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Dean Inserra: When the Problem is Your Spouse

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 31, 2022 2:02 am

Dean Inserra: When the Problem is Your Spouse

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 31, 2022 2:02 am

When you suspect your marriage problem is actually your spouse -- what then? On FamilyLife Today, Dave & Ann Wilson host author Dean Inserra, who plunges into what to expect from marriage when it goes wrong.

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Hey, before I pass it to David and I am for today's show, this is David Robbins, president at Family Life. And we've had this very unique opportunity this month for a matching gift challenge where any gift that's given to family life is doubled. And I've been so encouraged and grateful for the ways many of you have joined with us. We're so thankful for your passion for the gospel to get to more homes. We're so grateful for those of you who, who want God's design around marriage and family to be known to more people around the world. We are grateful for the ways you believe and what God has designed and the encouragement he gives in his word. Thank you for entrusting to us some of your kingdom resources and trusting that we will steward it and help it impact more lives. If you haven't yet, I want to invite you to participate and give today by going to

Truly your gift, whatever it is, gets doubled. And we would be grateful to be able to meet this matching challenge and help fuel more ministry to more families. What I know is that the challenges families have faced over the last two years, and as complexity in the world continues, we are seeing people open to the gospel. We are seeing people open to receiving help in some of the most sacred places in their lives, the relationships that matter most to them.

Could your home be able to help another home today? Love now is a feeling in our culture. You'll hear a couple say, we just fell out of love.

That's impossible because love's a choice. So at every wedding I officiate, I have this one line I always say, not just I really think it's important. I'll say feelings got you to your dating life. Feelings may have even gotten you to your engagement photos. Feelings possibly could have gotten you to this day right here at the altar. But you know what gets you to a 50th wedding anniversary?

Choosing to love each other every single day. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. I think one of the surprises about our marriage in the beginning is we just weren't happy. Yeah, that would be a surprise, especially since we thought going in, but probably every couple of things, we will be the happiest married couple ever because we love Jesus. We love Jesus. We love each other.

We're going into full-time vocational ministry. How could it go wrong? Why wouldn't Jesus bless us and give us happiness in our marriage? Isn't that what He does?

Yeah. And again, we don't need to go into our story because our listeners have heard it too many times. But six months in, you saying the biggest mistake of your life was marrying me. And here's what we often haven't gotten into about that part of our story is that we both, I'm not even sure we talked about it at the time, but we both sort of blame God. Like this was on Him because we're following Him. We're obeying His will. We felt called to be married.

We're not happy. And so isn't that what God does? God's about happiness and happiness in our marriage. That's sort of, we thought, maybe the goal of marriage. And we found out, no, God has a bigger vision than that. Not that that's a bad thing, but it is not the goal. God's goal for marriage is much more than happiness.

Yeah. We're bringing this up because we've got Dean and Sarah back with us today. And he didn't write a marriage book about it, but you sort of did. I mean, Dean, welcome back to Family Life Today. First of all, thanks for being here. Hey, thanks.

It's great to be back. Yeah. And yesterday, you know, we talked a little bit about your book, Getting Over Yourself, which, you know, that would be a great title for a marriage book. Oh, definitely. That could be the essence to a strong marriage. That line right there. I mean, if every spouse understood that.

But let me read your subtitle. It is not a marriage book, but we're going to talk about how it applies to marriage because it's about theology. And man, marriage is about theology.

And our theology was not God's theology. But your subtitle for Getting Over Yourself is Trading Believe in Yourself Religion for Christ-Centered Christianity. And again, you're a pastor of a church in Tallahassee. You're married to Chrissy.

You have two sons and a daughter. Yeah. Yeah. So this is stuff you're living in as a pastor. Theology, what you teach, what other churches teach. So yesterday, we talked about the New Prosperity Gospel. You sort of explained theology.

