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Fighting for a Stronger Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Original Air Date 11/16/2012

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Dr. Greg and Mrs. Erin Smalley offer couples practical advice in a discussion based on Greg's book Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage: How Healthy Conflict Can Take You to Deeper Levels of Intimacy. (Part 2 of 2)

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

Promotion: Marriage Helpline

Announcer: Marriages is in trouble don't always look like they're in trouble. In fact, Christian couples often struggle in silence. Why? Because people are afraid to talk about their problems because they're ashamed of how they feel inside. If that describes you, call the Focus on the Family help center. We'll listen to you, pray with you and help you find counseling if you want it. Just call us, weekdays at 1-800-A-FAMILY, the Focus on the Family help center, just a phone call away at 1-800-A-FAMILY.

End of Promotion

Recap:

Dr. Greg Smalley: I think one of the greatest things you can do is to call a time out, to hit the pause button, instead of continuing to try to talk and argue and debate or just stuff it and you know, whatever, is to just say, you know what? Right now this is not goin' well."

End of Recap

John Fuller: In the midst of an argument with your spouse, it is so hard to stop, but on today's "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly, we're gonna help you learn how to fight well in your marriage, how to hit that pause button and take a break to regroup. I'm John Fuller and Jim, it's pretty easy for all of us, I think, myself included, to try to win the discussion. You know (Laughter), I try to make my point, "But Dena dear, don't you see I'm right?" That doesn't usually work so well.

Jim Daly: What's your problem, John? You know, Jean and I, we have our moments. She says from time to time I do listen well, but I don't think I'd get an A. I love thought, what Greg was saying there in the opening. We often keep talking and arguing to try and find a new point or a new way to throw that zinger, so we can win the debate with our spouse. And you know, so often when you win it, you actually lose it. And you know what? That isn't very Christ-like, is it? That's not a healthy approach.

For those that are encountering that kind of conflict, we're gonna help you learn to make that work for you, so you can actually use your conflicts to deepen your marriage, I think build trust and enhance your understanding of your spouse. And you know what? Some people do write us here at Focus on the Family and they say, "You know, as Christians we shouldn't be arguing in our marriages." And I understand that. But it's also true you're probably in about a five or 10 percent category if you never argue and there's growth that can be had in those disagreements. You actually learn to be more selfless and that is a good thing.

John: And I think, Jim, for the 90 or 95-percent of us who do experience some conflict in marriage, Dr. Greg Smalley and Erin Smalley have some great insights. We heard from Greg at the top of the program there and they've written a book, Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage and if you missed the first half of the discussion, do get the CD or download or you can listen on the mobile app at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio .

And let's get back to the conversation and this was recorded a few years ago with Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife, Erin on today's "Focus on the Family."

Body:

Jim: Last time we left off, we talked a little bit about the reactive cycle and what that is. We talked about hot buttons and emotional buttons. Quickly give us a little recap about how that works.

Erin Smalley: You know, Jim, we come into our relationship, into our marriage with these buttons and they're sensitive areas. And when they get tapped or pushed by an emotional experience, we don't like it, so we react. And our reactions unfortunately, aren't real pretty. So, when our buttons get pushed, we react, the knee-jerk. It taps into our spouse's buttons. They react and it taps right back into our button and it goes round and round and round. Therefore, it develops this reactive cycle.

Jim: And last time we talked also about flight and fight and two basic responses to conflict. Greg, help us recap that. What is the difference between flight and fight?

Greg: Yeah. See, some people like for me, when my buttons get pushed in my marriage, you know, I want to engage Erin, pursue her, explain, defend myself. I'm tryin' to convince her of something. That's what we call the "fighter." So, maybe some people get real critical. Maybe they get angry. You know, they do these things to where they're almost going toe to toe, versus the person that a "flighter," is the person that, they don't want to have conflict. They're gonna avoid it. They're gonna stuff their feelings. They're gonna withdraw. They're gonna disconnect. They're going to try to minimize and marginalize what's going on. And so, for us, why conflict was so hard though is that we're both fighters.

John: Hm.

Greg: So, here you have these two people who are, you know, pursuing each other, engaging each other to get the other person to really understand, it just doesn't work.

John: So, are there some common ways that I can understand whether I'm a fighter or flighter? Maybe I'm sitting here and I don't know.

