Marriage is all about sharing: sharing space, sharing joys and sorrows, sharing hopes and dreams. Yet we often hold back a part of ourselves because we fear that being wholly transparent–about our past, our desires, our failures, our faults–will bring judgment, rejection, or even just unwanted friction to our relationship. We are afraid to be fully known. As a result, we never experience being fully loved.
Ryan and Selena Frederick from Fierce Marriage and authors of See Through Marriage discuss:
- what a see-through marriage is and how to develop one
- how to be transparent and confidently vulnerable with your spouse
- the only way to experience love the way we were designed to
Ryan and Selena go over the 3 lies of obscurity:
They also answer the following questions:
- What is one step a couple can take towards a see-through marriage? (52:17)
- How does selfishness chip away at the health of a relationship? (53:59)
- Why is taking care of yourself spiritually, physically and psychologically matter in marriage? (57:10)
- Where in your marriage has practicing transparency been most challenging? (59:26)
- As a husband, is there a healthy balance between confessing certain sins to your wife and your brothers in Christ? (1:02:35)
- Where do you see that balance in terms of I speak to my group, versus I speak to my wife? (1:07:10)
- Let’s say we have one spouse who is very open with their feelings and very transparent and one is not. So how does one encourage the other without forcing the conversation? (1:09:17)
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Below is a transcript of the video:
Paul: [00:00:12] Good evening everyone and welcome to our live stream tonight on Facebook, YouTube and our website Impactus.org. My name is Paul La Vigne. I’m the director of operations of Impactus | Promise Keepers Canada and I’m really excited to be joining you tonight. We’re going to hear from Ryan and Selena Frederick tonight as they discuss growing transparency and intimacy in your marriage. Now some of you may not be familiar with who we are. We are a global men’s ministry focused on equipping men for a life of purpose and Godly impact. Our goal is to reach men globally in this digital age at Impactus.org. It’s our website that’s a resource heavy website, designed to address the challenges and the questions that we all face as men, including the discussion that we’re going to have tonight on marriage.
So for those of you who do know us, I want to welcome you. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. If you’re watching us on Facebook, I ask that you would share this if you would. You can start a watch party. We want to get as many men and women as possible, watching tonight and to be blessed by what they’re going to hear. If you have any comments, please put them in the chat, in the comments sections. Questions for sure, put them in and we’ll address them later on. But we want as many men as possible to join us tonight. Ryan and Selena Frederick created FireceMarriage.com back in 2013 when they felt God calling them to share with brutal transparency, the struggles that he had helped them to overcome in their marriage.
Since then, FireceMarriage.com has grown incredibly into an incredibly thriving online community. With more than 200 000 unique visits every month and over a million page views. They have an incredible social media following with more than 437 active fans and followers. Ryan and Selena have three daughters, they live in Takoma Washington and I would now like to introduce to you Ryan and Selena Frederick. Good evening.
Ryan: [00:02:05] Hey Paul.
Selena: [00:02:06] Hi there.
Ryan: [00:02:07] Thanks for having us. This is great.
Selena: [00:02:07] Yes.
Paul: [00:02:08] How you doing?
Ryan: [00:02:09] Oh we’re doing awesome. It’s still early in the evening for us. So we are – we’re ready to go here.
Paul: [00:02:14] That’s great, so great. I’m so glad that you joined us tonight. You mentioned off the top that your ministry started back in 2013 and it was – the catalyst was God working through your marriage, tell us a bit more about that.
Ryan: [00:02:31] Yeah, so we got married pretty young. We were in our – I was 20, we both were 20, 21 and so we dated for four years prior to that and then we had been married and didn’t have kids for the first 10 years of our marriage. And it was around year eight when we were in our late 20’s and we were thinking – and we had a lot of friends that were being – they were going through divorce, they were going through really hard stuff and we had seen some friends even get married and divorced two times. And we just kind of looked at each other and say what, like what is different, why are we still together? Why do we still enjoy each other? What is the difference and how can we somehow help our friends and people like them?
And we realised unequivocally the deference is Christ. And so we just decided to start a blog, initially it was just my mom, was our reader and thankfully my mom still read but other people started reading and it just kind of took off. And so we now have a podcast, we’ve written seven books, devotionals and books and we’re just really enjoying I think God’s – the fruitfulness that comes from just honestly just sharing the gospel. We see marriage as an excuse to talk about the gospel and so we just keep doing that day in and day out, it’s why we get up in the morning. So yeah.
Paul: [00:03:40] That’s amazing. Thank you again for joining us tonight. I mean it’s a big issue for a lot of couples, no question. And especially guys when you’re talking about transparency and intimacy in your marriage, it’s not an easy thing to deal with.
Ryan: [00:03:52] No, it’s scary.
Selena: [00:03:55] Yeah it’s a beast.
Ryan: [00:03:58] It’s a beast yeah.
Paul: [00:03:59] Yeah, no it’s a big topic that’s for sure. So tell us about your latest book?
Ryan: [00:04:03] Yeah so – you want to talk about it? I’ll talk, so it’s called See Through Marriage, I don’t think you can see that, there it is. See Through Marriage. We actually released early last year, but it’s all about experiencing freedom and joy at being fully known and fully loved, which is what we’re going to be talking about tonight is what that exactly looks like and what is the firm ground that we can stand on when transparency seems super hard, when it seems impossible, when it seems like we’re just going to be transparent to our own doom. What is the firm ground that we can stand on and then what is the joy that’s to be had at the other side of that risk? It’s a promise, it’s a path of the promise as we say.
And so yeah, we’re here to talk about that tonight. But that’s the entirety of the book. We get into what it means to be kind of see-though to yourself and not in like a self-realisation, self-actualisation sort of way, but really seeing God as – seeing yourself as God sees you, is the first step really in this journey. And then being transparent to one another. And then being transparent within Christian community and what that looks like as a couple. So it was honestly the hardest book out of the seven that we’ve written so far. But we’re really, we’re enjoying, we’re happy to hear that people are growing from reading it. So yeah.
Paul: [00:05:19] Wow that’s great. Well we’re really excited to hear what you have to say to us. So I’m going to through it over to you now and take it away.
Ryan: [00:05:24] OK. Well thanks Paul. We really appreciate it. And thank you all for tuning in to hear from us.
Selena: [00:05:31] Yeah, we’re super grateful to be here and it’s a very unique privilege I think and opportunity to be talking about transparency. Because you – I don’t know if you like guess, but a lot of couples are now finding themselves a home, working together. Together literally 24/7. And so it’s kind of like how are we not being transparent I guess will be the real question right? We’re together all the time, but does that necessarily mean that we are sharing and being fully known in those moments?
Ryan: [00:06:00] Yeah this pandemic is – has created this unique challenges as we all know. We’re all very familiar with that. But it has also created unique opportunities to connect and if we’re not careful or physical closeness, I mean our proximity in that we’re in the same – we – you’re looking at our office, this is where I work all day. Girls will come up, we have three daughters, they’ll come up and interrupt me and then I’ll go down and – so we’re together all the time, but in our physical proximity and maybe you’re in the same boat. The proximity can actually lead to emotional distance and relational distance. And so here we’re wanting to talk through really those, what are some of the lines of obscurity that we tend to kind of gravitate toward as married people –
Selena: [00:06:43] Well and even defining transparency, what that looks like I think in marriage. Because I think we all have different ideas of do I share everything and from before or whatever? And so kind of drawing some boundary lines around that and for the health and sake of a marriage.
Ryan: [00:06:58] Yeah, but that routine and hat kin of familiarity can, if we’re not careful, it can almost lead to more obscurity toward one another even though we’re spending more time than ever, and so we’ll talk through those lines of obscurity. We also hope to introduce five big obstacles that are really common for couples right now and hopefully at least one of these obstacles will speak to you directly. And then out of each obstacle, we’re going to give you at least a step. One step on the path of transparency, so it will be a good talk. As always it will challenge you. It always challenges us even when we talk about this topic, because I think we’re at home kind of being holding our cards, playing our cards close to our chest, but here that’s the gospel right.
So I’ll start with this quote actually. This is by a guy named Richard Needham, he said that, and I think it’s so apt for this moment, it says “You don’t marry one person, you marry three. The person you think they are, the person they actually are and the person they’re going to become as a result of being married to you”. And I found that especially convicting and elucidating at the same time. Because as a husband, I know there’s primarily men here, but the woman that my wife becomes is the result of the husband that I am in a lot of ways. God is gracious, he uses even my sin and my brokenness to somehow glorify himself in the life of our wives.
