9 Dangerous Teachings from the Focus on the Family 6-Part Video Series:

"Finding Hope for Your Hurting Marriage"


This is an UNSAFE Series for Abuse Victims:

It Teaches Abusers and Cheaters How to Get Away With It.


Is the Focus on the Family video "HOPE FOR YOUR HURTING MARRIAGE" a good series for people in destructive, desperate marriages?

Unfortunately, NO.

Here are 9 KEY PROBLEMS with this series.  (Continue reading, or view the video version of this article on YouTube.)

(Note: in every anecdote in this series, Focus on the Family identifies the cheater, abuser, or addict as the husband, and the wife as the one who asks for help. We all know that men can be victims of abuse, but for this critique, I'll follow their pattern.)


😕 Problem 1: This video teaches that wives are to blame for men’s marriage-destroying behavior. (See examples in section below.)

😕 Problem 2: Only once in this 6-part series are men told their marriage-endangering behavior is sinful and must stop immediately. (See details below.)

😕 Problem 3: The video suggests that wives are responsible for their own major depression. (See section below on the connection between depression and wife abuse.)

😕 Problem 4: Wives are taught it’s simple to curb their husbands’ physical violence. (See exact quote in the next section.)

😕 Problem 5: In this video series produced for people in hurting and desperate marriages, Jim Daly and Gary Chapman defend and excuse husbands repeatedly,

😕 Problem 6: The hosts’ advice gives the message that expecting men to exert themselves to become mature individuals is asking too much of them. (See their 2-step method of excusing men's abusive behavior below.)

😕 Problem 7: The anecdotes they use to describe emotional abuse and control make the wife's abuse disclosures seem petty and ridiculous, and suggest that abuse is her fault. (See below to compare their anecdote with typical examples of emotional abuse and control.)

😕 Problem 8: In this series, Jim and Gary model to other Christian leaders how to PRETEND to care for wives in these desperate marriages, then just turn and blame them. (See below how they blame a wife for the husband's alcoholism, just after saying they empathize.)

😕 Problem 9: Jim Daly discards Jesus’ teaching on divorce. Although he admits that Jesus allowed divorce for infidelity, he says that he, Jim Daly, knows better. (See how Daly twists Scripture to prohibit all divorce, when the Bible gives many reasons for divorce and even commands divorce in three instances. LINK.)

As people who take our faith seriously, we believe in the sanctity of marriage, and we are steadfastly against frivolous divorces. But at the same time, we are realists and know that some divorces are for very serious things, such as a pattern of infidelity, physical violence, verbal or emotional abuse, family-crushing addictions, and abandonment of duty.

The host of this video series is Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family. The guest is author Gary Chapman. They discuss "heavy duty" marriage issues such as control and emotional abuse, women's depression, physical abuse, porn addictions, and infidelity. This is not a marriage video for normal marital ups and downs.  #FocusOnTheFamily

Focus on the Family ignores the fact that the Bible does permit divorce for abuse. (See the Scripture verses here: https://lifesavingdivorce.com/abuse-in-bible)


Problem 1: This video teaches that wives are to blame for men’s marriage-destroying behavior.  The message is that a husband cannot choose to change his bad behavior unless his wife has just the right kind of positive attitude. No matter how hard she’s tried in the past to be positive, the hosts urge her to find that special positive attitude that will influence her husband to change. So basically, they send the message that a husband’s selfish choices are 100% the responsibility of the wife.  So I have a question. What happens if she has positive attitude, but he doesn’t want to change? Let’s say he likes getting things his way. How can she possibly have a positive influence on someone who doesn’t want to be influenced?


Problem 2: Only once in this 6-part series are men told their marriage-endangering behavior is sinful and must stop immediately. It’s during that period of time between the moment a man or boy sees pornography for the first time and the day he gets addicted to it. Yes, that's the truth. That is the only time they tell a man his behavior is sin and he MUST stop. Otherwise, they give abusive men a free pass. Twice in this video, they excuse the abuser because of his childhood, which is irresponsible, since most people who were abused as kids are not abusers themselves in adulthood.


Problem 3: The video suggests that wives are responsible for their own major depression. The hosts discuss biochemical depression and situational depression and the only examples they give of difficulties that might lead to situational depression are the death of a family member and job loss. Remember that this video series is for people in hurting and desperate marriages where there is abuse or infidelity. I am of the opinion that these two presenters are willfully blind. (According to 42 studies, the most common health outcome of intimate partner violence is depression, followed by PTSD and anxiety.) Yet Jim and Gary never bring up that living with a person with a pattern of physical aggression, sexual coercion, emotional abuse, and controlling behaviors can lead to depression. Why is that?


Problem 4: Wives are taught it’s simple to curb their husbands’ physical violence. All she needs to do is stand up against it right from the start, get to safety, and insist on him getting counseling. The hosts literally blame the battered wife for “letting it [the violence] persist.” In the video on physical abuse against wives, they blame the wife 5 times, excuse the husband, and suggest that a 180-degree turn-around is common after a year of counseling. It’s not. Only 2% of batterers change, according to people who work with them.  If Gary Chapman were a real licensed counselor, he might be censured for this unethical advice. But he’s not a real counselor. I’ll talk about his lack of credentials later in the end of this video.


Problem 5:  In this video series produced for people in hurting and desperate marriages, Jim and Gary defend and excuse their husbands repeatedly. Jim Daly states, “I doubt people want to be controlling,” suggesting all husbands have good intentions and their wives are just overreacting. He disregards the harm caused by chronically abusive husbands. Gary also offers excuses for men's controlling behavior (which he elsewhere he admits is not what God wants), attributing it to their upbringing by controlling parents, which gives a “free pass” to this behavior. This perspective is offensive to those who have grown up in toxic environments but consciously choose to treat their spouse with respect and decency.


