I think we're living in a day and age where it's really easy for marriages to be tempted in every way, unfaithfulness. We're bombarded with social media. We're connecting with people that we've never been able to connect to. Are you confessing right now?
No. 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 familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. We have been really careful in putting boundaries in our marriage. But I have a good friend that just happened to reach out to an old guy that she went to college with. They had five kids. They'd been married for quite a while. And sadly enough, she kept connecting, and it ended up in an affair.
And that was one of our best friends and best couple friends. Yeah, and it was obviously something we then walked through with them and the miracle. God did a miracle because I literally said to you, even God can't save this marriage. And it was a horrible thing to think, but He did.
He really did. But it highlighted how critical protection is to protect your marriage, to set up boundaries, not just sexually, but in all different areas. And younger people think we have been ridiculous.
Like you guys are so overboard because we've been very intentional about protecting and putting boundaries in our marriage. Yeah, and so I think it's a great topic to talk about. And we've got the couple in the studio. The couple.
They'll talk about it. I mean, we've got Deborah Faleta and her husband, John. And usually Deborah's on podcasts and interviews by herself because she's the author.
Wrote a book called Choosing Marriage, which you wrote without your husband, John. But John's sitting over there in the engineer booth, and we had lunch with him. We're like, this guy's got dynamite insights.
I don't know how you guys pulled this off. He is amazing. He's a physician. He's smart. He's really wise.
We're like, oh, yeah. And Deborah, she's amazing. She's a podcaster.
She's an author. They're both mom and dad of four kids, one daughter, three sons. Homeschoolers. You guys are just crazy. Yeah, you're both homeschooling your kids. So this is fun.
Welcome to both of you to Family Life Today. Thanks for having us. Now, John, let me ask you, why have you never done this?
I don't know. I live the adventure from behind the scenes, I guess. He does so much behind the scenes.
So he maybe doesn't do as much with the mic, but so much of the background of the ministry is because of him. Deborah, tell the story of when you were speaking at a large conference and you were selling books, and you had someone come up to you commenting about the guy selling the books for you. Yeah, he's like, how did you get an ophthalmologist to follow you around the country and sell your books? I was like, well, he is my husband, so it works out.
That's good. So you guys have been married how many years? Fourteen years. Fourteen years, four kids, and your youngest is what? Six months old.
Six months old. You do homeschool. You do write. You're a therapist.
You're an eye surgeon. How do you keep your marriage strong? That's a great question. And I would say it's something that we didn't get right in the beginning. When you first get married, even as a therapist, at the time I was a therapist in training, you still don't know what you're doing.
It takes learning and experience, doing things wrong, and then getting it right. Jon, did you ever say, stop being a therapist? Did you ever say that? I have definitely said that. I've heard those words a couple times. I'm not a client.
I'm your husband. Yeah, I would, too. I mean, there's got to be times you feel like you're getting analyzed, though. Like I shared with Debra at lunch, and when I'm up preaching and I see Jack Wilson, he's a therapist in our church, I feel like he's got to be looking at me like, oh, my goodness, you have so many issues. Have you ever felt that? I don't actually feel that. In the reality, being totally truthful, she's usually right.
Can somebody just give me a little clip of that to take home? Let's edit that one out. But in reality, the fun is, you know, we've been learning together, growing together, and it's been amazing to watch our marriage transform over the past decade, and we're still learning today. It's not like we have it totally figured out, but we're on the journey together.
That's really cool. Yeah, and one of the things you wrote about in Choosing Marriage, but you also, together, I've found you're passionate about, is this idea of protecting your marriage. I love your chapter title. Always use protection.
Obviously, we're, you know, tongue in cheek on that one. But talk about protection. How do you protect your marriage? Yeah, and first and foremost, I wouldn't be able to write these chapters if I didn't have a spouse who is helping me live them out. You don't just write it.
You have to live it, you know. So this is something that I think we're both passionate about. Proverbs 4 23, above all else, guard your heart.
And it doesn't say guard other people's hearts or other people should guard your heart. Like, we're responsible for protecting what God has given us, and that's our marriage. So we're deliberate about that in a few ways, right? Jon, did you guys start out like that? Like, hey, this is going to be something that we're talking about. This is important to us.
