Managing your marriage is just as important as rearing your kids. Learn how to stay connected to your spouse in the thick of parenthood on today’s episode.


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Doug: All right. It’s already been a long day at work. It’s been a long day at the house and I’m just tired, and now I have to go deal with my spouse. I just don’t got no energy for it. In fact, I just don’t even know if I want to deal with it. How much do I actually have to invest in my marriage? And when I’ve got kids, can’t I just pour it all over the kids and then worry about her later? Or him later? That’s the question we get to ask Dr. Leman, how do I stay connected to my spouse in the midst of raising children? Hi, I’m Dr. Penny.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: And we are so happy that you are with us. Truly, I really am happy that you are listening to this for your sake. And to let you know, welcome and I want to let you know this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or child, please go seek a local professional for help. So Dr. Leman, Andrea and I, we really like each other … Love each other. Sorry, Andrea. I do love you, and-

Andrea: I hope you like me too. Okay.

Doug: And I like you. But life is like crazy nutso, and trying to find time to invest in Andrea is really hard. How do I do this whole thing while I’m raising kids and have a marriage? What’s … help?

Dr. Leman: Well, let’s start with, it’s not easy. When I’m doing marriage seminars … By the way, if you ever want me to come to your church or organization, my preference is to come in and speak on a Sunday morning. Most people figure out this guy’s not as stiff, especially husbands. And they’ll show up and do something Sunday night on marriage, something for stay-at-home mommies and daddies on Monday morning. Sometimes we also do a breakfast on The Way of the Shepherd, my leadership book. And then on Monday night do a session on parenthood. That’s a great way to grow a church. You want to grow a church these days, by the way, folks, you do it through family ministry. But anyway, I forgot what the question was because I went off into seminars. What was your question?

Doug: How do you help us in how much do I really need to invest in my relationship with my wife, my spouse, in the midst of the busyness of being a parent?

Dr. Leman: Yeah, and I was talking about marriage seminars and I talk about the stages that we go through in marriage. The first stage of marriage is expectation stage, and that’s when we’re dating. Okay? This is when we fall into each other’s arms and we talk about the future, and, “I can’t wait for that day that we’re married. We’re just going to be together and it’s going to be just wonderful. We’re going to have this wonderful close, loving relationship. We’re going to have moonlight walks and talks, cuddle up by the fire. Oh, I just can’t wait.” Well, that’s expectation stage. The next stage I call reality, and this is where you find out your wife has morning breath that could kill a cockroach at four and a half feet. And your husband makes noises in bed at night you cannot believe. That’s the reality stage of marriage, and it doesn’t take long to get from expectation to reality. And then the next stage is disillusionment, and that can follow closely as well. “This man isn’t everything I thought he was. There he is watching two ballgames simultaneously munching on a pizza, eating his chicken wings.

Dr. Leman: His hands are a mess.” Yes ladies, this is your gift from God. And before long … And again, keep in mind if you’re married today, your marriage will last about seven years. That’s a good guess. Before long, we’re in the license and we’re in the dissolution of our marriage, and we’re done. So this whole process of staying close is a difficult one because we have careers. And then how about this? The time that little infant, ladies, is laid across your breasts at time of childbirth and there’s that little lip quivering and you’re just looking at this little gracious little gift from God, and you fall in love with that child immediately and that child is so needy. And you’re mama bear and you’re going to meet those needs. And many, many times with the advent of children, that’s when the intimacy and the closeness between a husband and a wife disappear into the back woods. And that’s a dangerous path to take because the longer it exists, the easier it is to stay on that course.

Dr. Leman: I’ve always suggested to young couples in the first two weeks of that baby’s life that you leave the baby home with a babysitter and go out for an evening by yourself to set the paradigm, the model, if you will, that, “We have a connection and a commitment to each other, which precedes our relationship with our kids.” And kids can become too important. So many parents just live their life vicariously through their children and it’s not healthy, it’s not good. You need to take time out for the couple on a daily basis. The husband has to be very much a helper because for the young mom that’s got a baby, she’s exhausted. To put bluntly gentleman, she’s too pooped to whoop, if you know what I mean. So you really have to extend yourself as a man to be the kind of leader you need to be in that home.