Problem 6: The hosts’ advice gives the message that expecting men to exert themselves to become mature individuals is asking too much of them. In nearly every anecdote they offer, they describe the marriage-endangering sins committed by the husband as being (A) due to his wife's lack of a positive attitude and influence or (B) because his behavior is so addictive, that he is incapable of stopping himself.


Problem 7:  The anecdotes in this series describing emotional abuse and control make abuse disclosures seem petty and ridiculous, and suggest that abuse is the victim’s fault. In part 4 on controlling marriages, instead of describing typical serious controlling behavior, such as waving weapons, threatening, using put-downs, showing contempt, name-calling, road rage, stonewalling, exploding, stalking, and other ways of controlling and punishing a spouse, Jim and Gary give an anecdote where the wife objects to her husband installing low-flow shower heads, which makes the wife’s story seem minor and silly. They even laugh at her. This is the only anecdote they give in Video 4 on controlling marriages.


Problem 8: In this series, Jim and Gary model to other Christian leaders how to pretend to care, while refusing to listen to a wife’s disclosures of abuse, ignoring her cries for help, and then turning the tables on the wife and making her the bad actor. In Video 1, Jim and Gary say they are empathetic toward a woman married to an alcoholic, then use the word “but” and blame her for her husband’s substance addiction.


Problem 9: Jim Daly discards Jesus’ teaching on divorce. Although he admits that Jesus allowed divorce for infidelity, he says that he, Jim Daly, knows better, and says that God hates divorce in every case (without any allowance for serial infidelity, murder threats, violence, child abuse, or even pedophilia). FOTF reports that they get a lot of phone calls from women contemplating suicide, reporting abuse, and asking for advice to deal with a child-molesting husband. And I’m not surprised. What surprises me is the message of this video: that wives are trapped. Jim Daly’s philosophy abandons them, doesn’t lift a finger, and leaves them in bondage to evil. That doesn’t sound like the Jesus I know.


Now to be fair, I don’t think Focus on the Family set out to create a video series on how to abuse and get away with it. But that’s where they ended up.


Now let me explain the pros and cons of this series. I’ll go through each of the 6 videos and give you an example of one pro and one con. If you want more detail, I’ve done an article going into more depth and it has timestamps and links to each portion of the video so you can view it yourself. This 6-part video came from cutting up 2-part video that was publicly available on YouTube, called “Help for Your Desperate Marriage” so my time stamps will take you to the public version, not the private version. With the exceptions of introductions and the advertising and material at the end, they are the same.





Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, starts the show… He appears to want to establish credibility for the teachings in this series by introducing his guest Dr. Gary Chapman, who’s a bestselling author.

Immediately it becomes awkward when Jim Daly asks Gary, how many couples he’s counseled. Gary Chapman is not a licensed therapist. He has no earned Master's degree or Ph.D. in counseling, marriage therapy, sociology, psychology, or social work.  And it is against the ethics code of the American Association of Christian Counselors, paragraph 1-830-a, for him to use the title “Doctor” in this situation because his degree is not in counseling or in any related field. (It’s in adult education.)

Paragraph 1-830-a of the American Association of Christian Counselors Ethics Code
Paragraph 1-830-a of the American Association of Christian Counselors Ethics Code

It's pretty remarkable how Gary allows himself to be called a counselor without correcting Jim Daly. I had a professor at Wheaton College who had written a major textbook on archaeology but didn't have a Ph.D. in the subject, just a Master's. Every time one of us called him "Dr." he stopped us and repeated that he didn't have a doctorate. That's real integrity.

Instead of admitting he is a pastor and author who has no degrees in counseling, Gary Chapman allows Jim Daly's question to stand and finally agrees with Jim’s statement that he’s counseled thousands of people.

(To see this part of the video, click on the link below. After the advertisement plays, jump to minute 00:30   https://youtu.be/5vRoAE8G8iI?t=30)








Summary of the Focus on the Family Six Videos in the Series: Help for Your Hurting Marriage


This is an unusually long article because I am giving actual quotes from six videos in the series. This is not a word-for-word transcript. These are notes from watching the video several times. In italic type, are my critiques and comments about what was said in the video. 


The six-part video series was taken from a two-part video Focus on the Family had shot a year before, a publicly available video series called “Finding Hope for Your Desperate Marriage.”  The 6-part video is called “Finding Hope for Your Hurting Marriage” and is only accessible to people who give their email to Focus on the Family. If you don’t want to give them your email, you can still see the video clips. See the links below.


Host: Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family

Guest: Dr. Gary Chapman

Neither of these men has a master’s degree or Ph.D. in counseling, psychology, social work, or sociology. Chapman’s doctorate is in adult education. He’s an educator, not a counselor, but that doesn’t stop him from playing along as a therapist and giving unwise, unsafe, and unethical advice.



The Six Topics in the six-part video series:


The six-part video was created from a 2-hour video that is public.

Video Part 1 (covers Topics 1-3, plus additional content) —  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vRoAE8G8iI

Video Part 2: (covers Topics 4-6, plus additional content) —  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqoKkY-gnOk  (this part has closed captions, but I didn't see a transcript)



Again, this is not a word-for-word transcript. These are notes from watching the video. I’ve provided the time stamps so you can review them yourself. In italic type are comments about what was said in the video.




Video Topic 1: Living in Reality

Starts here at 4:20 -  https://youtu.be/5vRoAE8G8iI?t=260



IMPORTANT to know before we go further — Focus on the Family’s Policy: Divorce is never condoned for physical or emotional abuse.

