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How Waffles and Spaghetti Can Build a Stronger Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
May 19, 2023 7:52 am

How Waffles and Spaghetti Can Build a Stronger Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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May 19, 2023 7:52 am

Bill and Pam Farrel discuss differing approaches men and women take on marriage. They offer practical marital advice on how spouses can understand one another’s differences and even delight in them. The Farrels discuss communication challenges couples face — how women tend to address multiple topics and emotions all at once while men want to address one subject at a time. They describe how men and women can learn to relate to each other’s different styles and needs. (Part 2 of 2)


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Hi, Jim Daly here. Today's culture deeply needs help, but in times like these, the light of Christ can shine even brighter. So be encouraged to share his light in this broken world. Listen to the Refocus with Jim Daly Podcast. Without time limitations, I'll have deep, heartfelt discussions with fascinating guests who will encourage you to share God's grace, truth, and love.

Check out the podcast at or wherever you get your podcasts. You mentioned people don't have waffles and spaghetti at the same time. Not typically.

And it actually is kind of the point. Because one of the big points of our book is if you want to get your needs met in marriage, you need to take turns. And if you take turns meeting each other's needs, it tends to go really well. If you try to force them to get met at the same time, you tend to get in conflict. Well, that's Bill Farrell describing how husbands and wives interact in marriage, often coming from very different perspectives.

And maybe you've seen some of those differences in your relationship. Bill and his wife Pam are back with us today on Focus on the Family. And thank you for joining us as well.

Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. And John, we had a fun conversation last time with Bill and Pam about common differences between men and women. And if you're scratching your head saying there really is no difference with me and my spouse, look a little deeper.

It's got to be there. And as we shared last time, these are God designed differences. I think he did this on purpose. I've often thought and I think Gary Thomas wrote about this, but I often thought, Lord, why did you bring opposites together? And then we irritate each other. And of course, the idea is to become more like Christ to become more selfless and more like him. That's, I think, the bottom line reason that the institution marriage exists spiritually for us to be less self focused. And man, it just it is so hard because we're such selfish creatures. And this is great material to better understand one another and to better understand what's the goal. You know, we discussed how men tend to be single focused, operating out of one box at a time. Thus the waffle analogy. And then women are like spaghetti, all connected and thinking and throwing stuff at us that we can't control or understand or solve.

And that can create conflict. And our audience always resonates with Bill and Pam. This has really been a popular best selling book that we're talking about again today. Men are like waffles. Women are like spaghetti, understanding and delighting in your differences. And I'll invite you to stop by our website to get your copy.

The link is in the show notes or give us a call. Eight hundred, the letter A and the word family. And the Ferrells are best selling authors. As I mentioned, they have experienced a lot of different things in life.

They've been pastors and speakers and life coaches, counselors. And I think you'll really benefit from what they have to share today. Bill and Pam, welcome back. It's great to be here. It's so much fun. It just puts a smile on my face thinking about the conversation. And I'm looking forward to kicking it off again today. Let's start with the topic of romance.

Everybody just turn the radio up or their iPhone up or whatever. Romance. Yeah, that's the topic. How do our gender differences impact the ways we approach romance in marriage? Well, because men love to succeed, one of the best ways to romance a man is to help him succeed and lower his stress. If you can do both those things, he's going to feel loved. And so what I always encourage that we should tie together his favorite easy boxes. You know, every man has some favorite boxes. So knowing that your husband's spirit boxes are. For example, if I wanted to romance Bill, I would put together like a sports box because all of our boys ended up playing sports and maybe a football game, some tickets.

I would take him to his favorite healthy, good for you restaurant. That'd be box number two. And then box number three, we haven't mentioned as much yet, but that is God has a way of helping us girls recognize that stress in men's life and how to lower it. And that is guys like to go their favorite easy boxes to rest and rejuvenate. And God kind of helped us out that most of these boxes actually are shaped like boxes. The TV screen shaped like a box, a computer screen shaped like a box, a baseball diamond, the basketball court, the football field shaped like a box, garage shaped like a box, refrigerator shaped like a box. The bed is shaped like a box.

OK, we got the point. Yeah, that bed box is like a favorite box for husbands to go to when they're stressed. It's like the free square in the middle of a bingo card they can get there from every other square on their waffle. So if I want a romance bill, that means I'm going to tie together that football box, that wonderful food box and then bingo box.

