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Sharing the Load With Your Spouse

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
September 27, 2021 6:00 am

Sharing the Load With Your Spouse

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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September 27, 2021 6:00 am

Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife, Erin, describe how a husband and wife can strengthen their marriage by applying the Biblical principle of 'bearing one another's burdens' – ranging from sharing household responsibilities to supporting each other emotionally and spiritually.

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This is John Fuller and Focus on the Family is looking for talented writers and editors to help reduce our audio programs and podcast go to focusonthefamily.com/jobs to learn more about these and other job opportunities secured focus now is to do things together on walks date nights somewhere along the way stopped.

My wife is so busy, we never have time for just us.

I miss her. Wish my husband understood how I feel.

I want him to be my soulmate. Or maybe you can relate with those comments. No one wants to feel lonely in their marriage but you might feel like there's nothing you can do to change that today and Focus on the Family will be examining loneliness in marriage in ways that you and your spouse can work together towards greater connection and better intimacy.

Your host is focused president and author Jim Daly and on John Fuller. John this is one of those unexpected that gaps in a marriage that can occur problem that we don't anticipate and frankly were kind of surprised when it happens, loneliness, and I think many men experience this were going along thinking our marriage is great. Everything is fine when we discover wives are lonely and unhappy and we may not even know why or how or what to do, how to respond, but the fact is, loneliness goes both ways. Both husbands and wives can experience this in a chilling statistic from psychology today magazine reveals that 63% of people who report feeling lonely are currently married and living with their spouse. So it's a big problem and that's why were tackling it today and we have our friends and colleagues back in the studio.

Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife Aaron. They lead our marriage and family formation team here at Focus on the Family and their speakers and writers and podcast hosts and the written a lot of books together for husbands and wives, and today I will be talking about the one the road called reconnected moving from roommates to soulmates in your marriage. Click the link in the episode notes or call 800 K in the word family to get your copy). Welcome back to focus as if you were only about 100 feet away tried to tell you that it's good to have you here as it always this. Let's talk about the definition of loneliness.

Casino spouses can feel lonely for variety of reasons, and sometimes it's normal right and I mean people in marriage you you're busy doing things, raising the kids.

Let's take that one. For example, you can feel somewhat lonely from your spouse because there's so much on your plate.

The summit demands on you and the end of the night. There's not a lot of room you know to deal with that loneliness so defined loneliness in and make sure that people understand what's healthy and what's unhealthy. You know, Jim.

It's kind of just that emotional disconnect because we Mary to have that deeper heart level connection. We got Mary to have business meetings or to conflict, although that happens. That really puts part of that is not feeling not listen to, and their spouses.

In talking to Dan and not taking them seriously. Or maybe not even making eye contact and so it really is looking at that their sisters emotional disconnect and think there's also part of it that I realize that this was, big insight in my own life and marriage that some of the things that you and I do certain activities like you know maybe one of us is cooking or the others doing the bills or someone taking care of the inside of the house outside of the house, that with in those roles. It can be a very, very lonely place and so it's not just that there's an emotional disconnect. There can also be things, activities, behaviors, roles that were doing that we just feel like we have no support were doing is completely on our own well and that leads to I think your first example that something you learn during the pandemic carrier at home together all the time.

Everybody put your hand up and you learn something about yourselves. What was yeah so it some points we had all of her adult kids suite a full house in at some point it in gear and you got really frustrated, set us all down. I get overwhelmed thinking about how I got cut three meals a day for all of these people emails a day, three, and three male serial girl, my house forever, whom are adults and going okay. I can't. I don't want to do this by myself. I don't want to pressure and that I know many of my friends did that. I was also still working and feeling feeling overwhelmed and I said I set the family down. I sent you how y'all can contribute to the meals.

Yeah, it wasn't good.

Aaron doing the cooking was gender-based. You're the woman you have to do the cooking. She's a phenomenal cook so just over the course of our marriage season so good at it.

I wasn't. So, you you did that but I remember going okay lets the kids and I will talk this through and so being very spiritual, the spiritual leader cast lots and lost. So I became the official cook within our family during COBIT, and here's what so stood out to me is that during the day so as I'm thinking about dinner. I would like in the morning I go to the freezer, open it up.

I was sure to rummage you would meets his frozen live okay, grab something and then I'd think about going to have to set this out to the thaw. I would then start to worry that you have all the ingredients that I need to have to run to the store. Over lunch time.

I just realized so often during the day. I was fretting about this in in a it's it's some point I think I was choosing between two recipes to cook like porkchops. So tonight was porkchops night and so Aaron comes in the kitchen. I tell her like he help me figure this out. There's like a really good like honey, you know flavored one.