Focus claims sexual immorality is grounds for divorce, but only if the perpetrator is “unwilling to repent and live faithfully with their marriage partner.” That's not what Scripture says. They are adding to the Bible. Sexual immorality all by itself is grounds for divorce. That breaks the marriage covenant (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).  Focus claims that "abandonment" is a reason, but it has to be "willful and permanent." But that's not what Scripture says either in 1 Corinthians 7:15.  How would someone know that the abandonment was permanent until the end of their life? Finally, they include this: “There is a third instance in which we believe remarriage is acceptable in Scripture. That instance is when an individual’s divorce occurred prior to salvation."

So Focus on the Family traps abused spouses with their tormentors. Victims can never get completely away.  Sometimes Focus’s phone counselors do tell physically abused wives to "leave," "get to safety," or "separate." But Focus on the Family articles on divorce make it clear that divorce is not condoned for abuse EVER, even for physical violence, murder threats, child abuse, and psychological abuse. However, Jesus gave us another way of viewing divorce: that divorce was given to protect vulnerable spouses from hardhearted ones. Today it is often the best legal option to get to safety in the long run: emotionally, sexually, financially, and physically. Focus on the Family articles often suggest that there are only two valid reasons for divorce, but domestic violence and emotional abuse are never considered valid reasons. They miss the two incidents in the Bible where divorce was not just condoned, but actually commanded for abuse and neglect: https://lifesavingdivorce.com/abuse-in-bible


So let’s get started with Video Topic #1.


  1. Chapman starts this video by teaching that victims of abuse should just choose to be happy and positive no matter what. He says the following statement is a myth: “My circumstances determine my state of mind. My spouse determines my well-being.” He says you don’t need to have a miserable life. Just say to yourself, “I determine whether I have a positive or negative life.” Here’s the problem with Gary's advice: The term "well-being" specifically refers to health: emotional, physical, and even financial. And we all know objectively that being married to an adulterer, porn addict, abuser, or addict does affect your well-being. You might get an STD, be injured, live in fear, be murdered, have your property destroyed, pets killed, or your bank account wiped out. Now let’s talk about this: Being positive in the face of things you cannot control is one thing, but being passive and doing nothing when a rattlesnake has taken up residence by the front steps is another. Abuse, cheating, and addictions do affect your well-being, no matter how positive your attitude is. And when your life partner is betraying you and your family this way, it's a serious betrayal. It’s not the same as external factors. These are destructive choices made by someone living under the same roof who had vowed to be a trustworthy partner in life. If you have a spouse who squanders the family rent and grocery money for alcohol, your well-being is affected, no matter how optimistic you choose to be. If he (or she) is missing work, losing jobs, taking advantage of your trust, asking you to lie to the boss, or failing to carry out the basic marital responsibilities, it will affect your life. Stress and tension affect your well-being emotionally and physically. Their behavior will affect your financial well-being. No matter how happy you want to appear, living with an abuser or cheater, or someone who is self-focused and doesn’t care) does affect your health.What’s strange is that elsewhere on the FOTF website, they admit that people in “severely difficult” marriages can frequently develop serious health problems, “from auto-immune disorders, headaches, sleep problems, chronic fatigue, Hashimoto’s disease, fibromyalgia and more.”Gary doesn’t seem to mind very much that your health is being destroyed. This is Gary Chapman’s will for your life, but it’s not Jesus’ will. The Bible says we are to get away from people with such behavior. What is the result of ignoring Chapman’s advice and leaving your destructive marriage? Research shows that 7 in 10 Christians are happy or very happy after a divorce, and 8 in 10 kids turn out fine after divorce with no long-term serious emotional, psychological, or social problems. Are you one of those for whom divorce is a good choice under the circumstances? Only you know your own children and mental health and circumstances, and it’s a decision only you can make.Gary and Jim sound pious and professional while they give trite flippant advice that isn't safe for these destructive marriages.Let’s look at another teaching in Video 1: Chapman subtly mocks women who say to him, “You don’t know how bad my marriage is.” He claims he’s empathetic, but then he blames the woman for her bad marriage. Here’s a direct quote: He says, “Your response has been the same all these years. Your influence hasn’t been a positive influence.” “You need to find a new way to have a positive influence.” The woman has to try over and over to find a way to influence her husband.Here’s another teaching from video 1: Chapman says people in these desperate marriages feel there are only two options: Stay and be miserable, or tell yourself: “I can get out of this and hope I find happiness down the line.” (Chapman apparently means divorce and remarriage, even though he’s not using the words.)Chapman promotes a third option… 

    Can you guess what it is? I was hoping he would say, “Go to individual counseling to learn to set boundaries and consequences for your alcoholic husband’s behavior, so that he doesn’t destroy your life and so that you don’t drive yourself crazy trying to fix someone who doesn’t want to be fixed.”


    But no, that’s not what Chapman says, he says a wife should tell herself that she can single-handedly fix the marriage if she tries hard enough, “I can be a positive influence in this marriage, which may eventually lead my spouse to change.” He says, “You can choose to be a positive influence in your marriage and create conditions in which your spouse can change his or her behavior.”


    (So to reiterate, his option are (a) be miserable, (b) divorce and remarry, or (c) wives take on the full responsibility for your husband’s marriage-destroying sin.


    This is not normal advice that you would expect from a licensed ethical professional counselor.


    This illustrates what we said before. This kind of advice lets the alcoholic or cheater or abuser off the hook


    So any rational person will ask this question: If only a wife can fix this man, What are single men and widowers to do? If a man has no wife, Does he have any motivation to improve his life, become a better person, or reject substance abuse?  Chapman’s message negates the truth that all Christians are supposed to grow in Christ, turn from sin, and develop spiritual maturity and self-control.


    This teaching is also offensive to good men who follow a moral code, care about the good of others, and seek to be the best man they can be—without requiring any pressure from others.

