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Simple Habits to Embrace in Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
January 24, 2022 5:00 am

Simple Habits to Embrace in Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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January 24, 2022 5:00 am

Dr. Randy Schroeder describes practical habits to help couples navigate expectations in marriage, build emotional closeness, and resolve disagreements.

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I was asked when was the last time you had a 10 minute item I consistent eye contact with each other purposely focused eye contact without any distraction, self-monitoring, TV on almost every couple that comes to see me will say can't remember some wise advice from Dr. Randy Schrader and equipping you with more insights to help you better understand and better enjoy your spouse. Thanks for joining us today on Focus on the Family with your host focus president Dr. Jim Daly John John the normal wear and tear on a marriage can take its toll and it can be anything from financial worries to getting the kids homework done just the routines can really wear down your relationship with your spouse and many of these stressors are unavoidable. We get that. But there are some things you can do better what I would call regular maintenance that really help your marriage drive and that's what talk about today. It's not the situation where you're in some serious trouble. This is more the tuneup activity that we all need and we all can do right if you're in trouble with your feeling like were in a crisis.

We can pull up give us a call.

We have really a terrific team of caring counselors 800 K and the word family as he said the gym. This is more of a tuneup for couples and I think it's going to help a lot of folks feel like they're closer. As I said, we have Dr. Randy Schrader here. He's a pastor former seminary professor and has been a marriage and family counselor for over 30 years and Randy's been married to Jenny for over 45 years and they have two children and is this right, six grandchildren. His book is to be the foundation of our conversation today. It's called simple habits for marital happiness, practical skills and tools that build a strong satisfying relationship. Randy welcome back to Focus on the Family. Jim and John.

It's great to be with you again. I really appreciate you and Focus on the Family for promoting biblical values and supporting marriages and parents and families just thank you so very much for having me again.

Well, it's a treat. Actually, I was telling the team's were getting ready for the program you have a really good gift which is to bring everyday metaphors into the marriage situation so you make it rather easy. I think to remember little principles that really do help your marriage work and unpack those today. I'm looking forward to people hearing more from you in this marriage area. In fact, that you cancel thousands of married couple. So that's where you get expertise from you got stories galore. What are some of those top skills that you need to make a successful marriage, great question, and it always begins.

Jim and John with. I think expectation the big true expectations impact relationships that habits determine the quality of our life and our relationships, including marriage is so what happens before marriage.

Jim and John are couples are meeting each other's expectations over and over.

And that feels good. You don't have your expectation met over and over so they decide to get married because they want that gratifying relationship for the rest of their life and what happens though after marriage. Often couples stop expressing their expectations that they so much desire and requesting different things expectations from their spouse and they forgets all about the biggie. Let me ask you this though because you think in the courtship phase that that expression is happening any differently and I I think of Jean and I when we were courting, I don't know that I was expressing my expectations of our relationship, you know any differently than our first second third year marriage.

I'm not saying it was effective but I did IT doesn't catch my attention that I was sitting down sandwiching here the three things I really need from you at what were you and 99 I think that's so true that that before marriage. There is goal to make the other person happy and making the other person happy says I am what kind of assume expectations and meet expectations and then after the first couple years of marriage, couples fall into complacency.

Complacency is the dreaded disease for every marriage.

Taking one spouse for granted. Taking the marriage for granted and they forget about meeting each other's expectations and so then they need to request those expecting a sometimes expectations can be void their their conflict oriented thinking of Jean and I one of our early conflicts and has around the serve expectations was if I went to the movies with my guy friends like I went and saw Terminator wasn't happy about that. Properly rated movie. I was shocked like terminators just in a good old robot violence. Yeah, yeah, but that was something that she thought wow you know I wouldn't expect in a decent Christian man to go and enjoy that so we can work through that. Like what is appropriate and that way in that we kinda took me by surprise a little bit. The Internet is a good point Jim, but because we all have her own dictionary of words and how we define them and so it's important to make sure expectations are specific and then you talk about what's reasonable what's realistic are they godly words and behaviors that need to be met to make an emotional connection for a couple Linda but he still comes back to the biggie expectations in Eugene talk about. Let me ask you to be in the book you have an example of a couple that had been married 32 years and, in Jean I been married 35, 37, got a cigarette in relations to both terrific out had an era 45 right off 46 is great and that's something I think we three men are committed to our marriage is ricer but a lot of young couples would look at us and say what had you do that. How did you get through all that expectation issue. This particular couple at 32 years had some major unmet expectation issues describe what was going on.

