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Making Your Marriage Happy Now and Later

Air Date 07/07/2018

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This weekend, best-selling authors Les and Leslie Parrott offer couples practical suggestions for heightening the joy of their relationship, no matter how long they've been married.

Episode Transcript


John Fuller: On a previous Focus on the Family broadcast, Les Parrott talked about the importance of friendship in marriage.


LesParrott: Yeah, you take friendship out of the equation and suddenly, you’re roommates; you’re not soul mates. You’re just walking through life and doing the activities that it requires of you, but what about the fun? What about the connection? What about the intimacy that grows out of a sense of, “You know me and I know you like nobody else on the planet.” Well, man, we can walk through life with somebody that is hand in hand with you in that sense, life doesn’t get any sweeter. 


John: A great perspective on the essence of having friendship at the heart of your marriage, whether you’ve been married five or 25 years, or longer. And maybe you’ve settled into some routines, and you’re finding it difficult to keep that spark alive and things vibrant. Well, today on Focus on the Family, we’ll talk about building on that friendship, to ensure your marriage is strong and happy for years to come. I’m John Fuller, and your host is Focus on the Family president and author Jim Daly. 

JimDaly: John, we have two wonderful guests here who can share some simple, but very intentional ideas about how to revitalize our marriages. And I really look forward to diving into those practical helps, because we all need them. You know, we can get into these routines like you said and form some bad habits. And today, Les and Leslie Parrott will help us get out of those ruts. They are the authors of a book called MakingHappy:TheArtandScienceofaHappyMarriage. Les is a clinical psychologist and a professor at Northwest University. His wife, Leslie, is a marriage and family therapist. 

John: And together they’re the founders of The Center for Healthy Relationships on the campus of Olivet University. Let’s go ahead and listen in now to that conversation.


Jim: Your dad and Dr. Dobson did a program many, many years ago, right here on “Focus on the Family” about happiness. 

Les: That’s true! Forgot about that. Wow. 

Jim: And uh... 

Leslie Parrott: From the archives! 

Jim: It - is it part of your DNA to talk about being happy? 

Les: It must be. I didn’t even think about that. Dad wrote a book years ago about the HabitofHappiness and I remember that. I was a kid and yeah, I think I grew up in a home where there’s something about tryin’ to figure out this puzzle in the Christian life of happiness. What is it? And especially for Leslie and me in our work, when it comes to marriage, what is it that makes a couple happy? ’Cause we all want that. You ask anybody. Hey, why are you getting married? ”Oh, ‘cause we’re in love.” What do you want most out of your marriage? ”Oh, we just want to be happy,” right? What do you want most for your kids? “Oh, I just want my kids to be happy, whatever they do,” you know? We all are in this pursuit of happiness. What does that mean to our lives? And that’s really what caused us to write this book. 

Jim: Now right out of the gate, I need to press on this, because for me, I’m always uh - kind of uh - discounting happiness. ‘Cause for me, I believe joy is the greater goal and... 

Leslie: Yeah. 

Jim: ...the more - and the deeper goal for the Christian faith. 

Les: You sound like a real downer. 


Jim: Well uh … 

Leslie: I wouldn’t call “joy” a downer. 

Jim: I’m in a joyful … 

Les: I’m against happiness, only joy. 

Jim: I’m a joyful person, but is there a distinction between being joyful and being happy? 

Leslie: Well, and I love that question, because really we don’t want anything that is selfish. And happiness, you know, the - the models of pursuit of happiness that we see so often look exactly like that: models of selfishness. And that’s not at all what we’re talking about. 

Les: No and in fact, what we found in our own research was there’s two kinds, big buckets of happiness and one is what we call “feel good” happiness. And that’s momentary happiness. That comes about as a result of all kinds of pleasures. A great dessert, you know, that’s “feel-good” happiness, a - a bowl of ice cream, whatever. And then there’s “value-based” happiness and that’s happiness that comes about because of meaningful activity in our lives. It’s deeper. 

LeslieParrott: Purpose. 