Did you start there and know that? I don't think we knew it to start. I mean, I think we've always been totally committed to one another. But I think as we watch, just, you know, as you guys shared, you see other couples falter. You see people make mistakes. You see, you know, we see it, unfortunately, on the news all the time with even church leaders. And you realize no one's immune to this, you know. It can happen to anyone in any place.
Including us. And you realize you don't find a great marriage, you make a great marriage. And part of making it is this process of putting boundaries around your marriage.
What's that look like, Debra? Like, you have some principles. Start us off with how you teach this. Yeah, I would say three main things. And we can kind of talk about them in order. But we protect our emotions. We protect our interactions. And we protect our time.
Those are like the three, what I like to say the intruders. Because that's where we're most susceptible to making a decision that's not healthy or going down a path that's not good for our relationship. So when it comes to our emotions, you realize that there's so many opportunities to either miss sharing your emotions with one another or ending up sharing them with somebody other than your spouse. So we try to be really intentional about making sure that we give the first fruit of our emotional connection to one another.
How do you guys do that? Especially now. You've got four kids. You've got a six month old. And right now you're probably just surviving some days.
So how do you do that? I think now it looks like, you know, we're very deliberate with how we interact in our time. So like by 9pm, you know, we're fighting to get all the kids in bed. And kids know it's mommy and daddy time after that. There's no coming in the bedroom.
I don't care who's hiding in the closet, you know, like, like it's our time. And they know that our room is kind of our sanctuary. And we're very deliberate about spending time together, you know, and it's, it's easy to, you know, hop in bed, turn on TV, turn on Netflix. Oh, yeah. That's, you know, that's the quick, easy, relaxing way.
But it's being deliberate about, hey, let's talk a little bit. Tell them about our Sunday night ritual. Yeah, this is good. Yeah, so something that we started early on in our marriage that I would actually say totally transformed our marriage and has made it incredible and has transformed me as a man and in every way has made me better is our Sunday night check ins. So every Sunday night at 9pm, you know, initially I had my iPhone alarm pop off, 9pm comes, we got a check in. I love that you set your alarm. Otherwise he wouldn't remember.
That's how I knew that he was being intentional about this. So your alarm goes off? So alarm goes off, we hop on the couch. And you know, the first time we sit there, you know, there's just a lot of crickets going off. And it was really, especially for you, right? It was really, I'm used to the emotional conversation. It was super awkward. I mean, I talked more in 10 minutes with her than I probably shared my emotions my entire life. Really? Did you ask some great question, Deborah?
I don't recall that I did. I think it was just like having these big picture check ins. Like, let's talk about how we're doing emotionally. Let's talk about sins and struggles.
Just kind of these big picture things that we would both take turns talking about. If I said to Dave, like, let's talk about how you're doing emotionally. I was just gonna ask John, what do you say? Because if Ann said that to me, I'd be like, I don't know. I'm okay.
That's exactly what I said. I was like, I don't know. And she's like, well, I don't know. It's not good enough. You got to think for a second.
Take a minute to pause. And what are you actually feeling? So then I said, hey, you know, because at the time I think I was in medical school, you know, there's always this like baseline test of baseline stress of, you know, if I don't score high enough on my tests, I can't go into the field that I want to study.
And so I want to be ophthalmology, which you have to score really high to get into it. And so I always was feeling a little stressed with school. You know, we literally were living on like, I don't know, $2,000 a year, like basically nothing and loans. So we always had money. Like it was funny.
Two kids, two little kids. That's why we started this because we were actually not at a good place. We were at a place where we were both defaulting to unhealthy patterns and not connecting well. And it's like, this isn't going to work for either of us. Like, this is not a good place. And we can't just let our marriage be on autopilot and just see what happens.
So we were like, this is what we need to be deliberate about connecting. So John, did you find yourself, because I'm thinking, okay, if I'm you and I've been you, you know, I've felt exactly those things in different times in my life. If I was being really honest, I would be saying, I'm scared. I'm afraid. I'm stressed. I don't know if I can do it.