But I think that’s a sobering reminder that a lot of the who – the person that my wife becomes is a result of the type of man that I am. In both the way that I’m loving her, both that I’m leading her. And in this conversation, the way that I’m being known by her in brand new ways. So yeah, it should be a good conversation. So the main point for today, just to kind of stick our stake in the ground, is we’re here to give you some tangible ideas and tools for growing closer in your marriage in the middle of a nationwide lock down. That’s –
Selena: [00:08:50] Worldwide kind of yeah.
Ryan: [00:08:51] Nationwide, worldwide really. Especially when there’s nothing else you can do but just be together and mainly we’re going to do that through looking through obviously transparency. So let’s define transparency. I think that’s the first step here.
Selena: [00:09:02] Yes. So as you mentioned it can be very nebulous and sort of hard to nail down, but for our talk here, discussing transparency in marriage, it’s been known, fully known with one another without hiding or any obstruction. So like I said, I kind of mentioned – we get a lot of questions of should I – should we talk about things from the past before like past relationships and where all of the sins of the past and all of that? And the answer to that really is just you need to listen to the holy spirit on that, you need to pray about that. Because there are some things which we’re –
We’ll share one of our stories that the Lord brought to Ryan that he needed to share from the past and it wasn’t, it’s not airing out your dirty laundry just to do that right. It’s there’s a purpose, remember this is a path with a purpose and a promise. And so why don’t you share about our story about – yeah.
Ryan: [00:09:54] I love that. So, and that’s what you need to remember, is that as you’re standing in this trail head, you’re not just doing it for its own sake, there is an end in mind. And that –
Selena: [00:10:04] And joyful and intimate good and yes –
Ryan: [00:10:06] A joyful and good and that is closeness and that is sanctification and unity and that’s a deeper understanding of God’s love. And sometimes it’s hard to see and I’ll just share a story from our near past, I mean our recent past. So we had been – we’re going to church, kind of going about our business. I can’t remember what it was –
Selena: [00:10:23] Pre-pandemic.
Ryan: [00:10:24] Pre-pandemic yeah.
Selena: [00:10:25] Pre-pandemic life.
Ryan: [00:10:26] So it’s probably two years ago. And I had been watching, I can’t remember who, I think it was Mat Channels, I was watching him online, some sermons kind of throughout the week and one of the things he said and it was actually coincidentally while we were writing See Through Marriage, so I’m already kind of tuned into this stuff. And he said someone who’s only 99% known will never feel 100% loved. He says as long as you’re holding back that one percent, you’re always going to be setting in the back of your mind when you hear your wife or your husband say to you, I love you, I care for you, you’re always going to be doubting that because you’re always thinking if he just knew this last bit, then you wouldn’t love me.
And that hit me like a ton of bricks because I was thinking – we’ve lived transparently, but there’s something that in my past, I won’t get into the details but it was – I wasn’t proud of it. And I was ashamed of it. I was very ashamed of it and it was from when I was probably like, not even – I was probably 10. Really young, you could even say before the age of accountability, I don’t think, I think I knew I was a sinning person in that moment. And so I just felt ashamed. Anyway I was like I felt that kind of come up in my guts and thought that’s ridiculous, I don’t need to share, that’s too far back. And this is why Selena was saying, you’ve got to kind of listen to the Holy Spirit right.
You can’t just chronologue your whole life. You do have to be sensitive to what God is leading you to do. And so I just kind of pushed it down, kept going about my week. In my prayer time, I’d keep having this kind of recurring kind of conviction –
Selena: [00:11:51] Prompting.
Ryan: [00:11:51] Yeah and prompting. Until one Sunday morning, I remember so distinctly, we were at – we had gone to church, we got the kids there, it was chaos. We got there, we went through the serves and our church does communion every week and so we were in the back of the church kind of doing communion and the way that we do it is we were standing there praying together, as we were kind of partaking. And I just felt the Holy Spirit just this warm, just really heavy time saying you have to do this. If you don’t, you’re disobeying. And I kind of had this sweet sense of resignation like well I guess here we go. I’m taking a step off this cliff, I’m going to talk to Selena about this thing that I’ve just tried to basically suppress for the last two weeks.
And so of course during communion, I just looked over and said to you, I said, “Hey there’s something I need to talk to you about, it’s really serious, not right now but I just – today we need to talk”. And you were like, “What does that mean?”
Selena: [00:12:47] heart kind of drops down. You’re like huh?
Ryan: [00:12:51] Yeah nervous laughter by the way. And so – and you’re like OK well – by the way that’s always a really good tactic. If you have something to talk about, just mention that you want to talk about something, give it some space, set aside the time. And so we did that. And we had gone, we had packed up, left church. We went to –
Selena: [00:13:09] A miraculous thing happened, all three kids fell asleep in the car at the same time.
Ryan: [00:13:13] It never happens. It happened this time and so we’re literally pulling into our street to get home and we just kind of kept driving and we slowed down and I just said, “Here’s the thing” I laid it all out. And I just remember so clearly, I’d never felt so exposed, so vulnerable – we’re going to talk about some of these lies of obscurity. Every single one of these lies of obscurity were at play in that moment. And I just remembered so clearly the three things that Selena – the three ways that she responded to me. Do you remember those three ways?
Selena: [00:13:46] Yeah. I think it was thank you for sharing with me because I think that’s – it’s always hard to share something shameful or that you’re afraid it’s just going to break trust. I still love you. Because I did and I do and I always will, I made that covenant. And then it’s funny, you share something like that because I’ve been feeling the prompting as well to kind of be transparent about something’s that happened in my past and I want to bring some reconciliation to this. So –
Ryan: [00:14:15] I just can’t express how intensely and differently I felt the love of Christ in that moment. More than any other time previous in our marriage. I’m not trying to be hyperbolic in that, that’s true. I just, I felt like it was all out there. It was like, I was just hanging out there and you could have done whatever.
Selena: [00:14:32] As a wife, I mean it’s so easy to – the Holy Spirit was able to – I was able to take the right step there, because many times I’ve not. I’ve been, “What? Why haven’t you shared this or how dare you?” You know that just that kind of righteous sort of feelings of anger want to creep in and I felt like the Holy Spirit was just like have grace, have grace. It’s like slow down, let the emotions just sit inside of you. Do not respond. Respond in grace, respond in love, and truly like you said, I mean the Holy Spirit is prompting him to share this and then me to respond in grace and not pour on more shame and weightiness right, in the sin or whatever he’s dealing with.
And so in that moment, we both experienced what it means to give grace, to receive grace, to love each other truly and to be fully known and transparent in those moments that he Lord is leading us, when he’s leading us to do this.
Ryan: [00:15:30] So really our heart here is to encourage you to listen to those promptings from the Holy Spirit, to identify those dark hidden places and then step forward confidently right. Everybody wants so badly, to be fully known and fully loved. Our greatest fear as humans is to be fully exposed and fully known and then rejected in that. And I think that fear, that fear of being exposed and rejected is really, it’s not invalid, it’s a legitimate fear. The problem is that it’s not rooted in the gospel, it’s rooted in something other than scripture. It’s rooted in something other than God’s truths about marriage, about the nature of love. And we’re here to remind you of those truths and really coincidentally there’s three big truths that tend to be kind of a victim to these lies of obscurity. Does that make sense?
Selena: [00:16:23] Yes. And I think you should – can you define obscurity, what you mean by that; three lies of obscurity?
Ryan: [00:16:27] Sorry yeah. Obscurity is the opposite of transparency. So transparent things you can see through, obscure things you can’t see through.
Selena: [00:16:35] Lies are things you can’t –
Ryan: [00:16:36] Yeah things that – what ways that will hide. So a lot of times you will have this prompting, this thing that you need to share whether it’s a current sin or it’s something that your past, you’re shameful of or just a fear or hurt. The fear is and here’s the first lie of obscurity is that I’m not loved, in other words my spouse won’t love me if they know this. And that’s a lie because we forget, and this is such a beautiful truth, but we have to, we can’t just gloss over this, biblical love isn’t contingent on behaviour or feelings.
