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

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
June 16, 2021 6:00 am

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

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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June 16, 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 today whenever I bring anything serious. My spouse just must argue every time we talk just seems like we don't know each other anymore.

It's been months since we've had any kind of conversation you can relate to those comments.

The pain and the distance.

The truth is every married couple faces trouble from time to time and if you're finding yourself in a dry season of marriage there is hope for the future and today on Focus on the Family were to be offering that hope with our guest Deborah for later. For those who are struggling. She's going to be addressing the ups and downs of marriage. Should I think it would be really informative for you your hostess focus president Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller, John. We had a great conversation with Deborah last time about the spring and summer seasons of marriage which are kind of the happier sides of it right spring every things didn't go and then were coupling you know it's it's a fun time in the marital relationship. In the course summer. Everything's intense and hot as Deborah described emotions are high.

Things feel good and that today were to get to some of the more difficult aspects of fall and winter.

What that means in the seasons of marriage.

I'm looking forward to it because I think this this area particular. This is where we learn we grow. This is where your tenacity and your stick to it. Of this is really important.

You know it, we can't live on emotions we have to live on commitment. Our commitment to Christ. First and foremost in our commitment to our spouse and what that means to have a lifelong loving relationship.

It's not always be the same electricity I've been married almost 35 years. I get that Helen 36 going on the program not really. So the point is, this is what it's about. Our marriages reflect the very character of God walking this earth, he created us male and female, and he encouraged us to leave our mothers and fathers and to cleave to one another and that the two shall become one flesh. And that's the very image of God on this earth and in preserving that marital relationship is one of the reasons that I were so excited about the work being done at her hope restored marriage intensive's Jim week we talk about that a lot here because it's such an effective outreach to couples who are struggling. That is, and that it's gotten over 80% success rate.

Post two years so it's one of the best things I think for married couples to come together and really dig into what their triggers are what is causing their pain and their relationship. And I want to encourage people to call us get more information about that.

Remember, the Focus on the Family is just a treasure trove of resources for you and marriage and parenting so don't hold back give us a call. Yet in her numbers 800 the letter a in the word family 800-232-6459 or stop by the episode notes and you'll find a lot of great resources there would be happy to tell you more about hope restored and about the book that is the basis for our continued conversation with Deborah for later. It's called love in every season.

Understanding the four stages of every healthy relationship Deborah, welcome back to focus get to be. I so appreciate our conversation last time and and for those that are joining.

We always want to kinda give a quick recap. We discussed the spring and summer seasons of marriage want to give us the For those who have joined. And remember, you can download the app for your smart phone or come to the website and get that program. Yeah, every relationship goes through four important stages for important seasons and it starts with the season of spring, spring is when the emotions are high, things are blossoming attraction is blooming. I smile at that season of growth and give and take, and then we move into the season of summer. Summer is the season of intimacy. When things get hot enough physical intimacy, spiritual intimacy, emotional intimacy and then we move into the season of frolics working to talk about today. Let's get into having to describe fall is the season where all the colors come out and things are known and your true colors begin to shine the rail all of a sudden the green is gone and there's other colors that you didn't know existed.

You see your differences and there's challenges in you face conflict it it really is the season of conflict, but also the season of communication because that's how you get through the conflict.

If a healthy communication in a Deborah's account so that always want to work this in because I can integrate my faith in Christ and helping people in the mental health area. This is that if I break my femur I go to an orthopedic surgeon to get it set and read out when we have issues with mental health. The Christian community. We need to move toward helping repair.

Those things are causing conflict or causing pain right right and some of those things are not just what's happening on the surface. Some of those things are wounds or triggers from our past and I worked with a man once he was, you know, responding very intensely every time his wife asked him to do something and at the end of the day when we dug deeper in counseling. It's because he grew up in a home where it was my way or the highway in this conflict with his father, feeling like he wasn't good enough and at any time. His wife made him feel that feeling by suggesting he do something differently.

He would react without really knowing why. That's very good advice right there in your marriage with something feels a little like your responses so disproportionate to my question. That usually is a flag right flag eliminate mention conflict. I think you have a quote from (who said conflict is the price we pay for a deeper level of intimacy you know what's interesting I think in human relationship first with our marriages is we don't see conflict that way as an opportunity to grow. Conflict is something to avoid potentially.

I like encouraging people to move toward conflict.

I think we do learn a lot and maybe conflict is too hard a word but when you can put things on the table sort of speak, get things out of the darkness where I think the enemy of our soul operates.

He loves when you keep things in the dark as he can work his mischief and all that but when you visit, especially a married couple can bring these things into the light and say I don't know my hammer acting this way, but it feels terrible when you sent to me. That way when an awesome moment. I really shouldn't fear conflict, we should embrace it because it really is the key to deeper intimacy and and it's not conflict that's the problem. It's how we handle that conflict.

