“Where’d the Passion in My Marriage Go?” Jason and Tori Benham
Where'd all the passion in marriage go? Authors Jason and Tori Benham were losing the spark—until Jason realized how to recover that first-love intensity.
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Where’d all the passion in marriage go? Authors Jason and Tori Benham were losing the spark—until Jason realized how to recover that first-love intensity.
“Where’d the Passion in My Marriage Go?” Jason and Tori Benham
“Where’d the Passion in My Marriage Go?” Jason and Tori Benham
Tori: The Lord showed me it was gratitude. It was genuine gratitude, like when you feel gratitude, you are bonded to the people that you're grateful for. I thought it was the best thing ever that Jason was pursuing me. I thought it was the most amazing thing that he cherished me. I was so grateful for all the little things that he did for me. I took it in, and I thought it was amazing.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: Okay, I think I know the answer to this question, but how long do you think it was before you feel like you fell out of love with me in marriage? [Laughter] Please don't say a day.
Ann: Six months.
Dave: It took that long?
Dave: I mean, it wasn't like you fell out of love, but you were—
Ann: No, I loved you. I just was disillusioned and thought, “Ooh, I really don't like him.”
Dave: Let me ask this, how many couples do you think experienced something almost like - something like that?
Ann: At some point I think we look at our spouse and we think, “Oh, they're not what I thought they would be.”
Ann: And so yes, I think almost, I would say almost every couple—there could be one, a few people, but do they?
Dave: Yes, and I think—
Ann: Are they honest?
Dave: I think most couples would say there's a battle in marriage. I don't think a lot of couples would say there's beauty in that battle. We've got Jason and Tori Benham back and you wrote a book called Beauty in Battle so let's talk about that. Welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Jason: It’s good to be with you guys.
Tori: Thank you, so glad to be here.
Ann: You're authors. You’re speakers. You have a podcast. What's the name of your podcast?
Jason: Beauty in Battle.
Tori: Beauty in Battle
Ann: Good name.
Dave: Yes, so and I know you wrote about this, but even as we talk about that love feeling dissipating, when did that happen for you? Was it early?
Tori: It was pretty early on, yes.
Jason: Were you out of love with me for, right from the jump?
Tori: No, so our dating years were like pretty magical.
Ann: Ours were too.
Tori: They were long distance and so it was very much like Jason was obsessed with me and I loved it.
Jason: Yes. [Laughter]
Tori: And then we got married and that obsession turned to his career and providing. I got pregnant five months after we got married, so I think there was just a lot of pressure, and all of that attention went from me to providing. And so pretty quickly, I think it was, you know, probably within that first year, I was often crying in the bathroom, like “He doesn't love me. I don't”—like “This is not the man I married. He doesn't cherish me anymore. This is not Jason. This is not who I thought that he was.”
And then I had Trey. I had our oldest and then right away we had Al. Well, we just started having kids pretty quickly. I think that by the time I had the second, I thought it was time to pull my big girl pants up and just settle in; that this was the new norm—that you know, life is not a romance and that this is okay. We can still have a really good relationship without it being the way it was.
Dave: Jason, did you know she was feeling that?
Jason: No, not really but you know we typically believe in marriage that engagement ends at “I do,” but that's not when your engagement is supposed to end.
Ann: Men do. [Laughter]
Jason: Men do; women don’t. But, you know, it's like—so once you say, “I do” and you're married, now you're no longer engaged. Well, it's a big problem if you're no longer engaged. You have to be fully engaged at all times. Once you get engaged, then you never stop engaging, and so what I did was what a lot of men do, is “Hey, accomplished that.” Now I'm going to move on and I'm going to engage the next thing.
And for me, it was a career. It's like I was a former pro baseball player. Now I got to figure out what I'm going to do to make money.
Ann: I had one woman write me a letter and she said, “I feel like I've been totally duped.” She said “My husband pursued me, engaged with me. He was amazing.” She said, “Then we got married and now he's off; he's with his career.” And she said, “I feel like he was on the hunt. He saw me. He shot me. He bagged me. He put me on the mantle and now he's off on the next hunt.” I think a lot of women can feel that and so it's easy to become resentful.
Ann: Which you didn't Tori. You're like, “Okay, this is the reality.”
Tori: I think I would have if I wasn't in survival mode. [Laughter] I think I was too busy to get—
Dave: Yes, because you’ve got two kids.
