Coaching UP in Your Marriage

"Coach Don Lear" by Ed Uthman is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

"Coach Don Lear" by Ed Uthman is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

One of America’s most beloved football coaches was alone in his office when a former football player walked in. “Coach, you won’t remember me but I played for you a number of years back. I spent more time on the bench than I did on the field. There was something you did in my last game that changed my life. We were tied with a minute standing and you put me in and I fumbled the ball. You called a time-out and the assistant coach ran down field and railed on me. Coach, you ran out on the field and yelled, ‘Never coach him down; he knows his mistakes…you ALWAYS coach him UP!’ Today when I have the opportunity to influence others, I aim to always coach people UP!”

All of us need coaching up! Every man and woman, and especially hurting husbands and wives. Everybody.

Always coach up when problems arise!

Sure, the people we love will make mistakes, and there are times when they’ll fumble and disappoint us, we’ll even fail at meeting our spouse’s expectations as trials pop up all the time. The choice is yours whether you coach up, choosing to bring out the best in your spouse—or will you miss an opportunity to show grace in action and coach down? There are two problems when issues arise: the failure to anticipate them and the failure to respond well when they hit. 

Adapt, Adapt, Adapt

Married couples reporting to be very happy show a significantly higher degree of marital satisfaction than other couples when there is a greater ability to adapt with disappointment and change. Why? Because life is guaranteed to throw some curve balls at you! Professional athletes are a great example of people who have to adapt and change every second. Ask Casey Blake, third baseman for the LA Dodgers (he calls his corner of the world “the hot-zone”!). He told me “a baseball batter won’t be successful if he can’t adapt his swing within seconds of the pitcher releasing the ball.” 

Nolan Ryan once said, “Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have the true opportunity to get the most from your talent.” Change is all about action and reaction, trial and error. Most of us have learned through our life experiences that our response to difficult situations usually dictates whether our experiences end up positive or negative. Someone once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well, from now on focus on being willing to adapt with ease and allow for change and get some different results!  Although we most often don’t get to plan for change, we can choose to have a new attitude and decide to be positive and go with the change instead of negative and complaining.

Think Team in Your Marriage

When change comes into my life or yours, it takes sheer determination to get through it with the goal that change will always push you toward something bigger! It takes an attitude that no matter what, as a couple we are going to win this battle that we are going through united, and we are going to overcome it together. You win as a couple in marriage when you decide to be on each other’s team and not let anything divide you. Get rid of the excuses as to why we can’t make it and stop wallowing in self-pity! Once you stop fabricating excuses you can start spending energy creating victories in marriage.

Cortes burned his boats…"We can’t turn back, either we SUCCEED or we die here. EXCUSES ARE NOT an option.” And as a married couple you can’t allow difficulties to sink you—what separates the champions from others is how they react to disappointments. And how YOU respond and show grace to people that disappoint you is a part of life!  

4 Ways to Connect and Renew Your Marriage


Q: Like most couples around us our lives and schedules seem to run us and our marriage is on the back burner. Where do we start at renewing our love on a daily basis?

A: We love this question! You are so normal but we want you to be abnormal in renewing your love with your sweetheart! And much of the answer is in being both intentional and teachable.

At conferences we coach couples to take advantage of renewing connections during at least one, if not more, of four opportunities each day!

Your first opportunity is when one of you awakes in the morning before your spouse may have even opened their eyes. When I (Gary) stir awake I will often place my hand (as Barb likes to affirm, on top of the sheets) on Barb’s arm and pray for my bride of 40 years. Sometimes it is silent, other times just a whisper, but it is simply giving praise to the Creator for not only creating my lifelong sweetheart but for her life, positions of wife, mother, grandmother, daughter and friend, and her incredible impact in ministry. This is the first opportunity to connect each day and when we do so it starts our day with intentionality. I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart… Psalm 9:1

The second opportunity is before leaving for work. We work together each day at our ministry, yet often I will head in early. After bringing Barb a cup of coffee in bed (a ritual for the last several years) and giving her time to get into the Word, we will connect before I leave for the office. By this time she is a bit more alert (smile) and it gives us an opportunity to not only have communicated with the Lord vertically but with each other horizontally. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests… Eph. 6:18

