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The Best Choices You Can Make for Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
December 17, 2020 5:00 am

The Best Choices You Can Make for Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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December 17, 2020 5:00 am

Psychologist Dr. Ron Welch and his wife, Jan, outline several simple but highly effective decisions a husband and wife can make to nurture their marriage. (Original air date: April 8, 2020)

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I would really bring everyone here in the aftermath that like every day when I struggle it was hard to breathe. Sometimes they would hide the dysfunction day-to-day and it was so lonely when Carrie learned of her husband's affair.

She felt betrayed by God. She lost hope until she heard a Focus on the Family podcast it over and over again.

It felt like sitting down with a friend who went like at any moment in the end it anywhere wrote me in a Good Way, Jim Daly working together we can feel more broken marriages like Karis and give families hope, please call 800.

The A in the word family. That's 800 a family or donate a in your gift will be double. It's a daily decision. If you want to be in love that we have is language that talks about it happening to us like as an outside force of the fall in the log as opposed to making a conscious decision to say I want to love you going to love you, Dr. Ron Welch is our guest today on Focus on the Family and he and his wife Jan have some simple advice for your marriage, they can really be implemented today your hostess focus president Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller, John. If you think about it every day of our lives is made up of lots of little decision we decide whether or not to snooze button to do that this morning. I wanted to see what but researchers say that on average a person makes about 35,000 decisions. No wonder I'm tired last night and they said yeah. I could see that is tell me whether to get up right now, whether to scratch my head whether to walk across the room.

We put in that context I could see how we would reach 35,000 decisions a day. But here's something we often don't think of as a decision loving our spouse. Hollywood often paints love is this, you know, huge romantic.

You hear the theme to build a good as you know, the theater release diamond rings all of that, but as were going to learn from our guest today. It's actually the small simple choices that can transform your marriage in a big way.

That's good news. Dr. Ron Welch is a clinical psychologist who specializes in marriage and family, his wife Jan is a teacher. She works with at risk children the been married for over 30 years, have two grown boys and two grandkids. Dr. Welch is written a book called 10 choices successful couples make the secret to love that lasts a lifetime, and we have that.

Of course at her website details are in the episode show notes Ron and Jan, welcome to Focus on the Family, thank you so much for having us were glad to be here. Okay, let's get you been married over 30 years now understand you decided to occasionally four days after meeting each other what is going four days. What's that all about.

I think this is my life story to tell my wife Ron and I were at Denver University together and I realize he was such an intelligent, kind person and we ended up doing a project together and we were able to cast me out and he was when we laughed. He wanted to borrow quarter because he was in a move someone from our date tests another day looking like a phone call make this part of the thank goodness the line was busy because I asked him what it was and he says what explained that I was like I like movies and we were never part I convinced her I had to move one date around to make room for not work very well, but the end result is together the next few days and after three or four days of spending time together we looked at each other and said she will go look at rings and would like okay so then you get married. How did that go in the early days of your marriage know each other after we I would think there were some problem, not the not the best plan as you hear our story unfold a bit, you'll find that one of the reasons that I wanted this to happen so quickly was that I was really insecure guy I needed to control things and be in charge and I really believed that point that if she really got to know me and what would happen if she probably would want to marry me and so I wanted it to happen quickly and soon, so that God could move things along because I was pretty insecure about how that would work so did that come out pretty quickly. Then what I would describe as a marriage trap.

In some ways not to.

I'm not trying to be unkind. Obviously when you try to compensate for those insecurities. It's kinda like get the girl and then we'll deal with my issues later right and to the point of the controlling. I couldn't leave the apartment without him. And if I chose to do something I would kinda pay for it because it would be in a position he would keep asking questions when you say it's not worth that effect in your book you talk about the difference between falling in love and jumping in love. What's your distinction. You know that's where these choices come in right Jim, it's a daily decision.

If you want to be in love.

That day we have this language that talks about it happening to us like it's an outside force. We fall into love, as opposed to making a conscious decision to say I want to love you I'm going to love you in choosing to love you in my case after year.