Ann: Dave did the same thing. We start our church, he's gone. He's out. What do you do about that? You're saying you have to stay engaged.
Jason: You stay engaged. The first thing I would say to that woman who says “I feel as though I've been duped” is she needs to change the perspective and realize that your husband's the one who's been duped. He's been duped to believe that “Oh, you won your wife, now go out here and win this thing in your career, and that's going to give you some sense of fulfillment.” You see this is why you have to open your eyes to the battle. He is not her problem. Satan is the problem.
And so just imagine as a mother, if your son gets married and then he treats your daughter-in-law that way, well, the first thing you would think is you wouldn't think, “Oh daughter-in-law, you should be upset at my son.” You would think, “Son, you have no idea what you're doing. You don't realize what you’re doing.” So that man's been duped. I was duped.
It was five years in the marriage for us. I'm up early in the morning. You know, David and I, we teach entrepreneurs all over about how to run your business according to Biblical principles—
Ann: David, your brother.
Jason: Dave is my brother, my twin brother. Thank you.
Dave: I was going to say I've never done that with you.
Jason: We have a— [Laughter] We have a two-page business plan that we teach people. The first page is just you know your mission vision with some of your tactics and your financial strategy that you need. But the second page only has two words on it: listening prayer. Every morning you're going to get up, as a business owner, and you're going to listen to what your business partner, the majority owner of your business, wants to tell you. And so, I'm up doing this. I've got listening prayer, and God's giving me all these downloads for our business. It was growing big, like 100 offices in 35 different states. It was just fantastic.
One morning I woke up in listening prayer and the Lord told me to start praying for my marriage. I was like, “Okay, so I'll do that. I'll start praying for my marriage.” And so, I started to think about where we were in our relationship. We're five years in the marriage and I would say Tori and I probably settled into, probably a six or a seven on a scale of one to ten. So, it's not bad, but it's not a ten.
Dave: But you said settled; you are settling.
Jason: There you go. I was settling. And so, as I began to think through, I mean we were still friends. We still loved each other. We liked each other, but maybe sometimes we didn't like each other. This wasn't like we were enemies and hated each other or anything. But I knew that we had settled. I had bought the lie that once you get married, you know that romantic flame is supposed to go away, and then you just you go right into it. That's a lie, by the way. So first you have to recognize that's a lie. God made you to have a ten marriage, and you can feel that ten, but you just have to invite Him into it.
So, five years in, I was up in the morning praying, and I felt like the Lord told me “Get down on your knees next to Tori every single morning and pray for her; that you would have that romantic flame for her once again that you once had.” So that's what I did every morning, about 5:30 in the morning, I would get down on my knees next to the bed and I would put my hands on Tori.
Dave: While she's still asleep?
Jason: While she's still asleep.
Ann: Did you know he was doing this Tori?
Tori: I did.
Ann: What did you think and feel about it?
Tori: I was like “Just please don't wake me up.” [Laughter]
Jason: Well, I made sure that I put my hands above the shoulder, so she didn't think I was trying to make an early morning move. I would put my hands on her and pray. My prayer wasn't “Lord, change her or change me.” My prayer was “God, reignite the passion that I once felt for her.” Because I remembered back to what I used to feel. I’m like “I don't really feel that anymore.” I didn't really have a desire to feel it. But I said, “Lord, I think you want me to feel that again,” so I began to pray. Two weeks went by, and I did it every single morning for two weeks.
We ended up at a party, a birthday party for a friend of ours. As typical, you know married couple, you walk into the house. I went over to hang out with the dudes. She went to hang out with the girls. Except this time, I was conscious of where Tori was because I'd been praying for her for two weeks. It's interesting, where your treasure is, there your heart will go. So now I'm thinking about her more because I'm praying about us. It's a very good marriage principle.
And so, I went looking for her and I saw her in the kitchen, but she wasn't alone. There was another guy that was talking to her. I stopped there at the doorway of the kitchen and I just—instantly, I felt a little something in my heart. My heart started to beat pretty fast, and then I saw the dude bust a joke and she started laughing. The way she responded to it didn't sit well with me. So as that heartbeat turned into a swarm of fighter pilot jets in my heart, [Laughter] you know, I started to feel like I wanted to fight.
