Embracing Gods Purpose for Your Marriage – Debra Fileta

it’s not you are greater than me I’m
greater than you he’s greater than she it’s learning to see that we is greater
than me this is for the benefit of both of us when I am sacrificial when I lay
down my life it is for the benefit of the we welcome to the focus on the
family broadcast helping families thrive Deborah welcome to focus thank you it’s
so good to be here so good to have you here that we and versus me let’s just
kick it off right there that’s pretty funny
we is greater than me that’s really what it comes down to and a lot of people
don’t understand that going into marriage why do we we get into marriage
thinking me is bigger than we is it just natural for us to be about me it’s
absolutely natural only think about it as singles who else do you have to think
about when you are single but yourself you know what you’re gonna eat where
you’re gonna go what you’re gonna wear how you’re gonna spend your time we’re
wired to focus on the me and then we kind of take that into marriage and it’s
a reality yes now your husband John there’s a great opening story I wanted
to get to be yes I think he showed you sacrificial marriage before you got
married I think you’re engaged what if he do he’s in the audience right now
you’re gonna throw him a big shout-out here what did he do so well that got you
thinking maybe maybe there’s a well when John and I were dating and honestly
unbeknownst to me at the time he was eating bologna sandwiches for months to
cut his grocery bill down to $10 a week is that a problem
just so that he could buy me an engagement and if you show him a bologna
sandwich today I’m sure he I don’t think I’ve eaten one of those in 40 years
lunch means you can buy only get a lunch meat maybe a little abrasion I don’t
know but that that was a way of sacrifice it was a way of sacrifice and
you know a lot of times we go into marriage and we’re focused on the
wedding we’re focused on the flowers we’re focused on the cake we’re focused
on the engagement or the proposal but we don’t understand that
a level of sacrifice it starts with something silly like a bologna sandwich
but really it represents something far greater that marriage is always about
sacrifice and that’s something that we hear about but we don’t fully understand
what that means yeah and I want to say the listeners right now don’t turn off
for cheerless they do podcast the radio whatever I mean when you start talking
sacrifice people tune out a little bit yeah because I don’t want to do that but
let’s go from the beginning yeah you and John did premarital counseling you
learned quite a bit in that GN I did that and we have something called ready
to Wed that Greg Smalley the vp of marriage here focused on the family he
and his wife Erin created yeah and what they learned in their research was that
if a couple received 10 hours of premarital counseling or more that their
likelihood of divorce was only 20% eighty percent of couples that receive
that kind of premarital counseling stay together that’s really critical and
let’s stop there for a second you just said 10 hours yeah that’s true
that is I mean think about think about this my husband to get his medical
license needed 20,000 hours of training in order to get a driver’s license you
need about a hundred hours of training to get a marriage license how many
required hours of training are there zero-zero you walk in you sign a paper
they give you the license and I think part of the problem even in Christian
culture is that we believe that just because we’re Christian we are going to
be good at this thing called marriage and then we get in there and we realize
maybe we don’t have the training maybe we don’t have the preparation maybe we
don’t have the expectations and on the right page so you get into your
premarital counseling what did you experience what did you learn about
yourself that you didn’t know honestly that I was clueless
it’s very selfless thank you and in mind you I had been in the field learning and
educating myself I was getting my master’s in counseling at the time and
here we are in pre-marriage counseling filling out our assessments and the
pastor says to me Deborah you seem to have some really idealistic expectations
because I really thought you know scoring John so high on all these
different categories and in the dating phase you just assume
that this is how it’s going to be you’re not prepared for the things that lie
ahead and not that the things that lie ahead are these terrible things but when
our expectations are so unrealistically high when the normalcy and the
day-to-day grind of a marriage come your way you really start to struggle and
that’s where yeah you get dashed in your hopes and your dreams and you think oh I
mean maybe I married the wrong person that can be a conclusion that you’re
errantly making right now rather than saying well marriage takes work
absolutely and you’re gonna have to put some effort into it to make it healthy
and make it strong in fact you did a survey I think with both single and
married couples what prompted doing that and then what was your finding well
I primarily work with singles at my ministry true love dates calm and I’m
slowly evolving into a marriage ministry as well but it was interesting because I
wanted to compare the two what singles believe about marriage to
what is actually true about marriage are very different things and so I surveyed
a thousand singles asking them to tell me what do you think marriage will be
like in these categories communication intimacy conflict all these different
categories and then I surveyed married couples telling me what are what is
marriage like in these same exact areas and the difference in the answers was
