I remember just getting like really panicky like no I have to figure this out right now because my my son's gonna come home from school in like two hours and I have to know what to say. When Holly's son was considering suicide she called a focus on the family counselor. All those years I'd been listening to focus I was thinking about how they were like that practical guide for me that was sound advice I could get from them.
I didn't really know where else to turn. I'm Jim Daley working together we can rescue hurting parents like Holly and give families hope. We need the truth that focus on the family brings into our minds and into our homes. We need that if we're gonna raise up the next generation of believers to walk in obedience and to walk in the truth that God loves us. Donate today at focusonthefamily.com slash hope and your gift will be doubled. Marriage is gonna have its hardships. Some are gonna be self-inflicted.
Some are just for fallen people that live in a fallen world and if we have this ability to endure together to trust God in the midst of the difficult seasons he is going to bless us in ways that we can't even begin to imagine. That's Kevin Thompson and he's with us today on focus on the family. Your host is focus president and author Jim Daley and I'm John Fuller.
Alright John here's a question for you. Do you and Dina laugh a lot? We try. Okay so my goal is to help her laugh at least once a day because of some bad joke or a pun or a lot of times it's just a funny memory that I can pull up from early years.
I like that goal. I think humor is so important in marriage really to get through some even rough spots it's fun to sometimes let some of the pressure out and make light of a situation when the timing's right. There are inappropriate times to do that.
Yes. But you know what here focus on the family. We want to give you a marriage tune-up and you know this is the the moment where your marriage is in a pretty good place but you can always do a little better.
That's the kind of nuts and bolts information we're gonna give you today. We help couples every day with challenges in their marriages and I thank you the supporters out there listening for stepping up and helping us to do that day in and day out with counseling intensive programs for marriage all the the toolkit that we have for everybody to tap into. Today we want to help you learn how to make the overall tone of your marriage happier and more committed and I think that's a great goal. We've invited Kevin Thompson author of Happily eight commitments of couples who laugh love and last to give us some insights into marriage. Yeah and Kevin is the married life pastor at Bayside Church outside of Sacramento California. He's also a marriage and parenting conference speaker and a blogger and he's married to Jenny and they have two children.
Kevin welcome to focus. Well thanks so much for having me. Now you're pastor.
I am. First and foremost. So you've seen a few couples in trouble. Oh there's no doubt.
The pastorate is fascinating from a relationship standpoint because you were you were there from the very beginning when couples begin to date and sometimes you're making calculations of whether or not that's gonna make it. But you never speak of this. Never.
You always hold that. How accurate are your predictions? Well you know I do have there's only one place in which I make predictions to Jenny my wife and that is with the wedding cake and so it's not with dating but it's with the wedding cake at the reception and I have I have found that if you will watch that you can begin to see if the couple is going to make it or not. Now it's not whether or not they smash the cake or don't smash the cake but one of my very first weddings I did the couple did the she gave him some cake and it was really smooth and he gave her some cake and really smashed it in and you could tell she was irritated and then she smashed it back and then he got irritated and they actually went to the ground and I looked at the person I was standing next to and I said is that normal because this is only at my second wedding and that couple was divorced within six weeks. Oh that's sad. Six weeks.
So this is the predictive model. No and so it's not whether or not you smash or not it's whether or not is there respect in that moment is there playfulness in that moment and so to this day whenever whenever somebody sees me at the reception they'll look at the wedding cake and then they'll look back at me to see and I'll just give kind of a thumbs up thumbs down of what I think. So it's become a bit of a game.
It's kind of a game. Well share with us you mentioned Jenny your wife you know let's start with your own how did you meet what happened and did you smash the cake thing. Very gentle with the cake. So Jenny and I went to Oklahoma Baptist University together actually met her before I went but she completely blew me off and so I was speaking at her church my joke is she was the only female there over the age of 14 and under the age of 40 and I asked a friend to introduce me and he did he introduced me and said Jenny this is Kevin Thompson he's gonna go to OBU next year she was already there and she goes oh that's great you'll have a great time and walked off and that was our initial meeting and two years later we were reintroduced and then I asked her out we begin to date. Had you ever forgotten about her? No. I'm just making sure. Well I went to OBU just with one focus and that was to find her again and to make sure to make sure I made her mine and so on our very first date I asked her out and she told me that she would never marry a pastor she would never move for a man and she would never marry somebody younger than her and two years later all three of those things were found false. That's funny that you kept that checklist. That's no oh and I remind her often.