Give us a 30-second reminder of what that is. The New Prosperity Gospel, which I'm asking people to get over, to move on from and really be careful and be warned over, is the idea that God exists for your self-fulfillment, for your personal potential, for your perceived greatness, to make your wildest dreams come true and ultimately to make you happy. Like that's God's purpose. He's a life coach.

He's a genie. He exists basically for your personal happiness. We should have met with Dean before we got married.

Yeah. And you know, you just sort of describe what a lot of us, and by the way, in the church as well, I was out of the church, think when we get married and really in anything. But as we talk about marriage today, you know, you think sort of God is going to make us happy in our marriage because we're following him.

What is wrong with that perspective? Well, I think it's the idea that marriage first exists for our personal happiness, where when we see in the scriptures, I think marriage exists more for our holiness. That if God's big plan for our lives is to make us more like Jesus, then why would his greatest institution outside of the church, that being marriage, be anything but that, the process of trying to be like Jesus.

And we're having lunch together. And I told you, I said, if you want to see how selfish you are, get married. If you want to see how really selfish you are, have kids. So I think marriage is part of the sanctification process. But ultimately marriage is what he uses to point us to himself.

It's a visible portrait, marriages, of the invisible reality of the relationship between Christ and the church. So for us living that out as human beings and not God, it's a daily commitment in covenant to each other, because the covenant that God has made with us. Now does God not want us to be happy in our marriage? No, I think he definitely wants us to be happy within our marriage. I think he just sometimes defines happiness differently than we do.

Because our view of happiness is very confined to an American Western idea of the of this sort of human flourishing in the moment, meaning things are exactly as I want them to be, that I had this feeling right now of happiness in the moment. And if it's not that, then something must change. So in the New Prosperity Gospel when it comes to marriage, what is happening is this message comes regularly that you just do more of what makes you happy. You can walk into different businesses, there'll be a sign on the wall that says, do more of what makes you happy. But Christians will put some God language on top of that and say that God wants you to do more of what makes you happy.

So it sounds spiritual, it sounds more kosher. And in the New Prosperity Gospel, you could say one of the biggest offenses is doing what they would call settling. And they usually say you're settling for less than God's best. And how that's usually translated in life is that you think settling means that right now in this moment, I'm not happy, and I don't have what somebody else has.

So you're going through Instagram and you're seeing this life that looks perfect to somebody else. And here you are, you are exhausted from the kids. You had to work all day, you just got home and the three kids jump at you. And you just don't want to deal with it right now. You had to do so much laundry.

You're a stay at home mom. And it's the same exact thing it feels like every single day over and over again where the months are really short, but the days are really long kind of idea. And then you had this thought start coming in your head of, well, I'm just not that happy. I'm not miserable, but I'm just not happy in the moment.

This is hard. And I have friends out there that aren't having to deal with this. Yes, I love my spouse. Yes, I love my kids.

But is there a way for me to find happiness in this moment? And the messaging is we'll get rid of anything that is keeping you from being happy. So in their mind, who is that person? It's the symbol of what's mundane in their life, which is their spouse. Either they're not mad at their spouse, they're not even going to say anything really bad about their spouse. They'll say, oh, he's a great dad.

She's a great mom. But we just got married a little bit young. We never had a chance to actually explore and just sort of find ourselves. And here it comes. We just settled. And I think God has somebody out there that's better for me that would make both of us happier. That is happening in churches.

I didn't paint some like false sort of, that's happening all the time. And of course, in the world, we should expect that to happen. But in the church, it's happening over and over again. And in the name of pragmatism, and not wanting to offend anybody, we're not talking about this from the pulpit, because it represents so many people that are sitting in the pews. So what would you say to a spouse that would come to you maybe as a pastor and say, you know, I've been married five years, 10 years, it doesn't matter.

Pick a number. And they say, I feel like I married the wrong person. And you know, they're saying that because I'm not as happy as I thought I'd be with this person.