Selena: [00:17:07] So when we say my spouse won’t love me, we’re using the definition application of love probably from a cultural standpoint or some emotional, they won’t love me so they’re not going to have those feelings of love towards me. Well if we’re subscribing to the truth, which is the biblical truth of love, that love is patient, it’s kind, it’s longsuffering, it’s there. And God is love, this is the love that we’re applying that even when the feelings and emotions may not be there, I can still show love. I can still be loving towards my spouse despite the feelings and emotions. There are feelings I think that result out of these acts of love, but it is something we choose, it’s not something that sort of happens to us. It’s something we can be active in.
Ryan: [00:17:52] And of course if you haven’t felt love in a long time in your marriage, then it can feel more fragile. And I think there’s some ground work to be laid there around actually creating that culture of biblical love in your relationship that isn’t based on feelings. And so that’s a little caveat there. But at the very root of it, the lie says that love isn’t what the Bible says it is. It says love is something cultural, something –
Selena: [00:18:17] Right and for 1 John 4:18 also says that we are only able to love because he first loved us. So we knowing and understanding what love is, cannot be anything outside of God and the gospel.
Ryan: [00:18:31] Amen, yeah. The second lie of obscurity. So we talked about love –
Selena: [00:18:36] We’re moving really fast I feel like. But that’s fine. We talked about love and covenant in another book that we wrote, Fierce Marriage, the one kind of before this one. But if you want to know more, you’re like how do we define love more? It’s in those books and I – that really – I just want to through that out there. Because I feel like we’re glossing over it. Oh my gosh, there’s so much to talk about.
Ryan: [00:18:56] Yeah, well even we have a new course out, Gospel Centred Marriages, we talk about that in the very beginning. The second one is covenant. So covenant is another one of these foundational, it’s a pillar of Christian marriage and the lie is that our covenant is conditional. Again we have – the first lie is that love is conditional, the second lie is that our covenant is conditional or our marriage, this thing that we’re in, can’t handle this.
Selena: [00:19:20] Can’t handle the sin of this –
Ryan: [00:19:21] If I put the weight of this shame or the sin or this confession on our marriage, it will break it. And we fail to see, the lie it leads us to fail to see that our marriage covenant is actually, now if you look again, calibrating ourselves by biblical definitions here. The marriage covenant is a profound reflection of God’s covenantal promises to His people. The promise is not based on their merit, but based on His character, on His ability to fulfil it and it’s in the same say way. That’s what Agape love is. It’s not based on affection, it’s that same covenantal foundation.
Selena: [00:19:59] Right. And to some truth, I mean if our covenant is not rooted in the gospel and our marriage is not centred around the gospel, then our marriage covenant might be really fragile. It might not be able to handle, we might not do really – we might not do a great job of being transparent with each other if Christ is not at the centre. So I think that working towards – not working, that’s a bad word I think, but knowing what it means to have Christ at the centre and living in a way that reflects that is so pivotal for us, because then that leads us in to understanding love and the biblical what that means, the biblical definition. But also covenant and seeing that it is a reflection of Gods nature, but it’s also this safe sort of area that God’s allowed us to come into with each other to say hey I’m dealing with some shame, I’m dealing with some fear or I just feel like we haven’t been connecting and I don’t know if there’s past sins that we need to deal with. So I think I just wanted to highlight that a little bit.
Ryan: [00:21:02] Well that’s beautiful. It’s actually a perfect segue into the third lie of obscurity which is, it’s just basically the gospel is not enough. That we can believe this lie that the gospel can’t reach – it can reach me kind of in general, but it can’t reach into there.
Selena: [00:21:16] Right, how does it go, how does it deal, how do we deal with the gospel and the struggle? What’s the lie in there?
Ryan: [00:21:21] Yeah well we can feel like as our marriage is dying, it’s dying slowly rather than thriving and that can lead us to a place of despair. And the gospel, it defuses that because it starts with this truth that we are made in God’s image. That we are sinners yes, but we are saved by grace. By the love, because of the covenantal love of God. And so we always talk about gospel centeredness and what it means to be gospel centred. Well really at the core of gospel centeredness is staking our entire life, our entire identity, our entire eternity on this truth that I am made by God. I’m imperfect, deserving of His wrath, but I don’t have to have it because Jesus has paid the price and has been resurrected and He’s resurrected me.
I was once dead and now I am alive, this is just classic, I mean not seeing that or not believing that fully is kind of classic garden deception. We see that in the garden when the devil – the enemy, the serpent says, “OK did God really say that? Come on you can just eat at the fruit of this tree” and then they go and eat of it and he’s just gone. He’s just like whatever. And a lot of times in our life, we will eat of the fruit of the tree, we’ll do something sinful because we feel like we minimise it and then –
Selena: [00:22:38] We do exactly what Adam and Eve did, we go and hide in shame.
Ryan: [00:22:40] And then of course after we’ve kind of bought the lie that it was worth it, then we get sold another lie that says you’re beyond forgiveness now. And see how that’s like a deal bait and switch right. So we haven’t read any scripture yet. I think at this point –
Selena: [00:22:54] We’ve mentioned a few.
Ryan: [00:22:55] We’ve mentioned a few, but let’s read a bit of a longer passage. If you have your Bibles, I encourage you to pull it out. We’re going to go to Ephesians 2:4-9. And we just want to – we’re going to tease out, we’re really looking at the top and the bottom of this passage, but we’re going to read the whole thing because context is a beautiful thing. Do you want to read that Selena?
Selena: [00:23:12] Sure. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. So that in the coming ages, he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:4-9).
Ryan: [00:23:52] Oh my goodness, there’s just so much there. But you start to see how transparency is absolutely hinge – everything about it hinges on the gospel. It hinges on our belief that it is because of His great love, that’s verse four [Eph. 2:4], we were once dead but we – He has made us alive. We didn’t claw our way out of the grave, but He has made us, He is the beginning and the – He’s the author, the originator, the finisher of our faith. The one who brings us from death. And then I love this how Paul is just opposing, or he’s using the word ‘work’ in a way to drive the point home. And that we are saved, it’s a gift. Not of our work. Every one of these lies has to do with our work. I don’t deserve love because I haven’t done the right things.
Our covenant is not going to work because – it’s not going to survive this because we’re not doing the right things, or the gospel is not going to get in there because I’m not good enough, God’s grace isn’t good enough. And Paul is saying that it’s not because of your works but it’s because you are his workmanship. See that? How he flips the script there and then, here’s the kicker, He says now created in Christ Jesus for good works. So yes, works are good, works are part of our faith but they’re not the origination of our faith. They’re part of our salvation but they’re not the activation of our salvation. I didn’t mean to sound that way. So I can’t say this, I can’t drive this point home hard enough is that we were dead and now we’re alive.
God saw it, He chose to enlighten us and why do this because of His covenantal love. That is the very basis and foundation of anything we can talk about in terms of transparency. So actually that last part of the verse – I want to go to another passage. We’re going to 1 John, so if you have your Bible again, go to 1 John chapter 1. Because that last part of works is a beautiful – when Paul says: God prepared before Him that we should walk in them, he’s talking about these good works. So we’re walking. This language of walking. It’s a perfect segue into this passage, which really is the talking about God being the light –
Selena: [00:25:54] I just want to stop real quick because – just pause real quick because there’s this illustration of this before we’re transparent with our spouse, the transparency and then the life afterwards. And I can’t help but say that it reflects sort of this, that we were dead, we’re living in death, it sounds extreme I know, but it’s – it feels dark, it feels scary, it feels like you’re alone sometimes when you’re dealing with sin and shame and something all by yourself. So we were dead, but then Christ died. So there’s this moment of Christ, we are now – we have – we’ve been impeded with His obedience, His richness, by His grace only. And then now we are called to this life.
This walking out of the darkness and into the light as in Christ. Doing that I mean is just, in the tomb, His life, everything, it’s just incredible, the parallel side. I just wanted to throw some light on that.
Ryan: [00:26:49] Throw some light on that yes.
Selena: [00:26:51] Shed some light.
Ryan: [00:26:51] Throughout scripture, light is a theme for kind of the presence of God. For the reach of God. For the view of God. For the effects of God. The truths that He – just who He is shining into the dark places metaphorically, but also literally a lot of places. I think of like the transfiguration or Moses on the – and so it’s just this blinding light of who God is. And so I don’t want to lose sight of that as we read this next passage, let’s read 1 John chapter one starting in verse five.
