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The Importance of Leaving and Cleaving

Air Date 06/05/2017

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Pastor Ted Cunningham offers wisdom to newlyweds about the importance of separating emotionally, relationally, and financially from their family of origin in order to form a strong bond with their new spouse.

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Episode Transcript



Pastor Ted Cunningham:Ifyou have a tough day at work and you get in the car and your first person you're gonna call is your mom, not your wife, that's a problem.

End of Teaser

John Fuller: Ted Cunningham is with us today on "Focus on the Family" and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, here at Focus on the Family, we love marriage and I hope people feel that and know it. It's foundational to the family and it's a gift from God and we need to lift marriage up to its proper place and I think in many ways, restore what God intended with marriage.

In fact, it's the reason why we talk so much about it here on our program. We like to equip you with those tools to help you live your marriage in such a way that others are gonna see something wonderful and beautiful in your marriage. It's a witness to the world.

Today we're targeting newly married couples, but this also applies to their parents. That's the good news. We're all gonna benefit from the discussion today. We've got some solid trusted advice about the importance of God's design to leave behind your childhood family and cleave to your spouse. So, we're putting this in the family formation category and we have invited one of the best speakers and authors on the topic of marriage and that's Pastor Ted Cunningham. He's the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri. And Ted, you've seen a few weddings, I think. Does one stick out like uh-oh? (Laughing)


Ted: Oh boy.

Jim: I remember one [time] I was in a wedding and a guy passed out. One of the groomsmen keeled over into the candelabra, which almost caught the drapes on fire. (Laughter)

Ted: I've had 'em so out of control crying, they can't say the words.

Jim: That's sweet though.

Ted: And you have to pause. You have to wait. I've never had a bride or groom pass out, but I have had groomsmen.

Jim: Yeah, why is it always the groomsmen? What are we doin' wrong?

Ted: They're not even really doing anything.

Jim: Are they bored? Are they (Laughter) falling asleep or what's happening. (Laughter)

Ted: They have one job. They have to stand (Laughter) there in a tux. That's it. That's your only job. If you can't make that happen, we picked the wrong guy.

John: And as Jim said, Ted's the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri and he's a popular author and speaker, a very funny fellow, I might add and you're gonna have fun today.

Jim: Ted, formally welcome to "Focus on the Family."

Ted: Great to be back.

Jim: Now Ted, you are a contributor to a compilation, a book that we worked on, actually it's a series of things, a DVD curriculum and other things, Ready to Wed. And I think Greg Smalley, who kind of orchestrated that resource and the other attached resources, saw that if a couple receives 10 hours of counseling or more, they're at risk divorce is significantly reduced. You're a pastor. You're counseling couples who are thinking of getting married. Do you see that play out in your own church?

Ted: Oh, absolutely. It's a requirement for us. If you are wanting to get married, you know, at our church or by someone from our church, we require a minimum of six hours, believing 10, 12 is better. But our goal is that you don't just go through premarital [counseling], after you get married (Chuckling), you plug into a biblical community through a small group, a home group and continue to grow.

Jim: You keep growing. I can remember when Jean and I did our premarital counseling in Southern California, I remember there were probably a dozen couples involved. It was a[n] all-day Saturday, for two or three Saturdays. I can't remember. But on the second or third Saturday that we were doing this, I remember three couples got up and said, "We're not ready and we may not be right for each other," which is a mark of success, isn't it?

Ted: Yeah, absolutely. And I think for Amy and I, we (Chuckling) went through a lot of skills-based premarital. And what I loved about Ready to Wed and it's Greg and Erin Smalley's heart and passion for marriage, is more at the heart level.

We never really got into the heart conversations and the family of origin issues and the messages written on the heart. We were dealing with budgeting and dealing with, you know, the first night of intimacy and anyway, we were going through more of the skills and not so much the voices or the messages written on the heart.

Jim: Which is what really crops up in the marriage pretty quickly. You may not see it in that honeymoon period, the first maybe year or two, but those things will eventually begin to pop their heads up like ground hogs, right?

Ted: Yeah (Laughter) and it's that moment.

Jim: You know, "Whack a Mole."

Ted: You're trying to figure out why your spouse says or does the things they do. And then you're over at your in-laws' house and your mother-in-law (Laughter) and your father-in-law says or does something and you have that moment where you're like, "Ah! That's it right there."

Jim: (Laughing) You see it in live action.

Ted: "That's it. I just saw it. Now I know where it comes from."