What would you say to them? First, I want to know, has there been abuse? Has there been adultery? Like, what's actually happening here? And none of those things are taking place, then I want to know if they claim to be a Christian.

Something as simple as where are you getting this idea from? But like these thoughts that you're having, these feelings that you're having, why are you letting these things form your understanding of marriage, rather than the scriptures? I heard someone say one time, if you want to know the person that you're supposed to be married to, look at the name on your marriage license. And that's how you know that you're married to the right person. And I think we had to make sure that we communicate that, that marriage is a forever in this life covenant. And God does not give us the option, again, outside of the exception clause that Jesus would give about adultery that wasn't able to be reconciled for whatever reason.

Obviously, that's a last resort in my personal opinion. But divorce is not an option. And if you think the biggest problem in your marriage is your spouse, and the only solution to it being solved is getting out of the marriage, I would just suggest to that person that they have absolutely no idea what marriage is supposed to be is designed by the scriptures. I don't think marriage is supposed to make you miserable either, right? It's God's institution.

God designed it. Like, He's the author of life and He gave us marriage. So if that's true, as my uncle used to tell me, if it's going to be forever, it might as well not be miserable.

So let's start doing the work of that. And I think one of the biggest barriers to our sanctification to being more like Christ is our own personal selfishness. That's like Jesus said things like, pick up your cross and follow me. Paul said, I die daily.

Jesus, deny yourself. That's a theme throughout the scriptures. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. How did He love the church? He didn't just say He loved the church.

He died for the church, right? I mean, these really strong images of self-denial. So marriage is the constant practice of that.

And I would conclude that joy is found when we're doing things the way Jesus has prescribed for us to do things, even though in the moment it might not feel okay to us. And I think right now the biggest crisis I'm seeing in marriage is even more than things that are real things like pornography and adultery and abuse. Even more than that, what I'm seeing are people buying into this best life now idea and thinking that they would be so much happier if they just had somebody else. That kind of grass is greener is always saying it, but how the grass is greener is becoming a reality in their lives.

And other Christian people are even fueling it. They're saying things like, you just don't seem like yourself. I remember when you used to be so much happier. And then once they separate, you just seem like you again. We're just so happy for you.

You got your smile back. And we're all doing it in the name of Jesus, which God's not going to be mocked and He cannot be happy. What we're seeing take place right now. I'm just thinking of some of the hardest moments of our married life and even our hardest. There've been a lot of them. There've been a lot and I'm thinking of our hardest moments in parenting. I don't think anything has quite shaped me the same as those hard moments because those moments make you fall on your face before God. And it's not about Jesus, I'm not happy.

It's that Jesus, I don't know what to do and I need you desperately and I need your guidance. I need your wisdom. And if we're going to go to the path of just, I just want to be happy. I'm just thinking if we want to face those hardships, we wouldn't be the same people that we are because I think it just grows. It's biblical. It grows us. It takes us deeper. I mean, when you look at biblical characters and the pain and suffering some of them went through, it was devastating and yet, man, that's when God really shaped them and He used them.

Yeah. And I think what you're saying, Dean, is what you say continually in your book is when your eyes are on yourself and you keep looking to yourself or even a marriage, maybe to your spouse for your happiness, you're looking in the wrong place. So a person who says, I married the wrong person, I would say, you're looking in the wrong place.

You for some reason think that person, you know, and again, we turn on TV and that's what we hear. It's like, oh, that you find the right, we call them the one, we find the one and the one is capital O Jesus is if we look vertical. That's what your whole book's really about. Get Over Yourself is a great title for that. That's what marriage is going to do.

If you are not going to get over yourself, you're not going to be happy in your marriage. But if you get over yourself and you say, I'm not going to find life and joy, true joy in my spouse, as wonderful as she is or he is, it's going to be in Christ. That's where real joy is going to come. And it's a deep joy. It's not a worldly joy. It's not circumstantial.