Les: Yes and there’s no - there’s not a diminishing return when it comes to that kind of… 

Leslie: And I love it that he said that - “diminishing return” - because truthfully, that’s what we’ve seen. We’ve seen the kind of pleasure pursuits that end in nothing but more unhappiness and heartbreak than anyone should ever have. And then, there’s this deep abiding happiness that you called “joy,” that really the Bible opens us up to. And that’s all about having a life filled with meaning and purpose and all of the things that are fruit from the Spirit are what produced that kind of happiness. 

Les: Yeah and so, it’s really a combination of those. So, call it “joy” or call it “happiness” or “exuberance” or whatever it is that you’d like to call it, but when you put those two things together, that “feel-good” happiness, which we all want, you know little spikes of that throughout our - our lives. 

Leslie: Feeling good is not a bad thing. 

Les: Right. 

Leslie: Because it’s contagious, and it literally ushers joy into other people’s lives. 

Jim: But so often in the Christian community, we feel guilty about that. Why is that? 

Les: I don’t know. I think that it’s a problem sincerely, because... 

Leslie: I - it - I do too. 

Les: ...God - God created that. He created all kinds of pleasures for us and within marriage and beyond, and one of the great pleasures in life, of course, is raising children and seeing all of the - the peaks and valleys of that. But when we have those pleasurable experience of a - of a tickle fight or something with our little preschool kid or whatever, that’s pleasure, right? I mean, there’s joy in that because it’s meaningful, and that’s what I mean by the combination of those things. We get into trouble when we just purely pursue pleasure without the meaningful aspect of... 

Leslie: Right. 

Les: ...of happiness. 

Leslie: Well, and it - and it is so contagious. From the briefest moment, like I’m gonna make this moment we shared. It was the simplest summer moment and as we reflected on our summer recently, I said, “Do you remember the evening after dinner?” You said, “Come out on the deck with me.” And I stepped out and right as I stepped out, a hummingbird arrived and just hung in the air and the two of us stood there and watched it for, I don’t know... 

Les: A couple minutes. 

Leslie: It felt like five minutes. It probably wasn’t. But it was such a shared pleasure. And here we are, as a couple, you know, three months later reflecting back on that moment of shared pleasure. And it was so intimate and such a joy and it’s so contagious. And happiness is that. It’s contagious, and it elevates the experience of everyone around you. 

Les: You want your spouse to be happy, right? 

Leslie: Yes, you do. 

Les: You don’t want to come home to a spouse that isn’t happy. We want that. 

Jim: Let me ask you this, though: H.B. London, who was here working with pastors and Dr. Dobson’s cousin, and... 

Les: I used to be on staff at his church in Pasadena, right. 

Jim: Right, you were on staff. H.B. used to have a - a term called “the joy suckers.” 


Les: Yeah. 

Jim: Remember that? 

Les: The joy suckers. 

Jim: There are joy suckers in the church and, you know, for us again, as Christians to hold each other accountable, why do we as Christians pursue the joy sucking vocation, as opposed to the “joyful” vocation of life? 

Leslie: Well, I love that question because I surely don’t want to be a joy sucker in my marriage, let me tell you that. 


Jim: It won’t be happy. 

Leslie: No, I don’t want to be that. You know, I want - I want to exude it, but I think maybe there’s some sort of noble sense of false humility that comes with bearing and martyring and, you know. 

Jim: And let everybody know that you do that. 

Leslie: Exactly, that the truth is, the gifts given out of that kind of joyless service are not truly gifts. 

Les: Yeah and, you know, it’s - it’s - who wants to be running their life out of guilt, right? Paul said, “There is therefore no condemnation for those of us that are in Christ Jesus.” It doesn’t mean that to follow Christ you have to carry this huge burden of guilt on your back. Just the opposite of that. He came for a fulfilled life and so, when it comes to happiness in marriage - by the way, one thing we know for sure, marriage was never designed to make you happy. You make your marriage happy. That is the hinge upon which this whole book hangs. And so many people I see looking to their marriage to make them happy. And that’s - that’s when we get into this trap of thinking, it’s our circumstances that are gonna do that for us and that’s never the case. That’s not what the Christian life is about. 

Leslie: Yeah. 

