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January 12, 2021 5:00 am
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Man 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 that for the first time I felt like my husband truly heard me. I received some great tools from the counselors of change my life and my marriage to begin the journey of finding health go to hope restored.com today the focus listener recently wrote to us and said my wife told me at dinner last night that she doesn't know why were still married and that she never really loved devastated. Dr. Clark, what would you say to that, I'd so you gotta get up get past denial and get on the road of aggressive tough love. As soon as you can. Tragically, situations like that happen all too frequently, where one spouse were the other suddenly decides they want to end the marriage and that may sound like a hopeless situation, but her guest on today's episode of focus on the Dr. David Clark has an action plan for you where you use godly truth to do everything you can to save your relationship near a lot more about that today and your hostess focus president and author Jim Daly I'm John Fuller, John. We live in a throwaway culture where people don't value concepts like permanence or commitment or staying true to your word like previous generations have done when there's conflict or disappointment, infidelity or even apathy.
Too many couples are ready to give it up, and we hear from husbands and wives all the time who are desperate to rescue their marriages and that's why we have our hope restored program where we provide intensive counseling over several days offering new hope to couples who may already have divorce papers in hand. But with God's help, we've literally seen these hurting couples pull back from the brink of divorce, and find restoration in their marriages. That's why Focus on the Family is here to help you in your moment of need and I urge you to contact us right away if your marriage is struggling like that. We do have a lot of resources to help like our team of caring Christian counselors would be happy to connect you with one of them when you call 800 the letter a in the word family 800-232-6459. I will schedule a time for counselor to give you a call back who can listen to your story and pray with you and point you to additional help and would also be pleased to be able to tell you more about hope restored. When you get in touch again.
Our number 880 family or go to the episode notes to learn more and I mentioned Dr. Clark he is a licensed psychologist, marriage and family therapist, a podcast host and author of several books and will hear more about one of those today called what to do when your spouse says I don't love you anymore, Jim. Here's how you began the conversation with Dr. on Focus on the Family like that letter, I register moment ago that husband or their wife whoever sitting in that seat and the other spouse is saying.
I don't think we should be married. I don't think I ever loved you what goes through that person's mind and heart when they hear something like that. It is just like an atom bomb exploding and it comes out of nowhere, absolutely unprepared. This person that was supposed to and set up another church or and and family and friends. I would never say that. Never leave you is now saying that I be okay with him, saying that if right away, they would say, and this is a real problem and I got some issues and we need to work on this and let's see a counselor tomorrow but they don't say that there done absolutely done what could've happened in that relationship months or years before that could help prevent that mean, what could they have done to not get to the last knot in the rope and let go. It comes down to truth. If that lets insulated it said that in this case is the lady if she had when she had her first resentment and the first thing they did that she didn't like, and something else happened and something else MGs there is a stage that she goes through. If she didn't tell the truth.
At that time, she is going to inevitably end up with no love for this man and he is clueless.
He had no idea it was coming telling the truth.
Honey this happened.
I did like it. Let's change it. This is upsetting me. Something else is happening. She didn't say those things and so it all builds up and she's through what happens along the journey. I can remember a discussion Jean and I had it was a few years ago and the she said you know what, I love you but I don't like you right now to that of been an alarm for me. Oh, big time huge red flag and on that. I know you responded because you're still married.
Hello Shirley audience, but good for Jean that was honesty there's a problem here and then you start having the conversations you have to have, how do we fix this and with God's help. It's always fixable, always talk again about that spouse, though that is on his way or her way out the doors. There is the potential to reason with that person, or is that an irrational act is irrational if their questions and they got the whole back story set up and like this lady said they will rewrite your whole history I never loved you. I felt pressured to marry you will baloney. Show me the wedding picture with the shot gun to your head that didn't happen. It's a lie, but it convinced themselves. If I never should've married, you know it's okay and okay with God. I think to leave you when that's not true.
Why does a person a human being. Why did they concoct that false reality is it to suit their emotions and to give them a way out you deep down, this lady know she's wrong and she has no doubt of that with way deep down she has to somehow make this right where we want to make our sin, right and blame somebody else she's blaming her husband. She may be blaming God, blaming kids and other pressures. I don't know, but she's trying to make yourself feel better right you apply Scripture which there's Matthew 18 and and I think Dr. Clark, you're right but I don't know that many of us would think of that Scripture is a marriage Scripture yet. I'm convinced it is. It covers a lot of sins. In fact, every sin, but it certainly is a marital sin. And when you hear those words. I don't love you anymore unless it's followed by an let's fix this. That's a sinful statement.