I think some people are conflict. Avoid areas. Maybe in their past conflict never brought healing conflict never led to a resolution that's unhealthy conflict. So instead of avoiding conflict altogether. We have to learn to navigate it in healthy life. What if you describe this way a person you know you was a wife and it can be a husband as well. I get that delicious a wife who feels like it.

It cost me too much to raise to get in the conflict with my husband so your you have this value proposition constantly if I say this, then he responds with anger. Whatever might be. How do you move to a place to have the courage to get that out there so it could begin to be dealt with.

While so many people think that they're good at navigating conflict but they're actually not now and not something that I see even with women or men who say well when I tell my spouse something. This is their reaction. But what we have control over is only what we have control over in ourselves, we can control how they react, so I really teach people things like I statements. I'm feeling hurt my face. You know I need help in this area.

I'm struggling rather than you did this in your you need to work on that.

And even if he say gently, you need to work on this. That's not going to bring about the response that you want but when you can learn to to say what you need in a respectful way things begin to change. I like the I statement of the case.

It's rare to say we want. I statements, but when you're struggling and I statement is good. In fact, you have five conflict styles let's let's cover those real quick what are the five conflict styles also important to understand your style your banks when it comes to conflict. So there's the avoiders the people who would prefer to run from conflict and not deal with it. I just want to get away you now and then.

Then it just in that regard. I mean for the person who's trying to self diagnose here what's at family origin look like what have you face that makes you and avoid her. It could be different things for different people that you know when one example would be a conflict that escalates to the point where it's uncomfortable emotions are high.

People are allowed.

Maybe even someone's getting hurt on whether physically or emotionally. When you grow up in an environment you better believe that your natural instinct is to run government because it's not safe right.

What's the second one second is the accommodate errors they would rather take the blame. The kind of passive. It's like okay okay I'll just deal with it. You know, instead of being healthy instead of accessing the roles of everyone involved. They just can accommodate as quickly as possible so that we can move on and why would you be that what what are the things that contribute to a person being that person. Things that contribute to someone being in accommodate or are maybe growing up in a family where your needs weren't heard or not you not used to kind of thinking of yourself and of a middle child birth order if they could be. There was chaos in the home and so that kind of took all the attention and he almost feel bad being assertive llamas feel bad saying what you need so you kind of fall into this passive role, but like I always say capacity is not the same as selflessness that is good with the third one. The third is the compromising couple you know we we hear this a lot when it comes to how to navigate conflict kind of the 50-50 approach. I'll give in this time.

If you give them the next time when you can't always be in the middle you both know what you want but you choose to give so that the other person can receive. You can take turns in the compromising realm, so that it feels like a lose lose kind of thing I know I wanted Mexican you wanted Italian so were settling for hamburgers, rotten meat gets what was out as a real-life thing I'm asking for a friend. You know people praise compromise. I think you're right in the end it's actually a lose lose your you giving 50%. So you're losing 50% of the time and I do think when you're stuck in a compromising role all the time. You might not have that much conflict that you might not have that much satisfaction.

Either you might harbor some bitterness right that probably the style of conflict. That one probably is when the Christmas bitterness and resentment because you can even feel like you can surface it is. I agreed to compromise and not keeping score right you know well you did this. This time, and I it's my turn now and it can actually lead to conflict. And that's why I really appreciate the next conflict style, which is the collaborative conflict style sound so nice. It does not collaborate. This requires you to be assertive to be able to say what you need with respect and to look for a solution where everybody feels like they want in the end is not a lose lose is a win-win.

How can we win in our marriage. After this conversation, what is the best for our relationship. What is the best for our family and you kind of having teams. With the collaborative approach. It's not about me or you. It's about what we're doing for the whole or doing for us that's good. The last was competitive, but I would hope that a person that has a competitive spirit is not necessarily defined but I do have a competitive spirit, not like my way or the highway.

And that's weird kind of saying right well the competitive approach is really defined by somebody who just wants to win at all costs. Whether that comes with aggression. Whether that comes with putting the other person down. They just want to win. They feel that their way is always the best but of course that leaves a lot of broken hearts in its path and just a lot of unhealthy behaviors come out of that approach.

We hope that what we talking about today with Deborah for later on today's episode of Focus on the Family is connecting with you and that you're finding something to take away from this discussion that will help you strengthen your marriage certainly will point you to her book, love in every season. Understanding the four stages of every healthy relationship and as has been mentioned earlier with a great counseling team here would be our honor to have them do a phone consultation with you our numbers 800 K and the word family or stop by Focus on the

Deborah finally know we covered last time the spring and summer and we just finished fall and these are all relevant and so good and such a great context for how to understand your marital relationship that we get to the tough one winter in your talking to people from Colorado winter here this really cold 20 below 03 feet of snow 50 mile owner wins a minute for using that description.

