FamilyLife Today®

Heart Level Transformation

with Shawn Stoever, Terry Hargrave | February 24, 2012
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Are you ready to address the deep-felt issues in your marriage? If so, a marriage intensive is a great place to begin, according to family specialists Terry Hargrave and Shawn Stoever. Hargrave and Stoever explain that heart transformation begins with renewing your mind, just as we're instructed in Romans 12:2, which allows our brains to create new mental pathways.

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  • Are you ready to address the deep-felt issues in your marriage? If so, a marriage intensive is a great place to begin, according to family specialists Terry Hargrave and Shawn Stoever. Hargrave and Stoever explain that heart transformation begins with renewing your mind, just as we're instructed in Romans 12:2, which allows our brains to create new mental pathways.

Are you ready to address the deep-felt issues in your marriage?

Heart Level Transformation

With Shawn Stoever, Terry Hargrav...more
February 24, 2012
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Bob:  Children are a blessing from the Lord; that’s what the Bible teaches.  Shawn Stoever says, “Children can also be a potential threat to a marriage relationship.” 

Shawn:  Another problem we’re seeing in Christian culture today is moms and dads start being “all about the kids”—all the energy and focus goes into raising these kids and getting them to events and exposing them to everything that is possible out there.  In the long run, that doesn’t help, either. 

We see lots of couples that have kids that have graduated high school, and they look at each other and realize, “We have no ‘us’.  We haven’t nurtured that.  We haven’t done date night.  We haven’t gone to Weekend to Remember®s together.  We haven’t gone through the Art of Marriage®, as a couple.  We haven’t invested in our marital ‘us-ness’.”  As a result, they’ve got nothing, once those kids are gone. 

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, February 24th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Is there a way for married couples to recapture their missing “us-ness”?  We’re going to talk about that today.  Stay tuned. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  We’ve been talking about couples really getting serious about addressing issues in their marriage.  We’re not just talking about those who’ve got the big issues because we all got little issues, and we all need a little marriage maintenance from time to time; but we’re talking about a process that couples can through to try to identify, “How do we get tripped up in our marriage?  What are the things that trigger issues for us?”, and then, “How do we get to where those triggers aren’t working the way they used to work?”


Dennis:  Yes, and we’re talking to the authors of a brand-new book called 5 Days to a New Marriage by Dr. Terry Hargrave and Dr. Shawn Stoever. 

I was just thinking, Bob, if either you or I had a sick marriage—

Bob:  Yes? 

Dennis:  —we’re covered.  We’ve got two docs—

Bob:  Two doctors.

Dennis:  —right in here—

Bob:  That’s right. 

Dennis:  —to rescue us immediately.  Thank you, guys, for being back on the broadcast. 

Terry:  You bet.

Shawn:  We appreciate it.

Dennis:  You’ve actually created this book, along with DVD’s, for couples to go through this in a small group.  Is it actually meant to be done over a five-day period; or can it be done over five evenings, over a period of a month or six weeks?

Shawn:  In a small group setting, we’d probably prefer it to be done over five evenings, over five weeks—or even spread it out over ten.  The five days was really meant to capitalize on our culture’s desire to see change and see it immediately—combined with the fact that we’re just in the intensives, where we actually bring couples away with therapists.  It does happen in that amount of time.

When you’re utilizing the same biblical truths in a small group, it’s better to spread it out—take the time, spend a couple of hours, let that sink in, come back the next week, work through a little bit more.  The DVD’s really spread it out over a longer period of time so it can be facilitated, and led, and really let the truth sink in, in a powerful way. 

Dennis:  We’re trying to give our listeners the benefit of what the five days look like.  I want to ask you, Terry, to summarize Day One, and you, Shawn, to summarize Day Two.  Then, let’s move into Days Three, Four, and Five and talk with our listeners just about, “What are the topics discussed during those days?” 

Terry:  Yes, Day One is really about unpacking the pain—getting comfortable with who you were and who you grew up to be, “What was the story of your growing up?  What was the story of the mentors and the people that influenced you?” also, “What was the story of the events and the trauma that you grew up with?” 

Then, it’s putting that together into understanding what emotions that really contacted you—particularly, about what you believe about yourself, and what you believed about relationships, and how you learned how to cope with those things—and developing that into the Pain Cycle, where you really understand—you know clearly, “When these emotions get triggered, this is how I cope.” 

Bob:  Then, Day Two, Shawn?

