If there's one word that points out the difference between a happy marriage and an unhappy marriage, it is planning. You know, happy, successful couples plan to go to church this Sunday. They plan to give each other a meaningful hug, meaningful kiss today. They plan, how are we going to connect tonight?
When are we going to turn off the technology and look each other in the eyes and just talk? They plan for dates together to strengthen their marriage relationship. Insights from Dr. Randy Schrader and you'll hear more as he has some very practical advice to strengthen 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 everyone wants a happy marriage. I hope that and there may be some listening or viewing that their marriages are at a place where it's not about that. It's just a matter of being together and sticking together and we're going to cover some great material today that's going to give you the handles to do better in your marriage. If you're in a serious situation, please call us and John will give those details. This is going to be that kind of tune-up program for marriages that might be struggling a bit, but they're on the right general path. But again, if you're in a much more difficult place, give us a call and we can help you there.
We are going to cover some great content. You know, the Bible recommends a different path to happiness than what I think we in the western world think about when it comes to happiness. Proverbs 4-5 says, Get wisdom, get insight. And Proverbs 19-8 says, He who gets wisdom loves himself. In other words, if you want to enjoy life and have a shalom, a peaceful life, find practical knowledge for living. I think it all starts with our marriages.
I mean, you want peace in your life, have a peaceful marriage and everything else kind of cascades from there. So I'm looking forward to our program. Right. And Dr. Randy Schrader has been here before. He's a pastor, a former seminary professor and a marriage and family counselor. He and his wife, Jenny, have been married for over 45 years and they have two children and six grandchildren.
And he's written a number of books. The one we'll talk about today is called Simple Habits for Marital Happiness. Practical skills and tools that build a strong, satisfying relationship. Contact the ministry today for your copy of that book. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word family.
Or click the link in the show notes. Dr. Randy, it's great to have you back. Well, it's great to be back and I look forward to providing simple yet very effective habits for couples to improve and strengthen their marriage. I love what you've said on earlier programs that we've done. You've written a book for parenting and a book on marital happiness here that we're going to talk about again today.
We did a previous program on this, but we're going to cover some of the other information here. But you basically said you structured these books as a counselor would engage with a client. And that people can read these books and they're going to get all the information that you would have spent thousands of dollars on in your counseling settings.
And that's a great way to look at that. Well, it is free counseling. And like John said earlier, I was a professor for 25 years at a seminary and taught marriage counseling and premarital counseling.
And that information is in the book. And the Simple Habits for Marital Happiness looks at, it's the only marriage book out there that looks at all seven areas of a marriage. From how do you apologize to each other? How do you forgive each other? How do you stay in love after the honeymoon? What habits keep you in love after the honeymoon? How do you build emotional closeness? How do you communicate effectively? How do you guard your relationship from all the temptations in the world? How do you have respectful discussions and the financial guidelines?
What financial guidelines help you save, budget, and spend together? So yeah, you're right, Jim. That is perfect. Thank you for joining Focus on the Family.
Order the book today. I mean, this is great. And I'm so excited when we get a really good resource like this that is so sound fundamentally. Okay, for the skeptic, the person out there going, it's not about happiness, it's about joy. And it's true. I mean, being a Christian, you want a joyful life. But happiness counts, too.
So just hit that for the purists that are listening, that Dr. Randy, life is about joy, not about happiness. Well, no marriage is consistently happy, or is happy every day, I should say. Consistent marriage satisfaction is the goal.
We can have ups and downs. And yet, through habits, couples can have a strong, satisfying relationship. Eighty percent of our behaviors are habits. And couples that have a successful, happy marriage have a gratifying relationship because they have daily, healthy habits. They share loving words, loving actions every single day. And that keeps that relationship consistently happy.
Yeah. In that context, for the person listening, let's assume it's the wife who's listening right now or viewing. And she can't imagine that. You know, some things have deteriorated in their relationship. They haven't put basic fundamentals into play.
And it's just kind of on autopilot. Is there really hope for them? There is definitely hope.