I don't know if I, is that the kind of things you're talking about? And just saying that out loud is like, oh man, this is going to be helpful. If Dave said that to me, did you feel like this, Deb? Like, that's endearing. That vulnerability in that going deep. It is. And if there's any bitterness, he's working too much or I have too much on my plate in medical school.
I'm home with the kids. That sharing dissolves that. It invites you into their heart. I mean, I feel like it's an endearing thing because it's an invitation to come and experience what I'm experiencing.
Let me share this with you. And why you have to protect your emotions is because it is such an intimate part of who you are. If your spouse isn't receiving that part of you, who is? Is it your mom? Your sister? Your best friend?
Nobody? Or somebody outside that's inappropriate. You know, like that's where it begins is having that comfort level to just be honest about how we feel.
At the Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway that we do at Family Life, we talk about level five communication where one is sort of superficial, but five is like, I'm going to go and open my heart. So you're going there. Was that a struggle? It was unnatural. You know, my body's like, hey, this is DEFCON 5. High alert here, you know? And part of it too, like we confess to each other. We confess sin, you know? And at first it's really awkward to say things you've done wrong. What's that look like? Hey, it's time for you to confess your sin.
And you can't ask them about their sin. Is that what you're asking? No, I'm just saying, how did you get into that? Like, oh, it's your turn. Now it's my turn.
Yeah. How did you decide that? I mean, you just begin to realize that it's easy to live in a way where you don't fully know each other unless you're intentional about asking those questions. And I am a therapist, but I was a newbie therapist at the time.
So it's not like I had this extraordinary set of skills that the average person doesn't have. It was just a matter of what does it look like to connect with my spouse and to share my heart? James 5 tells us, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you can be healed. It's like, I had accountability in college with some girlfriends.
Why can't we have that in our relationship? And what does that look like for each of us? Does this mean there's no secrets? There's no secrets.
No, we're open with everything. So, I mean, it started early, like if I had an inappropriate thought or if I looked at a woman inappropriately, I told her. And you know what happens when you confess those things, you get freedom from them. And I realized if I have to tell her these things on Sunday night, you're highly motivated during the week to choose the right thing.
Oh, it's accountability. Because you realize this is what I'm going to share. This is how I'm going to feel. This is how I'm going to hurt my wife. And it's going to make me feel horrible.
And I'm wrong in doing this. And it helps you become, that's why I say it's transformed our marriage, made me a better man because you live in freedom, joy. And then the fullness that you get to experience of being fully known, fully loved, fully accepted is deeper than anything you could imagine.
It's unbelievable. Are there things that you think shouldn't be shared, like emotionally or too far? Well, I always tell people that if your life is like a book, chapter by chapter, make sure that your spouse knows the summary. They don't have to know every sentence and every detail. You know, let's just even talk about that example of I had an inappropriate thought. Well, I don't have to know who it was and what you were thinking and all the nitty gritty details or something in my past.
I don't need to know exactly what you did and how you did it. But I just need to have a general idea of where you're struggling and you need to have a general idea of where I'm struggling. It's accountability and it's also freedom. You know, I think there's something here for the church as well, but what if it started in our marriages? Here's a question for you, and you're a therapist, so I'd love to hear your thought. A husband tells his wife after he's prayed one night, I just prayed to God I'd rather be dead than married to you. Should he say that? This was our conversation. This was me. Our first year of marriage. Were you the honest one?
Yes. And I said it because we were told before marriage, share every thought you ever had. I'm noticing some things about you, Dave.
I really am. What are you noticing? I don't know if I want to hear. I'm noticing a lot of spiritual lingo used to kind of tell her what you really needed to tell her. Like, remember when you said he brought you a list that he prayed about and now you're praying again? You're spiritually abusing me is what you're saying.
He's blaming God for a whole lot. Well, the second it came out of my mouth, this is when the first nine months of our marriage, the second I said, and I said it because we're supposed to be totally honest, I don't want to hide anything. As soon as it came out, I looked at her when I saw her face just drop. I was like, that was stupid. That's one of those things that I didn't need to be that specific about. I really had just said that because we were really struggling. You were annoyed too.