Shawn:  Day Two is about taking those same events from our past and shifting them to help you to understand who God really wanted you to be, who He designed you to be, the environment you were designed to live in.  If you replace the lies with truth, and if you take those old coping behaviors you do when you’re tripped up and you replace those with real healthy relational behaviors, all of a sudden, you’ve changed into, what we call, the Peace Cycle. 

When you operate in who you were meant to be and you act in accordance with that, it actually blesses your spouse and reinforces the truth in who they are—causes them to act in positive, healthy ways.  The next thing you know, you are spinning in a real peaceful, healthy way. 

Bob:  Well, it sounds, to me, like we’re done then.  I mean, you kind of got us to the end; didn’t you? 

Terry:  Man, I wish that were the case.  I wish that were the case. 

Dennis:  One point of clarification.  You’re not talking about—in terms of changing behaviors—you’re not talking about behavior modification.  You’re actually calling people back to their core beliefs of what they believe about God, about sin that’s occurring in their own lives.  You’re challenging them to believe the truth of what the Bible, and what God has to say, about them as individuals; and then, call them to faith because, ultimately, that’s the only way you’re going to find peace. 

Shawn:  Absolutely, we’re talking about a real heart-level transformation—not just a “Well, I’m just going to behave differently because I know this is how she wants me to act in this situation.”  That won’t last.  That’s not healing.  That’s a Band-Aid®. 

What we’re trying to do is help couples really experience deep healing; and that comes from that connection with the truths of the Lord and a faith that doesn’t turn away, doesn’t leave us empty.  From that place of healing, then, you automatically behave differently.  The healthier you are on the inside; the more it’s going to manifest itself in healthy behaviors on the outside.  We’re trying to get to a pretty deep place here. 

Dennis:  Okay, so, we’ve learned about the Pain Cycle and how we process pain and cope with it.  You’ve called us out of that to understand what’s taking place, to really seeing what God has to offer in terms of peace.  What’s the third day of the five days? 

Terry:  It’s the “Great Divide” because when we look at Scripture—particularly, in terms, of what Paul says—you see this message repeated over and over again in

Colossians 3, Ephesians 4.  The idea is that he states clearly—he says, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  It’s by the renewing of your mind.

About 2,000 years before Nero, psychology basically told us the same thing.  It said that our brain does over and over again what it already knows.  So, if we have this Pain Cycle, it just doesn’t automatically change over to the Peace Cycle because we have knowledge over it.  What Paul is saying is that we have to renew our minds over and over again.  It’s about practicing.  It’s about practicing to the point where we create a new neural pathway. 

If you had a mountaintop full of snow and the snow melted, it would run down the crevices that already exist.  To create a new pathway, takes work and intentionality.  That’s the way God created it.  That’s why Paul puts in this language about creating a new mind, being renewed in the spirit of your mind.  That’s why he’s using that language with us. 

So, we’re really, about on Day Three, helping couples learn how to make that transition, when they are emotionally-activated, in terms of the old stuff—“Oh, I’m unloved,” or, “My spouse doesn’t care for me,” or, “They are really trying to control me,”—switching that into what we call the Four Steps to be able to create the new pattern to get into the practice of the Peace Cycle. 

The Four Steps are very simple, but they’re mindful in that strategy.  The first one is to say what you feel.  In other words, repeat the old stuff that you feel in the Pain Cycle—say what you normally do when you feel that way, say the things that you normally cope with.  Then, the third step, “Say the truth.  Say what God has stated about you.  Say what you are willing to claim yourself—what are you going to believe at that moment.”  That’s the inside-out change that Shawn’s talking about. 

Then, the fourth step, “Say what you’re going to do differently.”  We practice this with couples over and over again on the third day to make sure that they get that repertoire—start breaking into that neural pathway into their brain of what it feels like to take off the old self, as Ephesians 4 talks about—take off the old self, and by the Spirit of the renewing of your mind, put on the new self, which is really about conforming ourselves to Christ. 

Dennis:  I want to go back to your snow-melt illustration, creating crevices.  Of course, you are talking about the brain creating some new pathways.  What if you had a tool that was sharper than any two-edged sword that would create new neurological pathways? 

Well, let me read to you Hebrews, Chapter 4, verse 12, “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Oh my—oh my goodness. 

Terry:  That’s why we’re supposed to meditate on it both day and night because this is so powerful—that if we pay attention to it, if we practice it just a little bit, God is going to use His Spirit to revolutionize our lives. 

