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October 4, 2022 6:00 am
Gary Thomas offeres practical help for couples about dealing with fear, overcoming anger in conflict, staying connected with your spouse, the importance of community for your marriage, and taking your marital concerns to the Holy Spirit first instead of complaining to your spouse. (Part 1 of 2)
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Today on Focus on the Family will explore the topic of storms which can change very quickly, and unexpectedly rain without warning, howling really question is are you ready thanks for joining us today on Focus on the Family, your host is Jim Daly I'm John Fuller, John, that's a rather dramatic way of putting it is right.
It is true and that marriage at times can be a struggle and Jean and I have our struggles to. There are people out there and will hear from you. I know that will say we never had argument. God bless you, that's incredible. I think you're the one percentile, but sometimes marriage.
You know, there's the speed bumps that come along and hopefully you're in a place where you can emotionally, spiritually handle those and today were to talk with the great guest on how to prepare your marriage for those storms of life and let me remind everybody Focus on the Family is here for you. We want to help you in any way possible. One of the things John that a lot of people don't realize is the treasure trove of resources that exist are that's that's the golden nugget here. Focus get in touch with us.
We have counselors we have great resources, books and other things assessments to help you in your marriage journey. Let's write in 45 years worth of material is all just a phone call away. Her number is 800 the letter a and word family or a good friend as you indicated Jim and out neighbor Gary Thomas is back with us. He's a prolific speaker and author of more than 20 books in a for 11 years.
He was part of the teaching team at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, gearing his wife Lisa have recently relocated to Colorado to serve on the pastoral teaching team at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch and when hear more today about a book he's written called making your marriage of fortress strengthening your marriage to withstand life's storms. We got details about that book in the show notes. Gary welcome back to Focus on the Family.
Welcome to Colorado. Thank you.
It's been the most pleasant journey here yet less than an hour.
Very pleasant ride with very pleasant surroundings will wait till's nose five hour journey. Anyway, a let's get into that you have written some incredible books on marriage. I would say your the foremost expert on marriage. I hope your wife Lisa is happy that you winced there when you were in a dollar to make sure you know it's true that half Jean I always talk about that is tough to be in that marriage space where you're the expert.
And then you and your wife have an argument in your thinking in the back your mind when a minute. This can't be happening to us that happened. Well, that was been a blessing to people often ask Lisa, what's it like, and she says what's made it easier for me she does is he really does live out what he writes about except for one book and we talked about everybody matters. She thinks I could do a better job eating a little more healthily. But as far as the marriage. She seems to give me a passing grade. Isaiah made the rest of us feel better when read that In-N-Out Burger, let's get into that explain the idea of storms in the marriage I get it. Generally, but you know I understand it it's related to your experience of surviving that hurricane down Houston will happen in 2017 and I think a lot of people can relate to this would been in Houston for seven years. The time and every time in the fall. You have the signs blinking on the freeway. Hurricane season is here get you prepared kits ready and all of that, an end. First you take it seriously were from Pacific Northwest about a hurricane is terrible. After for five years.
Like yeah I've heard that before and then 2017. He said this big thing hurricane Harveys, and it hit and it wasn't that big of a deal at first but then it moved a little in land camped over Houston and dropped over 50 inches of rain three days it felt like Noah's flight and it was just like it just didn't stop the water keeps coming up and up and up and that point we see it coming into the yard. I'm like okay I gotta take this seriously. Going across this so pathetic all I had was cardboard and blue painters tape greatly extolled our flyswatter Jerry down of water in a paper bag you have just as much luck, and I realize you know, just because the storm didn't come last year of the year before the year before year before people who are from that area of the country know eventually it is and you need to be prepared in the same thing is true for marriages that yet. Just because it is only up happen to your neighbor or you haven't seen this or that. Just the way that life works even for believers, and sometimes I think, especially for believers. The storm is going ahead and at that point will your marriage be part of the problem or part of the solution and that's what you want, prepare that's a great analogy and I know that feeling here in Colorado we get snow reports and an inch falls when they said 12 inches with the fall so I can totally relate to that city storms will reveal one or two truths about a marriage and a couple what are those all of these couples. One thing that they had in common. I have so inspired by their stories was that they never imagined they would have to face the depth of pain and struggle that they face. They were all caught by surprise.
But secondly, that God is faithful and not theoretically God says is good to be faithful back there to versus that of really come true.
As I've written this book and think about it and speaking on it. Psalm 910 says those who know your name trusting you for you Lord have never forsaken those who seek you has been a single person who seeks God that God has forsaken and then Jesus is almost fierce promise, but comforting one in this world you will have trouble. Take heart I have overcome the world.