    At what point will this Focus on the Family video teach that a husband is responsible for his own destructive behavior? It’s not in videos 1 through 5. We have to wait until video 6 for a clear assignment of responsibility on the badly-behaved husband. Can you see why viewers walk away confused?


    Now let’s look at Chapman’s claim: He suggests to the audience that a wife setting a good example can influence and fix a husband with a serious marriage-destroying sin. He says it’s not a promise, but that’s the message abuse victims hear.


    He also tells an anecdote of St. Augustine who left his life of sin when he met God and became an important early church leader. Gary uses this 1600-year-old story as evidence that people can change if they meet God. And while I do believe in miracles, anyone who works with abusers can tell you that change is incredibly rare, maybe only 2%. If this kind of change were common every time a person had a dramatic conversion experience, we wouldn’t consider it a miracle, would we? But it’s not common. And yet abused wives who go to Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored Marriage intensive tell me that when their husbands made a dramatic showy conversion in front of the staff, the counselors were gullible and told them the marriage was now safe. These women trusted their judgment only to discover once again that the cheating and abuse continued, and they finally had to divorce.


    The reality is that self-centered individuals are fond of cheating or being nasty or treating their wives with indifference.  So “setting a good example” is exactly what they want. They want the wife to shut up and feel obligated to be perfect to inspire their kindness and fidelity, something the husband already promised the day he got married. And if the wife raises her voice or slams a door, or looks at him with disgust, he can blame her for all his bad behavior. This is called hard-heartedness, and Jesus said that divorce was given due to the "hardness of hearts."


    But Focus on the Family’s advice here sides with the abuser and absolves him of all responsibility. Even if a wife is trying hard to follow advice, the goalposts move. She can never be good enough. Gary Chapman and the abuser use the wife's slightest negative reaction as an explanation for the husband’s continued bad behavior. This is why I say this video series teaches abusers how to get away with it.



    The Bible holds selfish individuals responsible for their own behavior. In 1 Peter 3:7 men are warned that if the husband isn't considerate and respectful of his wife, his prayers won't be answered. It's his responsibility before God to be a decent human being, not be influenced by drunkenness, deception, swindling, or violence (1 Cor. 5:11 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5). But those issues are never the husband's problem in this video. Daly and Chapman place the burden of responsibility on the wife.

In this video, the man’s marriage-endangering sins are not his responsibility. The blame for his actions are subtly transferred to his wife. It’s her fault. This is the unspoken, underlying core teaching of Focus on the Family's video.




Video Topic 2: How Our Emotional Needs Drive Behavior

Starts here at 10:17 - https://youtu.be/5vRoAE8G8iI?t=618


Chapman says, “We need to understand that behind all of our behavior is our emotional needs that are driving the behavior.” He equates it to the physical world: Feeling thirst and going to get water. He suggests our goal is to understand spouse’s behavior. Sometimes we get bitter and cannot see through the fog and understand our spouse’s needs. It doesn’t excuse it. Chapman gives an example: The need to feel loved. If a husband doesn’t feel loved, and he’s a workaholic and he isn’t home much, and every time he comes home the wife is critical. She’s at fault because she isn’t using his love language of “words of affirmation.” She’s making the situation worse. His motivation for staying at work is that he feels loved there.


(Apparently, in this example, this man's insecurities and immaturity are not his problems to solve. He has no responsibility to mature as a human being or to behave right. The message from Chapman is that the wife cannot expect time or fidelity from her husband if she criticizes him in the least. His vows of faithfulness aren’t binding. Chapman’s message to the wife is that she should expect her husband to treat her poorly if she ever says anything negative to him or makes any demands. Chapman doesn’t criticize the husband’s attitude of, “I’d rather be at work because you criticize me for neglecting you.” But the Bible says that a husband must love and care for and even try to please his wife. He must lay down his life for her. If a man didn’t want to exert energy and effort to “please her,” he should have stayed single, as the apostle Paul recommended.  But Chapman never says that. We infer from Gary’s words that the wife deserves no fidelity or respect from her husband. She must humiliate herself and feel like she must compete with his paid employees' adulation so that he’ll want to come home. The wife has to do the “pick me” dance as author Tracy Schorn says. “Please pick me! I promise I’ll be nicer than the people at work.”)



Daly suggests it’s irrational for the wife to criticize her husband, because it’s just “piling it on.” She’s causing damage and she doesn’t realize it.


(Yes, over and over for Jim and Gary the wife is the culprit. She cannot give any pushback. She cannot offer constructive criticism. The husband gets off with a hand slap. They attack a woman’s attitude if it’s less than cheery and positive, but they make endless excuses for the man’s rudeness, indifference, selfishness, and even temptations to infidelity.)


Chapman suggests the wife isn’t feeling loved either. They both “have bad behavior, growing out of the same unmet need.”


(Saying that “they both have bad behavior,” suggesting that they are equally sinful, is a tactic called “mutualizing,” which avoids holding abusers responsible for their actions. "Mutualizing" works like this: since both spouses have needs that drive their behavior, no one can point out the other’s bad behavior. It’s all the same. A wife’s angry reply is the same as the husband’s affair. This is manipulative two-to-tango language and sin-leveling: “no one’s perfect” “we’re all sinners,” and “we’re just two sinners sinning.” “You’re not perfect either.” “We’re partners going through life together, so don’t criticize your partner.”)


We need to sit down and discuss it. We’re all just immature. Reaffirm love to one another. “When the need is met, you may see the behavior changes.”