There's a spicy one. We think I should cook in her response, and he was chef you got this once patted me on the behind. Was I was okay with him yet. Something about what she said was very irritating and I said to us, and then not come on. I am tired of making all these decisions about what's I do it's you again when you got this.

I trust you did want to participate. She's like it's going to be delicious.

While I was fully enjoying watching him fret over what I had been doing for about 20 years of our marriage and just realizing that he was experiencing what I expect and again it's not that we ever sat down and get your and you're gonna cut. I just did because Greg really didn't cut and I know a lot of men do cut that it was so fun to see him stepping into that role and I fully was embracing it well in sows as she stood there resisting giving any sort of direction. It really was a true lightbulb moment for me because I I also I just went wait a minute Mike is this what used to happen to you like it used to worry about cleaning ass that day in and she just smiled.

I was thankful that Langston you'll smile in truly, Jim is that moments I just had this epiphany and I just went wow that it it dawned on me in the moment that the Aaron for all these years that she had been cooking. It felt totally alone and that because it was our rule if she cook then I cleaned but I'm telling you, there was never a moments during the day that outthink anti-enough so drive cascade to soak how light scraped everything off. I mean it's as if I never worried about that. I didn't realize until that moment that that was something that Aaron had been dealing with really by herself in the in that was that part of that loneliness that occurred to me that while I had no idea that she had been bearing that burden sure higher self. Why think that's part of it and that's an example. A great example of how that loneliness develops that statistic both 63% of married couple. Someone in the marriage feels lonely fill that in a little bit. You're both counseling couples and in talking to people what, in addition to you know somebody feeling isolated in decision-making, which is kind of the example you're talking about, fretting over how to take care people. What are some other contributors to loneliness that you see in in marriages today.

I would say one challenge that we face as a nation is that pace that we keep the level and busyness that we keep that often were distracted by many other things. Sometimes we are distracted because it's not feeling safe in the marriage that we look to other things to fill that need to be connected so often it's not even just the tasks that were feeling alone and that it's also just at heart level that we're feeling isolated and disconnected emotionally, and that is it that hurt so deeply within our human heart because were created to be connected is so easy for me to do for Aaron literally just maybe two days ago one day ago Aaron and I was laying in bed were just talking and in one of things that she said Ivan asked if I can see, see, how can I help you. One of the things that she said to me that Manny would really be good if you could just initiate asking me how I'm really doing in, she because I'm just not feeling connected with you in instantly. My mind went I got up this morning I put a little laundry and I got the dishes unloaded. I made the family. I just started running through in my mind all the things that I was doing for her as a way to serve hers away to love her thinking. Certainly anybody could see how much I love you and how connected we are because I'm doing all these things in the been with her just not doing but but just being with her in investigating what's really going on in her inner life that's hard for me, it's easier for me to do and be active in and show her how I'm loving her.

Then, to be vulnerable and to take a moment to sit how you really doing to know her, because often it requires then me to also share that was another part of what of what she said as were laying in bed the other day and she said yeah.

I want you to pursue how I'm doing but then I want you to tell me how you're doing. There's something about that. This just intimidating.

Can I just do the dishes in the dishes. So much has changed its covariate and focus came back to work full-time in June as I can do on the house chores now because that had become Greg's thing called a daily not know you have responsibilities at home now what am I gonna do that. I love that he's doing this to come back to say yes I love that you're doing things and it means the world to me that he does the things that there is also a part is you're saying Greg just that human were human beings and to sit and to be with each other to be present with each other to truly know each other is just key because when we get married when we left on Isle were not walking down the aisle thinking I can't wait to have somebody to you now do my laundry. Are you now do tasks for me that really what you're thinking. That is, I want this connection for the rest of my life. I want a best friend for the rest of my life that would have you seen the other night as I had shared with Greg about a situation I was dealing with it entirely saying it would be so meaningful to me. If you just would follow up and ask me like the next day like going south. That's what I get direction. It was great direction but what struck me is the thought of sitting down and having it deeper conversation. It requires mobility in. That's what can throw me times.

That is easier for me to do and just to show her through these task and behaviors than it is just to be in that moment with her totally open and vulnerable and in that's that's hard to start from it when it touches on one of the things that you cover and reconnected this idea, being careful not to become roommates and in a way that's what you're describing. If the relationship is just a bunch of what I do for use know we do that I do the dishes.

You do this I do that that is a roommate relationship.