Jim: Now being a guy, the one thing not to say in that moment is, "Honey, you remind me of your mother."

Ted: Yeah, oh, you never do it. (Laughter) You never do it.

Jim: That's not good advice. What would Amy say, your wife, about good things a woman shouldn't say about her husband?

Ted: Yeah, Amy, when she's seeing more and more of my dad coming out in me and (Laughter) there's a lot. I get the mom that comes out in me. My mom gets excited very easy. I get excited very easily when things are happenin'. And I love to tell, you know, my family to calm down. "Hey, hey, everybody, calm down; calm down."

Jim: 'Cause that's a good place.

Ted: Yeah, Amy reminds me, "We are calm. We are all calm in this room, Ted, right now, but you," but (Laughter) we love now seeing, you know, after being married for 20 years, how much the family of origin still plays into it.

Jim: Oh, isn't it?

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And the older you get, the more obvious it gets I think. I don't know.

Ted: Well, and older you get, the more I appreciate it.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: Probably five, 10 years ago even, I'm seeing my mom and dad come out in me. I'm like, "Oh!" But now as they're getting older even, I'm saying, those are the qualities I'm wanting.

Jim: Well, and that was the section that you contributed in—

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: --Ready to Wed, which was the Leave and Cleave. Now that almost sounds very "Christianese." And it would be good for people that don't even understand what we're talkin' about, what is "leave and cleave?"

Ted: Yeah, Genesis 2:24 says, "For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother, be united to his wife and the two become one flesh." Most of the time we look at that verse as a marriage verse, but the first half of that verse is parenting.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother. In other words, it's the job of a parent to make sure a child leaves home as an adult, not on a journey to become one. That's the most important thing. [The] biggest mistake I think we make as parents today is, we treat our children like children right up until the very moment we expect them to be an adult.

Jim: Wow.

Ted: And so, for me, it's not academics. It's not athletics that raise our children into adults as parents. And it doesn't say for this reason a child leaves his mom and dad. It doesn't say for this reason an adolescent leaves his mom and dad. It says an adult.

Wow, think about that. I'm supposed to send my children out of the home, not on a journey to become an adult, but as an adult, prepared for the responsibility (Chuckling) of work and relationships and in the context of Genesis 2:24, cleaving.

I'm supposed to be preparing my son at 11-years-old right now to be a husband and my daughter at 13, soon 14, to be a wife. That's my responsibility.

Jim: Wow.

Ted: If it's true we treat our children like children right up until the very day we expect them to be adults, this is why so many young people crash and burn their freshman year of college. They're just not ready for the responsibility of all that freedom.

Like "My mom and dad were on me," some of 'em say. They were on me, all the way up until they dropped me off at college. And then they weren't there to be on me. And so, I wasn't prepared for it. Ideas were thrown at me and events were thrown at me and activities were thrown at me and I just said yes to all of them. And so, I think that starts way back earlier at that tween stage, when individualization and separation kick in and your child, according to the Scriptures, is actually becoming a little adult, that we have to stop seeing the tween years as this push-back period of time where they're rebelling. It's not automatic rebelling. It's they're becoming adults.

Jim: Right and how to embrace that and encourage it, but do it in a responsible way on their part.

Ted: Encourage it. I even use the word "celebrate it."

Jim: Right.

Ted: Promote it.

Jim: Right.

Ted: Like, "Yay! You're an adult." So, what that means is, I don't tell you to brush your teeth anymore. (Laughter) That's not my job. Right, like that's like responsibility No. 1. I'm not gonna be tellin' a 13-year-old, "It's time to take a shower, okay."

Jim: But what do you do if they're not doin' it?

Ted: And I don't want to tell that. They're gonna experience [it]. Someone else is gonna tell them. I'll say this, someone else is gonna smell them (Laughter) and say, "Yeah, you need to take a shower."

Jim: Yeah, pretty true.

Ted: (Laughing) And I'm just saying the loving thing to do as a parent is, let me help my child understand that and their need for it, rather than them getting picked on in the world saying, "Man, what's goin' on?" That's your responsibility. You gotta get yourself up. You gotta brush your own teeth. You gotta take a shower. You gotta get dressed. I'm not layin' out your clothes anymore. You can tell I'm getting' pretty worked up over all of it. I mean, it's the season of life I'm in.