Dr. Leman: But as woman, you have to cling to your husband and you have to realize that his needs and your needs are equally as important. You have to work toward meeting those needs in marriage as you begin this new journey with this little life that is going to greatly influence how you live every day of your life.

Doug: So children are coming along and now they’ve taken over, so we’re losing this intimate connection. Is it just that we are physically exhausted? Is that why kids cause us to lose our closeness? Or is there another aspect of adding children to the mix that cause us to lose that?

Dr. Leman: Well, they just take on too much importance. But I think the physical fatigue, especially for a mama bear, that’s real. I mean, parenthood isn’t woman’s work. Parenthood is on both of us. And I’m here to report that today’s daddy’s are so much better than they were even 20 years ago. Dads are very involved, they’re doing a much better job. When that woman who is exhausted is led by her husband’s hand and say, “Honey, come on.” And he walks her in the bedroom and he pulls back the sheets on the bed and literally tucks her in and says, “Honey, you just take a nap. I got it. I got it.” As that woman who’s dozing off for that nap, you know what she’s saying? She saying, “I am so blessed to be married to that man. He understands what I’m up against.” Recently we did a podcast on middle children and we emphasized it was really important for that middle child to understand that people know what they’re up against. Well, so it is for mama bear who just had a child and she needs that helpful husband.

Dr. Leman: But again, the tendency is to get off track and to just focus on the children. So after mama’s nap and after baby is fed and laid down, this is a time we come together and we talk. We talk about life. Yes, we talk about the day, but we talk about feelings. We talk about what’s happening in our lives. And as a reminder, feelings draw you close together, when you share feelings. Judgments do what? They push you apart. I wrote this book, The Intimate Connection, and that’s where we want to strive to be as a couple. We want that intimate connection. But I’m here to tell you, most couples don’t have the intimate connection. They strive for it, but they fall short.

Doug: So Dr. Leman, I got to be honest. Literally, I was making the gaggy emotion here because like feelings? Are you kidding me? After I’ve worked all day, you want me to sit down with my wife and share feelings? That sounds like-

Andrea: Heaven.

Doug: No, there’s another description [crosstalk 00:08:43].

Dr. Leman: Well, I don’t think we have to dramatize it that much, but I think if you have a boss at work who’s just been riding your tail and it’s really irritating, I think it’s important that you share those feelings with your bride, that’s where you enter each other’s worlds. So it’s not so much about, “Let’s hold hands, pray, and sing Michael Row The Boat Ashore.” I’m just talking about every day, sharing what’s going on in your life at the feeling level. And if you felt like your wife dissed you or your husband dissed you, yes, you need some creative ways of bringing that up because sometimes if you bring it up in the wrong way with the wrong attitude, it’s just going to end up with a fight.

Doug: So my feelings don’t have to be all lovey, positive, flowery-

Dr. Leman: No. No. No.

Doug: … they could be genuine feelings.

Dr. Leman: But you need time. How many couples set time for themselves? I mean, the smart man draws the bath for his wife. The smart man doesn’t forget to bring that single rose home, the little unexpected gift, the touch of her hair, the comment that he’s so glad he married her. It’s the words that you use, people, that enrich the marital plan so it blooms and grows and spreads.

Doug: Dr. Leman, I’m hearing you talk about all this and I’m overwhelmed as a male. I got to touch your hair and I got to tell her, “I’m really glad to be married to you.” How the heck am I going to remember all this stuff because that just is honestly so foreign to me to stop-

Dr. Leman: Gosh, you sound like the normal stupid man that I talk to right now.

Doug: I’m just trying to be on it. Right.

Dr. Leman: You’re role playing, you’re doing really good. “You mean I got to touch her hair?”, “Yeah. Yeah. All right, do this.”, “All right, I touched her hair. Now what do I do?” Okay, come on. Get your head out of the sand and realize this is your gift from God. This is your helpmate. This is your oneness. This is the lady you love. This is the lady who pushed that little nine pounder out … Okay. It was six and a half. Nevertheless, she pushed that little guy out, and he’s your pride and joy now. So I’m just saying marriage shouldn’t be a checklist, “I got to do this. I got to do that.” It ought to be a natural outgrowth of the love and the mutual respect that exists between a man and a woman. And a lot of times once we get married, we get in a negative groove. A lot of men, quite frankly, I think take advantage of their wives. They don’t appreciate their great contribution to the family. In my estimation, most women hold families together, not husbands. Am I saying that it should be that way?