Selena: [00:27:21] “This is the message we’ve heard from him and proclaim to you that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” [1 John 1:5-10] That’s the promise, He’s faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and transparency my friends is a part of that cleansing from all unrighteousness. He is good.
Ryan: [00:28:07] The question is, and we have to ask ourselves this, is it worth it? Because so often we can talk ourselves out of it, because we can either minimise the sin, we can minimise God’s holiness or we can maximise our goodness and try and close that gap and that need for the gospel, that need for forgiveness. And so that’s the question we have to ask ourselves. And this whole thing is about marriage, it’s about transparency. We’re talking primarily to men. So we have to ask ourselves, is it worth it to rid myself of this burden, rid myself of this sin? And what is the thing to be had? Well unity, closer unity with – communion with God right. When you’re saved, you are grafted in, that’s not going to change but our sin does affect our communion and our closeness with God himself.
Even our salvation secure, our communion can be broken. And so there’s that sense that we – it is worth it. It’s worth the fight, it’s worth confessing, it’s worth being sanctified and in a lot of ways, it’s natural and if it’s not happening, it’s an indication that there’s a root problem. The fruit is an indication of a rout. And so –
Selena: [00:29:10] It all rhymes tonight.
Ryan: [00:29:12] I’m so articulate. So there always is a correlation. That’s what you want to point to in this passage right. There’s always a correlation and you see it in 1 John 1, between walking in God’s truth and two things, fellowship with God and man, close relationship, walking alongside others. And the second thing is, being sanctified or sinning less or the language we see in some translations is being purified from all unrighteousness. And so that’s a really close correlation. Now what does it mean to walk in the light? That’s – we’re going to take about that next. We have these big obstacles that tend to kind of – that kind of keep us from going down this path.
Think of the obstacles as a literal obstacle, maybe a hurdle in your way or a stone in – something that has to be actively engaged and overcome. OK, so walking in the light is an active thing. Paul or John as he writes, it doesn’t say you sit in the light, or you just wait in the light, or you’re patient in the light or you stand in the light or you just let the light shine on your face and warn – no you walk in it. You walk in full light of everything God has done, everything he is. Every promise that he’s laid before you and you walk that out in faith. Abraham was the subject of this covenantal promise to God, the Abrahamic covenant. What was the one condition that God put on Abraham for that promise? Faith.
And so this – here we are standing at the beginning of this transparency journey and that’s the thing that we – we are called to do what? To put our faith in Christ, to put our faith in God’s way and to walk it out. To step it out. To walk in the way as Paul talks about in Acts and various other books. So let’s talk about what those, I guess what are those areas? These are the big questions, OK. So we’ve kind of laid the case and the groundwork for transparency by looking at the things that would obscure our transparency, these lies that we’ll believe. And now based on that, the questions are; which area – in your relationship, you’re listening to this, you have – you can turn your computer off, your phone off, and you’re going to be in your life.
What is the area that presents the biggest obstacle and the biggest opportunity for transparency in this moment? Now you might resonate with one or more of these. I think our action I think ask in this is to find one and move forward with that. So let’s talk about those.
Selena: [00:31:31] Yeah. So I think we’ll just run through them real quick and then we’ll go one by one. And then talk about a truth and then one step you can’t take to step into the light. And then a next step as a couple. So this is kind of the more tangible piece of our talk tonight. The first obstacle would be past hurts and lack of forgiveness in them, so past hurts and lack of forgiveness in them or ourselves, or in our spouse or in ourselves.
Ryan: [00:31:58] The second one and I’ll go through this really fast, past shame. That will tend to invalidate your feeling of being fully loved. We talked about that in our story. Active sin, you know what that means you guys, it could be typically among men it’s a pornography addiction or some sort of addiction, something that you haven’t quite let go. Alcohol, drugs, work, even hobbies, things that are actively kind of creating disordered love in your life. Poor communication. Now this is getting very pragmatic so past hurts, past shame, active sin, poor communication, what does that look like? Well unbridled communication. Unmetered, stone walling each other, manipulative language, those sorts of things.
And the final one is passivity or laziness when it comes to pursuing each other. Each one of these things will create their obstacles to be overcome. Now whatever – whoever you – wherever you’re at, whatever your season in life, one of those probably is louder than others and we’re saying zero in on that one. But as we go through these, we’re going to offer kind of – we’re going to talk about the obstacle a little bit more, we just have a few more minutes here and we’re going to hopefully overcome the obstacle with truth and then give you a really tangible step into the light. So we’re going to continue this theme of walking in the light as an active step of faith. It’s not – and again, it’s a path with a promise.
You’re not just doing it because Ryan and Selena Frederick said to do it or your church leader or your pastor or Impactus said to do it, you’re doing it because there’s a promise and the promise is more fellowship with God, more righteousness and more sanctification. So obstacle one, past hurts and lack of resolution and forgiveness.
Selena: [00:33:39] Right. Well I mean the truth is that we are sinners. We are forgiven. So if the past hurts, there’s things that we haven’t resolved I think between each other or even maybe before you were married, again if that prompting of the Holy Spirit is there then we need to recognise who we are; we’re sinners, we’re saved by grace through faith. So God has not haled our sins against us, so in this act of forgiveness we cannot not forgive. We have to forgive each other. Forgiveness again is not just a blank slate, trusting, everything’s good, we’re right back where we started. Forgiveness is also a journey of rebuilding trust in a lot of ways. So there would be consequences that we have to work out, but for that we have to walk in faith. So this, you’re going to talk about this.
Ryan: [00:34:30] Well this is one of the biggest areas. I saw a poll recently where basically they started all the sentences, what’s one – “ This, blank, made our marriage stronger than ever”. Name one thing that made your marriage stronger than ever, in the life of your marriage. There was as you can imagine varying answers, but you start to see themes float to the surface. I’d say one of the most prevalent if not the most prevalent theme was when we dealt with the past hurts. And what does that usually look like? You’re taking the time to actually talk through it. You’re taking the time to seek reconciliation. A lot of times we’ll have a past hurt, the bomb will drop, you never actually clean up the destruction.
You just like, the explosion is gone and we’re sorry but we’re still living in the destruction of it, instead of rebuilding. And that rebuilding is an immensely hard thing to do. It’s immensely hard work but that’s what these couples are saying, there’s hundreds of them that responded and said it’s when we finally got through and got past these past hurts. We worked through them. So that’s a step into the light. So the truth that you talked about is we’re all sinners and we’re forgiven. If you need confirmation of that, conviction of that, and how being forgiven means that we must forgive one another, go read Mathew 18, the parable of the unforgiving servant, just wrecks my life every time.
Colossians 3:13 says, “Bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you. So you must also forgive”. That’s imperative, that’s not a suggestion, it’s a command. You must also forgive. So the step into the light is if you were wronged, forgive. And I know that, I don’t mean to sound, it’s not an easy thing to do but we’re saying it’s a necessary thing to do. And it’s a thing that we – you need to start walking toward if you haven’t started walking toward that. But here’s the kicker, we forgive and then we seek steps of reconciliation. So if you’ve sinned, that’s if you were wronged against. If you were the sinner in that case, offer a heartfelt, and this is psychology 1-0-1, this is the first step down the road of getting past hurts and reconciliation.
We’re not psychologists but we know this much, is that you need to offer, if you’re the offender, offer a heartfelt confession, a heartfelt earnest request for forgiveness and then display behaviour that shows that you’ve actually repented, that you’ve turned from that sin and that you now walking toward life, toward truth, toward health.
Selena: [00:36:53] Be that workmanship, yes. So the next step I think as a couple would just be to prayerfully seek reconciliation together. You can do this as an individual of course as well, but seek the reconciliation and get outside help as necessary from pastors or Christian counsellors or whatever, another mentor guide couple.
Ryan: [00:37:15] And it’s an active thing, it’s again a walking because that can hurt. We’ve had relationships in our life, friends, family relationships that have – it hurts, it hurts to take down, take that step but it’s a step of faith. I’m actually having to make that step right now. In another – not this relationship, but another relationship toward reconciliation. So that’s a challenge. OK so the second obstacle, we’ll try to get through this fairly quickly so we have some time for some questions, the second obstacle is past shame that invalidates the feeling of love. You don’t feel loved or you don’t feel loveable.
