Our Story: Howard and Danielle Taylor
Authors Howard and Danielle Taylor didn't start out thinking they'd run a marriage ministry. They just longed for an intentional, intimate relationship that would go the distance. Hear how their own challenges galvanized a purposeful, more weatherproof marriage.
About the Guest
- Connect with Howard and Danielle Taylor and find out more about Marriage on Deck at marriageondeck.com
- Revitalize your marriage: 50% off Weekend to Remember Getaways, Sep 4-18! Strengthen bonds and create lasting memories. Learn more at weekendtoremember.com
- Find resources from this podcast at shop.familylife.com.
- See resources from our past podcasts.
- Find more content and resources on the FamilyLife's app!
- Help others find FamilyLife. Leave a review on Apple Podcast or Spotify.
- Check out all the FamilyLife podcasts on the FamilyLife Podcast Network
Hear how Howard and Danielle Taylor’s challenges galvanized a purposeful, more weatherproof marriage.
Our Story: Howard and Danielle Taylor
Our Story: Howard and Danielle Taylor
Danielle: I definitely think that you have to speak up. You have to speak up. I don’t want to sound cliche that a closed mouth doesn’t get fed, but it’s causing the marriage to implode, it causes your spirit to implode. Nobody has to know anything but you owe it to yourself and if any children if you have any, to your family that’s watching you, they need you to stay together. They need you guys to figure it out. So I think that it’s important to first bring in Christ and pray about it--
Howard: Of course.
Danielle: –but then secondly within your level of comfort reach out to somebody .
Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: Alright May 17th, 1980 [Laughter] a week before our wedding. No it was May 10th, 1980.
Ann: Throwback day.
Dave: May 10th 1980, two weeks before our wedding we go to the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember.®
Dave: Because we were told you can’t get married until you know God’s plan for marriage and they’re going to teach you that at that weekend. And so here I want to ask you. Don’t look at your notes.
Dave: I didn’t put it in there. We’ve taught it now for 30 years, but back then we were taught God’s purpose for marriage is three M’s. [Laughter] Here we go. I’m a guy who loves alliteration.
Ann: I don’t think it was M, I thought it was R.
Dave: See, here you go.
Ann: To reflect God’s image, no, no it was mirror, to mirror God’s image. That’s it.
Dave: Mirror God’s image. Well here’s the thing, the three M’s are no longer the three M’s because now we teach it a little different. Same concepts but back then we said from God’s Word the purpose of marriage is to mirror God’s image, to reflect to the world who Jesus is, God is. To mutually complete one another to sharpen one another, to become like Christ and then to multiply a Godly legacy which is what we were saying.
Ann: I got two out of three that’s not bad.
Dave: You’re pretty good--
Ann: –especially you used to give that talk more than I did.
Dave: I know I gave it more than you did so I should know. But anyway we’ve got Howard and Danielle Taylor in the studio and you guys, you have a whole workbook on the purposes of marriage. That’s why I brought it up.
Ann: It’s called The Fundamentals of Marriage, and I like this Eight Essential Practices of Successful Couples. And you guys, I feel like you have that same passion that we have like marriage matters.
Ann: We need to know why God instituted marriage, and you’ve been married how many years?
Danielle: Eighteen in July.
Howard: Eighteen in July. Seventeen years it will be eighteen next month.
Ann: You have two boys.
Danielle: Mmm hmm.
Ann: Eight and three.
Dave: --and a ministry called Marriage on Deck. What is that?
Danielle: Marriage on Deck.
Howard: Marriage on Deck is birthed out of our desire to mitigate divorce. Like we started seeing what we call carnage around us. You know we’re going along in our marriage and all of a sudden we see a friend get a divorce, a cousin get a divorce, a family member get a divorce and we’re just like, “What is going on?”