She told me this is not working and in God's perfect world, I would've been healed. Everything would've been great. In reality it was probably eight or 10 years and there. There's nothing I regret more my life than the fact that she had to help me become the man got on me to be well in the irony is that is in part what marriage is about. Unfortunately, in the modern world we've lost that understanding of completing each other and will unfold. Some of that as we move through the story.

You also mentioned something called choice theory say that it can bring hope to any marriage so walk us through choice theory, you know, I think there's a level of expectation. People have and there's a level of understanding that makes them think this is just the way it is this what has to be and there's not much more we can do about it. Choice theory says that in every single situation you have opportunities God created us to be a certain kind of person in his image and we can act in that image if we so choose.

We cannot not.

And so what I've done in my understanding of choice there is to apply that to how couples make choices, whether it's getting up in the morning and deciding today I'm in honor my wife. I'm in a look at her in the face and tell her how beautiful she is warm and be someone who will honor and respect and love my wife or my husband in a way that is more about me than about them and I think that's where comes from you in one of those you mentioned it's a choice to be unselfish and I think when you look at marriages and you know, embrace a Christian perspective you're trying to walk more like Christ. This is exactly.

I think why he created marriage the way he did because were attracted to opposites that typically can rub you the wrong way over time and what you've got to learn to do is to choose to be unselfish because were selfish creatures because of our send nature, right, I think there's two kinds of models of marriage in the world right now. One is the me kind of marriage. And once the estimate the mean marriage really focuses on this idea that I'm in this for me as soon as you don't meet my needs.

I'm out and you see divorces you see people who have affairs because it's about me and if I get my needs met him to go find someone to let me ask you this question about the early years of your marriage. The first 8 to 10 years. Then Jan you had to be unselfish recognize Ron's controlling no temperament.

How did you survive well my father is very similar and a way of control and sunlight was very easy for me because I wanted him to be happy and I would sacrifice everything that so he could be happy and that things would be good and I really wish I had someone tell me that you have to hold them accountable will write easy isn't necessarily healthy right and that's a big point. So that's what you're saying is that I in essence I loud with that. You allowed it to happen and that's what happens. I think in a lot of those things because for your insecurities. Whatever reason you hold back some of the things he might have said to the person and you just can't keep doing that until it's not always beneficial in your marriage.

So when controlling. You also have a part in allowing that I sent you and I appreciate that honesty really both of you talk about this first 8 to 10 years, I think, for a couple that may be in that situation right now they're still at your for was just imagine that a couple who's listening. How can we cut their pain and half they don't have to go 8 to 10 years. What were some of those things in those years, six, seven and eight that begin to change things for you.

What was it that woke you both up to this on healthiness so I remember the day God slapped me across the face with this.

My sons were starting to talk to my wife in that same manner. Why aren't you were supposed to be.

Why didn't you get me here you need to do this for me.

I given the data lecture I don't talk to your mom that way, and I remember guy just slapped me across the head and saying who you think is teaching them to disrespect women I've taught you a different way devalue your wife are you doing this and there was this inconsistency between my faith in between what I was and I think that's that couple you're talking about in year four. I think there's an inconsistency between I love you I'm going to church with you. I'm telling you I value you.

But when we get home until a new what you need to do for me only give a quick example. I would ask Jan something like what you want to go for dinner.

I really wasn't asking her where would you like to go for dinner. I wanted to start a conversation about barbecue right you actually know.

Yeah I'm the guy that really doesn't know I could care less and I wish I could portray myself in a better light. But I can't because it wasn't just you and I did that with that was how I worked my life as root of that insecurity.

It's like and so scared about things getting out of control that as long as I can control everything. It'll be okay and I fight that every day trying to say I fight trust God and God is my back.

Why am I so anxious and worried, where did that come from my mom got bless her, she was an anxious woman but she was, like, the glass was just have to empty it was draining rapidly. If that makes sense, though it does take a look around the corner and see all the things that could go wrong's of fear and anxiety. And I got really good at trying to do enough to maybe prevent those bad things yeah I mean that that there usually is that you know early childhood development issues that people encounter worked well until I got married and then it caused yeah yeah I think many people are going to lean into this next question because it affects all of us as human beings is just part of being on this earth.

