The strength of your marriage depends on the strength of its foundation. Howard and Danielle Taylor, seasoned marriage coaches, describe how to build your relationship on rock-solid principles from scripture. They share relatable communication mishaps, encouragement for managing expectations, and ideas for reigniting fun and friendship in your marriage.
there’s so many things that God allows us to go through that aren’t comfortable to us that are painful to us that we believe hurts us and we don’t want to discuss. But in those things God had a purpose. Mhm Right. Welcome to the focus on the family broadcast, helping families thrive, John I think marriage is fun most of the time. Occasionally it may not be fun when there’s a disagreement between you. But remember for gene and I the first nine months we took a job traveling the country doing drug and alcohol abuse shows for high schools. So we were together 24\/7 for the first nine months of our marriage and poor jean. I remember one time she wanted to, you know, get away. I think as an introvert just to refuel and go to the grocery store and I, I said, hey, I’ll go to the store with you. And she goes, no, no, no, no, no. You just stay, stay here at the hotel back. I was like, what’s wrong with our marriage? What happened anyway? You know, the bottom line is whether you’ve been married for decades or you’re just a few months into your relationship. We want to encourage you to build the best marriage you can and to build that on the rock of jesus christ because that’s the best place to build your house of marriage and our guests today are gonna help us to explore that and give you some wonderful tools to make your marriage as strong as it can be, Right and Howard and Danielle taylor, our marriage coaches, authors and speakers and they have a ministry called marriage on deck? They have a book called the fundamentals of marriage, Eight essential practices of successful couples. It’s a great workbook and we have copies of that here at the ministry and you can get yours by clicking the link on the screen or call 1 800 the letter A and the word family. Howard and Danielle, welcome to focus on the family. It’s great to have you were all originally the three of us originally from southern cal Yeah, so, and now you’ve moved near Atlanta. So that’s a new journey for you guys. But let’s go to the marriage coaching side. When you began marriage coaching, you realize many christian couples didn’t have good foundations for their marriage. I think that’s so true. You know what’s weird is we all go to, you went to cal state Fullerton, I went to another cal state, um you study books to do business or to go into the sciences. Probably the most important thing you’re gonna do is get married, not everybody. And I get that we’ll get married and I get that. But most of us will get married. It’s like there’s no manual, There’s no class for that per se. I’m I am encouraged that more and more churches do marriage counseling, premarital counseling, et cetera. But man, we need strong foundations, don’t we? And in that way, what, what are these couples missing when they don’t have that strong foundation. Yeah, they’re, you know, they’re missing what we call the bedrock of their relationship. The bedrock or foundation that they’re going to build their house on um their house of marriage. And so what we found is we coach couples. We would always ask after they listed out everything they didn’t like about their marriage or would bother them about their spouse. They would list these things out. We would receive them just to take note and get to know them and hear their heart. But then we like to throw, okay after all of that. Either, what do you like about them? Why did you marry them? And what do you believe God’s purpose for your marriages? And like statistics would suggest most of them say why I married her or him because I love him. So okay, that’s a great reason. We’ll unpack that. But why do you believe God has you married today? And it’s the blank stare. Let’s go to the bible. And what the bible says about marriage. What does it say as to the why of marriage? Yeah. Well you know the fun please, foundational. We believe that the bible starts out straightaway in genesis 1 28 beginning to give us instruction for marriage. Be fruitful multiply subdue and have Dominion. And so that gives us an idea after God created male and female of how he wanted us to to to coexist and so we begin to impact in our marriage. What does fruitfulness look like? Well, of course we believe that that looks like childbearing because God wants Godly Children says the maliki. But what does the multiplying of that fruit? What does subduing? What does that even mean to take control of something in our marriage? And then ultimately when he says to me and what does he mean by that? And so we begin to impact in the first chapter of the bible, what God gave us as instruction. We believe as a blueprint. So in that, in that respect, you you talk about in this great work book that you do the fundamentals of marriage that you’ve written, which has video components to it as well. But in there you’re talking about identifying your gifts and purpose as a couple. You know, I think jean and I have done that almost without being too deliberate about it. We could have been more deliberate, but I think we fell into the right groove, but I don’t think it was as