Well, they went to their pastor and that they were very faithful Christians Jim and Jenny went to church every Sunday. They had adult children that were married out of the house and and they both contacted lawyers they absolutely want a divorce. Agnes is happy time. Yet the kids are gone now. Enjoy life. If you dig a big range 25 to 35 years is all singing a lot a lot of couples getting a divorce. So what what was going on there to sleep. Well, they just did there was no one faithless, but they just were happy they were not meeting each other's expectations without knowing how to make the expectations note and I think that is the key. I'm on a mission to share with couples practical specific behaviors words and guidelines make a difference and so they came to see me with every premarital couple, Jim and John with every couple in the first couple sessions I talk about expectations and I talked about being specific oftentimes what I'll do, I'll have a couple make a list of their top 10 expectations for their marriage and so I explained expectations of this couple in the first session because they were in a crisis and then I asked them for the next seven days.

Will you please and I think requester better than commands which are sentences. Will you please ask one expectation of each other every day that everything big will you please put your shoes in the closet when you come home you know, will you please put your clothes a laundry rather than throw them on the floor so 14 total expectations. They came back the next week and they both have smiles on their faces and they said we want you to know we contacted our lawyers and told him were put our divorce on hold and we want you Dr. Schrader to give us the specific practical words, behaviors and guidelines that lead to a satisfying Christian right so we write down or expectations that I guess big and small things that irritate you and and I would say the other aspect of this is.

Don't assume your spouse knows what you're here. Expectations are and they need to be specific, you know, when couples make up list of their top 10 expectations of premarital know because I don't premarital couples to go say go to church. Well, that's a good expectation. What church you know how often you can go to church once a month once a year Christmas and Easter every Sunday so it's good to be specific with those expectations. And that's good I we have that down then we move into the idea of practical wisdom in those good wisdom habits you you identify for what are those for these are I really wish I had called them stay in love habits. These they are fall in love habits that need to become stay in love, habits, and so what do all couples premarital.

He do well they go on a variety of dates and they do a lot of fun things together all the time and they also look at each other's eyes. They make the heart.

The Bible says the heart that I is the lamp of the body.

They look into each other's eyes and they make a heart connection they talk hours and hours premarital and again their meeting each other's expectations and then premarital.

He they give each other lengthy hugs and lingering kisses and those for fall in love habits need to continue.

Jim and John after marriage. Unfortunately after the second or third year of marriage, I would suggest to you have no scientific facts.

95% of couples stop doing the fall in love habits and and that's what causes their hearts to go cold. What causes them to drift apart what causes them to stop making expectations. Note the challenge there. It seems almost too simplistic. I'm sure some couples that are listening that are in some trouble. In other not where they want to be not serious yeah and and were here for you if you're in a more serious situation. Give us a call or counselors are here in John will give those details in a minute. But even for you know again the tuneup kind of attitude it sounds almost too simple Randy that he really it's just like spend 10 minutes I die talking hug for 10 seconds. Give a 10 second kiss you know and then make sure you're dating your mate if I do those things, have a great marriage serious threat marriage yeah that's a good question, Jim. Marriage takes a lot more than the fall in love habits in the stay in love habits, but if couples are not doing those iconic: the foundation right there not get to be emotionally connected in the night.

I would ask your listeners, Jim and I was asked couples when was the last time you had a 10 minute ride.

