Focus on the Family Broadcast   >>   All Episodes

Responding Well in Marital Conflict (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date 02/18/2013

Get Social and Listen

Author and counselor Leslie Vernick discusses how to respond wisely and biblically when wronged by your spouse. (Part 1 of 2)

Listen here, watch recent episodes on our YouTube channel, or download our app.

Episode Transcript



Man: What do you mean, we don’t talk anymore?

Woman: When was the last time we sat down and just had a conversation?

Man: For cryin’ out loud, what do you think we’re doin’ now? I could be watchin’ the game. I could be playing the computer.

Woman: Watch your silly game, okay—

Man: Fine!

Woman: --alone.

Man: I usually do.

End of Teaser

John Fuller: That’s a pretty unpleasant scene, a husband and wife just ripping into each other with uncaring, hurtful words, and you can tell it is not going to end pretty. In fact, we probably just heard the end there. Worst of all, that kind of exchange um, any attempt to reconcile is gonna be really difficult. Now, maybe you’ve experienced a painful conflict like that with your spouse. There are better ways to respond. You’re gonna hear more about those on today’s Focus on the Family with Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I realize not every couple but many couples have gone through an embarrassing right or discussion or whatever you wanna call it where in retrospect you say to yourself, “how could I be so insensitive?” Those situations are painful reminders of what earthly marriage is like between two imperfect people, sinful people who don’t always love each other well. But The Lord has something better for us, what The Bible calls a one flesh relationship. We don’t always understand what that means, but The Lord wants to transform our hearts and heal the wounds between husbands and wives so that we can be more selfless in how we treat each other. I believe God’s purpose for marriage is to reveal our sinful nature and teach us about forgiveness and help us become more like Jesus and in my mind that’s more selfless. If you’re listening to this broadcast right now thinking about the struggles you’re facing with your spouse, I hope you’ll contact us here at Focus on the Family. We want to help you experience God’s best in your relationship, and we have our counseling team and many other resources that can address whatever issues you’re facing.

John: And as you’ve said Jim, we’ve pretty much heard it all over the past 40 plus years. So please contact us, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or online you’ll find help at

Jim: Now our guest today is Leslie Vernick. She’s a licensed counselor, a life coach, an author. She has great insights on marriage and a compassionate heart to help husbands and wives love each other well and in Godly ways.

John: And here’s how the conversation with Leslie began on Focus on the Family.


Jim: Leslie, what motivated you first of all, to ... to come up with this title, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong?

Leslie Vernick: Well, two things, one, in my professional life, I’m always looking as a counselor, for books that I can give a client to read. And oftentimes, um ... you know, when someone’s discouraged in their marriage, it’s difficult, they’re not getting the response they want, they ... you know, get a book and they read it and they think, okay, if I do this and do that and try harder this and try ... then my marriage’ll be better.

Leslie: And so, those books are available. But there was no book available to say to someone, and if your marriage doesn’t get better, why should we do this? Why should we do this? And so, I wrote that book for that reason professionally. But I also wrote the book because I had an experience where my husband acted right when I acted wrong and it made such a profound difference in the way things went. And I thought, I’ve got to teach other people this.

Jim: It’s an easier book to write than when you acted right and your husband acted wrong (Laughing).

Leslie: Right. So ... so this is the story. I was on a deadline for some articles that I needed to write. I was behind in personal things. Laundry was all over the place. The house was a mess. You know, kids needed this and all that. And I was crabby and probably other things were going on.

And so, when I’m crabby, I tend to be critical of my husband. And so, I was, you know, being the little biting and devouring. And I’d say to him, “You know, you never help me around here.” And he might at that moment say back typically, “What do you mean, I never help you around here? I did this; I did that. Just last week I did that.”

And ... but he didn’t this time. Well, he turned to me and he said, “Okay. How can I help you?” Now you would’ve thought that, that would’ve sort of stopped me in my tracks. But I just kept rollin’ right on and I said, “You know what? This is what you can do to help me. I hate cooking dinner. In fact, I hate even planning dinner. In fact, I hate even shopping for dinner. You could cook, plan and shop for the entire dinners next week. That’s what you could do to help me.” And he did. And we had hot dogs (Laughter), frozen pizza twice.