intentional as it should have been. So help me understand, you know, purpose and gifts within your marriage. Well, you know, when we think about purpose, we think about, you know, what what is it that’s gonna be a adhesive to your marriage marriage has so many seasonality patterns that purpose for day and night, especially it added an adhesive glue a bond to that leaving and cleaving point that was more eternal was more lasting, right? But what we found is when we first got together, it was all our differences that provided conflicts. It was, it was not the things that complimented us. And so we began to get intentional about it. We began to say whether it was a diagram when our similarities, what are the things that we have in us that complimented us and I’ll tell you what we landed on? We and we believe purpose resides. We believe it resides in your testimony. There there are so many things that God allows us to go through that aren’t comfortable to us that are painful to us that we believe hurts us and we don’t want to discuss. But in those things God had purpose and the testing was meant for you to be able to take control of that subdue it, whether it’s in your home, whether it’s a wandering eye or pornography or whether it’s lust or whether it’s poverty that struck our home or whether it was bad parenting. These experiences that Danielle and I went through because we came from broken homes. These experiences were core to our purpose and thus overcoming them allowed us to have a bond in a glue. And so when we saw our friends and our family members begin to get divorced, we started to see this college of marriage around us, our heart was sensitive and it was prepared to take on our now life’s mission. And so we encourage couples to look at what you’ve experienced in your life, look at where God has experienced, you, jesus didn’t look at the the disciples and and and not relate to them being fisherman, he looked at their skill set and their experiences and said let me make you a fisherman of men and so we tell couples when we coach them, be practical about that process, what is your testimony, What have you went through? These are the things that will cause you and your husband wife to want to take control of that and be impactful and serve others in that area and that’s where we believe really being intentional about identifying purpose resides for your marriage and it helps you stay together when people have a purpose that they’re working towards their not so easily to break up or let’s separate or I don’t want to be with you anymore because you gained weight or you lost your job or you have this addiction, we have a common goal that’s like bringing us together and helping us Yeah, and bonding us, you know, I like that. Let me ask you about that idea of identifying your communication style because that’s another thing that you emphasize Howard will pick on you first, but what was your style, communication style going into marriage with all of you know, your youth, your experience as a child obviously and then how did Danielle confront you about that. Yeah, I was so I, you know, I always joked that I came from a great line of domestic debaters, it’s in the house out of everything is an argument or a point or getting something across or ultimately a debate. And you know what I found for that is I brought that same habitual communication style into marriage. You know, we could just be talking about groceries or we could be talking about something that should have been fun, but I found a great point or debate in it and it began to separate our communication. And so as I’m debating Daniel one day she began to say, yeah, I don’t really want to argue about that. Like, this is an argument. I’m like, no, I’m not arguing, I’m just making a point. And I was always trying to make a point and and they are very lovingly just said, no, there’s no point to be made. I was just saying to say it. So that helped me understand a blind spot in my communication style, which really was innocent. It wasn’t to argue with my wife, but it was developed, it was learned what I observed, I would identify with you and I brought it into marriage. I want to make sure I get this because the communication style you bring into marriage can reveal a lot about your upbringing and other things and to the point where you’re even unconscious about it, you don’t even know you’re doing. Yeah. And the more aware you can become of that motivation and your triggers, I think the healthier your relationship is going to be because you can go okay because I could relate to gene saying exactly what you said, howard she would say to me, you sound defensive right now. I don’t sound defensive right now. What are you talking about that? Yeah, forget that. She just needs a tape recorder right there. But but you know, speak to the, that idea of of, you know, the deeper heart issues that you’re expressing when you’re going at it like this, you know? Well first you know, the piggyback off of what dan says when you arrive to the sensitive heart conditions, someone has to tell your defensive or maybe you can your combative or whatever it is for us. What was very, we encourage couples and it’s very important to know that you always lead with sugar right? So if you’re gonna iron sharpens iron, sharpens iron, but if you’re gonna breach these conversations and set aside time to help grow and sharpen