FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Signs of Emotional Burnout in Relationships: Tim & Kathy Bush

with Tim And Kathy Bush | March 22, 2024
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Ever feel like you're constantly running on empty, struggling to find the energy to connect with your partner? Could be the feeling of being numb or snapping at them for no reason. Find out how to revive your marriage with Tim & Kathy Bush as they discuss the signs that a marriage needs recharging.

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Ever feel like you’re constantly running on empty, struggling to connect with your partner? Tim & Kathy Bush as they discuss the signs that a marriage needs recharging.

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Signs of Emotional Burnout in Relationships: Tim & Kathy Bush

With Tim And Kathy Bush
March 22, 2024
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Shelby: Hi, Shelby Abbott here. Before we get started with today’s program, I want you to pause and imagine yourself with your spouse sitting on two deck chairs in a warm and beautiful environment on a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean.

After you’re done hanging out with your spouse and relaxing, getting some sun, you head over and have a romantic dinner together. Then you go and hear an amazing message that helps to encourage you in loving your spouse and walking with God.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the 2025 Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise. We’re having a sale right now, and it’s a great time to save big on this incredibly unique environment to enjoy working on your marriage, being intentional in your walk with God, and doing it all in places like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and Miami, Florida.

If that sounds interesting to you, head over to, or you can check out the link in today’s show notes.

Alright, let’s get to the program.

Kathy: We’re brand new at this church and I’m thinking, “I’m not getting up in front of people and sharing our story.” At first, I said, “You can do this on your own.”

Tim said, “I can’t do it on my own.”

I said, "Okay, I’ll come with you; I’ll sit with you.”

Tim: She was my eye candy.

Kathy: It was a six-week class so I sat with him the whole night. He facilitated iMarriage and shared a little bit of our story. We got in the car that night and I started telling him what he should have said, and I started telling him what he should say the next week. I felt the Holy Spirit saying, “You know what, Kathy, you have something to say and you can talk.”

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

This is FamilyLife Today!

Dave: Part three of the mini-series—[Laughter] –on FamilyLife Today.

Ann: Oh, man! If you have not listened to the last two days, go back and listen because we are on the edge of suspense—[Laughter]—honestly.

Dave: Tim and Kathy Bush are back in the studio. They haven’t left.

Ann: They’re our good friends.

Dave: If you missed the last two days, go listen. But we started with the title of their book, Sex on the First Date. If that doesn’t grab their attention, nothing will. You are thinking, “What?” Yes, that’s on day one. Then the last two days have been the darkness that you guys lived in. Right at the end of yesterday, this little light appears through a book called the Bible.

But we’re still in the dark because, Tim, you were in depression and psychiatrists are giving you drugs to help you sleep. You can’t even sleep.

Ann: Your brother had been really sick. Your nephew took his own life, and you are reeling. A guy that had all his ducks in a row and who knew where he was going and what he was doing, [and] you’re totally lost, clinging to Kathy almost as a security blanket and a person that will help.

Dave: The thing that really opened the world was very surprising. When I read it—and I knew it—but when I read it in your book I thought, “Wow! The power of confession is very important.”

Tell us what happened.

Tim: I had gone to a counselor—Kath and I had been going to these counselors. In my case this had been—I kept going over two years. Jake said, “I think there are some things you haven’t told me,”

I told him, “I didn’t tell you about my infidelity,” so I told him about everything.

He said, “Wow! You need to tell Kath.”

I said, “But if I tell her, I’ll lose her, and I really need her right now. I can’t lose Kath.”

I chose to go home and tell her. It was a very long conversation. She kept asking me, “Is this all? Is this all? Is this all?”

Finally, after a very long conversation I said, “Yes,” and I went to hug her.

She said, “No, no, no, we’re not hugging. But I want you to know I’m not going anywhere.”

Dave: Her response was a response of grace.

Tim: Yes.

Ann: You probably, because of your past, too, Tim, you probably expected abandonment.

Tim: I figured she was going to leave for sure. Why would she stay? Because all of these years—there was 27 years of stuff that I needed to tell her.

Ann: Kathy, you had come clean with all of yours, and you probably thought, “You’ve had every opportunity to share.”

Dave: Why did you stay? What were you thinking in that moment? Because I know your mom or somebody told you, right, —

Kathy: Yes.

Dave: — “Don’t stay.”