The third opportunity is at the end of the workday. Barb affectionately calls this time of 4-7pm the valley of the shadow of death for every woman. Kids are home from school, meals need to be prepared, housework, dogs fed, mail, emails, texts, and then I, her “handsome dog” (her words) will be pulling in at any moment. Barb has shared with great joy and laughter to audiences worldwide her concept of the valley of the shadow of death during this time of day to hoots, applause and nodding heads, regardless of culture. Yet we also know it is a great time to connect and renew your love—if even for a few moments before agreeing on a time to really connect. My parents modeled this in an incredible manner. My dad would pull in the driveway at 5:30 each evening after a 12 hour day. His four kids would greet him at the backdoor (mom’s rule), he would shake our hand or tousle our hair and then excuse his kids for the next hour while he and my mom would sit on two black and white coaches in the family room of our home. No kids allowed, unless there was a problem (which as I recall was usually with me) but just a time for a husband and a wife to connect and renew their love. They would download the day, look forward to what was on their plates and center on their marriage. During the next hour we did this prehistoric activity called a family dinner when mom and dad would connect with the four kids and we were once again the center of their worlds.

And then at night, all of us have a fourth opportunity: praying and renewing our love in connection before we rest for the night. This often means going to bed at the same time (which really means one of us dying to self on being a night owl) and having a time together of encouragement, reflection, of praying, of listening, holding each other and yes, maybe even sexual connection, but that is the topic of another post. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thess. 5:11

There you go, friends. Four times a day to connect. That is what the Rosbergs do and although we love being your marriage coaches, it isn’t so important what we do other than model for you how to find your own pacing and rhythm. What is essential is finding which one or two of these work best for you. What do you think could happen to your marriage if the two of you committed to renewing the love of your life intentionally each day? We believe it could equip you to not only mark your marriage for Christ but further your great marriage experience! Go for it!

Want to Get Back to Great Sex in Your Marriage?

Image by Christian Lambert is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Image by Christian Lambert is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Q. When we first married we experienced great sex. But since kids, work pressures and the pace of life kicked into hyper drive, I don't have much sexual desire. What can we do to get back to having great sex again? 

A. To say you are experiencing a “case of the normals” would be a great understatement. When we wrote the book The Five Sex Needs of Men and Women we reported our findings from surveying about 700 couples. We asked couples what they needed in order to have great sex in a Godly marriage and what they “couldn’t stand about sex.” We learned that men and women alike reported “we don’t talk much about sex and we don’t know what ‘normal’ really is.”  Most couples reported that sex starts out vibrant and often in young marriages. And then “life happens” and with the onset of kids (or the integration of kids into blended families), stress from work and life, either or both spouses experience diminished desire. Sound familiar?

If so, what is the antidote? Let’s start with what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:5. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. We love this teaching because although it is over 2,000 years old it works remarkably well in giving husbands and wives clarity of direction in our sexual lives today. So let’s unpack this Scripture together as a foundation for our response.

First of all, when you married, your spouse became your “only provision” for the sexual needs of your covenant marriage. Period. Not lust. Not pornography. Not emotional affairs. Period. With that being the case then, when we deprive one another of the fulfillment of the sexual needs we have without agreeing or for an extended period of time, we are stepping outside of God’s instruction. Paul gives us the prescription that when we do “hold back” it needs to be for something more important than sexual fulfillment and connection: spiritual connection. Prayer. Fasting. An extended time of reading the Word. In other words, spiritual connection trumps sexual connection. Connecting vertically to the Lord and then to each other helps us love and serve each other well. He then instructs us to reconnect sexually to avoid temptation from Satan because we may not exercise self-control. Great insights.

We coach couples to start with a deep desire to fulfill our marital vows of the covenant. How? Partially by being the “only one” for each other in all areas of marriage: emotionally, sexually and in our hearts and minds. When a man is out-serving his bride, it will make her sexual responsiveness and inclination to initiate sex reasonable.

In order to “get back to great sex,” plan time together, save energy for one another, swap kid-sitting with friends, visit a B&B or take a mini vacation, romance each other, pray together over your marriage bed and for great sex. In other words, connect spiritually and emotionally and then when the time is right, initiate and respond to one another protecting the marriage bed!

Returning to great sex necessitates serving each other, honoring one another, connecting with one another and providing safety and security in our marriage. Resolve the conflicts of open loops to protect you from allowing hardened hearts to threaten your marriage bed. Go for it! It is a great way to continue to nurture your marriage.

Celebrating 11 events in 11 days!

As Barb and I write this praise report and prayer letter we are enjoying an incredible gift from our hosts; Focus on the Family Africa, of three nights at Ngala Game Preserve including five game drives. We have just concluded our second game drive and between the two drives we have witnessed sightings of the "Big 5" (elephant, leopard, lion, water buffalo and rhinoceros). This is no small feat by our guide and his tracker (Barney and Wiseman) who have navigated Krueger National Park and our visit.

