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Combating the Lies That Can Destroy Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 6, 2023 5:00 am

Combating the Lies That Can Destroy Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 6, 2023 5:00 am

Drs. Greg Smalley and Bob Paul describe how cultural myths and fairy-tale expectations about marriage have a detrimental effect on couples, and how knowing and applying biblical truth can help those couples develop a thriving marriage. (Part 1 of 2)


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Lonnie and Kay were high school sweethearts, but over time, the never-ending conflict and their loss of love threatened to tear their marriage apart. When we filled out our forms with Focus on the Family, they asked us if we believed in a miracle, if we were willing to allow a miracle to happen. And, you know, with all my heart, that's what I wanted. Lonnie and Kay attended Hope Restored, where Focus counselors help heal and restore broken relationships, giving husbands and wives godly hope for the future. I guess what I'd say is I cherish her now more than I did before, and I have a way that I can communicate to her that I did not have before, and Focus on the Family has given me that ability. I'm Jim Daly. Working together, we can rescue more hurting couples like Lonnie and Kay. Become a monthly giver today by calling 800 the letter A in the word family, or visit focusonthefamily.com slash family. The worst question you can ever ask is how do I have a better marriage?

Because it takes two. The best question is, God, how can I be a better husband? How can I be a better wife?

What is within my control? That's Dr. Greg Smalley, and he joins us today on Focus on the Family, along with his co-author, Bob Paul, and I'm John Fuller, along with your host, Focus President, Jim Daly. John, I've said it many times, but there is one thing that we are core about, and that's marriage. I mean, that's one of our core things. We want marriages to thrive. We want them to thrive in Christ, ideally, and we do place a high emphasis on the institution of marriage because we believe in it. We believe it's God's design for the family, and I know hearing from the listeners and the viewers, they agree. I mean, that's why they're tuning in. They want to get some help.

They want to have a better marriage. Jean and I want to do that. We're learning every day, especially it's so fun when I come home and I say, hey, Jean, I've got a great idea.

Let's spend 10 minutes an evening together, and she'll say, who did you record with today? I thought I was wise, but I really get so much wisdom as you do, John, through listening to the guests that we have the privilege of interviewing, and that's going to be the same today. I'm excited to interview two of our colleagues.

Yeah, Greg Smalley and Bob Paul join us. Greg is the Vice President of Marriage here at Focus on the Family and has been here a number of times. Bob heads up our Hope Restored marriage intensives, and we'll talk a little bit more about those as we go. Together they have a book called Nine Lies That Will Destroy Your Marriage and the Truths That Will Save It and Set It Free. It's published by Focus on the Family, and of course we have that here.

The link is in your episode notes. Greg and Bob, welcome to Focus. Hey, thank you. It's so good to be with you guys. You've been here a few times, Greg. Bob, this is your first time.

First time on the broadcast. Yeah, it's so good to have you. You're normally out in Missouri at Branson and helping couples every day, right? Absolutely.

Absolutely there and in Georgia and in Michigan, so I'm all over the place for Focus. Help us talk about Hope Restored. Just fill in what happens there. Couples arrive Sunday night typically. Yeah, it's a program that we have, as you know, for couples that are struggling. And generally in pretty severe crisis they show up for our mainstay, which is our group program. They show up Sunday night and then they're there through the day on Thursday and they come often looking for a miracle. So this is like 35 plus hours of intensive counseling. Why does that work better than the one hour a month or one hour a week program?

Oh, it's dramatically different. Having done a lot of outpatient private practice work where they come in for an hour and then it's a week, what happens in that is they show up for their session on a normal day and it takes a little bit of time to kind of catch up how you're doing, how the week been. You kind of warm into it. Then by the time it's done, if it's an hour long, maybe you have 15 to 20 minutes to really dig deep. But then you really can't get too far into it because they're going to have to go back out and face their life. And if they walk out a raw nerve, how are they going to be able to manage?

So you've got to contain it and hold it together. In our program, they come to us for days on end, three, four, five days at a time. It's all day long so we can really get deep. We've got people, staff involved to be able to care for them so they don't have to worry about all the normal things. They don't have to cook.

They don't have to clean. They don't have to deal with all the stresses, the normal stresses of life. And we can really help them stay with the issue till we get to the core. And when we get to the core, that's where the Holy Spirit really shows up and real deep healing occurs. Matter of fact, we have people tell us regularly that an intensive is like a year to a year and a half's worth of normal therapy.