Kathy: I think what happened was the state that Tim was in when he told me—he was deep in anxiety, he was suffering, he was sick. There wasn’t a minute during that confession that I thought, “I’m leaving.” There wasn’t even a second of that.

What was happening was our marriage was making sense to me. It was like everything that had happened and that my confessions and the way I felt about our marriage, I almost felt like I was a little crazy thinking, “Why was this man continually taking me back after I was doing what I was doing?” Well, he was doing the same thing so it was almost as if I was detached from my mind and my body because I was thinking in the distance “Okay, now we can start from ground zero and we can get better.”

Ann: It probably offered you some hope.

Kathy: It did.

Ann: [You thought], “Why isn’t this working,” and now you’re thinking, “Maybe there’s hope.”

Tim: Anybody [who said], “Kath should leave,” they were right. I didn’t deserve her to stay. I didn’t deserve that. That was grace I didn’t have coming.

Kathy: Tim should have left me many times because of all the infidelity.

Tim: But I can tell you with a couple of conversations that Kath and I had in that period of time, I felt unconditional love I had never felt before, and when my brother passed away on February 28 of 2009, I thought things were going to get better.

We left to do our annual Mexico deal where I go down and serve on a board, and on the way down there, my anxiety didn’t get better. It got worse. I was literally sweating, claustrophobic, wasn’t even comfortable in my own shoes sitting in a first-class seat.

As soon as they closed the door, I completely lost it. I [was] pouring down the alcohol, taking Xanax to get me down there just thinking it was going to get better. I know Kath thought things would get better, too.

Kathy: I did; I thought it would get better.

Ann: Were you still reading your Bible?

Tim: I was. But I—

Ann: Were you reading it together yet?

Kathy: No; we weren’t reading it together at this point.

Ann: Because you weren’t understanding it at that point.

Tim: I had asked a friend of mine because our psychiatrist guy, he would not give me more Xanax. He just [gave me enough] to go to Mexico and back on the airplane. I knew I could get it in Mexico, so I asked my friend to get me some. He went to Kath and said, “Why is Tim asking me for this?”

Kathy: He wanted to know what was going on.

Tim: But I was radically different than the guy he knew. I had known him for years. I was this in control, game on guy.

Ann: —confident.

Kathy: It was interesting when we went to Mexico, I remember, we had been going for years and we were the life of the party with all the partiers there. We go this time and Tim is still drinking at this point but he’s also on the board. He’s a crucial member of the board and they look to Tim for things, but Tim wasn’t there mentally. He was off. He would try to talk. I would watch him and it was like he was losing his mind.

We’d come into a room and sit down, and everyone sat at the end of the table because they didn’t know what to do with him. Bob said to me, “What’s going on with Tim? He wants me to get him drugs.” I said, “Bob, if you don’t get him something, he’ll get it someplace else. I don’t know what to do.”

Tim: He came to me and said, “Would you consider reading the Bible? I’ve been doing it, and it’s been working for me.”

I said, “Dude, I am, 70 pages a night, whiskey in one hand, the Bible in the other. It’s not doing anything for me.” [Laughter] He said, “Well, maybe you should consider slowing down a little bit. I’ve been doing a thing called the Proverbs. I’ve been reading one every day. Maybe just do that once a day.” I said, “You know, I’ll consider that.” I didn’t say I would. I just said that I would consider it. Literally a week or so later I came home and I said to Kath, “Would you consider reading the Bible with me?”

Kathy: Let me tell you, that was the sexiest thing Tim had ever said to me.

Dave: Really? Why?

Kathy: It was just there was something in my heart when he said that to me. Because I can say that there were years before I would get a Bible and I would say, “I’m going to read the Bible.” I’d start in Genesis, and I’d get halfway through, and I would quit. I didn’t understand anything.

When Tim said, “Will you read the Bible with me?” my heart melted. I looked at him [as if to say], “Of course I will read the Bible with you.” It was really the first godly [way] that Tim led me in our marriage.

Ann: It was your first step toward God together as a couple.

Kathy: Yes.

Dave: It’s interesting, too, I was looking at my Bible at James 5; when you talk about your confession and you said, “I’m finally going to tell Kath everything.” You already had, Kath. So, now it’s what was in the dark is now in the light. James 5, I’m sure you’ve heard this passage, says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that…”  What?

Ann: “…you may be healed.”

Dave: “…you may be healed.” We often think, “There’s going to be this miraculous God’s going to touch our body and our limbs and the cancer is going to go away.” I think it’s deeper than that.