That is going to force me to get over myself. Is that what you're saying? Yes. And I would never for even a moment suggest that these new prosperity churches are telling people to get divorced. That's unfair and that's untrue. What I'm saying is the messaging about ourselves carries over to every area of life. So then in your marriage, if you think it's all about me and my potential, my dreams, my happiness, when you're living a life that you think is mundane and boring, then you believe that it's God's will for you then to get out of that situation because he wants you to be thriving by your own death.

Your definition is personal thriving, not by his definition. And you really do think that he exists for you in the moment to be as happy as you want to be. Talk about you and Chrissy. You've been married how many years? I've been married for 18 years. And has it all been butterflies and romance?

No. Our biggest struggles have been that we're just from two completely different backgrounds. Not good or bad, just very different. We were raised just very different. Our set of parents just very different.

Again, not good or bad is completely different. So some of our biggest adjustments is doing two completely different backgrounds, which really marriage is, right? For this reason, man will leave his father and mother and come together with his wife, cling to his wife. So this is the outworking of that taking place. That's one of the great beauties of marriage. I think why Paul calls it a mystery in Ephesians 5 is you have two folks from two completely different backgrounds, two different experiences, life stories coming together as one.

It really is an amazing story. So what makes our marriage work is that we just really try daily to battle selfishness. I tell people, ask the question regularly, what would it be like to be married to me? And to be well aware of that. And Chrissy truly is probably the most unsolvable person I know. She just does not let things get to her. She has this demeanor to her that has this real kind of humble posture to her. And I have to be careful I don't take advantage of that because she just doesn't get very worked up. She doesn't wear emotions on her sleeve. She doesn't make mountains out of molehills. She doesn't go 10 out of 10 on the freakout scale. She's just really not. Anyone who knows her would describe her that way. Very calm, very steady.

I'm very much motions on your sleeve, intense, full speed ahead. So I have to be careful I don't take advantage of the fact that God made her the way that she is. So in our marriage, I think it's me more or less being aware regularly of the fact that we're just very different and how that's a good thing in God's design. But we just have to regularly decide together that we're not going to let the outside Instagram world influence our family. We love social media. We're on social media, we love Instagram. We're not going to let that be normal for us.

We're going to let it be fun for us. How do you do that, especially with teenagers in the house? How do you make that not be normal? So I tell my oldest son, he's the only one that has Instagram.

We let him get it when he went to high school. And we tell him regularly, when he'll show pictures, show things that are going on, I'll say, hey, man, just remember, that's not necessarily real life. Like that's not really how life exactly is. Like it's our posture in our hearts when our hearts are really being fleshly is that we want to project something to the world. We want to show people that I am this way. I have these things, those type of postures I'd like to project.

And I say, man, just know those things are very fleeting. I just have a constant conversation with him about it. So I want to be able to enjoy social media. His friends are on it at school.

I want to be able to participate in that and have fun and all of that. I just want him to regularly know that it's dangerous and it can really lead you astray. And Instagram actually is usually the trigger and really the red flag that I see in our church or in our community, people I have relationships with, when I know their marriage is in trouble. Because all of a sudden it'll kind of be a progression. But then all of a sudden you start seeing that one of the spouses all of a sudden gets obsessed with wellness. Now I think wellness is important and it's a good thing.

And I need to be a little more serious about it personally, just to be honest. But I think it's a good thing. But when it becomes almost religion and everything becomes about the gym and about health and how they look, and then it's regular selfies. And they're always very pretty in the picture, very nice looking.

Maybe for a guy, it's like muscles in the gym type of idea. All their friends start replying like fire emojis, stunning, beautiful, all these type of things. And all of a sudden that becomes a new reality in their life. And their spouse all of a sudden is never in the pictures. And they start, it's always girls' night, or it's always guys trip this. And I start going, not that there's anything wrong with the girls' night, but when it's four nights a week, you're going, what's going on?

