesses.

John: Yeah.

Pam: So I’m, like, home. I’m like, oh, I’ve totally violated Bill’s trust. And the Holy Spirit is just convicting me. And so I just shot up a desperate prayer. Well, I walked in, and- God answered me. I walked in and I said, “Honey, I’m gonna tell you something and you’re not gonna like it, but I need you to tell me I love you and we’ll get through this together.”

Jim: Hm.

Pam: And-

Bill: So she told me. And through gritted teeth.

Jim: You smiled.

Bill: I said, “I love you, Pam, and we will get through this together.”

Pam: Now, we worked it all out.

Bill: Mm-hmm.

Pam: And 10 years later, fast forward, um, my dad died, he leaves a significant amount of money, um, in the estate to me, and Bill’s, uh, really great at investments and things, but we had our own- well, you know, there’s plenty of those investment fraud things going around. Well, we had our-

Bill: It- it’s nice of Pam to refer to it as an investment. It was more of a donation.

Pam: Right. (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Pam: And so the day he had to come home and tell me that those, you know, many zeroes were no longer in our bank account, he shot up a prayer. God, how can I tell Pam this?

Bill: So I said, “Pam, I have something to tell you, and you’re not gonna like it. And what I need you to tell me is I love you Bill, and we’ll get through this together.”

Jim: Hm.

Pam: And I remembered the grace that I had been given as a newlywed, 10 years before, and so it was easy to give that same grace again.

Jim: Hm, ah. Sounds like your magic beans may have been less expensive than his magic beans. (laughs)

Pam: A- significantly, yes. Significant less.

Bill: Significantly more. Definitely worse.

Jim: But it’s the heart that matters in that illustration.

Pam: Exactly.

Jim: And that’s- that’s a great way to look at it.

Bill: It’s beautiful, yeah.

Pam: Our marriage was more important than our bank account at that point.

Bill: And it would have been easy for me to just fire up on Pam. What were you thinking? What were you doing?

Jim: Yeah.

Bill: And so many couples go there. Rather than preserve the heart.

Jim: Right.

Bill: They comment on each other’s behavior.

Jim: And well I think, the other aspect of that, it’s sometimes easier, at least what I have found, it’s easier to respond appropriately when it’s a big issue compared to kinda the- the- the add- the addition of the little things.

Pam: The daily. Mm-hmm.

Bill: (laughs)

Jim: But the bigger issues are the smaller things that accumulate.

Bill: The little things. Okay, like, we get married and we- we have the conversation, we were encouraging this couple the- that, you know, sit down, divide up responsibilities, decide together how you’re gonna do this together. ‘Cause if you don’t decide and you do it by accident, it’s just gonna create all kinds of emotional turmoil. So we decide, first year of marriage, Pam’s gonna take care of the kitchen at- at the beginning of our relationship. And I’m assuming that means she’s gonna put things away in the kitchen in the same place every time.

Jim: (laughs)

Pam: Okay, so Bill- Bill just needs to confess.

Jim: Sorry. (laughs)

Pam: The same place- Bill’s like one of those guys that if you go to his garage, you know, place for everything, everything in its place. He’s got like the hammer with a-

Bill: Because then you can find stuff.

Jim: I like you.

John: Do you know anybody like that?

Bill: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Pam: Peg board, it has the outline of every hammer. I mean, he’s just that kind of guy.

Jim: Way to go.

Bill: So I would go to the kitchen and Pam’s put the smaller cups under the bigger cups in the cabinet.

Pam: Save space.

Bill: So when I pull the big cup off to get water, stuff’s falling all over the counter.

Jim: Oh. (laughs)

Bill: And I’m like, oh I love this woman.

Pam: (laughs)

Bill: And it’s driving me crazy. It’s just- it’s just silly stuff in the kitchen, but I’m thinking what- why does she have to be this way?

Jim: But what is going on there is something far deeper in the heart, isn’t it?

Pam: Yeah.

Jim: It’s one little bead that- you know, cups in a cupboard really are not a big deal.

Pam: It’s not about the cup.

Jim: But there’s something in there in you, not in Pam.

Bill: It’s raising stress in my life.

Jim: In you.

Bill: Yeah.

Jim: That you gotta deal with.

Bill: Because- ’cause now I’m adding time to my schedule.

Pam: Exactly.

Bill: It’s- it gets interrupted, and I don’t know, like, a lot of guys, when we get interrupted, anger’s the first thing we feel.

Jim: Oh, yes.

Bill: So I’m fighting that back. And- and it’s just a little thing, but it’s eating away.