Okay maybe we need to help you. Your grandparents were married maybe as long as any couple I've ever heard of but how many years? That's exactly right. We buried my grandmother on the 70th anniversary of the day my grandfather went to get the marriage license. Wow I mean that is a long time. What did you learn watching them? You know to me my mama and papa were inseparable I can't even say mama without saying papa and my grandmother was the strongest person I've ever met. I'll never forget she pulled the biscuits out of the oven and half the time wouldn't even use a potholder and I didn't I didn't understand it.
Seriously this isn't walking both directions uphill to school. No no she literally I mean whenever you think about what it was like to be more than 20s in American Arkansas she was tough. My grandfather was the most gentle person I've ever met and so when I think about toughness I think about memoir when I think about gentleness I think about papa and married 70 years inseparable. My grandmother never pumped her own gas. Papa wouldn't let her that was his job and I don't think my grandfather ever poured his own coffee that's what mama did and so they had these very traditional roles no doubt that a lot of those were generational and all those kind of things but they had a connection with each other that was just something I wanted to aspire to. I'll never forget we do the funeral and and I'm standing there looking down at my grandmother and and somebody comes up and looks down who was very close with her as well and she looks down then this person said man 70 years of marriage they were lucky and I thought to myself how true is that they were lucky but then I got to thinking you know what they kind of made that luck they kind of made some choices here that it wasn't just a flip of a coin it was literally the flip of a will where they chose to be committed to each other and and yeah they were lucky but they also were born in the midst of depression they also went through several wars they also had the the trials of raising kids of going through economic depressions they were lucky in the end but I bet you didn't always feel lucky so I just begin to investigate what is it that really made this for them and they were people of tremendous faith and the more I got into it the more I begin to see in many ways they lived out the kingdom ethic within their marriage and to me you think about it God's kingdom what we're going to experience one day in heaven the kingdom ethic is laid out in the beatitudes yeah that works for the kingdom why doesn't that work for marriage okay you know there are hundreds of thousands millions of people listening is happiness in marriage attainable absolutely and I don't know what the percentage might be but there's gonna be a large percentage of people that don't feel that no and understandably so and by no means do I ever think that happiness is the ultimate goal I think that's one of the great struggles with with modern life modern viewpoints of marriage secular viewpoints of marriage is they think that personal happiness is the number one goal and so if I don't have it if I'm not experiencing it I just need to find somebody else and move on and go in some other way I don't think that's the the viewpoint at all at the same time in the church if we're not very careful we can deny the presence of happiness in a marriage and just say well I'm just called to suffer for the Lord and never experience the fulfillment of this relationship of what it could possibly be whenever you think about Jesus don't you think he was happy there's a joy there that is clear clearly suffered in unimaginable ways had tremendous feeling obedient no doubt but there was this sense of joy you see you picture Jesus with the children right you picture Jesus even with with women as they were looked down upon in that society right the Senate and just giving them a sense of life in some way I don't think happiness is the ultimate goal of a marriage but I do think it is the natural byproduct that comes when a couple is committed to each other and finds joy in the Lord now that is good you use a term in your book contagious that divorce is contagious I don't like that but tell me why you chose to use that term I don't like it but I don't doubt it right because I see it in churches I see it will have Sunday school classes home groups where there'll be a series of divorces that all of a sudden happen and I think it's the concept it could be the concept of divorce oftentimes is the byproduct of a series of poor choices and so if you surround yourself with people who are making poor choices you'll probably make some of those choices as well that no that's a good observation and that influence that men and women have on each other I mean that's what you're talking about oh no doubt and by no means do we ever want to see somebody struggling their relationship oh they're contagious we got to stay away from them by no means am I saying right but what I am saying is you have to show some intention within your own relationship to make sure that you also as you're ministering to people and being friends with people who are struggling you're also strengthening your own relationship by surrounding yourself with people with good marriages now that's good and it's a good way to think of your friendships and what you want to develop in the way of healthy friendships all right let's get to it you identified eight commitments from the Beatitudes of course found in the gospel of Matthew touch on each one of those eight just lightly and tell us why it's important to demonstrate for example humility it all begins there for me it's a bless of the poor in spirit Jesus is basically saying blessed are spiritual beggars in God's kingdom there's a value to recognizing that you don't have it all and that you need help where else does marriage began but then with this recognition of I have no clue marriage to me is this beautiful thing where you have these two people who know nothing about what it means to be married how to live with each other and they're going in it together and they're and they're calling out to figure it out to me that's one of the most beautiful aspects of marriage is we are equally ignorant and yet we're gonna