Alyssa suffered through 11 years of her husband's addiction and she feared the worst. After we had called Focus on the Family, that was really the journey where we started to see God moving and working. I know that Focus on the Family was just an answered prayer.
I'm Jim Daly. This season, help us give families hope. And when you give today, your donation will be doubled.
Donate at focusonthefamily.com slash gift. In 1 Corinthians 7 28, it says, but those who marry will face many troubles in life. And so it says in scripture, when you get married, you're going to face difficulties.
You're going to face hardships. And I always say, thank goodness we can do that together. There's not another person that I would want to face some of the trials, some of the troubles that we've experienced over 30 years of marriage. I wouldn't want to go through any of that without Greg.
I really like that. That's Erin Smalley sharing some insights and encouragement about marriage and she and her husband, Dr. Greg Smalley joined us last time on a best of 2023 edition of Focus on the Family and they identified some of the key ingredients couples need for a more loving relationship that'll go the distance, that'll provide you the kind of relationship that they're experiencing. Thanks for joining us for Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller. Last time we shared some funny stories and great advice came from Greg and Erin about how to avoid combat in your marriage and move toward negotiation instead, which should be a breath of fresh air for everybody and why we each need to work on our emotional triggers. Boy, that's so relates.
Jean and I do that so often to each other, but those emotional triggers, how do we avoid those kinds of conflicts that are avoidable? I love how the Smalley's emphasize the importance of faith in the whole process. Strong marriages are built on the foundation of God's word and we've always got to bring our interactions back to that truth. Here's a little insight. If you pray together regularly and read the word together regularly, the chance of divorce is less than one percent. Isn't that amazing?
There's a power of God example. So if you missed this conversation last time, get the download, the CD copy from us, download the app on your smartphone. This is solid content that will really help your marriage and you may want to pass it along to a friend. That's right and we've mentioned last time that Greg and Erin have written a wonderful book that captures all of this content and so much more in one place. The title is Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage, 12 Secrets for a Lifelong Romance. It's a terrific resource whether you're newlyweds or you've been married for years or even decades.
Get your copy of that book when you call 800, the letter A in the word family or check the program notes to learn more. And here's part two of our best of 2023 conversation with Greg and Erin Smalley on today's episode of Focus on the Family. Greg and Erin, welcome back. Thanks for coming down the hall. I always love saying that because most guests are coming from across country, right?
But it's so fun to have you here. I'm grateful that you guys have planted yourself here at Focus on the Family, doing such a great job with the marriage outreach. We love it. It's really been wonderful to watch that blossom really and people are benefiting from it.
Their marriages are benefiting from it. So thanks for leading that overall effort. We really appreciate it. Let's jump back in. It was so much fun last time.
Hopefully the listeners, the viewers enjoyed that. You guys are so transparent. That's what I love. It's just right out there and here's how we argue. This is what we argue about.
We know it's stupid, but this is how you repair that. It was just so refreshing because so many of us as couples, we're struggling with the same stuff, you know, and it just equips us to, I think, think the right way and therefore do the right thing. Let's discuss the importance of husbands and wives spending time together. Now, when you're doing this, spending time together is not about the budget.
I mean, sometimes that's true. You got to do that, but what's your definition of spending time together? What's that look like for each of you? I would say, Jim, that there's this deep longing inside of each of us to be fully known. So therefore, when we're spending this deeper level time, because like you said, we can talk about the budget, we can have conflict, we can small talk, but there's something about, I always say going under the waterline and really seeking to know what's really going on inside of Greg, what's going on inside of his heart, as well as me sharing what's going on inside of me.
There's something so, it's such a deep need inside of each of us to be fully known in that way. And it was interesting, we at our marriage events will ask the crowd at some point to have them rate what percent of their time, their communication is devoted to just managing the family, business meetings, talking about task, who's going to pick up kids, who's run into the store, that kind of stuff. And it blows my mind that on average, it's about 90% of our communication is around almost like administrating our marriage, having a business meeting. And the problem is, if that's all we end up talking about, quite honestly, the marriage can get boring. Like if I know that anytime Aaron and I are going to talk, we're probably going to work out who's doing what or whatever.