just mind-blowing and it just showed me that really our expectations are so
skewed and and one of the statistics was that three-quarters of single people
thought that marriage would require sacrifice a lot of us in Christian
culture used the word sacrifice yes marriage requires sacrifice we use it so
loosely right but then when I asked them do you think marriage will be difficult
the majority of them said no marriage is gonna be easy and to me sacrifice
doesn’t equal easy right there’s a disconnect remember there’s a disconnect
with what we actually expect and then the reality of what marriage is like on
the other side then that’s when you step in you start getting disappointed again
you also have a story about a reality TV show that caught my attention I thought
that was interesting I actually never saw this I couldn’t believe he did this
yeah describe the show but nowadays I mean it’s there there’s all kinds of
reality TV shows out there so it does shock me but what was the show’s concept
and what were they trying to do there’s this reality show called married at
first sight and basically they take two complete strangers some psychologists
match them up based on their personality and their experiences and it’s a good
psychological match so they match these two people up and they meet at the altar
and they have a few weeks then to be married legally married and to figure
out at the end of these few weeks do you want to stay married or not strangers
who meet for the first time at the wedding they are married at first sight
and during an episode why would anybody sign up to do that
really I you know aberration that’s crazy but interesting someone else’s
instinct over yourself or over what you believe to be right but at the end of
these few weeks they they make their decision and during one of the episodes
one of the participants looked strated in the camera and said I am NOT happy
anymore and I deserve to be happy you know if I’m not happy this isn’t the
right relationship and you know it was interesting it’s a reality TV show but I
hear that phrase all the time counselor not just after four weeks of marriage
maybe after months maybe after years maybe after decades I’m not happy
anymore I deserve to be happy and that is a fallacy that we’re believing we
don’t deserve to be happy and and and ultimately happiness is not the end goal
I believe that when we do marriage right let me just infuse some hope here yeah
when we do marriage right it will lead to an an unbelievable happiness but
there are going to be seasons there are going to be days there are going to be
moments weeks months that you are not happy and that’s when your decisions are
more crucial and more important than ever before in fact I can’t remember
exactly how this was described to me Deborah but it’s almost when you make
happiness the goal it’s the elusive thing then because it’s always the goal
it’s never achieved right and when it’s a byproduct of the relationship it’s far
easier to feel happy or happiness because you’re content that’s and that’s
the point in fact you caught a popular columnist
about this generation lack of ability to handle marriage
partly because of this lack I think of contentment that the culture today with
all its intense imagery and you know connection to entertainment and all of
it it’s almost like we no longer know how to socialize we no longer how to be
we no longer know how to be in relationship in a healthy way describe
what that columnist was talking about you know he really blamed this
generations lack of ability to handle marriage like we can’t handle marriage
was his main message and why we can’t handle it is because we have poor sex
lives we have financial burdens we’re struggling with social media we’ve got
emotional disconnect we’ve got unhealthy desires for attention and while these
things are all true the main ingredient that he forgets is God God is the
crucial ingredient and we have everything we need to overcome life’s
obstacles because God made us for love and and I think we when we tap out of
that we can’t do marriage well that’s the missing ingredient that we can’t
forget and and so we need to kind of learn how to how to navigate all of
those different things rooted in the foundation of God’s love and what that
means for each of us as individuals it’s so well said you know when you look at
it if you know I want to speak to the listener that maybe doesn’t have a
relationship with Christ I’m told maybe 10 to 15% of our audience that listens
fits that description I want you to lean in here because when you start thinking
about how we’re created what Deborah is talking about there this desire for love
this desire for connection relationship where do you think that comes from it’s
God it’s God’s heart it’s his image and were made in His
image and that’s why it exists but you mentioned in your book Deborah that one
of the benefits of marriage is to love your spouse unconditionally yeah oh did
you just hear that that gasps from people listening they’re going I never
feel that or I rarely feel that or sometimes I feel that it’s hard for us
as human beings to love unconditionally even if you’re a 90 percent
unconditional lover you still got ten percent that you know if you
just pick up your dirty clothes that would be really a way to show me
unconditional love but describe those battles in the bathroom and other places
when it comes to marriage where it’s unconditional love as long as you put
the toothpaste cap back on right you know one thing I see also as a counselor
as a lot of times we focus on the big issues the big catastrophes in marriage
and learning how to love through the big stuff but honestly I truly believe that