Jim and John, I have helped more than probably 2,000 couples achieve a consistently satisfying marriage. The sad thing for most couples is almost 100 percent of couples want to have a happy marriage. But they don't have the specific words and actions and knowledge to get there. And that's what is lacking.
Motivation is great. But if you don't know how to do it and what to say and how to say it and what to do on a daily basis, then it makes having a happy marriage almost extremely difficult or impossible. Well, I think we have laid the groundwork. Let's get into the four daily essentials. These are things, again, you mentioned early in the book for couples. Take us through the first two of those four essentials. Well, the four daily essential habits are essential.
They need to happen. And what I have seen in troubled relationships, couples stop saying, I love you. And in fact, complacency is the dreaded disease that can really damage a marriage relationship.
They become complacent and they don't say, I love you every day. So the first daily essential habit is whoever or whenever a spouse leaves the home, they need to say goodbye. I love you.
Doesn't make any difference if they're going to work, they're going to the grocery store, they're going to the hardware store. They say goodbye. I love you.
And then the other spouse needs to return or gets to return. It's not a need to. It's a get to.
It's a privilege. I love you. Have a good day or drive careful wherever you're going. And there's a practical rhyme. I will never leave the house without hugging and kissing my spouse and saying I love you.
And so that's the first essential. The second one is good night. I love you. A lot of couples don't go to bed at the same time or if they do, you know, want to roll over first to go to sleep. Every night, whoever goes to sleep first will say good night. I love you.
And then the spouse can return. Good night. I love you. And so there's four I love you's every day, which overcomes that dreaded disease or part of it, of complacency.
No, that's good. I appreciate that. The third one is really about habits and developing those good habits.
And you say the first five minutes of the day, number three comes into play. I'm keeping your rhyming going, but hit it. Good job.
Good job. We're rhyming all over the place. Yeah. So the first five minutes of the day set the tone for the day, not only for an attitude, but also for a marriage relationship. And so couples need to avoid the C's. I stress that to parents. I stress that to couples. The correcting, criticizing, complaining, condemning. You know, I've heard thousands of spouses say, you know, I wake up and the first thing I hear is you forgot to put your coffee cup in the dishwasher last night.
You know, it's a criticism. And so the first five minutes, a spouse doesn't have to be bubbly, joyful, but they need to avoid the C's. So they begin the day positively. That is a habit that needs to be in place. We're going to go a little deeper with each of these.
So for people going, I want to hear more about that. We will in a minute. So hang on. Habit four is how you end the day with your spouse. Other than I love you call it the two within 20.
Yes, sir. It's spending two minutes together within the first 20 minutes that the last spouse arrives home after work or whatever. And so it doesn't. Some spouses like to unwind. They like to go change your clothes, check the mail, do that. So it doesn't have to be immediate. But at some point in those 20 minutes, they need to reconnect emotionally. They need to make that eye to eye heart connection.
The eyes are windows to the heart. Couples forget that. They need to look in each other's eyes. Spend two minutes checking out how the day went for both of them and giving a meaningful hug and kiss. That is a daily essential habit is to give a 10 second hug, 10 second kiss every day. A meaningful hug and kiss happens in those two minutes within the first 20 minutes. That seems pretty reasonable. Two minutes.
I mean, to invest in your marriage. Yes, sir. But I'm guilty. I don't do that every day.
I do it some days and probably need to do it more days. So I like this. You and I are alike. All spouses are imperfect. Even though I'm a marriage expert, I don't do it perfectly either.
Isn't that the truth? Complimenting your spouse is powerful. I think we know that. Sometimes, you know, I think we get a little wounded. So we pull back on that.
I would say it doesn't have to be a severe wound, but maybe just a little nick. And then we don't want to compliment you for the next 24 hours. Not that I've given a lot of thought to this. But I guess many couples kind of lose that art, if I could call it that.
What causes couples to stop appreciating one another? It is that complacency and just they stop being a good finder. You know, they say a good finder. Yes, sir.