figure it out together and if you show me a couple show me an individual who's willing to recognize their own ignorance their own inability and then to get help and to read and to study and to learn there is no limit on what they can become and what they can do to help those couples struggling in this area when is there or what kind of sign is there for pride slipping into the marriage yeah I mean pride is what kills marriage right and what does it look like and a marriage will thrive in humility it'll die in pride I think about several things we can look in our own lives how does pride look to us now I think about if everything becomes personal that's pride now all right if your wife doesn't like how you loaded the dishwasher and you don't look at that as we have a disagreement over how to load the dishwasher you feel that as a personal attack that's pride you're just disagreeing over dishes but if you feel that personally that's pride if your wife can't influence you you know if Jenny right now says Kevin you need to leave Colorado Springs right now all right I might ask her why but if she's really dogmatic about it I'm leaving like I trust her I know she's for me and I know she loves me and even if she's wrong she really hasn't been before and so I'm out of here but for a lot of people their spouses cannot influence them their opinions are what their opinions are and their spouse has no say in that that to me is an evidence of pride yeah our guest is Kevin Thompson this is focus on the family Kevin's written a great book happily eight commitments of couples who laugh love and last and of course we've got copies of that and then Jim mentioned a variety of resources we have here at focus for you regardless of where you're at in your marriage stop by our website for more we've got details in the episode notes let's get the second commitment it's embracing the hurt you had to deliver I think some difficult news to your grandfather what happened yeah I was the one who who let my grandfather know that that my grandmother died that is hard and so I actually drove him he had always been the one in bad health she had always been the healthy one she died at 90 I'll never forget driving my grandfather up to make the last visit he was frail and I had to be the one to take him I'll never forget we are driving to the hospital and it was right after work and all of a sudden he says hey Kevin look at that sunset and I looked up and sure enough the son was setting over Oklahoma it was as beautiful as can be and I thought to myself how did he see that huh he's about to go see his wife of 70 years for the last time and he knows it how did he see that that was just who my grandfather was he had the ability in the midst of experiencing the bad to see the good his eyes were open his eyes were open to see it and so we went and had that visit I brought him home and the next day she died and I was the one that came home and leaned down before him and let him know that she was gone and it was such a tremendous honor to do so and yet such a tremendous heartbreak to see the the man that I so love suffering and in such a way and yet this idea of within love there comes this hurt and this pain and the sorrow and we live in a time and society that avoids that with you at all costs you know back in the old days you lived out on the farm animals lived and they died you were there for birth you were there for death when a loved one died they they were the body was kept in the home the funeral was there the visitation might be there now we are distanced from all of that to such an extent that people get very uncomfortable around discomfort and around pain and this is the chapter that surprised me the most about the book this is one of the reasons I love to write is you always hit on something it's not that I have all this knowledge I'm giving it it's I'm out there searching God has put truth in observations I'm searching for it and this is something I would have never thought of that can create a healthy marriage and actually lead to happiness but the idea that we are fallen people in a fallen world I'm a broken person I can never fully be the spouse my wife deserves she can never fully be the spouse that she wants to be for me marriage itself is gonna disappoint at times but as we lean into that recognize that mourn that it actually empowers us to appreciate the good that we have and yet if we are constantly denying the sorrow the sadness the heartache we are actually in so doing also denying the joy and the gratitude and all the good things that are there this is the chapter that in my opinion every single person needs to read because I think it's an idea that I've never seen before yeah Kevin number three would be to avoid both apathy and aggression I mean this probably hits a lot of people so what do you mean it really is I've seen other writers put it in other ways to avoid silence and violence it would be a concept here to me those are two different ways of getting the same poor result right and so some people men specifically can be apathetic if we're not very very disengage disengaged from the relationship from the concept we can be very engaged at work or in our hobbies and definitely football season you know is going on and that kind of thing but from our marriage we tend to be a little bit more apathetic whereas others at times are overly aggressive and so all right if you want to have the discussion we'll have the discussion and I'll come at it in such an aggressive way you're not gonna open up your heart you're gonna have to get defensive in every way possible to me this is where meekness comes into play the ultimate definition of Jesus in so many ways that he had this gentleness about him he would never avoid the discussion that needed to be had and yet the same time he would come at it with a gentleness that would create this climate of safety you know you know it's a funny thing you can talk about anything to anyone if you feel safe if you feel like they're not gonna use it exploits you in some way manipulates you you can talk about anything and so if you can create that with your spouse and the way to do that is I'm not gonna be apathetic if the conversation needs to be had I'm gonna have it one of the things I had to