I heart contact consistent eye contact with each other purposely focused eye contact without any distraction, cell phone, the other into the off almost every couple that comes to see me will say we can't remember.

Yeah, we can't remember the last time we spent 10 minutes because couples are the ultimate cook dinner together, clean up the dishes together but it just passing eye contact, just to look into each other's eyes like the three of us are doing just doesn't happen after the second or third year of marriage that complacency sets in that so good you in this is some great stuff from Dr. Randy Schrader good handles very memorable content categorizations from him. The book is called simple habits for marital happiness of practical skills and tools that build a strong satisfying relationship.

Get your copy from us here at Focus on the Family when you call 800 the letter a in the word family or check the episode notes for more details at Randy you described in the book something I'd really not connected but it's the attractiveness of politeness and that you night I had thought about it that way. Just think of being polite is the right thing to do, but the attractiveness of being polite to your spouse. Well it in again after the first two years of marriage, politeness kind of drops out and being extra polite saying please and thank you and you're welcome. And if there's a sneeze. God bless you. But when couples are spouses have affairs. It's often because the other person is so polite and kind to them. Fact I mentioned in my book husband who had an affair and he he's said to me he said the other woman wasn't really that attractive, but she was polite. She gave me compliments.

She looked me in the eyes for lengthy period of time as well as Alouette math and yeah let's cover that to simple habits for resolving conflict, and these are just all what you said on great handles and that you could rapidly put to work and hopefully folks will get a copy of the book is her so much when I can build a cover the first idea of resolving conflict is to stay inside the nines that you can explain this and I'm in a come back and say can we make it inside the eights because I'm a morning person and not a night owl the go ahead. Well, I actually was Kenneth. I'm glad you said and I'm glad were talking about this. So what inside the nines means is there's never a serious discussion before nine morning or after night night when I asked couples, was the last time you had a big blowup, almost 100% the time they'll say before nine morning or after 9 o'clock at night. Now Jim, you mentioned the eights and I think one of the things I love about you is your sense of humor but yet I tell couples massage those guidelines, you know. But the thing is, when we're tired. Early in the morning or late at night. Our feelings are tender and so even though my marriage expert and that helped thousands of couples. My wife and I bye-bye that guideline because if we don't have the energy.

What we do we blame our spouses and we don't look for solutions so some couples. Jim based on your eights will say were not going to have a serious discussion report in the morning. We both are not energized to look for solutions rental for blank or were not going to have a serious discussion after eight at night.

You also mention it's important to sit next to each other not to stand and not to be across from each other. I mean these are subtle things.

I don't know that I would think of that, but it makes sense and I'll ask couples what when was the last time you hit those three negative words of fighting argument or conflict were either one of you standing, Jim and John 100% of the time. 99%.

They almost always say yes one of us was standing. If I had the two of you yell right now. You could yell if I have you stand up and yell you do a better job and you would yell louder and so standing is an intimidating posture standing leads to poor listening. We can't listen as well mean the three of us right now are not standing were sitting so we can look each other in the eye and listen well to each other and so it's essential in the business world when there's and I need your help. Situation where do they all sat around the conference table thing look for solutions in the marriage world. I suggested the kitchen table and kinda sit adjacent because this is one time Jim and John, couples don't want to look at night because they're talking about tense topic and's and so they need to be able to come look away and offer kind adjacent and a lot of couples hold hands okay. I doubt that may not always work with kids some if you have kids. Sometimes they have to go to the bedroom and have teachers there so they can be seated, but standing will lead to poor listening leads to yelling and and when couples implement stay inside the nines. I need your help always be seated. It's amazing amazing how their discussions improve absolute lack can certainly feel that it might even feel awkward, though, to do that at first until you get used to it and I think I'm more road like sit across the table from you.

Here's work yes or Additive mentality well and it puts your right Jim McKenna puts that wall there and and I and I appreciate you having me in the spring to talk about my parenting book, I suggest the same guideline.