So opposed to just sitting back on defensive we said it’s time for us to go on the offensive and not just sit on the sidelines and do something about it. And that looked like maybe sharing our testimony of why we felt very passionately about our own marriage and some of the principles we’re using to sustain what we felt was a healthy marriage, but we thought it was to be assumed it until we saw certain things happening - and a lot of that was biblically based. So it was helping couples get married and stay married using biblical principles. That’s the kind of pitch behind.
Dave: Now what’s ‘on deck’ mean? Part of me went to baseball.
Danielle: We talked about this [Laughter] because he said, “on deck means you’re up to bat.”
Dave: I know Howard was a basketball guy.
Danielle: So we’re like maybe Marriage on Deck could be for people who are up to getting married or to me, taking the baseball out of it, you’re just, your marriage is just up. It’s on the forefront, it’s on top. You know it’s here and it’s in the present. If you’re already married or you’re going to get married, we want to encourage you and uplift you in your relationship.
Ann: Well share your story a little bit with us. We want to hear how you guys met, how this came about.
Danielle: Howard and I met in 2001 at Cal State Fullerton. I met him at a Bible study. I came in late with my friend, not because I wanted to be late but because we were coming all the way from Rialto. We came in late, I sat in the back and as I was sitting in the Bible study I realized there was this guy in the front answering all the questions.
Ann: Oh you didn’t think, “Who is that cute guy?” you thought, “Who’s this smart guy?”
Howard: It was the Bible.
Danielle: Who is this guy who knows the Word of God? We were like 18 and 19, but I was so impressed. I was newly saved, like two years. I was teaching Sunday School at church and so I was like, “Wow. This guy has a good command of the Word,” and then our teacher was telling us, “Oh, turn here,” and he’s like, he knew exactly where the book was at – impressive. [Laughter]
Ann: You’re watching this.
Danielle: It was impressive to me. I was like, “Okay. I, I need to see what he looks like.” [Laughter] So then I got a chance to see what he looked like and I said, “Oh he looks good. I need to get closer to him.”
Howard: This is all in Bible study.
Danielle: All in Bible study.
Dave: You didn’t know this was happening.
Howard: True story, when she came in late, I noticed her hair. [Laughter] It’s so funny that you two were talking about her hair.
Howard: So that’s a pretty girl. I noticed her hair. I have a fraternal twin, who had introduced me to her in what we would call the quad section of our college campus and as twin boys, if your brother introduced you to a young lady, you paid zero attention. So I didn’t realize I’d met her before. [Laughter]
I noticed her come in late and I said, “This is a pretty young lady.” She came in with her friend and in that session Danielle is noticing me and I noticed her. After the fact I told myself, “I’m going to speak to that young lady [Laughter] after the Bible study.” Like a church kid would, unlike Danielle, I was raised in a church. So I have my highlighter and my little notes [Laughter] and I approached her and I asked her, we sparked up conversation. I basically said, “You know if you want to call me sometime,” and I took out my church lighter and I wrote--
Ann: Wait a minute, “If you want to call me sometime.”
Howard: It gets good - this was providential though. So I write my cell phone number [Laughter] on an 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper - so it’s big - with yellow highlighter. Danielle took it politely. What was interesting is once we sprung up conversation, it was on her birthday, and we sprung up conversation, she eventually called me. And when she called me, she eventually told me, we had one of those moments when you talk for like four hours and it was just that.
Ann: Yes. [Laughter]
Howard: So that happened to us. She had told me she had been talking to a young man, who’s a police officer at the time, and a lot of guys had been approaching her, and she said, “The next guy who asks me for my number--
Howard: I’m going to tell him basically where to shove it.” [Laughter] So it was providential that I didn’t. She thought that was kind of uncanny that I didn’t ask for her number.
Howard: I wouldn’t typically give a girl, but I felt like with her, I should just give her my number.
Danielle: The Spirit led you to do that.
Ann: That was a God thing right there.
Howard: It was a God thing, providential, it was a God thing.
Howard: It went right, it went well with me, because she was a great, she was a greatest gift.
Danielle: Yes… Aww.
