What we landed on, and we believe purpose resides, we believe it resides in your testimony. There are so many things that God allows us to go through that aren't comfortable to us, that are painful to us, that we believe hurts us, and we don't want to discuss.
But in those things, God had purpose. That's Howard Taylor, and he's with us today on Focus on the Family, along with his wife Danielle, and they're going to help you develop a biblical foundation for your marriage. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller, and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. John, I think marriage is fun most of the time.
Occasionally, it may not be fun when there's a disagreement between you. But I remember for Jean and I, the first nine months, we took a job traveling the country doing drug and alcohol abuse shows for high schools. So we were together 24-7 for the first nine months of our marriage. And poor Jean, I remember one time she wanted to, you know, get away, I think, as an introvert, just to refuel, go to the grocery store. And I said, Hey, I'll go to the store with you. She goes, No, no, no, no, no, you just stay, stay here at the hotel. I'll be back. I was like, what's wrong with our marriage?
What happened? Anyway, you know, the bottom line is whether you've been married for decades, or you're just a few months into your relationship, we want to encourage you to build the best marriage you can and to build that on the rock of Jesus Christ, because that's the best place to build your house of marriage. And our guests today are going to help us to explore that and give you some wonderful tools to make your marriage as strong as it can be.
Right. And Howard and Danielle Taylor are marriage coaches, authors and speakers, and they have a ministry called Marriage on Deck. Now they have a book called The Fundamentals of Marriage, Eight Essential Practices of Successful Couples. It's a great workbook.
And we have copies of that here at the ministry. The details are in the show notes. Howard and Danielle, welcome to Focus on the Family. Thank you for having us. It's great to have you.
We're all originally, the three of us originally from Southern Cal. Absolutely. Yeah. So and now you've moved near Atlanta. So that's a new journey for you guys. But let's go to the marriage coaching side. When you began marriage coaching, you realize many Christian couples didn't have good foundations for their marriage. I think that's so true.
You know, what's weird is we all go to, you went to Cal State Fullerton, I went to another Cal State. You study books to do business or to go into the sciences. Probably the most important thing you're going to do is get married. Not everybody and I get that, will get married and I get that, but most of us will get married.
It's like, there's no manual. There's no class for that per se. I am encouraged that more and more churches do marriage counseling, premarital counseling, etc. Absolutely. But man, we need strong foundations, don't we? And in that way, what are these couples missing when they don't have that strong foundation? Yeah, they're missing what we call the bedrock of their relationship, the bedrock or foundation that they're going to build their house on, their house of marriage. And so what we found as we coach couples, we would always ask after they listed out everything they didn't like about their marriage or what bothered them about their spouse, they would list these things out and we would receive them just to take note and get to know them and hear their heart.
But then we like to throw in, well, okay, after all of that, either, what do you like about them? Why did you marry them? And what do you believe God's purpose for your marriage is? And like statistics would suggest, most of them would say, well, I married her or him because I love them. Right. So, okay, that's a great reason. We'll unpack that. But why do you believe God has you married today?
And it's the blank stare. Let's go to the Bible and what the Bible says about marriage. What does it say as to the why of marriage?
Foundationally, we believe that the Bible starts out straight away in Genesis 1 28, beginning to give us a structure for marriage, be fruitful, multiply, subdue and have dominion. And so that gives us an idea after God created male and female, how he wanted us to coexist. And so we begin to unpack in our marriage, what does fruitfulness look like? Well, of course, we believe that that looks like childbearing, because God wants godly children, as it says in Malachi, but what is the multiplying of that fruit? What is subduing? What does that even mean to take control of something in our marriage?
And then ultimately, when he says dominion, what does he mean by that? And so we begin to unpack in the first chapter of the Bible, what God gave us as instruction, we believe as a blueprint. So in that in that respect, you talk about in this great workbook that you do the fundamentals of marriage that you've written, which has video components to it as well. But in there, you're talking about identifying your gifts and purpose as a couple. Yeah, you know, I, I think Jean and I have done that almost without being too deliberate about it. Okay, we could have been more deliberate, but I think we fell into the right groove.
But I don't think it was as intentional as it should have been. So so help me understand, you know, purpose and gifts within your marriage. Well, you know, when we think about purpose, we think about, you know, what is it that's going to be a adhesive to your marriage, marriage has so many seasonality patterns, that purpose for Daniel, and I especially added an adhesive, a glue, a bond to that leaving and cleaving point that was more eternal was more lasting, right. But what we found is when we first got together, it was all our differences that provided conflicts, it was, it was not the things that complemented us.