in order to have the muscle to love in those big ways we’ve got to start with
the muscle and loving in the small ways and I always joke it’s kind of a joke
though it but it’s kind of reality in the bathroom drama that my husband and I
have I mean you don’t know how annoying it is to share a bathroom with someone
until you’re married oh I do I mean he’ll throw his clothes over my
full-length mirror you know and then I move on he puts them back and then if
you look at the different sides of our sink mine is like a creative disaster
and his looks like the day we moved in and never my stuff starts sneaking on
his side and then the thing that I think is probably the most annoying is the
toilet roll he he has this tendency of leaving like one square left for me or
maybe nothing at all and then you get there and you’re like this is what
unconditional love means I am NOT going to flip out about the toilet roll so
then I replace it but then instead of putting it on the roll I just kind of
prop it you know it has to come from the top right it has to flow from the top
three ingredient now the big problem is that you add kids to this equation
they never replace that many ways to embrace this idea of selflessness and
sacrifice how big of an issue am I gonna make this and what is unconditional love
look like in these moments when I feel so frustrated and annoyed over these
little things because those little muscles that were practicing are the
ones that make way for the bigger acts of love and and let me just say I I do
believe that there is a big big difference between
selflessness and passivity I’m not talking about being passive and we’re
gonna get to that in a minute but I’m just talking about those selfless acts
of love and the day today grind why is it Deborah that marriage makes those
little bathroom drama moments it accentuates those I mean Dina would come
over and visit and she’d bring a toothbrush and she’d brush her teeth a
certain way and she had this cute little habit of throwing her toothbrush into
the sink when she was it was because we were because we weren’t married yet we
got married I mean it’s like all our selfishness starts to come forward it’s
like the filter is gone and all of a sudden were left with reality yeah well
this is focused on the family with Jim Daly I’m John fuller and our guest is
Deborah filleted Oh and she’s written a great book
choosing marriage why it has to start with we is greater than me and we’ve got
that and a CD or download of our conversation a lot of great marriage
resources as well at focus on the family calm / broadcast or call 800 the letter
A and the word family for more you know Deborah before we I think go more into
the selflessness because I love that theme I think it’s right for us again as
believers to concentrate on that let’s mention a few of the benefits of
marriage because I think it’s so positive to talk about those good things
because we’re always you know kind of barking about the tough stuff of
marriage even the soft stuff but what are some of the benefits of marriage
well first of all marriage makes you a better person there you go no we just
talked about all that junk that starts coming right surface when you’re married
and you’re just as annoying as your spouse you just don’t realize it you
know and all that stuff starts coming to the surface and so as you learn the
process of unconditional love as you practice the process of unconditional
love you become more like Christ yeah along the way so marriage makes you
better marriage teaches you to receive
unconditional love I think that’s something we forget but there’s a lot of
us out there a lot of people who have been hurt too have been abused who have
who have been victims in different ways and they’re not good at receiving
unconditional love they don’t feel like they’re worthy of unconditional love but
marriage helps you realize that you are worthy of that and and that you should
receive that just as much as you give it so it
teaches you to give unconditional love it also teaches you to receive that kind
of love for yourself I think also that taking of responsibility is another
thing you mentioned which is great and then it reminds you that you need Jesus
I mean those are good one of the things you said that caught my attention is a
quick assessment and you can just do this from your gut are you a better
person today than you were before you’re married and I you know that really was
good for me Jean and I have been married you know over thirty years now and I am
a better person because of Jane and I hope that she’s a better person because
she married me and that’s a great kind of quick assessment and I love that idea
you don’t need a personality profile test to determine that you just know
when you ask yourself that question yeah I am a better person because of my
spouse and you know what else Jimmy I really believe that if you are listening
to this and you answer no no I’m not then maybe the problem is you okay and
maybe the problem is okay how can I become a better person through this
process of marriage it’s not that my spouse isn’t making me a better person
how is the Lord working in my life how am i allowing him to make me a better
person through this well what you’re saying there is you have to have a
listening soul you have to hear your spouse not just be a roommate yeah right
so when they’re speaking truth into your heart it doesn’t have to be dramatic but
it could just be you know it really would make me happy if you don’t be your
pants back over the mirror you know are you are you and it could be more serious
obviously but it’s all of that added up to whether or not you’re you’re in a
better place in fact your grandparents there was a little story in your book