It robs us then of really, as Aaron was saying, learning and updating each other below the waterline. We call that inner life conversation. The problem is that that sort of conversation when I'm finding out, how are you really feeling? What's stressing you out? What do you dream it about? What, whatever, what's going on in your life? That stuff will never happen on its own.
Right. I'm smiling because I think so many men are lost in this and I'm one of them too. I, you know, Jean would say to me, we need to communicate. Well, we're talking right now. This is communication, right?
But she's meaning what you were saying here. And I want to go deeper. And sometimes there's that ad. I can't even tell you what the ad is for, but it's like football wives. They're on the field chasing down football players. And one of them is chasing a football player saying, I just want to talk.
And the guy's running scared. It's kind of a metaphor for how many husbands can feel at times that I don't know what you're talking about. Let's talk. We've been talking all morning.
Yeah. And it can sound overwhelming when you think about, yeah, I want to talk. It's so interesting because the research is really clear that if a couple spends 10 minutes a day talking at that deeper heart level, that they can have a relationship that is thriving.
So it's just going, how do we create that space just to check in? And I know for Greg, he likes to know what we're going to talk about. So, you know, sometimes I'll ask him, you know, what was the high of your day? What was the low of your day? You know, what's stressing you out? What are you dreaming about? What are you looking forward to in the next month? So just some of the very specific questions that helps him to not be so flooded when I say, Hey, I want to talk.
Yeah. And we've actually figured out two things around this that have made such a huge difference in our 30 years of marriage in one is that we're now at the end of the day. So as we're both laying in bed and I've been initiating this, that I'll ask her, yeah, what was the higher of your day in the low of your day? And then we just have a quick, just back and forth. She asked me, and then I will say, what's one thing that I can pray for you about tomorrow in the time we spend doing that maybe is around 10 minutes, but I'm telling you, it's so connects me to her that there's a way in which that I'm, I keep updated. Like I keep current with what's going on in her life.
So that's been one thing that's made such a big difference. The other, and this is really my favorite is that we've started playing a card game while we eat in it's elaborate after 30 years of marriage, this is what we now do. Okay.
So it's, it's monopoly deal. And it's just, it's a fun little game, but we're playing something which hits on my love language. We're doing something like as much as Aaron says, you know, just, you know, I want to spend this deep time talking that, that doesn't necessarily do it for me. I like to be doing something together. So we're playing the card game and then I'm just simply asking her, tell me about your day. We just get in these great conversations over your role. Hey, what are you doing? Hey, you can't take my property, but no, it's, it's not, it's not like this high paced, challenging game that you've got to think about.
It's just mindless. So we're doing something together, having fun. So we're laughing and we're talking in, in both of those things. So what we're doing right before we go to sleep, just kind of catching up and then doing something, having fun.
And again, over dinner, I never would have thought we, we actually take these cards when we go out to a restaurant and we'll just simply play and talk. Cause it gets me cause I'm doing something fun and I'm more likely to talk. And what I love about it is I love to talk. I mean, I can talk at any point, but I love that Greg is being able to experience what helps him to warm up into the conversation.
You're not looking over at the restaurant, looking at people, looking at you. You know that he's doing something exactly that he's doing something fun. And then I get to lean in and have fun too and talk. And I like to talk.
Yeah, no, that's good. It's fun to find a groove. If I could use that term to, to, to get that going. And that's, that's great that you guys have done that.
We tend to eat dinner and then we do board games after dinner, but I don't know that speed Scrabble would work with spaghetti, but we might give it a try. The two things that bubble up and when folks contact us, you, the viewer on YouTube or the listener, however you're listening. And we love the two way communication. We don't want this to be a monologue.
So we love when you get in touch with focus and let us know how a program strikes you or what help you need. That's why we're here. And the two things that bubble the most in marriage or finances, like we just talked about, you know, that little epiphany, maybe we need to do something differently. And then physical intimacy. I mean, those are the two things that will come up over and over in marriage communication would be in that same spot, but speak to the way that we in the Christian community talk or don't talk about physical intimacy, the damage that the don't talk about it does to us and then how that becomes dangerous to a marriage.
