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October 5, 2022 6:00 am
Gary Thomas offers 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 2 of 2)
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Three years after they were married. They got the diagnosis of MS on the part of their so really what motivated Stacy to get married I want a strong man is going to 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 in a be there for you to take care of you and now he says.
Decades later she takes care of me that's Gary Thomas describing some of the common storms that husbands and wives may face in peerage but there's good news. God is always present with you in those storms and with his help, you can end up with a stronger, more intimate relationship.
Afterwards Gary is back with us today on Focus on the Family and your hostess focus presidents and other Jim Daly I'm John Fuller, John.
We had a great conversation with Gary last time and it was frustrating with Gary's always saying something that I got to do different frustrated enemies full of love and my media gives me those ideas. Okay, that's something I need to embrace differently and you are going to walk away with so many gold nuggets just stick with this. Gary is one of the foremost writers in this area of marriage is a pastor. John will give all those details in a moment, but I just love when Gary comes on and shares his wisdom that the Lords given him. I'm reminded of that parable from Matthew seven about building your house upon a foundation of rock not sand and when the storms of life come along, which is the theme of Gary's book. We have got to build that relationship or marital relationship on that rock and that rock is the Lord and working to talk about that today writing as you mentioned, Gary was part of the teaching team at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas for 11 years.
He and his wife Lisa recently moved to Colorado where he serves on the pastoral teaching team at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch. Gary's written over 20 books.
He's a prolific speaker is a long time, and favorite guest here at Focus on the Family and a book that really is the foundation for conversation and this is part two of you didn't hear part one stop by the website to hear it or watch it. The book is called making your marriage a fortress and of course we have copies of that book here at the ministry. Just click the show notes for details. Welcome back. Thank you so good to have you.
Okay, last time we started with that parable or that theme of the hurricane in Houston that you didn't prepare for you had blue duct tape and cardboard didn't work too well, so my storm story.
We can relate to marriage so I in August I buy a snowblower when we bought our house here in Colorado. I thought I'm ahead of the curve affect the guy at the store said these are really talking outside so I got it put the oil when it put gas in it started up. It ran great, shoved it into the corner of the garage. The first snowstorm here came 2 feet in October I went and pulled that thing out with the started and the engine had seized after running just like for three minutes. So then I got stuck I couldn't buy snowblower is never sold out and I thought all that preparation and it still went down so has that relate to marriage, but there are three building blocks, I relied somewhat on the research of Dr. Archibald Hart and Dr. Stern may which is going to the father daughter team, Dr. Hart has gone on to glory at Dr. Mays still writing in teaching, but they talk about the three building blocks of emotional connection and elsewhere. You don't want your snowblower to be made in the three things he talked about were trust which is silky and is not just issues of betrayal that you not to be unfaithful to me. It's if you say you're going to pick up the bread pick up the bread if you gonna be there for your kids event.
Be there for your kids, and that that trust is so key to intimacy. Betrayal is to a marriage what dynamite is to a door. I mean it just blows apart and we too often think of betrayal just in the terms of sexual unfaithfulness. But we need to build trust and in other areas.
The second thing was emotional availability. This can be tougher for guys I'm making myself available for my wife and letting her explore I'm I'm exploring on being there so that I can be present with her in her issues and she can be present in mind and insensitive responsiveness, and that this was helpful for me because so often is a guy or wife says something that's hurting her and her first thing is okay. I'm going to fix that I can take care of that. You cannot deal with that and what they really want to know right now is there's a sensitive spot you want to fix it. You have to live through this with me that the process matters so much to our wise and so if you lose trust and emotional availability insensitive responsiveness. You're on your road to getting further and further and further apart, but those are also three tools that couples can use to begin to re-build their marriages.
Give an example where wife had to be sensitively responsible. She was the one in the book I talked about where she'd had an affair. Her husband was really grilling her one night he was trying to catch like a detective. We said you went there and he said he called you they're not happy those both be true as we asked her again and she said David you've asked me that question 100 times and I'll give you an answer hundred times. I'm so sorry for what happened, and I understand why you do it. It was us. She wasn't being defensive. She was almost and I get why your suspicious it makes sense. And so I'm going to be sensitively responsible where it doesn't go well and I see guys do this more than women. The confesses and when you get to get over it maybe never rent that's not that's not a sensitive response is understanding. I put this fearing you I put this hurt in you. I put the suspicion and you I get it it's it's on me. Not on you. I'm not asking you to get over. I'm willing to bear it well and I think in part and you're going right to what I would describe some of the extremes in the marriage storm that kind of thing. But you also speak in the book right in the book about the mundane things that create breaches right. I thought one of the interesting ones, and I experiences Jean and I did this when our kids are boys were little. I member coming home from work I had a long day and I was exhausted.
I mean, I literally got 1 foot in the door.
Jean was at the door with Trent and Troy want in your charm and my 1 foot is in the door and she does got tickets I'm done, I'm done for the day take the kids and I like put the briefcase down. I throw my jacket on the ground. Okay I took the boys and took them to the basement and played with them but it was hard because I I was saying to Jean later said now I just need like five minutes. Just let me change my) and T-shirt on and some shorts and then I'll do whatever we need to do with the kids but it was like it was hard and that is a little bit adrift that you talk about two and so I asked you kind of a more simple question that regard. Like the young couple that has 123-year-old children and the drifts that can create the separation that can create if they don't notice the storm warnings of what they're entering and it's a great point Jim because so often we think of storms as bad things happening. Storm can be a good thing that happens, like bringing a new baby into the house that I think would disrupt my friend Douglas. Has a great line when a new baby is born a new marriage is born even as the second or third baby was a different family which it is not the same family and and have couples until me for the baby comes us as we get to take out what you mean well do you think I did you 30 hours more a week. Here's a baby. Here's 30 hours I eat and in the couples that made it Jim. They were tied by John and Deborah are from the book and others where their kids were older but during culvert he had to double down. He was a pastor and launch online services. They were ruthless in cutting out what they could and they were intentional. I mean industriously so insane were going to come out of this closer together and I think every time the couple brings home a new baby. There should be. This pledge, I think spoken out loud. Our first goal is 18 years from now were closer because we brought this baby home, not further apart while it's the best thing for the baby. It's the best thing for the marriage is the best thing for the legacy that they would leave behind, but they make tough choices in the case of John.
Now he's an eye surgeon, but he talked about what they do for their Sunday night check ins and you talk about emotionally available. He wasn't the first year he was going through residency security. Every picture of me that first year I'm laying on the couch to sleep with the baby on top of it. I was so tired and they realize okay, this can't go on. This can't happen with baby number two. He now works three days a week and he works five minutes from home so I can come home from lunch and you might say, would you make that sacrifice was you I drive an older car. He goes but if you could have the relationship with your wife that I have.
He wasn't speaking to me directly, but generally egos. It's an unmatchable connection.
I like the life of intimacy that we share the fun we have the joy and connected. I would rather be disconnected to my wife with maybe a couple hundred thousand dollars less than the bank that have money that I may never spend and feel like we don't know each other and being frustrated with each other all the time and another huge help for couples that were facing busyness weather is bringing a new child home our new work challenge and I didn't lead anybody this just came up three different times with the importance of check ins if were not intentional about connecting with each other. It's not going to happen. In fact, the couple. I called the relationally industrious couple have three different kinds of check ins. They have their date nights which is just about fun then they have their business nights which might be who's going to pay this we need to get this fix in the house or it might be.
I was hurt when you did that you feel like you been distracted and then they have their daily check ins Nessus five or 10 minutes and here's how they thought through it, Jim. They said if we don't do the other two meetings, the date not get sabotaged. We want to deal with our business on date nights that have fun. We want it air our grievances and this is about time that we enjoy together in the morning check ins. He found which want to know what's happening with each other's day and he found out this was Randy that Hannah does better when she's caffeinated, so everybody will is because back in and it might be five to okay we got going. How can I pray for you what's going on and they do it and and here's what I thought was just a beautiful truth that came out of it. Hannah says you know we even occasionally do marriage seminars and ever since you guys are so lucky you're such a good match. You found each other and she said Gary luck has nothing to do with it. We didn't find this marriage. We created and we work hard to keep that she is, we can be distant easily and they learn the hard way that when they didn't do that three different ones added date night they living in British Columbia. Beautiful sunset. I mean, it was just a gorgeous summer evening paddle boarding and they wrecked it because I had one of their worse arguments. Ever. And these friends came by in a boat and set all this is such a romantic evening is it like this has nothing to do with well meant but I love that because younger couples often think okay you find the right person and you reap a great marriage. These couples discovered you have to be intentional and check ins were just a wonderful tool for John and Deborah.
It was Sunday evenings 2 to 3 hours that was there time it was inviolate the kids could not come into their room.
They would not schedule anything and I am just saying I see the seeds that they planted and I see the crops they have reaped and I think that kind of intentionality pays off big time limit you mentioned money there and I want to come back to that because here focus. That's one of the reasons many many couples will contact us because money creates such friction in the marriage and you use the illustration of the doctor who decided to work three days a week drive an older car. Those kinds of things as are all good decisions that speak to you know how finances can create such a I guess storm or hurricane in the marriage and what can couples do practically to get their hands around those issues that issue of finance. I featured two different couples one that were buried in debt to where they owed more than they earned in the year and that was a wake-up call, and another couple that was very poor when I got married then very wealthy and they lost it all, and they been dealing with that for a decade and 1/2 so they don't have that happy ending.