So how is marriage different from that roommate relationship so you're not living in that kind of status. Yeah, I think the beauty of marriage. Many things are beautiful about marriage. One of them is that because were in this covenant, lifelong commitment to each other there with what that can do, is that it can make us feel safe enough to usually be truly known to really be vulnerable in because it's hard. I'm just saying that that was a hard thought of going okay and we sit down like that. It really does require that.

But the cool part within our marriage because of that the safety of our lifelong commitment to each other that can help us to really do that in new for me. This whole loneliness thing that the challenge that I would encourage men and women if they're brave enough, is to to go to your spouse because then I I followed up that day, that sort of epiphany that Aaron was bearing this this cooking burden on her own, is ago your spouse and say where are places in our marriage that you do feel lonely in Aquinas is an ongoing thing because I did ask her that. So this like, what, six, seven months ago within the other night as were just laying in bed and she's revealing there's another area that that I feel alone that when I share things you don't follow up.

You do not asking pursuing. How is that going in.

So, be brave because that's a scary question. If you're willing not to defendant to argue and to debate that it gives you such an opportunity just to listen in and try to understand what is that look like is that that Aaron would've answered that I feel alone. Doing the cooking yet and the propensity when you asked that question then is to go into the let's fix it and let's get task oriented lucky feel lonely. There will, then I can do this this this and this and again it turns to doing versus just really understanding what is happened like for you and around the cooking, you know, we ought to have S3 best developed allergies. We moved to Colorado. So what was it like for you like then having to click that all these dietary restrictions and you know on and I feel like what was the hardest part of it and just asking is open ended questions and really trying to understand and just care and empathize. Stepping into their shoes. What has that been like before you get into how do we fix this is a could be, but the bills it could be about outside maintenance inside it could be a number of things like guarantee you every single married person has some area within that marriage with a field I feel lonely cleaning my garage. I can tell over Shonda Fuller should screwed up next to schedule a time for you to talk to Greg hello hello I Greg and Aaron Smalley are our guest today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly on John Fuller talking about some the content in the book reconnected moving from roommates to soulmates in your marriage. I get a copy sure with a friend.

This is really good stuff and you can stop by the episode notes for all the details about getting your copy understand there was a point in your marriage where you Greg you were dealing with some depression. So what was going on what happened and how did you Aaron respond to it. If I can lay it all out. Yeah, my family had had a family ministry might my dad started. My parents ran that in within just trying to work together as a family. There are some inherent challenges with that income within our family ministry just there. There became some real challenges that the I finally just decided it was.

I wanted to vacation with my family. I want to hang out with my family during the holidays and in I think that we can work together and do all that and so but that became a very difficult decision. I was fretting about that. It just the longer that that when I just come along swing this just a real season of depression. The problem is that you would often when guys get depressed, they, they tend to go to the cave in.

That's exactly what I was doing and so I would. I would go to work at come home and I did I make kiss you hello and pat the kids from the head and I would wander up in just crash on the couch in front of the TV and I didn't want to interact anybody.

I didn't want talk to anybody and it became such a lonely place. I know for Aaron but but also for me. I just didn't know what to do.

I didn't know how to manage and handle that level of depression.

So what happened over yeah I think Aaron finally, I think you came to me in a very nice and loving, caring way and said this ain't work this thing. You coming home and disappearing that the kids miss you I miss you.

We gotta figure this out like they let me help here. Let me get to a distinction if you do that for a couple of days that might be recharging your battery.

So what length of time are you looking at here. Where was it. How many years I made. This probably monster drugs. On some months okay for definition.

Sometimes you come home you're just fatigued right news on channel surf or whatever. Then you just you reenergizing me or talk about systemic, truly months I just I just I didn't have the desire to to interact totally disconnected and I don't know that in the middle of that we knew that it was depression and you things are really hard that he was struggling struggling and I can remember that day just going to going okay what is going on. He's isolating off the kids are. We had small kids at that point they needed him.

I needed hand and so it was really at a lonely time back spent so much time in prayer and I remember my prayer just being the Lord will stay here as long as you want us to stay here, but if you provide an opportunity we will go and it wasn't shortly after that that we ended up moving to Arkansas and it was just entered into a season of healing. Yeah, but that I had to get in to counseling in I don't know if it was be the guy I can solve this. I was a counselor, so why should I need this in really getting with the good Christian counselor begin to challenge some things help me understand some things really got to the root of what was going on how was feeling around to some of the family troubles that I was experiencing in and once I started to do if okay, here's the real issue that I was able to deal with that in slowly. Life, came back color came back to my life and in we were able to do with that but but that he, again, there can be many reasons why we feel lonely in a marriage can be that word just focus on all these tasks and fill loan that where there something like a depression going to and you need to recognize the sex Greg and Aaron.