And so we began to get intentional about it, we began to say, whether it was a diagram, what are our similarities? What are the things that we have in us that complemented us, and I'll tell you what we landed on, we and we believe purpose resides, we believe it resides in your testimony. There are so many things that God allows us to go through, that aren't comfortable to us, that are painful to us that we believe hurts us, and we don't want to discuss but in those things, God had purpose in the testing was meant for you to be able to take control of that subdue it, whether it's in your home, whether it's a wandering eye or pornography, or whether it's lust, or whether it's poverty that struck our home, or whether it was bad parenting. These experiences that Daniel and I went through, because we came from broken homes, these experiences were core to our purpose, and us overcoming them allowed us to have a bond and a glue. And so when we saw our friends and our family members begin to get divorced, we started to see this carnage of marriage around us, our heart was sensitive, and it was prepared to take on our now life's mission. And so we encourage couples to look at what you've experienced in your life, look at where God has experienced you.
Jesus didn't look at the disciples in and not relate to them being fishermen, he looked at their skill set and their experiences and said, let me make you a fisherman of men. And so we tell couples when we coach them, be practical about that process. What is your testimony?
What have you went through? These are the things that will cause you and your husband and wife to want to take control of that and be impactful and serve others in that area. And that's where we believe really being intentional about identifying purpose resides for your marriage. And it helps you stay together.
When people have a purpose that they're working towards, they're not so easily to break up or let's separate or I don't want to be with you anymore because you gained weight or you lost your job or you have this addiction. We have a common goal that's like bringing us together and helping us. Yeah.
And bonding us. You know, I like that. Let me ask you about that idea of identifying your communication style because that's another thing that you emphasize. Howard, we'll pick on you first. Sure.
Sure. But what was your style, communication style going into marriage with all of your youth, your experience as a child, obviously? And then how did Danielle confront you about that?
Yeah, I was. So I, you know, I always joke that I came from a great line of domestic debaters is in the house out of everything is an argument or a point or getting something across or ultimately a debate. And, you know, what I found for that is I brought that same habitual communication style in the marriage.
You know, we could just be talking about groceries or we could be talking about something that should have been fun. But I found it a great point or debate in it. And it began to separate our communication. And so as I'm debating down one day, she began to say, yeah, I don't really want to argue about that. Like, this is an argument. No, I'm not arguing. I'm just making a point. And I was always trying to make a point.
And Dale very lovingly just said, no, there's no point to be made. I was just saying to say it. So that helped me understand a blind spot in my communication style, which really was innocent. It wasn't to argue with my wife, but it was developed. It was learned through what I observed.
I would identify with you. Yeah. And I brought it into marriage. I want to make sure I get this because the communication style you bring into marriage can reveal a lot about your upbringing and other things to the point where you're even unconscious about it. You don't even know you're doing those things for sure. Yeah. And the more aware you can become of that motivation and your triggers, I think the healthier your relationship is going to be because you can go, okay, because I could relate to Jean saying exactly what you said to Howard. She would say to me, you sound defensive right now.
I don't sound defensive right now. What are you talking about? Where did you get that from? Yeah. Forget that. Right. She just needs a tape recorder right there. But speak to that idea of the deeper heart issues that you're expressing when you're going at it like this.
Wow. Well, first to piggyback off of what Dale says, when you arrive to these sensitive heart conditions, somebody has to tell you defensive or maybe you can batter or whatever it is for us was very, we encourage couples and it's very important to know that you always lead with sugar, right? So if you're going to iron sharpens iron, but if you're going to breach these conversations and set aside time to help grow and sharpen your spouse, the best way to establish rapport with the individual, and that needs to be earned even with your spouse is to let them know that you see the things that they do great.
And so Dan was great when we really helped cure my heart with communication of highlighting my strengths. And then she added after sugar, a little salt. And then if you're a couple, even today, finish with sugar, people would begin to look forward to your pruning. That's really good. And I like that sugar, salt, sugar, sugar, salt, sugar. I'm going to use that tonight.
She's a little sweeter, not salty. All right. Well, this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and our guests today are Howard and Danielle Taylor, and they've got a great workbook. It's called The Fundamentals of Marriage, Eight Essential Practices of Successful Couples.