Bob:  When you talk about the “Great Divide”, you’re really talking about the flesh being at war against the Spirit—the fact that our old patterns are born out of our fleshly impulses; the Spirit is calling us in a new direction.  The question is, “Are we going to respond to the old patterns and the influence of the flesh, or are we going to respond to the voice of the Spirit as we hear it?” 

Shawn:  Absolutely.  Those Four Steps are critical.  It just means saying out loud—the research shows that when you say something out loud, it actually taps into another part of your brain, where those crevices get created. 

You want to say out loud what you feel; you want to say out loud how you used to behave in the flesh in that moment; then, you say out loud, “The truth is, though…,” and you remind yourself what the Spirit said to you about the truth; then, you say, “So, I’m going to act differently.”  The fourth step is the result of that. 

Dennis:  Give me an illustration from your life, Shawn—

Shawn:  Okay, for me—

Dennis:  —of what that looks like. 

Shawn:  Absolutely; absolutely.  When Christina and I get into a bad spot, I start feeling all kinds of old stuff—I feel rejected.  That’s my biggest feeling.  I’ve been like that since I was young.  My dad, God love him—the old cowboy took me to a Western wear store to buy school clothes after my mom died.  I went to school in inner city Houston looking like Howdy Doody; and so, I faced some rejection as a result of that. 

Well, whenever Christina and I get into an argument, I feel that old rejection again.  I have to say out loud, “I’m feeling rejected right now.”  Sometimes, she looks at me like, “Well, I don’t care.”  I say, “No, no.  I’m going to walk through these steps, Christina.  I’m feeling rejected right now.” 

When I feel rejected, normally, I withdraw and shut down.  I get away.  I go out; I leave you behind; I walk out the door.  “The truth is I’m not rejected.  I really am accepted.  God accepts me, and I know in your heart, you accept me; but more importantly, He accepts me.  So, you know what?  I’m not going to walk out this time.  I want to stay here and listen to what it is you have to say.” 

That simple Four Step process, right there, just changed our entire conflict.  I’m not doing what my flesh wants to do.  I’m doing what the Spirit is calling me to do.  Now, we’ve got a chance to be different in that marital interaction. 

Bob:  So, wait.  You actually stop and say that stuff out loud? 

Shawn:  It’s—Terry’s done a lot of research on this.  This saying out loud actually transfers it to a different place in your brain that causes—I mean, this is way more neuroscience than you wanted to know—but saying it out loud, just trust me, helps with the neural crevices and the formation—

Bob:  Is she standing there, kind of rolling her eyes, tapping her feet, waiting for you, “to get over”? 

Shawn:  Yes, the first two or three times, she did; but the third or fourth time, when she realized I wasn’t walking out the door, or shutting down, or shutting her out, she said, “Well, I don’t know what you’re doing, but if you’re going to sit there and listen to me, I’m okay with that.” 

She’s heard all of this, too.  She’s saying to herself, “Alright, I’m feeling abandoned and not good enough.  Normally, when I do that, I pursue him, and I yell at him.  I know that’s not true about me, though.  I know I’ll never be forsaken.  I know that God is with me all the time, and I know He values me.  So, I’m not going to pursue and yell at him.  Instead, I’m going to wait patiently for him to come back; and then, when he does, I’m going to love him the way I want to.” 

Dennis:  I can sure see how that would keep you from believing a lie.  I mean, you’re calling it out on the table, “Here’s what’s taking place in me.” 

Alright, we got—I’m looking at the clock.  We’ve got to finish all five days.  We don’t have the option of using Swindoll’s time, or Dobson’s, or whoever else is on after FamilyLife Today.  What’s Day Four? 

Shawn:  Day Four is really where most marital therapy tends to start.  We want to give you some tools on Day Four.  We’re going to talk to you about problem solving.  “Hey, you guys are on the same team.” 

Christina and I, we square off against each other sometimes.  She’s very competitive, she’s athletic.  We tried to play doubles tennis for awhile.  We tried to play singles tennis first, against each other; and that was a bad use of our date night.  (Laughter) 

So, we started playing doubles tennis; and I wasn’t up to her level.  I’m not much of a tennis player.  I would frustrate her, and we played in a tournament one time.  We won a few matches.  Then, I started getting tired; and I wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain.  She got more and more frustrated with me; and at one point, she literally said, “Shawn, if you would stand off to the side, I think I can beat these two people by myself.”  (Laughter)  Talk about triggering all my pain and my old fears; right? 

We turned on each other, in that moment; and it got ugly.  Well, when we turned on each other, who do you think won the tennis match?—obviously, the other team. 