There's a distinction between sympathy and empathy and no spouse can feel sympathetic but you believe that's not the goal. Empathy is where you need to move to. What's the difference will when Aaron shared what it was like for her over the many years of of cooking. I could've instantly sympathizing that must've been rough, man that's that's terrible, but that was hard but sympathy is when we feel bad for someone so I could feel bad for her in the moment, but empathy is very different than that empathy is actually stepping into their shoes and and feeling it with them. So what is it like to be them. What is it like, what would it be like for me if I had been carrying something that Greg felt completely alone. With that being like why would understand that. So really it's entering in with them and she was able to into the conversation to go will you know how you felt over the past couple weeks. You know were you frets and you're asking this and then all day long.

You're worried about you know I be able to serve the.

The gluten-free people in the dairy free people is remember that was like like what was that like for you so she asked me that.

So I would like answer stressful and I fret all day long like a worry about this house like that's that's what it's been like that. I would just I thought were less likely to get in. I wanted to try. In fact, easy, inviting everybody over for you hotdog gluten-free is likely Do you think that sounds great. Got my fingers crossed.

Now, as were nearing the end here.

We've got to speak to the spiritual dimension of all this you know the Lord tells us to bear each other's burdens, she doesn't say, except in marriage, maybe especially in marriage. Right because our marriages are a reflection of what he wants for us in terms of creating us male and female, and the two shall become one flesh in the spiritual dimensions of that it's right there in his word.

So at the end here speak to the idea of God's hope for us and what he wants for us, which is good. Yeah I love that verse in Galatians 6 to sue bear one another's burdens in a burden is different than a load because earlier saying we should all carry on load. Those are things like a backpack that we can carry around a burden is like this, you monk's steamer trunk you're trying to carry that's impossible, and so the word there actually means to supports or to remove and so going all the back to the whole cooking incidents that through coated. The question then became how can I best help bear that burden that Aaron was feeling was I going to totally remove it or was it about supporting like it could be to support her and that could have been hey win-win is time to cook and evenings were to do this together like this is divide and conquer.

Let's be there. It will use it as a time to catch up in the talk and listen make this into something we do together that could have been a great way to support but as we talked I I just felt a real just peace that that I wanted to remove that from her. III when you've done this for many many years and in I want to do this now in so That's what I felt God calling me to do, but were not saying hey find out where your spouse feels goes along with his in the now you do that it is not about that.

It's seen what's the best way to bear this burden with you and it could be removing it or could be really learning what is support look like to the midst of any non-Scripture talks about those who marry will face many troubles and I often call on that first because it's true we are to face troubles back when I love about marriage is that you have a journeying body that you have somebody with you that you're not facing us troubles alone and I love what Greg is saying because really the goal is how do we support each other in art our trials. Sometimes it's both of us going.

Sometimes it's me.

Sometimes it's Greg and you know that that Austin thing that God did. She created this thing called marriage and that we get to walk through this things together that it's so hard and I've said this many times because I have come to the conclusion that marriage is really set up for us to become more like him. And I mean selfless. The Lord's character toward us like loving, kind, selfless, and it's hard because were selfish creatures that sin nature in us really drives us to go to her own benefit.

All the time and marriage is there to help us break that down and become more holy and that's an awesome journey.

Like you said Aaron. This been so good. Thank you for being with us and I just want to make sure people realize you know what Greg and Aaron are talking about her having those really good deep conversations where you can talk about what makes you lonely in our relationship. It's it's a day or almost. Maybe start there certainly pick up the book reconnected. That'll help the chapters to cover various areas of your marriage but one of them is in this area of loneliness and also we have great caring Christian counselors who would be willing to talk with you and identify with you some of those places where you may be struggling. You may be feeling lonely were here for you. That's the point. We also encourage you to pick up a copy of Greg and Erin's book in most ways to help participate in ministry together and for gift of any amount or a monthly gift which is terrific will send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you for partnering with us in ministry. Contact us today if we can help set up a time to talk to a counselor and you can donate as well.

Our numbers 800 the letter a in the word family and the links are in the office of Greg and Eric everything to talk with you again. Thanks for being with us.

Thank you for your happiness.

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Focus on the Family and coming up next time Crystal pain is going to remind us as parents to stop chasing perfection and rather to find God's peace. You can't fail if you are faithful because failure is not dependent upon your child's choices are behavior, walking 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 once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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