Then I saw him reach out and give her a hug. And when he hugged her and she responded by hugging him, I took off in a dead-on sprint. I ran. I jumped over the kitchen island where there was food, so food was going everywhere. And just before I punched him square in his jaw, I woke up. When you have a dream, your subconscious mind and your body doesn't know it was a dream.
Jason: I was really feeling those emotions while I was sleeping. When I woke up, I was sweating; my heart was like at 180, you know? I looked over at her and she's sleeping, and she has no idea she's in love with another man. [Laughter] Like, she does not know it. I woke her up and instantly, I started asking all the questions: “Is there somebody pursuing you? Is there anything going on that I need to know about right now?” And so finally she convinced me.
Dave: Did you think he was crazy?
Tori: I did. I was like “Babe, it was a dream. You need to settle down.” He felt it.
Jason: It was bad. But listen, this is so cool. Then, after ten minutes of interrogating questions to Tori, I realized, “Okay, it's a dream. It's all good.” I went up—and it was about 4:30 or 5:00 o'clock in the morning—and so I got down on my knees next to her just like I had done for two weeks prior, and I placed my hands on her. And the minute I placed my hands on her, the Lord just spoke to me. It's like “I gave you that dream. You've forgotten how to pursue your wife. I want you to pursue her like that man in the dream was pursuing her.”
And you know what's crazy? I'm like, “Okay, God, but how do I do that?” You see, before I got married, I didn't know anything about relationships, but I knew how to pursue her. Now I'm married; I've already pursued her. Now I've got her, and I've forgotten how to do it. And the Lord brought me to Revelation 2:4-5, when the Church of Ephesus—you know the church, the betrothed bride of Jesus, and Jesus is speaking to her in revelation and says, “You've forgotten your first love.” And then He says, “I want you to remember how far you've fallen. I want you to repent and redo the things you did at first.”
God gave me that three-step plan on how to get my romantic flame back. Remember, repent, redo. Remember what you used to feel for your spouse before you got married. Like go back; what songs were important to you then? Go back and listen to them again and start remembering what you used to feel; drum up all those emotions. Emotion is an impulse to act. God gave us emotions, so we need to drum those up through mood, through atmosphere, through music.
Ann: And you didn't have to do that when you were dating; it just came.
Jason: No; naturally.
Ann: But you're saying now we go back, and we remember.
Jason: Yes, that's right, and you have to do it. And then you repent for not being at a ten. That's hard for couples to think about. Like if you say, “What's your relationship on a scale of one to ten in terms of what you feel for each other?” “Probably an eight.” Okay, well let's repent of that. Because God's not just your father; He's your father-in-law. So how do you feel about his son or daughter? If you don't feel a ten, repent, ask God to forgive you, and then redo the things you did at first. The things that you did to win each other's heart at first; do those things again. Next thing you know, the romantic flame will come back.
Dave: So it did for you?
Tori: Jason started pursuing just like when we were dating and at this point, now we have three kids, small kids. I remember him pursuing and I was thinking, “Okay, the old Jason is back but I do not know where the old Tori is.” Like, I don't even remember how I used to respond to his pursuit. We were in a totally different stage of life. And so, as Jason began to pursue me, I remembered just kind of not really knowing how to respond.
And then one day he texted me this like really sweet text. He was clearly trying to pursue me and pursue my heart and I was so annoyed. I was just like totally annoyed. [Laughter] I read the text and I was like, “I have all these things to do. I've got little ones hanging all over me and now, this is like something else on my to-do list—to respond to him. I'm like “What am I supposed to be girlfriend again?” you know, and I was/I found myself totally annoyed. I remember putting the kids down for their nap and just being like “God, I honestly have no idea what to do with this because I am exhausted. I really don't want to be a girlfriend today.”
And as I began to pray, the Lord reminded me of all the years that I had prayed that Jason would cherish me again, that he would come back, that he would change his heart for me. And now here he was, the Lord, answering that prayer, and I'm totally annoyed. [Laughter] As I began to pray—and Jason had shared what the Lord had showed him in scripture in Revelation. I remember him telling me, “The Lord is telling me to remember,” and that word remember came to my mind as I was praying and I felt like the Holy Spirit was like, “You need to do that too. You need to remember too.”
