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Adding Some Spice to Your Marriage

Original Air Date 09/30/2016

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Pastor and author Ted Cunningham combines humor with practical advice for enjoying more connection and intimacy in your marriage.

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Episode Transcript



Pastor Ted Cunningham: Early in our marriage I had to tell her, I go, "Listen, baby, there's just not a lot of adventure left for men in the world anymore, okay. So, please let me find my own parking space, okay? I want to do it all by myself." (Laughter)

End of Teaser

John Fuller: (Laughing) On today's "Focus on the Family," Pastor Ted Cunningham shares some really fun insights about how you can have a more enjoyable relationship with your spouse. Your host is Focus president, Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. I'm John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Hey, John, this message from Ted Cunningham had a huge response when we aired it in September. And so, we're bringin' it back as one of our top programs of the year. This was recorded for our Date Night Challenge Comedy Edition, which gives churches an opportunity to provide a fun evening out for couples who are looking for that date night, that special date night. And if you like what you hear today, you can get a copy of the entire date night DVD when you get in touch with us.

John: Yeah, it's great material and as you'll hear, it was a lot of fun for couples who attended. And here now, Ted Cunningham, the pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri on today's Best of 2016 edition of "Focus on the Family."


Audience: (Applause)

Pastor Ted Cunningham: Well, it is good to be here. Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure." Now I grew up in an Independent Fundamental Premillennial King James Version-Only Baptist Church. (Cheers and Laughter) And so, I really shouldn't even be here tonight. (Laughter). Anyway I grew up in a church, in a home that taught me how to love Jesus, but I grew up in a church and a home that taught me how to honor purity, but not necessarily how to honor marriage.

So, you can imagine, seven years into marriage, one night my wife was in bed reading a book on how men think. It's not a real thick book. (Laughter) You can read it in about a night. (Laughter) And I remember her reading this book and flippin' the pages and I could tell she was gettin' more and more mad, (Laughter), getting' more and more frustrated.

And I told her for years, "The problem with our marriage is, you read too much. (Laughter) [If] you'd stop readin', we'd have a better marriage." And she's flippin' these pages and she finally sets the book down and she goes, "I have to ask you a question and I need an honest answer." She said, "Have you ever struggled with lust towards another woman?"

Now let me teach you somethin'. (Laughter) All right, you start by acting as though you didn't hear the question. (Laughter) "Huh?" (Laughter) "Have you ever struggled with lust towards another woman?" Tactic two, you act as though you didn't understand the question. (Laughter) "What do you mean?" (Laughter) But then I knew we were going there.

We were gonna have a long conversation about the way men think. And for the week as we discussed this, we'd walk into stores and anytime a woman would walk towards me, Amy would look right at me and I'd have to look right to the ground. That was (Laughter) for the whole week. At the (Laughter) end of the week—this is a true story—she comes up to me and she said, "I've been gettin' some discipleship. I've been reading everything I can get my hands on."

Who's the first person she had to go hear? Right, she had to find out what Beth Moore said about the subject (Laughter), 'cause if Beth Moore said it, Jesus believes it. (Laughter and Applause) And she said, "I'm gonna tell you somethin' right now, Ted Cunningham. I will be your only fantasy. Okay, there's a Hebrew term for that. You know what the Hebrew term is? Bow, bow, chicka, chicka, bow, bow. (Laughter)

But I think Christians should be leading out in this. Husband and wife, the marriage bed kept pure. We can have a lot of creative ideas in the marriage bedroom without bringing anything from the world into it. And all God's people said--

Audience: Amen!

Ted: --you're like, "I don't know. (Laughter) Depends on how far he's gonna go with this." I'm gonna start with the guys just to help you out, 'cause I love you and I care for you and this is pastoral care tonight. I want to give you a list on how to prepare your wife for a night of romance, okay. And if you haven't taken any notes, this is the time to start. (Laughter) You get your phone out and you start writin' it down, because we believe in our home, men are microwaves; women are Crock-Pots. (Laughter) That's No. 1. (Laughter) We actually got a candle that we call the Crock-Pot candle and when that candle's lit, it means tonight's the night. (Laughter)

I taught my kids to play with matches. "You guys light that thing anytime you want." (Laughter and Applause) "I've lost count of how many times we've blown the candle out because of you kids." (Laughter) But the candle can be lit and it means, "okay, we have all day." So, guys this is all day we're preparing her for a night of romance.