And you're exactly right. So many couples are not talking about this gift that God has given us in marriage, the wedding present. Yes. And so, so often there's such a misunderstanding as well about what it is, like, is it, what is this physical intimacy and what is the purpose of it? And really looking at so often we think, well, you know, we don't, I don't think we do this on purpose, but sometimes we end up thinking like this is for me to be pleased to be served versus looking at this physical intimacy as a gift that in many ways, like Greg was saying earlier, that we both matter and really looking at how do we pursue this in a way that feels good to both of us. I remember right before our, our wedding night, you know, my dad did the classic, Hey son, you know, I want to, I want to share a couple of things. If I forgot a few things.
Yeah. Thankfully, I think I've covered that ground with Trenton Troy, but I don't want to do that on his wedding. And it was, I mean, I got his heart and it was actually sweet advice, but the advice itself though, now I disagree with, and basically here's what he said to me. He goes, son, you know, as you and Aaron experienced that physical intimacy, you know, that, that wedding presence, as you put it, he goes, your, your job is to be a servant. This is, this is about you really thinking about her, her needs, serving her, pleasing her and looking back now, I, again, understand what he meant, but the problem is, is Aaron talked about that this needs to be about both of us. This just isn't about me thinking about Aaron and how do I serve and please her. I have to matter in that as well in what Aaron and I believe that both the husband and wife come together in a way to where they are serving one another, but, and thinking about what do I want? What do I want in this moment of us being together that if you're thinking about both, everybody has to matter to each person. You know, so often, and I'm seeing it more and more that post COVID women are carrying a lot of anxiety, anxiety, as well as, you know, you think about everything that a mom or a young wife carries, you know, career and home stuff and, you know, kids and on and on.
It's just a lot. And so often what I encourage them to think about is what's getting in the way for you as far as creating space to prepare to engage with your husband in this way and really evaluating what is it that's getting in the way? Is it that I'm carrying a lot and that I'm anxious and, you know, which makes sense, but then, you know, or is it hormones or is it a season of life? And, but then what do I do in really fighting for this connection with your spouse, with your husband and looking at what is it that's getting in the way? Is it prior abuse, you know, going in and seeking counseling, going in and talking to your doctor about hormone difficulties or whatever it is. And I would say the best thing you can do is talk to each other about it because often what we end up doing is assuming, you know, if he's not pursuing me, well, then he doesn't find me attractive or, you know, what's going on over in his yard. And so it's just looking at open up that dialogue in a way that feels good to both of you. And if that means going in and sitting with a third party, with a pastor, a mentor, a counselor, do that. You know, we were, Aaron and I were seeing a couple in a counseling session not too long ago. And I love Aaron, how you challenged this wife going in, by the way, you will enjoy this as well. Like this is for not just his benefit and for the relationship connection, but this is actually so you can enjoy this because she kind of her, her belief is growing up in her family, whatever, even in the Christian culture was this is just about me pleasing my husband, or this is the right thing that we should do for our marriage. And she was left out of that equation.
Yeah. And again, it's a touchy subject, but the Christian community, we need to talk about it. And if you don't know who to talk with, give us a call here to talk to one of our caring Christian counselors, get in touch for help. And also to learn more about the book written by Greg and Aaron Smalley called crazy little thing called marriage. Our number is 800 the letter A and the word family online.
You can find out more at focus on the family.com slash broadcast. I was really intrigued by a quote in the book, and it kind of goes back to what we talked about yesterday with Sun Tzu, the art of war, which again, I read in my business classes. I didn't apply it to my marriage.
It seemed a little dicey, but you did. And you said in the book, every great love story is set in the midst of war. That sounds odd. Who wants to explain it? Well, one is because we have an enemy who hates marriage. He loves that analogy. God created marriage in anything.
God created Satan hates. So war between good and evil, not a beat between husband and wife necessarily. It'll manifest that way.
And so, because what's interesting is that, you know, Aaron, I've been married 30 years in something that I just so now understand is that what Aaron and I can accomplish together is far greater than anything we could have done on our own. There's a synergy there. The unity, our oneness, honestly, that's a superpower. And it's a threat to Satan.