You mention a choice that you outlined is choosing to let go of old baggage and Jan, I think this was especially difficult for you even though referred Ron's letting go's on that baggage. How has your past affected your marriage. I think it impacted a lot as I said I being controlled was kind of normal for me.

I didn't know something different and pleasing somebody might pretty much always controlled by your parents are pretty much do you think that helped you make a decision to marry Ron because you saw that in and I don't drink that holds all that and him okay I didn't really realize it until after we were married and then it was like oh I married my dad. But in a good way for many peoples there's so many wonderful qualities about him. He's an amazing person that was just a part that we needed to work on and I really didn't do my part in holding him accountable say now I'm going to go and be with my friends and Jan effect in the book.

I think you position it is blaming yourself which can I say this so that women can hopefully releases women are so quick to look at their own selves, and sometimes that's good but sometimes it can become unhealthy. That's what you ascribe. It was always blaming yourself. That's not the last bond that's not good and baggage is what weighs you down and that we knew and packet it stays in the marriage and use that as a crutch and so I'm getting rid of that baggage and really looking at it.

It helps so much. I find the courage to say hey Ron, I challenge that a little bit.

Did you ever anniversary. The first anniversary. I said I feel like I'm in a golden cage is there's other good things, but I can't get out of the cage because you let me that I did beginning of an eight more year journey. I think a little few more years because my part and not really trusting Annette because at some point it always came back up again he had to work through that will speak for a moment to those deep patterns that we learn as children and then how we you know manifestoes as adults.

This is an almost compulsive behavior. It's hard to grab a hold of that and when you have that thought to grab it captive just like the word talks about to take that captive so it doesn't come out of our mouth.

As James talks about the power of the tongue.

So what discipline have you applied self-discipline to change those things. I had a student and a professor at Denver seminary had a student asked me that exact question, maybe a year or so ago because the right student and part of the answer was you can't start by trying to change your entire life, you get to some to be different tomorrow to start with a small choice and say so what could I do today that would lead me to make a self less choice, or an unselfish choice as a part of selfish choice, so it might be something like okay you said you want to play softball on talking to the guys out there, they assume they have a softball game so they should just go play softball. They don't ask their wife or the wife would take care of the kids at night.

They just assume will be fun. She wants to go, the girls and there's like some permission needed. That's a power issue is not okay everybody one states permission, the other does.

Yeah it should be a matter saying. So how can I serve you today. What would you like to do tonight so you could really get closer to God. You want to go to Bible study.

I'll take care of the kids, but more of the time you look at people's schedules. I have the couple to work with them a marriage therapist that the couples plot the planners and you'll see everybody in there you'll see their job, their dog some dining Frank I mean everybody shows up in their schedules with their own names don't show up in each other's schedule because they don't plan time. They don't think about the we can say when we can be married this week. So one of the choices I try to make with Janice to say today when we can be married today that is so good and it's great you know, especially when you know that person is thinking about you and really cares about what you may want to do which of such a change in our marriage is as always when did he want to do if he wanted barbecue and I wanted Mexican we would go get barbecue and now, and the like in the old days now is like where do you really want to go and I like I feel like I can say that it's a simple thing but it really impacts your life in other ways I'm with you. Let's go get next to me. You know run I want to ask you this to you have a statement or a descriptor called the Niagara Falls analogies that helps couples de-escalate so often I mean even for Jean and I that's what we need. So often is how to de-escalate this because I've said something that obviously has triggered her and sometimes I look for that de-escalation is I doubt so speak to that.

How do I Niagara Falls listen healthier way. How do I pull back. Especially if you want to win in this moment which is your competitive nature thing which I do possess and so you know it's about headache and how I win this argument. Okay, help me out. Mr. therapist, you betcha. I'm so glad you estimate that you and this is the single most effective thing I've ever seen in counseling, but this is important.

It is so amazing. I was in the prison system for many years on and what is I guess I got it but I working a lot you can.