Jim: You’re listening to focus on the family with Jim Daly. And today we’re talking with marriage experts, Bill and Pam Farrel. You can get a copy of their book, The First Five Years, and a CD of this broadcast to pass along to somebody, when you call 800, the letter A and the word FFAMILY, 800-232-6459, or donate and request those and other helpful resources at Let’s return now to more from Bill and Pam Farrel.

Pam: We all have those irritations. And it’s a choice of our will, um, to let God change that irritation into something positive.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Pam: For example, the thing you love about your spouse can become the source of irritation. Well, I was, um, Bill loves his coffee. Like lots of people love coffee, but he does not love to get his coffee mug to the sink.

Bill: I’m busy.

Jim: (laughs)

Bill: It’s tough to do.

Pam: So as a newlywed, I would find these coffee mugs, like, everywhere. You know? Dirty coffee mugs on the back porch. I mean, in the cars, on the sidewalk, in the shower, seriously, one day. And um-

John: In the shower? (laughs)

Pam: Yeah. Why not.

Bill: I guess I don’t have much to say at the moment.

Pam: And I remember saying- I- I remember saying to God, “God, how can this really good man, this precious pastor-”

Jim: Godly man.

Pam: “Godly man, not get his coffee mugs to the sink? Change him.” And God just whispered, “Nope, I think I’m gonna change you.”

Jim: Ooh. Hm.

Pam: And He’s like, “Pam, do you remember that verse this week that you were reading about, you know, um, love covers a multitude of sins? You’re feeling like this is a sin. It’s not really a sin to- to, you know, drink coffee. But you’re feeling like it is.”

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Pam: “And remember that verse in your quiet time about bless those who persecute you? You’re feeling pretty persecuted right now, so why don’t you just bless your man every time you see that dirty coffee mug.” And so I just started praying a blessing any time I saw Bill’s dirty coffee mugs. You know, Lord, let everything he puts his hand to prosper, elevate him, and, um, then I thought, well why just dirty ones? Why not clean ones?

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Pam: Any time I see clean coffee mugs. And then I thought, well why just his coffee mugs? How about everybody’s coffee mugs? I’ll just pray for my Bill every time I see a coffee mug. And, you know, now we walk through airports. You know, everybody carries a coffee mug in airports. My mind gets blessed all day long every day. And the precious thing is, now, if I see a dirty coffee mug, I just actually smile. And it’s fond affection, rather that- that burning anger that I used to have as a newlywed.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Pam: And I like that transformation, because God changed me.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Pam: And you know what magically happened? Bill’s actually getting better at putting his coffee mugs in the sink as God has changed me.

Jim: Well, and again, you could put any noun in there to fill that out for your own personal situation, but whatever drives your husband crazy, or your wife crazy. Um, just put that word in there.

Pam: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And- and it’s a beautiful example.

Bill: Mm-hmm.

Jim: in your book The First Five Years, um, you mentioned something that I think is really important. I want to make sure we cover it. You talk about a woman’s need to control. And these, again, are generalizations. We know not everybody fits this type. But a majority of people do. And I’m sure that’s why you put it in there. A woman’s need to control and how a man tends to be selfish. These are two kind of paramount characteristics in our gender.

Bill: Mm-hmm.

Pam: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And let’s talk about that for a minute, because both of those can drive the other crazy. One is control. What does that look like? When a woman, a newly married young woman, is beginning to exert control over her husband?

Pam: Yeah.

Jim: And then we’ll talk about the man and his selfishness in a minute.

Pam: I- pretty much a good way to spot that control is if you’re acting more like his mother or your mother, then you’re shifting over from a wife to, like, the control freak.

Jim: How- but how do you- how do you see it? How do you- ’cause it comes so naturally. A lot of people struggle seeing it.

Pam: Right. Right.

Bill: And- and-

Pam: And it comes from a good place, actually.

Bill: Yeah.

Pam: You know, in the Garden of Eden, um, when God made, you know, the trees and God made the flowers and God made animals, after each one of those, and it was good. But when Eve showed up, it was very good.

Jim: (laughs)

Pam: And so when we just showed up, things got better. And so it- it’s in our nature as women to want to make things better. We will make situations better. We will make people better. We want to make the world better. And so it comes from a good place. So when it’s under the Holy Spirit’s control, when we are seeking to put our will underneath God’s will, it’s a happy thing. It’s a happy place, but it’s when we take that back and like, I have a better idea than God, just like Eve did, or I have a better idea than my man. You know, it’s all about me and my ideas, that’s when you drift into danger.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Pam: Yeah.

Bill: And- and, you know, like Pam said, it comes from a good place ’cause women can always see how things could be better. It’s a gift that they have. That doesn’t mean that they actually have control over everything that needs to get better.

Pam: Mm-hmm.