And you can just click the episode notes and you'll find the details right there to get your copy. You know, one thing I appreciated about the next section I want to talk about is your emphasis on friendship and marriage. I think Jean is my best friend. I can say that. And you know, I like that and you know, I miss her when she's on a trip.
I miss her when I'm on a trip. And that's probably a good indication. But speak to that idea of friendship. It's what you have when you're dating. It's what's compelling you toward marriage. And then it kind of gets you through the early years of marriage. And then for some couples, it evaporates, you know, because we get down to the business of marriage, meaning paying the bills, raising the kids, getting things done.
Did you call the plumber and I forgot, how could you forget to call the plumber? And it's like the business of marriage and you start not liking each other anymore. And speak to that idea of how to keep a friendship in your marriage, in your relationship. I feel like Howard and I started off as friends as well. But over these years, we've always maintained that our friendship is first. So even though we're married, we are friends first. When things got, we've had a lot of ups and downs with our child passing away.
We've had a failed business. We've had just certain, you know, trials that we've had to overcome and things that we've had to deal with each other and our character getting to know each other as we come together. And we think to ourselves, if we work together as friends, friends first, right?
Because sometimes in marriage, we put these labels on each other and then we have these unrealistic expectations of perfection because you're my husband, you're supposed to make me happy and be perfect for me or my wife. But when things get tough, it's like at the end of the day, we're always friends. And when you're friends with someone, you want the best for them sincerely, right? You want to help them wherever they're at.
How do you correct that course though, practically speaking? So if you feel that going off the rails for some reason on a given day, how do you get together and say, okay, time out. I feel like we're not being best friends right now.
Yeah, what's this for our Danielle and I, it was a safety net. So a lot of things that we go through in marriage are not just immediate and abrupt. There may be a season where you're trying to heal some distrust, right? Well, friendship became a safety net to that. And it gave intention in a way that the spousal relationship, if you were let down by your husband or wife didn't. So even though here, I'm not particularly pleased that you did that as my husband or wife, but as my best friend and my bestie, I'm a fight for you.
We have a chapter in our book where it's called fighting for not against. And a lot of times if you see your best friend in a fight or a scrapper, you don't not defend them because you thought it was your fault. You come in swinging and ask questions later to be candid, right? And what I found in our marriage is sometimes I had to protect Danielle, even against me sometimes, right? These preconceived notions that I had of marriage and perfectionist romanticized notions as her husband, I realized became a little suffocating at times to conversations and took the fun out.
So I had to start looking at her definitively as my friend though, I want you to win. Can I just say that practically, we always like to have fun. We're like, what do you want to do? Where do you want to go?
Like what vacations? Let's do a vision board. Let's have date nights. Let's try something new and fun so we can get out of the, yeah, you can get out of like the routine and the monotony of marriage and have fun and let your hair down. You know, I see it in you. I mean, both of you, I think I especially see it in you, Danielle, let's go to the white board. We're going to map out our year of fun, which is awesome. I'm thinking of couples though, that they've even, maybe they never even possess that, you know, because of their childhood or whatever, but they haven't really seen life as let's hit the mountain tops. How do we do that?
Let's plan to hit the mountain tops. And it's okay for Christians to, Christians can have fun and be joyful. I mean, that's part of it. But speak to that person that maybe can't even relate right now. She's saying, wow, I lost my fun like the second week of our marriage.
Wow. The first thing is to pray about that. That's the very first thing is to pray. Secondly, go talk to your husband or your wife and explain to them what you love about them, what you like about them, how you notice their interests and their passions.
Do something that they will appreciate. Howard was surprised me with all kinds of things, things that I was interested at the time that he was not necessarily interested in at all. In fact, with basketball, because Howard played, you could care less, but you decided, I got to check it out. So what happened there? I did not like basketball games. I hated going, I felt like I don't understand the plays and the game.
It just wasn't my thing. Then I started saying, listen, this is important to him. This is his fun. This is fun for him. I want to be with him. So if I can be with him, and he's having fun, I'm having fun just by being with him. Even if that means I'm coming to the basketball game with a stack of magazines, I'm not watching the game.
We're sitting next to each other. That's where it started. That's a true story. That's where it started. It started with, I will be there, but I'm going to be looking through my magazines and before you know it, the game's over. What did that say to you, Howard?
I was happy she was there. Yeah. Okay, good.
Sorry, Danielle. I just wanted to get that connection because it doesn't have to be a lot. It doesn't. You're just present. You're just present.