The parents is to sit at the kitchen table in it when they talk to their kids, so there can listen have good eye contact at Randy, I wanted get through the last couple of analogies, or because again there so good you talk about scratches, cuts and lacerations, and this is really helpful. I mean, I love this describe, so I use a medical model, scratches, cuts and lacerations, scratches, if the three of us are working around the house and we scratch ourselves. You know it's not hurts a little, maybe a little little faint mark on her skin.

But we know that's going to heal up on its own, so we don't do anything with it. If we cut ourselves working around the house. We will put ointment and a Band-Aid on that cut so they at it doesn't get infected and so couples need to let scratches go and don't stress out over scratches in your marriage okay and let those go and address cuts and then lacerations rarely, rarely do we laceration working around the house that we have to go to the doctor and get stitches to pull it back together okay but but and and last laceration wood for my description would be adultery, physical abuse, extreme verbal abuse. You know those kind of things and hopefully lacerations don't happen too often.

But couples need to just address cuts and lacerations and let scratches go and it makes it give you some more illustration to scratches and cuts because you know one spouses cut is another spouses scratch right inside him again.

You're right what what one defines as the scratch could be a cut in ointment so that everything is yet accurately not in scratch yet if with one that what what is the Bible say general words create life and health. Griping brings discouragement and so griping all the time God's telling us in his word. Don't do that that brings discouragement and so we got little scratches go, so if I and it that going back to the hug and a kiss. Jim and John, Jenny and I giving each other a lengthy hug, lingering kiss every day and it's an odd date hopefully becomes natural, but it's an odd date not cut our come home and forget to give that to Jenny. Hopefully if I've done it 300 days in a row she would forgive me and say Randy just forgot that not that she could initiate, but hopefully she would just view that as a scratch you know and just let it go and so not deal with using analogy wallpaper about the importance of apologizing and forgetting how to set work. These are so catchy that's why they do work if this room and I know there's brick on the wall.

But let's say there wasn't a brick.

This room was filled with steam and we wanted to wallpaper to beautify this room, we could try to wallpaper till Jesus returns.

But the. The walls will be damped in the wallpaper would just keep sliding down so what we would need to do is open the door. Let the steam out of the room.

Let the walls dry and then we can wallpaper the room and beautify likewise in a marriage. When a marriage is struggling. The heart is filled with the steam of bitterness and resentment and apologizing and forgiving allows that steam to leave the heart so that the the heart can be beautified that the wood talked about the stay in love inhabits the hug to kiss at our talk. That's not going to stick if there has not been apologizing forgiving for a cutter laceration to get that steam of bitterness out of the heart that needs to be there first and forgiveness is the core of our Christian faith.

There are 125 references in the Bible to the importance of forgiveness for interpersonal relationship and so that is the glue for brokenness for my marriage when it happens for your marriage. For every marriage and in that context, I think it's really important to hit the three types of forgiveness are components of forgiveness that you illustrate. So the first one.

Jim is to say I'm sorry I hurt you buy and use the word hurt you know and be specific. I'm sorry I hurt you by calling you and Emma sorry I hurt you by forgetting to do that important action there and and that's the first step. Probably though, the most important is the second one which creates humility, will you please forgive me and that can be a tough because it takes a lot of courage a lot humility for someone to ask, will you please forgive me and then the third part is to always use the forgive word couple should never say no problem. That's okay I'm over it. Whatever we always need to use the forgive work and forgive others as we have been forgiven. Now there's two phrases I suggest I forgive you. Or, with God's help all work at forgiving you with God's help all work at forgiving you it's going to apply more to lacerations or deep cuts but I had when I went over this. It was, not healthy on my part because I had couples that came were it was mostly husbands had committed adultery and the I would say have the husband say to the wife.

I'm sorry to hurt you by being unfaithful.

Ask, will you please forgive me and when I was doing my dissertation.