Okay, No. 1, it starts early in the morning. No. 2, give her a non-sexual touch before you leave the house. That's what we call a NST, okay? Dr. Gary Smalley says, you need 12 of those a day and it's not, one, two three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12. (Laughter) You know what a non-sexual touch is, right? It's the hair over the ear. It's a hand on the back. It's maybe opening a door and the hand on the small of the back. Driving down the road, a hand on the thigh, holding hands, a gentle kiss on the cheek. That's a non-sexual touch, okay?

Call her during the day. Just add it to the list. Call her during the day for no purpose other than to connect with her, just to say, "Hey, hey, how're you doin'? I'm just callin' to say, I want you to know, I'm at work, but I'm thinking of you." Mm! (Laughter) Get home a little bit early. Do something domestic. (Laughter) If you beat your wife home, get the dishwasher started. The key here is you don't even need dishes in it; just get the dishwasher started. (Laughter) The sound of the dishwasher goin' on does somethin' to my wife! I can't explain it. But when I do any sort of cleaning around the house, and when she just looks at me, we don't even have to communicate with words anymore. She looks at me like, "You're my man." (Laughter) The candle is lit. (Laughter)

Download a lovemaking playlist. Oh, this is good. We got songs. You got songs? We grew up in the '80s. We got songs. All I have to do and if I don't even play it, if I sing it, it's even better. (Laughter) And I want to give you permission to join me as I start singin' this song, okay? See, some of you know, oh, it's gonna be good, but it's good.

Listen, all I have to do is walk into the kitchen and start singin' this (Singing), "Now I had the time of my life (Laughter), no never felt like this before. (Laughter) This I swear." And she jumps in the air. I grab her (Laughter and Applause) and off we go.

Now see, all of this is building, right? And I try to help my brothers along in this, because they're like, well, we don't really connect all day and we've been tired and well, she's workin' and I'm workin' and we're doin' the kids' activities and we're getting' home, but I always like to go into the kitchen about 9 o'clock and tap her and be like, "Hey, baby, do you want to go?" (Laughter) And she says, "No. (Laughter) Like you haven't prepared me." Right, for a woman, sexual interest is driven by energy.

Program Note:

John: Pastor Ted Cunningham from a Date Night Challenge event here here on "Focus on the Family" and stay tuned. In a few moments you'll hear why it's important for you to learn to be compatible with your husband or wife. Now we have a CD or audio download of this broadcast and a DVD of the entire Date Night Challenge Comedy Edition, which features some great laughter. Along with Ted Cunningham is has John Branyan and Jason Earls and you can find details when you call 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or at Let's go ahead and return now to more from Ted Cunningham on "Focus on the Family."

End of Program Note

Ted: This is why you have to remove distraction. In our home right now, we got a 10-year-old distraction and a 12-year-old distraction. (Laughter) And most nights, the candle's lit, I have to run around the house goin', "Stay away from your mother," right. "Leave her alone; go to your room right now." (Laughter) "I just have to say somethin' to mom." "No, you're gonna say nothin' to mom." (Laughter) "You're gonna leave mom alone." (Laughter) "You can talk to her in the morning." (Laughter)

You've done all this work. You've worked for 12 hours (Laughter) and the kid can say or do somethin', "Oh, I'm not really in the mood." "You stay focused! (Laughter) I'll take care of the kids." (Laughter)

You gotta bring some candles into the bedroom and this is where the ladies start to go, "I'm kinda insecure about my body." Well, put a votive in the far corner of the room. Make 'em squint, but get a candle." (Laughter) Okay, that's enough for the guys.

Ladies, here's my list for you on how to prepare your husband for romance. Show up naked. That's it. (Laughter and Applause)We don't need no calls during the day just to see how we're doin'. (Laughter) We're fine. (Laughter) The house doesn't even need to be clean. You would be amazed at how dirty it can be. (Laughter) Marriage should be honored by all. You know, that means every single, every married, young, old, it doesn't matter, all of us are called to esteem marriage as highly valuable.

I think we've gotten away from this next key verse in the Scripture. It's found in Ecclesiastes. I love the book ends of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 1, "Life is hard." Ecclesiastes 12, "Then you die." (Laughter) That's why a lot of people avoid that book, but generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. And then you get to chapter 12, and it says what? "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come when you say, 'I find no pleasure in them.'" It's old age.