Dr. Leman: No, I’m just saying, my opinion is that most women hold families together. They’re so relational. You’re pointing out through your role playing of being the stupid dad here, the stupid husband, that for a lot of us as men, it’s hard to get our arms around some of these touchy feeling kind of things. But I’m just saying, this is just simple courtesy and respect and adoration, and using words to describe how blessed you are to be married to this beautiful woman. And she’s got to feel beautiful because women respond in the intimate side of life only if they feel like they’re really cared for and loved.

Dr. Leman: I mean, I’ve had women tell me … I’ll be real frank now, okay? This is getting a little edgy, but I’ve had women tell me behind closed doors in counseling sessions that, “When my husband just runs his fingers through my hair, that just turns me on, doc. I want to be all over that man.” Well, did that get some man’s attention just now? I bet it did. The little things we do that set up opportunities for not only physical intimacy but emotional intimacy, which is more important.

Doug: So even though you think I’m role playing, actually I’m not. I mean, it’s only in the last couple of years … And we’ve been married 20-

Andrea: Almost 22.

Doug: Almost 22 years. In the first 15, 16, 17 years of my marriage, I didn’t have any of these concepts to be honest. None of them. I brought home money, I was present, I was physically in the room, I didn’t yell too much. And I didn’t understand this.

Dr. Leman: Yeah, but you were King Doug, and there’s a lot of King Doug’s in the world. You come home to your fortress and you hit your chair, and you watch your UCLA Bruins win once in a while.

Doug: Oh, ouch.

Dr. Leman: [crosstalk 00:13:31]. We’re no better over here, believe me. We’re struggling, we don’t know what we’re doing. We just fired our defensive coordinator on top of that. So anyway, we’re getting off track. But I get your point. And a lot of men, that’s how we are. A lot of men see the house, the home, the kids as woman’s work. And women are so relational, they fall into that trap real easy because they love the relationship they have with their kids. But what happens is the relationship with the kids, which they get a lot of emotional strokes from, takes away their need to have emotional strokes come from you as a husband and they’re oblivious to your needs. Your needs are, “I want to feel needed and wanted and fulfilled by this woman.” Well, if she doesn’t feel like she’s really important in your life and she’s treated as a second class citizen, there’s no way that’s going to happen. You’re just lucky you married the gracious woman you did.

Doug: That is true. Thank you Andrea for marrying me. So before we go to break and talk about the book, I forgot to mention this at the beginning. Andrea and I have seen surprisingly a number of marriages around us crumble and the resulting impact on their children are horrific. And so the reason we’re doing this, you’re like, “This is a parenting podcast, we’re talking about marriage.” Man, you want … Dr. Leman says it all the time. You want to make your parenting super hard or screw up your parenting, divorce is the number one way to make that even harder. I don’t think you say number one, but you say it makes it a whole bunch harder. So we want to make sure that the foundation of the family is good.

Doug: And I’m telling you, you are going to get a gift right now and that is that you can get the book from Dr. Leman called Intimate Connections between now and January 13th of 2020 for only $1.99. I shouldn’t start telling you why you should have the book, I’ll let Dr. Leman.

Dr.Leman, why would I care about reading a book about intimate connections? How can reading a book actually helped me out?

Dr. Leman: Well, that $1.99 book that you download can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars. How’s that for an opener? It’s as good a comprehensive marriage book written in plain, simple language that husbands and wives can understand. It goes into the needs of men and women, I highlight how different they are. And again, a husband has to get behind his wife’s eyes and see how she sees life. He has to understand at the feeling level, what it’s like to be a woman. Conversely, we ask women to get behind the eyes of their husband and understand how needy that husband is. He might seem tough, invincible, he might be a former Marine, but trust me, there’s a tender velvet part of him that very much needs the affirmation from you for his basic manliness. He gets energy and fire from the simple words that you give to him, ladies. And so this is a book that if you take the time to read it … And I suggest this is one of those books like the book Sheet Music that I did, which is a book on sexual intimacy in marriage.