Howard: I was 18, Danielle was 19. I was an incoming freshmen to make it short, Danielle was outgoing senior at 19 years old. She had gone on to get her degree.
Dave: You’re done with college at 19?
Howard: 19. She graduated high school at 16.
Ann: She’s beautiful and smart.
Danielle: Aww thank you.
Howard: She got her master’s at 22.
Dave: Really? Wow!
Howard: I met somebody who’s truly incredible.
Danielle: Thank you.
Howard: She would go on to be my first professional mentor. Me and my buddies, I have a fraternal twin, my college roommates, Danielle would come to our apartment and help us do our school work. [Laughter] She was in her career. It was just, she was just incredibly kind and just amazing. And for me I was raised by a single mother who was from Illinois and a very intelligent woman herself so I just thought Danielle was incredible. I was attracted to how incredibly kind and intelligent and driven she was as an 18 year old man.
Danielle: Thank you. Oh my goodness.
Dave: I mean were you married before you were graduated or how long did you date?
Howard: The rest was history, my senior year. I was a double major, so it took me six years to graduate. I graduated in six years. My sixth year we got married in 2005 - met in 2001, dated, courted for four years, and got married July 30th, 2005. And we moved into our house in Victorville, California and away we went. Danielle was out of school. I was finishing school.
Ann: And had you had much marriage mentoring, training?
Ann: You had nothing.
Howard: We’re from broken families.
Danielle: I had marriage mentoring on what not to do.
Howard: Yes, that’s a good way to put it.
Dave: From your family?
Danielle: From my parents, yes. My parents were married. They got divorced when I was in 9th grade, like about 13. That was my dad’s second marriage. That was my mom’s second marriage, and then she got married again after that. But they’re still together. They got married the same year as us. Thank you Jesus - they’re still together. So no, we didn't have good marriage examples or role models.
Dave: As you start moving on in your marriage and obviously having kids, how did you start to develop these fundamentals, that you call the fundamentals of marriage?
Danielle: We started to develop the fundamentals from day one. We established--
Howard: –and dating
Danielle: –in dating right. We had our 10 commandments of dating type things that--
Ann: Wait, what? You guys are so--
Dave: You made your own commandments?
Danielle: We made our own commandments.
Dave: Do you remember one of them?
Danielle: Yes. We know a lot of them.
Howard: One was no make ups to breakups.
Danielle: No makeups to breakups, yes. If you get comfortable breaking up and you get married you’ll get comfortable getting divorced thinking that it’s okay because you’re used to breaking up all the time.
Howard: Yes, yes.
Danielle: If we got into an argument, which we have plenty of, you cannot bring up the past. We both can’t be the victim at the same time. If I’m telling you [Laughter] about a problem I have, you can’t turn around and say, “Well, you’re saying this but my problem is,” It’s like, “No, I’m the victim right now so you need to listen to what–” [Laughter] We need to address the current problem - not like whatever you have going on because you miss your opportunity to say whatever you have to say. [Laughter]
Howard: We had like the ‘Thou shall not kill one,” but for us it was “you cannot tell me to shut up.” It was very practical.
Howard: We could never tell each other to shut up. We could never hang up on the phone. And those things were birthed out of - Danielle and I probably should have probably broke up in our first few months. [Laughter] Our communication was horrible.
Howard: We were both young. We were immature. We argue. We call them darts now, but they were jabs and punches then.
Ann: So, you used your words as weapons.
Howard: Oh for sure we weaponized our words.
Howard: It was–because that was our example.
Ann: You knew nothing else?
Howard: My mom and dad did talk, they argued.
Danielle: Yes, same here.
Howard: So, when we met each other we loved each other, liked each other - but we were going to have a good brouhaha [Laughter] with our words. So, we came to this defining moment right around the time Danielle was going to graduate where it was like, “Hey, if we are going to be together--
Danielle: –if this is going to work. We need some boundaries.