your spouse. The best way to establish rapport with the individual and that needs to be earned even with your spouse is to let them know that you see the things that they do great. So dan was great when we really helped cure my heart with communication of highlighting my strengths and then she added after sugar, a little salt and then if you’re a couple, even today finished with sugar, people would begin to look forward to your pruning. That’s really good. And I like that sugar salt, sugar, sugar, I’m gonna use that tonight will be a little sweeter, not salty, this is focused on the family with jim daily and our guests today are Howard and Danielle Taylor and they’ve got a great work book, it’s called The fundamentals of marriage eight Essential Practices of Successful Couples. And you can just click the link on your screen to get your copy or call 800 the letter A and the word family. You know, one thing I appreciated about the next section I want to talk about is your emphasis on friendship and marriage and I think jean is my best friend. I can say, hey man, you know, I like that and you know, I miss her when she’s on a trip, I miss her when I’m on a trip and that’s probably a good indication. But but speak to that idea of friendship, it’s what you, it’s what you have when you’re dating, it’s what’s compelling you toward marriage and then it kind of gets you through the early years of marriage and then for some couples, it evaporates, you know, because we get down to the business of marriage meaning paying the bills, raising the kids, getting things done. Did you call the plumber? And I forgot how could you forget to call the plumber and it’s like the business of marriage and you start not liking each other anymore and speak to that idea of how to keep a friendship in your marriage, in your relationship? I feel like Howard and I started off as friends as well. But over these years we’ve always maintained that our friendship is first. So even though we’re married, we are friends first. When things got, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs with our child passing away, we’ve had a failed business. We’ve had just certain, you know, things that trials that we’ve had to overcome and things that we’ve had to deal with each other and our character getting to know each other as we come together and we think to ourselves if we work together as friends, friends first, right? Because sometimes in marriage we put these labels on each other and then we have these unrealistic expectations of perfection because you’re my husband, you’re supposed to make me happy and be perfect for me or my wife. But when things get tough, it’s like at the end of the day, we’re always friends and when you’re friends with someone, you want the best from them for them sincerely right? You want to help them wherever they’re at, how do you, how do you correct that course though, practically speaking. I mean if so if you feel that going off the rails for some reason on a given day. How do you get together and say, okay, time out? I feel like we’re not being best friends right now? Yeah. What’s this for a day and I it was a safety net. A lot of things that we go through a marriage is not just a media and it may be a season where you’re trying to heal some distrust, right? Well friendship became the safety net to that. Um and it gave intention in a way that the spousal relationship if you were let down by your husband or wife didn’t. So even though here, I’m not particularly pleased that you did that as my husband or wife, but as my best friend, my best, I’m gonna fight for you. We have a chapter in our book where it’s called fighting for not against and a lot of times if you see your best friend in a fight or a scrapper, you don’t, you don’t not defend them because you thought it was your fault, You come in swinging and ask questions later to be candidly right. And what I found in our marriages, sometimes I had to protect Danielle even against me sometimes write these preconceived notions that I had of marriage and perfection. This romanticized notions as her husband, I realized became a little suffocating at times the conversations and took the fun out and so I had to start looking at her definitively as as my friend though I want you to win. So how would you know, sit down a little bit without wondering whether dinner or whether Danielle check this box or that kicked out to the side and say are you good? What do you need, what happened, what do we need to talk about? And it’s, it enlightens this unrealistic expectation sometimes and more than anything, friendship helps me live in a space and love a person who’s imperfect. Can I just say that practically we always like to have fun. We’re like, what do you want to do? Where do you want to go? Like what vacation? Let’s do a vision board, let’s have date nights, let’s try something new and fun so we can get out of the, you know? Um Yeah, you can get out of like the routine and the monotony of marriage and and have fun and let your hair down. You know, I I see it in you. I mean both of you, I think I especially see it. Let’s go to the white board. We’re gonna map out our year of fun, which is awesome. I’m thinking of couples of that. They’ve even, maybe they never even possess that, you know, because of their childhood or whatever, but they haven’t really seen life is let’s hit the, let’s hit the mountaintops, how