Dr. Leman: It’s probably the best selling book on sex written from a Christian perspective. It’s a mega seller, sells like crazy for a reason. Well, The Intimate Connection is equal to that book in terms of its worth and value because it gives you a full look at what marriage is all about to that point where you develop the intimate connection. And the intimate connection would mean if you didn’t see your wife or your husband in six months for whatever reason, maybe one of you was in the armed services, and you came together again after six months, you wouldn’t miss a beat. You would be able to have the same intimate conversations that you had six months prior to it. It means that you’re so into each other that many times there’s no need to even say how you feel because your mate knows that. So it’s a wonderful little book, it’s easy to read, and it’s got Q&A and it’s very practical and useful. So for a buck 99, my goodness, take advan … I hope people are taking advantage of these prices.

Dr. Leman: I mean, last time we offered The Birth Order book at 2.99. I mean, walk in a bookstore, it’s $16. Even online, it’s $11 and some cents. So take advantage of these.

Doug: Yep. You can get The Intimate Connection between now and January 13th of 2020 for a $1.99. And now, a no nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.

Dr. Leman: “Mommy, I want a puppy. Daddy, can we get a cat?” You know what? The Lemans have had hermit crabs, guinea pigs, turtles and several dogs. Parents, you know the drill here. And some of you, you get so sucked in by your kids. You live in a two bedroom apartment, you both work, you’ve got two kids. Quite frankly, the last thing you need is a pet. But many of you will go ahead and get that pet and you know down the road it’s going to cause problems. Certainly going to cause problems when you want to go away and be at grandma’s for three weeks. Good luck finding a dog sitter, et cetera. Well, not to come across like an old grouch, but you know and I know that if there’s a pet in the family, most of that responsibility for having the pet is falling on who? That’s right, you. Your six year old isn’t taking the cat to get her shots or paying for it, or to get the dog’s nails clipped, or shampooed, or you name it.

Dr. Leman: So this really is a decision that you have to really think through. Now again, we have enjoyed having a dog in our family. We’ve had a dog in our family almost all of my life and I’ve always enjoyed the company of a dog. I would admit to everything I just said that it’s costly, and they can interrupt your lifestyle, and whatever. But is it pet great for a kid? Yes, depending upon where you live, depending upon their age, their responsibility. But don’t get caught up in the emotional moment. If you’re hit with the opportunity, so to speak, to get a pet, give it a week parents and think about it. Think about, “Will this pet really enrich our life right now or is there another time for a pet?” I love going to the zoo, I love seeing all the animals. In fact, recently I was on Fox & Friends, and they had baby Bengal tigers in the studio and a baby leopard. What beautiful creatures. You want to take them home, they’re so gorgeous and beautiful.

Dr. Leman: I love to watch animals, but like what some grandparents have said to me, “I love my grandchildren because I can really enjoy them and then give them back at the end of the evening and go home.” So with that in mind, my advice is simply really think this thing through. Don’t get caught up in emotion in the wailing and crying of your kids because the bottom line is, you, parent more than anybody else in the family is going to be responsible for that pet. You want kids to be responsible? Of course you do, but I’m just telling you, the reality of life is you’re going to do more for that pet than your son or your daughter. Good luck.

Doug: Okay, Dr. Leman, we’ve talked about what the men need to do. Andrea’s question was?

Andrea: Yeah. What about the women? What did we do for our husbands to keep that intimacy alive?

Dr. Leman: Well, men … I want everybody to think about how long does it take to get your wife frisky? Now, we’re talking a little edgy here. I think it was my late friend, Gary Smalley, who first said that women were like Crock-Pots and men were like microwaves. And that’s so true because it takes women a long time in general to really enjoy true, wonderful, fulfilling sex. It doesn’t take a man much time to enjoy fulfilling sex. With that in mind, I wonder how many women realize how much that man needs and wants you in a physical sense? But the words you choose to use, ladies, it’s what drives him, which fulfills him. How many of you would be brave enough today to send an email to your husband at work to say, “Hey, the kids are gone tonight. They’re going to be over at grandma and grandpa’s house. If you hurry home, I have a special treat waiting for you that I know you’re going to love. And by the way, I just bought this new perfume and I wonder if you’re going to enjoy it.”