Howard: We need boundaries.” [Laughter] We sat and we talked about it and we put in biblical principles, a soft answer turns away wrath, all these little things. We created a little boundary sheet and we stuck to this. It made us very disciplined - like I want to hang up on you right now [Laughter] but I’m just going to breathe into this phone until we mutually get off the phone.
Howard: That was huge for our discipline.
Howard: Because as fiery as we were, we taught each other that we’re worth it. We knew that we were worth it, because we just wouldn’t cross that boundary and if ever, because nobody’s perfect. We did flirt with it or cross it. It was like you have to come off your high horse and apologize, right. You just broke it.
Howard: It seems like I would say elementary in some respects and fundamental in some respects, but it was - it’s huge in our marriage right now.
Danielle: Right, all of those.
Ann: It laid a foundation.
Danielle: That’s what I was going to say.
Following those throughout our relationship a lot of people, even though we were really young, a lot of young and young in marriage, a lot of people will come to us asking for advice. “You guys look so happy,” and like you guys really like each other and respect each other. Although we have been married 5 or 10 years, we’re coming up to you guys you’re only married 1 year and we just couldn’t understand - “Why are you asking us?” you know. What do we know? You know we don’t know anything.
But as time went on and more and more people came to us. We saw like how it was mentioned in our family with all our cousins and their relationship and family members relationship falling apart. In the midst of all of this in our careers, we had started a couple businesses on the side and things were going great financially but spiritually with our family it, things was just not good.
Fast forward to 2016, usually at the end of every year we go on a fast and ask God, “What do you want us to do for the following year?” We had been so on fire with growing our careers and advancing and making money and buying houses, just doing all this stuff that seems like that’s what you do when you have a degree and get a good job, right? So we went on this fast like, “We’re going to wake up every morning at 3:00 am for a week and pray and seek God’s face and find out what does God want us to do for 2017.
Ann: Which of you said like, “Hey, how about if we do this fast and get up at 3:00 am?”
Howard: So we fasted every year, I think the 3:00 am God dropped in my spirit that we needed to make this extra push and sacrifice. We knew we were going to do the fast but the 3:00 am, let’s challenge ourselves to wake up at 3:00 am and see if God is talking and just give Him this intentional time. And so at the end of this fast we really wanted to know what was our life’s mission spiritually. We had not found our spirit purpose as a couple. We knew all these head things we wanted to do but we hadn’t found our spiritual purpose so that was our ask. Like what are we going to do? And I remember creeping up on the final day of the fast and not feeling like we got the answer.
Ann: How many days was this?
Ann: Seven days.
Danielle: This happens to us all the time. God does not speak until the last day.
Howard: It’s like He tests us to see if we’re going to push through it.
Howard: On the seventh day, He told us at work, separate days, you know at a separate time from me, we had a separate time God told her we needed to go on social media and just start talking about marriage - our marriage.
God told me - I was a hotel General Manager in my career, hotel executive - so I was sitting in my hotel office and God told me, “You guys are going to talk about your marriage. You’re going to have to do it on Facebook Live.”
If you knew Danielle at that time, we’re not like showy, social media type people whatsoever. [Laughter] As a matter of fact, we feel like it’s cringeworthy. [Laughter] At that time we felt like it was cringeworthy. So we didn’t want to do anything like that. And we came home today and Dana’s like, I think I got the answer that God told you we need to go on social media and talk about our marriage.
Danielle: Facebook Live.
Howard: She’s like, “That is exactly what God told me.”
Danielle: That’s what He told me.
Howard: We started practicing that night on our phones. We couldn’t even say our names. [Laughter] “Alright, go!” and she was like--
Danielle: He’s like, “What’s your name?” and I’m like, “uh, uh,” [Laughter]
Howard: It then got, we got it together and launched Marriage on Deck, just talking to couples about every day marriage issues
Ann: So you’re still doing your jobs but now you’re starting to put time into marriage issues.
Howard: Yes, for sure.
Danielle: Tuesday nights at 9:00 pm.
Ann: Every Tuesday night.
Danielle: Every Tuesday night at 9:00 pm.