learn very early on in marriage and it's it's taken a long time to get there is that I can say it and Jenny's still gonna love me you see I'd written the story in the back of my head is if I show any unhappiness if I show any discontentment if I admit that that I don't like something she may not love me huh now of course it's still expressed itself right she just didn't know why she just didn't know what was why was I unhappy what was going on then she had to teach me and train me Kevin you can say that to me and we're gonna be okay and so I had to get over the apathy of what was going on but at the same time you can't take it too far into aggression to where you're just attacking everything and it's a good picture I think mostly how men respond those are to switch alternatives right on or off yeah we tend to be both and we tend to be apathetic until we become aggressive right there's a flipping point yeah and the answer is meekness yeah that's good and that's so God oriented rather than fleshly oriented you know I love this thought of marriage being bigger than we are and you have kind of informed us as to what the purpose of marriage is what's your view into that yeah I think God is up to here ultimately it's to bring glory to God I mean that's the ultimate call and I think marriage is is one avenue that God has chosen for me to transform my heart the only question that is by what means to bring glory to God by yeah by loving well by being transformed into his likeness by using our strengths together to assist others as well I always say in a healthy marriage your strengths are multiplied and your weaknesses are divided and so Jenny and I have different strengths and abilities and the weaknesses that I have the consequences of those are diminished because of who she is and yet my strengths are multiplied I would never written if it wasn't for Jenny she's my editor she agrees to everything I've written I mean she'll delete things sometimes and say I don't believe in this and so suddenly neither do I you know that's a funny thing is I have to constantly remind myself in the midst of that as she's editing something I mean I poured my heart and soul in this and she's just right coldly marking things out I'd remind myself she loves me and she's for me constantly she sounds like a truth speaker she's kind and she's gentle but she loves me and she's for me and so this edit is for my benefit whenever I think about marriage being bigger than us I think if I stopped loving Jenny today imagine the ripple effect yeah not only to Ella and Silas our children to our extended family to the church that I pastor now to the people who have read the books to those who have heard this broadcast it would just be a another confirmation to them in this world and where it feels like so many marriages are falling apart that it's impossible to make it and yet every time I choose to love her in part I'm also loving her parents and her family and my kids and our church and there's a ripple effect bigger than this it is much bigger than us now think about this if marriage is just about us it's up to you whether you love or not just whatever feels right to you is that that's what you should do but if marriage is bigger than us then I am commanded called motivated empowered driven to love her even when maybe in the moment I don't want to because there is such a consequence to this love either good or bad that's the choice of that is ours whether or not there is a consequence is not our choice whether it's good or bad that's us that's the first four let's see if we can get through the next four I mean there it's gonna be rapid fire but you say refuse power struggles yeah come on Kevin that's the whole male game that's the whole marriage game to be honest I think actually this is an area where many women are playing the game and they don't even realize it that maybe and so the idea of the cold shoulder the idea of oftentimes bundling sex and making it into a power play rather than an actual aspect of what the relationship is all about and this is where mercy comes in and if you have received mercy from God you have recognized your own sinfulness you know that you need to be forgiven so you're gonna be quick to forgive your spouse and it's giving of one another I mean that's what that's describing there's no doubt and it really does go back to the very first beatitude I mean think about this if you recognize that I'm poor in spirit that I'm a sinner and I am now mourning my sin so I'm operating in meekness where I'm dealing with all of this and yet marriage is bigger than me then suddenly giving mercy becomes much easier because I realize how much mercy God has given me and I realize how much mercy Jenny has given that's good okay next is live in truth I you can't have a real relationship where truth isn't present and this is the sad part as a pastor is I know a lot of couples who they are in a fake relationship because they are only giving part of themselves to a spouse who's only giving part of themselves and they're operating in this way that isn't real the picture of marriage to me is I'm gonna take my whole heart and I'm gonna put it on the table Jenny's gonna take her whole heart put it on the table and then those two hearts are gonna interact well that demands from me now transparency and honesty and truth a willingness to admit my faults and my mistakes to get help where I need to get help now this isn't a cold kind of bluntness of I'm gonna say whatever it is I want to say in the moment that's not truth oftentimes that's arrogance and pride truth is now a humble recognition of what is actually going on and we together are going to get through this well the biblical language there is to become one flesh right and then I just on the table separately you're over time becoming one heart and that can't happen without truth truth and intimacy go hand-in-hand yeah I like that okay number seven make peace this is where the rubber is my wife is a is a advertising and marketing specialist and so a lot of her day is spent negotiating with advertisers of how to get a better deal and so I feel like our marriage is a constant never-ending negotiation but I think that's a beautiful thing is that it is our job now not to receive peace but to