Greg: You know, in the book, Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage, we have a whole assessment that you can take, just to help you to understand. And it's not that you're one or the other. It's usually, we start with something. So, usually I start defending myself more as a fighter. And then if that doesn't work, then I get away and I move away. So, I become a flighter.

But what the value [is] though is to be able to pinpoint exactly what you do. It's all different for all of us. I mean, there's an endless number of ways that we can fight or we can flight. But there's so much value in just understanding, what is it that I do? Because again, the first step to anything is just this awareness, going, "Aah! That's what I do."

Jim: But let's get practical. Let's say the wife is the fighter and the husband's the flighter. And the husband says, like I said last time, "I'm gonna go clean the garage. I just gotta get out of the house," whatever a husband might do that's a flighter. What should both of them do from their perspectives? What should the wife as the fighter, say at that moment? And perhaps what should the husband say at that moment?

Greg: We'll give you great examples. Speaking of being in the garage (Laughter), just recently--

Erin: Yeah.

Greg: --we got into--

John: For those at home--

Greg: --the cycle.

John: --Erin is shaking her head. "I can't believe he's gonna share this." (Laughter)

Erin: It was about a year ago actually when we were packing to move to Colorado Springs to come to Focus on the Family.

Greg: So, it's really your fault, Jim.

Jim: Yeah, okay, good. Blame it on me. (Laughter)

Erin: Yeah. And I'm a piler. I'm sure many of you are also pilers. You have piles. You know exactly what's in that pile. They're (Laughter) succinctly organized in a mess. And I had my piles. We had packed so much already, but I had my piles waiting for me to go through and to pack 'em up. So, I came home one day and my dear, sweet, wonderful--

Greg: Precious, good-looking--

Erin: --precious--

Greg: --hot [husband].

Erin: --hot husband (Laughter) had taken all of my piles. He thought he was being helpful, conglomerated them into one large pile and promptly set them out in the garage on this table.

Greg: I remember it--

Jim: Chaos.

Greg: --just a little differently. Okay (Laughing), we're tryin' to pack everything up. She's stressed out. I'm finding pile after pile after pile.

Erin: Okay, so maybe there was more than one. (Laughter)

Greg: And it's okay. I don't care, but seriously I wanted to help her and so I thought, hey, I'm just gonna take all these and put them on a big table out in the garage, so they're all together, so that she can just go through it all and figure out where [it'll be convenient].

Jim: So, altogether is key in this--

Greg: Exactly.

Jim: --example.

Erin: That is very key. I told him it was like if I got in his computer and took files and just kind of joined them, you know, randomly--

Jim: Mixed them.

Erin: --mixed them up and so, you know, and hit "Save."

Greg: Yes, I see that--

Jim: So this--

Greg: --now.

Jim: --is your moment. You've got the conflict. Buttons are pushed.

Greg: So, she comes home and I'm out there and I go, "Look, I helped. I got all your stuff together. Now you can just pack it all from right here, thinking she was literally going to grab my face and plant the biggest kiss and hug me and say, "You are the most helpful husband in the world."

Jim: And that--

Erin: And--

Jim: --didn't happen.

Erin: --sadly I--

Greg: Really.

Erin: --walked out and the first thing I saw was a nice high-heeled shoe.

John: Oh, no.

Erin: So, I actually had visions of planting something very different than a kiss on his face.

Greg: She got all red in the face and just went, "How could you?!" I'm thinkin', what did I do? Just moved everything together. It's in those moments that, okay--

Jim: Yeah, but--

Greg: --what do you do?

Jim: --but because okay, what happened there?

Greg: Now her buttons are pushed.

Erin: Yeah.

Greg: Now my buttons are pushed. What do you do?

Erin: Yeah, the great news is, we know what to do now, where back, you know, yesterday we talked about the bedroom being rearranged. We didn't know what to do. Now we do.

Greg: So, you go to Matthew 7. That's where you have to start and that says basically, you hypocrite, why do you look at the dust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye. First,so, that's where we want to start, first get the log out of your own eye. What we've learned more than anything, the worst advice you can give to someone who's in a conflict, in a disagreement, whatever is to encourage them to talk this through.

Jim: That seems counterintuitive.

Greg: In that moment.

Jim: In that moment.

Greg: The goal in the end is to absolutely have to talk about this.

Jim; But is that tomorrow? Or next week?