Jim: You know, so often when people are critical of Christians, it seems like we’re the naysayers. “Don’t”, “Stop”, “Uh”, they don’t see joy in us because we’re not showing it. If we were to say, listen, we’ve got the greatest news in the world for you. Yes, you fall short. You do things that you feel guilty about that you don’t want to do. It might be cheating on your diet. It might be cheating on your spouse, whatever it might be. But guess what? God knew that that sin nature was gonna be in us since the fall of mankind. But He’s got a remedy for us. It’s His Son, Jesus Christ, and He has died for our sins. We should be joyful, like incredibly joyful to be able to share that news with other people. It’s not a downer, anybody. 

Leslie: I love that. 

Jim: God has sent His Son to die for you, so that you could spend eternity with Him, knowing your shortcomings and your failures. We should have the biggest smiles on our faces, willing to tell everybody, not from a “Stop it; don’t do that,” but from a simple perspective of, “Embrace God. He loves you.” 

Leslie: Well, I just love that, because what you’re saying is, at the ground of our being, we should be exuding a joyful presence because we received the gift of grace. So, to live as if anything else is reality, just sort of discounts the great generous spirit of God in our lives. 

Les: Well, and - and one of the - I think one of the greatest witnesses in our lives is to God’s grace, is how we adjust to things beyond our control. It’s our circum - because everybody’s looking for their circumstances. Once I get this job, once I get this house, this car, this cool toy, whatever it is, then I’m gonna be happy. And of course, happiness isn’t built on those things. 

And in fact, we’re gonna have so many hurdles in life and to rise above that and have joy in spite of our circumstances, I think that’s when God’s grace shines the brightest. 

Leslie: Well, we actually know from research that whatever our circumstances are, is only about 10 percent of what adds to our happiness quotient. I mean, it’s a very small piece. 

Jim: Right, get the car you want. 

Leslie: Right. 

Jim: That’s only gonna be fleeting. 

Leslie: You know, yeah. I mean, no matter how the circumstances are. 

Les: And - and even in marriage, we know that the research shows that, that happiness - you get a bump from getting married for sure in happiness. That lasts at max, two years. 

Jim: Yeah. 

Les: All right? And then we come back to our set point. 

Jim: Then you have to keep building into your marriage. 

Les: Yeah. 

Jim: Let me talk about the research for a second and I’d like folks - I’d like you to - to put your spiritual discerning ears on right now when you hear this. TheWallStreetJournal summarized some research that showed adults who frequently feel grateful, have more energy, more optimism, have more social connections, more happiness than those who don’t. “They’re less likely” - now this is the spiritual component, this is TheWallStreetJournal quoting this - “they’re less likely to be depressed, envious or greedy. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and are sick less often.” 

Les: Yeah. 

Jim: That sounds like a biblical application to the human spirit, doesn’t it? 

Les: It really is. 

Leslie: Amen. (Laughter) 

Les: When we set off on this path to really understand happiness within marriage, and by the way, some of the seeds for this were planted by a fellow named Martin Seligman, who is really the father of positive psychology and changed the face of psychology in our lifetime. And I was at a Ted Talk in California and we had lunch together. And he said, “Nobody has taken all this mountain of research and applied it to couples.” He said, “Why don’t you two do that? That’s what you guys are - are kinda built for.” And that’s what got us off on this thing.

And when we did the research, we - we did - we encountered a mountain in the last 15 years, so much research has gone on. And what you just read about gratitude was one of the biggest things that we saw in the - the mountain of research. If you want to instantly improve your level of joy and happiness, focus on gratitude. It can’t help but to increase that. 

Jim: Well, and the thing is, gratitude is not a, you give me something and I give you gratitude. The Scripture’s very clear about having that attitude of gratitude... 

Les: Right. 

Jim: ...regardless of your circumstances. Be content in all things... 

Leslie: Right. 

Jim: a way of saying that. The Scripture’s clear that the Lord is expecting a reborn heart, a reborn spirit to have that sense of gratitude for everything that God has done, even the tough stuff. 

Les: Yeah.