Here [are] the book ends: life is hard, then you die. But in the middle of this book is Ecclesiastes 9, 7 to 9. It says this: "Go and eat your food with gladness. Drink your wine with a joyful heart." We were independent, fundamental, premillennial, King James version-only Baptists. We never did that part. (Laughter) We left that part out. (Laughter)

It says eat your food with gladness. Drink your wine with a joyful heart, for now God favors what you do, but not the Independent Baptists, but God favors it. (Laughter) "Always be clothed in white and always anoint your head with oil," speaking there of joy and festivity. And then verse 9 says this: "Endure life with your wife all your miserable days." (Laughter)

I love going to churches were Bibles are closed and I misquote that verse like that. I'll say, "Endure life with your wife all your miserable days." And I'll always get a few, "Mm!" (Laughter) "It's good; it's good." (Laughter) And I'll say, "That's not what it says. You know what it says and it's the only place in your Bible where it says this. "Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all your meaningless days, for this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun."

In other words, you can enjoy life and marriage at the same time. Part of esteeming marriage as highly valuable is reminding all of us that you don't have to choose between life and wife. (Laughter) I want you to think about this for just a second, just a second. E-Harmony,, comes on the screen. (Laughter)

But think about the guy who's sittin' at home right now in a bad marriage or in a stuck marriage or the wife is in a bad marriage, a stuck marriage. They see the twirling couple on the screen. You've seen 'em. Guy comes on. "They found their soul mate. We have an algorithm that all you have to do is take a test. It puts you with the perfect person." And he's goin', "Oh! Look how happy they look. They're enjoying life. I'd like to enjoy life like that maybe again one day. I did before marriage. (Laughter) But now I'm married and our problem is we never took a test." (Laughter)

You know, our culture really is fallin' for this idea, that compatibility is something you find or something you test for and that's just not true. Compatibility is something you create. You learn to enjoy one another. You learn to be compatible. My wife and I, we are different. I grew up in a home that taught savings was money you put away for a rainy day. She grew up in a home that taught savings was the difference between the actual price and the sale price. (Laughter) Does anybody know what I'm talkin' about? (Laughter)

But with our money, we're learning to become compatible. She grew up [celebrating] the holidays; we weren't compatible with the holidays. They're comin' up again. My wife grew up in the White House, right? A tree in every room, garland over every door, lights everywhere. My family decorated for Christmas on a commercial break. Does anybody know what I'm talkin' about? (Laughter) Dad would go over to the crawl space, pull out a three-foot predecorated tree and put it on the deal, pull off the garbage bag and we'd sing "Joy to the World" and back to "That's Incredible." That's how it worked. (Laughter)

But not my wife and so, you can imagine every Christmas early on especially, by the time I'm gettin' the 57th box down out of the attic that says "Christmas Décor," I'm in no mood to celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior. (Laughter) Anybody with me? Am I the only one? I'm ticked off! (Laughter) But we're finding ways to be compatible.

Program Note:

John: Such an important lesson from Ted Cunningham and this is "Focus on the Family." You can get a CD or audio download of this presentation or a DVD of the entire Date Night Challenge Comedy Edition event, which features Ted, as well as a couple of other comedians, when you call 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or learn more at Let's return now to more from Ted Cunningham on "Focus on the Family."

End of Program Note

Ted: And here's one of the little tools that we've picked up. And actually I picked this up from my friends, Jason Earls and John Branyan. They're comedians and they what's called in comedy "The callback."

The callback, it's what makes your favorite comedian your favorite comedian. It's what makes your favorite sitcom your favorite sitcom. And here's how it works. Something happens. There's an event. You put a little space between the event, but then you bring the callback in at a later time. It's Jeff Foxworthy, right? Anytime he says, "You might be a redneck," we all die laughin'. Bill Engvall, "Here's your sign," right. Those are the callbacks those guys have.

And we've decided we need some callbacks in our marriage in order to enjoy one another. My wife, she's a foodie. Do we have any foodies in here? Let me see the hands of all the foodies. Okay, I'm not a foodie. What a "foodie" means is, you go into a restaurant and you never leave full. That's the definition of a foodie (Laughter), small portions, big prices.