You'll get to say that and not be sin, so you have to respond as if they're sinning and confront the sin. Now that's Matthew 18. Do you know confront that sin. And if the person doesn't hear you bring someone else's that what you should do right away right in your marriage.
You confront individually and might take a week or two because it got to get to the denial stage and what's happening here, but you should never chase and beg and plead because that's just legitimizes what they're doing yet is your fault you're trying hard on for with you. You gotta actually push back and say no your sending. Of course they have. We have marriage issues, you say, but those can all be fixed. We both know Jesus. Don't wait until the pushing back support them to confront you if you don't respond to that, take one or two witnesses people that you know because it's a woman you get godly women from your church that know her could be with family members. He will bring in and they will confront her. If that doesn't work, you take it to the church leaders and you asked them to intervene in godly pastors and their staffs hopefully will do that and my sense of that Scripture is it should happen rapidly. Marriage is so sacred and Satan is pushing his agenda like a freight train. When you hear those words. They arty have the plan in place when when you look at that Scripture John Tintin that says the thief. The enemy the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy.
You see that every day in your office, don't you, and do I ever want to steal your marriage and the horrible irony is the person who's leaving for nonbiblical reasons is going to be anything but happy. Satan is offering them is happiness.
It can be short-lived and the going to be destroyed. I told many people that they don't like in a fog and I'm pretty aggressive and I can be pretty offensive and I'm speaking truth is like a fog.
They don't care. There can be the exceptions I have to work with the spouse that hears those words.
That's where the work is one fact when you hear let's put now on the man's side. When you hear a man who says you know what I don't love you anymore.
Don't know if I ever love you. You say in your book that it's most likely he already has had or is in the middle of an affair. Is that typical with your experience yet 85%.
Nothing less than that he's got someone else exactly in the relationship is on the emotional level may have gone sexual or he's singled someone out. He's playing with someone, and or he's in another area of sin. It's always sin, but very often somebody.
This basic question what pushes us there why we as Christians, why would we open that door. What is happening in us that makes us want to go through that evil door that is going to destroy your life and in the life your children, your spouse goes all the way back to the garden, Satan offers us what looks like the answer to all of life's questions on your terms and you need God to get this kind happiness and pleasure will initially be drew from God.
Every case I've ever heard. I will say will what was your spiritual life like back when you are making these decisions every time well and wasn't very good lack quiet time lack of church to a moment of weakness right and that comes because if I'm close with God and listening to him.
I'm so can be tempted but I'm to be able to resist. Plus I don't have a relationship of truth and honesty with my spouse that the second problem. So when I start to get tempted I need to tell Sandy that's the person I must tell if I don't tell her. Then it becomes a secret and I continue to drift from her thinking foolishly I can handle this thing will take care of this on my own. No, I can't eventually and Satan knows he's got me at that point that's where you lose in the first couple steps of sin, not the end, David.
It seems that there would be telltale signs you said earlier that the person that says I don't love you, usually has thought that out really well. The person hearing it often times, caught flat-footed, unaware Arthur signs that something is going on deep down inside doesn't the spouse know something's not right now there is you can trust you intuition. Women especially have an intuition and after they've heard the bombshell though often so you know what I did think something was wrong but I didn't want to believe it. I say baby go with your gut knowing what's happened now so limited. Listen to your intuition, they've got it and's and God will find a way to let you know something's not right here. If your husband is not as into you as he was before. Don't exclaim in a way with work and stress. Just acknowledge that is a fact that's a warning sign in the classic symptoms of affair would be working out more different close wanting to look when you look better unexplained absences, but the bottom line is there something wrong in the relationship. Very few people can maintain a loving, intimate bond with God and their spouse and have an affair can't be done, so they're not doing it, but you don't want to go to that horrible place.
And so you don't you just assume without stress or something else or this is a phase of our marriage, don't do that if you're seeing those signs. You have nothing to lose. To say I think something's wrong because at that point before disaster happens, you might just be able to get the truth and get on the table, move to the next step in this. Let's save the you know the confrontation is occurred.