Greg: The question is, you really can only have that kind of discussion, a good conversation when your heart's open. So, what we've learned to do, I think one of the greatest things that you can do is to call a time out, to hit the pause button, instead of continuing to try to talk, and argue and debate or just stuff it and you know, whatever, is to just say, you know what? Right now this is not goin' well. I know there's something here that I need to understand. I can't do it this way. I can't listen to you. And so, I need to be responsible. That's what that verse is all about is personal responsibility. It's about saying, deal with you first, not her. Do that second. But I need to get away. So, that's been the best thing in our marriage, is for me just to take a quick little time out by telling her, I just need to go away--

Jim: Okay, but what happens?

Greg: --but I'll be back.

Jim: What happens in that moment? You go away. What questions are you asking yourself?

Greg: Yeah. You are literally trying to figure out, okay, what has got me so stirred up? Why am I this upset? The first step is just to get away so you can begin to ask the key questions.

Erin: Uh-hm. And then when you're in your time out, when you are away, you start searching for, I wonder what button got pushed, to simply name your emotion. There's actual research out there that shows just simply saying, "I am feeling invalidated," will actually take the brain activity from the amygdala, which is the hyperactivity, emotional center to a much more rational part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex. And it actually causes you to physiologically calm down.

Greg: So, in the garage, instead of trying to power through this, we just both kinda said, "Let's [separate]." I don't even know if anybody said anything, but the point was, we just need to get away from each other, especially--

Erin: I knew--

Greg: --'cause she's holding--

Erin: --when I wanted to pick--

Greg: --a high-heeled shoe.

Erin: --that shoe up, yes and throw it.

John: I can picture you walking out of the garage--

Erin: Yes.

John: --with that shoe and--

Erin: I think I may have taken it with me--

John: --and Greg--

Erin: --and thinking of Greg.

John: --I can picture you looking at this table thinking, "What in the world just happened?"

Erin: Yeah.

Greg: Exactly. And so, what I needed to do, I literally just went, okay, I know that I'm really mad at her now. And I was [thinking], why? And here's what it was for me. I felt totally misunderstood. That was the button that got triggered. And so, just putting a name for me, so that you know what right now? I feel totally misportrayed. I'm tellin' you, try it. It just sort of calms you down.

Erin: And what I in my time out when I was examining, I realized I just felt totally out of control. My world was out of control. We were selling my home. We were moving our kids across the country. And then my piles, they were completely in a disarray. My very complex organizational--

Greg: Organized disorganization.

Erin: --system was gone. And it's like everything just felt completely out of control.

Greg: See, I mean, I wasn't aware of any of this before. I didn't know that's how she was feeling. I didn't know that I had this misportrayed button. I mean, do you see what I'm sayin'? It just--

Jim: Oh, I do.

Greg: --the stuff just gets triggered.

Jim: Okay, so that's good. You've gone through the time out phase, the push the hot button phase, the time-out phase. You've now come back together. How are you communicating this to each other in a way that doesn't simply reinflame--

Erin: Uh-hm.

Jim: --those irritations?

Erin: Yeah, first and foremost, when you do come back together, it's to be aware, is your heart back open? And then check in with your spouse. Is your heart open? Are you at a place that we can have a civilized open-hearted conversation about this. Your first key is if you want to defend yourself and continue defending yourself, [then] your heart's still closed.

Jim: Hm.

Greg: So, let's say that you both come back together. Now you're open, you know, at least somewhat. Then now, here's where you have an opportunity to put Teddy Roosevelt's advice into practice.

Jim: (Chuckling) Okay.

Erin: Wow.

Jim: This is interesting.

Greg: My very favorite, who knew that Teddy Roosevelt's advice would literally change the way that I talk with her in these moments. And Jim, I've heard you talk about this before, so I know you know this. People don't care what you know until they know that you care.

Jim: Hm.

Greg: So, in that moment that my buttons are all pushed and I want her to care about what I know. I simply literally thought in that moment that, if I could just get her to put the shoe down and just listen to me for just three seconds, I could just say, "Honey, I'm helping you. I love you. I was just doin' this to help. If this is not helpful, I'm sorry." That's what I wanted her to care, to know about me.

Jim: Yeah.

Greg: But in those moments, she's shut down; I'm shut down. She doesn't care until she knows that I really care about her. So, once you get open, remember that first get the log out of your own eye. Then you can see clearly. So, once our hearts are open, now we can see clearly. Now we have an opportunity to care. That's why his advice, that people don't care what you know until they know that you care, that's all now I'm doing. I'm not tryin' to solve anything or fix anything. That's step No. 3.