So often in marriage, that’s what happens.  We have a teammate that we’re designed to tackle the world with, but we turn on each other.  So, Day Four is really about helping couples to understand, “You have a marital “us-ness”.  There is an “us” here.  When you united, you created something, a third entity.  There’s me, there’s Christina, and our marital “us-ness”.  We want to teach you how to nurture that “us”. 

Just like you have a child—you’ve got to put energy into that child.  Your marriage is a separate entity from either one of you.  How do we help you invest in that?  So, we use processes like problem solving, forgiveness, and vision casting to nurture that. 

Dennis:  If you want “I”, if you want it to be all about yourself, don’t get married.  Because if you’re going to get married, it demands that you move from the pronoun, “I”, to “us”; and that you make decisions around that.  Seems to me, speaking back to the “Big Divide”, there is a divide that can occur at this point because people don’t have the goal of being “us”; they’re still all about self. 

Shawn:  They may be about self—and you know another problem we’re seeing in Christian culture today is moms and dads start being “all about the kids”.  All of a sudden, it’s not—maybe it’s not even always selfish—sometimes, it’s just a selflessness—but it’s about the kids.  All the energy and focus goes into raising these kids and getting them to events and exposing them to everything that’s possible there.  They neglect their marriage for the sake of their kids; and in the long run, that doesn’t help, either. 

We see lots of couples come to the intensive or want to come to this process that have kids that have graduated high school; and they look at each other and realize, “We have no ‘us’.  We haven’t nurtured that.  We haven’t done date night.  We haven’t invested.  We haven’t gone to Weekend to Remembers together.  We haven’t gone through the Art of Marriage as a couple.  We haven’t invested in our marital ‘us-ness’.”  As a result, they’ve got nothing, once those kids are gone.

Bob:  Now, that they are starting to cultivate this “us-ness”, and they have learned some things about healthy ways to solve problems and extend forgiveness, and how to cast vision, and how to have a vision for your marriage, now, are we ready to go home?  There’s still one more day; right? 

Terry:  Yes, that’s what Day Five is about.  Day Five is typically, in an intensive model, where you do go home; and that’s the real question.  Again, that’s the issue—is that, “Is this just going to be a four-day high that we learned how to get a little hopeful about our relationship and all of it, and is all of it going to go away?”  Couples really have to face that at that point.  Couples that go through this small group material really have to face it. 

No matter what program they are with, they have to decide, “Whether I’m going to practice these things that I’ve learned and implement them into my life, until they become habit; or am I going to let them go?” 

We believe, along with Alcoholics Anonymous®, that say, “Ninety meetings in 90 days, if you want to get sober.”  We really feel like, “You want to get your marriage changed—practice these Four Steps or practice these issues of, really, the Peace Cycle; and you’ll find yourself in a totally different place.” 

Bob:  What you’re saying, we—for years, we’ve talked here, at FamilyLife, about the fact that what we’re trying to do is take the truth of God’s Word and take it through a process where people, first, know it—because you can’t do anything until you know it.  Then, once you know it, you have to apply it.  Then, once you apply it, you have to experience it—that’s that repeated application and the experience of, “This really does work,” and, “This is a good thing,” and, “This”—it’s validating your application. 

Terry:  So, every day after that is a Day Five—

Bob:  That’s right.  Once you experience it, you get to a point where, now, you are ready to proclaim it—you’re ready to tell others because it has moved from just being something that you heard was a good idea to something that you know changes your life.  Now, you go out and you tell others, “Hey, I know how to fix this thing.” 

We’ve talked about the fact that, in most church settings, preaching goes right to the head.  We try to get you some new knowledge.  Then, we hope your life will change on the basis of that.  It really needs this cycle of knowledge, application, experience that leads you to become a pro-claimer, an evangelist, and to take that message to others; right? 

Shawn:  Absolutely, yes.  These materials are set up to do just that.  You experience it and learn it.  You get a new perspective.  Then, you take that new perspective and you apply it in your life, which gives you a new direction.  Then, that new direction produces new behaviors.  You want to experience so much in those new behaviors that you decide you—you just can’t help but give it away. 

It’s the same way with our faith; right?  If we understand what Jesus did for us on the cross and we let that in our hearts, we can’t help but want to give that away to others.  In giving it away, it solidifies and confirms our faith—the same way with this material.  We want you to experience it; but then, we want you to teach that to other people—just like you guys are doing through your HomeBuilders Series® and the wonderful work here at FamilyLife. 