Why don't they want to be home ever? And I had a story where I had a guy come in, and I didn't know him very well. We were acquaintances, and he asked if I could meet with him. And he came and sat down. We made small talk for a minute, and he was a little nervous. And I had been following on Instagram, because we were acquaintances, so I follow his wife on Instagram, follow this guy on Instagram. And he said to me, he said, Yeah, I wanted to come and talk to you today.

I want to make an appointment. I need some advice. And I said, Just about your wife. And he goes, How do you know that? And I said, Man, I don't mean to sound weird or sound creepy, but we follow each other on Instagram.

And I'd just been seeing the progression on Instagram, and I wondered if something was going on. Now they're divorced, sadly, because she really thought that he just wasn't fun enough, he wasn't outgoing enough, that their lives have gotten boring, that they have friends that want to have more fun and that he, you know, doesn't go out enough and doesn't do all these things. They have kids at home, he works a long job. And as a result, like her reasoning for wanting to get divorced simply was that it wasn't very fun anymore, and she wasn't happy. And I even tried to give him like some pointers, like maybe try to do this at home, try to do that at home.

It just didn't matter because in her eyes, he was the object of this mundane and boring life. Wisdom of today would say, then leave. Rather than this being my husband I made a covenant with, let's work through this together and figure out how we can actually have a marriage that brings joy and is flourishing. It really is happening more and more.

I see it all the time, too. And I look at you, Dave, and I think of the things that I thought, Oh, that's not making me happy. You know, when we got married, or you're so laid back, and I tend to be way more intense. And I remember thinking, Man, I wish God would just change that.

Why did I want him to change it? So I would be happy. So you would be something else in my eyes. And now I look back and I think, I'm so glad that you are who you are, that God made you specifically in a certain way because you've shaped me, your personality shaped me.

I love that you're a little more laid back than I am because I would be a mess if you were anything like me. But that's that perspective of when you're following Jesus and you're trusting in him and you're trusting the life that he has for you that will shape you and mold you. His word molds us. I think in some sense, you have to step back and say, Okay, if happiness isn't the goal from God's perspective for a marriage, not that it isn't a goal.

Of course, we want to be happy. Dean, what would you say God's goal is for marriage? You're listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Dean and Sarah on Family Life Today.

We'll hear Dean's response in just a minute. But first, I wanted to let you know about a special group of people who help make conversations like today's possible. They're called Family Life Partners. Partners are a generous community of people who believe in our mission and give financially every month. And thanks to some of these really heroes right now, if you sign up and give monthly, you not only receive all the benefits of our partner program, but your donation will be doubled for a year up to $300,000.

Now that means if you give $25 a month, the impact is actually $50 a month. And on top of that, when you give this month, as our thanks to you, we'll send you a bundle of resources including two books. One is called Not Part of the Plan by Kristin Clark and Bethany Beal.

And the second is called A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas. So become a monthly partner, have your gift doubled for a year and get a bundle of books. And today is the last day to get your monthly gift doubled for a year.

You can give today at or by calling 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now back to Dean and Sarah on God's goal for your marriage. I think it's two things. One, to make us more like Christ and then to project our relationship with Christ to the rest of the world. So the world can know what self-realized sacrifice looks like, what mutual love looks like, and actually to help redefine for the world what love means. Because love now is a feeling in our culture.

You know, I feel this way therefore it's love. You'll hear a couple say we just fell out of love. Well, that's impossible because love's a choice. So every wedding I officiate, I have this one line I always say, not just I really think it's important, I'll say feelings got you to your dating life. Feelings may have even gotten you to your engagement photos. Feelings possibly could have gotten you to this day right here at the altar.

But you know what gets you to a 50th wedding anniversary? Choosing to love each other every single day. It's a choice that you make rather than a feeling.

I hope the feelings are there too, and that is to be cultivated. But we define love simply by feelings. We're in big trouble because feelings are not, feelings aren't reliable.