I remember thinking, “Okay, what was it? What was it that allowed me to respond to that pursuit?” And it came so naturally, like just what you said Ann. When you're dating, you don't even think about it. It's just the reaction of your heart; you just do it. The Lord showed me it was gratitude. It was genuine gratitude. I thought it was the best thing ever that Jason was pursuing me. I thought it was the most amazing thing that he cherished me. I was so grateful for all the little things that he did for me. I took it in, and I thought it was amazing. And Lord showed me “Start doing those things you did naturally, proactively.”
I started to remember all the little things that Jason did, and I started to really feel gratitude, like, “God help me to really feel gratitude for that.”
Ann: Did it start out as an act of your will?
Ann: —kind of you're deciding “I will.”
Tori: It was a choice.
Ann: Yes, “I’m going to respond.”
Tori: It was absolutely a choice.
Tori: It was absolutely like a choice that “I'm going to choose gratitude.” As I began to thank God for the things that Jason was doing—thank God for the way that he was pursuing me and God. As I began to do that, it's amazing. You know God gave all these amazing chemicals that are released through gratitude—you know, dopamine and what is that?
Jason: —the bonding chemical.
Tori: ---the bonding chemical, like when you feel gratitude, you are bonded to the people that you're grateful for. As I began to do that, I did begin to feel again what I did for Jason. We are really big proponents of doing the same things that you did. For us, it was we always played country music. We had like our songs. And so, we began to play those songs again and we began to think about each other more and more throughout the day and just being really proactive and grateful. And that really changed.
Jason: The power of gratitude in marriage; I think your listeners would do well to recognize the power of gratitude. You know Psalm 100 verse four says “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!” If you want God's presence, which, you know in the Old Testament, it was in the temple, so the temple was surrounded by courts and the courts had gates around them. If you wanted to get into the inner court, you start with thanksgiving and you move into praise. You thank God for what He's done, and you praise Him for who He is, and you end up with His presence. And where His presence is, there's the power.
Since we're made in His image, the same thing is true about human beings. So, Tori, her response was through gratitude. What she didn't realize is that was releasing hormones into her body of oxytocin, which is a bonding chemical, and dopamine, which is the feel-good chemical. So, her body physically was responding in a way that was bonding to me through thanks and praise, like through gratitude for her recognizing, “You know what, God, I'm so thankful that you're doing this inside of Jason. And you know what, God, I'm thankful that Jason is a provider. You know, I'm thankful.”
And then she started saying it to me, “You're such a good provider.” It's like that thanks and praise, that's drawing me close to her. It's drawing her close to me as I'm pursuing. And the next thing you know, we had that romantic flame back again.
If you're listening to this and you're struggling with maybe your husband or your wife or whatever, and you're not feeling that romantic flame again, I challenge you: remember what you used to feel about each other. Repent for where you are right now, and you're like, “Well, I don't think I did anything wrong.” Well, but repentance is a change of mind. That's what repent means, metanoia, and then redo the things you did at first. Then fuel it through gratitude and watch what God does inside your heart.
Dave: I mean, that's beautiful.
Ann: It's so good. I like the dopamine hits the oxytocin. You're developing new neuropathways.
Tori: Yes, yes.
Dave: What would you say—
Ann: Wait, wait, wait. I want to add this too because some people are like “I don't even care if I'm at ten. I'm so tired. I've got a two-year-old. I've got a one-year-old and a four-year-old and nobody is sleeping. We barely talk. I can barely function. So be at a ten, my life is a three basically. My walk with Jesus is not doing well,” and so they feel so discouraged and maybe they're struggling with depression or even anxiety. So that ten can feel overwhelming, like, “I can't get there.”
Jason: I would say that action precedes motivation. It's like when I woke up this morning, I was not motivated to get out of bed, but I got out of bed. The next thing you know, five minutes later, I don't want to go back to bed. My action preceded my motivation. What we're saying about remember, repent, redo is it takes place in your mind.
So, pursuit is not just this “Oh, no. I have to go on four date nights in a row and I have to do this romantic.” No, no, no, stop all that. Pursuit is changing the way you think. It's replacing the negative with the positive. It's remembering. That's—you know you go read the scripture, all throughout the Scripture—and I'm a real Bible nerd. I think all your listeners need to recognize that if you're not a Bible nerd, you need to become one because it's got all the answers. [Laughter]
Jason: But all throughout the scripture we see God saying remember, remember, remember. Why? Because remember is all about connection. My fingers are members of my palm. If one of them gets dismembered, I have to remember it. I have to reconnect it. And so, when we remember back to positive interactions with our spouse, what happens is we're reconnecting with them at a mental level. Everybody has energy for that.