Dennis:  You actually call this a new future.  It’s hope!  I have to tell you—last night—and I’ll not tell you what I did, it doesn’t really matter—but we went to bed last night, and I just did something that was funny.  We were both laughing so hard.  I turned to Barbara, and I said, “You’d think we were in our 20s; but we’re not.”  (Laughter) 

Honestly, I wouldn’t want to go back to the 20s for all the vigor in the—certainly some of the issues you have as you get older—

The practice of what you’re talking about here—taking the Scriptures and a relationship with Christ, experiencing life together in an adventure, believing the Word of God, “Yes, there is a heaven; but yes, there is a plan now and an adventure now that you two can enjoy as a couple.”—You know what?  Why miss that?!  Why wait for death to get on with eternal life? 

Eternal life begins at the point you meet Christ.  He didn’t intend for us to walk around with a sad banana face—just enduring our marriages.  He really wants to redeem us and use our marriages as a trophy of grace, as a great statement of His work in our souls and in our corporate union as a couple. 

I just appreciate both of you guys, Terry, Shawn, for your ongoing ministry, what you are doing here.  I sure hope a lot of folks are going to take advantage of what you have put together here—a kit that’s really for—somebody, who wants to be a HomeBuilder, can pick up this tool, cart it back to their small group, to their church—they can teach this, go through this.  I promise you, “It will benefit your marriage, but also, others, as well.” 

Thank you, guys, for being on the broadcast.  Hope you’ll come back and join us again sometime. 

Terry:  Thanks so much.

Shawn:  Thanks, guys.

Bob:  Folks, who would like more information about the book that you’ve written, 5 Days to a New Marriage, or about other tools that are available from us, here at FamilyLife, to help strengthen your marriage and the marriages of other people you know, go to 

We’ve got information available there, not only about the book, 5 Days to a New Marriage—we’ve got information about the Art of Marriage video event that’s being hosted in cities all around the country by folks, who are listeners, who said, “We’d like to make a difference in our community;” and they are hosting these events. 

We’ve got information about the Homebuilders Couples Series of small group studies that we put together. 

A lot of resources that are available from us, here at FamilyLife—you can get the information online about how you can use these in your own marriage or, again, to help the marriages of others at; or call if you need any help.  If you’d like to order something over the phone, call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329.  That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. 

I sometimes wish that those of you who listen regularly to FamilyLife Today could just spend—I don’t know—30 minutes to an hour some afternoon, here at the ministry, and sit down and look at some of the e-mails that come in, some of the phone calls, that we get—and hear how God is using this program in the lives of people all over the country and all around the world.  It’s amazing some of the feedback we get and how God just uses a particular program in somebody’s life or in their marriage to give them hope, to encourage them, to call them back to the truth, and to call them to live consistently with what the Bible has to say about marriage and family. 

When you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, when you make a donation to help cover the costs of producing and syndicating this program, that’s what you’re helping to support.  You are helping couples receive practical, biblical help for their marriage and for their family.  We just want to say, “Thank you,” for your partnership with us in this ministry as you send in a donation. 

This week, if you are able to make a donation, we would like to say a tangible, “Thank you,” by sending you a copy of a message from our friends, Tim and Joy Downs—a message they gave at a recent FamilyLife event, where they talked about differences in marriage when it comes to the area of sexual intimacy and how those differences can be a source of frustration or how they can help bring us even closer together as a couple. 

When you make a donation this week, online at, when you click the “I Care” button that you see on our website, as you fill out that online donation form, we will send you the CD from Tim and Joy Downs; or if you make your donation over the phone, calling 1-800-FL-TODAY, just ask for the CD from Tim and Joy Downs. 

Again, we are happy to send it out to you, and we really do appreciate your partnership with us here in the ministry and want you to realize that your donations are having an impact in the lives of tens of thousands of couples every day.  So, thanks for linking arms with us. 

We hope you have a great weekend.  Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday.  We’re going to here a message from Pastor Tommy Nelson, a message about how to have a better relationship with your in-laws and how to make sure you really are leaving and cleaving to one another after you say, “I do.”  I hope you can join us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today

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

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Episodes in this Series

Christian Marriage Counseling Day 2
Replacing Lies With the Truth
with Shawn Stoever, Terry Hargrave February 23, 2012
All couples have a story. Whether that story is a fairy tale or tale of horror is up to you.
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Christian Marriage Counseling Day 1
Unpacking the Pain
with Shawn Stoever, Terry Hargrave February 22, 2012
Can you really change your marriage in five days?
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00:00 00:00