They're not good finders. It's too easy to slip due to our sinful nature and become fault finders. And so couples need to compliment each other every single day. And I think it's good. I always define gratitude as saying thank you. It's good to say, healthier I would say, to say I appreciate. That lifts a spouse up. And that is praise. Praise creates positive energy in a marriage. And it's interesting to me, every counseling session, I've done thousands and thousands of counseling sessions with couples. Every session I begin with a couple, I have them appreciate each other. And it's amazing to me how difficult that is for spouses. Now, I'm seeing troubled marriages are marriages that are struggling and want to get stronger. Yet, for a husband to tell his wife, I appreciate, and then I ask the wife, will you please always say thank you for the compliment? And then husband, will you please say you're welcome after you give the compliment? And those three niceties are tough. It just doesn't happen.
It's just unbelievable. Go ahead. I was just going to say, let us hear compliment.
Give us an example of how you would do that yourself in your own marriage. I appreciate you stopping at the grocery store and picking up a gallon of milk. And thank you for the compliment.
You're welcome. We need to go overboard on politeness. Every troubled marriage, politeness is missing. And so going overboard on politeness and complimenting, it needs to be a compliment. And I think it's extremely healthy to use the words I appreciate. You two men mentioned that you exercise to stay healthy. And a lot of people take vitamins to stay healthy. Well, marriages need the appreciation vitamin to stay relationally healthy. It's an essential. Yeah, that is terrific. Tell us about your even-odd rule.
What is that? This is another practical one. That is a biggie. I see so many marriages that one spouse says, my spouse is complaining about all our life issues. Every person on the face of this earth has different issues going on. Now, it could be something like the brakes on the car need to be changed.
And who's going to take the car to the shop to get the brakes changed? But couples can have 50% of their life positive by not talking about problems on even dates. When I think of the word even, I think of smooth, calm, tranquil. And so on even dates, they avoid problem talk. Because some spouses have the tendency just to complain about everything every day. So there can be no complaints. You know, it just has to be positive. And then on the odd dates, couples can talk about and kind of complain about work and complain about life issues. And they should only last for 30 minutes.
At the most, an hour. So the rest of the evening together is positive. It's coffee casual conversation. When I see and I unfortunately have seen numerous cases of adultery, the betrayed spouse wants to talk about the affair every day.
And rather than help the marriage get on the road to healing, and I've helped numerous marriages get over affairs and have successful happy marriages, they just don't want to talk about that adultery every day. They do it every other day on the odd dates. Randy, that odd or even, what jumped in my mind is Jean and I are in the airport and she accidentally drops the suitcase on my toe. And I got the first thing, okay, this is an even day. Oh, love, why would you have dropped that on my toe?
And if it's an odd day, what are you doing dropping that on my toe? Now, we always have to watch our tone of voice in body language, but you're correct. That even-odd guideline is not a rigid rule. You know, something big comes up, you know, but it does help couples have 50% of their life positive.
No, it's good. And it's good to remember, be practical. But I love that. At least it contains that negative emotion. Let's move in that direction, cover habits that we need to avoid.
Let's start with a hard one, which is sarcasm. I mean, it kind of goes to my personality. Guilty. Yeah, you too? Yes. Okay, so okay, you got two clients here. Here we go. I like your sense of humor.
Okay. Yeah, we all can be sarcastic. And yet, sadly, 90% of our sarcasm is usually negative. And so the Greek word for sarcasm is tearing of flesh. Can you give us an example in a counseling session that you remember where, let's work with husbands. I mean, the husbands seem to be very good at sarcasm.
What did it sound like? Just so people catch it. Well, just you cook all the time. And she really doesn't cook all the time. So it's kind of hidden anger. I'm going to jab you. And then I'm saying, well, I'm just teasing. You know, I didn't really mean it. And that's what happens with sarcasm. It devalues the spouse.
It puts them down. And then the other spouse will say, well, you just can't take a joke. It's deflating to the other person, even if you do it with humor.
It is. And I saw a couple had a son who had very low self-worth, lack motivation, struggling in school, struggling making friendships. And often when I, probably 100% of the time, when I counsel children, I ask parents, are you sarcastic with your kids?
And almost 100% of the time they say yes. And I say, from this day forward, never, ever be sarcastic with your kids again. And never be sarcastic with yourselves in your marriage. In fact, they were struggling in their marriage.
