David: Great to be here.
Jim: Now you say in the Outrageous book here, The Top 10 Most Outrageous Couples of the Bible, there’s good outrageous and bad outrageous. What are they? How do we identify when we’re acting out of bad “outrageousness?”
David: Bad outrageousness is basically sin, sinful choices, terrible sinful choices. I’m gonna work too much at my job. I’m gonna kinda flirt with my secretary. I’m going to spend too much time at the gym. I think I can handle my alcohol. I think I’m gonna play favorites and pick one of my kids and prefer them over the other kids. That is outrageously bad behavior.
Jim: Now those are all things that many human beings encounter, but they don’t say it to themselves quite like that.
David: Well, no; it’s all rationalized. We are brilliant at rationalizing all of our sin. I had client after client, every client I see, they have a case for what they’re doing wrong. My job is to explode that case, using the Bible and what God would say. No, that’s just rationalization. This is wrong. Who is it hurting? It’s hurting you; it’s hurting other people. “Who’s the doctor in this room?” I’ll often say (Laughter) I’m here to help you. But people don’t want to get past denial, to “I’m really making bad choices.”
Jim: What causes this as human beings to be so irrational? Let me … you know, let me ask it a little closer to the heart. We as Christians, what causes that irrationality in us, that we don’t see truth?
David: Sin nature and we’re all born with that. It will be with us all the way until we die, until Christ returns, if we know Christ personally, put our faith in Him. So, that’s … we’ll always have that bent, always there. And bottom line is, I want to do what I want to do.
And Satan is a master at what he does. He’s the best. We all have weaknesses, born with certain tendencies in certain areas. We mentioned the trees last time. Everybody’s got a tree or two that they’re prone to go toward. Satan’s gonna make sure every day of your life or at certain key points when you’re most weak, to have that tree right in front of your face. And it’s gonna be tough to resist if you’re not prepared for that.
Jim: How do we do a better job knowing reality? Knowing who we are, that we have sin in our hearts. I’m sure one of the ways is to understand that you are a sinner, that I am a sinner, and I’m saved by grace. That I can’t live perfectly. How do we really grab a hold of that?
David: We have to have other people involved, and I think the spouse is critically important. Let’s talk about reality here, and here are my trees. Here are the weaknesses I have. Boom. And the other persons not gonna say, “Well I don’t have any trees, I’ll try to help you.” No, everybody has weaknesses and some trees they’re gonna go to. So, if you don’t voice it, you’re gonna go to the tree. Matter of time.
Jim: In that context, it’s fascinating to me when we look at the Pharisees and the Sadducees, because they had orchards, as you’re describing them. They were religiously motivated. Jesus did not tolerate their attitude very well. He thought they were empty tombs, as He called them. In some ways today, it feels like, whether it’s in our marriage or our parenting or just dealing with the culture, many ways I feel like we’re repeating those attitudes of the Pharisees. But we never talk about it as a community. We feel like we’ve learned those lessons. Is that still alive and well in us?
David: Oh, boy, is it ever. And it’s the rare pastor who has the guts to really, from the pulpit, speak honestly. I know some wonderful ones that do that, but we hate to offend people. Somehow we’ve gotten into the habit of, gosh, we’d hate to offend people. Christ offended everyone, so much so that they killed Him. He was speaking truth. And it’s only through offense that people really change. I’m a pretty offensive guy in my therapy office. I can be a lot of fun, but in my therapy office, in my seminars, I’m offensive, as I’m speaking truth, rattling people, hoping that I can win them over to the truth. If I’m nice and it’s all just funny, then nobody changes. You have to hit ‘em right in the guts and then they’ll change.
Jim: In your book, The Top 10 Most Outrageous Couples of the Bible, last time we talked about Adam and Eve, which is a great place to start and marriage and who’s in control? I mean, that’s a good thing. If you missed that last time, download that or get the CD and John, we’ll have details at the end of the program.
Jim: We also talked about Abraham and Sarah and, you know, just what they modeled in their marriage and then Isaac and Rebecca and the parenting disaster that they gave us an example of. This time, let’s talk about selfishness in marriage. I’ve come to the conclusion — I’d love your response to this–God set it up this way, one man, one woman for a lifetime, because He wants to grind out the selfishness in us. I mean, it’s hard to be selfish in a marriage that’s healthy. You’ve got to give of yourself every day and it just doesn’t come naturally.
