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American Beliefs That Weaken Marriage

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What is the health of marriage in America today?

Two key social indicators give us two very different answers:

  • The overwhelming majority of young people hold marriage and parenting as two “extremely important” life goals, and this majority has actually grown slightly in the past few years (77 percent for men, 86 percent for women). L.D. Johnston., J. G. Bachman, & P.M. O’Malley, Monitoring the Future: Questionnaire responses from the nation’s high school seniors, 2005. (Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research, 2006); Arland Thornton and Linda Young-DeMarco, “Four Decades of Trends in Attitudes Toward Family Issues in the United States: The 1960s Through the 1990s,” Journal of Marriage and Family (2001) 63:1009-1037.
  • If you look at the choices people actually make however, the choice to marry and stay married has slowly and steadily declined over the past few decades while cohabitation, non-marital childbearing and childlessness are all increasing markedly. Divorce is leveling off finally, but at a very high level.Paul R. Amato, et al., Alone Together: How Marriage in American is Changing, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

So why can we value marriage so strongly as a highly important life goal, but act as if we don’t?

What do we believe individually and culturally that weakens marriage, both in the recent past and currently?

Of course, the answers to this question are complex, having many important and curious angles. The central reasons offered by leading family historians and sociologists are broken down below.

A) Marriage and Individualism: Distinctly American, but Contrary Values

  1. Individualism – Sociologist Robert Bellah, in his landmark study Habits of the Heart, states that “Individualism lies at the very core of American culture.”Robert N. Bellah, et al., Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1985), p. 142. It was this very spirit that led our ancestors to these shores, but in the last 50 years, it shifted from a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps type of rugged individualism to an expressive individualism. This new individualism is the pursuit of self-actualization and personal growth, in which our first allegiance is to express and act on the fulfillment of our unique needs and desires. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s recent comment to the Associated Press that he would die knowing he had met his “soul-mate” but that he would try to fall back in love with his wife couldn’t better demonstrate this value if it had been scripted by Hollywood.This individualism is at direct odds with our other key American value: successful marriage and family. As leading sociologist Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University explains, “Both cultural models [individualism and marriage] are so ingrained that Americans move from one set of tools to another without necessarily realizing it.”Andrew J. Cherlin, The Marriage Go Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009), p. 10. We saw this clearly in Gov. Sanford’s positioning. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead explains the impact of this conflict between our marriage/family value and expressive individualism:

    Beginning in the late 1950s, Americans began to change their ideas about the individual’s obligation to family and society. Broadly described, this change was away from an ethic of obligation to others and toward an obligation to self. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The Divorce Culture, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997), p. 4.

    Unfortunately but not surprisingly, the self-denial and sacrifice required for marriage and parenthood too often lose out to the desire of self. This is evidenced by the fact that two-thirds of divorces in America stem, not from abusive or seriously troubled marriages, but from “good-enough” marriages where husband and wife simply drift apart over time.Paul Amato and Alan Booth, A Generation at Risk: Growing Up in an Era of Family Upheaval, (Harvard University Press, 1997), p. 220. Expressive individualism isn’t always at odds with marriage per se, but it is at odds with the spirit of marriage. This feeds another American belief that weakens marriage.

  2. Expressive Marriage – This new form of marriage is centrally about the individual. I call these “eHarmony” or “soul-mate” marriages. The concern is certainly not with eharmony as a resource, but with their advertising strategy. In their commercials, marriage is primarily about me finding that other person out there who is just perfect for me: my soul-mate! As any older, successfully married couple will tell you, you don’t marry your soul mate. You marry a person you care for deeply and with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. And as you grow together – knocking the rough edges off each other – you forge a beautiful life together, becoming authentic soul-mates.The Ideal Marital Value – Sociologist Ann Swidler summarizes the authentic Christian ideal of marriage as pointedly as the most capable pastor. She explains,