Jim: Hm.

Greg: But remember, you can't understand any of this stuff if you're still shut down.

Jim: Now here's the tough aspect of this. Let's assume a couple, they've been in this reactive cycle for years, not just six months or a year, before they figured it out. But they've been at it for years.

Greg: [They have worn grooves], yeah--

Erin: Uh-hm, well-worn.

Greg: --in their relationship.

Jim: I've often used that illustration that someone shared with. It's like that rose bud, you know, over time, without water, it just withers. And I'm particularly [thinking that] wives I think feel that way--

Erin: Uh-hm.

Jim: --because they try so hard and husbands can be so brutal verbally and that rose in their heart just withers day by day.

Erin: Uh-hm.

Jim: And they haven't been able to find the tools to do the things that you're talking about. Maybe it's 15 years into their marriage, 20 years into the marriage and they're about to give up.

Erin: Uh-hm.

Jim: What can they do right now? What can she do to wake up to this reality and to go tonight and say, "Honey, we've got work to do."

Erin: Uh-hm. And actually, Jim, you're describing the exact couples that we worked with when we did Marriage Intensives. Typically they were on the brink of divorce and it was often the woman coming and saying, "I'm done." And the husband is saying, "I had no clue. Where did that come from?" But it's year after year after year of not saying something and then stuffing it, stuffing it, stuffing it. And then pretty soon, their heart is not only closed, it's hardened.

Greg: If this cycle's allowed just to go unchecked and allowed to go on for 20, 30 years, eventually people, their hearts are gonna harden. It's not the kiss of death. It doesn't mean their marriage is over. It just means it's really, really serious.

And so, what I love is that for that wife, she has to figure out what can she control and what she can't. She can't change her husband. She's not gonna make him change overnight, I mean, none of that. But what she can focus on is, how do I get my heart back open in this relationship? That should be her one and only focus. See now we can start tweaking the way we manage conflict. You know, they could learn to do these things. But I really think for her, it's you know, what needs to happen so that I begin to open my heart. And that's something that she can do between her and God.

Jim: Hm.

Erin: Uh-hm.

Greg: There's so many good things, you know, in Joel 2, there's a section of Scripture that talks about "Rend your heart open." See God wants our hearts open and He is committed to that. He came to heal what? The--

John: Hm.

Greg: --brokenhearted.

John: Brokenhearted, yeah.

Greg: And so, He will meet us there. So, my prayer then became, when Erin and I were goin' through all this conflict and we were so shut down and hearts really did begin to harden, my prayer became, "God, heal my heart."

Jim: Hm.

Greg: Help me to begin to see this amazing woman that you've created that now I look through a negative lens at and now I see the things that frustrate me. And so, that's the good news, that I can go to Him and say, "Lord, begin to help open my heart.

Program Note:

John: You're listening to "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and we're talking to Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife, Erin, about how to Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage. And that's the title of their book. You can get that or a CD of this program when you call 800-232-6459 or you'll find those and other helps at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Jim: And you know, John, I love that we're making a copy of this book, Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage available as our way of saying thank you for your gift of any amount to go toward the work here at Focus on the Family. You know, Erin mentioned Marriage intensives that she and Greg used to be a part of in Branson, Missouri, where you can have an open dialogue about your relationship challenges. And since we first aired this program a few years ago, Focus has acquired the Marriage Institute she was talking about and it's amazing to hear the stories of those who have participated in this safe, confidential, intensive environment to find hope and healing and new communication skills to help their marriages. It's our goal to comfort others with the comfort we've received, which is right out of 2 Corinthians and that's what we're striving to do through Focus on the Family's Marriage Institute. You can learn more about and if you're in that place where you need help and support our marriage and other outreaches when you contact us here at the ministry.

John: Yeah, I gave the number. Let me do that again. It's 800-A-FAMILY and let's go ahead and continue with the second half of this recorded conversation with Greg and Erin Smalley about how to use marital conflict really to improve your relationship in healthier ways, as "Focus on the Family" continues.

Jim: Let me ask you this. We talked last time and the first half of today about the cycle, about the hot buttons, all those things.

Now we've talked about tools to know how to better handle these fights. But we also medicate in different ways. We look for ways to soothe this pain. It might be pornography. It might be other addictions, eating, chocolate. I'm probably hittin' many of 'em. But those things are really symptomatic of the emotions in our heart, aren't they?