And that's the difference. I'm not sharing my honest opinion about what he needs to work on and change and what I don't like about him. This is an honest assessment of me, what I'm doing, what I'm struggling with, where I'm at. It's not me assessing him. It's easy to be honest about assessing my spouse.
Here's what you got to work on. But how the key to freedom, I think, is learning to give that honest assessment to ourselves, taking the plank out of our own eye. And it's that vulnerability of exposing, this is who I am, and it's not pretty.
And having our spouse continue to receive us is the gospel. I think it's really cool that what you're modeling for us and every couple can be done by anybody. I mean, part of me is like, well, you're a therapist, so you're really good at this.
Like, no, any husband and wife, if they had the guts and the courage to say, let's do a check-in and be honest, this can really change their marriage. And I think a great starting point is you look at your own life and think about what's one thing I want to do better in? Or what's one thing I want to get better in? You know, if you're a parent who gets super angry, choose that. Just check in that week, say, hey, how was, you know, I struggled with anger this week with the kids. I responded this way. Or when you told me this, you know, I think if you look at yourself, we each have one thing that we usually struggle with or tend to go to, that's a great starting point. That's good. And it's not going to magically change one day.
You know, it's a process of years and years. And then it's also building in the accountability. So being open about things. Like one of the things that we talked about for protecting your interactions, like Deb and I are very deliberate about, like I haven't deleted my internet history the entire time I've had my computer for seven years. She has total freedom. She can look at my phone. She can look at my computer. I have nothing I'm afraid of her to see. So we've gone from guarding your emotions.
Now you're looking at how you guard your actions. Your interactions. Your interactions. Okay. And what about you, Deb?
What's that look like? What else do you guys do? Well, you know, just even in the ministry world, you're meeting a lot of people and there's so many opportunities to connect with people of the opposite sex. So we're always cautious about not accepting invitations where we're going to be alone with someone of the opposite sex. I mean, it's really not a big deal to throw in a third party. And it's not even because we're worried or we don't trust each other. Some of it also is just so that there's no opportunity for anyone else to think something might be happening that's not. Not even giving a hint. Not even a hint of an opportunity or a misunderstanding, you know? So we're just really careful with interactions. If there's someone I'm interacting with on a regular basis via email or text, I'm always telling him what's going on. He's always telling me. We loop each other in.
I mean, in marriage, you're one. And so seeing that in the context of your interactions with people, it isn't weird to CC him into an email because we're one. Dave and I do that all the time.
I'll just include him on the text if it's with another guy. And I'm like, hey, Dave's on this. And it's just become a habit for us. Some people think it's ridiculous.
But you're right. We're one. And my world is Dave's world. And we don't want to exclude one another from that. And the last one, you talk about time, like guarding your time.
What's that look like? This is the trickiest one and I think something that we struggle with the most in the world because within seconds, you can be on your phone in the same room but doing completely different things. Jon can be playing chess.
I can be on Instagram. And the time passes just like that. So I think protecting your time is one of the most important things that you can do for your relationship. We really have struggled with this. Just because screen time is just so accessible where it's in our hands. We can work. We can do emails. We can play games.
And we have found that to be isolating at times. So you're saying the same thing. So how do you do it? Yeah, I think it's realizing that any time you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else.
So if you're saying, you just be aware of the choices you're making. So with technology, you know, I try sometimes, and I'm guilty of this. I'm on my phone in the evenings checking things. But being delivered about, okay, this next hour through dinner, whatever, I'm on my phone on the desk. There's nothing really urgent I actually have to get to, you know? Like, I don't need to know this fact on Google immediately.
I can wait, you know? So it's putting our phone away. You don't need to know what the score is of the game at that moment. I'm not even going to look over there. He's like, that's why I have the watch out. Exactly.
I can look indiscreetly. Just checking the time, honey. Oh, they're having fun.
Hilarious. Yeah. So the other thing, too, is just learning to do things together, like our hobbies, instead of having separate hobbies.