Jim: Twice.

Leslie: Twice.

Jim: That’s very nutritious.

Leslie: Those little chicken nuggets that you buy in the packets.

Jim: Yeah.

Leslie:: But it was an incredible gift that he acted right when I acted wrong. Because when he said, “Okay, I’ll do that,” it just like stopped me dead.

Jim: Hm.

Leslie: And I began to repent. You know, “I’m so sorry I treated you that way. Thank you for loving me.” It just sort of stopped two sinners from sinning against each other at the same time. I was sinning and he was responding right. And it just stopped it. And it was su ... an incredible gift to our marriage.

Jim: Did you ever ask him what motivated him? ‘Cause you were expecting something else from him. What--

Leslie: I wasn’t thinking--

Jim: --motivated ...?

Leslie: --about what I was gonna get, but typically I would’ve gotten some push back--

Jim: Yeah.

Leslie: --on that. And I guess he just ... in that moment, God gave him an incredible desire to not retaliate and just to overcome evil with good, if you look at the theological terms. But I think it was, just he saw I was so much at the end of my rope, he wanted to help me. And it was just a gift of love that he gave me. But it sort of opened my eyes to say, wow! If I could motivate and encourage other couples to really focus on this, because we really don’t focus on this at all. We think well, you treated me wrong; I’m gonna treat you wrong. And it just goes tit for tat and it just goes downhill from there.

And so, even when one person’s acting wrong, what can we do to respond rightly? And what looks right in one marriage may not be the right thing in another marriage. And so, I don’t want to say there’s a cookie-cutter approach to this. But sort of started the ball rolling and so, that’s where the book came from.

Jim: Why is doing the right thing so often the path less chosen--

John: Hm.

Jim: --for human beings? Why ... why do we typically not choose the right thing to do?

Leslie: I think there’s a number of reasons, but I just think first of all, we’re not intentional. We don’t really think about it. Nobody sets out when they say their marriage vows, that I think I’m gonna destroy this marriage. You know, nobody says that. They think we’re gonna have this great marriage.

But what happens in marriage is, that when someone upsets us or disappoints us and sometimes it can be just as hard for the person who lives with the person who’s maybe chronically uncommunicative or sloppy, it can be just as hard for that person to live gracefully with their spouse, as it is for a person with the more serious sins, like adultery and abuse.

And sometimes we’re uh ... negative and disappointed and critical over the minor things in our marriage. And that makes things much worse, because we have these expectations that people should do everything I want them to do and be just like me. And it’s not gonna happen in marriage.

Jim: Hm. Let me push on a tender spot for all of us uh ... and I see this in the American culture particularly. I’ve had the privilege of traveling to over 70 countries around the world with my work at Focus on the Family over the years. And one of the things when you look at our culture, it tends to be about happiness. Uh ... we like to be happy. And we have a right to be happy, ‘cause we’re Americans. But in that context, uh ... it’s not always God’s plan, is it?

Leslie: Well, it’s interesting that you mention that, ‘cause I did write a book on that called Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy, (Laughter) because that’s another thing I hear from people in my counseling practice, like, ‘Oh, God, I just want to be happy, so I guess I have to divorce this guy, because my personal trainer has now stolen my heart. And I just want to be happy, so let me get rid of my husband because he’s not making me happy anymore.”

Leslie: And it’s such a lie and so, let me start by saying, I think God does want us to be happy. It’s just His pathway of finding happiness is very different than the world’s.

Jim: Hm.

Leslie: And so, we’re gonna have to decide who’s voice we’re gonna listen to. If we look at the fruit of the Spirit, if He says I want you to feel love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control, those are great emotions. If we felt those things, we would feel happy, wouldn’t we?

Jim: Well, I would think so.