Erin: Uh-hm, absolutely and we get busy. Our society just gets busy and more busy and then we just avoid what's really going on in your heart and your spouse's heart. And we just, you know, stay on that treadmill and then we can just avoid it. Well, long story short, we end up starting to work these conflicts out on our own, which again, causes us to be separate instead of unified.

Jim: Well, and then when you look at young married couples particularly today who, you know, this sounds simplistic, but the men particularly and I've got family members that I think fit this description, where they get into videogames and you know what? In their 20s and 30s, they're still avoiding entering into resolving that conflict by burying themselves in some form of entertainment, videogames--

Greg: Distractions--

Jim: --movies.

Greg: --numbing out, whatever.

Jim: And our culture, that's really the deepest insidiousness of what's happening today. Those distractions, those emotional distractions for us keep us from doing the work that God would want us to do to become more like Him, isn't it?

Erin: Uh-hm.

Greg: We're not taught how to deal with our own emotions when we get into conflict. See, that's the part. See, we lack those skills. I keep depending on my wife to change so that I feel better. You know, if we don't learn what to do when our buttons get pushed, well, we just stay stuck.

Jim: Hm.

Greg: We stay at that place you're talkin' about.

Erin: And I think so often we're afraid of the emotions, 'cause we don't know what they are. And really all emotions are, it's the voice of our heart. They're not right; they're not wrong. They're not often rational. They can be irrational. They're not positive. They're not negative. It's just the voice of our heart. God gave us a voice to our heart.

Jim: We talked about the young couple in dealing with that. But a phenomenon that's occurring right now is, we're so kid centric in our families and that's good. We're not so much marriage centric, so we pour into our kids' lives for 18, 19 years. And what's happening right now, in fact, The Wall Street Journal had an article, the graying of divorce, that empty nesters are experiencing divorce at a much higher rate than any other segment, because they look at each other. They've not done this work. They've grown apart.

Greg: Who are you?

Jim: It's all been about the kids and they're saying, "I don't want to live with you anymore."

Erin: Uh-hm.

Jim: Talk about that moment.

Erin: Because you know, honestly, in this marriage relationship, there is no autopilot. We can't put it on autopilot and say, you know, 18 years later when our kids go off to college, you know, it's gonna be great. We're gonna have a lot of fun. Bottom line, you have to continue to pour into this relationship and pay attention to it and be intentional about it.

You know, here at Focus, we're doing the Date Night Challenge. And you know, what a great thing to implement in your marriage. One time a month, make a commitment that I'm gonna get a babysitter and set the kids aside momentarily so I can go and spend this time with my husband and build that relationship.

Greg: Let's take all the marriage advice. Let's boil it down to two broad categories really.

Jim: Uh-hm.

Greg: Do you want to have a great marriage? No. 1, you have to learn how to manage your conflict. That's what we're talkin' about. The other part though is, that you have to then be willing on a proactive basis to invest in your marriage every day. I have to be thinking, what have I done for my marriage today? I don't want to wake up 20 years later and look at my wife and go, "Uh!" 'Cause see, that's a hardened heart. That's apathy. That's, I don't feel love anymore.

Jim: Right.

Greg: And it's those two things. If all we learned how to do is to manage when we run into trouble--conflict, disagreements, when we get hurt--we learned really how to do that well and then we made a decision every day to invest proactively in our marriage (Chuckling), I'm tellin' you, you're gonna have a strong marriage. And so, the Date Night Challenge is just a way for couples. It's a very simple way. I mean, it's taking something a lot of us do anyway and what we're doin' is, we're teaching people how to do that just a little bit differently.

John: Hm.

Greg: And that's really what we're committed to doing at Focus, to fight your way to a better marriage is simply to teach them how to deal and manage with conflict. We can't wait to write something on how do you really proactively then keep your marriage alive and strong and vibrant--

Jim: Well--

Greg: --and thriving.

Jim: --and it's so good. You know, as we close today, you talk in the book about LUVE with respect to healthy conflict. Now it's not L-O-V-E, it's L-U-V-E.

Greg: I wasn't a good strong student (Laughter), so I misspelled a lot--

Jim: Yeah, right. (Laughter)

Greg: --of things.

Erin: Spellcheck didn't help. (Laughter)

Jim: But tell us what the acronym LUVE, L-U-V-E stands for.