do we do that? Let’s plan to hit the mountain tops and it’s okay for christians to christians can have fun and be joyful. I mean that’s part of it. But speak to that person that maybe can’t even relate right now. She’s saying wow, I lost my fun like the second week of our marriage. The first thing is to pray about that, that’s the very first thing is to pray secondly, go talk to your husband or your wife and explain to them what you love about them, what you like about them, how you notice their interests and their passions, do something that they will appreciate. Howard will surprise me with all kinds of things of things that I was interested at the time that he was not necessarily interested in at all in fact with basketball because Howard played, you could care less, but you decided I gotta check it out. So what I did not like basketball games, I hated going, I felt like I don’t understand the plays and the game, it just wasn’t my thing. Then I started saying, listen this is important to him, this is his fun, this is fun for him, I want to be with him, so if I can be with him and he’s having fun, I’m having fun just by being with him. Even if that means I’m coming to the basketball game with a stack of magazines, I’m not watching the game, it started it started with I will be there, but I’m gonna be looking through my magazines and just present, it doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive, just show that you want to be with that person, let them know that you’re genuinely interested in hanging out with them. So the magazine watching came to okay, well now I’m spotting the celebrities in the stand and who’s dating who then I started thinking, okay, I want to be able to communicate with him if I’m his best friend, I want to talk to him about what’s going on in the NBA world. You know, he talked to me about everything I’m doing. So let me find out. I would start Googling his favorite team is the Lakers Yeah. Things that are going on in the trades and the player and the deals and I can you believe that person got traded? Where’s he gonna go? You know? And he started telling me, I’m proud of you for knowing what’s going on. I would text him, Yeah, I would text me so I didn’t even hear that yet. And so that made me want to continue to stay on top of it so that I can show him, hey, I’m interested in what you’re interested in. You know, she began to take an interest, I so appreciate that. But she said, if you could tell me more about the players like who they’re married to do they have kids, Are you serious? I don’t know. And she’s going no, if we could, if we could do that, I’d be far more interested in the game, you know? So it was hilarious. I just, I started to figure out, okay, how many kids do you know? Somebody have Peyton manning what’s what’s going on when he was at the broncos and all that. So it’s really funny. But you’re saying basically connect in a place that your spouse enjoys being don’t don’t needle them for being there participate. Another another thing you have in the workbook is about the no breakup policy and I get that. And I think again, back to your point, Danielle earlier, so many christians don’t really understand to read the word often enough to know it. And that’s job one write read read the word because that’s the heart of God and that no breakup policy is a great thing describe what it is. So the no break up policy for us came in dating so day or night when we met, we were courting each other and just trying to figure out like what is this gonna look like very early on. We started to experience conflict in our communication style, as we mentioned earlier, and there’s a pressure to just say, well, you know what if you don’t like it, if I don’t like it, we’ll go separate ways and we will see that. And oftentimes in relationships prior to our relationship just you could just break up with a person to move on. But what we as we read the word, we realized that if we could just break up in our dating season of life, we could divorce And we believe that God hates divorce as it says in Malachi Chapter two. It he he hates it. And so we knew that we wanted to be with somebody for a lifetime if we got married. And so we didn’t want to start practicing the muscle memory of breaking up. We just, it was something that we did, we wanted to discipline ourselves through while we courted each other and dated each other so that when marriage got rough, we knew how to in the stormy season, put up our umbrellas, put on our raincoats and dig in opposed to exiting stage left. And so that’s what our policy was. That was gonna be our policy in the final piece was is if we broke up, we can never get back together again and you know, again for those that may be in that space where they’re thinking, you know, it’s a lot easier to give up. Yeah, you’re gonna take the same garbage into the next relationship. That’s what they don’t realize. It’ll just be easier because the first quarter is so much easier than the fourth quarter. And what you’re yeah, what you’re saying is exactly right, this is part of growth in life is working together to get through the tough stuff and you come out stronger and jean and I kind of had that same thing, you know, divorce was just off the table. We’re never gonna entertain it and you know, and I think that does give you a a safety net, like you said earlier speak to that idea that you also need