I just had. I forgive you and you and the wife would be in tears saying your pressure-treated. I have to say I forgive you and I suggest you do which was unhealthy because forgiveness is a process. The Bible says God forgives and forgets we only forgive and so I rent recognize now. What's important because forgiveness is a process for us as human beings is to say, with God's help, I will work at forgiving you basically every day for being unfaithful when there's so much here any of you think of the habitual center is that situation and you know there has to be balance and that the people need to be responsible we don't have time to cover all that I do want to address and I think from the wife's perspective. If I can speak for Jean but that that concept that may be the wife feels like she is trying. She is putting in the effort. What we talked about today may provide some additional tools that she hasn't thought about, but it's a very uneven effort. I'm giving hundred percent and he's only given 20%. What is she do with that angst so she doesn't get the humidity are the steam of bitterness Jim another terrific question and I'm glad you brought that up because wives are very committed to learning and growing significantly out.

Most typically, I should say. Generally speaking yeah you're right. You most typically and in husbands not so much okay and so I have 90 simple yet effective habits and simple habits for marital happiness that most of them can be read in two or three minutes so that although husband doesn't want to read they'll take two or three minutes to read about. Stay inside the Knights to always sit to give a lengthy hug, lingering kiss. You know that and so I suggested couples that they in husbands are willing to do that. They don't want to read and that's why my book is so thin like I said I 350 pages on apologizing forgiving, but I wanted a thin marriage book that can be looked at immediately and that the husband will be willing to get on board and say hey I want to implement this so that we can have healthy disagreement discussion so that we can hand emotional closeness and connected so that I think makes the difference is that it's not going to be take a lot of time to could take an couples I tell you Jim and Jack a lot of times will do this to an art I heart Tocqueville take one simple yet effective habit. Three times a week and just keep growing. So you're saying relax a bit. Let the process take place and encourage him to read to her through these with you on a regular basis exactly he can pick one out she can pick one out and if it's two-week just say let's talk about this.

This is specific words and behaviors and guidelines that we can use and let's just talk about it and then take that long, and he'll get on board with that. But he won't get on board with. Here's a great big hill if usually it was a lot of diagrams and a lot of concepts and a lot of philosophies and this is X explanation of marriage, they will get into that. We have rented this event so good and man I hope this gives you an inkling of the tools and the resources here in range done such a good job distilling what he learned through his PhD and really grabbing the core thanks from a personal perspective which I also appreciate Randy we want to be biblically based Focus on the Family and use those principles that really do help in the human relationship of our lifetime, which is the one with our spouse. So thanks for being with us.

Thank you again for having me and God's richest blessings on your lives in your marriages and your families as well. Thanks so much in a course. We have wonderful resources including arrange book simple habits for marital happiness.

We also have a marriage assessment tool. It's free.

You can come and take that and it will point out some areas that you're doing great and in some areas that you might need some additional work and I'm sure Handy's plaque will augment those additional areas you need some work in the get in touch with us if you can give us a monthly gift will send you a copy of Randy's book is our way of saying thank you and if Ken for that we get it one time gift to be great and were committed as Christians, to helping you. So if you just simply can't afford it. Working the trust others will take care of the cost of that so call us get in touch with us. We will get it out to you because we want your marriage to be strong and we love to hear from you and her number is 800 K in the work-family or stop by the episode notes for more will join us next time. As Dr. John Townsend helps us understand how we give and receive fueled Proverbs chapter 4 verse 23.

Guard your heart for from it flow the wellsprings of life. If I don't take care my heart which is my emotions and my values and my schedule and all that none of the finance on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Is it possible to love your spouse without expecting anything in return. Focus on the Family were excited about season five of the Leffingwell podcast and I'm John Fuller and I'll be joined by my friends and colleagues, Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife Aaron as we discussed practical ways, love and appreciation to your main to find the Leffingwell podcast had Focus on the that's

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