Ann: And the response, did people start listening?
Danielle: Oh for sure. It was so surprising.
Howard: –It was surprising. [Laughter] We didn’t think it was real.
Danielle: We didn’t think anybody, during our prayer, “Lord, if one person listens Lord. [Laughter] Just touch one person Lord.” Because we’re thinking nobody cares what we have to say. And the next–we recorded it at night. We were planning out our points. We were supposed to talk I think for what, 10 minutes or 15 minutes?
Danielle: 45 minutes later, okay.
Howard: We did the 10 commandments. Our first thing was let’s get to “Don’t tell your wife to shut up.”
Danielle: That was the first thing.
Howard: That’s how it started.
Danielle: –exactly. The next morning Howard wakes up. He’s like, “No.” I said, “What?” 500 people, was it 500?
Howard: It was 500 and it ended up at like thousands.
Danielle: 500 people watched our video last night.
Howard: We thought it was fake.
Danielle: He’s like this can’t be right. This is wrong. People, this probably counts all the people that scrolls past your video not people actually watching anything.
Danielle: I’m like 500, do we even know 500 people? How this be true? [Laughter]
Howard: But we learned from that experience is, and this is what helps us with our family. A lot of people suffer in secret in their marriage, because they don’t want to shame their spouse.
Howard: The reason why we were so surprised is nobody was in the comments. Nobody was like chiming in or--
Danielle: We weren’t seeing anything.
Howard: Like hey, If you have a question ask us and we’ve got a laptop on the side and nobody was saying anything. Everybody was just watching in silence and that’s what was happening with our cousins. We didn’t know they were struggling in their marriage when they got a divorce in their marriage.
Howard: They didn’t want to talk to us about it.
Ann: It’s embarrassing.
Howard: People at church will come to us and, “Can you help our marriage?” but
Danielle: –say anything
Howard: Our friends and our family and our sphere of influence wouldn’t talk about it. They were suffering in secret. By us just talking on social media, nobody had to say anything but they were empathizing and getting fed from it and we would eventually find that people we would see them at doctor appointments, or at the store were like, “Hey--
Danielle: Marriage on Deck
Howard: –you’re really helping us.” And we’re like you guys, these numbers, are you really watching? [Laughter] That was a blessing I think to marriages that didn’t feel like, “I don’t want to,” because we’re transparent. We were talking about it, we were letting that thing hang out about our own lives.
Danielle: Yes, we wanted to help people.
Howard: Because we knew it would help and it was worth it to be honest about how it worked in our marriage.
Dave: What would you say to a couple listening right now that’s suffering in silence? What should they do?
Danielle: I definitely think that you have to speak up. You have to speak up. I don’t want to sound cliche that a closed mouth doesn’t get fed. But it doesn’t do any disservice by keeping it a secret. It’s only - it’s like imploding. It’s causing the marriage to implode; it causes your spirit to implode. I think that there’s things that people can do - go to counselors that won’t tell your business. Your family and friends don’t have to know that you need counseling. Nobody has to know anything. But you owe it to yourself and if have any children, to your family that’s watching you - because there are people in our family watching our marriages that will never say anything, never applaud you.
Danielle: They need you to stay together. They need you guys to figure it out. I think that it’s important to first bring in Christ and pray about it--
Howard: Of course.
Danielle: –but then secondly within your level of comfort, reach out to somebody you trust.
Ann: Share what’s going on.
Danielle: Yes, just share.
Ann: Your heart.
Howard: Well the symptoms aren’t going to go away.
Howard: You know a lot of things we face in the marriage we liken it to cancer or sicknesses. You could avoid not talking about it but you’re showing symptoms. You’re showing signs. Most of–we do a lot of marriage coaching and most of what people talk about and complain about are symptoms of a larger issue that they’re not addressing. Then eventually they get to the doctor’s office because they can’t walk or they can’t talk or it’s the end of the line. They say we’re divorcing for irreconcilable differences. When if you would have addressed it early on like they always encourage you to do physically. “Hey, get to the doctor early so that it’s not something that’s fatal.”