that caught my attention about your grandparents and the role of
selflessness getting back to that theme and I love this because of what your
grand dad your grandfather asked of your grandmother every night describe it
yeah because selflessness is not a convenient thing right it is never
convenient it’s always about sacrifice and one story that I love so much my
grandma and grandpa grew up in Cairo and you know back then there was not a
refrigerator where you could just go and grab a bottle of water and there
isn’t the modern conveniences that we have today so my grandfather was a
hard-working man and every night he would go to bed and he would ask my
grandmother could you go get me a cup of water and mind you it was middle of
winter and in Egypt isn’t like freezing cold in the middle of winter but it’s
cold they don’t have heating so she has to get out of her comfortable bed and
walk out and go into the cold and bring him a cup of water in the night and
after a while this act of unconditional sacrifice every night she finally was
like I’m gonna get smart with this yeah what if I just bring a pitcher of water
and put it next to the bed and then I preemptively meet his need so once in
the middle of the night his phone rings and he forgets there’s a pitcher of
water right next to the nightstand so he grabs that pitcher of water and he ends
up good a good flag on our eye exactly but but it’s really the idea is that
sacrifice and selflessness is never convenient you know and I think
sometimes we want it to be convenient you know we want it to be easy we want
it to be just something that happens naturally but we don’t have those
muscles naturally we’re just like the Olympian that needs to train for this
big thing this selflessness and sacrifice requires training and it’s
really important I wanted to touch again on that passivity comment that you
mentioned because a lot of people and I think I can tend to be this way
sometimes especially if you have a Christian faith because you think by
laying down your life right you’re doing the right thing but sometimes it’s not
from the right motivation describe that well usually when I work with a couple
and there’s some level of very significant conflict usually you find
out that one person in the relationship thinks they’re being selfless but
they’re actually being passive they are sitting there and absorbing the conflict
rather than dealing with the conflict they are always saying yes they are not
expressing what they need they’re just absorbing it all but you can’t do that
for a long period of time without the problem starting to come out in
different ways yeah and just because you are being passive is it’s not the
same thing as being found so how does a passive person or a somewhat passive
person get into a healthier place in their marital relationship what should
they do you know if if they’re hearing this going ooh I might I might be more
passive than I am being unconditional or something official so how do you
determine when you’re you’re being passive yeah well first of all I think
you’ve got to get really good at communicating your needs and and
thinking about how often do I communicate my needs
am I even aware of my emotions and do i express those things to my spouse you
know or do I just absorb it do I just let it go
because it’s easier not to talk about it sometimes but I think at the end of the
day a lot of us are the reason we’re passive is rooted in different things
you know maybe we’re afraid of conflict or maybe we don’t feel like we’ve got
something worth speaking maybe we’ve been told you know what you’ve got to
say isn’t really meaningful so we just were used to that process and and for
some of for some of us I really believe that requires the help of a professional
counsellor if you look at your life and you think I have an unrelenting pattern
of being passive yeah I mean that’s a minute you really need to take a second
look at and figure out where those roots are coming from and it might be – and
I’ve noticed this in people I know and love and is that sometimes when you’re
that passive person you’ll know because you’re so irritated about not being
heard or someone not noticing what you need right and it irritates you but you
suffer quietly you suffer quietly that’s typically a passive personality where
you’re really agitated underneath it all even though the external the other
person is going to I had a great person he is or she is moving to the walls that
we put up to protect ourselves and I think that happens in marriage and I
think for men particularly Deborah if I could say it this way and I want you to
speak to this but we can compartmentalize you know we’ve done a
lot of shows on you know the way the human brain is formed between the
genders male and female and men have a real unique ability to compartmentalize
and you that is the definition of putting up a wall right so we don’t want
to go there especially if we’re shamed or rebou
in our marriage we create a wall and we look indifferent then and I know many I
think wives right now are probably thinking that’s my husband we’re not
connected he comes and watches news weather and sports and doesn’t really
connect with me emotionally that’s a walled up husband is that a
fair comment absolutely how do you how do you help
those walls to crumble we’ve got so many walls that we bring into marriage and
and we bring them into marriage without realizing it based on the things we have
seen in our family of origin the way we have learned to love growing up and we
bring these walls in walls such as isolation like you said boxing up your
emotions compartmentalizing walls such as denial where you’re like you’re not
really good at taking your role in the conflict or argument withdrawal avoiding