Jim: Well, no, it's pretty much, I'm just back [thinking about] brushing your teeth and takin' a shower. If you're not doin' those two things, you're probably not gonna be married. (Laughter)

Ted: That's right! (Laughter) Exactly and that shouldn't start when they're 18. I just think my parents would never be my alarm clock at 16-, 17-years-old. It just didn't happen. I mean, I just remember they're like, do you want to get to school? Get yourself up. Now my parents left for work before I went to school, so it was a responsibility thrust on me.

Jim: You had to do it. Ted, you talked in the book about your favorite moment in the marriage ceremony and that's when dad gives away his little girl and why is that particular moment as a pastor, so rewarding for you?

Ted: Yeah, it's rewarding. It's emotional, you know. The dad can be 6'8", 280, a linebacker, 'cause I ask at the rehearsal, "Hey, tomorrow I want you to turn and face your daughter after I ask who gives this woman to be married to this man? We're not rushin' through this. I want this to be a moment and I don't work to make this some viral moment on YouTube. This is you, dad and daughter and I want you to speak a blessing over your daughter. You won't have a clock, so take your time. You won't have a microphone.

Jim: Wow.

Ted: We don't need to hear it. We don't need to get it all recorded. Let this be your moment where it's you [and your daughter]. I can't think of anything that's more literal for Genesis 2:24.

Jim: Speaking life into your daughter.

Ted: Yeah, I am literally giving you away right now to be another man's wife. And dad at the rehearsal usually shrugs me off like, "Yeah, no problem. I'll do that, pastor" and I'm like, "You have no idea."

Jim: Yeah, let me ask you why. You know, I think today I don't know if it's technology and entertainment and everything else, we kind of shrug through this amazing moment of responsibility. And we underplay it in so many ways, when this is an astonishing moment.

Ted: And for me, I think big picture with weddings. I'm super sad that everybody wants 'em short today, is what I'm seeing in the church.

Jim: Right.

Ted: And I will have the bride tell me, "Keep it short." And I used to sit down with couples and be like, "Okay, let's, in my part, let me tell you what the elements that I'm over and then you let me know the special music, if any family's reading Scripture." And they are no special elements. There is no extra this, extra that; just get right to it.

Jim: They just want to get right to it.

Ted: Let's get this goin'.

Jim: Get people out of here.

Ted: Let's get to the party and I'm goin', "This is a lot of money to invest in 15 minutes." (Laughter)

Jim: Right, but why do you think that is? Why do you think people aren't cherishing this moment? And how does that play downstream with their commitment to each other?

Ted: Yeah, and I know we say, "Invest more in the marriage than you do in the wedding," but I think when we say that, we're not meaning, you know, don't view this as special; don't view this as an opportunity or just a formality.

Jim: Right.

Ted: And so, you know, when that dad on the wedding day after the rehearsal, walks his daughter down the aisle and he turns to face his daughter, there's not a dry eye in the place. And you know, he doesn't have a microphone, so all we hear is, "Uh, uh, uh, uh," I mean, just this little whimpering coming out, but we all have to take a moment to gather ourselves and then he turns and faces him.

And I've told my daughter, this is the story I use in the book, The Princess and the Queen, You know, when she was 5, she was kind of taking over the home and I sat her down and said, "There's only one queen in this house and you ain't her." (Laughter) And she looked at me with those eyes that said, "We'll see."

Jim: Oh, man.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: And she's 5.

Ted: And she's 5 and she told Amy the next day, there's room enough in this house for two queens. (Laughter) And I sat her down. I said, "Listen, one day a little boy's gonna say the words to you, 'I love you.' And I want you to know, he's of his father, the devil and a child of darkness. (Laughter) I want you to stay." No, I did not. Make sure every listener knows I did not say that to her.

Jim: That's healthy. What did you say?

Ted: I said, "One day I'm gonna stand at the back of a church with you, lookin' down the aisle and I want you to understand somethin'. At that moment, I want you to remember what I'm saying to you now, what I'm gonna say to you as you're growin' up. Your mom is my queen. You will never be my queen, but you're my princess. And so, one day I'm gonna walk you down the aisle to become another man's queen." And I said, "Between this day and that day, I'm gonna do the best I can, to the best of my ability, I want to show you every day how a queen should be treated."

Jim: That is beautiful.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: I hope every father is hearing what you're saying right now and to cherish that moment, wherever you're at, if your little daughter is 15 now or 5. Pick it up that purpose today.

Ted: Yeah and on a first date, share that story. Say, "This is my princess you're takin' out right now."