Jim: And it seems like in the Christian community, we’re not necessarily thankful for every circumstance - most, but not all. 

Leslie: What I love about gratitude is - gratitude is genuinely a choice. You know, it’s a choice of where we focus our attention. We’re mindful of our blessings, and we know when it comes to happiness, about 40 percent of our overall happiness rests on choices that we make, which is a pretty empowering thing. We really do have the possibility of shaping our happiness. 

Les: Yeah, it’s known as the “happiness pie.” About 50 percent of our happiness is just biological. And you have a set point of happiness, and I do, too and they’re different. 

Jim: And it’s biochemistry. It’s like that thing. 

Leslie: Yeah, it’s kind of our natural path. 

Jim: Dopamine, the way our brain fires. 

Les: And that’s why we - when we get married or things happen, we can swing a little bit and be more happy for a while ‘cause we got this new car or whatever it is, and then it comes back to that set point. Fifty percent is due to that. And then another 10 percent is due to our circumstances. 

Leslie: Right. 

Les: And then, what Leslie’s talking about, that’s the 40 percent of our choices. Think about that. Forty percent of our emotional state is conditional on the things that we choose to focus on. 

Jim: Now in your book you talk about six happiness boosters. I love that. Let’s mention them and then we’ll talk about them. 

Les: The first is exactly what you’ve been touching on and that’s “Count your blessings”. It’s all about gratitude. And you know, I was thinking about this a little while ago. On our trip - we had a trip that we’d been looking forward to - a Christmas gift of going to South Africa as a family. This was something we planned for, for months and months and months. 

Leslie: This is a very meaningful, purposeful trip. We were taking our kids to experience sort of this - this new place and this culture. 

Les: Culture and we were using miles, you know, airline miles to travel. 

Jim: That’s a good thing to use for that trip. 

Leslie: Yeah. 

Les: Exactly, right. It’s a long one. And because of that, we had to fly through Buenos Aires on the way to South Africa, all right. 

Leslie: Just a very direct route. 

Les: From Seattle. 

Jim: I think I know what’s coming here. 


Go ahead. 

Les: And this was something - and so, we had our - our person that scheduled the trip said, “Hey, we have a layover there for you guys. It’s about six hours. Would you like me to have a little tour, and you can get a little tour guide and - and go outside the airport, look around and then come back?” Yeah, cool, that sounds fun, you know. 

Leslie: When will we ever be back? Sure. 

Les: Right. 

Leslie: Let’s seize the day. 

Les: And so - so we did that and had our tour. And it was getting close to, you know, time to come back to the airport and the traffic was thick and - and so forth and we were getting a little uptight about that. And it kinda got quiet in this van that we’re getting driven around in and... 

Leslie: Our local guide began to get very quiet, as well. 

Les: Right and literally started to - he at one point got out of the van and started directing traffic, you know. This wouldn’t happen in the streets of Seattle or Denver. 

Leslie: It’s a pretty chaotic environment there and not much rule or order. 

Les: At any rate, we barely made it in time. And then we got to the - the ticket and they said that, “You have to have a - you - you left the airport; you need a medical certificate in order to get back on the airplane” for some yellow bird flu or something like that. And we... 

Leslie: Yellow Fever. 

Les: ...of course, we didn’t know anything about it. 

Leslie: We’d had the shots. We’d had the pills. We’d had everything, but not for this because it wasn’t required for Africa. 

Les: Long story short, we ended up what was supposed to be a six-hour layover, turned into three days.

John: Oh, my heavens. 

Les: And we were missing the... 

Jim: You missed the flight. 

Les: We were missing it, and the flight only goes every other day to South Africa where we were going. And - and I won’t go through all the details, but let me just tell you, it was heart-wrenching. I mean, we’d - we’d planned and looked forward. We’re meeting other families over there and so forth. And we were just heartsick. I mean, we were all brought to tears. Leslie had a little prayer corner going over in the - remember this with the boys? 

Leslie: The boys and I circled up, held hands and prayed for hours and it - hours. 

Les: I’m on the phone and I’m working... 

Jim: Sounds like about 72 hours. 


Leslie: It was a long hard layover. 