David: Yeah, I want what I want. And I think and this is the sin nature and Satan pushing it and culture obviously, me, me, me and yes, again, me. If I can get my needs met, then I’ll be really happy and so will you. Well, that’s not true. If I focus on Sandy and I meet her need and I love on her and I go out of my way, when she knows it’s hard for me to do so, boom! She feels loved and it will all come back to me. That’s secondary, but she’ll love me like nobody’s business ‘cause I’ve loved her first.
Jim: Do you have a negative side of that that you’ve learned in your marriage? What was the story that you have that you didn’t do this so well?
David: Oh, it … we’ve had this battle over chores for a long time. (Laughter) And I blame my mother frankly, who’s listening now, I’m sure. She spoiled me. I was raised in a home where I didn’t have to do that much. My mom did everything for me. I love her and she was so good to me. I married Sandy, thinkin’ that it would be the same!
And so I wasn’t doing many chores. I thought that Sandy would enjoy doin’ those chores to meet my need. Well, she came from a home, I wouldn’t say “slave labor,” but they all had their jobs. (Laughter) She and Eric, her brother had their jobs. And I visited their home. I thought, wow, this is like a penitentiary. These people, they’re working hard, making license plates. So, Sandy had to sit me down and say, “Look big boy, you’re in seminary, great. I’ve just had a baby, your baby.” Whenever they say it’s your baby, you know you’re in trouble. Anyway, “Your baby and I need help. And I was a hypocrite, ‘cause I was teaching things that weren’t even true. So, I had to really start working and doing the toilets. And now I’ve … Sandy was bringin’ it though. She just stopped doing the dishes. One day, not a word, just stopped doing the dishwasher and all the dishes.
David: After a couple days, I thought, I don’t think she’s doin’ this anymore. (Laughter) So, it becomes my job! (Laughter)
John: We’re gonna hear from some husbands who are just really … really not so grateful for this—
Jim: I can appreciate that–
Jim: –that Sandy used her resources and you know, let the dishes there for you to do.
David: Well, she’s smart. It was pretty clear. I thought, wow; I think she had asked me a few times before, if memory serves (Laughing) and I really hadn’t come through. I thought, hey, how about every other meal? No, no, she’s cooking every meal for me in the evening. She’s a wonderful cook, so it made sense to her that I take care of everything else. You know what? She’s right.
Jim: What are some selfish things that wives can do, too? I mean, we’re being funny with the husbands and our inability to see the dirty dishes through the forest, I guess. But what do wives do?
David: Wives spend too much time cleaning the home. The home is very important to them and even back in Old Testament days, the tent was critically important, all right, the caravan, whatever. So, they want to get all those jobs done before they have time with the husband. Guess what? They are too tired and fatigued and they’re not makin’ the man the priority. I’ve told a woman this last week. You’re spending too much time. You want to get those jobs done, ‘cause they’re all in your head. Let’s try this. Let’s spend a half an hour with your husband helping, getting some of the jobs done. Then you have your couple talk time while you’re still fresh. After that, you both will complete the chores.
She didn’t like the idea, “‘Cause I like to have it all done.” I said, “But let’s look at the pattern here. You’re too tired. You’re not having couple talk times. You’re not making love. You’re too tired, because of those dumb jobs you’re doing. Those are not as important as your husband.” That’s hard for a woman. I don’t care about the jobs. I can step over engine parts, pizza boxes on the way to Sandy. [It] doesn’t bother me at all. (Laughter) Sandy can’t do that. But I think with a shift … now she needs to know those jobs are gonna get done and my husband’s gonna help me do those jobs.
Jim: Now you might be hitting a 90 percent problem in households today right here with this one.
David: Yeah, boy.
Jim: So, let’s slow down a little and unpack this. I mean, basically you’re saying when it comes to intimacy, physical intimacy, husbands could care less what the house looks like. I want your attention.
David: I don’t need the bed made. I don’t need anything except my wife and the bedroom. All I need.
Jim: Now the difficulty is, your wives really need to know that these other priorities are going to get done. That’s significant what you just said there.
David: It is.
Jim: How do we communicate in such a way to make everybody happy?
David: Well, we have to have a lot of honest communication and I think most ladies would say, “You know what? I can live with that. Work with me. There are certain jobs I need to have done before we have our talk time and before we are physically intimate. There’s certain major things, ‘cause it’ll be in my head during our time and you don’t want that to happen.” Yes, that’s right.” “So, let’s get a few of these jobs done,” again, working as a team. The man’s not hanging out in the bedroom, looking at the watch going, “Are you done with those chores yet? I’m in here. (Laughter) I thought we had an agreement.” No.