Every couple found that to be true. They did face trouble, but when they found sought refuge in God. They found refuge, a new relationship with God and a new relationship with each other and were to cover more detail. I think one of the great breakdowns in marriage can be those expectations especially early in marriage where typically husbands are caught off guard because they did know they're supposed to know so me things like that. She was hoping he would remember to do whatever it might be speak that expectation problem which the earlier a couple can figure that out. I think the better their marriages can it be what it's not just the expectations we have our spouse. I think the expectations we have of God and ourselves.
I think of one couple, Darrell and Stacy out of wonderful godly couple.
Stacy came from a dysfunctional childhood and so she really wanted a strong guy who would take care of her. Darrell was a weightlifter he could bench press 400 pounds is expectations were a minute to be there for my wife physically and protect my wife.
I'm to be carrying in the groceries or whatnot three years after they were married. They got the diagnosis of MS on the part of Darrell so really what motivated Stacy to get married I want a strong man who's gonna make me feel secure will take care of me would never come true.
She had to completely died of those expectations and Darrell thought his relationship with Stacy would be you can count on me I'm gonna be there for you a minute take care of you and now he says. Decades later she takes care of me and talking to him even more recently as amazing. Stacy said when I married Darrell. I thought I would just bask in the glow of Bob because he was obviously as a weightlifter. He was a big guy but charismatic love the Lord great with kids meet a really really good guy and today Stacy says he's marked by humility like no other guy I know, because MS is humbled.
Yet he goes from the walker to the wheelchair to the scooter to the electric and she was every time he responds with more humility, so she thought he would impress people with his strength God decided he's going to have no Darrell you can impress people with your humility, which only would've come to the severe road they walked together well.
The other part of that is how Darrell embraced with God's journey for him is that that's that's the humbling part that he didn't walk away from the Lord. In that respect.
He said thank you Lord and let's move on now that's amazing.
It wasn't easy. I love it.
He said when he was first diagnosed deceit.
He was an athlete he thought of himself that way. He said I had 12 word prayer. Heal me heal me heal me get print with an end when you 20s facing us until God finally said to him, Darrell.
I am going to heal you, but not of MS on the knees MS to heal other things in your life and it ended up being the pride and and here's what I was blown away by the wisdom of some these couples. This is hard-won wisdom. Darrell talked about getting into bed at night so he gets his chair right up to their he still has use of his arm somewhat so he can lift his body onto the bed, but he can't get his legs over and so Stacy has to lift up his legs and move them over onto the bed and he said to me dear, I am tempted sometimes think it's why bother. I'm still at Stacy do everything. I'm only doing a little bit because, but I was really challenges as II think I could probably physically only about 20% of what I used to do been convicted by God.
I want to do 100% of that 20% and in so often, when couples go through challenges they just give up.
Well, we can't do everything we wanted to do. Let's just go into early retirement and I was able to use this been life-changing for me with a man who went through prostate cancer and had his prostate removed and can have real issues in physical intimacy.
Or whatnot, and you be so easy to say well we can't do everything we used to do.
So let's just learn to go without and I could share Darrell's hard-won wisdom can maybe you can only do 30% of what you used to be able to do do 100% of that 30 but don't take away more than life takes away and maybe it could be a financial calamity, not just health where we can afford to do the resorts we can afford to go to the Michelin three star restaurants, but also then you're never going to go out, do 100% of what you're able to do and that's the humility that was carved out of decades have seen their expectations crushed. Let the surprise they found not surprised but God was there in her greatest fears. Gary, one of things I like in the way you structure the book is your going on a lot of stories from various couples that people can see their own lives and and I love that the next one was barren and Kristi and he was in the Navy chaplain in the Navy. He was deployed for 3 to 6 months at a time. The classic relationship distance issues. Describe what they were dealing with and how they have they sorted that out what he still is and and barren as a soldier through and through.
He was a Marine before he became a chaplain.
He often serves with the special ops guys which are you look at them you don't know they're in the military but you know you want to evaluate the monies or was there on your side. I have no note sure to her friend and so it's just just some valuable lessons and so this is. Maybe if if you have a long deployment in the military or maybe you're traveling for business or whatnot some the lessons I thought were very helpful is that they talked about leaving didn't talk about reentry and and they just learned and this will all the stories of these couples and slide love about mayors by God's design have time and commitment to get it right. None of these couples say a word just unusually wise unusually connected on using mature, they share how we messed up here and here's how we messed up and Christina knew that barren like set a clean house and clean car when when he comes home and so she cleaned the carpet she got the steering wheel and the steering wheel was sticky but the steering wheel and barons as well in the Marine Corps. Sticky is sticky and sticky isn't clean and on but this is we have to talk about it as a couple because I I traveled a lot and the kids were younger without Lisa because she had to be home with the kids and rather than having the house clean.