Leslie: And so, when God’s saying, “I want you to be filled with that. I want you to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit, we would be happy. It’s just that we’re thinking, we’re gonna be happy with some change in our outside circumstances.

And even psychologists these days have said that, that’s not gonna happen. You can win the lottery. You can change your marriage. You can get a bigger house, different job. It results in some temporary happiness, but not anything long-term.

Jim: But in fact, you talked about being at a conference where you spoke and they had your books on the table and there were some on happiness and some on persevering and learning the ... the fruit of the Spirit--those things you just mentioned. The books on happiness sold out, while (Chuckling) the other books sat unsold. Is--

Leslie: Because--

Jim: --that right?

Leslie: --because happiness appeals to our felt need. We all have a felt need for happiness. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But how we get it is very different. One of things that in marriage is really important for us to discern is, that God calls us to help our spouse, to meet their needs, right? That’s what a wife is supposed to do. That’s what a husband’s supposed to do.

The tricky part is, are we supposed to meet their felt needs or are we supposed to meet their real needs. Because felt needs and real needs are very different.

Jim: Give us a distinction between the two. I ... people--

Leslie: Okay.

Jim: --would be confused, I would think.

Leslie: So, every day I feel a need for chocolate. (Laughter) I have a strong felt need for dark chocolate every single day. But my real need is to eat more vegetables, but I never feel a need for that. I have a strong felt need for praise and appreciation and affirmation, but I think my real need is to develop more humility and to look at my ministry as not about me.

Jim: Hm.

Leslie: And so, again those are some of our deeper needs, some of our sanctification needs, some of our holiness needs. And we think all these other things will make us happy, but God uses our spouse often to meet not just our felt needs, but our real needs.

And so, when our spouse does something that we don’t like or causes us to grow and mature, those are meeting some of our real needs, not just our felt needs.

Jim: Uh-hm.

John: So, your husband makes sure that you eat vegetables and not too much chocolate.

Leslie: Well (Laughter) ...

John: I mean, carry that on just a little bit further. Does he nag you?

Jim: Oh.

John: Like you know, “Leslie, that’s been enough chocolate today, so ... don’t forget your veggies and fruits.”

Leslie: No, no, I--

John: That ... that would not--

Leslie: --wouldn’t like that.

John: --be a godly approach.

Leslie: No, that wouldn’t go over, no. But what happens is, part of what we see our role in marriage is and part of the teaching has been, you’re here to meet your spouse’s needs, right? And so, I’ll try to meet their felt needs. And when that doesn’t work and I’m not getting the results I want, so I’m trying to be respectful or I’m trying to be submissive or I’m trying to be loving. I’m trying to do the things that I think would meet some needs of his and he’s not responsive or he’s abusive or he’s disrespectful to me.

What other needs might I meet that God would call me to meet? It might mean that I have to speak the truth in love. That might also be acting right when my spouse acts wrong. It might mean I have to set some boundaries. That also would be acting right when my spouse acts wrong. It’s not just doing all the felt need stuff. It’s also praying and asking God, what is my spouse’s real need? And if I were totally, you know, addicted to chocolate or addicted to cocaine or alcohol, it might be the most loving thing for my husband to speak into that and say, “I think you’re hurting your body by the amount of ... “ whatever you do with that substance.

Jim: Hm. Leslie, have you ever thought as a counselor, have you ever looked at the institution of marriage and how, you know, God ordained three institutions: the church, marriage and government. And when you look at that, to me it ... it captures my curiosity, because God talks about us being created in His image--male and female. And then we come together in one flesh. We become one.

And (Chuckling) so often, I remember Jean and I, we went to counseling--premarital counseling. And we walked in hand in hand and said, oh, we are so alike. That’s why we’re attracted to each, ‘cause we are very like each other. And then by the end of that premarital counseling, walked out going, wow, we are really different from each other--extroverted, introverted, science oriented, playful oriented. There were just so many differences that we learned in that two to three weeks that we went through that premarriage counseling.