It doesn't have to be extravagant or expensive. Just show that you want to be with that person. Let them know that you're genuinely interested in hanging out with them.
So the magazine watching came to, okay, well now I'm spotting the celebrities in the stand and who's dating who. Then I started thinking, okay, I want to be able to communicate with him. If I'm his best friend, I want to talk to him about what's going on in the NBA world. He talks to me about everything I'm doing. So let me find out.
I would start Googling. His favorite team is the Lakers. God bless them. Of course you're LA. Yeah. He's like, what's going on in the trades and the player and the deals and can you believe that person got traded?
Where's he going to go? You know? And he started telling me, I'm proud of you for knowing what's going on. I would text him. Yeah, I would text him.
He said, I didn't even hear that yet. And so that made me want to continue to stay on top of it so that I can show him, hey, I'm interested in what you're interested in. That's so funny. I'm laughing inside because Jean, you know, with football, you know, she began to take an interest.
I so appreciate that. But she said, if you could tell me more about the players, like who they're married to, do they have kids? I'm going, are you serious? I don't know.
And she's going, no, if we could do that, I'd be far more interested in the game. So it was hilarious. I just, I started to figure out, okay, how many kids does, you know, does somebody have Peyton Manning?
What's, what's going on when he was at the Broncos and all that. So it's really funny. But you're saying basically connect in a, in a place that your spouse enjoys being and don't needle them for being there. Participate.
Be present, be present, another, another theme you have in the workbook is about the no breakup policy. And I get that. And I think, again, back to your point, Danielle earlier, so many Christians don't really understand or read the word often enough to know it. And that's job one, right? Read the word. Cause that's the heart of God. And that no breakup policy is a great thing.
Describe what it is. Yeah. So the no breakup policy for us came in dating. So Danielle and I, when we met and we were courting each other and just trying to figure out like, what is this going to look like? Very early on, we started to experience conflict in our communication styles we mentioned earlier.
And there's a pressure to just say, well, you know what, if you don't like it, or if I don't like it, we'll go separate ways and we will see that. And oftentimes in relationships prior to our relationship, you could just break up with a person to move on. But what we, as we read the word, we realized that if we could just break up in our dating season of life, we could divorce.
And we believe that guy hates divorce, as it says in Malachi chapter two, he hates it. And so we knew that we wanted to be with somebody for a lifetime if we got married. And so we didn't want to start practicing the muscle memory of breaking up. We just, it was something that we wanted to discipline ourselves through while we courted each other and dated each other so that when marriage got rough, we knew how to in a stormy season, put up our umbrellas, put on our raincoats and dig in, opposed to exiting stage left. And so that's what our policy was.
That was going to be our policy. And the final piece was it is if we broke up, we can never get back together again. And you know, again, for those that may be in that space where they're thinking, you know, it's a lot easier to give up. Yeah, you're going to take the same garbage into the next relationship. That's what they don't realize.
It'll just be easier because the first quarter is so much easier than the fourth quarter. And what you're saying is exactly right. This is part of growth in life is working together to get through the tough stuff and you come out stronger. And Jean and I kind of had that same thing. You know, divorce was just off the table.
We're never going to entertain it. And, you know, and I think that does give you a safety net, like you said earlier, speak to that idea that you also need that spiritual foundation to get through the, the storms of life. Absolutely. Well, I was going to say that in my family and my parents, we have five marriages amongst my mom and my father before he passed away. And so I saw divorcing and breaking up doesn't necessarily mean that the grass is greener.
Like we said that the divorce rate gets higher and higher. But what I didn't see was the foundation in Christ to help keep those marriages together. Right. So that was missing. That was missing. Yes.
Yes. Which my mom is saved now. Thank you, Jesus.
But at the time wasn't right. So Howard and I when we got together, we would pray every day and we would read our Bible because we knew that that is the foundation of our faith. We knew that's the foundation of our lives. This is the only way this relationship is really going to work.
As marriage coaches, we could give people tips and activities and exercises and things to do to help their relationship. But none of that is going to work if you don't really, truly invite God into the marriage. Right. There's a scripture in Isaiah 65 that says, the Lord says, here I am, here I am, but you don't ask for my help. Right.
So that's kind of how it is. I feel like sometimes with marriage, it's like God knows everything. He knows all of the problems in our relationship. He knows the hearts and motives of ourselves and our spouse.