Bill: And when a woman says, you know what, I can make that better, I can legitimately make that better. She puts her effort into it. It’s an awesome thing. When she starts looking at the areas that she doesn’t have control over, but tries to make them better anyway, that’s when it becomes controlling.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Bill: Um, and it- it- it becomes, uh, a- a destructive thing in the relationship.

Pam: I- first, I always tell women, okay, let’s compliment your man for what he is doing well, rather- like, a lot of times when we’re like, he’s not a spiritual leader, he’s not, like, being the one who prays with the kids at bedtime. And he’s not the one who like, wants to do devotions. I’m like, well, when was the last time that you said, thank you for, like, maybe the paycheck? Or when’s the last time you said, thank you for mowing the lawn? Like, is he like, you know, taking out the trash? Are you thanking him?

Pam: ‘Cause what I see is when we start thanking our man, then he wants to step up and do some of the other things that we might think that are valuable, like praying and things like that. But if he’s always feeling like if he tries, it’s not gonna be good enough, like, why try? ‘Cause it’s not my way, we’re gonna defeat him.

Jim: Right. That control.

Pam: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Well, let’s not- you know, we can’t let the guys off the hook here.

Bill: Right.

Pam: Nope.

Jim: So that- back to that point of the selfishness, and it kind of is the other side of this, because-

Bill: Absolutely.

Jim: I think a- a- a wife is gonna see the fact that he doesn’t step up and do some of these things, ’cause he’s selfish. He’s wanting to spend time out in the garage or he’s watching news, weather and sports.

Bill: Mm-hmm. (laughs)

Jim: And, you know, wow, can you not pour into my life or our kids’ lives a little more energetically?

Bill: And see, for men, the struggle is that God made us passionate. He put testosterone in our bodies and we have passion for the things of our life. And it was put there so that we would have passion for our career, passion for our wives, and passion for our families. And men get distracted all the time. We get distracted into sports. We get distracted into sexual things. We get distracted into hobbies, and the passion that should go into our families ends up going into our personal pursuits, or even de- distractions that are- are dangerous toward the rest of our life.

Jim: It-

Bill: And the challenge for men is we’ve got to get our passions focused. And it’s one of the reasons why us men need to come around other men. Because when a man says, “Dude, you need to focus in on your family right now,” we accept that for men. When it comes from a female voice-

Pam: It might sound nagging when it comes from the wife. And so a wife really, if she says, “Hey, why don’t you go golfing with Joe?” Um, and encourages that- lets him go out and have a great guy time, well Joe might be a great role model on how to treat a wife and how to raise your kids. And so, rather than nagging, if you help your husband develop those wonderful godly men around him, that’s going to do you a favor, too.

Bill: Mm-hmm.

Jim: In fact, uh, one of the areas this is showing itself in young couples today is video games.

Bill: Mm-hmm.

Pam: Yeah.

Jim: I- I wanna play a clip here from someone who’s struggling in this area, and get your response.


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?

End of Clip

Jim: I mean, that is a really good question.

Pam: Mm-hmm.

Jim: It touches a lot of young couples lives, because that prolonged adolescence is occurring.

Pam: Yes.

Jim: And especially for young men, uh, they’re coming out of an environment where they have done this, uh, they’ve been allowed to do it, and it’s been trained into them almost. So the- that’s how you do it. You come home after work and to relax, you spend two- or three-hours playing video games. Wow. What a great way to destroy relationships.

Pam: No kidding. (laughs)

Bill: Well, first step is she needs to be praying for him, and praying that God makes this an issue in his life, because if God tells him to stop this and become more responsible, um, it’ll start moving. So that’s the first step. Second step is, continue the prayer and say, God, would you bring men into his life that will address this issue? So that’s the place to start because-

Jim: So I haven’t heard you, as the wife, go and deal with this, yet.

Pam: Not yet.

Bill: Not yet.

Jim: Okay.

Bill: And- and again, it’s- it’s the first, uh, instinct, is I- I just need to tell him, I need to point this out.

Jim: What to do.

Bill: I need to, you know, make an issue of this.

Pam: Straighten him up. (laughs)

Bill: Which tends to just create resistance.

Pam: Yeah.

Bill: And so the very thing she’s trying to accomplish, it ends up backfiring on her. So.

Pam: I work so hard, I deserve this, is what she’s gonna hear if she doesn’t preempt it with prayer. But if she spends time praying about how to approach it, God send men around him. And the third thing to pray is give him a passion bigger than that video game.

Bill: Mm-hmm.

Pam: Lord, let him get excited about time with me. Lord, let him get excited about time with our kids. Let him get excited about home ownership. Let him get excited about serving in the church. Let something light a fire under my man so that it’s more important than that video game.

Jim: And it’s hard to compete with.

