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How to Experience Great Intimacy and Love in Your Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
January 4, 2024 3:41 am

How to Experience Great Intimacy and Love in Your Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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January 4, 2024 3:41 am

Dave and Ashley Willis help husbands and wives rediscover God's design for a marriage that enables them to be emotionally, spiritually and physically vulnerable and transparent with each other. They share their own love story and describe how “love is not enough” to sustain a lifelong marriage; couples need to commit to serving and sacrificing for each other. (Part 2 of 2)

 

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This program is sponsored by Focus on the Family, a listener-supported ministry helping families thrive in Christ. Your husband, Dave, are once again with us here at Focus on the Family.

Thank you for joining us. Your host is Focus President and author, Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, we had a great conversation last time. It's always good to talk to Dave and Ashley. They bring great energy and wonderful content to help in so many areas, marriage, parenting, kind of core to what we do. And we're going to continue this discussion based off their two companion books, Seven Days to a Naked Marriage, and everybody goes, what?

What did he just say? But it's talking about that intimacy. And last time they mentioned, you know, God himself said Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. And that is a good metaphor for where we need to get to in our intimacy, emotional intimacy, intellectual intimacy, physical intimacy as we move into our marriage.

And I'm telling you, more marriages would be thriving if we could be vulnerable like that. Yeah, we're glad to have Dave and Ashley back. They've written. They speak a lot. They do a lot of different things. They have a podcast, an online marriage community, StrongerMarriages.org. And you can learn all about them and these great books, Seven Days to a Naked Marriage, the husband's edition and the wife's edition. And do not get those confused.

They're even color coded, right? So be sure to look for all the details about the guests and the resources in the show notes. Dave and Ashley, welcome back. Hey, thank you for having us. We love, love hanging out with you guys.

It's day two. And if the content is so good, this is what I love. And I hope, I hope you, the listener and the viewers on YouTube, you're enjoying this because it's great content and it really does help if your heart's open. And if you're in a tough spot, we didn't say this last time, but you know, marriages, we go through different seasons. If you're in a more difficult place where it is hard, give us a call.

We have counselors and other resources that would be geared to you. But this is, you know, great tune up content where maybe you're just flat. You don't know why things aren't the way they used to be. These are wonderful habits that you need to develop in order to have a healthy and strong marriage. In fact, last time we began to talk about kind of the vows.

We didn't describe it that clearly, but the books really go through the marriage vows. And you guys do a wonderful job talking about to love and cherish. And we were able to touch on that last time for better or for worse as an example. Maybe we'll be able to get to that a little more today. But that concept is what we're going after. And we will loosely do it because I think we're all extroverts.

So I don't know if we can stay on track, but let's get it going. The next wedding vow on your list deals with finances for richer or for poorer. We tend not to talk about that much.

It does create a lot of pain. It usually in the folks that are responding to us with marital difficulty, it's up there number one or two. It's usually physical intimacy or financial struggles are causing fractures in the marriage. So speak to the vow for richer or for poorer. Yeah.

No, that's a big one. And it's one that Dave and I going into marriage, you know, we talked about premarital counseling. We did talk through this. And honestly, we got married so young that we weren't managing a lot of money or anything at the time. We were really just trying to make ends meet. So there was not money to really talk about. It was just like a joke setting up. We were so broke.

Yes. I mean, seriously, I was still in college. Like I had another semester and a half or I guess a year and a half to finish a college. And Dave, like he graduated college one week and we got married the next weekend and then he started working for our college. Like that was his first job.

And so we weren't you know, we didn't really have a lot of money to manage, but we we really got into the trap of credit card debt. Because it's easy. Oh my gosh, it's so easy. Makes up the gap. It does.

It does. And we just didn't really we didn't really at the beginning know how to communicate about that. But it kind of, you know, real fast, we were like, we got to get a hold of this. Yeah. And and really not see each other as the enemy. Like we again, we have to see that we're on the same team. We're going to work through this together. That's pretty mature.