I just wanted peace and quiet, had been in front of groups. I've been talking to people all day. I just wanted to chill out and have a relational time, but Lisa thinks her love languages clean acts of cleaning that when Gary Chapman and and so went come home and he was always a rush to get the kids a better so she's furiously vacuuming and wiping and upset.
Honey I don't see the crumbs. I'm not inspecting the floor. I just really want to relax and say hi to you and say hi to the kids and and so what what Baron wanted isn't what what I want in my not be with someone else's wife wants, but what I learned from their experiences talk about it and then talk about it some more. So often we have these expectations of our spouses, but we don't tell him but we still hold him accountable to it and they learn to make it work. What we just what is it mean for you. You been home with the kids. I'm coming home. How do you want the reentry to go for you and the wife that early husband were ever staying home the other spouse come in okay what you want for your reentry and you might have to juggle and compromise. He found out as a young soldier particular coming home after a long while. It was much better for he and his wife for them to spend a night for a few nights alone before they got together with the kids. She also said you know the kids are all over him and they soak up all his emotional energies about time we get them in bed. I got a very tired husband and so they really focused on on coming back together. Another major lesson that I found really helpful Baron talked about when deployment work. He was available, but he was meeting with other chaplains, it was a training thing and so three or four nights brothers in arms are having a great time there laughing and then Christina started to hate Baron. We haven't connected for three or four days and he said yeah I realize I would never go out three evenings in a row. If I was home and not be connecting with Christina. So just because I'm on the road. I'm still married and have to act like a married man on the road and so they were intentional about you know what just because you're on the road just because you're the one home, you still need to make time for your spouse. They learned being in the military that if you aren't intentionally connecting while you're on the road. You learn how to live separate lives. And if you learn how to live separate lives you become comfortable with separate lives and that is a gateway to divorce. Yet, as are so many good lessons and that everyone faces greater communication pattern.
I try to call Jean at least once during the day when I'm traveling, usually two or three times when I have a little break apart bug that daylight is talking, our God, not much more differently now that is just good to stay connected can refer to that I think is focused communication. I don't know. It was preventable. Christina really stressed this because she has a friend whose husband is a pilot and he didn't do that while she is on talking on the phone and I can tell I have about 10% of he's watching again he's watching sports energies and so what my conclusion was look if you know you only have 10 minutes of solid conversation and give your spouse your husband your wife the full 10 minutes of twilight face time because you can't cheat look. He's a face-to-face and it's better to say I'm yours for this amount of time and then you know I'm tired. I got a go often and one woman said her husband would call her when she was at work and if she would just be upfront debate. I've got five minutes before have to be in this meeting, but I'm all yours for five minutes and so she would listen and engage and I think that's where just be intentional when you are communicating and then just admit when you're at the end for Baron Christina hi low was really helpful to set up the conversation.
What's the high point what's the low point is by the end of that he was he was pretty time units demanding job that he face he could see people die and and Christina was empathetic to that that she wanted be connecting the marriage, but also have empathy that might my spouse is doing a good thing serving our country and ultimately protecting our family right well the pilot example I was thinking you're going to say while he's flying the plane.
He gives her that's a good thing I'm on the plane with them. I will undermine 10% looks moved to the other couple. Another couple, Keith and Roxanne that you mentioned who brought as you described quite a bit of baggage into the relationship. I think you know many couples it may not fit exactly the definition of this couple.
But when you bring childhood wounds in things into the marriage bore you have got to deal with that stuff described what Keith and Roxanne what they brought in the murder and how it unfolded a first word, the wise so often wise. Think of my husband is cheating or he's looking at what could I have done my not keeping myself up in my not active in and every husband insisted and and Keith was among this. There's nothing my wife could have done to stop is not your issue. This is not about her. It was entirely about. In fact he said Roxanne was my perfect wife and because I thought she's a perfect wife I thought I'm certainly can a loser when she finds out the real me and so why don't I just get it over with act so outrageously that is like pulling off the Band-Aid and getting it done but for Roxanne. Her father had been unfaithful to her mom and so she just had these real deep wounds and a lot of insecurity. It's understandable. Keith grew up in a family where he was not brought in this part of it. He always felt left out. Then he was molested as a young boy and a counselor in Houston that often go to for these issues told me Gary whenever a client comes to me and says that this happened him as a young boy goes I wait for the dominoes to fall as it is not excusing the egos, but it's such a deep wound and so when you have that kind of baggage where there was just no connection relationally with your family. All of this happened before he met Roxanne before he married Roxanne Roxanne had nothing to do with it because he didn't deal with that baggage marriage I found as a pastor gives guys about a 9 to 12 month pause in the freshness of marriage. A lot of those old things go away, but eventually if they're not dealt with.