Jim: You had a story in this chapter in Ready to Wed, which is a great curriculum, by the way. And this is aimed at churches primarily, but couples can do it on their own, but we would love for churches to pick this up and again, to help those couples in your congregation [to] have the best chance at having a life-long commitment to their marriage. This kind of premarital counseling is what it's all about. But you had a story in there about a dad who was at the moment and decided he didn't want to give his little girl away.

Ted: Well, he wouldn't answer me.

Jim: I mean, what happened?

Ted: Yeah, I go, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" It's what almost every pastor says or some variation. And he was silent. And I thought [did he hear me?] I tapped on the microphone.

Jim: This isn't rehearsal.

Ted: This is the wedding day and what's funny is, we practiced this the day before, so I don't know what happened. I asked a second time and he just stared at me. And I thought, okay, he's "veklempt." He's caught up in the moment. Let's give him a moment, 'cause I think one of the worst things a pastor can do is step on moments like that.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: Just let those moments go. But the third time I asked him, I go, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" He responded with, "I will not give her." And I went, "What?" (Laughter)

Jim: So, not this is gettin' a little chilly.

Ted: Yeah, he said, "But I will share her."

Jim: Oh, man.

Ted: And I looked over at the groom and I said, "I'm sorry, but the wedding is over." And you know, he's got this look in his eyes like, "What is going on? How are we gonna manage that?" I just paused for a minute.

And you know me. My big thing is, I step on everything with humor. So, I tried to make a joke out of it.

Jim: Sure.

Ted: But I mean, the implication of that statement for the next 10 to 20 years is what I wanted to address. I had to hear [the right words]. You know that moment when you're sittin' in the exit row and, "Are you willing and able to perform the duties of the exit row?" You can't not.

Jim: Right.

Ted: They require that you say out loud an audible, "Yes."

Jim: Right.

Ted: And I have to hear that from the dad, because when a mom comes up to me at a wedding and says, "I don't feel like I'm losing a daughter today; I feel like I'm gaining a son," I tell her the same thing every time. "Nope! You're losing a daughter." (Laughter) It's time for you to back away. That's the leaving part.

Jim: When you think about it, that's completely right and logical, but you also understand the heart of the mom who wanted to keep [connected].

Ted: Yeah, who's gonna be writing in after this. (Laughter)

Jim: Right, but I can't leave everybody hangin'. How did you address that with the dad?

Ted: I did make a joke. I made light out of it, but then I said, "I've got to get the audible. I have got to hear [the words] right there.

Jim: Right there and did he finally say it?

Ted: He said, "Her mother and I." Yeah, he did say, "Her mother and I." But I wanted to go on to a long sermon.

Jim: Okay. Did you follow up later or like after the ceremony and say, "Let me talk you through a little bit of what was goin' on?

Ted: Well, this may shock you, but it found its way into the message of the ceremony, the difference between giving and sharing. (Laughter)

Jim: You were that quick on it.

Ted: I had to be. I just was like, "Listen, you know, for you two to become one," 'cause I'm this specific with guys.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: "Listen, if you've called your mom every day to share the highs and lows of your day for the last two or three years after work, listen, you can't do that anymore. Part of leaving is, this is now the new lady you come home to and share the highs and lows of your days with.

Jim: Your queen.

Ted: I had a mom come up to me through premarital counseling and through what's in this book and all the examples of the leaving part. We haven't even really talked about cleaving, the leaving part. And a mom came up to me at a wedding and said, "How dare you tell a son not to love his mother." (Laughter)

And I went, "Well, first of all, would you ever hear that? I don't care what pastor, you would never hear that out of a pastor's mouth." I said, "I never told your son that and here's part of the problem. You weren't in that premarital session. I told your son, don't call you every day."

Jim: Right.

Ted: "He can't do that anymore," but she interpreted that as, he's disconnected from me. He doesn't love me. And then you have to walk through all of that with, no, this is actually love. This isn't hate.

Jim: But I need to press you on behalf of those moms that aren't seeing it that way. Tell me why spiritually. Tell me why I shouldn't expect the same relationship with my son, even if he has married, or my daughter, if she's married? Why can't I still have the same relationship?

Ted: Oh, so here's what I tell couples. You need to separate physically. So, you need to move out if you're livin' with your mom and dad. If you're still in the basement with Star Wars bed sheets, we need you out of there, okay? It's time to get married.