We're in New York. She walks me into this restaurant and I sit down. I'm like "Oh, this is gonna be bad." I'm not gonna get enough food. [The] waiter walks over. He has a plank and there's a mint leaf sticking out this side and a mint leaf stickin' out that side and I asked him, is that the salad? (Laughter) Is this where we're startin' this thing? And I kid you not, he says, "No, here's what the chef recommends, that you take the mint leaf and you begin rubbing it over your lips (Laughter) and under your nose and on your chin and just really begin. It's gonna prepare you for the meal."

I look over, my wife's totally into it. (Laughter) I'm still holdin' mine. (Laughter) And I told the guy, I said, "You know, I grew up in Illinois (Laughter) where we grew a lot of produce, we just never once thought about rubbing it on our faces." (Laughter) "And I think if a husband and a wife are gonna rub vegetables on their face together, I think it should be done in privacy and you don't even need to be here right now." (Laughter and Applause)

He wouldn't leave, so he wouldn't leave. I decided I'm gonna wear this mint leaf out, so I'm (Laughter) rubbin', I hand it back to him and he takes it off. But now watch the callback, 'cause my wife knows that is just not a comfortable situation for me. And I hear guys say this to me a lot. They'll say things like, "Oh, that's her thing; it's not my thing." But compatibility is her thing becoming your thing and your thing becoming her thing, finding ways to enjoy it.

So, here's the callback on that one. Now when we're at my favorite restaurant, "Le Cracker Barrel ," (Laughter) all I have to do is lean over, grab a piece of her broccoli and go like that a little bit (Laughter) and she's ready to go. (Laughter) We've become more compatible in this area, too. Early in our marriage I had to tell her, I go, "Listen, baby, there's just not a lot of adventure left for men in the world anymore, okay. So, please let me find my own parking space, okay? I want to do it all by myself." (Laughter) "I want to provide it for my family." (Laughter) She'd point a spot three spaces in, I'd drive 20 spaces down (Laughter) and she used to look at me with those eyes that said, "You stubborn, stubborn man," but not anymore.

You know what part of becoming compatible requires, and enjoying life together requires? You have to fire one another as the source of life. Jesus is our source of life, not one another (Applause) So, here's what we did and I'm gonna ask you, I'm gonna invite you to be a part of doing this with us. I'm gonna have you raise your right hand and repeat after me. Go ahead. This is the participatory part of the night.

Raise your right hand; repeat after me, "I—

Audience: I—

Ted: --state your name.

Audience: --state your name (Laughter)

Ted: Everybody's part of the comedy tour now. (Laughter) Do hereby resign—

Audience: Do hereby resign—

Ted: --as general manager of the universe--

Audience: --as general manager of the universe—

Ted: --and my spouse.

Audience: --and my spouse".

Ted: Okay, now watch this; this is the best part. Take your finger for the very last time, that finger that has been pointing blame at your spouse for years for your unhappiness, point it at your spouse for the very last time and say these words that will set you free in Jesus. Say, "You're fired."

Audience: "You're fired."

Ted: "You will no longer suck the life out of me." (Laughter) "Jesus is my source of life, not you ." You don't have to keep repeating; I'm teaching now. (Laughter) But some of you are really gettin' into that. "And I'll say another thing!" (Laughter) Okay, so stay with me. We're almost done for the night.

So, now because we fired one another as the source of life, no more "You will not." So, now guess that does? It turns conflict into fun, turns it into that callback where we're able to enjoy one another even in a parking lot. And so, now we pull in and she points. I've told her. The rules of the parking lot have not changed. From the foundations of the earth, God set up the rules. When a woman points out a spot, [it] automatically disqualifies that spot. (Laughter) It's no longer an available spot. (Laughter) So, I'd go pass her third space in, 20 spaces down and there I sit. And you know what she does now and I love it. She leans over and she starts massaging my bicep. (Laughter) And she'll say (Whispering), "You did this all by yourself." (Laughter) And I can't fully explain it, but it does somethin' to me. (Laughter)

You know what I caught her doin' a couple years ago? She knows those Andes Candies at the end of an Olive Garden meal are like crack to me. I love those Andes Candies. (Laughter) She bought a bag of 'em. She keeps 'em in her purse for when I do something good. (Laughter) And it was in a parking lot I received my first one. She pulled it out (Laughter), she handed it to me. I grabbed that out of her hand. I'm openin' it up and I realized (Laughter), "My wife just gave me a treat." (Laughter) " She is rewarding my good behavior." (Laughter) "I am dog!" (Laughter and Applause) I was all right. I opened it up and I enjoyed it anyway. (Laughter)

That's turning conflict into a callback and you just have to make the decision, right? The decision to stay married flows from your character. Commitment flows from character and character trumps compatibility. Compatibility flows from your character and we have received some great callbacks from those out on tour.