Ann: Will you do me a favor? Will you pray for couples?
Jason: Of course.
Ann: There are people listening that are just like, “I'm just/I need help,” and Jesus is the best place that we can go.
Dave: If you could get on your knees and put your hand on my shoulder, that'd be nice. [Laughter]
Jason: I'll keep it above the shoulder, so you don't think I'm making a move. [Laughter]
Lord, we love You. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord, that You've raised up Dave and Ann, who can help so many of us couples in marriage. Lord, we thank You for what You've done with marriage. We thank You that marriage was Your idea. We thank You that You made marriage a warring mechanism to keep Satan in his defeated state.
So right now, I just pray for every couple who's listening to this. I pray right now for husbands, that they would pursue their wives with all the gusto that they have. I pray for wives, that they would respond to their husbands. Lord, I pray for couples, that You would just bless them wherever they are and whatever they're feeling, whatever they're going through right now, God, I pray for divine energy.
Lord, I thank You that the powerful marriage that You outlined in the Scripture is not between two people, but between three, where You are there. And so, Lord, we thank You that You're a transformational God. So, we rely on You for Your transformational power. For those couples out there that feel like, “Wow, I'm at a four, I don't know how I'm going to get to a ten,” God, You come in and You bring transformation that only You can bring.
God, I pray that we would do our part; that we would think the thoughts that we need to think; that we would honor scripture, the principles that we learn in the scripture where we're supposed to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and that we would do our part.
And that God, that You would then come in and do Your part where You bring the transformation. God, we pray in the same way that You transform a caterpillar into a butterfly, but it has to go through the cave of the cocoon. Lord, some couples right now are in that cave. I pray Jesus, in that moment, that in this moment right now, that You would allow that metamorphosis, the transformation to take place in their heart. And that soon they'll find themselves having wings in their marriage again that they did not even experience before they got married, that it's so much better than anything that they could ever ask or imagine. You are that kind of God. You are a transformational God.
We pray that blessing and that protection and that anointing over marriages today. Anyone who's within earshot of this program, God, that You would transform their relationships. We are relying on You, and we are trusting You. And we'll give You the praise, the glory and the honor that is due to You and You alone. In Jesus name. Amen.
Dave: Amen. Thanks.
Shelby: You're listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Jason and Tori Benham on FamilyLife Today. Jason and Tori's book is called Beauty in Battle: Winning in Marriage by Waging a War. You can pick up a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com. You know Dave and Ann, along with Jason and Tori have some great memories of their time at the Weekend to Remember® getaway. And just so you know, as you listen to them talk about it, if you register this week, you and your spouse can experience this incredible event for over 40 percent off.
Okay, here's the Wilsons and the Benhams.
Ann: I think the conference that impacted us the most, two weeks before we got married, was the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway, for sure. We didn't listen to anything. [Laughter]
Dave: I'm laughing because yes, we thought, “We don't need this. Why are all these people taking notes? We are in love with Jesus. We are in love with each other more than anybody probably here is and it won't be that hard.” And then when we got married, we pulled that manual out literally within three months and said, “Oh my goodness, we are struggling and all the truth we needed was right here in this manual,” which is really the Word of God put in a manual and it literally saved our marriage.
Ann: And Tori and Jason, we just talked a little bit, so you guys think you've been to one.
Jason: Yes. You know what I love though is that if I'm out hunting treasure and somebody comes up and says, “Hey, I got a map that can get you the treasure,” then I need to do everything in my power to get that map. That's what I love about those weekends that you guys do where you're like, “Hey, we got a map that can help you have the marriage that you want.” I think every couple that's listening to this, needs to seriously consider going to one of your weekends.
Ann: I like that.
Dave: It really is. That’s what it is Jason. It's a map to treasure, and most couples have no idea—
Tori: That is so good.
Dave: —that God has a map, there is a treasure, and He's revealed it in His Word. And that's why we had to go back to it.
Shelby: Make a new commitment to your marriage and see what God will do. You can head over to FamilyLifeToday.com, scroll down, and click on the Weekend to Remember link to find a location that works for you.
Are you burning the candle from both ends—like totally at the end of your rope? Well, make sure you join us next week as Dave and Ann talk with Ann and Michael Swindell about finding God's unshakable peace in the midst of stress. That's next week.
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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