In fact, he would give you the tickets to that pro sports football game and make sure that bingo was going to happen at the Feral House. Yeah. Yeah, that's amazing. So men tend to be pretty simple when it comes to romance, where us guys need to recognize that what women think is romantic are connections. Anytime you make a significant connection into her life, she will interpret it as romantic. So when we call in the middle of the day and say, hey, there's nothing really going on, I was just thinking about you, so I called just to say I love you.

I just called to say I love you. That creates a connection in her life that makes her feel important. When you buy flowers for her, all it says is I was thinking about you while I was doing something else. When you remember her favorite places to go, favorite dates of the calendar in her life, when you just notice her, like what's her favorite color, what is her favorite dessert. Anytime you remember those kinds of things, it creates a connection into her life. And as men, we tend to think it's got to be big and it's got to be expensive.

And there's nothing wrong with that. If you can do big and expensive, she'll appreciate that. But what she's really looking for is that you noticed her and you made a connection. So if you don't have much to work with financially and you want to take a simple date and turn it into a big memory for her, well, send her an invitation. Okay, I know we got Friday night. I think it's all clear on our schedule. Can we spend Friday evening together and do it in an invitation? It could be a digital invitation or it can be a physical one. And then on Tuesday before, just check, hey, does it look good?

You know, is the schedule clear? On Wednesday, give her some indication of how to dress appropriately. Because women always want to be dressed appropriately wherever it is that we're going.

Like, baby, you look great in that. And then you can just take her out to a simple date and enjoy the evening. And then Saturday morning, send a thank you note in the mail to her that she'll get the following Monday or Tuesday.

Bonus points if you arrange childcare for all this. And what you've done is you've taken a simple date, but you created a week full of connections for her. Right. And my guess is it'll cover your romance points for, I don't know, three to six months because you connected to her heart.

Now, that is really good. Speak to the person who and, you know, again, the shoe can be on either foot. This could be the wife or the husband. And again, I'm not meaning to pick on a temperament type, but in your mind, picture an engineer, an accountant. I love you guys or you gals, but, you know, they kind of think in a linear way.

Speak to that person says, well, romance. It's not one of my spiritual gifts because I am so logical. You know, she's got to cover some of that for me. It's interesting you bring this up because my dad was an engineer. My son is an engineer. Yeah. And what I would say to you is use your strengths rather than fight against them. I've built you a building.

No, no, no. I'd like to the engineer out there. I would say there is a formula that works with your wife. OK. And if you can look for the formula. Now, parts of the formula you might be uncomfortable with because part of the formula might be writing her a love note or saying something really complimentary to her. But that there's a formula that works. That's why she married you is because she appreciates the fact that you can put stuff into formulas. So figure out the formula and then execute it. You right now are trying to act like, well, how do I become the guy on the movies who's real kind and sensitive and thoughtful? She didn't marry that guy. She married you.

But you can use your strength to figure out what the formula looks like. And my youngest son's gotten very effective. He's so romantic. He has studied his wife and he's figured out what works with her. And he repeats it often. And it works.

And it works. He repeats that need for her. Because because, again, he took time to study who she is, not try to put her into a mold of what would be easy for him. And that's really what romance is. It's just taking the time to observe your mate and then appreciate and value them. So there's nothing more romantic than being told, wow, thank you for being you.

And it doesn't have to cost anything. One of the favorite stories that is in Men Are Like Waffles and Like Spaghetti is of a husband who didn't have a lot of money. And so he just bought a dozen roses on sale in California. That's five bucks where we are from.

So he's back when I know. Right. Still, it's still because we live by the flower fields.

It's like amazing. But he said, OK, I want to deliver these one at a time. So just handing the whole bouquet to her and saying, love you, babe.

He said, can you sit down? And then he would bring one rose and he'd say, I love what a great mom you are. Then he'd bring another rose and thank you for being such an amazing cook. So 12 roses with 12 compliments.

Every woman would love that. Bill and Pam, moving into gender differences and stress. You had a great example, I think of one of your parents or grandparents and how they dealt with it. What you observed, I think it was my grandparents. My grandparents were happily married for more than 60 years.

So this worked for them. OK. And that is when they would then when they would get a little miffed at each other. You know, grandma would just start like talking and verbalizing her stress. But grandpa, he was wise enough not to respond to all that.

He would just go out to the shop and start fixing stuff. And it would give grandma time to talk through and think through her little upset moment. And by the time grandpa came back in from milking the cows or fixing things, his wife was happy again. And so it really is that process of seeing that we do process stress differently. Like when women are stressed, we talk our way through stress. Like when I'm stressed out, my mom knows it, my sister knows it, my best friend knows it, my prayer partner knows it.