It could be that. That happens but I think it’s like when you get the sin out and you share it, not just with God, because we’re forgiven, and a lot of us stop there: “I’m forgiven; good.” No, no, you’ve got to tell somebody that you’ve hurt or that needs to know. It could be your wife, could be your—but you told Kath. I think that was the day you started healing.

Kathy: I do, too.

Dave: You didn’t sense it right in that second.

Ann: You hadn’t given your lives to Christ but you were on the right path.

Tim: —on the right path.

Kath: Yes.

Tim: There was a—we had to create space. I remember we started taking these products to lose weight, and there was a 28-day cleanse. You couldn’t drink during the cleanse. [Laughter] So, we quit drinking. We’re still reading the Bible.

Then also the guy who walked my brother through his death at hospice, there every day—I was so thankful for him—Pastor Bill—he said, “I want you to go through grief counseling. I got a group.”

I said, “You lost me at ‘group.’ I’m not going to be in any kind of group, Bill, but I appreciate your asking me.” [Laughter] He said, “What if we did it one on one just like that?” I said, “I’d do that. I’d try it.”

We met three or four times, and then he said, “You know, Tim, I need to bring you in here and close the door this time. Are you comfortable with that?” I said, “Yes,” because I was actually feeling better; no drinking, reading the Bible. He’s walking me through grief counseling.

I remember he closed the door and he said, “Tim, I could lose my job for this. I have been a pastor for 40 years. I’ve never had this conversation with another person and I think it’s from the Lord.” He said, “Tim, the Lord has a calling on your life and it’s a big calling and it’s not here. You need to go find yourself a Jesus-loving, Bible-teaching church and figure out what that calling is.”

You guys, I didn’t know what a calling was. [Laughter]

Ann: You’re thinking, “What’s that?”

Tim: I went home. I went to the church girl. I went home to Kath; I said, “Do you know what a calling is?”

Kathy: First you told me what he said, and then you said, “Do you know what a calling is?”

I said, “No, I don’t know. But that sounds good. Let’s go find it.” And I thought every church was a Jesus-loving, Bible-teaching church. I just thought that every church you went in was a Jesus-loving, Bible-teaching church and that everyone that was at church was going to go to heaven. I thought that was what it was.

Kind of what you were just saying about we get to that place where we know that our sins are forgiven. I believed that Jesus forgave my sins. But if you stop there, there’s nothing else. I think that’s why I would confess to Tim, because I thought if I confessed but I never knew that you needed to turn around and change your way.

Ann: You would confess but you hadn’t repented.

Kathy: Right, but we never heard that.

Ann: You didn’t know what repentance was.

Kathy: We didn’t know what repentance was.

Tim: That was around April of 2009, and we started immediately looking for that church. We looked at several of them. Then we—Kath went to a women’s deal in Portland, Oregon, which was about three and a half hours from our house.

Kathy: It was a women’s conference and there were women up on stage. It was a Christian business. So, the women were up on stage and they were talking about Jesus and a personal relationship. This was foreign to me. We didn’t say, “Jesus.” People who said, “Jesus,” were Jesus freaks.

Tim: They were weird.

Kathy: They were weird. But there was something. We were reading the Bible and they’re talking about Jesus and a personal relationship. I knew one of the women there lived in our area, so I went up to her and asked her about the church; I asked her what church she went to.

We had heard of that church. Our niece had gone to that church. We had heard good things so I went home to Tim and I said, “I think I found us a church.”

Tim: I remember the first time we went to that church. We sat down, and they played this stuff called worship music. I did not like it. [Laughter] I got up and left Kath in the church by herself. I walked—

Kathy: —he stood up and just walked out.

Tim: I walked out to the foyer—

Kathy: —I said, “Wait, this is a Jesus-loving, Bible-teaching church.” [Laughter]

Tim: I walked out to the foyer. There was a guy standing out there. We’ll call him Jim. That was his name, but I won’t say his last name. Jim said, “What are you doing?”

I said, “This music just isn’t for me. I’m not into this kind of music.” He said, “I think it is for you. Get your butt back in there.” [Laughter] I love this guy. I know him now really well. He was an elder of the church.

Kathy: It’s funny because that guy is a quiet man. For him, God just totally used him to get Tim back in the seat.

Tim: I did definitely go back in. But the church we were going to, they were playing this Christmas concert. They said that it wasn’t going to be a Chrisitan one. It was going to be a Christmas one but there was a hook to it. I didn’t know exactly what that was but I knew what that hook meant.