Likewise in marriage, we feel shamed and fearful to address things that are causing us to have symptoms, that we’re blaming our wives for and our husbands for. But when really if you go get help to what Danielle is speaking to, a trained professional whether it’s a Christian counselor or a Christian coach, and we always will say pray about it and read your Word, get deep into your Word. We would always say bring a partner alongside of that, an accountability partner, whether it’s your pastor at a church. Because oftentimes when you hold things in you think that just you’re going through it or just your husband does it or just your wife has this issue.
The reality is when you talk about marriage to somebody, 9 times out of 10 they’ve either gone through it or somebody that they know has gone through it, and that makes you feel like you’re part of a fraternity in some respects. It takes some of that what we feel is attacking, because the enemy takes some of that secret shame off the issue and you can begin to deal with the actual root issue of the problem. Then you see the symptoms begin to dissipate. But you can’t hold it in, because in that your symptoms are going to get worse and you’re going to begin to target each other.
Howard: –and ultimately the marriage does, to Danielle’s point, implode. So you’ve got to talk about it.
Dave: Yes I always say that if you are struggling with something in the dark, whether it’s personal sin or like a marriage secret suffering, the dark wins.
Dave: The second you bring it out of the dark into the light, now healing can begin.
Dave: But if you never tell anybody--
Dave: –you know FamilyLife has so many resources that put people in small groups with other couples like what you’re saying Howard. Yes, when you’re sitting in a group and you go through something like The Art of Marriage® or Vertical Marriage or Love Like You Mean It®
Howard: Amen, yes.
Ann: –or the Fundamentals of Marriage.
Dave: Yes, or this. People start sharing their stories, that’s part of the biggest thing that happens in that group. You go, “We’re not the only ones.”
Dave: And then you talk to them afterwards as you’re grabbing a cookie and the next thing you know, you’ve got a friend that you can be honest with and that you can make this journey together
Ann: So good. I’m so inspired by what you guys do.
Howard: Oh thank you.
Ann: Even your fasting and your praying, you’re getting up. If we put that effort into our marriage God will always hears us.
Ann: He always hears those prayers.
Shelby: Don’t let the dark win. Drag all the stuff you’re struggling with kicking and screaming into the light. There will be nothing but improvement, not only for your own walk with the Lord but with your spouse in your marriage, with your kids, with your friends, your family, everyone. Don’t let the dark win. I love that.
I’m Shelby Abbott and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Howard and Danielle Taylor on FamilyLife Today. You know Howard and Danielle have written a book called The Fundamentals of Marriage: Eight Essential Practices of Successful Couples. Each chapter in their book presents just basically a short reading, a personal reflection, discussion questions, and then his and her perspectives along with case studies highlighting real stories from real couples. You can pick up a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. That’s 800, ‘F’ as in family, ‘L’ as in life and then the word TODAY.
You’ve heard us talk about the Weekend to Remember® a lot at FamilyLife and how transformative it can be for your marriage. But really even though we plan out so much of it, Weekend to Remember can really be what you make of it. Whether you go with hopes to redeem your marriage or for maintaining or for just for a weekend away together. The conversations between you and your spouse can change everything about your weekend and your marriage for years to come. That’s why we’re so excited to let you know that now through September 18 , so just coming up real soon, registrations are half price. This is your chance to get together and intentionally focus on your marriage so don’t wait. Head over to WeekendtoRemember.com right now and register for your getaway. Again that’s WeekendtoRemember.com.
Now tomorrow Dave and Ann Wilson are back again with Howard and Danielle Taylor. They’re going to talk about loving those who mistreat us as taught by Christ in the Bible. That’s tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us.
Shelby: On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a donor-supported production of FamilyLife®, a Cru® Ministry.
Helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you. However, there is a cost to produce them for our website. If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs?
Copyright © 2023 FamilyLife®. All rights reserved. www.FamilyLife