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Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
June 15, 2021 6:00 am

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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June 15, 2021 6:00 am

Debra Fileta will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships and how to navigate them for a stronger marriage.

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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 a marriage they've always dreamed of. 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 Sprint so fresh and exciting summer for rising passions. Suddenly there's a chill in the weather is changing the observed following what's happening to our love is this our love going forever know you got to ask yourself, what season are you in your marriage are things warm sizzling with your spouse, were you feeling just a bit chilly right now today on Focus on the Family will explore how you can navigate these different seasons and grow stronger marriage.

As a result, your hostess focus president and author Jim Daly and on John Fuller, John. I remember how it felt when Jean and I fell in love for you. First I was like I'm in a try to do this life single and I met Jane went. While I think she's the one I want to marry so I my speedometer went from zero to hundred and 20 pretty fast and just those feelings.

And wow, I can't get enough of talking with her link of the night I member should work to the vet clinic.

I would bring her dinner from and I was living 90 miles away.

That was quite whatever it took. That's what I was expressing to her and I think she obviously got the message that was really interested and thankfully she said yes but you know like the weather marriages do go through seasons and we've had our seasons and some are filled with excitement and warmth, like summer and spring, while others can be chilly and mundane seasons like winter and fall, but how we manage those seasons determines whether or not we grow and become better as a couple, which is the goal, and I know you everyone's benefit from our conversation today with Deborah for later. She and her husband John have lived through the ups and downs of marriage and Deborah's help many couples in her counseling practice walk through the seasons as well and as you mentioned, she is a counselor and a blog or a podcast or an author.

She was the podcast love and relationships with Deborah for later and that together. She and John have four children here about her book today called love in every season. Understanding the four stages of every healthy relationship and you can check that out. The details are in the episode notes Deborah, welcome back to focus thinking, it's so good to be back. Yeah, thank you for coming only from Pennsylvania. That's quite a truck. It is quite attractive.

It was worth it. Specially you are a mother of a three-month-old I now husband, John, that's great news, is the first time Willingham is a little difficult by operate. Now you can take out your tickets are 10 eight and 55 right so they're almost there. There kick in and help with the little one.

I have three big helpers. This time that's great, listen before we get into the four seasons. I'm wondering how to John and you meet and fall in love since I can afford my Jean story out what your story well we didn't go from zero to hundred 20. Like you I was thinking okay Lord, all live my life single.

If that's what you wanted do okay Lord is as good a conference up in Boston and we developed a friendship very quickly and for me it was a while until I knew that he was the person I wanted to marry us. He had to simmer a little bit MRI to watch the seasons go by for him. He had a feeling right away and he met me that I want to marry this girl by what he says as he also had to let the seasons go by, because seasons in a relationship reveal a lot, you know it's not just about what you feel about what you see as time passes will obviously, that concept was beginning to bubble and you didn't write the book right after being married but I'm going define for us what the seasons of marriage are. I love the fact that God is so plainly seen just I seasons of life, how he is like our father right. He is our father and unfortunately he's the father of a lot of teenagers meeting us people that rebel but the point of it is that nature itself in God's nature, specifically does show us the very nature and character of God right exactly and just as in nature. We see four different seasons we passed therefore seasons, especially for those of us who live in places like Pennsylvania, we see every season and it looks so different.

You see that beautiful colors of spring is a beautiful season and any move into the season of summer. When things start to get hot right and you start shedding your layers because it's warm and you going to the beach and enjoying the heat of summer and you go into the colors of fall and that the true colors of the trees start to shine through and all the way into the season of winter when things start to kind of cool off and you think about it is the perfect backdrop to relationships as a licensed counselor, you know, in my practice. The analogy of the seasons was just so clear in the relationships that I worked with of people go from spring to summer to fall and winter all in one relationship and they repeat you now but but in thereto, and that's the question wanted ask is those seasons. You know the way they're not always chronological when I see they don't match. Obviously the tilt of the earth in marriage trying, but the point is, they just describe how marriage flows, but some seasons can be years in length and may be months and maybe even a weaker day. I would assume not happen at the same time, they don't look the same for each couple but the beauty is that each season has the power to reveal something about your relationship about you each season has the power to help you make or break your relationship pending on how you choose to navigate that season, and that's why they're so important for us to recognize if were not aware of them.

We can't take advantage of them. Another aspect and this is all groundwork and we will get to the definition of the seasons and start to talk about them practically in marriage, but regardless of what season of marriage were in it's critical for us to identify unhealthy patterns of our own behavior and affect you outlined three personality types of people who give too much water. The while before I get into that, I think it's important to back up and explain that in the season of spring. One of the defining moments is growth.

Spring is the season of growth. You know it's a time in your relationship. When things begin to grow and stretch and expand.

But you can't have growth without give and take care of and take right and that's where some people get stuck in these personalities really make you get stuck if you're not careful, because we've got people on one side who give too much and then we've got people on the other side who give too little.

And if you've got one of those people in your relationship.

Or maybe both. It's can inhibit how you grow when you look at humanity, though I would think that that is the issue I mean the Lord is even instructing us to love our neighbor as ourselves. I think that kind of fits in that space of a person who, because of how they grew up are the you know the things that they learn they either are givers or takers. Another way to say that emotionally so, describe and describe those types again so we fully understand that in on one side of the spectrum you have someone who gives to much and I think before we can just simply say will stop giving too much. Yes, it is easy to say that will just stop giving too much but you have to get to the root of why a person gets too much in order to help them stop giving too much. What about the person, the Christians as well as godly to be on that side of the equation. I give even when it hurts to give right.

I think some people I misunderstand and they view selflessness as passive it the kind of mistake that you that there being passive, but they actually think that being selfless and you brought up the Scripture just now that says love your neighbor as you love yourself. I think Jesus could have said love your neighbor more than you love yourself. Love you neighbor, but don't love yourself, but the command is clear.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

There's an equality there. To me that represents an important give-and-take, and so why do people give too much when there's many different reasons, but sometimes you know because of how you were raised a family of origin. Maybe you grew up in a family where you are kind of the one that was keeping the peace. And so you grow up with chaos and your job is to control the chaos so you become the rescuer I'm in a save everybody. That's my job. That's my role, and you take that role into your romantic relationships.

You give too much because you're rescuing people and maybe you even engage in unhealthy relationships. Or maybe you're a people pleaser you grow up in a family or in experiences where you want everyone to be happy, trying to control the emotional atmosphere and then in your romantic relationships. You become someone that pleases people or maybe you're insecure. Maybe you grow up sort of feeling this insecurity underlying and you get your value from the relationships that you engage in so you become a person who goes into romantic relationships.

Feeling insecure and feeling that you have to give and give and give and give in order to be a lot in the sink. Sometimes were not even conscious of those triggers those behaviors that are kind of putting us in the position of being give her a take or what have you write. Sometimes we don't even notice that were doing it. We don't know why that were doing and this is why you nominated the horn of counseling. Obviously, my counselor, but I really believe that there is power in getting to the root of why we do what we do. I think a lot of times in our faith based culture. We just want to snip lead. This is unhealthy. Let's just get this out of my life. We try to snip it and it grows back because were not getting to the root of why it's there were not getting to those wet weather it be childhood knowing what makes me struggles what makes me behave like this and how do I change my behavior, which is part of what I'm sure you wrote the book rightly saw this pattern over and over again in your practice. Let's get to a practical store. There's one in your book about a woman you counseled who struggled with trust issues, I think so many women in trust is a big deal, and for women, particularly that is perhaps even top of the list and she had the trust issues because of how her dad treated her mom and I'm sure you can give us, the top level of what was going on there and what developed into trust concerns for this patient appears right when you work with somebody you as a past history of watching infidelity or affairs, and their parents marriage. That kinda becomes the baseline or norm for them and that's kind of where this woman was seeing unhealthy patterns in her parents relationship starting to then affect her belief about men and relationships and can they really be trusted. So on the opposite end of the spectrum. She goes into a relationship, giving too little, not giving too much, but giving too little because she's afraid to trust she's protecting versus protecting her heart. She is protecting her emotions, no matter what this guy did to prove his trustworthiness.

She was struggling with trust because of her past wounds in her past baggage. What is what is a person do in that context. If you can someone hearing this right now that is me. That's what I do. What are some things that she can do today that might help her in a better direction. Ultimately, the more healed we are from our past wounds. The more we can thrive in our present and when were struggling in the present.

Many times it's a sign that there's some past wounds that need to be healed and I think as a counselor I will tell people the key is to differentiate the voices of my past versus the voices of God and in the present because sometimes our past speaks so much louder than the voice of God spirit in our present those past things that we've experienced. And if we don't get to the root and begin healing then they're going to continue effecting our present different. Let's dive into spring as the first of the season descriptions you identify as the season of attraction I think that's when everybody is coupling up. Whether it's the birds that have the people you got a great story about when you're Jon I think you were holding hands for the first time. Tell us about that. Yeah, you know spring is the season when affection is high. Emotions are, you know, really intense that's kinda how you define that season usually in the beginning of a relationship and so that's the importance of the season of spring. It's the season of blossoming and blooming of affection and emotion and it's the season of growth.