Yeah. Doing things that we both like. I did a survey of a thousand married couples, and over 50% of them said they have separate hobbies and interests. Think about how much time is spent in separate things with the little time you have that you could actually be doing something together. So we've learned to take up things that the other likes or learn about something that the other person likes or do something together that's new for both of us.
And just kind of learning to guard our time in that way. I felt like I should probably start playing golf. You don't have to play golf.
I should. Tennis is good enough for me. Or you can both take up something new together. That's true.
And it also looks really different in different seasons. When I was working at one point in my training 100 hours a week, we had young children under five, multiple kids under five. The reality is when you have no time, you have no time for hobbies. So you need to accept, my free time is not I can't go out golfing for six hours. That's just a poor choice that's going to separate me from my wife. So when you don't have time, you don't have separate time.
That's just the reality. And I think sometimes as Americans, we try to squeeze everything in, go, go, go, go. We don't pause and stop. And that's where we tried to be deliberate about choosing hobbies together.
Like we'll go for walks, we'll go hiking. I love playing chess, random game. She learned how to play chess so she could play with me. I don't love it, but I've learned how to do it.
Look at you go. That's awesome. Yeah. And I think, you know, ultimately this idea of trust, the fruit of it is that you end up experiencing the deepest joy, pleasure, satisfaction greater than any of these other things appear to give you, but you get to experience in your marriage. Well, I mean, I think as I'm listening, the whole idea of protecting your marriage, when you choose to do that, it builds trust. That's probably the biggest thing I'm hearing is like when you say, my life is not mine, it's ours. And so my interactions, you're going to know.
My internet history, you're going to know. My conversation with other people, my time, my emotions. That builds trust. And a marriage has to be built on trust.
And if I'm withholding that, that creates distrust. And then the marriage starts to fall apart. So what a great gift this conversation I think has been for couples to say, okay, you have given us really practical. I mean, even if couples just said, okay, let's start with the Sunday night or Monday night, whatever.
Yeah, whatever night works or day. Do a check in and say, I'm going to be open with my heart and my life to you. That's going to start something new in a marriage that could save the marriage. Every single one is like a string, a new string that connects you to your spouse. The more you have, the more deliberate you have, the stronger your marriage is. And I love that you guys have been incredibly intentional about your relationship and about your family.
It's inspiring to see how God's using you. And I love having John on the broadcast. Thank you guys. Thanks for having us.
Thanks for having us. I don't know why it is that we think that our marriages will get better and better if we do nothing. If we just let them coast, that they're going to flourish on their own. Well, marriage needs intentionality. As David and Wilson were just saying with John and Deborah Faleta. And we need to protect our marriage. We need to build some protective boundaries around our relationship. Deborah Faleta has addressed this specific subject in a book she's written called Choosing Marriage.
Why it has to start with we is greater than me. We have copies of that book in our Family Life Today Resource Center. You can order the book from us online at familylifetoday.com or you can call to order at 800-358-6329.
That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. You know, helping marriages thrive and helping to protect marriage relationships is at the heart of what we're all about here at Family Life. Our goal as a ministry is to effectively develop godly marriages and families.
We believe godly marriages and families can change the world one home at a time. We're so grateful for those of you who are not only regular listeners to this program, but you're the people who make this program possible in your community and for audiences all around the world. Those of you who contribute from time to time or who are monthly partners, thank you for your support of this ministry of Family Life Today. You need to know that today there are hundreds of thousands of people who have benefited from this conversation because of your generosity. On behalf of those couples, thank you so much for your support. If you're a longtime listener and you've never made a donation to support Family Life Today, I want to invite you to join the team today and help make Family Life Today possible in the future so more people more often can be impacted by practical biblical help and hope.
You can donate online at familylifetoday.com or call to donate at 800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. We hope to hear from you. Your spouse is getting a call. You go to pick up the phone and before you know it, you see a previous search they made for X-rated content. I know a lot of spouses have been there.
It can make you feel inadequate, betrayed, and even disgusted. Well, listen tomorrow on Family Life Today with David Ann Wilson as they talk with Rosie McKinney on setting boundaries and seeking help. On behalf of David Ann 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.
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