Right. Because he knows what we're capable of, our marriage is capable of, and he fears that. So he comes after us in all kinds of ways. And he does get us fighting. He wants us dis-unified.
He doesn't want us one and unified, operating together, pursuing something together. And so Aaron and I believe that our marriage exists in a battlefield. And there are times that that battlefield then we become adversaries. And all of a sudden, now we're fighting each other.
And yet if we can remember first and foremost, that that's exactly what Satan wants, that he wants to take our our unity away. One of my favorite examples in this is still one of my favorite marriage stories. We were in the process of purchasing a home. And it was so stressful for me. I was worried about the finances and the budgets. And in as my personnel were worried about those things, Aaron's a dreamer, and I love her vision. And she can start imagining, you know, well, if we had this kind of furniture, this thing, and as she would talk about these things, it was so stressing me out. And I could tell like I this one time, we were sitting in the living room and all of our kids were home and the girls and I were talking about I said, Oh, yeah, the buyers want, you know, that piece of furniture and this piece of furniture and this and I'm like, yeah, because then we can just replace it with new stuff and just dreaming and I was watching Greg know all of a sudden I go stop, like I yell out, stop it. And it was so awkward. Everybody just slowly turned around and looked at me and I and I said, Aaron, you have promised me that you will stick to the budget and I'm overhearing you and everything you laid out would like triple our budget. And so Aaron gets up so she's across the room gets up and purposefully comes right at me. It stands over me. And for the first time in our 30 years, I really thought that she was going to she was going to scream at me, or worse yet, you know, hit me.
I don't know what was going to happen. But I've just she had that look. And she gets right in my face. And then she grabs my face. And she holds me and gets right eye level. And she goes, Listen to me.
And I'm thinking, Oh, man, I that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I'm in so much trouble. She goes, I love you.
We are on the same team. And I will do nothing around spending money that isn't a win for both you and for me in this she plants the biggest kiss on me. And then like, it isn't like drops me no better. And it goes right back to the couch and starts talking with the girls again, as if nothing happened.
She had but but would you have the kiss? What so struck me, though, is that in that moment, I allowed Satan to rob our union, our oneness, I became Aaron's adversary, I saw her as my adversary. And in that moment, our unity was broken.
The fact that she came over there and did that restored that. Yeah. And what I will say is that 10 years ago, I probably could not have done that. But doing my own work, no, I'm meaning that I would have been triggered myself. But watching everything play out as like, you know, he's just worried that I'm not with him. And so I was able to kind of self soothe and keep my heart open. And then I was able to go over and just say, I remember looking deeply in his eyes and going, I'm not going to do anything that is going to harm our team because we're a team. Have you noticed a pattern every Friday night? He wants to talk about the budget now.
He's waiting for the kids. That's right. Let's talk about those together.
Yeah, you're spending way too much money. But the opportunity is, is just recognizing there's all kinds of things that we're going to face together as a couple. And we can do that individually, or we can do that together. And it kind of leads to this open, closed heart idea that you also have in the book, being aware, I would think of an open and a closed heart between you. And then how do you try to keep more of an open heart more consistently? Yes. And the key to that, what's so important is I used to think that Greg had to do something for me to get my heart back open.
And that is not the case at all. I personally that God has given me my heart and has told me to guard my heart. And it's my job to keep my heart open. There's times it's going to close when we have, you know, a negative interaction or he screams stop from across the room.
My heart, you know, may close, but I have full ability to manage my heart and to get it back open. Me and God, we've got that. Well, that's a big statement you're making.
I'm sure some women are going, I don't know if I agree with that. But I get it. But that's a far healthier place to be that it's not, well, either spouse, it's not the other one's responsibility to open or close your heart. I mean, probably we're closing each other's hearts more than we're opening them. But it's my responsibility to keep my heart open. And that means that I've got to show up and be aware of what's going on inside of me and continuing to grow in who I am as a person and in my faith and, you know, processing when my heart gets shut down.
Right. And really go to the greatest commandment. So this is sort of cheating, because how do you argue against Jesus saying this is the greatest commandment to love God, to love others as you love yourself? That means that as I love me means to keep my heart open. If I'm going to love God, if I'm going to love others, and Aaron is my closest other, that means that I've got to be doing the job of keeping my heart open and keeping my heart well cared for.