And one of my favorite ones comes from a guy. He said, "My wife called me at work one day and the toilet was running. And I told her to go over, take the lid off the top and look down. The chain's probably on the bottom. Just reach down and grab the chain, put it back." And he's explaining it to her and she goes, "Ew!" She says, "I'm not reachin' my hand in there. It's disgusting." And he goes, "Honey, it's clean water. It's like the water that comes out of the sink." And he has to talk her into it. So, he finally talks her into reaching her hand in there, but right before (Laughing) she does, she asks him the question, "Uh! Am I gonna get electrocuted?" (Laughter) And he came up with the most brilliant callback. He said, "Honey, you have to unplug the toilet first." (Laughter)

Thank you very much, Date Night Comedy Tour. It's been great bein' with you. (Applause) You've been a lot of fun tonight. Thanks. (Applause)


John: And we've had a lot of fun listening to Pastor Ted Cunningham today on our Best of 2016 edition of "Focus on the Family."

Jim: Hey, John, that's some solid marriage advice, isn't it?

John: Unplug the toilet.

Jim: Yes, unplug that toilet. (Laughter) Hey, I'm so glad Ted Cunningham was able to contribute to our Date Night Challenge Comedy Edition, which also featured comedian Jason Earls and John Branyan, whom we'll be featuring on this broadcast the day after Christmas, so mark your calendars for that one. He is funny, as well.

And let me just remind you that you can get a copy of the DVD from us here at Focus on the Family and I'd suggest you use it for a really fun date night with your spouse, maybe invite some others to come over and enjoy it in your home. If you order it today, we can get it to you in time for Christmas and what a great gift for your spouse or a family member or a friend and what an encouragement it will be for their marriage.

When we aired this program in September, we heard from a listener who said, "What an awesome way to start my day, laughing through this entire message with Ted Cunningham. Thank you for the great truths, too. I'm gonna share this with all my married friends."

John: That's what we want. We want folks to go ahead and spread the word of this great message.

Jim: And you know, over the past year, over 700,000 people said that Focus on the Family has helped strengthen their marriage and often they were introduced to us by a friend. And maybe that's how you first heard about Focus on the Family and I am hopeful that we have helped strengthen your marriage. If so, can I ask you to please support us financially? We are a non-profit organization and we rely on your gifts to provide these radio programs, the video such as the comedy night, our staff counselors and other marriage resources to truly help people stay together. I think it's one of the most important things we can do in the culture today, is strengthen Christian marriages.

When you give us a gift of any amount, we'll send you the Date Night Challenge Comedy Edition DVD as our way of saying thank you and welcome to our marriage-building team. You're part of it. Reach out to us today. Generous friends of this ministry are offering to double your gift today by matching it dollar for dollar at this critical time of year. So, please give us a call or you can donate online.

John: And our number is 800- A -FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or you can make that donation and request the DVD at

Now if you've been enjoying our Best of 2016 radio programs, you'll definitely want to get the collection of CDs or audio downloads, which includes today's message and interviews with Al and Lisa Robertson of "Duck Dynasty," about their troubled marriage and how God intervened. Lysa TerKeurst, Kathi Lipp and other great guests joined us and it's a great collection for you to have on your shelf, listen again with a friend or to pass on to someone who needs a little marriage or parenting tune-up.

Well, have a great weekend and be sure to tune in on Monday as we continue our top programs of the year. Dr. Kathy Koch explains how important it is to discover and cultivate your child's unique gifts. That's on the next "Focus on the Family," as we once again, help you and your family thrive.

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Ted Cunningham

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Ted Cunningham is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Mo., a comedian on the Date Night Comedy Tour and a popular conference speaker at churches and events across the nation. He has authored several books including Fun Loving You and Trophy Child. He has also co-authored four books with Dr. Gary Smalley and one with his wife, Amy. Ted and Amy have two children, Corynn and Carson. Learn more about Ted by visiting his church's website.