FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Finding Margin

with Crystal Paine | September 23, 2014
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Is life running you ragged? Author Crystal Paine assures listeners that there can be light at the end of the tunnel. Crystal recalls a financially stressful season in the life of her family that God worked for good and ultimately prodded her to launch her website.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Is life running you ragged? Author Crystal Paine assures listeners that there can be light at the end of the tunnel. Crystal recalls a financially stressful season in the life of her family that God worked for good and ultimately prodded her to launch her website.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Is life running you ragged? Author Crystal Paine recalls a financially stressful season in the life of her family that God worked for good and ultimately prodded her to launch her website.

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Finding Margin

With Crystal Paine
September 23, 2014
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Bob: There was a season in Crystal Paine’s life and marriage where her husband had lost his job—he was out of work. Finances were tight, and their relationship was rocky. Crystal Paine says her words were not helping.

Crystal: When I was saying these things and lashing out at him—when he was already at rock-bottom—it just cut him to pieces. The last thing that he needed from me was wounding words. He needed me to be supporting him. He needed me to be encouraging him and motivating him, and that was not what I was doing.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, September 23rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. How do you make it through tough times together, as a couple?  We’ll hear thoughts on that today from Crystal Paine. Stay tuned.


And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. So, you’ve talked about the fact that, when your kids were little, you kind of lived in perpetual survival mode. Did you get out of that once the kids left the house?  I mean, is that when sanity returned?

Dennis: Well, to a large extent, yes, because, instead of balancing eight schedules, you’re now back to two.

Bob: I remember when you became an empty-nester—I remember you coming in, and you talked about how there used to be—this was the phrase you’d use—you talk about there used to be this tension against the muscle. And you said, “Now, I go home; and it’s kind of like I’m not really sure what to do.”

Dennis: Well, it wasn’t quite that bad—that I wasn’t sure what to do—but I did miss being surrounded by the kids coming out of the house and surrounding my car and giving me a hug and a kiss. That began the evening. I mean,—

Bob: So, there’s—

Dennis: —I was on, as a father.

Bob: So, there is something about the energy that comes in these survival mode moments, but it can be overwhelming; right?


Dennis: It can be. If you don’t pull back and really fulfill Ephesians 5:16-17—I know I read this earlier, but I’m going to read it again—“Look carefully, then, how you walk”—did you hear that—“Look carefully, then, how you walk, not as unwise but as wise….”  I just want to stop here and say, “Wisdom is godly skill in everyday living.”  It’s living life the way God designed it to be lived. And I think God does want us to maximize our lives.

The passage goes on, though, to say this: “…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  And if you’re raising a family, you know that the days are challenging—you know that there are some evil things out there, and you really want to be as much in control of your schedule as you possibly can be.

We have a friend, back with us in the studio—Crystal Paine, who joins us again. Welcome back, Crystal.

Crystal: Thanks so much for having me back!


Dennis: She has written a book—Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less,—Barbara would love this next promise—Sleep More,

Bob: I read that and I said, “I’m reading this book.”  If “sleep more” is a promise, I’m in. [Laughter]

Dennis: and Restore Your Passion for Life. She and Jesse have been married since 2003. They have three children, live near Nashville, and she is the creator of

I want to go to an ugly moment that you admit in your book. I was really proud of you for sharing this story because I think this is where a lot of people can really say: “You know, Crystal’s a real person. I can trust her with her solutions because she is willing to admit she’s been at rock-bottom as well.”

You were in Kansas City. You and your husband had just moved into a rental house. Well, frankly put, Crystal—you’d had it—hadn’t you?


Crystal: Yes. My husband was just fresh out of law school. We had moved there, thinking he had this job that was going to provide well for us. Then, it was just like everything started crumbling; and the job did not go at all like we expected. He was very stressed; and then, my health started taking a hit because of that stress from him. I wasn’t taking care of myself, and I was pregnant with my second child. Then, I ended up being hospitalized because I was so anemic.