Yeah. And it's so exciting. And for those couples who are really struggling, those that are in great difficulty, this is the kind of thing. If you're in that last knot in your marriage rope, give this a try.

So many couples get turned around in this environment. And this program has an 80% post two year success rate, meaning 80% of those couples are together and doing better. 97% satisfaction rating that couples come and that the experience exceeds their expectations. 97%. And the bottom line is you'll go away healthier regardless of what happens in your marriage. You'll be a healthier person.

But the best thing is that 80% factor. We are saving marriages each and every day. And my hat's off to both of you, Bob and Greg, for the great work that the team does there in Branson, up in Michigan and also in Rome, Georgia. So well done. All right.

Let me crack this open. You both come from counseling families. Your parents were.

So, man, how messed up are your families? I grew up in the home of a guy named Gary Smalley, so kind of one of the original gurus around marriage. He was so good. Yeah, he was so fun and playful. You know what?

What I love is in where for me, the passion for marriage came from is as a young boy kind of going to watch him. And I was enamored with him up on the stage in front of a thousand people. I'm like, what is happening? Why is he up there? Why are they paying to hear him for what I have to do for free?

But anyway, it's very confusing. But people would come up and they would, you know, literally give me this big hug. Strangers would come up and hug me and say, thank you for sharing your daddy saved our marriage. And that left such an impression. And as I got older, what really stood out and why I wanted to follow in his footsteps is because everything that my dad talked about on stage, he really did live out. He wasn't perfect and we had issues. But I tell you, he really, really lived those things out. So it wasn't that, hey, this public persona of him up on stage is one person in it at home.

It's a train wreck, a disaster. Thus, I don't want to have anything to do with with God, with ministry. But that wasn't the case. And I was fortunate to have a dad who was consistent and real in who he was on stage as who he was at home. And that's so critical, especially for Christian leaders, for pastors, that what people see is what you are.

And I think anything other than that is hypocrisy, actually. So, Bob, how about your experience? You grew up in Southern California. Your mom and dad, I think, were in the counseling area. It's interesting the similarities as we got together and started working. How many years ago was that? That was 21 years ago.

It was interesting to see the similarities and the differences. Unlike Greg, my family was broken. My parents got divorced, I think, before I was a year old, which was a long time ago.

And divorce was not normal in those days, not like today. I was kind of an oddball because I went every other weekend to my dad and my stepmom's house because both my parents remarried. And I grew up with two families that were relatively intact, no believers, though, in the bunch.

I'm the only Christian in the whole bunch. And my dad and my stepmom along the way became therapists. And because of where we lived in West Los Angeles, they became therapists to the stars. I mean, they were authors also, which was really interesting.

It had bestselling books and did radio and television and so forth, but from a secular viewpoint. And as a young impressionable boy, I was very impressed, kind of idolized my dad and my stepmom for the work they were doing to change people's lives. And what was really kind of interesting, and I see in hindsight how God kind of got hold of me and prepared me even before I knew him, in that I started having some normal teenage issues with my mother. And I would go to my father and my stepmother and I would complain about what was going on between me and my mom. And they decided to help. So they started giving me books at like 13 that were psychology books, like a book called Parent Effectiveness Training, which I devoured.

And then if you could imagine how horrible this was. That's bad news. I read the book and then I take it to my mom and I say, Mom, you really need to read this.

How did that go down? She wasn't excited about that. But it's funny, years later, I was already married. I was thumbing through their bookshelf one day and I found that book with a different book sleeve on it in the bookshelf.

So I'm assuming she actually read it. But I kept reading those books and it started really infiltrating my psyche. And I started learning to think psychologically, no idea that God was preparing me for this work. I really had no clue, but he was getting me to think differently. Well, and the reason for that question for both of you is just the foundation that God did lay in your lives. It's quite amazing that you were raised around it in terms of counseling other couples. And you saw it, you lived and breathed it as a child. And then quite amazingly, especially, Greg, for you stepping in, your brother is also a counselor. I mean, it's amazing. That's quite a tradition that your dad left behind for you and your brother, your family and your sister.

And I'm so grateful for that legacy that he did leave. All right, let's turn to the book and talk about what you've discovered in your practices, et cetera. One is just marriage in general. When you look at the culture, there seems to be, because of the, I guess, the divorce rate and people's disillusionment with marriage, the culture generally is pulling back. You have some of the culture saying we need to do away with the nuclear family. I think it's crazy, I think it's the beginning of the problems in the culture that we don't have healthy intact families. But what's your read of why the culture is pulling back from the institution of family?