The truth to dispel that is that God – here’s the thing, God knows your sin, he still loves you, Romans 5:8 “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. I see the picture of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, walking, hiding from God as He’s – as they hear His steps in the garden and God asks, “Where have you gone?” God knew where they were –
Selena: [00:38:04] He didn’t lose them.
Ryan: [00:38:05] He didn’t lose them like oh no I’ve lost the humans. He knows, He knows you and it was while you’re sinners that He died for you. OK that truth dispels this lie that your past, your shame makes you unlovable. Because the God of the universe, the perfect Holy immeasurable, majestic perfect God of the universe has told you otherwise that you are loveable. So what’s the step into the light?
Selena: [00:38:31] The step into the light then would be realising that your shame is an opportunity for your feel and for your wife, I guess, as if the husbands confessing, to express the love of God in brand new ways. It takes a lot of talking, a lot of trusting, a lot of prayer and as he shared his story, again I’m continually asking the lord to help me build trust with him to be able to share things. And I’m continually asking God to help me be a good confessor. I guess I’m a better repented – not better, just too continually to repent and to create that, I guess not an ease, but a place to be able to be comfortable in this –
Ryan: [00:39:19] It becomes part of our language.
Selena: [00:39:20] It becomes part of our rhythms and our language of like hey we can fight faster, we can reconcile sooner, there’s forgiveness, there’s grace. I understand where I am, where you are, so that step into the light really is just seen as an opportunity in asking God to help us and how to trust Him and how to root out the shame and to give us the words to really articulate where we’re at. Because that is really hard sometimes to just communicate sometimes.
Ryan: [00:39:45] And I want to gloss over that thing that you said, it’s so powerful, is that your shame or the shame that your spouse brings to you is an opportunity to experience the love of God in profound new ways. And so I just want to press into that, that’s the promise on the other side of this. And even if your spouse fails at loving you in that, even if they fail, that’s an opportunity to feel God’s love in a new and different way.
Selena: [00:40:12] Even, they will. We all fail, we will fail. So when we fail.
Ryan: [00:40:15] When they fail, what I’m saying in that moment like we had in the car, you didn’t fail me. I’m saying that if your spouse fails you in that regard and they respond in a different way, by God’s grace you can still experience the goodness.
Selena: [00:40:28] Yeah, we still need to keep coming back because it’s just – if we don’t keep coming back, we’re just going to keep living in that, in the darkness and be hiding and withdrawn. So –
Ryan: [00:40:39] Third obstacle.
Selena: [00:40:39] Oh yes, number three.
Ryan: [00:40:41] OK active sin. Alright, this is the conviction time. OK if there was any sort of sin that is unconfessed and active and unrepentant, this is going to be an obstacle to your transparency, to your closeness. You’re going to be living in close proximity, but emotional distance. You have to be known in this way, not just so you can wallow in it and be a pig in mud, but because it’s –
Selena: [00:41:01] Called out of it.
Ryan: [00:41:02] Being called out of it and dragged out of it and pulled out of it. So here’s the thing about sin is that we can rationalise it. We’re really good at rationalising sin. We saw in the garden, it’s hardwired into us –
Selena: [00:41:12] And our goodness, our desire for goodness.
Ryan: [00:41:15] Yes, oh it’s – what they don’t know can’t hurt them. I don’t have to actually – I can deal with it by myself on my own. I don’t have to tell him or her, I can just deal with it and then once I’m fixed then I can tell it to them as a past tense thing. That’s irrationalising. Or it’s not that bad, it’s not as bad as everyone says it is, you’re just making a big deal out of it. We do that, we minimise our sin because we minimise the gospel. Alright, remember the good news is only as good as the bad news is bad. And the bad news is pretty bad you guys.
Selena: [00:41:49] Read the Old Testament.
Ryan: [00:41:49] Read the whole thing.
Selena: [00:41:50] It’s changed my life.
Ryan: [00:41:50] But the good news is better. That’s the thing and that’s the gospel. So don’t minimise it, call it what it is. Particularly around the idea of pornography, it continues to be a pandemic of its own nature in a lot of ways it’s the worst. And so someone once told me, said we need to stop treating pornography like a fly at the picnic and treat it like what it really is. It’s a viper in the bedroom. It will kill a marriage, it will kill your soul as it sears the conscious. It hardens the hart. And it’s toxic, it is death. It is death not just to you personally, internally, it’s a death to your relationship, it’s death to our society. So stop treating it like just a fly at the picnic, it’s a viper in the bedroom and it’s poisonous and it will kill us.
So the step into the light is again, you’ll hear this refrain, repent and believe the gospel. Repent of that sin, turn from it. Ask God to help you. You guys, the Lord’s Prayer, lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil, I’ve started praying that a couple years ago in the mornings. Of course I elaborate on it but like God help me avoid to astute temptation. Help me to see it for what it is and then run from it. That’s a prayer you can pray. We can confess it to God and then to your spouse and then begin down the path of rebuilding trust after that sins been brought out into the light.
Selena: [00:43:08] Alright, so act of sin number four is: poor communication. That is big as well. I’m just reading and I’m like oh man –
Ryan: [00:43:15] It’s a huge topic.
Selena: [00:43:16] We’re 17 years into a marriage and we still have terrible communication with some things. We’ve gotten better, but I’m just like how are you not hearing what I am saying right now? I cannot make it any clearer. But the words that we say are powerful and if I don’t put the weight in the words that he’s putting the weight in, then we’re going to have a clash of the titans for sure.
Ryan: [00:43:39] So again, massive topic. We’ve got a lot of resources on communication within our Fierce Marriage ecosystem. The Bible has some pretty cool obvious themes around communication. The first one in this is that words matter. Words are powerful, how you speak to one another is powerful. Enough said. The second one, listening is better than speaking –
Selena: [00:44:01] In James, be quick to – slow to speak –
Ryan: [00:44:04] Quick to listen yeah. So listening is not an option, but speaking is an optional. Listening is best, speaking isn’t. So –
Selena: [00:44:12] While listening, again there’s a way to listen. We’re not just going to listen to respond, we’re going to listen and try to find that agreement and that point where we can start from.
Ryan: [00:44:21] Yeah. And that’s the third kind of big principle we see all throughout scripture is that communication is a tool for bringing others close. And that could be to reconcile a relationship. That could be to resolve a conflict. It could be just to know one another more deeply. We use words as tools to that end, so that’s why we listen. I genuinely want to know what’s going on in your heart, in your head, in your guts, tell me. But it only works if I listen while you talk. So the step into the light is just that is listen, ask questions. Slow down, slow down the cadence especially when you feel an argument escalating. The best way to diffuse those bombs is to just slow the cadence. Quit responding with such quickness, instead pause, think, try to rearticulate.
Selena: [00:45:05] And ask questions and again, listen to not just respond but listen and find that agreement point to begin from yeah.
Ryan: [00:45:11] A deeper meaning. Try to hear what they’re saying with their heart, not with their words. That takes some emotional awareness, emotional maturity, but you can do it. OK, so here’s a really fun exercise that we do around communication. Because you might be thinking well yeah, I want to have deeper conversations, I don’t know where to start, help me. Because we’ve been staring at the same walls for the last year. We haven’t gotten out. There’s no restaurants, nothings open. How we – we can’t experience anything new. Here’s some stuff that will help. Three questions, we call it the heart check. What book is in your hand? And then just talk about it. What voice is in your ear? Podcasts are all the rage right now –
Selena: [00:45:44] Sermons, yeah whatever.
Ryan: [00:45:46] Sermon, podcast –
Selena: [00:45:46] Audio books –
Ryan: [00:45:47] Video, audio book. What’s in your ear? Let’s talk about that. And the third thing is, what is the Lord stirring in your heart? Like what is the vision that he has for you? How is he leading you? What are you learning in the word? How is he convicting, prompting you? These are great ways to start open-ended conversations that aren’t – that don’t get distracted or you don’t get stuck.
Selena: [00:46:07] Alright, the last one is passivity, laziness, lack of discipline and pursuing one another. This is a big obstacle and I think it’s kind of the default for us and we can just – it’s so – I think it’s just easier to fall into passivity right and to be lazy, we’re tired, we’ve been parenting, we’ve been working, we have the screen, we’ve been doing all the things. And so we just kind of go to the easiest, the lowest common denominator of well it’s fine, I mean we’ll deal with it later.