Yet this is just the "cherry on top" of the ice cream sundae that we have joined God in for the last weeks. On Friday we concluded our 11 event 2015 South African tour over 11 days. We had one day rest within those 11 days…it has been busy and remarkably had great impact.

Barb presenting at AWL Event-email.jpg

I once again was in the "first row" witnessing the fruit of my bride's passion of ministering to over 250 Zulu women who are caregivers of "at risk" and orphaned children (much due to the AIDS pandemic). This is the third year of Barb's ministry of "A Woman's Legacy" whereby she places upon each of the caregivers a hand-beaded (by our precious daughter Sarah) necklace. About 80 of the women received the inaugural "Ambassador" necklace with beautiful beads and a Cross to wear with the necklaces they have received in prior years. About 170 first time recipients received the newly designed (by Barb) necklace with the Cross and the 6 hearts representing the 6 Secrets we have been teaching since 2000. To watch the women dance, celebrate, embrace Barb, and receive instruction on how to encourage one another and the children they serve is a sight to behold. Also this year, Ken Medema (musical composer) composed a song that was inspired by Barb's message entitled "I am Beloved". The song was taught to the women as a way of further enhancing the training. And perhaps one of the biggest joys was hearing the overwhelming gratitude of the women for Barb's weekly SMS texts that she sends to our Zulu translator who in turn sends to the now over 400 women bringing them comfort and love consistently through the year. Story upon story of how God used Barb to remind them at just the right time of His faithfulness and provision, His love and grace was such an encouragement to all.

In addition we had the honor of doing five Date Nights (three in Cape Town, one each in Durban and outside Jo'Burg) on our brand new message Kiss and Make Up!. It was fun, deep, equipping and received better than we imagined. Hundreds of couples were ministered to eachnight. Visit our Facebook page (drgaryandbarb) for photos of hundreds of South African couples sitting on the "park bench"...our moniker for the tour. Each of them are holding a sign celebrating the number of years of marriage and of "Kissing and Making Up!". We saw hope restored, God's grace and tears of joy from old friends from previous years as well as countless new friends. Pastors from each church and communities impacted expressed over and over again the gratitude of how God stirred the hearts of the people in their congregations for Biblical marriages with a fresh fire. (By the way, we will be launching our 2016 Kiss and Make Up! USA tour Kim at AFC for info on hosting an event in your church or community).

I also had the distinct honor of conducting two Marriage Champion training events adding more than 50 new couples to our current 233 couples in South Africa who have now been trained on bringing our video curriculum and written resources to small groups and church-wide events. This is a major part of my time with pastors, small group leaders, psychologists, counselors and other family advocates in South Africa...focusing on multiplication of the message God has entrusted to us.

We deepened our relationship with Graeme and Allison Schnell, the CEO of Focus on the Family Africa as they hosted us in their home, with their three young daughters for a Braii (BBQ). We also spent a great lunch with Jonathan Waller and his bride Runnel. He is one of the leading radio station broadcasters in Cape Town and hosts a program we join annually to love on the people of Cape Town. God deepened our commitment to the Focus on the Family Africa team as Marge, John and Gary Steyn traveled the country with us. Each year we have been with Marge and John and this is the second year with Gary. They are faithful servants and great friends whom we long to see and renew our friendship. We love spending time with the Focus staff, praying with them, visiting their ministry center and celebrating the faithfulness of this team that has become hosts of our second home of South Africa.

While we were in South Africa my Chicago Cubs rose to greatness and then lost. I became a South Africa Springoks Rugby fan only to see them lose last night to New Zealand in the World Cup series. And our hearts are quickened with the anticipation of seeing our daughters, grandchildren, son-in-law Cooper, friends and team back home sooner than we can imagine.

For the next couple of days we will pray, reflect, remember and again be treated to God's creation of wildlife and witness the cycle of life in this over-the-top Safari Lodge and Game Preserve.

And we humbly thank you and honor you....our Marriage Champions that are praying and carrying this message as part of your own legacy, as well as the donors that are equipping us to continue to serve way out of the box to a people far away from home but so close to our hearts. We love it here in South Africa...yet we can't wait to be home in the USA!

Bless you and as always...guard your hearts,
Gary and Barb

The tour begins in Cape Town

We are safely in Cape Town and have spent the last few days getting acclimated to the 7 hour time zone difference. The weather has been incredible as we have stayed on the Waterfront area of Cape Town with crystal clear views of Table Mountain which lies at the Southern tip of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. In a word...majestic. If I can use a second word...stunning.