I think those are the marriages that are right at the brink of divorce and that, whether description what does the winter season of marriage look like while you're right. When we think of me entirely.

Do you think of those intense cold frigid temperatures, especially when you from Colorado right but I also want people to remember that winter doesn't always have to be as intense and obvious. There was a farmer in Australia and a unexpected frost that came a little bit early ended up killing over 90% of his crop that reminds me of the frost that we sometimes experience in marriage. Winter is the beginning of that the cooling down of those emotions. I called the frost of apathy when you look at your marriage. You might not be fighting every day, and having intense explosive arguments, but have you allowed yourself to feel the frost of apathy. We no longer care that much is not a big deal. You not being as intentional. I think that can be just as dangerous as the frigid temperatures that sometimes we feel in winter and that leads really to the next concept of the book and this idea of boundaries that it's healthy to have boundaries that you're describing that early frost. That's a boundary in nature, we see that we see a transition from fall to winter. It's the first frost what those boundaries look like in marriage that we need to demarcate so that we don't go into danger zones yeah well I think when it comes to boundaries we have to look at the different aspects of the things we need to protect in your marriage. So I'm emotional boundaries with the opposite sex, but we also need boundaries with our schedule. How many times do we feel so burnt out and stretched so thin like me more.

Not even close to having an extramarital affair but we spent so much time on our phone, or so much time on Netflix that were neglecting the emotional needs of our spouse and our own emotional needs you now so these are the things that maybe they're not as intense and scary, but they still cause damage in our marriage. If were not careful and again I love that frost of apathy and use that as a Magis just captures it. I'm thinking you said a few things about the wife that he knows feeling the trust issue return to the husband and use this analogy, I think that frost of apathy is really there for husbands because you as a husband. If you don't feel like you're performing. If you're not doing the role correctly according to the person you love your wife. You can pull back emotionally because were still little boys acting like little boys are not performing for mom and that night and we just decide rather than to up the performance and meet the need. We just pull back and we shut down we compartmentalize is what men do so well, okay, done with that box. Put it away and you just live watching news, weather and sports tonight and are going to bed exactly and I think the thing we need to remember is that we shouldn't fear winter because in nature.

Winter has very important roles to play winter. The cold of winter kills off disease and virus infection in the ground you know so that spring can come again and when I look at the season of winter in a relationship I see it as a time of identifying the things that we need to change. So if we want to get out of that frost. The first step is to identify the root cause. Where is this coming from. We need to work on. What are the problems that might be here for us to start discussing and bringing to the surface and then we got to discuss the problem.

You can't just know it. Even have to discuss it with your partner. Hey, here's what I think is happening in your marriage and how can we work on this together.

How can we get to a better place and then you come up with a plan. I think many times couples talk and discuss and they leave it at that.

But we gotta come up with an action plan. Just like anything else in your life that you want to change if you want to lose weight you come up with a plan or it's not can happen and marriage is just the same. If we want to get to spring with.

Gotta come up with a plan.

John not plopping this question is some people might hear this and say what why would Jim do that but we talked about it you were willing to hear this about you and Dana have gone through kind of a winter experience described that as a practical example of what some couples can go through like. Let me say first that we've gone through a lot of winter experience as a mother is a time when I was doing graduate school.

I just wasn't around emotionally for her and there was a distance there. More recently, in the past few years. After 30 years of being parents. Half of that with a special needs child. Then some elderly parent issues we found ourselves just kind of dividing and conquering all the different challenges in life, so weak, we just drifted and you were so kind and focus was was gracious enough to allow me to go to.

Hope restored Dean and I went to Hope restored, where we learned some of the things that you're talking about Deborah and we were able to go back and say what what is that about because we both wanted out of winter. We didn't have the ability to talk about it without getting conflict which never got resolved. We had no emotional energy for each other we we were exhausted physically and so that summer was a time of rebuilding a kind of coming out, but were not there yet. We still have issues but we least have what you're talking about Deborah. We have put it on the table we named it. We've understood kind of our patterns from before we understood the external things that have affected all that and what we weren't headed toward divorce. We certainly are running away from it together in a much stronger way now and really grateful for the well. I appreciate the vulnerability that I really do.

John's excursion to say that and it what a great example that we have to deal with the stuff just last night I was telling the unit we having this conversation and she said well work were coming out of winter and that you grabbed my arm and kinda leaned into me. It was sort like all that's a springtime was really nice sweet that's so sweet and the beauty and and you know you are setting the example, reminding people that you shouldn't stay in winter you I think it's too easy to stay in winter because it requires less work let's just stay here.