make peace I talked about in friends partners and lovers my first marriage book the idea that there are so many Nobel Peace Prize winners that got divorced huh now think about it they could navigate international negotiations between differing ethnicities and countries and in the midst of some of the oldest battles that this world has ever known but they could not make peace with the person in bed beside with them that is really where marriage begins to be felt can I find a common ground in the midst of the differences can I find a common ground to where we can move forward yeah lastly number eight and I like this one I think it's a great capture out of the beatitudes and applying it to marriage endure whatever may come and the key there being whatever yeah it really is that Jesus said blessed are the persecuted we know we're gonna suffer in this world and in part if we live by biblical principles of what marriage is all about people are gonna look at us and think in some ways that we're foolish that we don't know what we're talking about I'll write a blog post at Kevin a Thompson calm and we'll say here are ten tips to help avoid adultery and I'll get blasted by people saying how dare you talk about this or this is so ridiculous my my wife has all the passwords to all my social media can check it at any time there is no backdoor channel that you can get to me that she can't see it people look at that and say well does she not trust you yes she trusts me and you know why she trusts me because I'm transparent in those ways and yet people don't understand that and so there's gonna be an endurance that you're gonna have to have in this secular world but there's also just gonna be marriage is gonna have its hardships some are gonna be self-inflicted some are just were fallen people that live in a fallen world and if we have this ability to endure together to trust God in the midst of the difficult seasons he is going to bless us in ways that we can't even be into imagine Kevin I so appreciate what you've done here in writing this book happily eight commitments of couples who laugh love and last and I think the application is the next thing we've given great information and you've done a wonderful job explaining it so I'm thinking of the couple that's going okay we're not living in this spot they're listening to the radio or podcast right now and the wife is saying we're not there I'm not there what can they do today to begin to change this what's the application of this yeah and then there's several approaches they can call focus on the family and begin to seek help seek prayer help they can get a mentor couple that's a little bit older than that has a marriage that they want to model after and ask them to speak into them then get a book like this read a chapter or we other read it together read a chapter a week maybe each with a highlighter and then just sit down and answer the questions go for a walk that's my favorite prescription for a couple go for a walk and talk about the chapter that you just read it's very possible though that there are gonna be some couples out there that they're just gonna need professional help it doesn't mean that you're failing it doesn't mean that your marriage is over what it means is I need assistance we all need help in life and things and marriage is no different and so they can call and get good Christian counseling to say how can we move forward but but my question is basically this for couples generally speaking not this day not even necessarily this season generally speaking would you define your marriage as happy is that a characteristic of it if the answer is no something is wrong it doesn't have to be the defining characteristic and it definitely will not define every day or every season but over the long arc of your relationship will you be able to look back and say I was happily married if not you need to get help yeah that's really good insight Kevin Thompson man this has been terrific your message has been an encouragement I noticed so many get a copy of the book happily eight commitments of couples who laugh love and last and this is that practical tool that just lays it out what you should be aiming for and I think Kevin's done a wonderful job doing that you can get it right here at focus on the family we love for you to do that because the proceeds go right back into helping families helping marriages do a better job and we would really appreciate that support so for a gift of any amount we'll send that book along to you is our way of saying thank you for investing in the ministry and if you need that more intensive marriage solution we have hope restored which we have three locations now in Branson Michigan and down in Atlanta that you can sign up for if your marriage needs that kind of hands-on help we are here for you yeah we're a phone call away to talk to our counselors to ask questions about resources or those hope restored marriage intensives our number is 800 the letter a and the word family or look for further details in the episode notes Kevin thanks again for being with us well thanks so much for having me I enjoyed it and coming up next time Ryan Baumberger is our guest and he'll remind us of the thousands of children in foster care who are waiting for a forever family literally if you look at evangelical and conservative Protestant congregations are about 191,000 if one family out of three of those or if one family out of 33% all of those evangelical conservative churches adopted a child of the foster care system there would be no children waiting on that list thanks for joining us today for focus on the family I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ oh hey Mike got here as soon as I could what's going on man hey I just wanted to give you an update on my marriage is it good news yeah our marriage is going great right now I couldn't be happier dude that's awesome yeah it's like a solid five out of ten having a marriage that's just okay isn't what couples really want to live give yourself and your spouse an all inclusive weekend where you'll slow your pace and focus on each other get more details at focus on the family comm slash getaway that's focus on the family comm slash getaway
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