Some people in year 10, 20 don't even have it. Well, you know, we got to get a hold of this. And we're together.

We're on one team. We we tried. I mean, I'm saying we knew we had to get a hold of it.

Getting there was a whole other thing. Right. It was a process. It was a long process. Yeah. Dave Ramsey has not used us as a case study in what to do right.

This is true. We did a lot wrong, but we just didn't have much money. And we were we were spending credit cards on credit cards and then rolling over balances and trying to manage all of that. And we realized quickly, like, all right, we've we've got to have a plan. We had not ever budgeted. We had not ever really talked about money. We were just like, well, if we need something, we'll buy it and we'll figure it out.

And that wasn't working. We were digging ourselves into a hole and it was creating so much stress, so much unnecessary just stress on our lives. And so we started a process of getting out. We it really comes down to communication, really. We're going to talk about purchases. If we're going to make any purchase that's outside of kind of the regular bills and groceries, we're going to call each other and just say, like, hey, is there money in the bank for this is now a good time to to get this thing and just keep each other in the loop.

When couples start hiding purchases from each other or, you know, hiding money at all, I think that that's such a toxic thing that will create a wedge in your marriage. But we just decided, listen, it's all God's anyway. Like he owns everything. We're temporary stewards of it, whether it's a little or a lot.

At that time, it was very little. And so let's manage this well and let's figure out how to make this work with what we have. It's really good that you're saying it in that context, because I'm sitting here thinking of naked and unashamed, you know, kind of the theme of the books. That's an area where where people hide. Oh, sure. Yeah. You know, there's there's issues there. There's insecurities, binge buying. There is a medicating effect, too, for a lot of not just women, but men, too, where, you know, you soothe some of those eggs by overspending. And, you know, you just got to get control of that. And I guess one of the key questions there is having little I mean, I'm sure the school was paying you three dollars and sixty cents an hour.

That's a windfall. But, you know, at what point can you discern between we actually if we spend wiser, we have enough. It may be just enough, but there is enough if we're wise about what we have. That's the problem.

How do you discipline yourself to do it? What did you guys do practically to say, OK, here's what you get. You don't get to go out for a coffee for five bucks. Yeah. Right.

Yeah. Now, we really we really just dialed in our spending because we had to, because we knew that just being disciplined in our spending is the path to freedom. And I think that that's what we don't understand so many times is we feel like it's this straightjacket on us when we can't spend whatever we want. We can't just, you know, load up on the credit cards. But when we realize, like, we're going to be a slave to the credit card, a slave to having all this debt.

If we don't get a grip on this and pay off this debt as fast as we can and also really get our spending, you know, just dialed in. And I think the more we saw that balance come down on our credit card, that felt good. I mean, that felt like a path to freedom. You were making it. Yes, you were making it. We were and we were paying more than the minimum payment because we're really drastically seeing it come down and then really seeing like like you said, we really had more than we really needed. Like we had a hot meal. We had a roof over our head and it was like the joy that we found in not being not fighting over money, not feeling like, you know, we a lot a lot of times we'd feel like failures.

You know, you'd feel like a failure, especially like I'm the man I was to be a provider and I can't I can't provide. And she was so tender and compassionate, caring, you know, with me to affirm me during those very, very lean years. But what we both realized is like the freedom and peace that comes with with not being in this crippling debt is so much better than anything we could buy to put us into debt. Yes. Like a paid off car is the best kind of car.

I still drive an old beat up car and I love it because a paid off car smells better than the new car smell if you got a car payment. So, yeah. So, yeah, we've we've still tried to live lean. And God provides, you know what I'm saying? And I think we also one thing that I was not accustomed to growing up was tithing. But this is something that even as lean as we were, Dave was like, we're going to tithe. And again, even though, you know, my family, you know, we went to church and everything, it just wasn't a practice. And so I had to learn about that.