Yes. And the clerk at the grocery store will know it when I'm stressed out. Right. Because we talk our way through stress. But guys like to go their favorite easy boxes to deal with their stress. Which is the nothing box for the most part. Exactly.

Or for my grandpa was his shop. Yeah. And first, man, I think it helps for us to have a picture of what this looks like. Like when stress hits a woman's life, it's like a great big meatball comes flying out of the sky and it lands on her plate of spaghetti. And it sends noodles flying everywhere. And she has to go collect up all those noodles and get them back on the plate.

And then she has to integrate the meatball because everything in her life is connected. So she's going to ask questions. OK, why did this happen to us? What does it say about you? What does it say about me? What does it say about us?

Why did God do this? How are we supposed to respond? That usually takes several conversations. And for men, we think that's one conversation.

Yeah. We're going to talk about this once, figure out what to do about it, move on. And our wife needs to integrate it all together. And so as men, if we can train ourselves that when we see stress hit our wife's life, if we can set aside some extra time, help her talk through everything that's going on and it'll probably be multiple conversations, it will help lower the stress in her life. And on behalf of the men, I would say to the ladies out there, the other thing you can do to help in this process is to get some really good girlfriends.

Yeah. Because you probably need to talk about this more than we can listen. And if we're both doing our part, it brings the stress back down.

And one of the things that we women can do when we're all stressed out is to really give some kind of a warning to our family. What does that sound like? Step back. Step back. Actually, that's not too bad.

That's not too bad. In our household, Bill, we were supposed to leave to go to Canada to be on live TV on Monday morning. It was a Sunday afternoon. And my conference friend later, I called Bill. I'm like, honey, I'm going to run late.

So there's five or six things I need you to do. And Bill's like, ah. Pam, I love you. That's the good news. The bad news is I'm with our oldest son whose car just broke down. We're waiting for a tow truck, so you're probably going to beat me home. And there's a couple of things I need you to do for me before we can get out. Yeah. So my time was cut in half. My list had doubled.

I was very stressed. This is not moving in the right direction for you. Exactly. Our oldest Mr. Responsibility's son was with Bill. Our youngest was already with a set of grandparents that he stays with. And only our then 13-year-old ADD, ADHD son, Zach, was home. And so I walked in and I'm like, Zach, this is what mom needs you to do. I just reeled off this long old list verbally.

Well, I know better than that. That is not how you delegate to boys. How you delegate to boys, you write one task on one square post-it note.

You line the post-it notes across the TV set and you say you cannot turn on that TV until those post-it notes are accomplished. That's how you delegate to boys. But I didn't do that, so I just reeled off this long list. And Zach was doing the first thing on his list, but kind of in Zach time.

Not very quickly. I walked across the living room and I'm like, God, he needs to be moving faster. We're not going to make that plan. And the Holy Spirit reminded me, don't be yelling at that kid. This is your problem, Pam. You didn't put enough margin in here. I know, but I need to get his attention.

Word pictures. Oh, yeah. Zach. Yes, mom. Okay, you know that mom and diabetes teach men are like waffles, like spaghetti.

Yes, mom. Okay, so what happens when you put a bunch of pasta into water and then the water all boils out? He's like, uh, pasta explosion.

That's right. That's what's going to happen here. This pasta is ready to explode. And Zach's like, oh, mom, why don't you tell me? It was like a pasta princess moment. And I'm like, Zach, that is like brilliant. And so from that point on, anytime I'm stressed, all this is pasta princess is home.

And the boys, and Bill taught the boys the only thing safe to say to a stressed-out woman is what can I do to help you, ma'am? And so that was a great code word. It brought humor, and we all smiled and got action out of the boys. And it all worked out? You made it to Canada?

Yeah, we made it to Canada. Good. Well, that worked out. Yeah, as long as you don't overwork that, it works really well because it alerts us guys that, okay, stress is on the table. We need to respond.

So that can't be an everyday thing. No. Yeah.

That's not good. Hey, let me ask you, in that same vein, though, with stress, more in the couple-to-couple relationship, not with the kids, but how do we integrate the different approaches? You know, is sometimes, to your point earlier, men can pull back if they're feeling stressed. Well, we have to take turns.