But marriage does something that I think God intends very purposefully. It rubs off the selfishness. It rubs off the rough edges of our earthly sin, doesn’t it?

Leslie: Well, that’s the goal. I mean, all of us are born self-centered. That’s part of the fallen human condition. And so, it starts in the family life, where parents begin to wake up their child at some point in their ... between 1 and 2 and say, guess what? It’s not all about you after all, because baby of course, thinks it’s all about them. And so, a child needs to learn. It’s not all about you, Mommy can’t meet your every need all the time. Sometimes you have to wait. You have to share. It’s not all your way all the time and that is a wonderful gift that parents can give their children, to learn not to be so self-centered.

But we’re also self-absorbed. We’re self-deceived, the Bible tells us. And so, as we mature in life, even getting married, those things don’t go away. They’re like deep roots, you know. They ... you pull ‘em and they come right back, they ... it does ... those self-oriented sins.

And so, in marriage, yes. We want our way. We want to be right and we’re with this person who’s now become an obstacle to--

Jim: Impeding that--

Leslie: --getting what we want.

Jim: --progress for us.

Leslie: That’s right. Like I ... I want you to meet my need. I want it to be all about me. And she’s saying, I want it to be all about her. And now we’re clashing and fighting. And so, it is that opportunity, if both people are really observant and intentional at saying, “Wow! God’s using this person to help me see some things about me.”

I remember when I got married, I thought I was really together, mature. I have my Master’s degree in counseling, like I was just gonna do it right, wasn’t gonna do it like my mother, which was another story, a bad path, since I was gonna get this all right this time.

Leslie: And I remember (Laughing) after a couple of arguments, thinkin’ I want a divorce. I don’t really like this guy anymore.

John: Oh, my.

Leslie: I can’t believe I married him. And I’m thinking, where’d that come from? You know, it was my pride, my selfishness, my self-righteousness and all those things began to get exposed. I didn’t want to forgive him. I didn’t want to let things go, you know. And I didn’t really realize all that until now I can’t get away from someone.

Jim: Hm.

Leslie: You know, previously I could just break up with somebody if I didn’t like him. Now I’ve gotta figure this out.

Jim: Leslie that’s a ... a good point. What happens in the relationship when both spouses are acting poorly?

Leslie: What happens typically is you blame the other person. You say, you made me do this. It’s your fault I’m acting this way. I was perfectly fine before I married you. I didn’t have these problems before we got together.

Jim: In fact, I was perfect before I--

Leslie: I was perfect.

Jim: --married you. (Laughter)

Leslie: So, this is what I do. I have a little water bottle in my office and it has some sediment on the bottom of it that I don’t show anybody. And I hold the bottom of it and I say, I want you to watch what happens when I shake this water. And so, I take the water bottle and make sure the top is on and I start shaking (Sound of liquid shaking) it vigorously. And the sediment all comes to the top of the water bottle. And I say, now this is the trick question. Did shaking this bottle make the water dirty? And they both sit there and they know the answer is no, but they don’t exactly know where I’m going.

Jim: They look for the trick question.

Leslie: And I’m saying, you know, Jesus said something very powerful in Luke. He said, it’s out of the overflow of your heart, your mouth speaks. And so, when your wife shakes you, what comes up out of your mouth was stuff that was always there. She didn’t make you say those things, just as he didn’t make you do those things. It’s really helping them take responsibility.

But wow! Something happened that I didn’t like. I got shook. It exposed something in my heart, came out ... flying out of my mouth, but it exposed something. Or even if we don’t say it, but we’re sayin’ it all internally, like I never said to my husband, “Oh, I don’t think I should be married.” It was just all internally. But it exposed something about what was going on inside of me. And those become tremendous opportunities for self-reflection and self-growth if we allow them to be.

Jim: How does a couple take that next step then? Let’s say they have that realization. Either one of the spouses is acting poorly or both. How do they get a grip on that? How do they recognize their water is a little dirty?