Les: And you know, we were just staying at a - at a little hotel right there next to it. Anyway, the whole - the point of all this is that we eventually got on this flight through a - a series of circumstances. 

Leslie: Miracles. 

Les: Yeah and um - and uh - if we had more time we could literally fill the whole interview talking about this trip. But we got there. Our hearts were filled with more gratitude than they could’ve - it was - we were bursting with gratitude, just because we made it. Do you know what I mean? 

Jim: Yeah. 

Les: And we didn’t take anything for granted. We didn’t complain about one thing that entire week. 

Leslie: There wasn’t one, “I’m tired”, “I’ve walked too far”, “I’m hungry”. Our whole family was so infused with gratitude, and I think it became for us this living lesson of gratitude literally transformed our sense of joy every day of that experience. 

Les: And if something kind of - we got a bump in the road, we’d just look at each other and go, “We’re here.” That’s all - it was just enough of a reminder to not think about it. 

Jim: Well and the lesson there is that it took hardship to bring you to the point of gratitude and that may... 

Leslie: Hear, hear. 

Jim: again, what the Lord is talking about when we suffer. 

Leslie: Right, right. 

Jim: You know, it leads to character and character hope and you know. 

Les: But as a couple, if you want to infuse your relationship, if you’re an empty-nest couple or you’re just beginning your relationship, you want to infuse that relationship with more joy and happiness: one dial you can immediately turn is the dial of gratitude. Make a list of those things you’re grateful for in your spouse. You can’t help but to be more happy about your circumstances when you do that. 

Jim: So often - and I think this line was in your book, MakingHappy, you said that discontent breeds entitlement. 

Les: For sure. 

Jim: It goes the other way, as well. Entitlement can breed discontent. I think that’s why we get the term “the Ugly American.” I really do, because you know, the service levels in the U.S. are quite high. You step to a counter, you can get food in 30 seconds. 

Les: Right. 

Jim: And when it takes a minute, all of a sudden it starts feeling like, hey, no one’s taking care of me here. 

Les: Yeah. 

Jim: So, I do - I have a theory that the Ugly American label is because our - our service is just so high... 

Les: Yeah. 

Jim: often that when we go to a foreign country and it’s not quite the same, we get stressed out. It leads to discontent. 

Les: Not only when we go to a foreign land, but when we go into our living room with a sense of entitlement. 

Jim: Well, and - and then maybe - maybe after talkin’ to Bob, it’s your own marriage. 

Les: Yeah. 

Jim: ‘Cause you’re not experiencing the same kind of happiness in your marriage, so that discontent. I think we in America - I think the church is equally guilty of this; I’m equally guilty of this, is that my expectation is so high, that discontent creeps in or floods in, depending upon the situation. The guy that cuts me off on the road... 

Les: Yep. 

Jim: ...or whatever it might be. How can you do that? Don’t you know the rules? We follow the rules here! 

Les: Right. 

Jim: Unlike Buenos Aires. But you know, how do we - how do we relax? How do we find happiness in our discontentment? 

Leslie: I love that. The opposite of entitlement is gratitude. It really is. It’s recognizing life is a gift. The fact that you said yes to sharing life with me is a generous gift. So, if every moment doesn’t unfold perfectly, you know, I don’t feel entitled to that. 

Les: Yeah. 

Leslie: My - you know, my heart is not saying, I deserve to be served. 

Jim: And it’s one of the six of the booster rockets. 

Leslie: That’s right. 

Jim: The next one’s “try new things.” 

Les: Yeah, I love this one. This - this is one that is exciting. I think a lot of guys like this one, too, because when... 

Leslie: Ask an - any empty-nester couple can relish this one actually. 

Les: Yeah. 

Leslie: ‘Cause they literally have the time to try new things in a way they haven’t had for decades. 

Les: Yeah and this is something that we’ve experienced in our own relationship, seen it many times, but the research is fascinating. Quick study and then I want to tell you this story about something that really changed our level of happiness through this. 

Leslie: Well, I love this study. 

Les: Remember the study we encountered? 