They had a troubled relationship. I remember they were saying, well, Dr. Schrader, we won't be sarcastic with our son since you asked for that. But that's the way we relate to each other.
We kind of jab each other. And I said, well, will you please not do that? Well, they stopped their sarcasm with their son. And what happened? He became motivated, developed self-confidence, did better at school, and just turned it around.
Just from, there were other ideas as well that I gave them, parenting simple yet very effective habits. But they continued to do that in their marriage relationship. And did their marriage and relationship continue to struggle? Yes, it did. They didn't give up the sarcasm.
No, they didn't apply it to themselves in their marriage. I think Jean really helped me one time. This is a long time ago in our marriage, but I could throw the funny dig.
And I just remember her saying to me, that really doesn't help me. And it stuck with me. I thought it was funny. And I don't think, particularly for guys, I don't think a lot of guys know that it hurts. I mean, it sounds bizarre that we wouldn't realize that, but we thought that was a 10 on the laugh meter.
And we think that's the achievement. And then when your wife pulls you aside and says, please don't do that in public. It really demeans me. I didn't mean to do that. Yeah, no, it's an emotional slap, kind of an emotional whack to a spouse. Now, can there be healthy sarcasm? Sure, 10% of the time. But most of the time, the three of us and everyone needs to just watch out with that sarcasm because it can really destroy a relationship. Or put it on yourself. It's always a good way to do it.
Point the sarcasm at your own actions. The Bible discusses leaving and cleaving. Man, are we concentrating on that one nowadays. Jesus never talked about other forms of marriage. He said a man will leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. You know, oftentimes in-laws can play a role in the relationship. So what's the difference between a healthy close relationship that is normal and then that overly attached person to their parents and the husband or wife saying, man, that's a little odd. That over attachment. And that's a great question and I always say without a healthy leaving, emotionally and physically, a lot of adult children want to live within one minute of their parents. It's hard to have a healthy cleaving to one spouse. And so that leaving and cleaving is absolutely essential. And what I have found is that it's kind of a have to. If an adult child says I have to talk to my mom today, I have to talk to my dad today.
And it's not just once, it's three, four, five, six, seven, ten times a day. I mean I've seen marriages with individuals in their 50s, been married over 25 years and they feel like they need to see their mom or their dad every single day or talk to them. I remember I had a couple drove two hours to come see me for marriage counseling because they had heard how many couples I helped achieve a satisfying, successful marriage. And one of the things I noted is that she was overly attached to her mom. And I said, I think it's good you and your mom have a loving relationship. What would you think about maybe just contacting your mom once in the morning, once in the afternoon. Versus what?
Versus about ten. Wow. And I remember she said, Dr. Schrader, she said I don't think that's biblical. And she said I want to talk to my mom over and over and over throughout the day. In fact every night after dinner the first thing she did was contact her mom rather than sit down and talk to her husband. And of course they never came back to see me because she thought I was full of baloney. And yet that was what was hurting their marriage is because she didn't have a mom, she had a mommy. And so she needed to break that umbilical cord, that emotional umbilical cord, and cleave to her husband. And then the cascading effect of something like that is the husband finds news, weather, and sports. And he just lives there and she's on the phone. And sadly what I have also seen, not just news, weather, and sports, another person has an affair with another woman.
So those are the rail. And not to say that that is the woman's fault that a man would act that way, we've always got to clarify that. Never make excuses for simple behavior. So I want to make sure we say that. Under that avoiding the bad habits banner, we've got this new thing, relatively new thing, called technology.
And you have to manage that in your marital relationship because you can... Boy, when Jean and I go out to dinner we look across the restaurant at different couples and they've both got their phones out. They're not really talking to each other. They're just looking at their phones. So what are some good habits in the technology area and what are the bad habits to avoid?
Great question. And I think couples need to do what I call quiet connects. And I actually have that in Simple Habits for Marital Happiness. And I got that from a couple that I saw in counseling.