I just remember how hopeless and helpless we felt. So, then, I had my second child. Then, my husband lost his job. So, we’re in this town where we hardly know anyone. We have these two little children. My husband cannot find a job, and I’m in the middle of post-partum depression. I was just angry with everything in my life.


I was overwhelmed, and I was angry with my husband because I just felt like he wasn’t taking care of us.

I look back, and I’m so—I had so much sadness that I took out my frustration on him—but I did. I threatened to leave him, and I just was so overwhelmed that I didn’t know what to do.

Dennis: You berated him—you said in your book.

Crystal: I did. I would—I was awful!  I mean, I just remember these words spewing out of my mouth—such hurtful, hurtful words toward him because I was taking out my stress and my frustration on him and blaming him for our situation when it wasn’t his fault.

Dennis: He was attempting to get a job—it just wasn’t coming through.

Crystal: Yes. And he was trying so hard. My words did nothing but demoralize him. I just look back, with so much sadness, that I allowed myself to get to that point.


Yet, when you hit that rock-bottom point in your marriage—and you threaten to leave each other and you have these awful words come out of your mouth—if you can weather that and come out stronger, then, I feel like there is so much peace that comes in your marriage, once you’ve worked through that, and you’ve asked forgiveness and you acknowledged, “I hurt you with my words, and I am so sorry.”

Dennis: What kept you from leaving?

Crystal: The grace of God. Honestly, I don’t know, except for probably it was still that fear of man of: “If I leave my husband, what are going people going to think of me?”—which is terrible—but that’s probably the honest truth of what it was. And also, when it really came down to it, I needed him—I just needed his support, and just what he is to me, and the rock that he is in my life—but it’s so easy to just lash out at your husband, without even thinking about it because we’re frustrated. I think that’s the thing—when you have so much in your life and so many stressors in your life—


—the last thing that you need to be doing is lashing out at your husband and blaming him for it—but it’s, oftentimes, the first thing that we do.

Bob: Was that pain point—I mean, here you are—you’re spewing / you’re saying, “I’m out of here if you don’t get a job,” or whatever the threat was that says, “I’m going to leave,”—was that just a momentary pain release for you; or were you really contemplating: “I’m taking the kids, and I’m moving back home, and I don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore”?

Crystal: I was serious. It was three months where—I remember we had kind of grown up in this very Christian culture, and always looking at people who had marriage problems thinking, “What’s their deal?”—like: “Why can’t they get it together?  They just need to be more Christian or something.”  But I remember, in that moment, thinking: “I get it now. I get how people can have these arguments—how they can have so much hurt, and pain, and be so upset at their spouse.”


God used that to really break me of this pride—of thinking I had it all together. God really took us through the ringer in that time, and pulled us out of that. We’re so much stronger as a result of hitting rock-bottom.

Dennis: So, this occurred while you were seated in the middle of the floor. Are the kids around you as this was taking place?

Crystal: Yes, it happened multiple times—that I threatened to leave. Honestly, for a three-month period—I remember, every day, I would break down in tears and just be like: “I can’t do this anymore!  I cannot live like this anymore. Go get a job. What is the deal?  Go get a job!”  It happened multiple times; and yes, our kids would be there. I am so sad that they saw that. They were young, but I’m just so sad that they experienced that stress in our relationship.

Dennis: So, what was Jesse’s response?  I mean, he’s taking these hits—one right after another—from his wife.


What did that do to him?

Crystal: It demoralized him. It made him feel like he was a loser because—not only could he not get a job / not only did he lose his job—I remember he couldn’t even get a job, throwing phone books. He was trying to apply for anything and everything. He couldn’t even get that job because—I mean, I really look back and know that God allowed that to happen because it broke both of us. It was such a good time, even though it was such an awful time.

But when I was saying these things and lashing out at him—when he was already at rock-bottom—it just cut him to pieces. The last thing that he needed from me was wounding words. He needed me to be supporting him. He needed me to be encouraging him and motivating him, and that was not what I was doing.