And that's really what what is meant within that that verse the as part of love God, love others as you love yourself. Yeah. And one thing that I want to clarify, too, is that sometimes that means setting a boundary.
Sure. And, you know, making making that line that you know what, the way you're treating me is not okay. Because often what we think is when we set that boundary, I'm doing it to keep Greg out. Really, when I set that boundary, and I say, Hey, that doesn't feel good to me. I'm setting that boundary to keep my heart open. And sometimes we don't recognize that is the purpose of that.
That's really good. And there's so much more in this great resource that you two have done. Let me ask you this, though, for the couple that they're hearing this going, wow, this is painting a picture of our relationship. Why is there such a probably a stigma would be a good way to describe it, to get help. I mean, so many couples suffer in silence, they don't get the help they need. Sometimes it's both of them that don't want to get the help or one and it puts the other one at a great disadvantage, because what do you do? And so speak to the stigma of not wanting help, but overcoming that. I mean, you're both counselors. So you're doing this every day. There's so much fear around going in, you know, what is this person going to say?
Are they going to blame me? And, you know, what am I going to become aware of some deep childhood show that actually I'm damaged and unlovable, those kinds of things. And what I love when a couple walks into my office, first and foremost, I will praise their courage for coming in because it does take courage to walk into a counselor's office.
And then I say, you know, of course, you're here with this stranger and now you're sharing some deep heart things that, you know, you usually don't share with a stranger. So it takes time to build that connection, that safety within the counseling relationship. But the point in all that is the risk is your marriage is going to get better. I mean, that's the thing. That's the hope, right? I guess it's not guaranteed, but that is a more typical outcome. And if nothing else, you're in a place that feels safe, that you can have some of those harder conversations with a third party who's able to help manage the level of safety in the room.
Well, that is so good. And here at Focus on the Family, we want to help create that safe place for your marriage. If we've shared anything today that has raised concerns for you or your spouse, please contact us. Don't be afraid.
Don't be shy or embarrassed. We have caring Christian counselors who are available to help you to listen to your story and point you to additional resources in your local area. Those consultations are absolutely free, so don't hesitate to get the help you need for your marriage today. Yeah, our number is 800, the letter A in the word family. And when you call, just ask to speak with one of our counselors, and we'll make sure to connect you up.
That's 800-232-6459, or you can learn more. We've got all the details in the program notes. And when you get in touch, ask about Greg and Erin's wonderful book, Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage, 12 Secrets for a Lifelong Romance.
We covered only a few of those secrets in the past two days, so get a copy of that book today. Make a donation of any amount to the ministry, and we'll say thanks by sending the book to you. And let me say, if you've never donated to FOCUS, or it's been a while since we've heard from you, can I invite you to prayerfully consider how you can again, or for the first time, support the ministry. We are listener supported, which means we're counting on your financial partnership to produce programs like this, buy the airtime, provide counseling and resources to families, and help spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
Let's do it together. Be part of it. Many people, I think, don't understand that less than 1% of listeners actually support the ministry, which means there's lots of room for growth in that area. Just think what we could do together with 2% of the listeners supporting the ministry.
I'm excited about that opportunity. In the past year alone, we estimate FOCUS helped more than 440,000 couples build stronger, healthier relationships with each other. And with your generous support, we could double or perhaps triple that number.
Let's see what God will do when we pool our resources to serve Him. So please give generously to FOCUS on the family today. And you can do so when you call 800, the letter A in the word family, or we've got the link in the program notes. Coming up tomorrow, encouragement for women who want to raise godly sons.
This is your time in history, Mom. This generation needs mothers who will selflessly embrace this blessed calling of motherhood and raise sons and daughters who are courageous and righteous. 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.
Feel that nip in the air? It's time to put on fuzzy socks, drink some hot cocoa, and decorate your home with a new season of FOCUS on the Family's Christmas Stories podcast. This year, we'll talk about the Nativity story in the Gospel of Luke. Join us as we chat about how Christ's birth inspires us, how we celebrate the season, and ways we find that childlike wonder again. Listen to the Christmas Stories podcast on your favorite podcast app.
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