And at first I was really like, oh, I don't know. And Dave was like, well, you we have to trust God in this. We have to trust God. And I'm telling you, he does provide. He provides. And it was it's easier to establish at the beginning to go back later, you know, because tithing 10 percent of nothing is nothing.

So like you start early and you build up. But he's God's been so, so faithful and we've and we've been so thankful for that. And again, we're we still, you know, we'll splurge on things, but we try to be lean. I mean, I've been shoving a habit. Yeah, I've been shoving the free snacks here at Focus in my pocket. Security is going to shake you down by the way. Don't risk me on the way out. I've got no more fig newtons for you. Let's move on to the next one in terms of the vows and sickness or in health.

How's the application work there? I mean, obviously people go through difficulty sometimes early in their marriage, but more typically it's later. Yes. And there are tragic stories and people call us where their spouse has left them because they hit a health wall. And man, that's that's so discouraging.

It is. I mean, that's the most extreme where a couple can't hold together through that. But describe what you're getting at with in sickness or in health. Well, I mean, it's it's a privilege. You have to see it as a privilege to serve your spouse in those times when they really they need you.

Not a burden, but a privilege. And actually, not even though we've not experienced some of the extreme situations of sickness that many have. And for those who have, you know, our hearts go out to you in those situations. We've experienced what for us has felt extreme at times. And I know that I'm sure over the years we'll experience more. I know Ashley's she went through a long mental health battle fairly early in our marriage.

We walked through in more recent years. I got diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, an autoimmune disease that was just bringing my energy down. My my hormones were off. My mental clarity was off. Like everything was off.

A lot of mood. I was moody, like I was just off and I hate going to the doctor. So for years I just didn't go to the doctor. I'm like, I'm fine.

I don't need a doctor. I'm going to go sit in that waiting room. And, you know, but actually finally encouraged me to go. And I went and got blood tests and realized that I had a lot that was off. And it put us on a journey of like getting the medications right, getting the getting everything that needed to happen to get back to just being normal.

But but it was a process. And through that process, I wasn't at my best. I was grumpy. I was moody.

I was just the worst version of myself. And actually, instead of responding to me being grumpy and not myself with her grumpiness, she instead she showed extra grace and extra kindness. And I'm just so thankful for that. The tenderness she showed through that whole season. And I'm I'm just publicly want to say thank you, my love. Like it was so amazing how you kind of walked with me through that to kind of get to a place now where I'm back myself and feeling great again.

And but it was a process. And there were several years where I just felt off. I didn't have energy.

I didn't have I don't know. I mean, I can't put words to it, but I was. Let me ask you, Ashley, because, again, these are forks in the road, I guess you could say, as a married couple. And again, it doesn't have to be the D word, but there's a fork in the road and you're going to say, come on.

One fork will say, come on, Dave. Snap out of it. Let's go. Right. Get to the doctor.

I've told you 14 times to go to the doctor. What's your problem? And the other fork is to do what you did. Right.

But unfortunately, as human beings, that's the more it's like the forks ones downhill are flesh and the other ones uphill are spirit to respond with that. So how do you do that? How does a spouse say, OK, I get it quietly in their own heart and then say, this is what he needs.

This is what she needs. And then you put it in that gear and you go. I know for me and I didn't always do this perfectly. I mean, Dave's been so sweet to sing my praises over here. I mean, I've had frustrating moments with Dave in this in this journey. And we'll get to those in a minute.

I mean, I have a lot of stories there to get the book for full details. But I would say to be very honest, and this may sound like such an obvious answer, but I mean, truly, prayer is what paves the way. Like prayer is what makes that path clear.

But keeping a tender heart is huge. And I know there were times where Dave would just I mean, he would just be in a mood. And Dave is general. You guys know Dave is generally a happy guy.

But he when his family, his brothers, OK, you know, brothers love to call it like it is. They call him BMD bad mood Dave because they're like bad mood. Dave is like really bad mood Dave. OK, he's just like everything rubs in the wrong way, you know, and it's not that he's yelling at anybody.