Dennis: And that’s what I want every wife to hear—a man, who has lost his job—I don’t know exactly all of the psychological impacts that has on a man’s life and soul—


—all I know is it is devastating. If he needs anything during that period of time, he needs a mirror, not to reflect back—and I’m not shaming you for doing it. You said you began to turn the corner and get back on his team. But he needs a wife, who is on his team and on his side, speaking the truth to him about who he is, and that he has value, and God’s got a plan, and that he needs to walk by faith and trust God in the midst of this, and that you, as his wife, want to do anything and everything you can to stand with him.

I really do appreciate your honesty because I think there are a lot more of our listeners where you are than we think right now.

Bob: But I want to know how the corner got turned because you had these three months—what changed?

Crystal: You know, I really feel like it was both of us getting to the place where we are saying: “We cannot do this alone anymore. We cannot just keep fighting with each other.


“We’ve got to just go to God.”  We just started really crying out to God—and little bit by little bit—things started changing—even though, at first, it felt like we’re just crying out to God, and your prayers were just hitting the ceiling, and dropping back down.

But eventually, then, he got this contract position; but the very interesting and God-thing that happened is—through that hitting rock-bottom and then saying, “What are we going to do?” and “We need to pay our bills,”—at the end of that time period, that’s when was born. Out of the ashes and this really messy time in my life—that I wish I could just lock up in a vault of shame and forget that it ever happened—not only did grow out of that—because it was a brainstorm that kind of happened in that period of desperation—but also, then, my husband, when he got this contract position, he started listening to all of these podcasts and audio books because it was just this document-review position.


So, he could listen to things for eight hours a day. God used all of that to really spark the entrepreneurial fire in him—that I’d never seen before.

Had we just stayed with that same old job—that it was a good job—I don’t think we would ever be where we are today—had we not gone through all of that desperation, and God breaking both of us, and getting us to a place where we’d say: “God, we’ll do whatever You want us to do—whatever that looks like. We want to be faithful. We want to honor You. No matter how hard it is, we want to walk in obedience.”

Dennis: What would you say to a wife, who is listening right now, and maybe she’s near the point where you got for a three-month period?  What would you tell her that you wished you had done in that situation?

Crystal: Someone just asked me this the other day. It was painful to go back to that place—but it was so good—and say, “What would I have told myself in that place, now, knowing what I know and the life experience that I’ve had since then?”


I think one of the biggest things is I wish I would have focused on the blessings. That’s a thing that God has really used in my life in the past few years—is to count my blessings. I actually have a blessing journal—that every single day—it’s just a line that I write in every single day, starting my morning off—was looking at the good and focusing on the good because, when we start noticing the good and looking for it, it becomes a lot more obvious.

I wish, in that point of desperation, I would have looked for those little sparks of hope because there is always hope. I would encourage any woman listening, who is just feeling despair: “Look for the good. Look for the good in your husband. Look for the good in your marriage. Look for the good in your home / in your situation. There is always something to be thankful for.”

Dennis: Yes, Crystal. We recently had a guest, here on FamilyLife Today, Brian Kluth, who talked about how, in some very lean years, he and his wife would sit down on Sunday night and would recount all of the things God had done for them in the previous seven days.


They would make a list of blessings—kind of like you are talking about. At the end of that, they would then make their tithe / their gift after that time of recounting blessings.

Bob: Well, and I—that’s interesting because one of the things that you write about is cultivating generosity as a part of how you de-stress your life. Explain the connection; can you?

Crystal: Yes. I think so much of the time we can get so focused on ourselves. We can have this little pity party for ourselves and how hard life is. When we can get outside ourselves—and focus on other people and cultivate that generous spirit—it will take our eyes off our problems. All of a sudden, we will have joy when we pour into other people.

So, I—that was another thing that I was encouraging this woman, who was asking, “What would you have done if you could look back then?”