Yeah. Like you cannot allow the wife to talk through all of the stuff that's stressing her and go to an easy box to relieve stress at the same time. So you have to take turns. And the first thing we encourage you to do is decide who needs to relieve their stress first. And having that conversation. And what I realized really early is that if I would send Bill out to his favorite easy box, and then I would pray through and process through my stress and talk to God about it, when Bill came back, he was a better listener, but I was also a better communicator because Bill wasn't hit with the whole tsunami of like all of my emotions. And you know how we all have something in our life we wish we'd learned earlier? The thing I wish somebody had told me sooner in our marriage is your emotions follow your decisions. So if you decide as a couple, okay, who's going to relieve stress first, it also applies to conflict. Like when we have to be in conflict with each other, how are we going to approach it? If you decide how you're going to do it, your emotions line up behind you and you get control of them. But if you don't make a decision and you just let your emotions run the discussion, it's probably going to be chaotic.

Yeah. And let's move from that idea of stress, and there's so much more in the book and we can't cover it all, but this probably that area would help the most couples, I think, what we're talking about right there. Because this is a stressful world.

It is. You come home full of stress. Both of you.

Whatever you're out doing. Moving to something happier, I guess, would be helping couples finding success. I think you had a story, Bill, where you were starting a new job as a senior pastor, but things weren't going so well for Pam at home. And this was kind of an aha. I think it's a great example of awareness for both of you. What took place? So we had moved down to the Southern California area, and I was pastoring a church, and I was fully focused.

You know how us guys are when we have a passion, we have a direction, we have a goal, and I was just fully focused and assuming, well, Pam's fully focused too. Because obviously this is a God thing, God's leading us, and we had moved from a home into an apartment. Because that's what we could afford in that part of Southern California at the time. Right. And it wasn't really the apartment that was the issue, it's that this particular apartment building had a rule that we weren't smart enough to ask about ahead of time. Kids were allowed on the front porch, on the back porch, on the patio, on the sidewalk, on the grass. So it's basically a no-kid apartment.

Exactly. And we had two sons who are fully boys. Yeah, like they like to rumble, they like to talk loud. They're just fully boys. They were in one car at the time, so oftentimes I felt stranded with the boys there.

And so it got really tough on Pam. So I went to the closet to get something out of the closet, and I couldn't remember even what I went there for, and I started to cry. And I was sitting on top of a load of laundry, and the boys toddled in, and Brock's like, what's wrong, Mommy?

And I'm like, I don't know. And I just wrapped my arms around them and rocked back and forth and back and forth and back and forth until they fell asleep, and I put them each in their bed and Zach in his crib. And I went in a sack at the kitchen table.

I'm like, God, this is crazy because I have two healthy kids, and I love them. I have a husband who loves me. But every time Bill comes home, he hears, why do you do this to me, and how long do we have to live like that? And that makes him want to run home and spend time with me, God.

You've got to give me an answer to this pain. And so I thumbed through my Bible, and I came across that verse that's very familiar, wives, honor your husband. And I remember telling God, yeah, but I'm pretty sure there's an exception for this clause right here. And so I got my Bible study tools looking for a way to opt out of honoring Bill. But instead, I found out what honor really meant. And so what God taught me that day is I needed to see Bill as God saw Bill.

I meant worthy and honor and respect. I needed to speak to Bill with the words that God would use to speak to Bill, words that would build him up and encourage him and edify him. And I needed to serve alongside of Bill in this new role as a pastor and help him succeed as a true helpmeet. And so I called Bill up, and I said, hey, you want to go to lunch? And he said, I think so. He wasn't sure what he was going to get.

Ideas. And so over lunch, I shared with Bill what the Holy Spirit had taught me. I said, I don't care if I get like the house, the car, like everything that I think that I need to be happy. From this point on, before God, I have decided 100 percent I'm on your team, Bill. And if I were to put the emotion I felt at that moment into words, it would sound something like, yes! Because when Pam said I'm on your team, I don't really know how to explain it, but something changed in me. Like I became a better pastor. I was spending less time at church getting more done. I almost immediately figured out how to get our family out of this apartment we were in, into a house that had a yard where the kids could run and use their big muscles. And then a plan developed to build a home in the town where we were pastoring so we could build roots. And I know I was working harder, because we spent a year building a house and pastoring a church. I was working harder, but it felt easier. Because we were getting along.

Because when your wife believes in you, it taps into a resource you didn't know you had. Let me ask this question, and I know again the shoe can be on either foot, so you're in this analogy. But were you ahead of Pam in kind of sensing this would be working a lot easier if Pam fill in the blank? Oh, there's no doubt. And I'm sure Pam could make that assertion of you.

This would be a lot easier if Bill would fill in the blank. So you have couples that are in that spot, and they haven't had that aha experience yet. And it may take time. It does take time. Well, it's even more intense than that, Jim, because couples get competitive.