I think feelings, God gives us feelings, but feelings are unreliable. So rather than listen to our feelings, we'll listen to God. And what's happening in these marriages is we're believing two lies that go back to the Garden of Eden when Eve was tempted. The first lie is I have to go around God for the things I'm looking for, not to God himself. And the other lie is there's more to be gained by disobeying God than there is to be gained by obeying him. So I think, okay, I know the Bible says about divorce, but like I'm sort of some exception clause because God wants me to be happy or that's kind of outdated. God doesn't know my scenario.

That type of thinking. So in my mind I go, you know what, there's more to be gained by disobeying God in this moment than there is to be gained by obeying him. And that is what has caused this crisis to happen I think in many, much of American Christianity, where the divorce rates really troubling.

Yeah. And it is interesting when you think about what you said, the goal of marriage is to become like Christ, which I agree. And I think it's biblical. It's really not about us. It's about us revealing to the world who Christ is by becoming like him.

Well, we all know this, but we don't want to hear this. To become like Christ, it's going to be hard. There's going to be suffering. It's dying to yourself. There's going to be adversity.

You're going to have to get over yourself, right? It's amazing how much the New Testament deals with primarily two things, false teaching and suffering. When you read Paul's letters, that's really what's kind of happened to the church it was dealing with.

And Paul never promises them relief from their suffering. He points them to Christ's return. That one day that God's going to make all things new.

One day it will go away and it might not be on this earth. And that God wants to use your suffering to make his glory and his gospel known to the rest of the world. And I don't think marriage is designed to be one big story of suffering. But I do believe that joy is a pursuit, something that we actually have to go after. And the cool thing about marriage is you don't have to go after it by yourself. It's God's will.

It's not good for man to be alone. So together we get to go on this journey of finding joy and then also sometimes fighting for joy. And I think that's part of the Christian experience. And we have to make sure that we allow that to be part of the Christian experience because the Christian experience is never designed to be one free from adversity. And if the person you're going to spend most of your time with in your life, as two sinners who have been redeemed by God but still are in this broken world, it's going to be moments where there's going to be a struggle. I think it was Dave Harvey who wrote a book called When Sinners Say I Do. That's the reality.

And two sinners have said I do. But we're not doing this ultimately for us. We're doing it because we want to participate in God's design for his glory and for our good. In my mind, there's nothing more beautiful than a wedding picture of a young couple and it could be an older couple getting married. It's like their greatest day, but there's a better picture. And it's that same couple 30, 40 years later.

It's my parents who were married 70 years, had gone through dementia, heart attacks, deaths of a child and to see them sitting together at 90 years old holding hands, having lived life, hard stuff, death and pain and loss. And yet they did it together. In a covenant. In a covenant of marriage. I mean, it's a picture of getting over yourself because they didn't stay there because they felt fulfilled.

They stayed there because they laid down their lives for one another. And that should be the Christian story. And if Jesus laid down his life, why would we think we're exempt from that? That's what's so bizarre about all this.

It claims to be all about Jesus, but the Jesus we portray is not the Jesus of the Bible and we think anything other than the fact that it's going to cost us our lives. It's a daily death to self. Paul wrote I die daily. So the same guy who wrote love is patient, love is kind also wrote I die daily.

And I think we should make sure we're clear on that. That's David Ann Wilson with Dean and Sarah on Family Life Today. Dean's book is called Getting Over Yourself, trading believe in yourself religion for Christ-centered Christianity. You can get it at or by calling 1-800-358-6329.

That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. If you know anyone who needs to hear today's conversation, be sure to share it from wherever you get your podcasts. And while you're there, it really help us out if you'd rate and review us. Now tomorrow, David and Wilson are going to be talking again with Dean and Sarah about how God gives us gifts, not to make a big deal out of ourselves, but to make a big deal out of him. That's coming up tomorrow. We'll hope you join us. On behalf of David and Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-11 13:41:44 / 2023-01-11 13:54:34 / 13

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