John: He might be saying that but nothing’s going to happen beyond that, is it?
Jim: You haven’t brushed your teeth yet? (Laughter)
David: He is right there with her, cleaning the dishes up, puttin’ the kids to bed, whatever you’ve agreed on before that time, you take care of that and then we can segue into the bedroom. And then the one … there’s some minor jobs yet to be done and she knows, he’s gonna help me with those, too. That’s gonna lead to a wonderful time together.
Jim: I’m tellin’ you, it feels like this advice right here may have just saved couples. (Laughter) I mean, this is good. I mean, this is really where it’s at. How does that relate to that Old Testament story though? Where’s that couple that had a similar situation like this one, the domestic chores and how to manage all that?
David: Yeah, wh … who would that fit with? I would … I’m thinking of Jacob and his two wives. Okay, first problem, two wives (Laughter), but that’s another story. Don’t do that. But Jacob was extremely passive and he was an “outside the tent” guy. He was extremely passive at home and his wives, Rachel and Leah were doing everything and they were fighting each other, terribly disrespectful. He was not involved there, absolute wimp. And they would …
Jim: Okay, you’re describing a lot of husbands that leave the frustration of the home to—
Jim: –to their wives.
David: I did that the first 10 years of my marriage, no question about it. I really let Sandy take care of the home. We were both raised in these very conservative traditional homes, where the woman’s job was to take care of all those things. You know what? That’s not true. The truth is, it’s really my job, if I’m the leader, I’m the leader of everything. That’s my job! And so, we’re working together, but they’re really our jobs and I gotta make sure they get done–a total mind shift I had to go through. I thought those were Sandy’s jobs. Well, they’re really not.
Jim: What about when it comes to that area of fatigue? I remember when we had young kids particularly, Trent and Troy when they were in single digits. And I would come home and Jean was so tired, she would say, “Okay, you’re up.” And I just got through the door. I just solved a bunch of adult problems, running an organization, then get home and have her say, “Okay, I’m done. I’m checkin’ out.” And I’d be goin’, “Wait a minute. Can I just change my clothes;’ can I …?”
David: I had a hard day, too, right.
Jim: Yeah, I called it the Gordian Knot, ‘cause there didn’t seem to be a way to undo this knot.
John: Uh-hm, yeah.
Jim: But how does a couple that’s living in that space, where the demand of the kids is quite high, knowing that, you know, I’m sure their mom and dad, when they tell their adult children, “It’ll get better” means nothing. (Laughter) ‘Cause, I mean, no, I’m drowning right now and I hate my husband and I … he’s not helping me and I’m not sure we’re gonna make it in our marriage because of this.” What do they do?
David: We have to up the teamwork. That lady knows that … if she knows that the man is doing his share of the chores, he’s already done some this morning, he’s maybe picked a kid up or two. And when he gets home, he’s gonna continue to help with the chores. So, it’s not one and the other or doing things separately. We’re doing this together.
Sandy would … used to do the same thing. Now with small kids and I just had to … I paced myself during the day and I was prepared to hear that, “Your turn, buddy; your children need you.” And she was just exhausted and she’s a great mom. I would say, “You know what? I’m up; batter up. Let me just change my clothes.”
In fact, the kids can be in the room, ‘cause they were … “Yeah, fine, let me go in the room with you.” Fine. So, I would just take over. She would leave for a half an hour or go to another part of the room, lock herself in just to kind of decompress. She only needed like 20 or 30 minutes. That’s not bad and then she would kind of rejoin and we would do things together, but always together, together, together, together.
Jim: How do us men, how do we get that in our head that it is our role as the leader of the home to not just assume that … I’m guilty of that, too. “Jean, man, I’m busy. You’re the CEO of the house,” I’ve said those words, I mean not hopefully, a long time ago (Laughter). But I mean, I … yeah, how do we break that mind-set to say, “Okay, I’ve got to pitch in. I’ve got to do my job and do it with joy.” The other mistake and I’ve made it is, you know, I’ve done the dishes and I’ve got the sourest look on my face, which earns me absolutely zero credit.
David: It’s almost worse!
Jim: Talk about the stupid male (Laughter).
David: I’ve done that, too. Look, I did that job for ya!
Jim: Did that count for anything?