Leslie: Well, I think that the first step is to be able to say, okay, if you’ve done something wrong, what does that do to me? I remember working with a woman for example. Her husband had a ... a roving eye in that he would linger a little too long watching the cheerleaders on the football channel or the Victoria’s Secret commercial before switching the channel. Or maybe he would maintain eye contact a little longer with somebody at church.

And so, it began to create this huge reaction in his wife. She was very jealous. She was very controlling. She wanted to hold the remote. And it began to reveal this huge insecurity that she had. And all men are cheaters. And all men are gonna do this. And you know, her husband had to recognize that his temptations caused his wife great distress. He didn’t create her insecurity. You know, so he had a part to play in that, but she had to work on her own healing.

Jim: Hm. You talk about in the book, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong, overcoming evil with good. How does that play out? And even that tends to work against our nature.

Leslie: That’s exactly right, because Jesus tells us we have to do it because it’s so opposite to our human nature. Our human nature means, we want to retaliate. You know, I’m not gonna let you get away with this. You hurt me; I’m gonna hurt you. You said somethin’ negative to me; I’m gonna say somethin’ right back to you, you know. And we ... we can create this war with our spouse.

And so, one of the things I say is, that we need to learn to stop reacting. If we’re gonna learn how to act right when our spouse acts wrong, we need to learn to stop reacting and to start responding. And one of the ways that we need to learn to do that is to understand that our spouse is not our enemy. Our real enemy is Satan and he wants to destroy us. He wants to destroy your spouse. He wants to destroy you. He wants to destroy your family.

And if you can keep that in mind and you understand the battle that you’re gonna face now, because you might have to fight in your marriage, but you’re fighting for a much bigger cause than just getting your own way.

Jim: Hm.

Leslie: You’re fighting for a much bigger cause and you have a different enemy. You’re not fighting your spouse. You might be fighting for your spouse or for your marriage. If you understand your enemy is out to get you, then you have a different response to that.

And so, one way we fight our enemy when Satan wants to overcome us with evil, he wants to infect us with its poisons. When our spouse does something wrong to us, whether it’s serious sin like adultery, addictions and abuse--the three A’s I call ‘em--or whether it’s more the garden variety of sins, of she forgot to call you and didn’t come home on time. Or he ... you know, left his dirty clothes all over the floor and you know, you’re infested now with the opportunity or the temptation to become bitter, resentful, fearful, uh ... not trusting God.

And how are you gonna overcome that evil in your life? You’re only gonna overcome that with good. You don’t overcome evil with more evil. You overcome it with good.

Jim: It feels like at times, it’s a field full of vines that are at about ankle high. And you’re expected to run through this field and you trip and trip and trip. Why does it so easily ensnare us? We as Christians know the right things. We read all about it in Scripture. We know intellectually how to behave. But how come it ... it is so difficult to work that into our actions and our behavior?

Leslie: Let me tell you a story that God showed me with my daughter. We adopted a little girl from Korea when she was 3-months-old and she showed talent for the piano pretty young in age. So, we ... I signed her up for the Suzuki piano lessons.

And so, I don’t know if you know anything about Suzuki piano lessons, but the mother or the parent, whoever takes them, has to pay attention. You’re not allowed to read magazines. You’re not allowed to go to the store while the child’s in piano lessons. So, sort of the parent learns piano, too. So, for 13 years of piano lessons, once or twice a week, I would sit in on piano lessons. And I learned key signatures, timing, composition, composers. I learned how to play piano with one hand, the other, all kinds of stuff. The only difference between Amanda’s piano playing and mine is, I can’t actually play the piano.

Jim: Hm.

Leslie: I could teach piano, but I can’t play the piano, because I never took anything that we learned together week by week and put it into practice--

Jim: Hm.

Leslie: --you see. And so, Jesus says the same thing. He said, you know, a student is not above his teacher, but anyone who wants to be like his teacher must put the things he’s learning into practice. And so many people I find read a good book on marriage or sit in church week after week or go to Bible study and marriage enrichment classes or listen to the radio and they think, well, those are great things. And they know it all up here, just like I know piano up here. But they actually can’t do it--

Jim: Hm.