    In the evangelical Christian view, then, love involves placing duty and obligation above the ebb and flow of feeling, and, in the end, finding freedom in willing sacrifice of one’s own interest to another. … Christian love is, in the view of its practitioners, built on solider stuff than personal happiness or enjoyment. It is, first, a commitment, a form of obedience to God’s word. In addition, love rests less on feeling than on decision and action. Real love may even, at times, require emotional self-denial, pushing feelings back in order to live up to one’s commitments. Most critical in love are a firm decision about where one’s obligations lie and a willingness to fulfill those obligations in action, independent of the ups and downs of one’s feelings. … Only by having an obligation to something higher than one’s own preference or one’s own fulfillment, they insist, can one achieve a permanent love relationship. Bellah, et al.,1985, p. 95-97.

    Note the stark difference here from an eHarmony ad-script. Even the secular Jewish psychoanalyst, Erich Fromm, is truer to the ideal of the Christian marriage script than many Christians today.

    Love should be essentially an act of will, a decision to commit my life completely to that of another person. This is indeed the idea behind the idea of the insolubility of marriage. … To love someone is just not a strong feeling – it is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling may come and it may go. Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving: An Enquiry in the Nature of Love, (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1956), p. 55-56.

B) Historical/Social Shifts

  1. Companionate Marriage – In 1945, ground-breaking sociologist Ernest Burgess noted that marriage in America had been shifting “from an institution to a companionship” over the previous few decades.Ernest W. Burgess and H.J. Locke, The Family: From Institution to Companionship, (New York: American Book, 1945). This was a profound shift, reaching its peak in the 1950s, motivated by changing national economics and the rise of suburban life, leading to the single-earner breadwinner/homemaker marriage where husband and wife became companions, lovers and friends first, and then co-collaborators in etching out a living. Thus, marriage became a significant source of satisfaction for the couple (as opposed to the individual focus that would come later), rather than an institution that served as a necessary structure for community connection and survival. This new form of marriage was exemplified by the marital durability and happiness seen in the 1950s, which also resulted and benefited from the lingering institutional view of marriage. It is not difficult to see, however, how companionate marriage served as a transition point from marriage as an institution that laid claims and responsibilities upon two people to marriage as a relational vehicle focused primarily on self-fulfillment.Marriage historian and sociologist Andrew Cherlin explains how companionate marriage led to this more modern form:

    When people evaluated how satisfied they were with their marriages, they began to think more in terms of the development of their own sense of self and the expression of their feelings, as opposed to the satisfaction they gained through building a family and playing the roles of spouse and parent. The result was a transition from the companionate marriage to what we might call the individualized marriage. Andrew J. Cherlin, “The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage,” Journal of Marriage and Family, 66 (2004): 848-861, p. 852.

    And while the spread of no-fault divorce laws throughout the nation in the 1970s and 80s legally permitted easier divorce, it was this individualized or expressive view of marriage which drove Americans to seek divorce in dramatic numbers. Moving to better marriages made for happier adults and happier adults were better parents and happier parents meant happier children, or so the reasoning went. But it didn’t work out as rosy as all that. Divorce is not as likely to lead to greater happiness when compared to couples who commit to improve their unhappy marriage.Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, (Doubleday, 2000), pp. 148-149. And the view of divorce changed. Rather than seen as a family tragedy, divorce was now seen as a new kind of success; a bold, assertive move to take control of one’s life – especially for women. This new form of divorce is referred to by sociologists as “expressive divorce.”Whitehead, 1997, p. 45-65.