David: I’d say a couple things. First the man has to realize what we’re doing is not working, all right. That’s insanity. We’re doing the same thing expecting different results. My wife is not close to me. We’re really kinda struggling here. She seems unhappy much of the time.
And then they have to grasp, what it took me 10 years to grasp, we are servant leaders. Leadership as Christ showed it is, I am gonna meet your needs. I’m gonna love you. I’m gonna do things that are good for you. I’m gonna die for you on the cross. I’m gonna sacrifice Myself. And when you do that with your wife, she will get energized. She’ll … the fatigue kinda melts away ‘cause she knows you’re crazy about her and you’re involved in helping her and then, it’s kinda balanced and you have more energy for each other, after the kids have wrung you dry.
Jim: Do you ever say to a couple give it 30 days and come back and tell me how it worked? Are you that confident?
David: I am. I’m that … if you’ll do, not just what I say, but the Bible is teaching you to do, it works every time. But they don’t quite believe that, ‘cause they’re not quite sure. But when they do it, of course, it works.
Jim: Okay, the wimp and the witch, what in the world are you talkin’ about?
David: This is the passive husband. Jacob is the poster husband for this. He was just absolutely wimpy and passive at home. His two wives ran the show, Rachel and Leah. They were bitter. They were resentful. They had this terrible competition and they ran his life. When he got back from taking care of the sheep and the goats and all the stuff he was doing and he was very successful in the world, when he got home, he was just a wimp and they ordered him around. They had no respect for him. They were the witches.
Jim: Hm and how does a guy break that habit?
David: You have to realize, this … you are not doing what God wants you to do. And no man, we all want to be manly men, you know. And you have to realize, I’m a pansy; I’m a wimp. And that’s what’s causing my wife’s disrespect. It’s a one-to-one correlation. Men will complain to me in my office, “Well, my wife doesn’t treat me with respect.” I’ll say, “No, duh; you’re a wimp.”
I told one guy this and he was like a … he was a motorcycle rider, had a big beard and he was like 300 pounds. I said, “You’re a wimp.” (Laughter) And he kinda edged forward on the couch. I said, ‘Don’t you dare.” (Laughter) I said, “I’m trying to help you.” His wife was sittin’ there. Often I’ll see a man separately so I can really nail him so the wife isn’t listening. But I said, “You are a good man and you are … you’re a manly man, but not at home. Ask your wife what she needs to see you as a leader. She knows exactly what’s on that list. Ask her. She’ll tell you.”
John: What kind of things was he so passive about that he was a wimp in the home?
David: [He] wasn’t doin’ the chores. It was the old, “I work hard all day” and he was successful. “And when I get home,” very traditional home, “I think it’s your job to do all those things.” Bad idea. Financially, she took care of all the finances. She was really raising the kids. If there was gonna be a vacation, she would organize the whole thing and even pack the car. I said to her, “You should just get in the car and drive off, because he shouldn’t be allowed to go.”
Jim: But you’re sayin’ somethin’ important there and that is, a lot of men think about being a wimp as not being the control person. That’s not what you’re saying.
Jim: You don’t step in and say, “Okay, I’m not gonna be a wimp” and you walk through the front door. “Okay, get over here. Stand over … do your homework. Make sure this gets …” That’s not what you’re talkin’ about.
David: Yeah, no.
Jim: Not being a wimp in a Christian context in the home means participation.
David: Right, I’m gonna roll up my sleeves. What can I do for you? What’s on that list? Now we have a basic list, Sandy and I, that I know these are my jobs and she shouldn’t have to ask me. I’m a man; I’ll take care of them and they’re posted most of the time. But I want to ask her every day to show that I’m a real leader sacrificially, “What can I do for you today?”
John: Jim, there are some couples, even some here at Focus who have the situation where the wife is … she likes to control everything. And so, the guy just says, “Yeah, well, whatever.”
David: Give me their names. I want to talk to those ladies.
John: Well, I … what can they do? Yeah, we talked about selfishness in husbands and in wives. It feels like that’s being a little selfish on the wife’s part and it doesn’t give him room to step up and be the leader.
David: It’s a very good point, John. I’ve seen those cases, too. The lady really is used to that control and actually likes it. I have to convince her, this is not God’s plan for you. It’s not being submissive. You’re not respecting your husband and it’s not working in terms of your husband’s behavior towards you.