They, several years ago, quite a few years ago, we had the power go out in almost our whole town. And this couple that I was counseling said what they did when the power went out, it was late in the afternoon, is they lit candles and sat in the living room and they talked for several hours about their fun memories of when they were dating, about some of the fun things they did on various vacations, about what vacations they want to do in the future. And after doing that, they came in and they said, Dr. Shredder, we're going to do that once a week. Have no technology, cell phone in the other room, tablets in the other room, TV off, and we're just going to sit there and look into each other's eyes and talk about fun things that happened during the day and fun things we're looking forward to doing and just have coffee casual conversation. And so from that, I started suggesting to all couples, let's have quiet connects. And I think we can do that also in the car. You know, rather than listen to music or listen to a podcast and not talk to one another, my wife and I turn the radio off and I suggest to all couples, turn the radio off and talk to each other.
Now, you can't look at each other in the eyes, but you can still emotionally connect through that building up conversation. Yeah, relationship. Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
Yeah. Randy, let's cover a couple of other elements right at the end here. Memory matching.
I found that to be kind of interesting. What do you caution couples about? What is it and how do you caution couples with it?
Well, I say avoid the two M words. And so one, like you said, Jim, is memory matching. Our memories are always excellent and always the truth from our perspective. And so what I've seen it over and over, heard a lot of marriage relationships. And I'm forever saying it when I counsel couples is couples will say, this is what you said. No, this is what you said. No, this is what you kind of the contest.
It's a contest, you know. And when couples learn to say we're not going to memory match, our memories are excellent from our perspective. We're just going to adopt the phrase.
No memory matching. Second, you want to avoid mind reading. Like I mentioned earlier, I've known my wife almost a half a century. You know, we know each other pretty well. But if we read each other's minds and we're right, that can be kind of annoying. And so it's better to ask, what are you thinking? But you're still right. It can just lead to heartache.
And the other thing, we can be wrong. And that can really be frustrating if we thought we had our spouse's mind read and it was wrong. I saw a couple whose husband was on a business trip and his wife went through a distressing event back home. She called him up. He was compassionate, did a terrific job. I asked him what he did. He listened. He was empathetic, sympathetic. And he asked his wife, he said, do you want me to cancel the business meetings right now and drive home?
I'll do it. And she said, no. She said, I have the support of family. She said, you can just stay and then come home when your business meetings are done. When he got home, she had taken out a six month lease on an apartment and moved down the house. And even though she did not ask him to come home, she said, you should have read my mind that I really wanted you to come home. Wow.
And he came to three sessions by himself. And I talked about the importance of expectations, making your expectations known. She thought the idea of expectations was dumb. She said, I should not have to make my expectations known. And I've seen other spouses that said that too. If we're close, you should read my mind.
Yeah. And that is mind reading is a no no. Randy, this has been so good. And again, I could see how, you know, you have packed so much into the book. And really as a goal of taking everything you've learned in your counseling sessions and with great examples, you know, some tough ones from couples that were struggling, but laying them in there so we could read them and see how to not repeat those mistakes. What a wonderful book, Simple Habits for Marital Happiness. And, you know, one way to start that assessment is to come to focus on the family's website.
John will give those details in a minute. But we have a wonderful marriage assessment there. I think we've had over a million people take it. And it just takes six, seven minutes to go through the assessment.
It'll tell you where you're doing really well and some areas you need to work on. And in addition to that, obviously covering the material today, Randy's great book, we can make that available to you. If you can make a gift of any amount, we'll say thank you by sending you a copy of Randy's book. If you could do that monthly, that's great.
A one time gift is fine. If you can't afford it, we want to get it into your hands. We're a Christian ministry. We're going to trust there will be other people recognizing that and helping us help you by supporting the ministry. So whatever your situation, we want to get this great resource into your hands. Donate as you can to the work of Focus on the Family and request Randy's book, Simple Habits for Marital Happiness.
The link is in the show notes or our number is 800, the letter A in the word family. Randy, thanks again for being with us. Always good to have you here. Thanks for having me back and I pray that couples will have stronger relationships. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we continue the conversation and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Find wisdom, direction and inspiration from speakers including Ann Graham Lotz and Miles McPherson. Register now for the Legacy Grandparenting Summit at LegacyCoalition.com slash Summit.
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