He's just his whole being. You can just sense like he's just not in a good way. Just getting a negative spiral that I couldn't pull out. And again, like my serotonin was off, my hormones were off. And I would recognize, like, I don't want to feel this way. I don't want to act this way. But I didn't know how to pull out of it.

Yeah. And your your tenderness really helps through that season. Well, what I would say is, sweetie, because sometimes I don't think he even realized how like negative it was. And even towards the kids. And I would go up to him and I would say, Dave, you probably don't realize what's coming off here. But I know that if you would not want to be the way that you are right now, like you would you would have regret. So, you know, just be aware. And he'd be like, oh, I kind of feel it. You know, I am.

I'm going to go take a moment over here. And like for Dave, sometimes going on a run would help. Or, you know, maybe we need to go like, you know, just different things that I know would help him. You know, we would try to make sure we bring out the best in each other in those hard moments. Yeah, it's good.

Yeah. Our guests today on Focus on the Family are Dave and Ashley Willis. And we're so glad that they're here.

They have covered so much in their books. Seven days to a naked marriage. I say books because there's a husband's edition and a wife's edition. And we have the bundle here for you. Give us a call.

800 the letter A in the word family. Or stop by the show notes for all the details. And as we've worked through the wedding vows, we're going to turn now to a problem that often ruins marriages. And parents, we're going to recommend that you direct little ones elsewhere or pop your earbuds in. As we're going to talk about some mature content now. And I appreciate that, John.

Thanks for the warning. But it's part of your story. And, you know, again, I appreciate the vulnerability.

It takes a lot of courage to do this. And but Dave, you struggled in that area of pornography. Some of the, you know, the recent data, as many as 50, I've seen 60 percent, but 55 percent seems to be a pretty solid number of men in the church. Oh, yeah.

OK. Everybody catching this? Men in the church, not the world. It's terrifying. Are hooked to some degree, looking at pornography at least once a month. Right. I mean, think about that.

Fifty five percent. Talk about zapping the spiritual intimacy. Oh, yeah.

And toxic and the blessing that God gives. I mean, you're living in this two worlds. And here's the thing, everybody. God sees you. You're not hiding. He understands it.

He he wants to heal your heart. But how did this hit you, Dave? Yeah, so so I got wrapped up in porn as a teenager and I hated myself for it. And this was long before there were smartphones and all the access that people have today.

I mean, you had to go go looking for it more back then. But I got exposed and then it planted those toxic images in my mind. And I didn't take the biblical path of breaking free or getting accountability or confessing or any of the things that you're supposed to do. I did what pride tells you to do and deal with it on your own. And then that secret struggle bled into the early years of our marriage.

And then Ashley saw where I'd been looking on the computer and I didn't even have the courage to confess. She had to find it, which wounded her in so many ways. And that brought it all out into the open.

And I'm so thankful it did come out because that's the only way healing can ever happen. And it was a long journey of working through that. And now in the work we're doing now, we spend a lot of time talking specifically about porn, not because it's a comfortable topic. It's a big one.

It's where people are. I mean, I've you know, I've shared my porn testimony with my mom in the front row, which is an awkward day. But, you know, you just you have to. Okay, that's like you talk to your mom.

She's a trooper. But so many, like you said, Jim, so many people are struggling with this. And so we just try to shed light on it. On our Naked Marriage podcast, we just interviewed a former adult film actor who then got saved and became a pastor named Joshua Broom.

Amazing man. And he talked about just the darkness of that industry, how it dehumanizes both the consumer, but also the people involved in it. And behind that shiny veneer, how toxic it is. And he said in the 10 years since he left the industry, he's had 30 friends in the industry die by either suicide or overdose.

30 friends. You don't hear about that. You don't hear about that.

No. And him sharing about just the exploitive nature of all of it and the people that are trapped kind of in that cycle, even though they're given a certain level of celebrity and money, how they're really such broken folks. And he was there. It's true.