(That advice appears to be directed at the wife. Chapman transfers all the responsibility for the husband’s bad behavior to the wife again, suggesting if she just cares well for him, his immaturity will go away. He assumes that both people care for each other’s best interests and wellbeing, but let’s face it, the cheater, abuser, or indifferent spouse isn’t invested in the safety, love, or respect in the marriage.)



Video Topic 3: The Depressed Spouse

Starts here 16:26 - https://youtu.be/5vRoAE8G8iI?t=986



This section is fairly good clinically. But they never mention the reason a spouse might be in despair. She might be depressed and suicidal if she is living with a controlling, deceitful, hostile, malicious, sneaky, remorseless, intimidating, reckless, sexually immoral, or coercive partner. Multiple studies of babies, children, and adults who endure abuse, trauma, or neglect, show that it affects them physically and psychologically.


Jim Daly starts by comparing U.S. wealth vs. depression and meds.


(He never mentions that one reason for depression and suicidal ideations is being trapped in an abusive, neglectful, deceitful, or high-conflict marriage. And yet a key Harvard study discusses this and how divorce brings relief.)


 Gary goes through types of depression: situational vs. chronic depression.


(This would be a good discussion if this weren’t a video series advertised to people in “desperate” marriages. We already know at least one reason why they might be depressed.)  


Gary Chapman doesn’t use the word intervention, but he recommends that the “loving thing is to bring together members of the family and talk with dad or mom and ‘force them’ to get some help,” if the person won’t get counseling and medical treatment for bio-chemical depression.


(Living with an angry mean person does affect your well-being. The depression may not be biochemical. Researchers have reported that divorce after a long miserable marriage reduces the major depressive episodes for 4 in 10 people, per David Sbarra, “Divorce and Health: Current Trends and Future Directions,” p. 227-236.)



Video Topic 4: The Controlling Spouse

Start here at 4:23 -  https://youtu.be/cqoKkY-gnOk?t=263



Again, this is not a word-for-word transcript. These are my notes from watching the video. In italic type, are comments about what was said in the video.



Daly and Chapman, describe a controlling husband. They laugh at the victim, and describe the problem as almost instantly fixed.


This one is troubling because it is a mix of messages. Jim denies that a married person wants to control their spouse. Gary says that abusers have good motives and think they are doing the right thing.

Jim Daly says, “I doubt that people want to be controlling.” He says, “…it’s not in our nature.” A person doesn’t start the marriage saying, “I can hardly wait to control that guy or that woman.” Chapman says it’s where one person feels like the child and the other like the parent. Chapman says the controller doesn’t sense they are controlling; they’re just trying to make wise decisions.


(Is it possible that Jim and Gary are clueless about coercive control and emotional manipulation and abuse? Is Daly so out of touch that he doesn't believe genuine abusers exist?  Many abusers absolutely do it on purpose, often premeditated, utterly deliberate, with self-justification. We know this because they plot and plan to control their spouse, finding new tactics to silence objections. And neither Jim nor Gary assign any negative traits to the husband. They claim that no one wants to control others. It's really remarkable either of these men are given a microphone. Coercive control is a serious type of abuse and is illegal in many countries and U.S. states. Some people genuinely love to control, stalk, instill fear, and intimidate. But for this anecdote, no sin is mentioned. The controlling husband is excused as a sensible-but-perhaps-overzealous guy.)



Chapman describes a controlling marriage: Philip is described as a driven man who was thrifty, wanted to retire at 50, and wants to save money. Chapman admits controllers don’t see themselves as controllers. Philip’s wife Gina can’t take his control anymore. He installed low-flow water-saver shower heads, and now her showers take 10 minutes. She’s unhappy and irritated. (Notice that the problem is dismissed as ridiculous and laughable. Daly and Chapman laugh at Gina’s irritation and inconvenience.) Gina gave an ultimatum to change the showerheads by Friday; and Philip called the plumber and had it done by that date.


(The message from Focus on the Family is: “See how easy it is to stop a control freak?”)


Chapman gives no examples of the types of abuse, but says later Gina set a boundary and moved in with her mother because she was tired of being treated like a child. We can guess there’s a lot more going on besides showerheads, but we never find out. Gina left Philip with a name and phone number of a therapist. Philip [remarkably] started counseling a week later and has improved. Then later they got marriage counseling and they got back together. Daly suggests that if you confront a controller, this will happen. (This story is bland. No mention of fear, explosion, intimidation, threats, marital rape, criticism, name-calling, blame-shifting, or walking on eggshells that we normally hear from spousal abuse victims. And experts who work with abusers say that a full 180-degree change happens in fewer than 2% of cases.)


Jim Daly says:

  • Daly suggests that if you confront a controller they will shape up.

Gary Chapman says:

  • Don’t argue with a controller, just make “ultimatums”
  • The “submissive servant” long-term doesn’t help either.


(Daly and Chapman's advice is unsafe in many abusive situations. And they fail to see that abuse victims are always resisting. They are always trying different techniques to protect themselves, their children, and their pets, and to get the abuser to stop. They probably protested by having confrontations and were punished either directly or through their children. They’ve tried ultimatums, but these threats are toothless because Focus on the Family doesn’t condone divorce for abuse. And again, Chapman offers naïve advice. Despite all his years as a famous author, he doesn’t seem to understand that for many abuse victims, “making an ultimatum” will simply lead to a harsh crackdown by the controller. There’s never any mention that divorce might be the only way you can protect your life and sanity from a controller who doesn’t get help and doesn’t improve.)





Video Topic 5: The Physically Abusive Spouse

Start here at 15:52 - https://youtu.be/cqoKkY-gnOk?t=833


To his credit Jim Daly tells a physically abused wife to “get to a safe place” (But at the beginning of the video they only define that as a friend’s home a family member’s home, not a domestic violence shelter or police station or filing for divorce.) Gary says the same kind of thing later on.