Where did the institution come from and why is it under attack? You know, God created marriage. So man did not, it was God's gift to us and thus it's a post. And so the evil one, Satan, hates marriage, hates what it stands for. And I really believe a big part of what's going on in our culture right now is that Satan is so committed to destroy marriage because he fears what our marriage could be.

When you have a husband and wife together, figuring out how can we use this gift that God's given us to serve others, to love others, that is one of the most powerful forces on earth. Satan knows that and so he tries to create chaos. He wants couples to buy into lies that they start trying to live out that completely then destroys their marriage. And that's what Bob and I see when couples come in for an intensive, they've bought into lies. They want a great marriage. These lies though exist, these myths, and they don't get them there at all.

And I really believe it's because Satan is trying to create that chaos because he fears what we could be. Okay, let's get to the, we're going to try to cover the nine today and tomorrow. I don't know that we'll get to all nine, but if you miss any of the program, make sure you download it.

John will give those details in a minute, but let's get to the first one. In fact, you share the story of Zach and Katie who added to their wedding vows and they lived happily ever after at their ceremony. That fairytale idea, that's the first lie.

So take a whack at it. You know, it's interesting that that whole fairytale view of marriage has so infiltrated our Western culture for sure. And the idea when you get married is you're hoping that, you know, it starts once upon a time.

And certainly the love that I have right now for my spouse has to be leading toward and they all lived happily ever after. And happiness, and happiness isn't a bad thing. I mean, frankly, I'm kind of partial to happy and I prefer more than less. I'm convinced God wants us to be happy. But when you think that happiness is the key, that happiness is the goal, you are so set up because obviously God put us here on purpose with purpose and there's a cosmic battle that's going on between good and evil. And happiness can't be the primary goal. There's a purpose bigger than happiness. OK, but in that, where are we getting those signals?

The media? How come, A, it's not bad to have a bar to be reaching for? I want a happy, joyful marriage. I think that's OK. Where does that break down to where it becomes a lie, Greg? The lie is that my end in mind is to feel happy versus when when I think about my marriage, I think about Aaron and I on this grand adventure. We're on a journey. My goal isn't to be happy. My goal is to journey in this life with Aaron through all the valleys and through all of that. Because if my goal is happiness, then what happens when we're not happy?

What happens when we're in pain and we're frustrated and something's going on? It's so confusing. As Bob said, then maybe it's me. Maybe she's the problem.

I wouldn't go there. I wouldn't say that out loud. In my mind, I'm thinking that. But what I what I love when when the goal is to be on a journey with my wife, 1 Corinthians 7, 28 says that for those who marry, you will face problems.

I mean, that's straight out of the Bible. We are going to hit these high times in into where we feel joy and we experience happiness. We're going to hit low moments where there's going to be a lot of pain. And what I love is that there's no one else on earth that I'd rather be with on this grand adventure, not knowing what's around the next corner, what we're going to face.

For me, the goal is growing is growth, not happiness. All right, Bob, let me throw this one to you. And, Greg, you can add on the second lie, kind of the equation of marriage and what does it mean?

You mentioned that the typical wedding ceremony, which I'm laughing because Jean and I did this, which is the unity candle. It's beautiful. It makes sense.

It's right out of scripture. I think that two shall become one. And we did it. We had two individually lit candles. We lit the one candle, blew the other candles out together. It was beautiful. I have a tear in my eye.

I'm glad. Why is that a lie that the two shall become one? That's right out of scripture.

Yeah, that part's not a lie. The understanding of what is meant by one is the problem. Okay, give it to me. Okay. So when you try and become one with Jean, I've known you guys for a while now. And as far as I can see, if oneness, becoming one is your goal, you two are a failure. Because every time I see you, I see still Jim and Jean. You're right.

Two. You're not attached at the hip. You're not the same. And one of the biggest problems is that because in English we use the word one to mean multiple things. In this case, to assume it means the number one, we're set up to fail. We can't become the same as one with our spouse. Oneness scripturally is meant to be unity. Oneness in spirit and purpose, not the same. And Bob, you had an example with you and your wife where vacations sounded like a terrible thing, which is horrible. I love this example.