That's happened and the emotional bang is happened and now you're trying to. The next day pick up the pieces. What are the right things to do for spouse to lay the groundwork for this to be honoring to God and to hopefully be saved. What should she or he be doing with that spouse that has been no the infidelity has existed.
What does day to look like.
So we start right away.
We want to see repentance we want to see the person that's been sitting broken and repentant and I'm so sorry and owning all the sin if they don't do that you don't have anything you have to going to tough love. If you do have that the first trip I would say would be to your pastor, let's sit down with our pastor. We know him.
We love him and we speak truth, he prays with us this in spiritual growth things a pastor can do. We can get the man who saves the management of all the affair he will be involved in a group setting and have accountability, then given to make the final phone call MySQL psychologist quickly to like myself to guide you through the process but as a final phone call.
You can have your husband call that other woman and with the wife listening and and that relationship my wife is listening. It was awful. I never loved you. It's sinful.
I'm embarrassed I basic I'm projecting you never contact me again.
Hang up that closure is important. You want to make that person feel bad and go away. The warm fuzzy last meeting. Never work as a continuation of the affair would also doesn't work is honey I've I've had the affair but I called her you didn't hear it but I had last meeting and I took care of that now we don't know what you said there's no trust here. I want to know exactly what you said. Furthermore, you have your husband who was involved in the affair, and the guy that's repentant will do all these things without batting an eye, better, or the be some more tough level get into. He takes an AIDS test and STD test out right away screening for the nastier viral diseases and end of course AIDS is serious that lets him know how serious this is. We test now.
We test in six months. The wise also don't have to get tested now you're going to tell me the whole truth about what you did this where it gets dicey but very important details are important to heal.
So your now that you have the affair given the tell me know everything about it where you met every step along the way every frame.
The only exception is the gory sexual details of sex happened. I need to know what kind of sex and where it happened and how often, and the things that were talked about what your crazy mind was thinking you can allow me to ask questions is to be a lot of intense conversation we had it head-on directly. Any attempt to skip that will ruin the marriage never trust again. And even if you limp along as a married couple will be very good.
Let me ask this question. The spouse it's been wounded.
She has a biblical reason to end the marriage. In your experience as a counselor what is the right thing to do. What is the good thing to do and it may come down to case-by-case. But what if you seen in the thousands of couples that you counseled what is good. Well, I think what is good. I will always recommend that I never recommend divorce, even if there is a a biblical reason.
She does have that in this situation the guy wants to greater glory and he wants to restore this couple. So if the man is truly repentant will go through a series of very tough steps of the next 56 months. Literally, it can be the best marriage. Anybody ever had. You have seen that I have seen it hundreds of times no ill effects. No lingering cloud know I can't trust him really much anymore. At Satan's lie, God's got a total restoration. If you do it his way. Repentance brand-new marriage there, sitting there, they don't believe me because they can't believe that could happen. Our marriage guys. I guess you marriage is gone. Your first marriage is over.
No doubt. It's done were to start fresh now and when to build a new one with God's help, so I never recommend divorce. I've had women that made that choice and you have to respect it by think of the man is really repentant is a greater story and could be totally missed.
Okay, so there is somebody truly is repentant, but there have to be people that you worked with where you just don't know how can you tell if that that guilty party really is repentant that every step I recommend that is bitterly based on convinced of it and is good for healing but it's also a test everything I asked for is a test and attitude is everything and you can just tell will you ask to have them not only verbally describe everything that happened over and over and take the wife's comments and and if you want to talk about the affair. You're welcome to two in the morning every questions a good question.
Your letter vent and you're sorry and you're working with her. I actually have the listening spells right now I call the document he will write out the story of his affair like a novel. It's the worst thing you'd ever asked someone to do. I want all the truth even read it here in my office next week.
I mean if I got it will do that without flinching and go I will do it is a man that's changing is a heart change how you'll take the test to go to the pastor who go to the sexual addiction group if it's a sexual addiction problem. Also Alaskan that this is what talk about this relationship. I now over the course of your marriage and asked you to tell your wife everything you've ever done in the sexual scenario. Oh my goodness there is pornography has probably been and at Satan's one of his uses of pornography.
He doesn't want to end their it's all for now he want you to have an actual woman is not satisfied until he does so will have the document also include pornography and he flirting on any strip clubs. I mean, anything that would be inappropriate to dump everything out now because we want to find out later that we missed something we set a high high bar for performance for that guilty person.