Let's just be content.

Let's just live our separate lives like this coexist but the beautiful thing about winter is it's not meant to be stayed. And it's meant to be passed through and there is hope. No matter what your relationship is going through right now there is hope. With God's help, that spring can come again, knowing that context and for all of us when were looking at that. How do we seize an opportunity to smell the smell of spring again when were living in winter. What can we do as a couple to maybe be courageous enough to like John described Dena pulling him in with his arm. You and John had that experience to yeah we've had many antennas he now I think I've even when he was in medical school.

I'm working many hours in residency and I and we have newborn babies and I'm feeling postpartum depression.

I mean, we had seasons where everything just seems to happen at once. How do we bring spring back so that's the question how do we begin to thaw the ground of winter and bring spring again.

When I look at first Corinthians 13 I see a list of actions, behaviors, not just feelings thing that I'm supposed to do and when I look at the season of spring is the season of planting good seeds. If I want spring to come again. I need to start planting good seeds again. I need to start taking those steps of action, even when I don't have the feelings to follow suit.

Even when the feelings aren't there to help me. I plant those seeds, those right decisions those next steps in faith that the Lord is going to allow them to take root and begin sprouting healthy fruit in our life and in our marriage and that spring can come again yet. I so appreciate that. That's the whole goal today. That's what we been talking about today.

Last time is how to recognize the season that you are and how to certainly move to the healthier places in your marriage. There's been so much great content in these two days in your book. Deborah is fantastic. Let me ask this question. You know I don't want to be the only one of the table not describe the season. I feel like I've skated through pretty easily, but judging. I've had those times I member one time. She said I love you but I don't like you right now and you know courts-martial is how could you not like me but but there are those times, and we've got to seize this and I if I could, I just want to make you want to call it pitch, but as Christians in this culture right now.

The work that you do every day. Deborah is so valid. I believe the work that were doing and focus in this area. Marriage with Greg and Aaron small you're doing is so valid because we do need to stand out. The culture pulls at us.

It tempts us to move into an area of destroying our marriages. That's why the Christian divorce rate is as high.

It is as it is. We have bought the lies of this world and we've got to figure out ways working with each other and most importantly with the Lord to say Lord, how can we honor you in a better way and you know what plainly is selfishness. When we do not, and we've got to put that aside. As the Christian believers who were to be the example in this world that don't do it begrudgingly. Don't to bitterness, do it with joy and happiness and desire say I want that relationship with my spouse to be a model for others to look at and then you got ago spin the web got to do the work to lay it out there and create the strength tensile strength in your marriage to withstand things that you've talked about what you think of all that is so true. I think sometimes we assume that just because we Christians were to be good at relationships without any training without any education without any preparation and then when the struggle comes were almost apprised by instead of anticipating being prepared for it.

Winter is going to come when I'm not surprised when November December rolls around and it's winter and I think we have to have that same mentality to be prepared for winter to have the tools that we need to not be afraid to identify the problem and go to help restore it or go to counseling and share what's going on and just like we would with any other issue you know like you said earlier, when something is broken in the home to call a plumber call electrician when something's broken marriage. We need to be willing and ready to call to take that next step and begin the process of getting hearing set so well in Deborah, thank you for your vulnerability. John, thank you for your stew and I hope you will get in touch with us don't feel like what you're experiencing is beyond the pale for us to engage and to hopefully help you. There's nothing embarrassing we have heard it all over 44 years of ministry and were here for you. We want to be that backstop for your marriage. So if you're struggling get in touch with us and we talked about hope restored. We can talk about a number of resources we have a free marriage. Assessment takes 5 to 6 minutes to complete it will show where your doing well in some areas you need to think about some areas to improve and that will even associate resources that will help you do that so were here for you. Don't be shy. Call us to help us a phone call away and are numbers 800 K in the word family 800-232-6459 or click the link in the episode notes for all the details. Also to mention Deborah's book again. Love in every season. It's a great resource. I think you can hear that in the content of the program. Get a copy from us here at Focus on the Family.

And when you do your helping ministry happens. The great news is.

Last year alone helped over 100,000 couples in the marital crisis. You can be a part of that either join his monthly partner. One time gift it all goes to helping to strengthen other people's lives and marriages and their commitment to Christ is generational impact. When you donate to Focus on the Family today. We make that monthly pledge or one-time gift of any amount to the ministry will send a copy of differs book as our way of saying thank you for partnering with us once again our number 800 K in the word family or check the episode notes for all the details on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back.

As we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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