Bill: Right.

Jim: Because those are entertaining, they’re stimulating. I mean, they’re often combat games and it kind of appeals to our five, six-year-old nature as a little boy.

Bill: That’s right.

Jim: The little boy’s heart.

Pam: It’s-

Bill: See, the most powerful thing that she can do, that’s not gonna feel like the most powerful thing to her, is to plan things with her and her son that she will do, whether he’s involved or not. So we’re- we’re going to- like, we just took our kids, our- our grandkids to a gymnastics open-

Pam: Open gym.

Bill: Open gym, and the kids got to walk on balance beams and jump on trampolines and playing in the big pits of foam. And if she plans things like that and says, “Hey, we’re gonna go do this. Would you like to join us?” Sometimes they’ll choose to go, sometimes they’ll choose not to. But when the kid comes back and talks about how exciting it was to go and he missed out, she’s now leveraging the power that that kid has in Dad’s life.

Pam: Dad, you should have been there, it was, like, so fun.

Bill: Now, that’s not gonna feel powerful to her, ’cause she wants to directly hit it. She just wants to be able to say, “You need to get up and you need to take care of this and you need to do this,” but if she will create activities that he’s welcome to come join, that create good memories for her son, um, that’s the most powerful thing she can do on her part to start creating movement in his life.

John: We’ve heard some really excellent advice from our guests today on Focus on the Family, Bill and Pam Farrel, and, uh, it’s been a privilege to have them here the past couple of days.

Jim: I so appreciate their heart. Uh, to help newlyweds make the effort to learn how to navigate the more challenging aspects of marriage and build that strong foundation they can rely on as the years go by. That is so good. And with the divorce rate of 25 percent or so in those first five years of marriage, this is certainly information couples need.

John: Oh, that is a sad statistic, that so many break up so soon.

Jim: It really is. And you know, when the Farrels were here, we recorded another broadcast about the communication skills needed to enjoy physical intimacy as a young married couple, they really had some excellent advice to share. So we’ll post a link to that on the website, too.

John: And you’ll find that and other great help for your marriage at

Jim: Let me also remind you that Focus on the Family is here to help your marriage, uh, whatever stage you’re in. We have an entire department here that is focused on creating useful marriage resources like articles, devotionals, and our Focus on the Family marriage podcast. We want to help your marriage thrive. I hope you get that. Uh, so visit our website and see what we can do for your marriage. A great place to start is our free marriage assessment. It’s a short quiz that will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your relationship. And if you need help, please remember you can also request a call back from one of our caring Christian counselors. They’ll give you Biblical advice you can trust. It’s a free service we have provided for over 44 years of ministry, thanks to the support of our donor community. And if you’d like to be a part of the work we’re doing here at Focus on the Family, let me encourage you to become a monthly supporter. It doesn’t have to be a large amount. It’s the consistency that really helps us even out our budget. And when you make a monthly pledge of any amount, I’d like to send you the Farrell’s book, The First Five Years: Make the Love Investment that Lasts a Lifetime. And if you can’t make a monthly commitment right now, we understand that. We can also send it to you for a one-time gift.

John: Donate and, uh, request your book when you call 800-232-6459. 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Or you can request The First Five Years and make your donation at On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we, once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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

Get Bill and Pam Farrel's book The First Five Years for your donation of any amount! Plus, receive member-exclusive benefits when you make a recurring gift today. Your monthly support helps families thrive.

Recent Episodes

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Trusting God As a Family Through Adversity

Rebecca St. James, and Joel and Luke Smallbone from the band, For King & Country, share how God provided for them in their time of need through family prayer and the support of other believers. It’s an inspiring story of faith, pointing to their new movie, Unsung Hero, releasing in theatres on April 26.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

The War of Words

In this Adventures in Odyssey drama, a carelessly uttered word from Eugene creates havoc as it becomes the fashionable insult, resulting in a lesson about the power of words.

You May Also Like

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

A Legacy of Music and Trusting the Lord

Larnelle Harris shares stories about how God redeemed the dysfunctional past of his parents, the many African-American teachers who sacrificed their time and energy to give young men like himself a better future, and how his faithfulness to godly principles gave him greater opportunities and career success than anything else.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Accepting Your Imperfect Life

Amy Carroll shares how her perfectionism led to her being discontent in her marriage for over a decade, how she learned to find value in who Christ is, not in what she does, and practical ways everyone can accept the messiness of marriage and of life.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Affair-Proof Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Pastor Dave Carder offers couples practical advice for protecting their marriages from adultery in a discussion based on his book Anatomy of an Affair: How Affairs, Attractions, and Addictions Develop, and How to Guard Your Marriage Against Them. (Part 1 of 2)