It's the season of planting good seeds and uprooting weeds. The things that we don't want to see in our relationship. So in nature and interrelationships. The season of spring is really important. That's a great description you've identified something called the four laws of attraction explain what those are. Attraction is multifaceted. I think when we think of the word attraction, we automatically assume it's physical attraction. How attracted a mind to someone, but you know attraction is for layers. It's not just one thing, there is little attraction but there's also personal attraction. How do our personalities and Nash there is mental and emotional attraction you know any. Can you talk about your feelings and ideas and opinions and have those conversations and then their spiritual attraction or you're drawn to somebody because of the relationship with Jesus and it was interesting when I did when I wrote this book, I I surveyed singles to see what they thought was most important in with regard to attraction and overwhelmingly a majority of them said it was spiritual attraction. When you look at how we do relationships.

That's not always where we begin we say spiritual attraction is the most important but often times we get caught up on physical attraction component that we in marriage. Now that physical attraction is one of the only things that wanes as time passes, because we get older we have wrinkles think start to sag, but everything else increases when you've got strong spiritual attraction, mental, emotional attraction, personal attraction, so really that's we've got to be fueling in our marriage relationship in human relationships. I think it's fair to say that that physical attraction is kind of the gateway to the relationship, usually two people are seeing each other in your having thoughts of while she's really pretty or he's really handsome, or whatever it might be, but usually is in that category. And it's a short like you say short-lived thing because then you're moving to emotional connection attractiveness.

That way, spiritual attractiveness, but sometimes we discount. I think in the Christian community, particularly we discount the purpose of physical attraction and the world doesn't the other way. It lingers there, it stays on physical attraction and tries to build a relationship simply on physical attraction and that's that's a very whimsy part of the relationship laws correct. Yeah, it is important to be physically attracted to somebody but at the same time.

We've got to keep it into proper perspective. I know plenty of people who are physically attracted to somebody and they get to know them and the physical attraction disappears you now because the personality is just overwhelming.

But then the opposite happens when sometimes maybe don't feel totally attracted to somebody but then you see all of the other qualities and characteristics and the attractive physical attraction also increases.

That's why it's important for us to understand that attraction is multifaceted.

It is not just one thing, the definition of attraction is the desire to move toward somebody. Kind of like a magnet you're attracted to them. And when you have these components. It really keeps your relationship strong. In one of the things that I observed certainly through the shelter in place of the pandemic that would come through. Jean and I we did almost accidentally rekindled the spiritual connection because we began to get into a much better habit of rain together reading the word together every morning to which you know we been able to continue that.

But it's interesting how dizziness and obligations in schedule and all those things take you away from the very things that allow you to do some of this intimacy work in these four areas. So what about the couple that feels like, you know spiritually they're not connecting what can they do differently and I think first and foremost, we have to take a good assessment of how were each doing spiritually standing alone because not me giving my wife a score or my wife giving me a score.

Are you saying you saying for yourself.

I was out he got a stop and look at your own walk with the Lord before you desire in your marriage. You gotta take inventory of how you doing standing alone, because spiritual intimacy doesn't just happen.

It's the overflow of your heart for Christ working together you're at the overflow of your heart overflow of your spouse's heart. If you look at it, kinda like a fountain. What's overflowing from us. That's what relational spiritual intimacy looks like, so that's what we have to begin not by nagging your spouse to do devotions with you more, or nagging them to pray with you more, but beginning to set that example in your own life and inviting them on that journey with you. What about that frustration you know all this, try to play the role of the girlfriend where the wife is saying I am there, but my husband just isn't interested in spiritual things.

She's not responding to my nudges my leanings. How can she. I just get some peace in her life in that area, even if her husband isn't there quite me and you simply go to the perk closet do you nudge gently you said nagging nagging can be a very overt operation. But what are some things to that for that wife who she's there. She's done the self-assessment I'm doing pretty well. Just wish my husband were there with me. I think sometimes in marriage, especially because we've been taught about our roles in marriage and think oftentimes women feel that they're not allowed to take the lead with spiritual conversations and spiritual intimacy, but I always encourage a woman.

If you feel like you are strong in that area and allow God to use you in that area take the lead in your relationship of moving your marriage to the Lord. So pray out loud for your husband.

Ask him how can I be praying for you. Maybe even suggest a time that you could sit down and pray and suggest a time where you could sit down and read God's word together. I think sometimes in our hesitancy to lead the way we become passive and we don't do anything spiritually speaking in our relationship. So I say if you had a good place take advantage of that. Invite your husband into the process and most of the time. Eventually they will follow suit.

So I think it's a beautiful thing and if that's something they're unwilling to do you continue bringing it before the Lord, you can tin you modeling in your own personal life and trust that the Lord is working where you can't work exactly what Scripture says actually Deborah moving to summer and really cover spring we covered were into summer and then we'll have you back next time we'll talk about the fall and winter about moving to summer you give example of how building emotional connection is a couple is like a spider web.