I don’t know what I was expecting but I went there, went through the whole concert, and at the very end of the concert at the coliseum, which was a large event, they sang a song called the light house.

That song played, and I literally felt the Holy Spirit come inside me during that song. I reached down to Kath and said, “Our lives are going to be changed forever. We’re going to go all in for Jesus. This is what we’re going to do.”

Kathy: “We’re going to serve God the rest of our lives, and we’re going to go to this church.” Tears were coming out of his eyes. I knew; I thought, “Our lives are going to be different.

Dave: “This is a calling.”

Tim: Yes, yes.

Dave: “This is it.”

Tim: Well, we knew this—we thought that—it took us a while to find out our calling. But that was what we thought the calling—

Dave: Yes, it started right there.

Tim: — was the church. But we didn’t know there was more to a calling than even that.

Ann: If you had to say—if somebody came up to you guys and said, “Tim and Kathy, what’s your calling?” what would you say now?

Tim: Our calling now is 100 percent to serve Jesus—

Kathy: —to give hope.

Tim: —give hope—

Kathy: —give hope to marriages.

Tim: —give hope to marriages by sharing our redemption story. We know God wants us to do that. That’s our calling.

Ann: —and their hope is in Christ.

Kathy: Yes.

Ann: Yes, just like where you found your hope.

Dave: Tell our listeners how you do that, because you’ve been doing it for how long now?

Tim: The very first time was at that church. We used an Andy Stanley thing called iMarriage; the very first one.

Dave: I remember—2010?

Tim: That would be 2011. Then we—

Kathy: This is Tim’s grand idea of—you know we’re baby Christians—we don’t even know that we’re baby Christians; we’re Christians now—

Tim: I want even more. I’m all in.

Kathy: —Tim said, “We’re going to start sharing our—I feel like we need to start speaking into marriages. We need to share our story.”

I said, “Wait; what?”

Tim: I asked the pastors, and they said, “Do it. This is great.”

Kathy: We’re brand new at this church and I’m thinking, “I’m not getting up in front of people and sharing our story. At first, I said, “You can do this on your own.”

Tim said, “I can’t do it on my own.” I said, "Okay, I’ll come with you. I’ll sit with you.”

Tim: She was my eye candy.

Kathy: It was a six-week class, so I sat with him the whole night. He facilitated iMarriage and shared a little bit of our story. We got in the car that night and I started telling him what he should have said and I started telling him what he should say the next week. I felt the Holy Spirit saying, “You know what, Kathy, you have something to say and you can talk.”

Tim: When we got the call to do it there Kath’s negotiating factor was “We’ll do this but—”

Kathy: I said to Tim, “Okay, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do some things ourselves. We’re going to get some experience; we’re going to go to some marriage conferences so that we can see how things are done.”

I Googled “Christian Marriage Conference,” and that’s where I found Weekend to Remember®, and then I found the Love Like You Mean It cruise, so I signed us up for both. I told Tim, “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to go on a cruise.”

Tim: We go to the Weekend to Remember in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and we see—we’re going to use iMarriage for our first week in January. We’re going to do it again. It’s worked before. We’re just going to do it again.”

We were there, and they kept talking about this thing called Art of Marriage®. [We heard] little things at the Weekend to Remember. It was amazing when they talked about it.

Kathy: Back to that, when we attended the Weekend to Remember, this is our first marriage conference where Tim and I were in a good place. We found Jesus; we know Jesus. We’re growing in Him.

Tim: Yet, we still have things to work through.

Kathy: Yes. But we’re sitting there and I’m at peace thinking, “We have got it. We have been searching; we have been doing all these things, and Jesus was the answer.” Hearing the message of the Weekend to Remember there was so much peace that washed over me.

We were watching all the clips of the Art of Marriage, and that’s when God worked in me. I knew at that moment that this was what we’re called to do. He already knew but I wasn’t 100 percent on until we attended the Weekend to Remember.

Dave: We’ve done marriage ministry for 40 plus years now. But when we stepped into your lives, you were already at the stage where you knew your calling and we got to watch it.

The coolest thing is Satan had a plan—

Kathy: —yes.

Dave: —and you let God override a plan of divorce and isolation and a broken legacy to allow Him to use you to create something. I was going to say, “a beautiful legacy.” But it isn’t just your legacy. God is using you to change all these other legacies. A lot of it is because you are so honest with this story.