You need to separate financially. I hear couples all the time. "I want my parents to take our relationship seriously and not treat us like children." Well, one way you can do that is, don't call home for money. Get a second job before you ask your parents to bail you out. So, yeah, so you're separating physically, financially. You're separating emotionally.

If you have a tough day at work and you get in the car and your first person you're gonna call is your mom, not your wife, that's a problem. That's gonna prevent you from the second half of Genesis 2:24, the two becoming one.

Jim: Yes.

Ted: The very definition of Genesis 2:24, the picture we have it, the bond between a husband and a wife is to be stronger than the bond between a parent and a child, period. It has to be separate. Then you're separating emotionally. You're separating relationally. And I tell couples, if those don't work, if you can't separate physically and financially and emotionally, and this one really gets me in trouble; you may need to separate geographically.

Jim: Yeah, that'll help accomplish the others.

Ted: It will. You may not be able to live two miles from your parents if they're stopping by all the time, if they're wanting to catch up on your life, you know, daily. These are the boundaries that need to go in place if you're gonna truly leave. 'Cause we're talking about leaving. We're not talking about just moving. We're talking about leaving that relationship to start a brand-new relationship, which is the cleaving part.

Jim: Yeah. You're listening to "Focus on the Family." Today our guest is Pastor Ted Cunningham. And we're talking about his contribution to the Ready to Wed curriculum and book produced by Focus on the Family, under Greg and Erin Smalley. They head up our marriage effort here at Focus and they're doin' a great job.

Ted, let me ask you this. Some parents and they probably would be called those "old fashioned," they think having the family around them is a good thing.

Ted: Sure.

Jim: And having that high interaction is a good thing. Intergenerational living is something that more and more people are doing.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: Is that healthy or unhealthy? I mean, in some ways, are you describing a cultural norm of today that you leave and cleave and you separate in every way? Whereas, man, in the Old and New Testament, families typically lived together in the same community and shared duties and responsibilities.

Ted: There was a big difference though between yeah, what we've experienced historically and biblically and traditionally and what we're experiencing now. Then you left your mom and dad's home and you went right into your new home.

Jim: Yeah, it was built during the pre-wedding time.

Ted: And so, mom and dad would carve out an acre on the far end of their property and that's where you started your family. Well, now you're leaving mom and dad and maybe spending five, 10 and in some cases, 15 years on your own--

Jim: Right.

Ted: --before you enter into a new home. So, that part is very different and you've built a relationship with your parents as an adult that didn't happen for most history and biblically speaking.

So, now you have a husband and a wife who have adult relationships with mom and dad and mom and dad were the go-to, you know, if you needed somethin' fixed at your apartment when you were 28, you called dad. Well, let me tell you. Well, now you gotta a new guy, whether he's handy or not, dad's not the first go-to phone call.

Jim: Yeah.

Ted: Again, the goal is oneness and not enmeshment and having a family so tied together.

Jim: And that's the common theme. That's what you're really saying, the two becoming one flesh. You have to cleave to each other. Let's move into that, the cleaving portion.

Ted: The biblical definition of compatibility is specifically two becoming one. And it's the last half of the verse, because you can't have it without the leaving part. If you don't leave well, you can't cleave well. If you aren't in healthy boundaries with your parents, emotionally, relationally, financially, it's gonna be very difficult to figure out how we're gonna do this together just the two of us.

Jim: Isn't it interesting that the Scripture, of course, written by the hand of God, when you think about it, the wisdom that is there, that there's nothing new under the sun and that God Himself would say, "Leave and cleave." He would use those very words in Hebrew to describe what a man and a woman need to do to become that one flesh. To me, that's fascinating. There's nothing new under the sun.

Ted: Well, and if we're sticking, you know, if we don't like the word "leave" and a mom or dad can think we're being too harsh with it, actually the word means "to forsake."

Jim: Hm.

Ted: I think that's even stronger than "leave." You know, moving out is one thing. Packing up my stuff and going into another home down the street or in a neighboring city is another thing. But boy, to actually say, "This relationship is completely changed now."

Jim: [On] the other side of that boundary when a parent, maybe an elderly parent, let's say the couple's in their 40's or 50's, that "sandwich" generation that they talk about. And mom's now living with you in the little apartment basement or whatever it might be. How can you manage that moment in a healthy biblical way?