Ambassador Necklace.JPG
2015 AWL Necklace.JPG

But I’m getting ahead of myself because our journey started in Des Moines and then off to Chicago. Barb and I carried in two additional carry-on bags with 315 story-telling necklaces that our daughter Sarah hand beaded. I am attaching a photo of them here for you to see the craftsmanship of Sarah's work and the beautiful creativity of Barb's design. 100 of these necklaces are designed for Ambassadors (female care givers that have been with us in one or two of the prior years). These 100 women have been invited back to take the next step in their sharing of the 6 Secrets that we teach as well as to have Barb coach them on how to share the Gospel with other women. Barb has added a Cross to this "enhancer necklace" to give the women a second necklace that will distinguish these caregivers of orphans as leaders. The other 200 plus women will be first time guests and will be given a newly designed necklace from Barb's heart to their hearts...once again all hand beaded by Sarah. I am so proud of both of them and their commitment to the women that God has raised up to serve those without parents to love them and encourage them.

We spent our first night in Chicago with our younger daughter, Missy and her family, once again seeing four of our eight grandchildren. What a delight to be with our family prior to wheels up! We had our first experience en route to O'Hare with Uber. Our driver was an unemployed engineer who had just a week ago purchased a large SUV and joined the ranks of Uber drivers. As we got acquainted we learned that he had grown up in a tough situation but had one man who believed in him and loved him...his childhood pastor. Yet as the years have passed our new friend’s faith has become increasingly discouraging. Barb and I had the privilege of reminding him of the love that Jesus has for him...the grace that awaits him...that he can be the kind of man who encourages others that have a void in their hearts. As we pulled up to the International Terminal we asked if we could pray over him. From the back seat, Barb and I laid our hands on his shoulders and prayed over this incredible man. When we finished he commented, "I believe that God sent you to me today to remind me of the love He has for me." We rejoiced with this good man that it was a new day...fresh beginnings... and I hugged him as we stepped to the curve. And by the way, he had a St Louis Cardinals t shirt on (the arch enemy of my Cubs) which allowed us to quickly connect J

On the 13 plus hour flight to Dubai we rested, prayed, read, watched a movie, slept and tried to get ready for what was ahead of us, knowing that the journey ahead would be life-changing as we were preparing to do 11 events during our 7th tour of South Africa. After 5 or 6 hours in a Dubai airport hotel we caught our second red eye flight (8 hour plus) landing in Cape Town on Friday (having left the States on Wednesday). We were greeted by Ray Eachus, the former Chairman of the Board of Focus on the Family Africa and a dear friend. For the next few days we have walked the Waterfront, studied our notes, read the Word, enjoyed the seafood and reconnected to our "second home...South Africa".

CCFM Radio Team-Jonathan, Gary, Barb, Sean, Graeme-FOTF.jpg

Yesterday, Graeme Schnell, the CEO of Focus on the Family Africa, joined us in Cape Town for lunch and a time of catching up and dreaming of the impact of what God was going to do in all of our lives over the next couple of weeks.

CCFM Radio Team-Jonathan, Sean, and Graeme-FOTF showcasing Church Kits.jpg
Sufers on Indian Ocean.jpg

This morning we woke at 5:30 am (which is 10:30 pm CST-the night before) to go to a 90 minute radio program with our friend Jonathan and his new co-host Sean at CCFM in Cape Town. We had a blast, took a listener's question, shared about the events (three Date Nights and one Marriage Champion training in Cape Town to start the tour) and just connect. What a blast! As we pulled up to the station on the Indian Ocean, surfers were already riding the waves with the sun barely coming up...impossible to describe the beauty...

And now we prepare... in our hearts...spirits and souls to bring our 40 year marriage and love affair to the people whom we love so much. Please go to our Facebook page at and look for the pictures of the couples as Focus posts some of our guests sitting on a park bench at the Kiss and Make UP! premiere Date Nigh event...Cape Town style. We will be doing five Date Nights (the 4th in Durban and the 5th in Johannesburg), two Marriage Champion (mentor training) two "A Woman's Legacy" story-telling necklace events, one Saturday Marriage Conference and I will be preaching in a large church in Durban on Sunday.

Please pray for teachable for our family and the America's Family Coaches and Focus on the Family South Africa teams, the message to come from God through us, and for life giving principles to be learned by these great couples. Stay tuned to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, as well as our blog for more up-to-date reports! Thank you for praying and helping to resource us to love those on what is known as the "Dark Continent" but after 7 years we are grateful to report has the light of Jesus shining brightly!

Guard your hearts,

Gary and Barb