Tension builds about things they don’t like about their spouse. They describe the abuse as an explosion that happens. He slaps, slams, kicks. He comes back with great remorse. Seem so sincere, but it happens again. Cycle every 2-3 months. Jim Daly asks Gary why someone abuses (yet claims he doesn’t want to build sympathy for the abuser). (But by offering the following excuses he pressures the wife again.) Did something happen in childhood? Often it’s anger from childhood. “The abused becomes the abuser.” Often they were abused themselves. They hold it inside. They never processed the anger. These are patterns. You follow the pattern of your abuser. Abusers need help.


(Notice how the abuse gets explained away.  Despite Daly's denial, he IS building sympathy and a pattern of excuses for the abuser, playing the "pity-me card" and letting them off scot-free. We know that most abused kids do NOT abuse others when they grow up. Daly says the abuser needs help. But notice there’s nothing for the victim. Don’t you think the victim needs help? Jim doesn't say she does. It seems the victim is left to fend for herself apparently. No help or support for her.)



Why do women stay in marriages?

  • Daly suggests, “she just attracts those types of guys.” Chapman never contradicts that.
  • Chapman says it’s several different reasons: One example, her personality is a rescuer mentality. They marry people with these personalities because I can help this person.
  • When does this godly personality become unhealthy? Daly says: "You may be enabling it in some way."


(Notice how they blame the abuse on the wife again, claiming "she attracts those types of guys." Yes, all the wonderful features of her character—her kindness, patience, generosity, and forgiveness—are what drew the abuser to her. Jim and Gary really don't care about her. This nice Christian woman has been deceived by a charming abuser, and they want you to believe that it’s all her fault.

  • They never admit that abusers target Christian women who’ve been taught to forgive and forget and never divorce.
  • They never mention that she stays because Focus on the Family taught her that she would disappoint God and ruin her children’s lives if she left!
  • They show no awareness that Focus on the Family's own articles encourage Christian wives to stay in danger. (Here’s the story of a woman who was being beaten, cheated on, and her children were being molested. She called FOTF constantly and attended their marriage intensives three times. She stayed in danger due to her trust in Focus on the Family’s advice. https://lifesavingdivorce.com/focusarticle/)


Daly says to wives: “It’s not your fault. You need to get to a safe place.”  Then the mind games start again: Chapman chimes in, claiming this abuse continues because the woman isolated herself!


(Sorry, Gary, she is not the one who isolated herself. She’s afraid. She’s been punished when she’s confided in others. She knows what would happen if she developed friends and spoke up.)


  • No one else knows what’s going on
  • Fearful of being killed if they leave.
  • “And that's why some people stay in those relationships but that’s never the answer.”(This is double-speak. FOTF never condones divorce for abuse. These guys are giving mixed messages. They never admit that she stays because Focus on the Family told her to stay! That’s why this video series is unsafe. If Gary Chapman and Jim Daly really wanted to know why women stay, they would listen to the women themselves. But they don’t. Here’s a link to 50 women’s comments about the main reasons they stayed: https://lifesavingdivorce.com/stay2 )


They tell the story of Gillian and Bruce. Some abuse started early in the beginning of marriage, maybe 2-3 years. By year 10, it was serious. The hosts say she should stand up against it right at the beginning or it will get worse. She said he’s starting to hit the children.


(Note: They blame her… if only she’d spoken up at the beginning. But typically abused wives do speak up at the beginning. They tried that. They likely protested this treatment and resisted at every turn. They tried multiple tactics to get their husbands to stop. Over time the husband anticipates her protests, develops new ways of stopping or silencing her, and tries new manipulation techniques. The victims get worn down, threatened, punished, and give up on speaking out, knowing the punishment will be severe.)


Chapman says:

1) Get out of there, she went to her mother

2) You and kids need counseling

3) Let him know he should get counseling otherwise there’s no hope for our marriage continuing.


(Saying "there's not hope for our marriage continuing"  is a toothless threat. And abusers know it. Focus on the Family doesn’t condone divorce for physical abuse EVER. Even when the children are being beaten, Focus on the Family will not mention divorce. This is how unsafe Focus on the Family is.)


4) He had a tremendous response. Went to counseling for a year and in the process became a “true Christian” and a changed person.


(This reveals that Jim and Gary are fooled by conversion stories—or perhaps they want their readers to be fooled by showy conversions. And it explains why the staff at their Hope Restored marriage intensives have a history of this too. They are duped by their own ideology. Or perhaps they know the truth and just want to dupe their clients. Either way, Focus on the Family is unsafe. I have a shocking interview with an abused woman who went three times to $5,000 marriage intensives. Her therapists were fooled by her husband’s sudden conversion—or they wanted HER to be fooled— in the last 15 minutes of their 5-day intensive. Here are 7 minutes of her video story. https://youtu.be/EZmkGM6P-U8)


5) Then they went to marriage counseling for several months, then restored the marriage.

6) Chapman admits that doesn’t happen all the time.

7) Daly contradicts Chapman: This shows “Everyone is within God’s reach. But at the same time, God is not going to force you. He lets you choose life or death.”


(Notice that only the abuser needs help and understanding. No one ever says the victim needs help. Focus doesn’t care about her, only about keeping her technically married)





Video Topic 6:  The Unfaithful Spouse

Start here at 16:25 https://youtu.be/cqoKkY-gnOk?t=980




Porn is pervasive now. Daly asks, “What should Christian couples do who want to please the Lord?”


Chapman simply says, “It’s always destructive to a marriage. Men, you should turn around now.”


Regarding porn, Daly says it’s addictive behavior, but maybe you have only a “light touch of it” and can turn around, but if you’re addicted, you need divine help. It’s as addictive as cocaine. It’s idolatry. You’ve made sex your God.


(No, this is not about bad theology. This is about having a sexual addiction and feeling entitled to sex on demand. The burden for change falls squarely on the addict.)


Chapman says, “If it’s obsessive you need divine help: pastor, counselor, trusted friend.”


(I doubt any of those people are experts, so why waste your time? How about finding a professional who specializes in this? There are people who’ve got training. And it’s not the wife’s job to hang around to see if he invests the time, energy, or money to do it. He may go through the motions, but never do the hard work...or not for long.)


Daly says that men justify porn saying, “It helps us in our physical relationship. It’s not a big deal. Trust me it’s a good thing.”



Chapman finally shows empathy: Women feel, “What is wrong with me?” Daly agrees, “It breaks their heart.”


(Note this is the first time any empathy is shown to an abused or betrayed woman in this 6-part video series. Everywhere else the wives have been kicked like a dog.)



One-flesh bond: Chapman quotes Jesus. Lust = adultery (then later contradicts Jesus in his typical double-speak).


Chapman says women shouldn’t accept this. They should take a strong stand. They should tell their husbands, “if you’re willing to get help now, then we can talk about it. But I cannot accept this. It’s not pleasing to God.”


(Again, here is another toothless threat. The porn addict knows that FOTF doesn’t condone divorce for porn, addictions, or abuse.)


Chapman says lust is adultery, but it’s non-physical adultery.


Daly clarifies it: “Some counselors say” porn is not full-fledge adultery.


(In my opinion, this is what Daly himself thinks, but he’s clever enough to avoid saying that for himself, so he tosses the ball to Chapman, saying….)


Daly: “Would you agree, Gary?”


(Brace yourself for mind-games.)


Gary says, “There is mental adultery and physical adultery. And yes, they are not the same. They are not to be equated. But they are both adultery according to Jesus.” Mental adultery is a picture. Physical adultery is a deeper hurt because it involves two people and a lot of people get hurt in the process of that. He claims it’s a deeper hurt.


Jim Daly jumps in and says, “It’s the ultimate unfaithful.”


(Gary and Jim are entitled to their opinion that adultery is a deeper hurt. They say it several times in this video. But ask any wife of an addict, physical batterer, or emotional abuse victim. Many will say, “I wish he was a cheater rather than someone who torments me and the kids and makes our lives a living hell.”)


Daly: “We don’t want you to languish in a marriage that’s unhealthy. So take the first step and call us.”

(This is an advertisement for getting counseling clients: From their phone counseling to marriage counseling, from marriage counseling to thier $3000-$6000 marriage intensives which are not as “miraculous” as Daly claims. FOTF's "marriage enrichment programs" are their cash cow, bringing in millions of dollars every year.)


Daly says the faithful spouse has “two paths: divorce and repairing the marriage.”

(No, the faithful spouse is not the one who can repair the marriage. They cannot do it. They’ve already tried for years. Only the cheater, abuser, or addict can repair the marriage, and they rarely choose to do the hard work to do so.)


Jim Daly asks Chapman to describe the two paths.


(Note that Chapman dodges the divorce discussion. Minute 22:18  https://youtu.be/cqoKkY-gnOk?t=1338)



Daly says, “There are two paths in front of that faithful spouse: either divorce, which Scripture clearly says divorce is an option. Then there’s repairing the marriage. Probably aligning with the word of God saying that He hates divorce in every case.” (Minute 22:31 LINK: https://youtu.be/cqoKkY-gnOk?t=1346)


(No, Jim, if Jesus allowed divorce, then who are you to say Jesus doesn't align with the Word of God? And by the way, Malachi 2:16 does not say God hates divorce in every case or that God hates divorce at all. It doesn’t say that in the Hebrew. www.lifesavingdivorce.com/malachi)  



Chapman: “I do believe there’s life after infidelity.”

Daly: “Sometimes even far deeper trust.”

Chapman: “…even deeper intimacy.”

(They blithely offer hope for victims of serial infidelity. Is this what they tell their own wives…that all their sin leads to deeper trust and intimacy? They are not telling the truth about how rare a turnaround is. Serial cheaters love to cheat and they love to deceive their spouses. They enjoy making false accusations about their spouses to their friends and affair partners. They concoct reasons why their spouse deserves this betrayal and the lies.)



(More mixed messages, see later)


Chapman says the man should break off the relationship and there should be no contact with affair partner. Then he says the husband has to “get help” via counseling to find out: “What is it about them that led them to get involved?” (Note how Gary uses the passive voice. These men were “led” to adultery. So the cheater is passive, not active at all, therefore has no culpability. That seems like a way of removing the responsibility from the cheater and looking for a way of shifting blame to the spouse. I think we have learned how Jim and Gary might gaslight their own wives.)


Chapman says, “It will require forgiveness on the part of the spouse.” “[Forgiveness] is the biblical response. God forgave us no matter what we’ve done. And we are to forgive as Christ forgave.”


(Chapman is using spiritual coercion here. There are many verses that tell Christians to get away from, not even to eat with, people who have destructive behavior. Don’t even have them in your church. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you stay, reconcile, or trust again. Gary is pressuring betrayed spouses to forgive…and the implication is that the forgiveness must happen immediately, followed by reconciliation. Then, after putting that guilt trip on the viewers, Chapman goes on…)


Chapman says, forgiveness does not rebuild trust, but it opens the possibility that trust can be reborn.


(Chapman is very clever at double-speak: He’s good at saying one thing, and then undoing it and saying the opposite in the same sentence. This is what he’s doing here.)


1) If you want her to trust you again: open your phone, or computer, and answer her questions. 3-6 months to rebuild trust.

2) “I think one thing is often if the relationship has gone on for a while and you break it off, that person is going to call you two or three times trying to pick the relationship back up. Yeah, you can’t keep them from calling you but you don’t get involved in a conversation. Make it as brief as you can. Then you tell your spouse, “They called me today. Here was the conversation.”


(What? Gary just said, “No contact with the affair partner” one minute ago! Now he’s saying the cheating husband is taking calls and talking to his affair partner? And he’s suggesting the unfaithful spouse should summarize the call for the wife? Really? There’s Caller ID. Just don’t answer the phone. Block her number. Instead, Gary suggests the man would have a conversation with the former affair partner!  There are a lot of opportunities for manipulation and abuse in that idea! A cheater would turn this into an opportunity to tell his wife she’s mean and unforgiving, unlike his adoring affair partner.)



Daly: “The Lord knows us. Why does he put up with it? What is he trying to do? What is God trying to achieve in both people?”


(Daly doesn't admit that in cases of serial cheaters, this marriage is not a partnership. This is not a team. This is one spouse betraying the other, over and over. The adulterer is lying to and gleefully cheating on his wife. There’s no “WE” here. We know what God wants: for the husband to be faithful, loving, and to care for his wife as he does his own body.)

Chapman: “We’re all broken. Some of our brokenness hurts others more than other things.” It takes time for healing in these relationships.  It’s the deepest hurt we can have to have our spouse involved sexually with someone else."


(Where does Gary Chapman get this? I don’t think he’s talked to domestic violence or emotional abuse or addictions victims. But this is the ideology he seeks to promote.)


Chapman: “What God wants to do is always redemption. He’s in the business of redeeming people with all of their failures.” “First of all, forgiving people when they repent.” Chapman says, “God doesn’t forgive everybody, only those who apologize and confess their sin and turn from their sin. He forgives them.” (Notice that even though Chapman says God doesn’t forgive everyone, he expects the wife to do so. Wives are to be more righteous than God himself.)


Happy ending: Chapman says that “…as you and your spouse become more and more like Christ, you’ll have the relationship you’ve always wanted.”


(Gary never entertains the idea that cheating will continue, that your spouse will never become a good trustworthy person. He either doesn’t admit or doesn’t understand that Christian cheaters, abusers, and addicts will say they want to be like Christ, but they don’t take up their cross and bear it. They don’t do the hard work to change their behaviors and entitled attitudes. Jim and Gary are holding out “hopium” — the false drug promising a glowing and glorious marriage for chronically one-sided situations involving serious marriage-destroying sin. Focus on the Family is offering fantasies and telling their viewers “there’s nothing to see here.” They are offering “Hope, hope, where there is no hope.” They are unwilling to recognize or acknowledge the seriousness of repeated abuse, infidelity, or addictions, nor the health effects of staying with a deceitful self-centered spouse. Many of the Focus on the Family leaders aren’t very deep thinkers and they certainly don’t want you to ask questions (they even say that HERE).


The Bible is tough on abusers, but Jim and Gary coddle them.

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."





By the way… do Gary Chapman and Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family,

have a personal history of being abusive in their marriages?  

Yes, they say they do. That explains a lot.


In this video, Gary Chapman admits to being a my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy. He admits that he blamed his wife for their marriage problems. The ironic thing is that he still blames wives throughout this video. Listen to his actual quote. He says we are to be servants like Jesus. God told him, “You don’t have that attitude toward your wife.”


Gary Chapman admits to something that sounds minor and appears to be in the distant past. Minute 3:08  https://youtu.be/5vRoAE8G8iI?t=187 




Jim Daly admits his guilt, saying he still acts that way: Minute 3:45.  https://youtu.be/5vRoAE8G8iI?t=225. By doing this, these two celebrities are normalizing abuse and explaining how they excused it, and demonstrating how they convinced their wives to give them a free pass. After all, if you can be abusive and earn more than $280,000 per year AND head up Focus on the Family, then abuse isn't all that bad. 


In my opinion, FOTF is run by an admitted abuser who protects and covers up for other abusers. This entire video series teaches abusers how to get away with excusing their own behavior and how to manipulate their wives.

Are you going through a life-saving divorce and need support and clarity? I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." Just click the link and ANSWER the 4 QUESTIONS. This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it. Supporters and people helpers are also welcome.  I’ve written a book on divorce for Christians and other people of faith, The Life-Saving Divorce: Paperback: https://amzn.to/3cF1j25  Or eBook: https://amzn.to/3CCBsnr

Also, sign up for my email list below or HERE www.lifesavingdivorce.com/courage



Start Here



Does God Hate Divorce? God Gave Divorce Due to Hardhearted Abusers & Betrayers


Physical and Emotional Abuse & Infidelity

God Allows Divorce to Protect Victims


How to Find a Good Supportive Church


What If My Pastor Says It Would Be Wrong to Get Divorced for Abuse?



Divorce Saves Lives: The Surprising (Wonderful!) Truth About Divorce Nobody Told You

Will I Ever Find Love Again? Dating After Divorce: Good News

Finding Happiness and Health After Divorce


Thriving After Divorce: These Christians Tell their Stories

Self-Doubt, Second-Guessing Ourselves, and Gaslighting

Children and Divorce: Researchers Give Hope


High Conflict Divorce and Parenting

Recommended Reading List and Free Resources for Christians and Other People of Faith


Common Myths






GET THE BOOK! The Life-Saving Divorce is about divorces for very serious reasons: a pattern of sexual immorality, physical abuse, chronic emotional abuse, family-impairing addictions, abandonment, or severe neglect. This book will give you hope for your future, and optimism about your children. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.




SIGN UP below for the email list to find out about helpful new blog posts, videos, and FREE Kindle book giveaways.