A lot of anger problems and I met a guy named Bill Schliemann he was doing work on a Niagara Falls look at how that affected anger and I said man. Can I use this for marriage and afterwards his organization. Let me use this with marriage couples and what I do is examine the false I have big waterfall like a water my Canadian friends will make sure I say the Canadian site is prettier throughout winter but what most people don't do is go back up River about two or 3 miles it's calm, it's peaceful. You can get in and out of the water. You can make choices. But what you want to do as you get closer. The falls we've been there it was, you know you have a roaring sound of the water.

There's there's a point of no return and this is what happened the inmates I worked with were two days before the lunch line when someone elbowed them they could make a different choice when they're down on the rec yard with a shank trying to stab somebody it's too late to make a different choice. The board he made the call. There over there over the falls and so with couples I say. I asked him to make four lists. I asked the husband and make a list about how he knows what he's okay and what is not okay.

I asked the wife to make a list about how she knows when he's okay or not okay because sometimes our wife or husband is a lot more about how okay we are and we do right and asked the wife to make a list about the husband and about herself. These four lists give you all sorts of ideas of how you know things aren't okay and I asked him to rank order what they do, then, is they use these lists and I have some couples that had huge picture laminated of Niagara Falls open their kitchen wall and they just identify what are warning signs when we getting close to the falls when we getting anxious or upset or angry or frustrated and they choose to make choices way up River before they go over the falls of those are in essence the cable safety cable that's right. Now that's really good. Another choice you mentioned and talk about with couples is the choice to communicate positively. I think I get that one, but I think the power of that I'm doing that more in my marriage. Now that I have in the past and it is really good. Make sure you're more positive than negative. Yes, I like to think that what I can do to make someone else's day better. Is there something I can complement them on. Is there something I can tell they're worried about something. Do you need to talk about it. I work with children and you need to be able, in many ways, to see if things are happy that things are happening and you communicate with them. You pull not you talk to them. I love being able to make someone else's day better. And I think Mike being positive and communicating that and sometimes you just don't know.

A smile can make somebody's day having a really rough day. Unfortunately, many teenagers are needing that a lot more guy would say double down on the positivity with natural is at that stage of life. There's so many negatives coming. I would also add delivery matters. The attitude the tone of voice can throw a message right out the window. See got a deliberate pause. That's good, effective 10 rules for positive communication and Joan will post those with excellent give me a couple of those. Let me mention one or two but what's so for example, nothing good tends to happen communication after 9 PM that's close to be home by midnight. Nothing good at my home with couples I Johnny know if if couple starts talking about a conflict at 930 when they're both tired and the kids just went to bed. It's not go well. Another would be if if you think about bringing up the past you know the great pancake incident of 2012. Whatever you just let it go. Don't bring up the past and bring in new stuffs. I think the rules have a lot to do with being fair in your communication marital coat of arms was mentioned that one Hall boy this is interesting. I do this a lot with couples near the end of counseling and you member back when the these be a family crest on your front door. I asked couples to think about that and say one of the words and images you'd like your family to represent and I asked him to put those together come up with the words come up with the images and then make a project make a crust put on your front door for one to see these are the things that our family represents when people see God through our family. This is how they're going to see it and it's amazing what people come up with in terms of how they represent how people will see God through them and what their family stands for and that is really good. I think I'll do that with the boys not to see what you post your own but Ron you say there's something called unspoken truths and that they can be a silent killer and marriage what you mean by that. This is all the things that you know about your wife right now that you believe to be true. And you're fairly certain the really can't talk you out of it I'm you believe. For instance, something like you kind of are a lazy person or someone else thinks.