I wish that I would have said, “Who can I pour into—what can I do for someone else?”  When you become a conduit for God to pour through, there is so much blessing and joy in that.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: What I want to know is—as things began to stabilize financially for you, what happened to your marriage?  I mean, it had been rock-bottom. Did the money coming in take care of all the wounds, and the hurts, and the division that you were experiencing in your marriage?  Or did you find that you needed to do something on behalf of your marriage, moving forward?

Crystal: We became very intentional in our marriage. It’s not something that, one day, all of a sudden, we decided, “We’re going to be super intentional”; but it was a slow and gradual realizing: “If we’re going to do this for the long-haul,”—be married for the long-haul—“this takes work. We’ve got to both be committed; and we’ve got to both invest time, and energy, and effort into this marriage because good marriages don’t just happen.”


We started really setting goals for our marriage. Every single year, now, we set goals for our marriage—these are simple things. One of the things that I set a goal for my marriage, this year, was to write a love note to my husband every single week—just a simple way of expressing to him how much I appreciate him because, for years, I feel like I didn’t express that. I focused on what he did wrong instead of what he was doing right. So, we can always find things to knit-pick; but we can, also, always find things to praise—so, focusing on that. Goals for our marriage: for reading books together / reading the Bible together—but simple, simple, little things—not this massive, overwhelming goal but just very small, simple things. So, invest in our marriage.

Yes, when my husband got a job, it did help some things because it relieved some of that stress off of you; but money doesn’t fix your problems. If you have problems, no matter how much money you throw at it, that’s not going to fix the underlying issues.


So, we realized that we had to work on those things together.

Once we started working on those things together, then, God blessed our marriage and blessed us with finances. Then, we were excited because we’re like: “You know, we’ve lived so simply for so long, we don’t need much more—it’s not like we need a lot of money to live on. So then—let’s just live simply—so that we can give generously.”  That’s just become our heartbeat of we want to—together, on the same page—look for ways to bless other people.

Dennis: And I would say to a couple—who, perhaps, have been through something like that: “The Weekend to Remember®, our two-and-a-half-day marriage getaway, is a great way to invest in your marriage. It’s a retreat of sorts so you can sit and soak in the Scripture and reflect on your marriage—back to what we talked about in Ephesians 5—look carefully at how you are walking and think about ‘Are we doing the wise thing or the unwise thing?’”


When a couple goes to the Weekend to Remember, they are not only rejuvenated spiritually, but they are both getting off the same page. At that point, you really can be one with each other, moving back into stressful situations.

Bob: I think a big part of what happens is that you disengage from—

Dennis: Yes.

Bob: —daily life for a couple—

Dennis: Right.

Bob: —of days. You put it on hold, and you focus on a top-priority. I mean, apart from your relationship with Christ, your marriage relationship ought to be the next priority. If you don’t spend some intentional focused time on your marriage, then, one of the top priorities in your life is just going to atrophy or it’s going to hiccup.

Dennis: There are 52 weekends in a year. A bunch of those are taken by holidays; okay. Another bunch are taken by—

Bob: Football!

Dennis: Yes. There you go—sports.

Bob: That’s right.

Dennis: But you know what?  One of those weekends, every year, ought to be set apart. FamilyLife is not the only organization that does things on behalf of marriages and families; but I’ll tell you what—


—the Weekend to Remember is a great investment in your marriage. Have you guys been to one, Crystal?

Crystal: Yes, we—actually, we went to one six weeks after we were married, I think. And then, we didn’t do the Weekend to Remember—we actually did the Love Like You Mean It® cruises. We did those three times, which—that is a much bigger investment—but for us—that complete getting away—which the Weekend to Remember accomplishes—he was talking about / Bob was talking about disengaging—for us, that’s what we need to do. You have to disengage, as a mom, from the laundry, and the kids, and the schedules and all the to-do lists so that you can focus on your marriage.

It’s really hard sometimes. When we do that—we find the first 24 hours—we’re kind of arguing and fighting. It’s like dealing with all this stuff—that we’ve kind of stuffed under—that we really need to deal with, and it brings it to the surface. Maybe we’re the only ones, and we’re just weird!