Erin: It stands for listen, understand, validate and empathize. And those four skills can truly make a difference when you come back after the reactive cycle has carried on. You've gone off on your own, gotten your heart back open, named what you're feeling, you come back and that's how you reengage with each other.

Greg: Remember when we said that conflict really it's healthy conflict is the doorway to intimacy?

Jim: Hm.

Greg: See, this is it. Conflict can take you to the deepest levels of intimacy when you get your heart open. You come back together and you start to listen, begin to understand, you validate. The deepest level, see if when we empathize.

Jim: And I would think in there is trust, as well, because when you can be that vulnerable with your spouse, that's a deep level of trust.

Greg: Oh, this builds trust, so there's something powerful. The greatest gift I can give her as we talk is the gift of empathy. It's when I'm willing to allow her words, her feelings to touch me.

Jim: Uh-hm.

Greg: And that's what Jesus did. Remember Jesus wept. You know, remember what He was weepin' about? His friend, Lazarus died. Why didn't He say to the family when He got there, "Hey, I'm gonna perform the greatest miracle ever, so quit cryin'."

Jim: He was moved by their sorrow.

Greg: See, He didn't solve it first, 'cause remember people don't care what you know until they know that you care. So, He wept with that. He hurt with that family. He empathized first--

Jim: Hm.

Greg: --before He then solved it. And that's the beauty. So, when you get into the reactive cycle, your buttons have been pushed, again take a break. Figure out how to get your heart back open, which then sets you up to come back together to talk. And then if you need to solve something, yeah, you can do that. But you see that this sequence, that's what's different. That's what changed for us. Instead of tryin' to somehow stumble and stammer our way through this talking once we were in conflict, we now know, we've gotta get away--

Jim: Hm.

Greg: --get hearts back open, come together, care for each other. Then that sets us up to solve whatever if it needs a solution.

Closing:

John: Greg and Erin Smalley have learned how to work through disagreements in their marriage and they've been passing that wisdom along to you during the past couple of days here on "Focus on the Family."

Jim: You know, I so appreciate how Greg and Erin remind us to get our heart in the right place first and that's so important and it's so difficult in the midst of a disagreement. And we can try and have short-term success, but it's only by allowing God to transform this area of your heart that all of us will find long-term success.

If you need some help in this area or you'd like us to pray for you and your marriage, we have carrying Christian counselors standing by to take your call and it might be you just need to start being more intentional about making time to communicate with your spouse. Our Date Night Challenge, which the Smalley's mentioned a few moments ago would be a great tool for you to get and obviously, I hope you have benefitted immensely from this conversation.

John: And the starting point for reaching our counselors, to request a CD to find out more about the Date Night Challenge is 1-800-232-6459.

And when you get in touch, please make a generous donation to support Focus on the Family's efforts to strengthen marriages and we'll send a copy of Greg and Erin's book, Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage as a thank-you gift.

Now we have a new 6-part DVD curriculum for you to use in a small group or a Sunday school setting to help better understand the real issues that are so often behind a big fight with your spouse. And you can learn more about the Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage Curriculum when you call or at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time when Rob Parsons shares stories from his own experiences and how he taught his children with those.

Excerpt:

Rob Parsons: We didn't have an inside bathroom. We didn't even have toilet paper. Don't even ask. (Laughter) Except even now, I can't look at our local newspaper without a million memories coming (Laughter) flooding, flooding back. I wanted our kids to have toilet paper, for goodness' sake. But you know what? Somebody once said we are so busy giving our children what we didn't have, we forget to give them what we did have.

End of Excerpt

John: Insights about life and helping that next generation on the next "Focus on the Family."

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    Focus on the Family's Hope Restored specializes in providing intensive marriage counseling designed specifically for couples in crisis.

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Guest

Greg Smalley

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Dr. Greg Smalley serves as the vice president of Marriage at Focus on the Family. In this role, he develops and oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages and help couples in marital crises. Prior to joining Focus, Smalley worked for the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University and as President of the National Institute of Marriage. He is the author of 12 books including Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage, Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage and The DNA of Relationships.

Guest

Erin Smalley

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Erin Smalley serves as the Marriage Strategic Spokesperson for Focus on the Family's marriage ministry and develops content for the marriage department. In addition to her work at Focus, Smalley is a conference speaker. She presents with her husband, Dr. Greg Smalley, at marriage enrichment seminars where they guide husbands and wives in taking steps toward enjoying deeply satisfying marriages. She also speaks to women on faith, family and the importance of healthy friendships.