conflict at all costs even the wall of fantasy where where you’re allowing
something else to take the place of marriage there’s so many different walls
one recent wall that came up in our marriage which I actually don’t write
about in choosing marriage so this is a bonus extra content this extra bonus
content the wall of humor you know sometimes my husband he’ll be talking
about something and I’m really serious I you know I’m telling him something that
I need and he’ll crack a joke because sometimes it’s easier to deal with humor
and put that wall up make make it light make it funny rather than embrace that
and go deeper and so we bring these walls into marriage and and a lot of
times we don’t even realize how they are keeping our spouse out you use the term
emotional divorce I think a lot of people are going yep I understand
exactly what that means some are pricing I I don’t know what that means
describe emotional divorce and how do you prevent it well I would say
Christians are very good at being divorced without being divorced huh and
I’m what I mean by that is living separate lives emotionally spiritually
psychologically but kind of just going through the motions of marriage we’re
living in the same house under the same roof but we are not connecting
intimately and I really believe that’s a struggle that we need to help people
call out and then learn how to deal with it yeah
you and your husband John a few years ago had some difficulty
I guess some stresses that come with the seasons of marriage what was going on
and how did you resolve that you know one of the main things that I realized
in that season of our life was how we were sort of defaulting to negative
behaviors and you know when you’re stressed he had his own stress he was a
resident and working so many hours I was at home with two little babies and
trying to juggle my career and there’s all these different things going on and
you don’t realize the slow drift that begins to happen the slow drift kind of
like when you’re at the ocean and you’re swimming and all of a sudden you find
that you’re miles away from where you started because the slow drift when
you’re not being active to move toward each other and not only were we not
being active to move toward each other we were not being active to move toward
God and and really I talked in in choosing marriage I talked about this
concept called the triangle theory and and that when we move toward God you
know if you think of about a triangle and and I move towards God and and my
spouse moves towards God the closer we each move toward God the closer we are
to each other oh that’s interesting yeah being on either side of the base moving
up that triangle third God you’re closer together and that’s something really
disconnecting on and so this is what takes work recognizing that that drift
and sometimes coming to a crucial point in your relationship where you’ve really
got to sit down and communicate about these and I think in the last couple of
minutes here that’s so important and practical to say okay I get that
triangle idea I like that imagery how do I do that and how do I and then how do I
motivate my spouse he doesn’t quite get it how do I help him or her move closer
to God therefore closer to me and it’s all healthier yeah one survey I took
showed me that the majority of couples are actually interacting in significant
communication less than 30 minutes a week less than 30 minutes a week it
doesn’t surprise me it doesn’t it’s too little it’s too little a and that’s the
problem we’re expecting to do these great grandiose things and have these
intimate marriages with only 30 minutes a week and and that’s where it really
has to begin is learning to connect one thing John and I have done that has
revolutionized our relationship is our weekly couch time every
night at 9:00 p.m. his iPhone alarm goes off because we got a schedule it let’s
be honest so we’re gonna forget that’s true and it’s our time to connect it’s
our time to confess it’s our time to talk through what we’re struggling with
what we need prayer with how our marriage is doing where we’re at with
our relationship with God and that time has just been so crucial for us to
continuing the process of moving toward God and moving toward one another yeah
Debra this is flown by I mean wow we have covered so much in 30 minutes
and it’s it’s amazing this is the kind of theme I’ve always talked about you
can look at improving your marriage and your relationship but it gets down to
that unconditional kind of sacrificial love that you have for your spouse and
it’s powerful and this isn’t about saying you are greater than me right a
lot of times we’ve confused that it’s not you are greater than me I’m greater
than you he’s greater than she it’s learning to see that we is greater than
me this is for the benefit of both of us when I am sacrificial when I lay down my
life it is for the benefit of the we and and and in the end you benefit from that
that’s the irony and that’s what Jesus taught us wasn’t it that if you want to
be something in the kingdom than be a servant and that’s certainly and mostly
I think applies to your marriage doesn’t it Debra thanks for writing this book
and for doing what you’re doing is a counselor to help couples live a life
that is God centered and healthy thank you thank you so much for having me hey
I’m John fuller and thanks for watching get more info about focus over here and
more from our guests over there and be sure to subscribe to our channel as well you

Michael Martin

4 Responses

  1. 14:50 Marriage makes you a better person which helps you receive unconditional love! Knowing that we are worthy! This is good material

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