  2. Working Women – Companionate (breadwinner/homemaker) marriage gave way increasingly to dual-earner marriages as women’s educational and work opportunities improved in the early 60s. This gave wives and single women more economic stability and independence. These developments are generally considered positive changes for women in general, but they also had a weakening effect on marriage and family.The working wife was less dependent on her husband’s income and now felt more liberty to leave a bad marriage. And the single working woman did not feel the need to “get a man” as quickly because she could find better employment and independence, as portrayed in the 1970s Mary Tyler Moore Show. The new working woman certainly wanted a man, but she could be more selective in finding “Mr. Right” because she felt less pressure to settle for “Mr. Good-Enough” now. Interestingly, after all these years, The Atlantic recently featured a major article authored by a single mother who encouraged her single peers to settle for Mr. Good-Enough because doing so is more likely, she argued, to yield greater total life happiness and contentment than holding out for the elusive Prince and never finding him.Lori Gottlieb, “Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good-Enough,” The Atlantic, March 2008, p. 76-83.
  3. The Pill – In July 1961, G.D. Searle & Co. made available the first birth control pill. The effectiveness of this powerful pill created a significant personal and cultural psychological disconnect between the sexual act and the possibility of children. And since this pill was managed by the woman privately, and separate from the sexual act itself, a resultant child was increasingly seen by men as the woman’s responsibility. If she became pregnant, the personal or cultural pressure upon him to “do the right thing by her” and get a “shotgun wedding” was increasingly dampened because the man saw the woman as responsible for her own “protection.” The Pill’s impact upon marriage in terms of sexual opportunism, father responsibility and the blessing of children has been profound.Elizabeth Siegel Watkins, On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950-1970, (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998); Cherlin, 2009, p. 8.
  4. No Good Men – A greeting card asks the question, “Why are men like parking spaces?” Answer: “All the good ones are taken.” That has been the cry of twenty-something women over the past few decades. Now we hear, “Why aren’t their any good men to begin with?” Young women are realizing the problem is not that they showed up too late, but that there are very few “marriage material” men to be found even by those who did show up early. As one professional 26-year-old women explained about her highly male-populated MBA program, “There’s a reason those men are left in the pool. They are either drinking themselves silly on the weekends, or they want the ‘fun’ of a relationship without the commitment.” She smartly summed up the state of the game among this abundance of second-rate males, “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Why Are There No Good Men Left: The Romantic Plight of the New Single Woman, (New York: Broadway Books, 2003), pp. 57-58. These girls will tell you, speaking of maturity and quiet confidence, there are far more Will Ferrells out there than Will Smiths. And if women cannot find good men to marry, no marriage. So they remain single or just move in with a guy to see how it might work out.

C) Misc. Attitudinal Shifts

  1. De-narrated Marriage – Young people today do not have an over-arching narrative for understanding what marriage is or should be beyond their own personal happiness and contentment. Largely because of widespread divorce among their parents, they have no larger context for its meaning, purpose or reasons to work hard at it. Of course, this is another result of individualized or expressive marriage. Novelist Douglas Coupland, the chronicler of the last two generations’ fears and feelings, explains what this absence of narrative produces in young lives.

    One factor that sets us apart from other animals is that our lives need to be stories, narratives, and when our stories vanish, that is when we feel lost, dangerous, out of control and susceptible to the forces of randomness. It is the process whereby one loses one’s life story: denarration. Douglas Coupland, Polaroids from the Dead, (New York: Regan Books, 1996), p. 179.

    Marriage is now denarrated. And with it, any reason that marriage itself should make demands upon us.