Ryan: [00:46:39] Well it’s like pursuing each other. We can’t go out to dinner so what am I supposed to do? We tend to just find that status quo, which for us we love watching, there’s a show on the History channel it’s called Mountain Men, we love it. It’s like, it’s become kind of our way to bond but if we’re not careful we can just settle into that routine and pretty soon we stop having meaningful conversations. We stop laughing. And so once in a while you’ve got to mix it up, you’ve got to instead of just veging out in front of the TV at night, maybe talk about scripture or just – a few nights ago we had a pretty epic tickle fight. Selena is an awesome tickler to my chagrin.
Selena: [00:47:15] I did yeah. Sometimes I can muscle it in, but –
Ryan: [00:47:20] I almost throw up. She’s stronger than she looks. Take my word on that. So the point being is you’ve got to mix it up and that takes a certain level of avoiding passivity. Speaking to the men here. We are called not to be passive, we’re also not called to be aggressive. We’re called to be active, engaged. Actively taking on this responsibility, this role as husband, as head of the house, as father if you have kids and so step into that. Step into the light in that way and what that looks like for you, it could be praying. Here’s the most tangible step that I can give a husband looking to engage his family, is pray more.
Pray more, open your Bible, if you don’t know where to go, go to John, just start reading in John. If you have kids, maybe go to Genesis. John has some great stories as well. And if you want to take it up one notch with your wife, ask her, sit down, kids are asleep, or you’re together, just ask her, how can I pray for you? What’s in your heart, how can I pray for you? As your husband, I care about you, I want to go to God on your behalf, what can I pray for you?
Selena: [00:48:26] There’s nothing sweater than hearing that.
Ryan: [00:48:27] And then after she answers you, say can we pray together right now? Grab your wife’s hands and just start praying with her. I’m shocked at how many men find that hard to do. I’m –
Selena: [00:48:38] It’s not easy to do sometimes.
Ryan: [00:48:39] I’m shocked and I – then I remember back to how it was hard for us at first too.
Selena: [00:48:44] Yeah anything new or that you haven’t done for a while, it’s – it can be uncomfortable. So –
Ryan: [00:48:49] That’s not to sheep shame it –
Selena: [00:48:49] Step into it –
Ryan: [00:48:50] It’s to encourage you.
Selena: [00:48:50] To keep at it –
Ryan: [00:48:52] If you feel like it’s really hard, you’re not alone.
Selena: [00:48:54] Yes.
Ryan: [00:48:55] And you can step into that with confidence. So hopefully you found something helpful a really quick recap on these obstacles, past hurts can be an obstacle. Other step into the light is to seek forgiveness, to forgive one another. To forgive yourself. The second one is past shame can invalidate your feelings of being loved, remember the gospel in that. Active sin, repent, believe, trust the gospel is enough to – you’re loved in Christ and you’re spouse can be a part of that process and that confession. Poor communication, learn to have good conversations. I know it’s a big loaded thing to say, that’s an art you can learn. The final one is just avoid passivity. Get active, pursue one another.
And we’re confident that as you take your steps down this path of transparency, you will have hope along the way, but you’ll have growth along the way and that promise is secure that Christ is enough and I’m confident that you’ll see growth in these areas in your marriage. So that’s it.
Selena: [00:49:51] Yeah.
Ryan: [00:49:51] Thanks a lot for letting us talk to you guys. Please enjoy, hopefully it’s been helpful to you and I think Paul is going to hop back on the screen here. That’s right, there he is. Hey Paul.
Paul: [00:49:58] Hey. Wow that was incredible. I just sat here, glued to the screen and I’d be happy if you keep going. That was a lot, a power packed 35 minutes or so. I love the obstacles that you spoke about. You made it so real for us. And I’ve got to say as a husband myself, as a guy, I’ll say this tongue in cheek, I’m encouraged that you guys struggle with communication as well.
Ryan: [00:50:27] Well I’m encouraged that you’re encouraged. It means that you struggle with it too, so.
Paul: [00:50:31] Well there’s no question as a husband sitting here, there’s – I could see as you were moving through the obstacles, the weaknesses that I have and areas that I need to work on for sure. But thank you so much. That was incredible really. So encouraging. You talked about one of the things we see a lot with guys is past shame. Guys really struggle in that area with past shames and not being able to let go of the past so they can move forward. Communication is obviously a big thing for guys. It’s that struggle to as you say, pray with your wife or pray with your family, or get out of the habit and then having to get back into it. It’s – that can be tough for guys.
Ryan: [00:51:12] Yeah. It’s, here’s one thing that was really encouraging to me on that front, I’m not naturally a talker. I’m much – I was a wall flower all throughout middle school, high school –
Selena: [00:51:23] Now he’s more of a talker.
Ryan: [00:51:26] But I learned something. I learned that – actually I’m 38 now, I don’t care who knows it, I’m in my – and so at 36 is where I read an article by Josh an Christy Straub and they basically talk about emotional maturity and emotional intelligence. And they basically said so simply you can grow in this. This is something that you can actually, you don’t have to just be born with emotional intelligence, emotional intuition, emotional awareness or maturity. Men, you can learn this skill of learning to empathise with your wife.
You can learn the skill of asking these incisive – insightful questions and then probing for deeper answers, you can learn that, that’s a skill you can learn. I was really encouraged to learn that in my mid 30’s. I’m encouraged to learn that I haven’t capped, haven’t topped out yet on that scale. I can still learn.
Paul: [00:52:17] That’s great yeah. I mean I’m not great in that area either. I’m not a big small talker and it’s profound, there’s no question. I want to encourage everyone that’s watching tonight, if you’ve got comments or questions, please put them in the comment section and we will love to bring them to Ryan and Selena and ask. I have a hand full of questions here that have come to us. Some prior to our session tonight. What is one step a couple can take towards a see-through marriage?
Ryan: [00:52:44] Yeah. So I mean hopefully you found a step in the – within the obstacles that we provided and the steps put out into the light. I think the most, and I didn’t mention at the very end but I think the very most kind of visceral, most actionable step. If you’re looking at this, it feels like you’re staring down the barrel of a gun, like how am I going to do this thing? Is just pray, OK. And the reason why I say that is not a copout, but it’s because you can’t do this alone, alright. I forget who said it, it was a theologian, somebody smarter than me, he said we don’t pray because we thing we don’t need God. And so our prayer life is an indication of how much our hearts actually need God and are reliant on him.
So praying, because this is a challenge that a lot of couples will face and they’re at the end of a – edge of a cliff getting ready to jump. Well yeah you need God to carry you. And so pray together, pray alone, spend as much time praying until you know what the next step is and then believe me you’ll know. The Holy Spirit is faithful and he will convict in the right way. And then just pray for the conviction –
Selena: [00:53:51] Obedience.
Ryan: [00:53:52] And the obedience, there it is. The obedience to actually take those next steps and trusting that they’re worth it.
Paul: [00:53:59] That’s great. Thank you yeah, taking that first step can always be the hardest part, there’s no question. How does selfishness chip away at the health of a relationship?
Selena: [00:54:09] How does selfishness not chip away? Yeah being selfish definitely, it’s like a hammer to your marriage. I don’t think we realise how selfish we are until we’re married and then I realised how selfish I was when I had children. Because we – I think just we are either me centred or we are God centered. And so when I’m me centred, that’s kind of our default, that’s what we’re kind of waging against. This sinful, broken self that is all about me. I’m going to feel feelings of entitlement that why doesn’t my husband treat me the way that he should treat me? Why are we not going on these elaborate vacations? Why are we not spending the money that I want to spend or do what I want to do?
Selfishness just begins to chip away at the foundation I think, of understanding the gospel and how we are called to be stewards of our resources or stewards of each other’s hearts.
Ryan: [00:55:10] It’s [empathetical] to biblical love really and that’s what you’re getting at is that it’s the call of the biblical love is selflessness –
Selena: [00:55:17] Die to self.
Ryan: [00:55:19] It’s dying to self and selfishness would extract everything from my spouse. You are a resource of mine, whether it’s for my sexual desires, you’re something to extract value from. And that’s what selfishness does is it says I need to get as much out of you as I can, do what I want you to do, let’s do – and so as soon as that stops, then we have a problem because now you’re no longer a valuable resource to me. The opposite of that is selfless love. So the picture that comes to mind here and in the selfish side is Sméagol, Gollum, in Lord of the Rings.