Here's a practical way you could work through this. And it's because we are, John, fundamentally different. And after almost 40 years of marriage, we are still fundamentally different. So vacations were a common problem for us because my idea of the perfect vacation is hanging out on the beach doing as close to nothing as I possibly can.

Jenny is a pedal to the metal kind of gal. See everything. Do everything. Everything. Okay.

Before we go on a trip, we have to go get the AAA guide and see where all the gems are between point A and point B. Because the more we can do in that amount of time, the better. It's good stewardship. Come on.

Yeah. I end up at the end of a vacation feeling like I need a vacation from vacation. I'm so exhausted.

And Jenny goes stir crazy doing it my way. So we were trying to figure out a way to resolve this and we prayerfully found a solution. Let's try this. And what we decided to do, and this is just one way to work through things, but it's where our differences became a blessing. We decided to try on a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton. We had a road trip for three weeks. It was day on, day off. Day on, day off. The day on, we packed as much in as we possibly can. The day off, we just chilled. And what we found what was so fascinating is that both of us can overdo our part to an extreme.

And I can actually underdo to the point of boredom and she can overdo to the point of exhaustion. This turned out to be the best vacation we've ever had. And we both ended up refreshed and excited.

It was fabulous. That's great. That's the way it should work. All right. A lot of these love lies seem to be laced with some truth. I think we're identifying that, which can make them kind of hard to distinguish. You know, what we talk about with unity and becoming one seems like the right thing.

Hopefully people are understanding your definitions and what the concern is. The third love lies. All you need is love. I want to make sure I attribute that to the Beatles. I think they coined that phrase. But what makes that a lie? It sounds so good. All you need is love.

Come on, Greg. All you need is love. I think the problem is, is that when it's how people think and define love. So for there's a big group of people that see love is all about that passion, that feeling that they experience, the emotional part of love. And you've got another group that when they think about love, it's that decision. I mean, my father wrote one of his best selling books was Love is a Decision. So there's going to be times you don't feel love and you've got to make that decision.

So you find it's kind of those two camps. It's either the focus is on the emotional feeling part of it or the commitment, the decision. And sadly, they completely miss the truth about love, which is God is love. We don't create love.

God is love. And when we begin to understand that there's no part of love that I create and generate, it's not about a feeling. It's not just about a commitment.

It's understanding that that my job is actually to keep my heart open so that God, who is love, flows through me. That's one of the best things that we see happen in an intensive is couples begin to really understand that. OK, so maybe part of the problem is that how I view love. Like we get all the time couples will come in to say, well, I don't I don't feel love anymore towards my spouse. And they think that's the end. Right. At that point, that's the end of their marriage because the love is gone. Right. And I'll tell you, the truth is, when I'm sitting in the therapist chair at that point, because I understand how love actually works, that's one of the least troubling things anybody can say to me, because the only reason the love isn't there at that point, since God is love and it all comes from him, is that somehow the top door to their hearts closed and the love is not able to come through.

Because honestly, if we want to experience the fullness of love for our spouse, all we have to do is ask the Lord to let us see through his eyes and feel with his heart and it will be there in abundance. Yeah, that's the golden nugget right there. I mean, that's what it's all about. Greg, you have a story. And sometimes these things can take on small steps.

It doesn't have to be something gigantic, although that's good, too. But you had a story about just making the bed. I mean, that seems seems so simple, but it really it ministered to Aaron, your wife's heart.

Yeah. My my wife and I've had this ongoing argument over 20 years of marriage, which is why do we make a bed? I love the comedian. I'm with Aaron. I love the comedian Jim Gaffigan comparing making a bed to taking your shoes off and then tying them.

It's like, why? I want to get back into the bed how I like how I left it. And so we've just battled that. And I kind of finally went, you know, if you want the bed made, go for it. That that's your choice. Until she had a foot injury and was in a cast. And I walked into our bedroom and I watched my precious wife in a cast hop around the perimeter of our bed trying to make it.

And I said, OK, this is like sick, like there's OK, seriously, you're going to injure yourself. It's a bed. Let it go in in the course of that discussion. Really understanding why that was so important to her and how much that meant to have a bed made. I finally got it.

Yeah. Watching you hop around this bed, I get how important this is. I said from this day forward, I'm doing that. Let me turn the table a little. We're four guys sitting at this table and I want to represent at least Jean, but maybe women listening as well, because I think women in this perspective, this is tough for them because they believe I have to sacrifice who I am for the sake of my marriage and my husband. So let's put it in that context from a woman's perspective, that sense of sacrifice. I gave up my career for the family.