  2. Cohabitation – The fastest growing family form today is cohabitation, the most prevalent type of relationship among twenty-somethings. Nonmarital child-bearing is its closest challenger. Many young people (and the not-so-young) are cohabiting today, not so much out of an anti-marriage attitude, but out of fear of failing at marriage. Cohabitation is a place-holder relationship until Mr/Mrs Right comes along, or to see if Mr/Mrs Right is really all that right.Cohabitation however, rather then strengthening future marriages, is actually more likely to harm them.Amato, et al., 2007, p. 21. One reason is that people who are cohabiting learn to negotiate with each other in less healthy ways because the relationship is less defined in terms of commitment and solidity. Therefore manipulation and power plays are more likely to be a part of negotiations.
  3. Sex and Gender Roles Don’t Matter – Same-sex “marriage” is a harm to marriage and this radical new relational form only makes sense if we agree that marriage is not necessarily about children nor male or female, but only exists for the satisfaction of an androgynous couple or individual adult. But heterosexuality itself is very confused about the importance of male and female in marriage. Most men do not know their role in marriage, nor do women. In fact, many groups find the previous sentence highly offensive on its face. But we are confused as to how to be men and women in the family today.Connected to the “no good men” item above, men are at a loss for knowing how to lead and protect their families. A feminized culture sees male leadership as putting his wife in a subservient position? But this leadership has more to do with faithful servanthood than patriarchy. And the reticence and timidity on the part of men causes women to feel they need to fill the gap which they often do with subtle attitude and quiet resentment toward their husbands. Researchers find this male reticence moves the wife into a “gatekeeper” role in marriage and parenting, further crowding out the man.Sarah J. Shoppe-Sullivan, et al., “Maternal Gatekeeping, Coparenting Quality, and Fathering Behavior in Families with Infants,” Journal of Family Psychology, (2008) 22:389-398.
  4. Wedding as Status Symbol – Increasingly, the wedding and marriage are status-statements of achievement, rather than about forging a life together forever. Professor Cherlin explains marriage has “evolved from a marker of conformity to a marker of prestige.” Marriage is now “a status one builds up to … It used to be the foundation of adult personal life; now it is sometimes the capstone.”Cherlin, 2004, p. 855. The wedding itself has increasingly become a symbol of one’s professional and material achievements and a major step in their self-development; a sign that one has achieved, rather than the institution that helps the couple/partnership achieve their dreams. And those who don’t think they have achieved are less likely to marry.What is more, couples would never think of staging a wedding without elaborate plans and great forethought, but usually do exactly that with their marriage.
  5. Premarital Sex is of No Consequence – For most young people, in and out of the Church, there is very little appreciation that premarital sex – with or without your future spouse – has a substantial impact on marital health. Research consistently shows that the most sexually satisfied adults are married couples with no pre-marital sexual history, but this is lost in our over-sexualized culture. And our sexual histories are often unwittingly brought into the marriage bed, plaguing and clouding the relationship between the husband and wife. We take early sexual experiences into our later relationships and they can cause serious trouble for the marriage.F. Scott Christopher and Susan Sprecher, “Sexuality in Marriage, Dating, and Other Relationships: A Decade Review,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62 (2000): 999-1017.

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Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 2

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 2

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage - Part 2

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 2

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

As a spouse, you have three roles to play—a friend, a partner, and a lover. On this one-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Pastor Kevin A. Thompson explores those different roles and challenges you to live them out by investing emotionally, physically, and mentally in your relationship. As friends, he suggests we learn to play and laugh together. As partners, he equips us with solid ways to handle conflict and communication. As lovers, he offers some thoughts on how to bring back the sizzle. He shares five keys to saving your marriage: humility, respect, mercy, communication, and resilience. You’ll be encouraged to intentionally invest in your marriage.

Headshot of Kevin Thompson

Pastor Kevin Thompson

Kevin A. Thompson (MDiv, Beeson Divinity School) is lead pastor at Community Bible Church, a growing multi-site church with four locations in western Arkansas. Every year he meets with nearly one hundred couples with a range of needs, from pre-marital counseling to navigating the most serious betrayals. A marriage and parenting conference speaker, he and his wife, Jenny, have two children and live in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He blogs at kevinathompson.com.

Cover image of Kevin Thompson's book "Friends, Partners & Lovers"

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

With engaging stories and clear, simple language, pastor Kevin Thompson shows how to live out three distinct roles in marraige. Using solid biblical principles, he helps you and your spouse grow your friendship, be supportive partners through the good times and the bad, and develop a healthy and satisfying sex life.

Sharing Your Faith with Grace and Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faith—you just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the “Columbo” tactic of asking questions, the “self-defeating argument” tactic to find holes in your opponent’s arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

Tactics front cover

Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, you’ll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 1

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!