Dennis: No!

Bob: No!

Dennis: It’s called decompression from life!

Bob: That’s right.


Crystal: But when we work through that and then say, “Okay, we want to get on the same page,”—and those questions and the sessions—that all helps us to start talking and really have that oneness together. It’s been so fantastic, and we’ve been so blessed by it.

Dennis: There really aren’t any mounds of laundry or diapers on that Love Like You Mean It cruise.

Crystal: Yes, and it’s a wonderful thing. [Laughter]

Bob: Even the Weekend to Remember is relatively laundry-free. Yes.

Dennis: Yes, it really is. You know, before we’re done here, Crystal, I really appreciate your work. I want to give you a chance—here at the end of the broadcast—instead of writing a love letter to your husband—I’m going to have you say some words of love to your husband. Not a lot of women have been afforded the opportunity—

Bob: That’s right. We get to listen in to exactly what you’d say to him! [Laughter]

Dennis: And a few million other folks will be listening in as well. So, you just start thinking about what you want to say to him in front of a few of your friends and those people who are following your blog.

Bob: Let me suggest that folks get a copy of your book too. It’s called Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life.


We’ve got it in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Go, online, at Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” up at the top of the page. The information about Crystal’s book is available right there. You can order, online, if you like. is the website. Or call 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”

And while you continue to think about what you want to say to your husband, Crystal, let me say a special congratulations to our friends, Robert and Pamela Ring, who live in Woodland, Maine—the little town of Woodland, Maine. They are celebrating 19 years of marriage together today. We want to say, “Congratulations!” and say, “Thank you,” to the Rings for standing with us, here at FamilyLife.


They are among the team of people who help make this daily radio program possible through financial support of this ministry—by making donations to cover the cost of producing and syndicating this program, helping us expand the work of FamilyLife Today around the country and around the world. We’re grateful for your partnership with us, and congratulations on 19 years of marriage.

We also want to encourage all of our listeners to consider being a part of the team. Can you help with a donation to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today?  If you can, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you our 2015 Spirit-filled Year calendar. It’s all about the fruit of the Spirit in your life and in your marriage. It starts with October 2014. So, it’s one of those 15-month calendars.

We’ll send it to you when you go to Click the link in the upper right-hand corner of the page that says, “I Care,” and make an online donation. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make your donation over the phone, and let us know that you’d like the calendar.


Or you can send a donation to FamilyLife Today at P O Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. And our zip code is 72223. Ask for the Spirit-filled Year calendar when you get in touch with us. Again, thanks for your financial support. We appreciate you.


Dennis: Well, Crystal, you have been a great advocate for helping women, wives, and moms be more efficient and effective in all that God has called them to do. I just want to say: “Thanks for writing Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. Way to go on this!”  But I told you I was going to give you an opportunity, here on national radio—are you up for this?  Do you want to do it or not?  Is—

Crystal: Absolutely!

Dennis: Okay, so—

Crystal: Absolutely, I’ll make sure that my husband listens in too, but I won’t tell him that I’m doing this.

Dennis: Jesse—

Bob: He won’t know what’s coming.

Dennis: Jesse, I want you to know she is smiling, big time.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: So, this was not something we forced her to do.

Bob: That’s right.


Crystal: Jesse, I appreciate so much that you have weathered the storms of life these past 11 years. You’ve put up with a wife who was not always pleasant to live with. You’ve loved me. You’ve poured into me. You’ve given so much to me. You’ve encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone to do hard things. You’ve been adventurous with me, and you’ve never stopped loving me.

And I just appreciate how much you give to our family, how much you do for the kids / for me, and how faithful you are in God’s Word. Thank you, and I love you.

Bob: Now, does that mean you don’t have to write a note this week since you did that?  Do think you are off the hook on writing the note?

Crystal: I’ll probably still write a note.

Bob: Oh, that’s good.

Dennis: And I just wanted to say, “And that’s real family life.”  [Laughter]

Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.

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