Well you start tithing and miraculous things that that happened.
The one couple, not the other one. The two key lessons I got from this on finances were this communication is so important in both cases, one spouse then communicate to the other just how bad it was right work with one couple. The wife was an accountant has been that while she's in counseling, as was going she just she just didn't share their going a little bit more and did that little bit more and so is okay, let's figure this out when they found out they were more in debt than they earned in a year. He was just angry that she let them get into this situation both of the couples mentioned that communication is so key. Even if you're in a family where one person primarily handles the finances in my marriage that's my wife. We still have to have these quarterly meetings were. I know this is where investments are. This is where were given. This is were resettled. We don't have debts other than a house right now so that's not an ongoing issue, but I do think if you don't want finances to pull you apart.
There's gotta be great communication. The second issue was anger that resulted from that and learning how to deal with it and I found one verse that I think a lot of couples take to literally in a way that hurts their marriage and that's that verse. Do not let the sun go down while you are angry and do not give the devil a foothold. As I think you have to keep working this out before they go to sleep and that's what happened with Randy and hand the going around and around and around. What we don't let the sun go down on your anger, and it only got worse. It took Randy three days to come to grips with his anger and frustration before they could deal with it productively and I think when you look at that scripture that there are three statements, not one there's in your anger do not sin. That's one do not let the sun go down while you're still angry that Stu and do not give the devil a foothold. We pull that second phrase. Don't let the sun go down when you're angry out of context and make that the whole message but Paul's directly quoting wisdom literature, which most people know they're not laws is just general wisdom, and in the Old Testament times that was. Don't delay paying somebody because at that point. If you did, they might go home hungry. If you've taken somebody's coat return it by midnight so that they're not cold through the night. It was just a way this is in Ephesians and it was largely a Jewish had a large Jewish community colleges using language from Scripture, they would understand, but what he's really saying is in your anger do not sin. And don't give the devil a foothold.
But the don't go to sleep I think is a legalistic application might my suggestion is did a good night sleep wake up, have a bagel cuppa coffee process it. Maybe talk to God and then come together. I don't think you're disobeying that verse, I think you saying okay and want to send in my anger and I don't want to give the devil a foothold and use that other one is a general principle. That's what the couples found was most helpful to them. In the end, this is a great thing about marriage challenges as they teach us how to handle things like anger, like fear, like a lack of forgiveness like arrogance. I am circling like a buzzard come in contact all of the themes that your mentioning but one of the things you said that caught my attention was that dizziness can be the sucker punch of a marriage.
And I think I get that in your you know your tech, and around all that but but describe how we need to be aware of the sucker punch while the destruction of the sucker punches that you don't see it coming. Most of us see sickness as a serious assault on her marriage. When you get a diagnosis you have MS you have cancer you have Alzheimer's. Okay this is something that we have to face head on.
When a child is born with a disability. Okay, we have to face this head on busyness is more by degrees. It's like gaining weight gain. 1/4 pound every two weeks which means you gain half a pound and a month which means you gain 6 pounds in a year and 12 pound, and yet is just as gradual thing what it is you know that's what happened to my training at Fort and and I think with marriages.
You can experience that distance where you don't know more and so I would just ask couples today listening during your kitchen, your new living room. You driving down the road.
Do you know your spouse's greatest temptation right now you know the greatest frustration at work deal greatest fear they have for their children do know the greatest hurt from their childhood that the trying to deal with it keeps coming back and really challenges how they view themselves.
You know the best way of connecting with God.
Do they feel far from God. So often we just assume that we know our spouses and that were walking this life together.
Those are basic things that we often just never get around and it just because were just too busy. It's a sucker punch.
We don't see it coming until all the sudden were knocked out and say how did that happen and and you see it, Jim.
How many times have you heard this, I love them. I'm just not in love with him anymore right and more often than not that she's busyness. You haven't worked on the marriage you slowly grown apart so you can't even see your way back. There is a way back, but it doesn't feel like it done girl and ask you in your bookmaking your marriage fortress you describe a couple who lost their 19-year-old son, my brother and his wife had that experience with their 30-year-old son and I asked him one day I just said you know how often do you think Bobby said Jim every day.
I think Bobby brings tears to my eyes even thinking about it now because I don't know that there's any greater loss than the loss of a child. I don't think there is an once the loss of an only child, because it's not just your current loss.
Jim, it's the future losses. What they found is that the second year was more painful than the class the first year there numb, but the second year okay every Christmas now we don't have Garrett with us. Garrett's friends graduate from college, they get jobs.
We we don't have that his friends get married were never going to have a daughter-in-law they have kids were never going to have grandchildren. It's an ongoing loss is not like a one time hurt.
It's the hurt that keeps on hurting what they found that kept him through was that they had been serious students of Scripture and it was so helpful.
We talked earlier about whether you view Bible reading as Tylenol or vitamin. So often we go to the Bible if we need Tylenol we got a headache. We got hurt. Okay what will solve it. Vitamins is a wiser approach because you need to draw upon it and Janelle said something to me that blew me away that this is faith in action as a sharing freely about the devastation of losing this beloved son a really good kid but Janelle said to me during God didn't just call Garrett from us. He called Garrett to something in applying the Scripture to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord you because I know today. Garrett is perfectly serving the God who created and she was my friends. They have issues, sometimes with daughters-in-law or there is alcoholism or work problems or depression or whatnot. She was Garrett has none of that. He's doing exactly what God created them to Jim that the faith and the excitement he just perfectly serving God in a way that my friends kids are yet because there's still year in a fallen situation and I was blessed by a woman for whom Scripture became real. She needed it to be real, and she found Scripture to be true, and it was a refuge and it was bomb in the midst of her tremendous hurt another big help for them was just the community. She mentions grabbing the lapels of one of her best friends. The morning she found out that 70% of marriages end up in a divorce. When this happens, please don't let me lose my husband I've lost my son I don't want to lose my husband and this church just wrap their arms around her. She was getting five or six texts every day after the first year. Joe's friends kinda dropped off and so it 18 months is when he kind of broke and it was interesting because Janelle said for the first year it was 95 Joe and 5%. Me, Joe was a strong one.
He was holding me up. The second year. She says it became 75% me at 25%. Joe, it just he he was devastated and what was so devastating to her every time he saw Janelle's face. He was reminded of Garrett. Garrett looked so much like her, so he wants to love his wife and yet just the grief that he is reminded of his son and so they had one of the biggest arguments of their marriage. About 18 months after Garrett died and Joe stormed off and Janelle just got on the phone and she called his friend. Y'all gotta go get them. I don't know what's going to happen but he doesn't need to be alone right now and they did and that's why I say to people listening church does matter.
God doesn't want us to walk to this life alone is not just husband-and-wife its husband and wife and church because right now people need you if you're not going to a storm, but the day will come. Jesus says in this world you will have trouble. If you believe Jesus a day will come when you need those church members to wrap their arms around you and it's too late. If you wait for so keep listening to Focus on the Family get the daily vitamins grow in Scripture so that you can draw that powerful truth when you need it. Have those relationships so that you can stay together what Joe and Janelle have today is so precious it's buried 70% of couples will face that it's given them 100% increase in their love for each other. That's so wonderful and so well said. That's where God does in our hearts when we leaned in him, not away from him and the test for us is where that bitterness and that anger goes. Do you trust God to bring you through the Valley and out the other side and raise you up in a mountaintop, even if circumstances aren't dictating. That's the joy you should have. That's the joy God brings. So men. This been terrific. Gary, thanks so much for spending the time with us on day two men that John said if you missed day one. Go back and get it to do that through smart phone through the upper come to the website and downloaded their but the basic premise here is Gary's port is hard in this book, making your marriage, a fortress in there so many nuggets of truth in here you need to get a copy and would love it if you would participate in ministry with us. Get the book directly from focus become a monthly supporter will send it as our way of saying thank you.
If you can't do that, we get it one time gift is another great way to do ministry with Focus on the Family help more marriages and tell you John. I've said this a lot.
The breakdown of marriage is, I believe the core problem in the culture.
I don't care what color your skin is, or any of that marriage is a significant problem in the culture today and kids are struggling to talk about fighting poverty. We need to keep marriages together and that Gary has devoted his life to that and it's worth reading. So get a hold of us and get a copy today. Yeah Jim and in fact have friends like our listeners who donate have equipped focus to help more than 50,000 couples make really significant progress in their marriage through difficulty. So just this past year. Yes that's that's an ongoing number so your dollars are invested wisely and have ongoing impact.
As you can be generous on a monthly basis if you're in that spot.
As Jim noted, or make a one-time contribution our numbers 800 K in the word family 800-232-6459 were stop by the show notes to donate and get a copy of Gary's great book making your marriage a fortress. Gary again, thanks so much for traveling all the way down from Denver to be left in the state of Colorado.
But good to see you again.
You guys have become good friends. I'm so grateful to God for both of thank you for joining us and coming up tomorrow, a powerful reminder from Dan seaborne about what matters most, that the Lord Terry's and there are seaborne children. Years now I have a dream that they will still say I'm thankful Dan who passed on his way to his family will be said about half of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back once again help you and your family thrive in honesty 70 $28 on his face.
They all die. Everyone wants to know what's going on was going on jampacked $28 and problem 73 which is now on the cloud and bar loan coming soon to see. Learn more pages and Odyssey.com