If you have been listening to our podcast this month, you know we are wrapping up the month with a special treat! We are ending the Marriage March with Dave and Ashley Willis. They are authors of the book and podcast, The Naked Marriage.
We are so excited to be with them today. When we first started doing podcasts, our team encouraged us to listen to them because they are experts on marriage!
How Did It All Begin?
Dave and Ashley have been doing marriage ministry for almost a decade. Dave was a pastor in Georgia for years and still is, it just looks different now. They noticed a lot of pastoral issues centered on marriage. They decided someone has got to do something!
“I felt God verbally tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “you do it!” So we did!” – Dave
They began to ask God, “What can we do for free?”They started a Facebook page called “Marriage.” Pretty simple, huh? You can still look it up today! The page took on a life of its own and led them into now!
They started do blog, publish books, and through it all God led them into doing full-time marriage ministry. They just took one step at a time. Now they are a part of the team at XO marriage and get to reach marriages all over the world!
“It has been an adventure to encourage couples. The need is huge and coming out of the pandemic, now more than ever couples are feeling squeezed. We get to be encouragers!We are learners and constantly try to encourage people with what we learn.” – Dave
Why The Naked Marriage?
The word naked sure does grab attention, but it is also biblical! Ashley shared how easily we forget about the first married couple (Adam and Eve) and how they lived completely naked. They were naked before the fall, but it was more than a physically nakedness.
100% Transparent, honest
“We believe you can have a naked marriage! A marriage that is open, transparent, and vulnerable! We live in a world that tells you a naked marriage is not possible. If you go into marriage holding things back, or having an exit strategy you will miss out on the marriage God has for you. If we want to have a satisfying, connected and Godly marriage, we have to be honest.” – Ashley
We love this picture of marriage because it gives hope. Hope for every marriage no matter what the current state may be. God promises an open, intimate marriage. Do you want a marriage like this?
What About Your Family?
Dave and Ashley have four (not so little) boys. 2 teenagers, 1 in elementary, and 1 in kindergarten. Ashley shared how each son is different and they never feel like they have “arrive” at parenting. There is always something new!
Let’s Talk About The New Book!
Naked and Healthyis the name of their new book! It has been published at a God ordained time because COVID shook everyone and our marriages.In the book, they take health and apply it to marriage.
Dave and Ashley break it down into three health categories:
The last section of the book focuses on the spiritual health. We decided to laser in on this area. We love it because the book addresses the hurts caused within marriage.
“We are ugly when we are hurting.” – Naked and Healthy
We don’t want to act this way, but often we find ourselves repeatedly hurting our spouses and kids. It is unhealthy and honestly not helpful.
How Do We Heal Hurts Caused From Life? Can We Break the Cycle?
First and foremost, we need God! We cannot find that healing on our own. We need God!
We need counseling/outside help
We try and tell ourselves we can do it, but when the pattern is constantly repeated, we need to try something new.
We need community
Ashley shared how there are times in their marriage where her and Dave are not on the same page. Reaching out to Godly relationships provided a safe place for them to mature and work through the tension.
The four of us dug deeper into the hurts marriage and parenting can cause and found they often have the same source. We have a wrong view of God. We go to Him in shame and it is unbiblical. God is a loving Father and we can run to Him in our time of need.
“There is a lack of humility, really there is pride, when we choose to say the beating and death of Jesus was not enough. We are prideful when we say “I have to be my own Savior.” We need to start with “Jesus is enough.” On the days when I am feeling shame, I know I will still mess up, but I can approach his throne with grace and walk out in our identity.” – Dave
If we can see ourselves through the lens of grace, we can extend it to our kids! You see, if we have a wrong view of God, we will have a wrong view of parenting. We have to reset the table and ask Jesus to show us who He is. This is where we need to start.
Bottom Line: Marriage and parenting will become more peaceful when we have a right view of God.
Often tension createsdivision in parenting. We need toremember you and your spouse have the same goal in mind. You are a team! Here are a few ways to invite God in. He is your good Father and wants to give you identity.
Invite God in and allow Him to speak
Identify division within marriage
Invite others in to speak truth
Here’s an Idea!
Reach out to marriage mentors. Find a family who you respect and want to repeat what they are doing in their family. Don’t say no for them. What is the hurt in asking!?
Parents, hear this! Dave and Ashley identified the issue, found someone safe to process it with, and invested deeply in the trusted relationships. It’s natural to not want to share struggles, but everyone struggles. Invite Godly counsel into your marriage and see what happens!
Strategies to Develop Unity & Harmony in Marriage:
When life is so busy, we go into auto-pilot and a marriage cannot not survive. It creates a lonely or “roommate” type of marriage.
Find a way to communicate openly every day. Maybe before bed, or a walk together. It may feel impossible at this moment, but we believe you can do it!
Am I moving in the right direction? Are the choices I am making honoring God, my spouse, and myself?
What is one thing I can start doing or stop doing that would create more health in this area?
Remember, what works for one couple may not work for you. It can look many different ways! Sometimes we get overwhelmed doing everything, but just pick one thing!
How Can Married People Build Habits Together?
As long as we are both encouraging each other towards health, it’s okay if we take different routes! You can have a good marriage and do different things!
Time and Space
Ultimately, we are called to help each other be there best and rooting for each other. Giving each other the time and space to achieve the goals they set!
Find a Common Thing
Read the Bible together
Small group/Christian friends
Dave reminded us of 1 Corinthians 16:14. It calls us to do everything with love.Everything we do and sayshould be centered on love. Anything else leads us astray. Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind. What would life look like if everything was motivated by love?
Ashley shared how marriage is not a competition. If one person wins, the other does not lose. How can we win together? Find a pathway and fight for it! We are partners through thick and thin. God will help you with this!
“You have to get the book! It encourages you to laugh together. Find something to laugh about today! If you do nothing else, laugh with your spouse as soon as possible!” – Suzanne
We encourage you to ask yourself, what is your next step? Keep it simple. Take one step for your marriage this week. Marriage and parenting is a lifelong journey and change happens overtime. You are not alone and your marriage is worth fighting for!
You can get connected to Dave and Ashley through these avenues: