FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Magic, Marriage, and Addiction: Danny Ray & Kimberly Thompson

with Danny Ray And Kimberly Thompson | April 9, 2024
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Struggling to beat addiction? Author and magician Danny Ray, alongside his wife Kimberly Thompson, dive deep into whether overcoming addiction is achievable. Drawing parallels between magic tricks and the secrets to a solid marriage, they offer tips to escape what binds your marriage—and add a little magic to your relationship.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • 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.

Struggling to overcome addiction? Author & magician Danny Ray and his wife offer tips to escape what binds your marriage—and to add a little magic as well.

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Magic, Marriage, and Addiction: Danny Ray & Kimberly Thompson

With Danny Ray And Kimberly Thomp...more
April 09, 2024
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Dave: You may not know this, but we have a magician sitting over there, who can hold his breath for more than four minutes.

Ann: You told me that last night, and I was pretty impressed.

Dave: Danny Ray, is that still true?

Danny: That is definitely not true anymore.

Ann: But it was.

Kimberly: But it was.

Dave: It was.

Danny and Kimberly: It was.

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

Ann: This is FamilyLife—


Dave and Ann: —Today!

Danny: I trained for a long time for underwater escapes. I started doing underwater escapes when I was in the eighth grade in the most


Ann: eighth grade? What?!

Danny: dumbest way ever: having people duct tape me and throw me in a pool.

Kimberly: I don’t think I know that. That’s terrible.

Danny: Yes, it was a terrible idea.

Dave: What? Did they tape your mouth?

Danny: I had read stuff about Houdini, and I thought, “I could do this.”

Ann: Oh, yes.

Kimberly: Oh, my goodness.

Danny: So, thankfully, later on I was trained by some of the best escapologists in the world. But now I’m having breathing problems, and I don’t think I could hold my breath for a minute anymore.

Dave: Really?

Danny: And it’s sad to me, as we age, the things we have to deal with, because I did underwater escapes in my show for twelvish yearsdifferent ones.

Ann: And you could hold your breath for four minutes?

Danny: About four forty-three, I think. It’s somewhere in therewas my longest breath hold.

Ann: What?

Dave: I mean, you know this, you open your bookDanny Ray is here with his wife, Kimberly—No, I Can’t Make Your Wife Disappear. You open the book with this story of


Danny: —yes.

Dave: an underwater trick not going right. You said you were under there for four minutes and thirty-seven seconds.

Danny: Yes.

Ann: We thought, “Who is this guy?”

Dave: Are you crazy?

Danny: Yes.

Kimberly: [Laughing] Yes, crazy is a good

Danny: it was insane. There are two times that thing has gone wrong. I talk about one of them in the book. It was legitimately terrifying. I can think of a few things that I do not want to do, in terms of how to die, and that’s one of them. [Laughter] I really thought this was it.

Ann: Wow.

Dave: Well, we want toyou know, we’ve never had a magician


Kimberly: —oh, yes.

Dave: an illusionist on the show. We want to see a magic trick.

Danny: Alright.

Kimberly: Nice.

Danny: We’re going to make it happen. [Background music begins playing]

Ann: Let’s see it; let’s do it!

Danny: Let’s see


Kimberly: Do it, babe.

Ann: Come over here.

Danny: Ok, I’m moving this[fading voices as they move]

Dave: We’ve got John, who's going to follow you with his camera, and make sure everyone in the world sees how you do this. [Laughter]

Danny: Oh! All my secrets, right there on John’s camera, okay. Let’s start out with Dave. Dave, here; let me have you reach

Ann: Ooooh. I want to see that

Danny: —oh! You’re happy just with that. I could stop right there. Ann’s happy.

Ann: Oh!

Danny: Dave’s not happy.

Dave: I’m not happy yet.

Danny: This is Ann


Dave: —I could do that


Danny: —Ann’s happy.

Dave: I could never do that.

Danny: You could not do that. It would take you a little bit. Okay, reach in; grab any card you want. Okay.

Dave: You already know what card I grabbed?

Danny: I could if I wanted to; but, I’m going to try not to think of your ten of clubs. I’m so


Ann: Check it, check it!

Dave: How did you know that?

Ann: What?!

Danny: It’s because you

Dave: —they’re marked!

Danny: They are not marked.

Dave: We are going to cut this magic trick a little short because this is audio, and you can’t see it, and it’s a visual magic trick. But if you want to see the full magic trick—the whole thing, because it’s great—it’s on our YouTube® channel, FamilyLife YouTube. Go there. [Background music stops playing.]

Honestly, we’re going to talk about marriagehow to have a magical marriage.

Danny: Yes.

Kimberly: Yes.

Dave: Being able to do that for hours, years—you mention, even, in one of your chapters: Practice, Practice, Practice.


Danny: Yes, yes.

Dave: What does that look like?

Danny: I started practicing when I was ten years old. I got a book called Close Up Magic by Harry Lorraine. I just got hooked at that point and started working my way through that book and found that there were things in there that I wasn’t able to do. So, I’d kind of skip over those and then, when I got further along, I was able to do more and more. Until, maybe by the time I was fifteen or sixteen, I had mastered all of the pieces in there.

I find that really true with our marriages, as well. If you are just starting out, there are just going to be things that you can’t have mastered yet. It’s going to take time. We all want to be further down the road, and we want to beeven twenty-seven years in, there are still things where I think, “Man, I wish I handled this better.” I wish

Kimberly: “Why are we still doing this?” Yes.

Danny: Yes. I wish I was better at encouraging her when she is down. I wish I was better atjust different things. I think those are areas where I look at the parallels between practicing. As a kid, I’d practice anywhere from four hours to eight-to-ten hours a day.

Ann: Wow.

Danny: I had an hour bus ride to school every day. So, there were definitely two hours, for sure. I was pretty good at math, so I’d listen for the first five minutes, and then I’d work in the back of the room for an hour or so. [Laughter]

Dave: As I think about you working and practicing, perfecting tricksI actually did one magic rope trick with a sermon.


Kimberly: Ooooh

Dave: And here’s my point: some guya car dealertaught me this trick. I thought, “Hey, I’m going to use that in a sermon.” It took me hours.


Danny: Yes.

Dave: It was very simple. You’d laugh your head off. A first grader could do it; but I didn’t quit, and I didn’t quit, and, by Sunday, I had it, and it worked.

Danny: Yes.

Kimberly: Nice.

Dave: I think there’s a principle there, because I’m sure there are times you want to quit.

Danny: Oh, yes.

Dave: “This magic trick is never going to work.” And marriage is the same way; you want to quit.

Kimberly: Yes.

Dave: You want to give up. Your parents did. My parents did. I think, in some ways, my dad would say, “I wish we wouldn’t have.” But they did.

Danny: Right.

Dave: How would you apply that to your marriage? I know there are timesyou said yesterday—you struggle.

Danny: Yes.

Dave: You hung in there. You made it work. Now, you’re living a magical marriage. [Laughter] So, what would you say to someone who is saying, “I don’t think it’s worthI think it’s time to quit.”

Kimberly: One of the principles we’ve had from the beginning, really, is [that] divorce is not an option. So, if you go into marriage knowing that which is counter-cultural now—

Dave: —yes.

Kimberly: —but there’s no other option.


Danny: It’s trueour podcast that we mentioned earlier, called We Do Whatever It Takes, is really our mantra for our marriage. So, if there’s somebody in that situation, have you really tried to do whatever it takes to create a great marriage?

Early on, I was a pastor at a church, and we were struggling a lot. We got into an argument, and we could not figure out a solution. It was embarrassing, but I said, “We are going to do whatever it takes. Let’s go to a pastor and talk to him.” And, lo and behold, he was able to help us to navigate and see things that we couldn’t see.

Kimberly: Yes.

Danny: And then, there were other situations whereI had struggled with pornography as a child. I don’t even know—as a child, it wasn’t a struggle. When I became a believer, I realized that this was something that needed to stop, and it didn’t. When we got married, that came to the surface.

Kimberly: We sought counseling.

Danny: We didn’t have solutions. It was putting a lot of tensiona lot of strain—on our marriage. So, we thought, “Okay. We need to see a counselor and see somebody else who has a different perspective and gives ideas, tips, tricks, strategies on how to make things better.”

And so, to somebody who’s struggling to make it through, I would just sayI think you listen to something like this, and you assume, “Oh, we’ve got it all together,”


Kimberly: Yeah, no.

Danny: I’m here to say, “We don’t have it all together.” We are better now than we were, but there are times, I think, when any couple wants to throw it inwhere the pressure is high, when the stress is there. Reach out to a friend, reach out to a pastor, reach out to a counselor, reach out to somebody to be able to help you. Sometimes, it’s just getting through one more day, and then, you live another day to fight for your marriage and fight for your family.

Dave: Kimberly, talk a little bit about Danny’s struggle with porn


Ann: That’s what I was going to say, too. We’re talking to more and more couples, especially Gen Z and Millennials.

Kimberly: Yes, okay.

Ann: They’ve grown up with their phones in their pockets and can easily access any kind of porn on their devices. It’s a deal! It’s hard! And it’s hard for couples to navigate through that: “When do you keep giving grace? When do you need help?”

What did that look like for you guys?

Kimberly: Definitely hurt, initially, right?

Dave: Was this early in marriage?

Kimberly: Yes.

Danny: Yes, it was our first year in marriage. Growing up, there was pornography around the house. Today, it’s so much more accessible, but at that time, it was just a normal part of


Kimberly: —magazines, that kind of thing, right?

Danny: Yes, whatever; stuff. So, at seventeen, I became a believer and threw all that stuff out that I had. It was, “I’m going to be clean. I’m going to do this.”

But, in our first year of marriage, the place I workedI passed an adult shop every day. Then one day, I thought, “Oh, I’m going to go in there.” Immediately, I had all these regrets, wondering, “What am I doing? This isn’t who I am. We’re married now. Why am I not satisfied with my wife?” All these questions I was wrestling through.

Then, that first year, we had to make a decisionI had to make a decision: “Am I going to keep this a secret?” It was a real deal. It was: “I live in a world of secrets. I can do this.” It was recognizing, “That’s something that’s going to change our marriage. I need to share.” And it was embarrassing.

Ann: Were you afraid of her response?

Danny: I think that was one of the things I was afraid of. There were a lot of multiple levels. I was studying to be a pastor at that time. “Does this take away that possibility? Does this ruin our marriage?” Even though it’s our first year, “Am I not who I’m saying?” There were all of these mixed insecurities and fears. Yes, that’s some of the back story of that.

Dave: So, when he tells youbecause I’ve had this conversation with Ann. We put it in our marriage book. [Vertical Marriage]

Kimberly: Yes.

Dave: I was scared. I had a secret. I even had a secret front the three guys I was in accountability with for a while; but then when I told her, it didn’t go well.

Kimberly: Well, even


Dave: it was the right thing to do, but it didn't

Kimberly: okay, yes.

Dave: —it wasn't, “Okay, we’re good, and I’m going to forgive you.” It was a journey that started.

Kimberly: It’s hard now to look back on that and to remember how that all felt. It feels really, really far away, to be honest, at this point.

Dave: That’s good.

Kimberly: Yes, I think God’s healing is in that. One of the reasons, even, for marrying Danny was his honesty. I knew he told meporn was not a surprise after we were married. If you are about to get married, you have a chance to share these things before. Because, really, at least I knew what I was getting into, if you will. I knew this was a possibility.

I’m sure I was shocked. I probably thought it was something of the past and didn’t think we would be dealing with; definitely, insecurities like mostI was going to say in most women, but now it goes

Ann: both ways—

Kimberly: vice versa, yes. “Am I not good enough? Why would he want to look at anybody else?” All those questions. Do you remember my reaction [Danny]?

Danny: I’m sure I have things mixed together of

Kimberly: of other conversations later, yes.

Danny: It wasn’t just one solo conversation. The struggle went on for a while; trying to figure out how to deal with that and how to overcome. It felt like you became really gracious in your response, whether that was your initial

Kimberly: —no! It definitely was not my initial response.

Danny: could you ever feel some anger towards me?

Kimberly: Yes.

Danny: Or hurt?

Kimberly: Yes.

Ann: Let’s talk about that a little bit. Let’s say a spousewhether the husband or the wifecomes to the other with a secret. When the response is grace, what does that feel like in comparison to a response of anger?

Now, I wish I would have taken a minute, walked away, and said, “I need to process this,” without just going crazy. If a spouse gives a response of grace, what does that feel like?

Danny: It just hits differently when somebodywhen you expect there to be hurt or upset or frustration or “Why is this happening again?” Because I’m already beating myself up for all those reasons. For her to give grace in that, it’s hard to express how overwhelmingly beautiful—and thankful I have been in those situations where she has given me grace.

Grace is this really uncommon experience that we’ve learned to experience more and more in our marriage. But, in life, it’s not too common. You don’t hit somebody’s car, and they come out and say, “I just want to pray with you. I know you didn’t mean to. Let me just lift you up.” You know?

I’ve been really thankful for the grace and humbled by that.

Kimberly: I don’t remember how it switched, but at some point, it did. I stopped being angry and hurt, as if Danny were doing this to me. That wasn’t the intent, right?

Ann: Yes. It wasn’t personal.

Kimberly: There were habits there. There’s a whole lot that goes into it, right? Even the brain wanting the chemicals. I won’t go into all of that. There’s a lot more behind it than we realize. Like he said, he was beating himself up already. That was so true and so evident, I thought, “What am I adding to that? That’s not helpful.” At some point, I was able to realize, “Okay, wait a minute. He needs a cheerleader. He needs someone in his corner—”

Ann: —corner—

Kimberly: —“and we’re fighting this together.”


Dave: My thought, as I was listening to you guys and what you asked is, when you received graceand I got grace from you [Ann], it just took a while—

Ann: Later.

Dave: It was a journey. I think on our side, it could be the man, or it could be the woman; whoever’s at fault, it feels like you're just connecting with a partner now.

Kimberly: Yes.

Ann: In battle.

Dave: She is now going to help me

Kimberly: —yes.

Dave: —and it’s not a naive grace, where it’s, “Okay, no big deal. I’ll help you.” No, it’s an educated grace. “I’m going to give you grace"

Kimberly: —yes.

Ann: with a plan.

Dave: “but what’s the plan?”

Ann: Yes, that’s what I’d want.

Kimberly: How do we do this together?

Ann: Right.

Dave: Yes. Do we need to sit down with a counselor? Do we need to connect this to your past? Do we need to understand the brain neural pathways? Do we need accountability? All of the above.

Kimberly: Yes.

Dave: It isn’t just, “Oh, okay, thanks for telling me. Tell me next time.” It’s, “Okay, I’m going to give you grace. I want to walk with you. Can I be your partner?”

Ann: —”And what could that look like?”

Dave: “Can you be honest with me and not keep secrets?” And what other pieces do you want to put in there. That’s a victory plan.

Kimberly: Yes.

Ann: Yes. I think that, to put in the pieces, give grace with a plan.

Kimberly: I like that.

Ann: And also, to haveI liked that I wasn’t the only one that Dave was sharing this with; the battle. I knew that he had some guys that he was sharing with that would probably go into more detail. Sometimes, I didn’t need the detail of the specifics of, maybe, what he had seen

Kimberly: That’s true.

Ann: It wasn’t good or healthy for me. I think it is really important, as you guys talked about, to not have secrets.

Danny and Kimberly: Yes.

Kimberly: There’s safety that we have an opportunity to provide. If we want the truthI do, most people do want the truth from our spouse—we have an opportunity to be a safe place for them to share. If I have something that is scary to share with Danny, if he’s not a safe place, am I going to go back there to share again? I’m not going to want to.

Ann: I remember somebody asking me, “Do you regret that Dave has shared everything with you?”

Kimberly: Oh.

Ann: Because it was so painful. She was walking through some painful things from a confession that her husband had made. I remember saying that, at the time, it was so hard, but I know him now. I know the good, I know the bad, the ugly. He sees all of me, and it’s the grace God has given us; it’s the gospel of Christ that we see the flaws in each other and, yet, we still forgive, and we still give grace, and we still walk side by side as partners in the battle of taking the gospel to the world.

There’s something beautiful in our brokenness that we need Jesus so much—

Kimberly: —amen!

Ann: —that we can share our deepest secrets with somebody who will love us, even while seeing the messiness.

Dave: Yes. I’m glad you put a chapter in your book

Ann: —me, too.

Dave: with the title Secrets Kill: Magicians Have Secrets, Marriages Don’t. [Laughter] You know, I didn’t come to Christ until later in my life. I was a junior in college. I had a dad who had a stack of porn in our garage. He had affairs with his girlfriends. Literally, I didn’t remember, when I was five or six years old, he took me on trips with his girlfriends while he was still married to my mom.

Kimberly: Wow!

Dave: That was my past. So, when I get to college, I think, “I will never be like my dad.”

I didn’t know the Bible at all. I did not know the Bible said, “sins of the father.” [Exodus 34: 6-7]

In Exodus 20, the Ten Commandments, “will visit in the third and fourth generation.” And I’m convinced that I will never become like him, and if I looked in the mirror my junior in college, I was becoming him. I’m drinking, I’m partying, I’m womanizing—all of that.

Kimberly: Wow.

Dave: It was like, “You are going to copy your father’s sins, even if you weren’t in the room watching him do it.” So, when we get married, and now I’m a follower of Christ, I thought, “I have to get a grip on this secret, or my sons,”I have three sons“are going to battle this.”

This is a legacy! You are making a decision you think is about you, and it partly is but it’s really about: what kind of legacy are you going to leave?

Kimberly: Absolutely.

Danny: Yes.

Dave: So, thanks for putting that in the book, because a lot of Christian books will just avoid it.

Ann: Yes, you guys.

Kimberly: Yes.

Dave: And you not only don’t avoid it, you said, “We’ve been there, and here’s how we navigated it.” Way to go!

Ann: Thanks for your honesty.

Dave: Okay, misdirection. You have a whole chapterand obviously, we don’t know what you do as a magician, but we know that you're trying to get us to focus on something that we shouldn’t so that

The same thing happens in life, and you write quite a bit in the book about focusing on what matters and not.


Danny: Yes.

Dave: Last thought or wisdom for a couplewhat would you say? What do we focus on, and what don’t we?

Danny: Yes, so, with misdirection, people think it’s about the magician getting people to look in the wrong place, but if you look in the wrong place, you're not going to experience the astonishment, the wonder, that is real. Your reaction to that is real. The magician is trying to get you to look in the right place and focus on the right things. Same thing in our marriage.

In terms of things that I would say to focus on—and we could give a list, but I think seeing the best in your spouse


Kimberly: —yes, I was going to say that, too.

Danny: we talked about transparency, how you know everything about Dave. He shared, he bares it all, but you're not looking at his worst things and thinking, “I’m going to judge you by this every day.” It’s like, “No, I know your worst, I know your best; but I want to constantly see the best in who you are.”

Because that’s how we want to view ourselves. We don’t want to view ourselves throughwhen we do, it spirals us down. When we continue to see the negative in ourselves. But I want to bring out the best in her.

Anything you would say, [Kimberly] that way, to focus on?

Kimberly: Yes, just focusing on the good is a reallyit’s so easy to focus on the bad.


Ann: And it’s hard to focus on the good sometimes, because we are blinded by the bad, because we’ve just been rolling it over and over and over in our minds. I like getting in that habit of seeing the good, and maybe even saying it and appreciating it.

Kimberly: Yes, that’s huge, to appreciate it.

Danny: When you say it out loud, speaking kindness and loving things to your spouse out loud, and not just writing them, though writing them is helpful. [Laughter] Those do change your day.

With focusing on the bad, one of the illustrations I give is, if you hold up a quarter, you can hold it far away from you, and it doesn’t block out much; but the closer that it gets to your eyeball, it doesn’t make it any bigger, but it appears to be so huge. When we focus on the flaws, those flaws can eclipse every good thing that is going on in your marriage.

And, Dave, coming full circle back to that couple that’s really wondering, “Can we make it through another day?” Chances are you have that quarter really close to your eye, and you’re focusing on all the negative things. But what brought you together in the first place? What did you say on day one? What are those vows? How can I live into those things and into the good I see in my spouse?

Ann: I like that.

Dave: Keep doing what you’re doing. This is awesome.

Kimberly: Aw, thank you.

Dave: It really is. I love the angle.

Ann: Me, too.

Dave: I’ve never seen this angle. Is there anybody else doing what you’re doing? Taking illusion and magic and saying, “There are principles here that apply to a great marriage?”

Kimberly: Not that, no.

Danny: Not to marriage that we know of; to Christian principles, there are a handful of us out there, and a few of us that I’ve trained up. Hopefully, I’ll train up others with the marriage side of it.

Ann: Good job, you guys.

Kimberly: Thank you.

Danny: Thank you.

Shelby: I used to really be into magic tricks and illusions when I was younger (in middle school). I love this behind-the-scenes approach to the uniqueness of magic and how it can make real world change in our marriages. It’s just a really amazing conversation.

I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Danny Ray and Kimberly Thompson on FamilyLife Today. Danny Ray has written a book called No, I Can’t Make Your Wife Disappear: A Magician’s Guide for a Magical Marriage. Danny talks about he and his wife’s relationship as they draw from biblical truths and their own experiences to guide you through things like effective communication, overcoming challenges, and building a lifelong relationship.

You can get your copy right now by going online to You can find it in the show notes, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329; again, that number is 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

You know, we are all about helping you with marriages and families. One of the ways we can help with both of those is the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. Guess what? It’s on sale for more than 40% off right now. We still have about 20 Weekend to Remember marriage getaways coming up between now and mid-June.

So, if you’re in a spot right now where you want to be intentional about your marriage and have a lot of fun in the process, you can take three days and let your focus be on you and your spouse by going to a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. You can find all the details about where locations are, and the dates, by going to the show notes or going to

Now, tomorrow, we are going to explore the intricacies of love and communication and the power of God’s love in our personal journeys together as married couples. Jared and Becky Wilson are going to be here with Dave and Ann Wilsonso, it will be the Wilsons and the Wilsonsto talk about the challenges and moments of despair in our marriages, when things like pornography become a part of the picture. That’s tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us.

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

FamilyLife Today is a donor-supported production of FamilyLife®, a Cru® Ministry.

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