And so he has all the answers, but we don't go to him to get the answer. Well, you know, you say that, and of course, we're hearing from Christian couples frequently here at Focus that are in a stalemate situation, you know, and I think again, because they're not applying the Word of God into their relationship. Let's end here where that couple, you know, that they really have found that they don't like their spouse anymore. And you know, we have something called Hope Restored.
It's a four day intensive. A lot of the couples that come to that, they're kind of in that last knot of the rope. This is the last thing we're going to try. And it's sad because you started loving each other. And so for that couple that is feeling that again, they're just lost in that relationship. What advice would you have for them today?
What can they do differently tonight over dinner? Be intentional about connection, be intentional about how they connect. We talk about something called holistic intimacy, connecting physically, mentally, but spiritually. The foundation of a marriage, a godly based marriage is your spiritual connection. And so in that workbook, there's many chapters about different things that disconnect us, whether it's your finance that looks to disconnect you, whether it's your communication, that the enemy wills to disconnect you and separate you, whether it's physical intimacy, or money or whatever it is, we have to be intentional about cleaving to our spouse and making Jesus the foundation of that cleave. That comes through seeing your spouse through the eyes of Christ. We've seen couples look and say, I can't do it anymore. I want to divorce my wife. I want to divorce my husband.
I don't love them anymore. And we said, but how does Christ look at your husband? Find out Christ's thoughts, God's perspective of your wife, and begin to look at him that way. And that is the charitable agape love that marriage is missing.
That is really good. And I hope people understand that. Danielle, I want to describe something to you that I've heard years ago, but the idea of a wife's heart, particularly being like a rose, and in the early stages of marriage, it's open, it's blossomed, it's a great fragrance, her heart. And then over time, if that is not watered, if it's not fed, how that rose closes, and how it dies. And when I heard that description, particularly of a wife's heart, that she just feels like the rose in her heart is dead. It's such a powerful word picture. And a husband's job is to till the soil of that rose, and to make sure that rose is thriving.
Speak to that. I think if your heart is hurting, you know, God says he's close to the broken hearted, but I would go turn into God, I would turn into him. I don't pray like, Lord, you know, make Howard be faithful, make him be this, make him that, he's a faithful man. But my trust and confidence is in Christ to watch him. This is his son. So I'm going to pray and ask God to watch over him and convict his heart if necessary for anything and keep them safe and all of those things.
I'm not going to be concerned about it. It's God's job to do that. So I think that if we, as women and as wives, if we fall into the love of Christ, because God loves us so much, he will mend our broken heart and allow us to see our marriage for what it can be. Yeah, that's good. So that we can speak positively to it.
Those disappointments. Well, I think these are great thoughts and wonderful essentials to marriage. And I'm glad you guys have come to talk to us about it. I hope, I hope everybody, you probably if you've been married 30 something years, like John and I, the skyscrapers, by the way, younger couples in your church, what a great gift to be able to give this to them or even run a small group with them, which I would encourage people to do. Maybe Jean and I can do that. The fundamentals of marriage, eight essential practices of successful couples. You've heard some of the themes.
We didn't cover them all here. But if you can make a gift of any amount, join us in ministry. Let's make it fun. Support the ministry here to do what we're doing and we'll send you a copy of the workbook as our way of saying thank you for participating in ministry and of any amount. If you can't afford it, we still want to get it in your hands. We'll trust others. We'll cover the cost of that. Just get in touch with us.
And we want to certainly strengthen your marriage and make it the best possible marriage it can be in the name of Christ. So get ahold of us and let's do this together. Let's change the country.
This is one way to do it. Strong healthy marriages will change a nation. That's right. Amen. Amen. Call us today. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459 or stop by the show notes. We'll have details there for you. When you're online, be sure to take a few minutes and we've got a free marriage assessment there that maybe five minutes of your time will help you see where you're doing well.
Maybe an area or two of growth and look for that free marriage assessment when you're at the website. And coming up next time, some practical help for your sacred journey of parenthood. As a parent, you will face levels of anger you have never experienced before. As a parent, I face levels of fear I never experienced before. I also face levels of happiness and joy and wonder.
So there's a positive as well. 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. In light of the Supreme Court's recent decision on abortion, are you ready for what comes next and how should we respond as emotions run high? As Christians, we need to be ready and focus on the family can help you prepare. Join us every Monday to hear inspiring stories from people who faced their own pro-life moments and experienced God's love. To learn more, go to focusonthefamily.com slash Seize Your Moment. That's focusonthefamily.com slash Seize Your Moment.
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