Leslie: Actually this is quite fascinating for any couple, any age, any stage. What they did, the researchers wanted to understand - you know, we all know date nights are great for marriage - they wanted to understand how does that truly impact intimacy? And so, they recruited couples for this study. Some of ‘em they sent out just on a romantic date night, you know, the typical dinner out, movie, whatever. 

Other couples then were literally taken into a special place. They were Velcro’d together and they were sent through an obstacle course - wild, crazy, unexpected, demanding. And afterwards when the researchers interviewed these couples, the ones who had had the crazy wild obstacle course, you know, just unexpected moment, experienced such high levels of connection, intimacy, you know, closeness, feelings of romance. And the couples who had had the relaxing romantic date night, not as much as these couples that tried this brand-new thing. 

Les: It was still helpful for them. 

Leslie: Right. 

Les: But it wasn’t nearly as invigorating as trying something new that they haven’t experienced before. 

Jim: Let me paint a picture for you. So, a couple’s married. They have their children. They go through the teen years. They survive them. 


Leslie: Yeah, which is an accomplishment. 


Jim: Right and now they’re at that point. For years now, let’s just say the husband has tried to do fun and crazy things, but it was always met rationally with, “I’m too busy; I can’t do that.” 

Leslie: Right. 

Jim: “We don’t have time for that.” And that happened over and over and over again. Maybe it’s not just the husband bringing up that, but the wife occasionally said, “Hey, let’s do this” and you know what? “I got work stuff; I can’t do that.” 

Leslie: Right. 

Jim: And they fell into a pattern of that. 

Les: Yeah. 

Jim: Now all of a sudden, yeah, there - there isn’t that joy or that happiness and... 

Leslie: Absolutely. 

Jim: ...they don’t even know how to try anymore. They’ve lost the ability even to think about doing something like this. What can they do to reignite the hope? 

Les: Yeah, that’s what this whole chapter in our book is dedicated to doing, is finding how do you get out of that rut that you’re stuck into and carve a new groove. And when that - that new groove is simply learning these new patterns and especially when you get to a different stage or turning point in your relationship, you have the opportunity to really make some changes because it’s like opening up a window on your relationship. Fresh. 

Leslie: It is; it’s like fresh air and grace. And I’ll tell you what. Here’s what gives me the most hope for every couple who might be at that place where they’ve kinda hit that dead end. You know, we’re stuck in this rut and I don’t even expect you to say yes, so why would I try right now? Is that it only takes the smallest movement in that direction reaps the hugest reward. 

I mean, one experience like that can literally transform the way you feel about your relationship together. And I gotta tell you, you know, maybe there’s someone out there going, well, my wife’s not very brave. You know, she’d never want to X, Y or Z, whatever it is. 

Les: Do an obstacle course in Velcro suits or... 

Leslie: Yeah. 


But I gotta tell anyone out there... 

Jim: That’s gutsy. 

Les: Yeah! 

Leslie: have hope, because my husband talked to me, the faint of heart, who you know, is nervous when we’re just driving too fast, into a pretty out-of-the-box date night. 

Les: I came into the kitchen a while back and I said, “Hey, I got us tickets for trapeze lessons.” 


“Trapeze lessons?” I said, “Oh, I found it online, a discount coupon.” And I said... 

Leslie: Groupon. 

Les: ...”It’s really cool.” And - she said, “That’s the - I’m not doing that.” I said, “No, no, it’s gonna be fi-” She said, “Are you talking about like the circus trapeze, like up in the air?” And I said, “Yeah.” And uh, you know, and she said, “You’re saying that like do you want a ham sandwich? This is crazy talk.” And I said, “Trust me.” I said, “I’m gonna ask another couple. We’ll go down; we’ll have a blast,” and blah, blah, blah. 

And we did. We ended up doing this and it was a little - it was this place downtown Seattle, kind of on the outskirts of town. And uh - we - it was one of those things, you know. They strap you in and you’re up there and you’re doin’ all that stuff. 

Leslie: And by the way, you don’t have to love the experience to get... 

Jim: I was gonna say, how’d you get over that? 

Leslie: get the - and I’m - and I’m not even sure you’d ever want to do the flying trapeze again.” 