What I do and it's intended to bring about healing and also to make sure that they truly are repentant right these guys when they hear me go over this and they read the book, the ones that flush out flush out right away how dear their angry at me how dear you ask me to do these things. Also, how dear you do what you did.
You hereby don't get angry their character assassinate me know find another counselor that will do with the wimpy way let's get the affair and even say on their pastors that still do this in Christian counselor that will blame the wife for her husband's affair. She has 0% culpability zero dead zero when you sin you sin no second phase we get to the marriage. Marriage problems, that's no excuse for sin.
I would never hold for that.
When you sin you sin alone and you sin before God and you have to answer to him so will me to the second phase after to help your wife heal from what you've done now will fix the marriage and that's where your wife course has has responsibility but like I draw absolute cut line between what you did with this other woman in your wife and I want to asked the obvious question when you have that spouse that hears you and doesn't respond isn't into healing the marriage what should be offended spouse.
Do you going to hyperdrive your angry and a righteous way and you're to gather your support team and you're gonna really push back. Now we have a serious center on our hands even more than what he did, which means you're going to have one or two witnesses confront him.
In the meantime you're in a signal. It buddy.
I'm done with you you turn the tables.
You say you're done with me on I'm done with you and I'm through with you until and unless you follow a series of steps to get me back so you turn the tables totally take strength and power to do that you need some support in order to have the guts to do it but shoving back. I've seen network many times as much as 80 or 90% of cases when you really get tough, they can turn around if you're tough enough so one or two witnesses I'm going to the church and then if he doesn't respond to that. Then we get the end stage of Matthew 18 the passage in 17 treat them as a pagan or a tax collector, which means you shun him for a full month through with them and you bring that you don't sit with them in church and on the same bed.
The kids know what's going on and not know what's happening but there been a day know that that's been a serious mistake in your and shunning mode and then you'll seek to physically separate.
If you have a guy that's not break David let me ask you this. You know, in the Christian community were taught about forgiveness were taught about not letting the sun go down on your anger and you know these are serious moments, potentially in someone's life that need serious responses and that's what you're saying but it is it feels like everything that you've conditioned your life to be like under the Lordship of Christ to turn the other cheek to be kind toward those who are harming you're saying there is a time for righteous anger. You help me better understand that. So I'm not confused as that wife it's okay to be mad because my whole Christian life. I've been told it's not okay to be mad. I refer the woman all of us and read this in my office. Malachi 216, where God says I hate the man who betrays his wife. That's pretty strong.
That's righteous anger from God himself. Other verses Ephesians 426 be angry and you do not sin know the sun go down your anger, none that doesn't apply here because you're to be angry for two or three months, that's a healthy normal reaction. It's how God made us. You confront the sinner, and you can do that in loving anger when he's harmed you so terribly, so you're responding in that way, making it a big big crisis because it is a big crisis and that was exiting the changes heart rather than the traditional Christian approach, which is still the most popular will is a will and that's been the victim like I am a little overweight and I have been a good wife, and it must be partly my fault and if I just love him more and and really changes the wife shall drop this miserable person and and you love me. That never ever works in 30 years never seen it work.
It never will because that's not what is required. Why does a woman tell herself those things because it's denial. She doesn't want to face the horrible truth. It's a way to kind of ease out if I'm in some way responsible for this and I can fix this it with my own behavior and at the same time I can avoid really facing the horrible thing he's done. I want to minimize that is is human nature trying to protect yourself in a couple weeks of that is normal in this process. My job as a therapist in writing this book is to get people out of that phase. As quick as I can reality us. I met with her husband. He's done with you. He is absolutely done. Don't think that I don't love you means. I'm not sure let's work on the marriage of some these jokers come in there totally insane. They have no intention of of changing and dropping their sleeves or Paramore would even recall the other person, they just want to, make it all right and I came to therapy and I tried, I kicked them out of my office first day I don't come back until you have done the things I've asked you to do and that we are modeling for the wife. Here's how you handle it you can do that yet, but I can do it I can I ask you though and I your intensity sparks this question. I mean, I love that the forthrightness of it in the truth of it.