Leslie: --because they’ve never put it into practice. The Apostle Paul says, train yourself to be godly. We can’t try to be godly. We need to train ourselves. And so, this book on How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong is really a training book on how to learn to respond rightly when you’re treated wrongly. And it goes broader than just your spouse. I mean, your neighbor can treat you wrong. Your child can treat you wrong. The you know, principal can treat you wrong. Your boss can treat you wrong. Those are relationship principles that we are taught through Scriptures. How do we overcome evil with good? How do we forgive when we’re mistreated? How do we forbear? When do we confront? All those things that we are taught through the ... God’s Word, but we don’t actually know how to do ‘em.

Jim: Leslie, you’re saying something incredibly profound here and I want all of us to catch it. And that is, we need to learn how to behave as Christians. And the Gospels are full of that reprimand and that instruction to do that.

And one of the things that is so sad is, that the breakdown of marriage started 40 years ago, not just same-sex marriage and its threat to traditional marriage, but no-fault divorce and the way that marriage is now played out, even in the church with the divorce rate of 35 percent, 40 percent. That is really dishonoring to the Lord, isn’t it? We’re not practicing what we should be doing in our lives, are we?

Leslie: We’re not and let me go a step further, because those who think they’re practicing it, they’ll say to me in my office, “I know. God says I have to stay married no matter what.” But you know what I say to them? You know what? God actually calls you in much tougher commitment. [Doesn’t] call you to stay married no matter what, He calls you to love no matter what.

Jim: Hm.

Leslie: You’re not loving, right? You’re just keeping the rules, but your heart. Jesus said that was whitewashed tombs to the Pharisees. You know ...

Jim: That is tough stuff here--

Leslie: It is tough stuff.

Jim: --but it’s accurate. It’s biblical. What you’re saying is right on the mark. And uh ... for us to throw in the towel because we don’t like each other anymore ...

Leslie: Right, I mean, so ... there’s so many people who aren’t legally divorced, but they’re emotionally divorced. They’re emotionally divorced. And so, how do we ... one of my motivations in this book was a man who came to me and he sat hunched over. I told about him in the first chapter, Marty. He’s all despondent because he’s gone to Promise Keepers. He’s tried tough love. He’s tried soft love. He’s tried meeting his wife’s needs. He’s tried everything he can do to win his wife back over some offenses that he had done early in their marriage that she had never forgiven him for.

And so, he had jumped through 50 hoops trying to get her to forgive him and come back to the relationship. And she was still married, because God says I can’t divorce, but I’m not giving you an inch.

John: Hm.

Leslie: And so, he had done all he could do and so, that was like, what book can I give him? He’s read all the books. He’s done all the things. He’s ... and so, I said, “Marty, nothing might be changing much in your marriage, but something indeed is changing in you. And God is using this suffering for a far greater purpose than you can imagine right now. He’s teaching you how to be more like Him. And that indeed is good, even if nothing good comes out of your marriage. And I think that’s part of the hope, that we have to encourage people who are in difficult marriages, that they can still be a great example to their children, to people in a church, of how do you love? And love isn’t always just accommodating another person. Love sometimes is tough. But how do I love a person when they treat me wrong? How do I do that Jesus’s way, instead of just leaving the relationship.

John: Some profound questions and some great insights from our guest, Leslie Vernick, on Focus on the Family. We’ve been exploring the findings in her book, “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong,” and Jim, I noticed how Leslie’s observations and advice are pretty counter cultural. That’s the word that pops into my head. So many people think marriage is about me, it’s about my happiness, but self-centered approaches just really lead to misery for pretty much everybody involved.