Right. Like, I've got an idea of how this should go. I need you to get on board with how I believe this should go. And both the husband and wife will have that approach, and you start competing over whose approach is best. Well, and even applying scripture to it.

I could be that blunt for the Christian community. I mean, you could say, I see my responsibility. I think I'm living by that scripturally.

But I'm not so sure she sees it and what her responsibility is. I think that's where prayer really comes in. And so Bill and I were in this year-long conflict shortly after that. And it was because I just really felt like God had called me to writing and speaking and leading women's ministry.

And I was just on. Bill calls it my awakening. There was so much passion behind her desire to do all this that it looked to me like it was going to overrun our life. And so I went back to school, and Bill had always made the commitment that I'll believe in Pam's dreams, and I'll walk alongside her as long as they're God's dreams for Pam. If it was Pam's ideas, I wasn't going to put my whole heart into it. But if it's God's idea.

I was committed to support it if God really put it on her heart, and I couldn't see it. So one day we just got down. We always make an appointment, and we hold hands, and we talk through it. And then if we don't solve it, we reschedule.

And we did that for a whole entire year. And one day we were just broken when we just got down in front of our sofa, and I was sobbing. I'm like, God, I've been trying to follow you, and obviously I maybe didn't read something right, or maybe I did read something right, but Bill's still mad at me, so we just need you to rescue us.

Yeah. And my prayer was, God, I love this woman, but I don't really like her right now. And something needs to change. So if you need to change something in me, change it. If you need to change something in her, change it.

But Lord, we need your guidance, and we need your help here. And so then next- When I realized, oh, Pam can't say no to this because it's the dream God put on her heart. And I said, I need to get that message to her. And one of the things you need to know about Pam, she loves public attention. Like not every woman does.

Pam loves public attention. So I figured if I can go into her world and make a statement, I think she'll get it. So she was going to college. So I had a class, and it was romantic literature, and Bill had to be up on campus filming for the church. And this class, every day I was standing up for Jesus, because it was just a secular university. And so I said, just pray for me when you go by this class. And well, the door opened, and my professor was saying, romance is dead, it's always been dead, it's just an illusion.

And all the women are like, yeah, because men are scum. And then the door opened. I bought a dozen roses.

Good timing. I walked into the classroom, set them on her desk, gave her a kiss, said, I love you, Pam, and then walked out the door. And my professor's like, is it your birthday?

Nope. Your anniversary? Well, why did your husband come in here? Well, I think that he just wanted me to know that he believes in the dream that's on my heart to become a writer. And he just wanted to make sure that I knew that he believed in that dream.

And then all the women were like, so does he have a brother? So I was looking for a way to speak her language. Yeah. And she got the message. Wow, what a great place to end.

I mean, that is the romantic language, right? And it does exist, and especially if we're focused on the Lord and what the Lord wants from us in our relationship with each other. God will whisper to us what we need when we need it. Right.

Every secular professor should be saying, what's going on here? I love that. It's so good. Thanks for being with us. Again, what a great time together.

It flies by when we're here in the studio. And your great book, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. Get a copy from us here at Focus on the Family. Join us in ministry if you can become a monthly sustainer. That is a great way for us to even the budget out. We'll send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you.

One-time gift as well. Just get into ministry with us if you haven't taken advantage of that. I love God's economy in this regard because in this way you get a great resource.

You help another couple, maybe cover the expense of sending it out to someone who can't afford it. And we're all doing ministry together. And I think it's a win-win-win. Yeah, so join the support team to help make programs like this. And to provide resources like the great book, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. We also have our free marriage assessment for you. You can get a quick overview of what's working well in your relationship. And maybe you'll discover some areas for improvement as well. Learn about these resources and more when you call 800-800-232-6459.

Or check the program notes for details. Hope you have a great weekend with your family and with your church family as well. And then plan to be with us on Monday when we'll have practical help for parents when your adult child leaves home.

You've got to build the relationship and building the relationship that last two, three years that they're in the home is an essential part of having a continuing relationship once they do go off to college or wherever it is. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. If the fights with your spouse have become unbearable, if you feel like you can't take it anymore, there's still hope. Hope restored marriage intensives have helped thousands of couples like yours. Our biblically based counseling will help you find the root of your problems and face them together. Call us at 1-866-875-2915. We'll talk with you, pray with you, and help you find out which program will work best. That's 1-866-875-2915.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-19 08:52:56 / 2023-05-19 09:05:40 / 13

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