Selena: [00:55:55] Oh my word, Lord of the Rings yeah.
Ryan: [00:55:57] He’s just the precious, he’s just like he’s so wrapped around the, he has to have it and it’s so just – what does it do to him? Over time it just turns him into this shriveled decrepit creature. And our selfishness will do the same thing in marriage. Biblical love is the opposite. You flourish, I think what is it? Psalms, I always forget the number,
Selena: [00:56:15] Number 28?
Ryan: [00:56:16] I will call it 128. I don’t know. It’s the blessed is the man who fears the lord. His wife will be like a fruitful vine –
Selena: [00:56:21] Yes that’s the one.
Ryan: [00:56:22] We’re on the same wave length, look at that.
Selena: [00:56:24] How dare you don’t trust me.
Ryan: [00:56:26] His wife will be like a fruitful vine. His children will be olive shoots around his tables. He will see his children and his children’s children. He’ll see the flourishing of Israel of God’s kingdom. So that selflessness that is rooted in a fear of the Lord, that says my marriage is not my own. I am called to steward, that will have the opposite effect. We will flourish instead of shrivelling and dying, we’ll flourish and we’ll bear fruit and it’s a multiplying fruit. That’s the thing is, generosity begets generosity, love begets love. And so to answer your question Paul is that selfishness is just, is the – it’s a cancer to every relationship, to every marriage and it needs to be rooted out.
Paul: [00:57:10] Wow very good. You didn’t touch on it tonight but you have in your books, talked about the importance of knowing and taking care of yourself spiritually, physically and psychologically. Why does that matter in marriage and especially in this pandemic world we live in today? And what would that look like?
Ryan: [00:57:28] Yeah, so that’s in the part of the book where we do talk about being see-through to yourself and I really struggle with this part to be honest, because of the culture we live in. In that self-actualisation is seen as the pinnacle of human existence. If you can just live your truth –
Selena: [00:57:47] Enlightenment kind of thing.
Ryan: [00:57:48] It can be – you can just – yeah, you can somehow just – you can find the answers in yourself, that’s not at all –
Selena: [00:57:54] What the Bible says –
Ryan: [00:57:54] A biblical call. So the Bible says the heart is deceitful above all else. But here’s the thing, it also says we’re created in God’s image. And so there’s this need to know ourselves enough. I think its Psalm 90:12, Lord teach us to number our days that we might gain what, wisdom. And so we have to know and care for ourselves, steward ourselves because the biggest truth is that aside from being made in God’s image, is we are not infinite. We are made in God’s image but we’re not God. We don’t – we have these fragile bodies and so we talk about that in terms of living transparently. It’s understanding that late at night – this is an example. Late at night my blood sugar tanks, that’s not a good time to have hard conversations.
Selena: [00:58:37] Yeah we’re tired. Everybody is just, it’s just not wisdom right.
Ryan: [00:58:41] Have the wisdom to say hold on, I love you enough to say let’s talk about this tomorrow.
Selena: [00:58:45] Right. And wisdom in knowing also how we can better care for each other, knowing kind of his weaknesses or his strengths and how I can love him better in that and give him and be generous with time that he might need. Or as a mom and a wife, hey he offers to take the kids, I’m going to go have – I hate to call it me time because it’s not the time to just forget all my worries and throw caution to the wind, but it’s time that I’m being sown into, I’m in scripture, I’m praying, it’s time that I can rejuvenate for these wonderful and beautiful tasks and roles that God has given to me to steward well for his glory.
Ryan: [00:59:24] Yeah well said.
Paul: [00:59:26] Yeah, so well said. Especially in this pandemic time, taking care of ourselves, no question. So in your marriage, where has practicing transparency been most challenging?
Ryan: [00:59:39] I’ll share this story –
Selena: [00:59:40] Oh good – so here I go. No I think being – I think sometimes trying to find, trying to be honest about my feelings or how I’ve been hurt without hurting him in saying that, does that make sense? So like I’ve been hurt because I feel like you’re treating me a certain way or you’ve been ignoring me or I don’t feel like we’ve been connecting, and those are hard. I know him and so I know that when I say those things, they bare a lot of weight and so I’m like here I and trying to be transparent about where I’m at, what I’m feeling and of course he takes it personal and so then it’s hard to kind of I think work that out sometimes. That’s been a real struggle for us.
We’re both learning, I’m learning how to really try to paint that picture a little bit more clearly with better communication and he rhetorically I think asks some questions, and saying this is not what I’m saying. I’m not saying this thing, I’m saying this. And how can I better communicate this without – I don’t want you to feel hurt, but I want us to find a path forward together.
Ryan: [01:00:46] I’ve noticed that – by the way this is like a real time real stuff here. It’s a constant battle, but on that note, I struggle, I’ve had to learn how to listen more charitably and identify wrong motives in my own heart, manipulation tactics that I might be putting into play without realising it. And so a lot of – the way that it works out the most tangibly for me is I tried to express and verify meaning. So we’re having a hard talk or something, you feel it escalating, this is a version of transparency. I’m trying to say OK I don’t want to just take that thing that you said to the enth degree, that’s manipulation tactic because that’s not charitable, you’re not actually saying that, but I’m using that to win the fight.
Selena: [01:01:28] We’re recording this right? Of course I can go back to this. I’m just kidding.
Ryan: [01:01:33] He’s going to cut it.
Selena: [01:01:34] Cut it out.
Ryan: [01:01:36] So the point there, the point being that I have to identify, I’ve learned through being transparent and seeing you and learning to listen more charitably and then responding in a way that isn’t just trying to win the battle, but instead try to win your heart.
Selena: [01:01:49] I’ve noticed that for sure.
Ryan: [01:01:51] And that’s right. And so, but that’s been one of the biggest benefits of transparency because we can actually say to each other, “Hey you’re manipulating right now” and if you’re transparent –
Selena: [01:01:59] It doesn’t always go well, but –
Ryan: [01:02:01] But if you’re transparent with each other, you’ll say you know what you’re right, you’re actually right, and I’m OK, I’m not perfect, and I need to fix this. I need to repent, I’m sorry. That takes a – I mean that’s harder to do in the moment, it’s easy to say here and now when we’re feeling great, but the Lord is faithful in prompting you and then enabling that repentance. Remember the faith that we have is a gift. And so the repentance that we’re able to offer is a gift. And so I guess a step down those paths yeah.
Paul: [01:02:28] yeah and as you say, just keep remembering 1 John 1:9, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and all unrighteousness.
Ryan: [01:02:34] Yes.
Paul: [01:02:35] Another great question here. As a husband, is there a healthy balance between confessing certain sins to your wife and your brothers in Christ? So I’m a husband, is there a healthy balance between confessing certain sins to your wife and your brothers in Christ?
Ryan: [01:02:51] Yeah. Yes, I will say yes absolutely. Because some, depending on your personality, some guys that I’ve interacted with, it’s like they’re very interested in rehashing the sin kind of, I use the word wallowing in it although that lack some nuance, they kind of want to get into the nitty-gritty of it, but don’t – but consistently I’ll say this, they consistently fail to take steps out of it. So the same gospel that gave us our salvation is the same gospel that gives us our sanctification. And just like David, David when he stood in front of Goliath, he threw that stone, he defeated the giant. That was the, that was a decisive victory. Christ is the greater David, we in a lot of ways are the people of Israel in that sense.
But what did the people of Israel do? They charged into battle. So the victory has been decided, it’s been won, the giant is defeated, death is defeated, but the war rages on against our flesh. And so there’s this sense of girding ourselves up, I’ll use that language, we’re talking to men, like girding up our loins, and getting into the battle. And so when you asked that question, is there a balance to this? It should be effectual. Our confessions should be effectual and not therapeutic. And so there’s a time for therapy and there’s a time for hashing out kind of the root of it and that’s good, biblical counselling, pastoral counselling, it’s –
Selena: [01:04:22] Your dad’s a counsellor.
Ryan: [01:04:23] My dad’s a counsellor. It’s underrated, you need that. If you need to hash this stuff out, but I’m saying that our confession to our brothers in Christ is; on the battle field, if someone’s injured, and they’re trying to put a salve on your wound or a bandage on your wound, that’s so that you can get back up and start fighting. And so that’s – if I think I’m going to draw a line in the sand, it’s the confession should be effectual, it should be effective, there should be forward motion, if there’s nuance to addiction, because there’s a physiological thing that needs to be rewired and worked on, and there’s a process there, but I’m saying if ever we’re wallowing in it, that’s a red light.