Let’s talk about what’s going on in the marriage. And then she starts to see, okay, this … it’s your control that’s causing this problem. But then she’ll say, “Yeah, but he’s not gonna lead. I have to lead, because he won’t.” I say, “Great, we’re gonna change that starting right now. We’re gonna work together with God’s help. He’s gonna start leading.” And the truth is, it’s gonna be hard for her to step out of that role, to leave the wheel. Oh, I like it here. But it’s not working. And she’ll be so relieved when he starts leading, that she’ll start to see the benefit. But she has to be called on it.
Jim: Well, I love that. In many ways, you’re talking about the end game here, which is that power of commitment. How do we make that commitment? ‘Cause it seems that when we do it on our own power, it’s goin’ nowhere, just frustration and it doesn’t end in a good place. How do we find that power of commitment and do it well?
David: Every step of the way, we’re gonna bathe this in prayer. We’re gonna involve God in the discussion. So, when we’re talking, Sandy and I, or Betty and Bob are talking, we’re gonna start with God. What does God say in the Bible? And you can get that from The 10 Most Outrageous Couples Book, ‘cause that’s all Bible-based. And now we’re gonna talk about, with God’s help, we’re gonna have prayers. God, help us do this. We know it’s what You want us to do. This … that’s the power source. God, reveal to us what’s gonna stop us. It’s always blocks, always obstacles in the way from my past, your past, our relationship. What are we gonna have to do to get through, so we can really get where we want to go?
Jim: Dr. Clarke, one of the most often mentioned things here at Focus when people write or call or e-mail us for help, is I just feel like I no longer love my spouse. We have fallen out of love and therefore, we’re getting a divorce. That should not be the vocabulary of the Christian marriage, should it?
David: It should not be. That is a sinful statement. Now if they can admit that and they can further figure out why that happened. Culture says, it’s going to happen. Nothin’ you can do about it and it’s probably your partner’s fault and you need to find somebody new anyway. God says, talk about the honest reasons why this has happened. If I don’t love you anymore, that’s on me. That’s not on you. I’ve not been honest with you. I’m involved in some area of sin. I’m drifting away from you. I’m drifting from God. That my fault.
Jim: Why are those messages coming from the culture so much more powerful that our relationship with Christ?
David: Boy, ‘cause Satan is so good at what he does. If you analyze these sitcoms, on a research basis as a Christian psychologist and the movies, it’s all there–the lack of commitment and the lack of leadership. I mean, it’s really satanic. They don’t know; they’re just tools. They don’t even know what they’re doing, I don’t think, but Satan knows what he’s doing. He’s using them and that’s where he breaks us down. There’s no commitment, there is no trust, you’re not gonna last.
Love does not last, our culture screams that. That’s why you should have four, five, six, 10 partners over a lifetime until you die. ‘Cause when you die, nothing else happens. That’s what culture believes. Not true.
Jim: Let’s end on a high note though. You talk about marriage heroes. What are you getting at to find a marriage hero?
David: Boy, let’s look at the people in my book and of course, they’re in the Bible, that really did an outstanding job. Joseph and Mary come to mind. Oh, my goodness. The Proverbs 31 wife and her husband. There was a wonderful marriage there. She had a life outside the home. They were making decisions. Solomon and Shulameth in the Song of Songs, wow. These were heroes.
Abraham and Sarah had some great things. Adam and Eve had some great things. The common denominator is, we’re gonna do it God’s way. God’s at the center and we’re gonna do it His way and we’re gonna stay in this relationship no matter what. Jacob and Leah and Rachel, terrible marriages, but they didn’t quit. There was no quit in them. They just kept going and God wants that.
Jim: And that’s what we need to do today. I think especially in the culture, as you know, the culture continues to strive and to grow darker and darker toward those things that God has put in our heart, like marriage, the redefinition of marriage now that the culture is trying to redefine that and is succeeding. We need, in the Christian community, [to] step up and to be that salt and light in our marriages and in our families, because I think as it grows darker in the culture, Dr. Clarke, the witness of the church will grow brighter. And people who are wanting more out of life hopefully, will see something in our marriages and in our families that is so compelling that they’ll even ask, what is it that you have that I don’t have? Something’s there. Wouldn’t that be a great situation?
David: Boy, you’re not kidding. And I think that’s exactly what can happen. And they’ll think, you know what, this is actually better than what Satan is offering or the world offers me. It’s infinitely better. Satan offers a life of misery and shame and if you don’t trust Jesus, going to hell. His way never works. It seems to work temporarily, because of the pleasure but uh, ultimately disaster.