This is really interesting to me and you talked about the strength of the spiderweb. Why is that a good analogy for us while spiderwebs are something we see often in summer and summer is the season when things get hot right summarize that season of developing intimacy in a relationship and really having to work at that intimacy and one of the key components is emotional intimacy. When you look at a spider's web. There so many tiny little strings connecting it together and that's kind of how I view emotional intimacy in marriage. It's not just one thing, it's a bunch of tiny little strings. A spider's web looks so fragile, but really it is strong, it is stronger than the material used for a bullet proof that is amazing that just goes to show you that little thread and that's kinda how I see emotional connection in marriage.

It's a bunch of tiny little streams from physical connection to emotional connection to spiritual connection things that you're working on to continue connecting those strings to your spouse is that you try to make an emotional connection with your husband, John, I thought this was extraordinary.

I was giving you applause when I read this in the book describe what happened when John and I were dating. He was doing some really intellectual research at Harvard Medical School and to be frank it was boring but because I was so in love with him.

I decided I'm going to read up on what he's doing. I want to learn. I want this to be another string of emotional connection that ties us together so I read up on his research and a member talking about it one day and he was shocked to think you've really read my research is amazing now.

But here's the thing that wasn't dating and somewhere along the way we stopped doing that and that's all we have to be intentional about building those strings. Just the other day John was getting really into chess these days he's like really trying to train Ted to get better at his chess game and is not something I'm very interested in, but the other day I asked him it can teach me how to plan to help me get a little bit better because I want to build the emotional strings in our relationship and he does the same. There's things that he's absolutely not interested in by defaults, but he chooses to become interested in those things because he wants to build another string that ties us together and you know what John here's a heads up with my boys. You teach them chess and eventually they start beating you. And that is my plan. I will eventually get good enough though.

But it's fun.

It's good to see you. You have a story about glassblowing again. Another great illustration in this category.

You and John went to the glass while in class. I don't know if I would have the patience for that, but tells what happened. You know, and we talk about building connection with your spouse.

A big part of it is that spiritual connection and this is where it came in. John and I went to a glassblowing class on something that he has always enjoyed and wanted to try and it was amazing when they put the fire on the glass. It turns to putty 2000F just turns to putty and you can shape it however you want it just reminded me in marriage.

You know when the Lord is sometimes puts us in a and a hard place or place of fire, it's because he's shaping us and molding us and helping us to kinda fit our marriage to to become better so that our relationship becomes better. You know, maybe that's a good place to in here on day one.

Deborah is this concept where when you're stuck what is something you can do there so much suffering in silence even in Christian marriages. If a person is hearing this today saying okay I think we've got some issues. What can they do like you said the first step is to acknowledge it now to say were struggling. I think sometimes we're afraid to acknowledge it. Nobody wants to come face-to-face with the fact that they're struggling so they just keep pressing on right we just go without stopping to really get help and so call those phone lines get plugged in with the counselor and start getting the work of becoming healthy while standing alone even if your spouse is willing to join you because as you begin to change. It will begin to change the dynamic of the marriages file absolutely. And of course we always were so reach out to your church. The pastors in your church to see if they can address the issue and help you in that way to. That's the frontline so let me say Deborah, this is been really good entertaining but very helpful and practical on what we can do to strengthen our seasons of marriage and let's come back like I said next time and talk about fall and winter. Probably the more difficult areas on the assuming of the seasons of marriage and turning to the listener not want to encourage you to get a copy of this great book, love in every season and you and your spouse will inevitably walk through all four seasons in your marriage may be multiple ones at the same time, I can attest to the gym. I've had great seasons of spring and summer and without some fall and winter as well.

I think that's true for you and absolutely true yeah and so I get in touch with us and one of the fun ways and I like to say fun ways because as you partner with us. We can help you and I would love to send you a copy of Deborah's great book if you can send us a gift of any amount or even better if you can join us monthly.

That's how Jean and I know that's how John and Dana support focus become a monthly donor here at focus and will send you a copy of the book is our way of saying thank you for standing in the gap for these other couples, but if you can afford it will get it to you know, we believe in the content.

So much of Deborah want to have the schedule because we know will help just call us will trust others will cover the cost of number is 800 K in the word family 800-232-6459 or stop by the episode notes to find out more about getting your copy of love in every season.

Never again, thanks for being with us and will come back next time and keep going. Okay, sounds good. Once again thank you for joining us today for Focus on the Family with Jim Daly on behalf of Jim and the entire team here. I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we continue conversation with Deborah and once again help you and your family thrives in Christ. When a woman discovers her husband struggled with pornography. She needs a practical plan. The least book from Focus on the Family aftershock but professional counselor Joanne Conti will help you through the seven steps of self-care and 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 aftershock@focusonthefamily.com/store


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