My husband cares more about work than me or maybe you really probably going to think of yourself before me. Most times it's the unspoken truths that are what in scientific world would be called Givens they drive everything else because there assumptions that are so powerful they form the basis of what you choose one of Jan's assumptions was that she wasn't worthwhile enough to stand up for herself and be treated the way she deserve to be treated and so she kind of took my inappropriate ridiculous immature behavior for many years I would call it learned helplessness because of remember the old animal experience. They shot the dog's dog to jump back down eventually jot dogs lay down and they say you can shock, maybe chemically jump right yeah and that's I think what it was like for you is like why bother trying. He's not gonna listen yeah and sometimes especially when I would bring something that was not like money or something and he could come and explode out of that. Why did you spend matter. Those kind of things and those became my unspoken to some like to talk to him about money because it usually comes back on me so you hide hide it emotionally and then you know you find something you stick in your closet in the back and bring it out and he be like in my closet for a while, you know, because I knew that if I told him he might react so negatively and Artie felt bad maybe about buying at so unspoken truths can really be strangle your marriage okay so the woman is going. That's exactly where I'm at today. What do you do to change that trajectory. How do you work up the courage to say we need a different way of doing this, we need a budget. Whatever might be how to go about doing that. I think if you can agree, as a couple. Even if you're not going to make changes immediately just to say it out loud, there's a way you can do this, you can say something like my husband always or I wish my wife wouldn't fill in the sentence and show it to each other and say I don't how we can work on this, but I want to say it out loud. I want to let God know. I will let you know this is not okay and maybe you can even say how does this work with the condominium Christ called you to be is this consistent just throw a little guilt trip in there and this is not the kind of thing Ron did a couple should just spring on each of right of me I should go home tonight and say hey I was thinking about things that he shouldn't do anymore and here's my list to start there. I'm in the context is very important if they were gonna start at start with, here's some things I've learned about myself that I want to do differently. Let's share an example 1st and then say and maybe if you some time and be great if you sent. Think of some things. Maybe be better for you on your side of the strain were right at the end but I do want to grab that that question for that spouse are saying I'm pretty good I'm in a good spot. I'm all right but it's my spouse that guy. He's this he's that. How does that spouse, and it doesn't just put in a generic term. But how does that person make that turn to not amplify spouse's negatives and amplified their righteousness. I can only speak for myself. I had to look directly in the mirror here. What God was saying what God's taught me to be what the Bible tells me to be and see the discrepancy between what I'm called to be in who I am and you have to be honest with yourself and God and say I can't keep living this way because this is called so glad that we turn to God to help us in every area of life, especially marriage and this is been the best of 2020 Focus on the Family broadcast with Ron and Jan Welch, John, that conversation with Ron and Jim was so refreshing and so real you sometimes as believers we want to honor God by projecting that we have a perfect marriage even though nothing is perfect in this life, including our mergers, there's always things to work on up. Paul reminds us in second Corinthians, God's power is made perfect in our weaknesses.

Maybe your marriage looks good on the outside but behind closed doors you're struggling a bit.

If that describes you please reach out to us one couple, Kiera and Daniel wrote to us after attending our marriage intensive hope restored as we call it and said this for seven years. Our home has felt like World War III came to focus, broken, nervous and skeptical, but the intensive has truly been an amazing journey God has opened our eyes. We have learned how to take care of our hearts and truly care for our spouse's feelings.

We opened up to each other. I will cherish this memory of hope restored forever. Will that is such a great story and it's really why we do these marriage intensive and hope restored to give couples like Keira and Daniel something to cling onto so they can rebuild that relationship, you know, in addition to those couples. We help through hope restored. There's also about 100,000 couples this past year that focus help them work through a major crisis in their marriage and if you'd like to join the team to help keep marriages together, whether it's hope restored or just the broader marriage effort here Focus on the Family become a supporter one time gift helps us so much a monthly gift is really stabilizing to the efforts here. Either way, when you give I'll send you a copy of Ron's book 10 choices successful couples make to say thank you and we do encourage your prayerful support right now and there's a matching gift opportunity available today, so please donate. As you can, and know that your gift is going to go twice as far because of that matching gift opportunity. The number to donate and get the book is 880 family 800-232-6459 or click the link in the episode shown and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family John Fuller inviting you back for a special conversation tomorrow with two infectious disease specialists help you separate fact from action when it comes to the new coronavirus vaccine that's next time on Focus on the Family as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ and I knew my marriage was falling apart. I just didn't know how to fix it. I felt like I would always be alone even if I stayed married at Focus on the Family's hope restored marriage intensive. We offer hope to couples in crisis so they can have the marriage they always dreamed for the first time I felt like my husband truly heard me. I received some great tools from the counselor said of change my life and my marriage to begin the journey of finding health go to hope today

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