They're going to come back and so it's about getting strong so that you can be strong in your marriage. Roxanne couldn't cure or help her heal Keith. He needed a professional she's not a PhD counselor and so it's just what I say is if you have some hurts, maybe kids laughed at you or bullied you a little bit. Maybe you're fine to talk with the pastor and receive spiritual care when you have the level of her that Keith had and I think that Roxanne had. You need a professional and I can brush my teeth. I can't give myself a root canal right so is really fairly often the mean that in the Christian community because we think will really all you need is God, and of course that's true that the Lord can wipe the slate clean. That's wonderful.
That's not typically what happens going all the way back to your first story, God puts us on journeys to learn things about ourselves and about the world around us. So II love that encouragement to get good good Christian counseling. I would say so. I think with couples when you're when you're looking at your childhood hurts instead of just saying it makes me so angry when he does this are when she disrespect me like I want to say why does this make you angry.
Why does this make you feel so disrespected.
Why are you so sensitive to this or that it may not. It might be what your spouse is doing but it might not be a might be what your dad did what your mom did what your siblings that is just recognizing that we bring a lot of baggage into our marriage and and I don't want my wife to have to carry it. That's where I need to go get help and say can you unload this on not just dumping it on my spouse so often. Gary temperament plays into this and it could be either the husband or the wife either one can be very pro-counseling.
The other one not so much because for some it marks.
Failure that I'm not measuring up all those performance issues. It's not about that.
It's about getting healthy and so I just want to encourage people to remember that and try to break loose of that to make your marriage all that it can be right at the end.
Here the impact of isolation in a marriage that fits with the story, I think, but the the isolation of marriage can really wreak havoc on that relationship both in a male expression of that is we as men tend to pull in and go the way of the little boy.
We don't want to deal with that.
We don't want to harp on honest, I don't know what to do. I don't know how to fix that in me, so we just pull in and we go news, weather and sports right right and then for wives. I mean, they find it in, I think, in other activity girlfriend activity they get distracted and you end up isolated speak to the verse in Proverbs that you mentioned in the book about the. The downside of isolation you made it.
To me it feels like it's the medication but it's medicating in the wrong way.
Absolutely. Proverbs 18 one says whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire. He breaks out against all sound judgment. Keith felt like his downfall into affairs was fueled largely by isolation. He didn't deal with feeling isolated from his family of origin and so he felt the same thing in his marriage, and I was I had to look outside of his family to do it, but there's couple isolation to Jim. I think of the couple that lost their only child not to me. The thought of losing any child is beyond devastating. That difficulty conceiving. So just had one. He died at 19 and she said the next morning at their house was filled because they really were in a strong church and they gave themselves over small groups. She grabbed the lapels of one of her closest friends and said I know I've read the statistics, 70% of couples won't survive this. Please don't let us get a divorce.
I've lost my son. I can't bear the thought of losing my husband and I think isolation is sort of like what it give a plug to focus on. It's like Focus on the Family publishers say they want books that are Tylenol, not vitamins. What they mean by that is, you have a headache. I need this vitamins or supplements for long-term help and they don't seem as urgent. I bet when people are going to an affair or a kid is rebelling or things are crazy there listening to 10 Focus on the Family episodes. I hope so, but this is why you need the supplements as well because if you wait until the crisis hits before you try to gain the wisdom or before your part of a church group, they would've had anybody to call when things are going well. You don't think you need churches like an obligation but we should go. It's Sunday but if you know the storms are going to come to St. we need to be a part of a church. The day will come when we need them, and the day is here when somebody needs us and it was really lesson I and I think if you look at Scripture reading, prayer, Bible study, listening to focus those are just wise things. Taking your vitamins to gradually become stronger as a person and as a couple. If you know the storm will hit and it will get the wisdom now so that you can draw from it not be like me with cardboard and blue papers take it all back floodwaters which is worthless.
I just didn't have the resources I didn't gather my head a time that was foolish that I hear what you're saying is on the sunny day get the sandbags ready as you're getting the power of Gary this event so good and again I just respect the depth in which you write on this topic of marriage and every book that you've done. A marriage is just a powerhouse and it's so full of wisdom for couples in this one hits the mark once again and I just hope people will respond. Even if you're in a healthy place with your marriage, it'll be healthier and maybe you know people in your church or family members that need a copy of this great resource that Gary has written get in touch with us like we normally say if you can donate to the ministry to become a monthly sustainer here. Focus it be great. One time gift is good to and will send a copy of the book is our way of saying thank you and if you're a tough spot. We get it we want to get the resource in your hands or just let us know and will give you the book also just highlight one of those areas that we can help you with hope restored is our marriage intensive. It is a terrific program. These are broken marriages, many of them have Artie sign divorce papers and the data is really strong and we go back to these couples. Two years after they've been involved in the four-day intensive and over 80% in our