Les: No, I don’t need to do it again. 

Leslie: Let’s be honest. 


Les: It hurt. 

Jim: Really, Leslie, how did you get to the point where you said, “Okay, I’ll go.” A lot of wives and some husbands would say... 

Leslie: Yeah. 

Jim: ...”I’m not doin’ it.” 

Leslie: Yeah, here’s the thing. First of all, I do trust my husband. He will not push me beyond what my fear can handle. So, I know that if I, you know, if I get too afraid, he will not push. But here’s the thing: I’ve learned over time now that it’s those crazy moments where, you know, you - you’ve got the adrenaline pumping and you’re trying something you never pictured yourself doing and you’re sharing this moment and I often talk myself through it by saying, “It’s not right now. It’s when we’re reminiscing about this next week or next year. 

Les: Well, and-and let me ask you, Jim: you’re - you’re - you know, you go out on a movie and a dinner and a date night kind of a thing and you’re driving home and “Did you have a good time?” “Yeah, it was fun. I enjoyed that,” blah, blah, blah. You come home and you’re driving from taking trapeze lessons, what do you think that conversation is like? 

Jim: Why did we do this?” 


John: I can’t believe! 

Jim: That’d be the first thing that comes to my mind! 

Les: I’m so angry at you for threatening my life. 

Jim: Okay, listen. 

Les: You guys are real downers, you know that? 


John: We get that from a lot of people. It’s not us. 

Les: The conversation was more like, “That was so fun. I can’t believe it.” 

Jim: Yeah, yeah, I’m sure it was. 

Leslie: We were laughing wholeheartedly. 

Les: And we felt like we were teenagers again. 

Leslie: We’re out of our comfort zone. We feel ridiculous. We can’t believe it and yet, you know, those moments are forever bonding. And so, you know, it’s just one of those great things. 

Jim: Well, and what I like about it is the openness to do it. You’re - you’re showing, as a couple, an openness to one another. Listen, this time has flown by, maybe in a trapeze kind of way, I don’t know. 


But uh, we have more to cover. We’ve only covered a couple of your six “boosters”: the “count your blessings” and “try new things”. We’ve got others we want to cover. Let’s keep rollin’, come back next time and cover some additional material. Can you do it? 

Les: We’ll do it and I hope you’ll have a joyful attitude when we do. 


Jim: I’ll try. I’ll try. 

Les: Okay. 



John: Well, we certainly enjoy some laughter here in the studio, and it was great to be with Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott and to have them here at Focus on the Family to hear their great advice for marriage. And what an effective ministry of speaking and writing, and teaching on college campuses they have. Their book, again, is called MakingHappy:TheArtandScienceofaHappyMarriage, and includes a 21-day happiness plan for your marriage. And with God’s help, those ideas can really work for you, to put your relationship on the road once again to happiness, as they described. 

Jim:Well, and I hope you’ll call to get that book from us. I know that a 21-day happiness plan may sound a bit too easy, but there are some really great things outlined in the book. And if you’ll apply it, I think it’s one of those things that they’re suggesting, do something for 3 weeks and it becomes a regular habit. 

If you believe in our mission here at Focus to strengthen marriages, to keep moms and dads together and growing in the Lord, I strongly encourage you to support the ministry. When you send a gift of any amount today, we’ll send you a copy of MakingHappy as our thank you gift to you. 

And in fact, when you make that donation today, friends of the ministry have agreed to double your gift and that is extremely generous on their part and your part.  

John: Donate generously today, and get that book from the Parrotts and find other resources to strengthen your marriage at Or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 

On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we once more hear from Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, and help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

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Dr. Les Parrott is a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at Northwest University. His wife, Dr. Leslie Parrott, is a marriage and family therapist. They are the founders of the Center for Healthy Relationships and work together as a team to offer marriage and parenting help through their popular speaking engagements and writing. They address audiences in 40 cities a year and are New York Times best-selling authors whose books have sold more than two million copies. Their works include Real Relationships, L.O.V.E., and the award-winning Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts. Learn more about the Parrotts by visiting their website,