And then you look at, man, again, as the metaphor, this whole life is a metaphor to God. Right. Right. Trying to point us there. Even the habits that we have, the addictions that we have, the Lord is wooing us out of sin. Yes.

Trying to say, come to me. And this is probably one of the most powerful ones. We can debate theologically why it is. But you go back to the garden and the whole concept of naked and unashamed. Right. I mean, this is attacking the very creation of God. And it is because it's so core to how he created us. Actually, let me ask you this, because obviously you're here and I don't mean to denigrate any woman's response.

There is so much pain in this because you can roll through it. It's not enough. The shame that they feel that my husband had to go use porn. That is ill placed, obviously. Right. But it's what they feel. Yeah. And I'm sure you felt it.

Speak through that whole collage of things that a woman goes through and that, you know, that anger that can come in there. The sense of betrayal. I mean, all the adjectives that come with this are dark.

Yes, they are. They're very dark. And when I found that, you know, at first I couldn't believe it. I think your first inclination is like, this couldn't be my husband.

You know, I mean, not Dave, not my Dave, because we tend to hold each other on a pedestal. And it was like in that moment I had known it's like the Holy Spirit reminded me. I had felt like there was a wall between us because, you know, as spouses, we know when something's off. We don't always know what the thing is, you know. And I mean, I had been kind of thinking over and over again, like, what is it? You know, what what could it be as you just stressed at work?

Like, what is it? And it was like in that moment, you know, God revealed it. And it was, you know, Dave always says it was like the best day and the worst day all at once. And it was terrible.

He hated to see like when I called him to confirm it, because that was the first. Like after I was angry, I was sad. I was disgusted. I was mad.

I was in disbelief. I mean, I had all these feelings. And yes, I felt like, oh, my gosh, I'm not enough. Like, he's not attracted to me. I'm not satisfying to my husband. Like, this is I'm a disappointment. Like, I had all those feelings. You know what I'm saying?

Yeah, I do. Let me ask you this on behalf of women listening, some that have encountered this with their spouse, others that may yet to have encountered it. Again, that stat 55%. It's almost like, yeah, it's over 50-50 chance you're going to encounter this as a spouse. Those feelings, though, Ashley, that's what I'm really interested in, because I'm sure you're a wonderful person and you have a deeply rooted faith in Christ. That's obvious because of how you responded. But as we talked a moment ago about that Y in the road, that fork in the road, and the degree of descent and ascent required, this one is big.

Oh, it's big. Because it's betrayal. And for you to respond with almost like a therapeutic spiritual approach. Okay, Dave, I know, let's work on this.

A lot of women are going, how did you do that? I'd be slapping him. I'd be doing more, you know, just lashing out at him. And maybe some of that happened.

But how do you get that righted in the right context and express unconditional love to him and a hope for the future? Right. I mean, it was, again, it was a process and I definitely had better days than some of those days where I would lash out. Oh, absolutely.

I mean, definitely up and down. It was a messy road, right, sweetie? I mean, it was very messy. But you were committed.

So committed. And I think what I kept coming back to on the days when I would have a pity party, which is fine. I mean, yeah, he broke my trust. Like, it's okay to like be in those feelings and work through those feelings. But when I would start propping myself up, because that's what pride does, is like, you would have never done this today. You've not done this today.

Like, how dare he? Like, you know, I feel like the enemy loves to get a foothold that way. Like, you've been a perfect spouse, which is just far from the truth. When I would even have that thought, it was like the Holy Spirit would reckon with me and be like, how many times did you need Jesus today? Which is like all the time, every day, you know. And I think, too, another thing I was reminded of is that, you know, this sin that Dave had been involved in with pornography, it was a sin that he was involved in, but it doesn't define him as a person.

You know what I'm saying? That we are all people who need Jesus every day. And though pornography hasn't been my sin, I have plenty of other things that God is working on in me. And so I had to remember that and even call it out to him, because there were a lot of days where he would be like, I'm a failure. Like, I don't know if I'll ever get through this. I've been involved with this since a teenager. Like, will I ever be free from this?