Dr. Leman: You send that email to your husband. I mean, he’d be salivating like a dog over a steak. Trust me. You get into that man’s head and you tell him how much you need him and want him. I realize that when I say that to some women who just heard that, they go, “Oh no, let’s not go there.” You avoid your husband. You make excuses for your husband. I mean, you might as well just drive him into somebody else’s arms. I’m going to say this as best I can. If you don’t have a love affair with your husband, somebody else will. That’s about a true a statement as there is. If you don’t have a love affair with your husband, somebody else surely will. It’ll happen. So again, the physical side of a man is just so important. If you look at males and females and say, “Who is sex more important to?” You’re probably going to say, “Well, probably a man.” Here’s the interesting side. Who is created by our Creator to enjoy sex more? A man or a woman? I think the answer is clearly a woman.

Dr. Leman: A woman’s response is so profound and huge and strong, and a man’s just not a 10th of that. So isn’t it interesting that the Creator created women in that way? And I think it speaks to us as men that if you look at our sex life as a symphony … keep in mind I wrote a book called Sheet Music. That husband is the conductor of the orchestra, and all these things have to come together for a woman to really experience sexual bliss in a marriage. Not much needs to come together for a man. Quite frankly, time and a place. I mean, most men are happy with that. So this is a struggle for a lot of women. I read my emails, believe me, I know how many of you feel. But are you capable of pulling this off? Yes. Are quickies okay in marriage? They are. Be creative, be inventive. I’ve heard every story there is, there’s not one email you could send me that would shock me at this stage. I’m a little bit like Farmers Insurance. I know a few things because I’ve seen a few things.

Andrea: Can I circle back to something you said at the beginning, and maybe just to bring this back around to closure. You’ve talked about what the men can do for their wives and what the wives can do for their husbands to develop intimacy. You went through the stages at the beginning. We start out with dating, with expectation, and then we move into reality and disillusionment. What about some hope? Is there something in those stages? Is there another stage? Or can we skip disillusionment? And what would you say could be the next stage?

Dr. Leman: Well, actually there is another stage. I invented the word, it’s called gracefullove. It’s one word, gracefullove. We sing that song, especially at Easter time, Because He Lives I Can Face Tomorrow. Well, if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, and you have the Holy Spirit in your life, I’m just telling you that with God, all things are possible. So many times these aren’t marital problems, these are spiritual problems. These are the fact that we’ve tried to do things on our own without the help of Almighty God. I mean, if you want an exercise to move toward the intimate connection, I would suggest you pray together audibly. It’s a great way to see what’s going on in each other’s heart, but I know from experience of working with couples that very few couples do that. We have our own individual spiritual lives, and God didn’t design us that way. He wants us to be in community not only in a local church or in a small group, but there has to be that oneness right in the home.

Dr. Leman: There’s lots of ways of skinning the proverbial cat, but I think a lot of our marital problems that we see within the Christian Church are really spiritual problems and not marital problems per se.

Doug: Well, it is interesting you say that. I think our marriage turned when I got more aware of my need for God and not myself. And I would say it was surprising how so many things around me went better. That’s a really interesting advice. Well, I think we’re out of time for today. But

Dr. Leman, thank you so much for helping us. Thank you for writing this book. If you are struggling in your marriage in any way, shape, or form, or you feel like your marriage is a five and a six and you want to go to a seven or eight or even a nine, I would highly recommend Intimate Connections. It never hurts to understand your spouse more, it never hurts to actually get behind their eyes as Dr. Leman said to appreciate them. So you can get the book between now and January 13th of 2020 for $1.99. If you’re listening to this podcast after that, you can still go buy the book. It’s still for sale and do it for your sake, for your marriage.

Doug: Well, it was super great to be with you and we do these so that we can help you parent your kids better and better, and a great marriage is a great foundation to do that with so that you have that toolbox to love those kids more and more.

Andrea: Have a great day.

Doug: We look forward to the next time. Take care.

Andrea: Bye-bye.