that spiritual foundation to get through the storms of life in my family and my parents, we have five marriages amongst my mom and my father before he passed away. And so I saw divorcing and breaking up doesn’t necessarily mean that the grass is greener, like we said that the divorce rate gets higher and higher, but what I didn’t see was the foundation in christ to help keep those marriages together, that was missing. Yes, yes. Which my mom is saved now, thank you, jesus, but at the time wasn’t right? So Howard and I um when we got together, we would pray every day and we would read our bible because we knew that that is the foundation of our faith. We knew that’s the foundation of our lives. This is the only way this relationship is really going to work as marriage coaches. We could give people tips and you know, activities and exercises and things to do to help their relationship. But none of that is going to work if you don’t really truly invite God into the marriage, right? There’s a scripture in Isaiah 65 that says the Lord says, here I am here I am. But you don’t ask for my help, right? So that’s kind of how it is. I feel like sometimes with marriage it’s like God knows everything, he knows all of the problems in our relationship, He knows the hearts and motives of ourselves and our spouse. And so he has all the answers. But we don’t go to him to get the answer. Well, you know, you say that and of course we’re hearing from christian couples frequently here at focus that are in a stalemate situation. You know, and I think again, because they’re not applying the word of God into their relationship, let’s end here where that couple, you know, that they may have a relationship with christ but they really have found that they don’t like their spouse anymore. And you know, we have something called hope restored. It’s a four day intensive, a lot of the couples that come to that they’re kind of in that last knot of the rope. This is the last thing we’re going to try and it’s sad because you started loving each other and you know, again, the secret there is they’re gonna tell you and teach you how to re communicate and to communicate better and more effectively and to love one another. Again, that’s really what is gonna happen Danielle, I want to describe something to you that I’ve heard, you know, years ago, but the idea of a wife’s heart particularly being like a rose and in the early stages of marriage, it’s open, it’s blossomed, it’s a great fragrance her heart. And then over time if that is not watered if it’s not fed how that Rose closes and how it dies. And when I heard that description of particularly of a wife’s heart that she just feels like the rose and her heart is dead. And it’s such a powerful work picture and her husband’s job is to till the soil of that rose and to make sure that roses like thriving. So I think if your heart is hurting, you know God says he’s close to the brokenhearted but I would go turn into God, I would turn into him. I don’t pray, I don’t pray like Lord, you know make howard be faithful, make him be this, make him that he’s a faithful man. But my trust and confidence is in christ to watch him. This is his son. So I’m gonna pray and ask God to watch over him and convict his heart if necessary for anything and keep them safe and all of those things. I’m not gonna be concerned about it. It’s God’s job to do that. So I think that if we um as women and as wives, if we fall into the love of christ because God loves us so much. He will mend our broken heart and allow us to see our marriage for what it can be so that we can speak positively. I think these are great thoughts and wonderful essentials to marriage And I am glad you guys have come to talk to us about it and I hope I hope everybody uh you probably if you’ve been married 30 something years like John and I the skyscrapers by the way boy, younger couples in your church. What a great gift to be able to give this to them or even run a small group with them, which I would encourage people to do. Maybe Gene and I can do that. The fundamentals of marriage. Eight essential practices of successful couples. You’ve heard some of the themes, we didn’t cover them all here. But if you can make a gift of any amount, join us in ministry, let’s make it fun. Support the ministry here to do what we’re doing. And we’ll send you a copy of the workbook as our way of saying thank you for participating in ministry and of any amount. If you can’t afford it, we still want to get it in your hands. Well trust others will cover the cost of that. Just get in touch with us and we want to certainly strengthen your marriage and make it the best possible marriage. It can be in the name of christ. So get a hold of us and let’s do this together. Let’s change the country. This is one way to do it. Strong, healthy marriages will change the nation. Amen. Amen. Call us today. Our numbers 800 the letter a and the word family 802-326-459 Or click the link on your screen to donate and to get a copy of this book when you’re online. Be sure to take a few minutes and we’ve got a free marriage assessment there that maybe five minutes of your time will help you see where you’re doing well, maybe an area or two of growth and look for that free marriage assessment when you’re at the website and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here. 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