Ted: Yeah, I still think the priority of your marriage is what leads to that honor, to know, hey, mom, we're glad you're here. You're a welcome addition to our home. We're still a united front, you know, though. And you know what I tell parents and grandparents, again this idea of advocating for your child's marriage, means you advocate for their marriage, not just your child. I think that's an important piece there.

Sometimes we pick our child or we pick one spouse. Advocate for both. Understand the marriage is important. It's the cornerstone in that family, in that home. Support that and it's the topic of leaving and cleaving and again, going back to this idea that every marriage is a duet in need of great backup singers (Laughter), one of the best ways for a parent to be a backup singer to their adult child's marriage is to advocate for the marriage, not just the child. And I know the tendency when that child calls wanting to go at the husband or go at the wife and begins making all the statements, the faster you can shut that down, the better because you need to say, "I'm here for both of you, not just one of you." Those who are absent are protected here (Laughter) on this phone call and in this room.

Jim: Yeah, Ted, this has been really good and I want to thank you for sharing your great wisdom with us. I mean, I think pastors, like physicians, you have amazing insights because you're workin' with people and you're seeing them at both their strong moments and their weakest moments. And we all can learn from those examples and the stories that you've shared today touched me in a way that really invigorates me to continue to fight for marriage in a positive way.

You know, here at Focus on the Family, we do help couples prepare for lifelong, God-centered marriages through trusted resources, counseling, guidance that provides hopefully, practical insights, advice and encouragement. That really is our goal. Marriage is one of the five pillars here at Focus on the Family. One listener told us this: "The sheer contrast between your advice and that of the world intrigued me and before long, I started to see that everything I was reading wasn't simply a bunch of people with old-school values, but was actually based on God's Word." What a great quote.

That's what we want to achieve in our partnership and our relationship with you, the listener. Through your prayers and gifts, we've helped over 100,000 singles prepare for marriage in just the last year. That's an achievement that I think the Lord is pleased with.

Your gift of $30 will help one couple prepare for marriage in a stronger way and I hope you will join us as part of the marriage team, the family team here at Focus on the Family. Partner with us today so we can continue to help young couples build thriving, God-centered marriages.

John: And when you give a gift of any amount today, we'll send you a copy of Focus on the Family's Ready to Wed book as our way of saying thank you. It really is a perfect guide for an engaged couple or even for newlyweds, taking you through everything that needs to be talked about, including leaving and cleaving as we heard today, to finances and even intimacy. Give us a call and donate, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459 or you can donate at

Jim: John, before we close, let me ask Ted, let me ask you one more question. Encourage that young couple who are preparing for marriage.

Ted: Yeah.

Jim: They may even be a little scared 'cause they don't know that they're gonna be able to do it well and make it to the end. Why should they step away from their families and learn to rely on each other? Now it's a scary moment. The safety net's gone.

Ted: Yeah, yeah. Too often in marriage ministry and preparing you for marriage, we talk about skills. But don't forget about voices. And you need to have voices in speaking into your marriage, that you need to turn way up, because you know you have plenty of voices that you need to turn down or mute altogether that are not encouraging this. And they're saying, "Why do you want to do this?

Jim: Why are you married to him?

Ted: Why Him? Why start now? Go live your life. This is just gonna weigh you down. You need to find voices and I, obviously as a pastor, am gonna tell you, it's in the church. Find biblical community that you can have people regularly speaking into your marriage saying, "You got this."

Jim: Ted, it's been great havin' you here.

Ted: Thank you for havin' me.


John: Well, be sure to be with us next time, as we talk about parenting your tweens and teens with respect.I'm John Fuller and on behalf of Focus president, Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. Join us again next time, as we once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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    Are You Ready to Wed?

    Greg Smalley

    How will I know that I'm ready to wed? Dr. Greg Smalley is often asked this question by engaged couples, so he offers his personal insights on how couples can better understand loving and being loved.

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  • Featured Episode

    Practical Advice for Those Getting Ready to Wed (Part 1 of 2)

    Authors Greg and Erin Smalley offer engaged couples practical advice in a discussion based on their new book, Ready to Wed: 12 Ways to Start a Marriage You'll Love. (Part 1 of 2)

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Ted Cunningham

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Ted Cunningham is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Mo., and a popular comedian at events across the country, including Focus on the Family's 'Love, Laugh, Pursue' nights for couples. He has authored several books which include Fun Loving You and Trophy Child. He has also co-authored four books with Dr. Gary Smalley and one with his wife, Amy. Ted and Amy have two children, Corynn and Carson. Learn more about Ted by visiting his church's website.