Ann: I think one of the things I’ve always loved about you [as I] watch you do a conference [is] you demonstrate prayer together and reading the Bible together. It reminds me of the verse we’re doing—

Dave: —Psalm 34:8.

Ann: —Psalm 34:8. It reminds me of that because it’s a verse that we’re talking about all year: “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”

You guys demonstrate that you have tasted a lot of different things in your lives, but the best taste you’ve had was seeing that the Lord is good. He demonstrated that in you and now you’re demonstrating it all over the country and the world through your marriage.

Well done, Tim and Kathy Bush!

Tim: To God be the glory, you guys.

Kathy: Yes, and it’s the only thing that lasts. Everything else is temporary.

Dave: I’ve got to tell you: you inspire us.

Ann: Yes, you do.

Dave: We can get exhausted on the road. I know you do, too, when you’re doing these things. We look at you guys saying, “Look at what God is doing.” You’ve given it all, and it’s so cool to see.

Thank you for being a partner with FamilyLife with your gifts and talents and finances. You are with us. We’re teammates. You’re ambassadors for this ministry, and it means a lot to us.

Tim: It’s a privilege to be a part of it.

Kathy: Yes, it is.

Tim: We love FamilyLife. We feel like part of the family.

Kathy: Yes, we do. This is our family.

Dave: You are. 

Speaking of being partners, not just with your gifts and time, because you give a lot of time—I don’t think I’ve been to a FamilyLife event [where] you guys aren’t there; it’s awesome—[Laughter] –it gets us so excited to go—but you’ve financially given for years. Why?

If somebody’s out there listening and thinking, “I don’t know if I would or should. Why should I?” What would you say?

Tim: First off, I think God created marriage before the church. I believe—I’m not saying, “Don’t give to your church,” because obviously we’re supposed to give to the local church. But when we see the things that FamilyLife does and how it’s changed our marriage and how they have partnered with us and even said, “We want to be your partner,” and helped us along. We never felt like we were out alone. They have helped us equip other people. There has always been somebody that was a phone call away.

To know that they are working in marriage, which is our calling, our passion, and our kids are part of that and our grandkids are part of that, and when you think of all the lives that this ministry touches and the legacies that this ministry touches, I don’t know where you could invest your money better.

Dave: Yes. We are grateful.

Shelby: If you want to come alongside the Bushes and partner with us like [they have] to support things that are going to help change marriages for the glory of Jesus like The Art of Marriage that they mentioned, like FamilyLife Today, you can go online to and click on the “Donate Now” button to partner with us.

I’m Shelby Abbott and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson today with Tim and Kathy Bush on FamilyLife Today. Tim and Kathy have written a book called Sex on the First Date, a very provocative title. But it’s really a story of a broken beginning to their relationship and how Jesus radically transformed their marriage.

You can get a copy of their book by going online to or you can find it in the show notes. Or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. Again, that’s 800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” 

If you have been listening to FamilyLife Today for any amount of time over the past few years, you remember the beloved Bob Lepine. Bob is not only someone who has championed FamilyLife Today for so long and left an incredible legacy here on this program, [but] he’s also an author and he’s written a book called 12 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Easter.

Now, we’re about a week away from Easter. I’m very excited for that. This book helps you explore the 12 weird and wonderful facts that Bob has come up with that span all the way from Easter’s origins up through present day that show the enduring significance of Easter for all Christians.

This book by Bob Lepine is going to be our gift to you when you give to FamilyLife Today. You can get your copy now with any donation that you make to FamilyLife. Just go online to and click on the “Donate Now” button at the top of the page. Or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

Feel free to drop us your donation in the mail if you’d like, too. Our address is FamilyLife, 100 Lake Hart Drive, Orlando, Florida 32832. Just make sure to let us know that you’d like a copy of Bob Lepine’s book, 12 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Easter, when you send us your donation in the mail.

I’m going to ask you to pray for all the Weekend to Remember marriage events that are happening this weekend through Sunday. They’re happening specifically in Anchorage, Chicago, the Poconos, and Seattle.

There are over 40 events across the country still happening all this spring. There’s still time to find a location near you. You can just go to to find a date and location for you and your spouse to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.

Now, coming up next week, Cody Wilson, Dave and Ann Wilson’s very own son, is going to be with us talking about the fact that despite his early years of being exposed to the Christian faith, he felt an emptiness and inadequacy during his college years as a football player. He’s going to talk frankly with his parents. We hope you’ll join us next week for that.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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