Jim: It’s so true, John, and you think about the culture and how it reinforces meism, it’s sad, and we have to fight it as Chrsitians especially in our marriages. And that selfish approach is contrary to what the Bible teaches. God’s word is clear, and I’m gonna lay it out for ya, here you go. 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that love it patient and kind and doesn’t insist on its own way especially when you want your own way. That’s the moment of truth. Ephesians 5 tells husbands to sacrifice themselves for their wives and for wives to submit to the leadership of their husbands, and you can’t run rough shot over that. You are one flesh. We have to consider each other’s input. A smart husband understands the strength of his spouse, so before you make a big purchase or do things that have big impact, consider your spouse’s insights regarding that. Don’t just demand we’re going this way then forget it. Also, in James 5 we’re told to confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed. That is good stuff right there. The bottom line message is that marriage isn’t about you at all. It’s about learning to love your spouse the same way God loves you, wow unconditionally. And what’s really difficult is when that spouse is not kind or lovable. That’s the standard husbands and wives are called to. Now, we’re not going to do this perfectly, and we will make mistakes along way, that’s for sure, but with God’s help, you can begin to navigate conflict and have better interactions with your spouse. I think most importantly, it’s when you make that mistake and your conscious is illuminated, you can tell when you’re out of bounds. That’s what you’ve gotta pay attention to, that’s the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart.

John: Well, and as we said at the beginning of this broadcast, Focus on the Family is here to help your marriage, and we’ve got great counselors, and our Hope Restored marriage intensive where we provide counseling for couples who are really on the brink of divorce, many of them.


Jim: An the best news is, John, thanks to the financial support of friends like you, our listeners, we’re seeing lives absolutely transformed. 95% of the couples who attend Hope Restored believe the process made a significant difference in their relationship. And our research shows that 4 out of 5, 80% of those couples who’ve been surveyed two years after they attended Hope Restored, they are doing better, and it is giving them hope for the future of their relationship. But let me tell you, there’s so much more work that we need to do. Think of how many more marriages can we rescue an strengthen by working together. Please, consider giving generously to Focus on the Family so that more husbands and more wives can experience healthy, Godly marriages today. 

John: You can learn more about our counseling team and the Hope Restored marriage intensive and how you can donate to the ongoing work here of Focus on the Family to help marriages. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459, or online at And we’d love to send complimentary copy of Leslie Vernick’s great book, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong. All you have to do is make a generous contribution today of any amount to Focus on the Family.

Join us again next time as we explore one of the more challenging parts of marriage, and that is loving your spouse well.


Leslie: And you have to learn to love. And you have to learn to love, because that kind of love is the hard love. It’s the ... the sacrificial love. It’s the godly love. The human love is something anybody is capable of. It’s the godly love that we’re failing to really execute well.

End of Teaser

  • Featured Initiative

    Focus on Marriage Assessment

    Focus on the Family

    The Focus on the Family Marriage Assessment is designed to evaluate the strength of 12 essential traits of your marriage. Do you know your marriage's strengths and weaknesses?

    Read more
  • Featured Initiative

    Have You Lost Hope in Your Marriage?

    Focus on the Family

    For couples in crisis – you can still put the pieces of your marriage back together with Hope Restored.

    Read more
  • Featured Article

    What Are You Really Fighting About?

    Doug Fields with Jim Burns

    Many couples don't realize that hurt feelings are really awakened fears. Understanding the way relational fear feeds recurring conflict is the key to breaking the cycle of hurtful arguments.

    Read more
  • Featured Article

    Don't Let Your Spouse Make You Angry

    Mike Bechtle

    Marriages never thrive when we expect our spouse to be responsible for fixing our feelings. If we own our emotions, we're free to be co-owners of the relationship. Then we can build something great.

    Read more
More Episode Resources


Leslie Vernick

View Bio

Leslie Vernick is a popular speaker, an author, a licensed clinical social worker and a life coach with a private counseling practice in Pennsylvania. She has over 25 years of experience helping individuals, couples and families heal, rebuild and grow their relationships. Leslie is the author of six books, including Lord, I Just Want to be Happy and The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. She and her husband, Howard, have two grown children. Learn more about Leslie by visiting her website,