Selena: [01:05:02] One, how do you share with your spouse, your wife, the sins that you’re not necessarily rehashing -?
Ryan: [01:05:09] The crime scene.
Selena: [01:05:09] Right, but you’re not glossing over and not being completely honest. So I guess honest I think with motivation or honest, you need to be honest with what the sin was and how you’re repentant of it.
Ryan: [01:05:25] So a lot of times again, talking to men again the same topic, sexual temptation and failure and addiction, pornography stuff like that, we’ve be talking to other brothers and we can say – you’re four guys, you’re in a group or whatever, you say, “Let’s do the check-ins. How’s everybody doing?” And you say, “Well I was tempted this week and I struggled with sexual temptation”. Yeah OK, that’s better than nothing, but that is what I would categorise as a false vulnerability and here’s why. I think the better version of that, the meaningful risk version of that, and there’s a book by, who’s it by?
Selena: [01:06:02] Andy Stanley –
Ryan: [01:06:03] No it’s not Andy Stanley, it’s called strong in the weak, Andy Crouch.
Selena: [01:06:09] Crouch.
Ryan: [01:06:10] And he talks about meaningful risk in that book and how it’s truly being vulnerable in the sense that the other person can’t – has the chance to hurt you and hoping that they won’t hurt you. OK so the meaningful risk version of that, oh I was tempted and it was hard. Is saying I looked at pornography today and I did it for however long, for 20 minutes or whatever and I did it five times this week or three times this week. And here’s what led me down that path. Now you don’t want to say here’s the website I went to, here’s the things I – you don’t want to rehash all that stuff, but I think being risk – having enough meaningful risk to say, to actually show where your heart went wrong or like I was –
And exposing that sin in a meaningful way so that you can actually do surgery on the actual wound. Otherwise it’s ineffectual. And so that’s what I mean. If there’s a boundary I’d put around it, I’d say pout the boundary around the fake version of that, be real around it without, while also being sensitive to the fact that you don’t want to rehash the crime scene.
Paul: [01:07:10] Yeah excellent. So where do you see the balance? Because you’ve talked about being really honest and transparent with your wife, which great advice. As a men’s ministry, we encourage men to iron sharpens iron, so does a friend sharpen a friend. And we really encourage accountability. So where do you see that balance in terms of I speak to my guys, my accountability group, versus I speak to my wife?
Ryan: [01:07:37] Yeah, that’s tricky. We – so our marriage and I don’t want to project our marriage onto anyone else, but Selena is my first accountability partner. That being said, as men –
Selena: [01:07:50] It was a journey to get here.
Ryan: [01:07:51] It was a journey to get there. It was the most liberating evolution of our marriage I think for me as a man in our early marriage, to kind of overcome temptation, unbelievable transformation there. But as men, there are certain things that I feel we still protect our wives from without hiding. We don’t want to hide things, there’s no secretes but there is a certain aspect of protection. And so we always – and I used this phrase earlier, we don’t want to rehash the crime scene. Because there’s a certain point where that – the benefit curve takes a dive, it’s no longer beneficial to confess. You need to confess enough to root out the sin and then leave it at that. And so that’s the balance there.
Now in terms of the nature of it, I think like if you’re struggling with pornography or whatever the thing is, and you’re totally hiding it from your wife, but you’re only telling your guy friends, I think that’s probably not ideal. You would want your wife to – it’s going to be hard, she needs to deal with that, and that’s going to be hard but you sinned against her, you need to confess to her. You can’t – you’re not sinning against your guy friends, you’re sinning against your wife in that extra marital sexual satisfaction, extra marital sexual activity. And so you need to go to her, confess it, deal with the fallout of it, again there’s a path with a promise, to get to the other side which is what, fellowship and purification from all sin.
Paul: [01:09:17] Excellent. How does one spouse, let’s say we have one spouse who is very open with their feelings and very transparent and one is not. So how does one encourage the other without forcing the conversation?
Ryan: [01:09:38] Let me think?
Selena: [01:09:41] Gosh, I don’t know if that’s just a question of knowing your spouse and being known by them. Because we have friends like this that she’s very, here’s my feelings, this is what we’re going through and he’s like two word guy right. There’s not much, but she knows him so she knows the weight of her – of his words. So the things that he might come back and say. And I guess, I think I would just, would just say just keep asking questions and keep being humble in that because it’s so easy to – as that personality to just kind of run over the spouse and just be like, “Why don’t you just tell me? Just get it out there”, and the other one’s like, “I don’t really know what it is yet” maybe or –
And so I think that if we can just humbly continue to ask questions, continue to have conversations around it. And asking hey I don’t want to be divided on this, so if we need to put a pause and like take a time out right now, then that’s fine with me but I really want to come back to this conversation. I have to find reconciliation about it, around it.
Ryan: [01:10:51] Yeah you have to be careful not to require of them to be the cone of view.
Selena: [01:10:55] Yeah we project a lot.
Ryan: [01:10:56] You have to learn how your spouse is responding and learn to read and hear what they’re saying, even though they may not be saying the words but you can – you have to read between the lines. And yeah, and just – the questions, phrase, how can I be encouraging without forcing I think was the – you just, you do just that. You just encourage and sometimes –
Selena: [01:11:16] Make sure your spouse feels loved.
Ryan: [01:11:17] And really tangibly speaking, sometimes it’s just because there’s too much distraction. You don’t have the bandwidth at the time or the space to actually go deep enough, you need more time. So turn of the TV, go somewhere, or just do something to create the place where you can have all those conversations.
Selena: [01:11:34] Wow, great answer. Well I don’t see any more questions this evening, I don’t know if anyone else has questions for us? Any of our viewers tonight. I there any last thoughts you want to leave with everyone tonight Ryan and Selena?
Ryan: [01:11:48] Oh man, this has been – what’s that? Oh yeah we have a few resources, OK if you wondering, what do I do, how do I step forward? We have two things, it depends on kind of your level of depth. We have a lot of books and stuff, you can go to FireceMarriage.com, find our shop. Lots of books if you like reading books. But there’s two really tangible steps. One of them is, it’s an E-book, it’s free. Go to 5habits.us. It’s the number 5habits.us. And that will – that’s a free download and basically that give you really tangible habits to start building today. And that will, and that will benefit you today here and now. If you want to go even deeper, and you’ve been –
We’ve turned some light bulbs on, we have a new course eco system that we just actually released this last week and the final sessions for the first course are up this week, on Monday, they were up on Monday. It’s called GospelCenteredMarriage.com. And that’s actually, it’s meant to be like a Netflix for your marriage. We’re just starting it, so we have one course, but were adding mini courses constantly. It will take you about six weeks to get through the first course. But the whole point of that is to lay these firm foundational gospel truths around love, covenant and the gospel. You build on top of that what it means to communicate in light of the gospel.
What does it mean to be gospel centre in our communication, in our intimate lives, in our money, in our how do we divide labour around the house? And then eventually we end with a marriage on a mission. And you fill out a family vision worksheet. So sorry that’s a lot to start with, but go to either 5habits.us or GospelCenteredMarriage.com. And –
Selena: [01:13:25] And just go to both. Have at it. Hopefully you’ll be blessed by both.
Paul: [01:13:31] Absolutely. Well I can’t thank you enough for joining us tonight. That’s been an incredible evening and just a wealth of information you passed on and I will encourage all of our viewers to go to both your websites. Gospel Centered Marriage and FireceMarriage.com and we’ll pass it on as well as a ministry to all of our people through our social media and our website etcetera. But thank you so much. It’s been incredible.
Selena: [01:13:56] Thank you for having us.
Ryan: [01:13:57] Thank you Paul, it’s been great.
Paul: [01:13:58] It’s been a blessing and I just want to say thank you to everyone who joined us tonight. To all of our viewers tonight, thank you so much for joining us and I hope Ryan and Selena have been a blessing to you and you heard something tonight that was helpful. And I definitely encourage you to go check out their resources. So thank you again for joining us tonight. Thank you Ryan and Selena. God bless everyone and have a great night.
Ryan: [01:14:19] Yeah you too. God bless.
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