What has been going on and that other in the offender that has led them down this horrible path. What what is in their heart that they bought the lie could question how I try to temper it with you know what you're driving your car off a cliff finding very hard on you because I'm the only guy in the road now along with your wife. Maybe a close friend or two. It is in the road think. Don't drive your car over a cliff.
So Maxie loving you. It's tough love and I'm loving you and if you will stop the sin. God requires you to stop the sin not to figured out stop stop once you stopped it out of faith in God alone.
Then we can will figure out how this happened in part of the document and part of the process is figuring out how Satan got you as a will figure that out to get to the same way again. He's good at what he does and it probably goes back to your childhood and rejection by your previous spouse and issues in your marriage if you look look at all that stuff. But you own the sin, but part of the process is just that Jimmy find out what went wrong for the healing we have really talked about some you know got wrenching things today John. We talked about how we fall out of love how we must approach the sin of our spouse by using the model found in the Bible. Matthew 18 and and I think Dr. Clark, you're right. We need to still talk about more though, how we get on that road to recovery.
How we deal directly with those sin issues and what to do if your spouse isn't willing to do the work. After several months, what's that next step.
Can you stay with us in. Let's continue the tough talk then select this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly under guest has been Dr. David Clark discussing his book what to do when your spouse says I don't love you anymore, John David has provided some hard-hitting advice about confronting sin and brokenness in our marriages and I'm sure many of our listeners have been challenged by what he shared. Today we get a lot of response from people when Dr. Clark is on. Maybe this conversation is stirred up concerns about the state of your marriage and you're wondering what I do next. First, let me encourage you to pray and ask God to direct your steps and give you wisdom about how to proceed. That's a great place to start. You may want to talk with the pastor or counselor or contact us here Focus on the Family we want to help you rescue and strengthen the relationship with your spouse.
We mention our counseling team and hope restored many times that we have resources available for you and were ready to assist you in any way we can. Our number is 800 a family that's 800-232-6459 call and request a consultation with one of those caring Christian counselors or ask for more information about our marriage intensive's hope restored and all the other resources we have to help your marriage. You can also connect with us online at our website and the link is in the episode notes and Jim we've seen something marriage is transformed when people reach out to us and were so honored that God is used this ministry Focus on the Family to help hurting couples. In fact John. We recently heard from a woman living in West Virginia will call her Rachel and Rachel described how she had become very dissatisfied in her 25 year marriage, and was feeling better and hardhearted toward her husband. Rachel was ready to leave, but thank God she felt convicted in her heart and cried out for God's help. Instead, miraculously, a short time later she received the Focus on the Family magazine in her mailbox with a pounding heart.
She read every article and then she spent the next three days listening to the Focus on the Family podcast. Rachel wrote this in response, God is performed a great work in my marriage and he chose to use Focus on the Family as my main source of help. Although my marriage isn't where I wanted to be just yet.
We are learning and growing. I feel like God is leading me to be a marriage and family counselor.
I believe that he wants to use my testimony to help others find their way to a better marriage. Thank you so much for the work that you do John that says simply amazing and a big part of that.
Thank you needs to go to so many of our friends who have faithfully supported the ministry I'm talking to you those of you that donate because of your generous giving. We've been there to rescue hurting marriages just like Rachel's.
Now if we haven't heard from you in a while.
Or you've never supported Focus on the Family let me invite you to become a monthly partner with us your monthly pledge will help us better plan and allocate resources to meet the needs of so many families during this new year. Let me just ask can we count on your financial support. Today, please do contact us about your donation in the monthly pledge really helps. As Jim said one time gift though does make a difference and regardless of what you choose to do. When you make a gift of any amount Focus on the Family today will say thank you by sending a copy of Dr. Clark's book what to do in your spouse says I don't love you anymore again. Our phone number 880 family or you can donate online think that book of the link is in the episode notes and be sure to join us next time. For part two of her conversation with Dr. Clark for now on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here. Thanks for listening to Focus on the Family and you plan to be with us again next time. As we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. When a woman discovers her husband struggled with pornography. She needs a practical plan. The latest book from Focus on the Family aftershock but professional counselor Joanne Conti will help you through the seven steps of self-care and to learn how to deal with the emotions involved in the discovery of your husband's addiction. Joanne Conti's timeless wisdom. If you hope, even while you're in your own season of aftershock. Learn more about firstname.lastname@example.org/store