Especially like in relapses. And in those moments, as disappointed and frustrated as I was, I knew that, you know, we talk about the power of our words. I knew that I needed to remind him, like, yes, I am disappointed.

Yes, you hurt me. But this isn't who you are. This is not who you are. You know, God has better for you and there is freedom for you from this.

It's going to take everything that we have. Dave, let me ask you, I mean, yeah, I get it was hard, but hearing that from Ashley as your spouse, it had to be like, wow, naked and unashamed. She knows me. And you may still be ashamed, but you work toward that. Like, there's no greater vulnerability than your spouse knowing all of these secret closets. It's what the whole naked marriage is about. God wants us to get to that place where our spouse can see us warts and all. And she saw all the ugliness in me.

Yeah, it doesn't get much uglier. It was ugly and I felt ugly. I felt broken. And she helped me to see myself again through God's eyes and that she was so affirming that through her eyes that that she still loved me and affirmed me and respected me even even when I had done something so disrespectful. And her helping me through that in that tender, loving way.

It really was her and Jesus are the heroes of that story. And I'm so thankful. I'm so thankful to have come through that. And I'm so thankful that God's used that part of our testimony to hopefully bring help to other people. But I can just tell you on the other side, for anybody out there listening that is maybe caught up in porn and has believed the culture's lie, that it's not harmful, it's just entertainment or it spices things up, whatever lie you've believed.

Let me just tell you, instead of quoting countless Bible verses and showing you a bunch of stats and all these things that we've done other places to show you how toxic it is. Let me just tell you as someone who's been in it and been out of it that the freedom that comes, the connection and intimacy that comes when you're not being governed by porn in any way is something that is so amazing in our marriage. And our marriage is so much better now. Every aspect of our marriage is so much better now than it was when I was caught up in that sin. And so if you're caught up in it now, you're robbing yourself and your spouse of what God wants for you. Well, this is under that banner of the vows forsaking all others. And I didn't say that at the beginning, but we're not going to have time to get to until death do us part. But that's why you need the resource.

Buy the book and get far more information. I think you can see it's really helpful. And Dave and Ashley, this has been so good. I just love you guys. I love the way you approach life.

And obviously, even in your examples, the tenderness for each other, even in some really difficult moments. And it's such a testimony now to point the way for others. You know, that's how we live and learn in this life. We can look at others that have done it well coming from a pit of despair and say, OK, it is possible.

They did it. We can do it, too. And I hope you feel that. Thanks for being with us. Thanks for having us. We love you guys.

It's been great. And I'd love to get this in your hands. Just get in touch with us and we will, you know, let you have this. If you can join us in ministry, that would be great monthly or a one time gift of any amount. We'll send it as our way of saying thank you. If you can't afford it, we'll get it to you because we're a ministry. And we want you to do better in your marriage.

Just get in touch with us. And for the marriages that are really struggling, kind of where you guys were. Our Hope Restored program is almost specifically designed for that moment in your marriage where maybe you've even signed divorce papers. It's still possible to save your marriage. And we have an incredible 80 percent post two years. We go back to all the attendees and ask them how they're doing.

Over 80 percent of those attendees are still married and doing better. If that sounds like oxygen for you, get in touch with us. We have locations around the country that can get you into this four day program. And I'm telling you, it could change your lives.

Yeah. And we're only a phone call away. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. And we also have more information about Hope Restored in the show notes. And when you contact us, request resources like this pair of books that we've been talking about the past couple of days, Seven Days to a Naked Marriage.

Send a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today and we'll get those books right out to you. That's our way of saying thank you for supporting marriages. Coming up tomorrow, Pastor Phil Waldrop explains why it's much better to forgive than to seek vengeance. Can I tell you something this morning?

You can try all you want to get even and get revenge. And even if you succeed, you won't be happy because you'll still be in bondage. 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. 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 / 2024-01-04 05:10:23 / 2024-01-04 05:23:32 / 13

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