I gave up this. Speak to the need to kind of put that in perspective, how God sees that and what's healthy and unhealthy. Well, I think giving generously is what sacrifice is about. But it's imperative that we recognize who we are in Christ and that for the gift to be of great value, what's being given must be of great value. So to see yourself as less than in any way actually cheapens the gift when you really get the fullness of who you are and how valuable you are. And then you take that and you invest sacrificially in somebody else. Now you've given something of great value, your time, your energy, your gifts, who you are. And it's imperative that when we sacrifice, when we give sacrificially, it's coming from a place of value, not a place of valuelessness. But let me press you a little bit. So at Hope Restored, you're saying literally hundreds, thousands of couples.

Yes. How do you prevent that root of bitterness from springing up? Well, we want everybody that comes to really get who they are in Christ and we work hard for them to see this is not about you being less than. This is about you being fully who you were created to be. We're going to pause right there for this episode of Focus on the Family with Dr. Greg Smalley and Dr. Bob Paul as our guests. And there is more to come of this great conversation.

I do hope you'll plan to join us next time. I really love the heart these men have for hurting marriages. They are fighting literally every day to help couples restore their relationships and they are doing a great work. You know, every year we do survey work here at Focus to see how we're impacting families. I think it's really smart of us to know what direction we're going.

And so we started doing this probably 10 years ago now, maybe 12 years ago now. And let me give you some of the results just over the last 12 months. That survey work has indicated that more than 440,000 marriages have been strengthened through Focus's broad efforts. And then 140,000 couples have been helped in a crisis to make significant progress towards saving their marriage. And then the most intensive part is those Hope Restored efforts.

We had just in 2022 1,500 couples who came to those intensives and of course about 80% of those couples two years later are still married and doing better. And I am thrilled with the impact that we're having. And I'm thrilled that you are a part of it, praying for us and helping us financially.

Yeah, there's a team effort here and God has enabled us to have so many different resources. We have caring Christian counselors who can schedule a time to call you, to talk with you, to pray with you and help you get to a path toward healing. Other resources, of course, are like the book we talked about today with Greg and Bob, Nine Lies That Will Destroy Your Marriage and The Truths That Will Save It and Set It Free. And let me, John, punch it again for marriages that are really needing help. We have our Hope Restored marriage intensives that we just mentioned.

We have three locations around the U.S. We have two additional ones coming up over the next 18 months or so. But these efforts are really there for those marriages that are in a deep crisis. In fact, 97% of couples who attend say the experience was above their expectations. And the great news is, as I said, 80% two years later of those who attend, their marriages are still intact and they're doing better.

One intensive participant wrote to share this message with us. Coming to Hope Restored was tough because we felt little hope. Divorce was on the table. Hate was in the air.

And resentment was pushing us in bad directions. We learned easy tools to use every day in many, if not every, situation. We felt extremely cared for, listened to and loved on. We are forever grateful to have our marriage back.

And I love hearing how God is working through Hope Restored in exactly that way. It's making such a big difference for those couples and for future generations. And none of this would be possible without people like you sustaining Focus on the Family with your prayers and financial gifts. If you've donated in the past or currently give, we are so grateful for you.

Thank you. And if you haven't given yet, consider joining the support team. Become a friend of Focus on the Family. We've set a goal to find a thousand people to join a community of monthly sustainers who are deeply committed to marriage and family. Your monthly gift allows us to provide scripture-based resources like the daily broadcasts, podcasts, counseling efforts, print and online materials, and so much more for families just like yours. When you make a pledge of any amount today to the ministry, no amount is too small, we'll send you a copy of Greg and Bob's book as our way of saying thank you. And if you're not able to commit to a monthly amount, we understand, we'll send you a copy of the book for a one-time gift as well. I hope you'll consider becoming a sustaining Friends of Focus on the Family member because that is the way that we even out the budget demand.

Join the community of the support team and get your copy of the book, Nine Lies That Will Destroy Your Marriage. We've got details in the show notes or call 800 the letter A and the word family. Join us again tomorrow for more of this great conversation with Greg Smalley and Bob Paul. And for now, on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Definitely a good day or just an absolute terrible one. Discover how Brio Magazine can capture the heart and faith of your teen girl at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash Brio Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-06 06:46:09 / 2023-03-06 06:58:14 / 12

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