The Fruit of Love
About the Guest
Marriage wasn't going well for Michael and Hayley DiMarco. Although they were deeply in love, their differences were igniting a host of arguments and misunderstandings. The DiMarcos talk about their early years of marriage beginning with their disappointing honeymoon to the end of their first year when Hayley was volleying thrift store plates at the basement wall just to release her anger. As Hayley studied the fruit of the Spirit as promised in Galatians 5:22-23, she realized she wasn't tapping into the power available to her. Once she began relying on God's power, their marriage began to blossom.
Marriage wasn’t going well for Michael and Hayley DiMarco. Then Hayley studied the fruit of the Spirit as promised in Galatians 5:22-23, and realized she wasn’t tapping into the power available to her.
The Fruit of Love
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, May 25th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Michael and Hayley DiMarco join us today as we talk about what it looks like for a wife to be a Spirit-filled, fruitful wife.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. Were you surprised about the broken plates? I mean, you know—
Dennis: You know, that’s where I wanted to start. You and I have been working together too long, Bob.
Bob: We know—
Dennis: I want to go to the basement.
Bob: We know this couple pretty well, and I was just really a little taken aback.
Dennis: Only with a pair of friends could we begin a broadcast by asking Hayley DiMarco to tell us: “Take us to the basement. Take us there”; alright? [Laughter] This is your most honest book, I think, yet; don’t you agree?
Hayley: Well, yes; I guess. They are all honest; but this one is just like—you know, it’s all about me—whew!
Dennis: The basement is pretty raw. The book is The Fruitful Wife. You’re going to wonder what a basement has to do with a fruitful wife; but this is kind of—well, take us there. What happened in—what happened in the basement?
Bob: Can we let folks know Michael is here as well? [Laughter]
Dennis: He’s here too.
Bob: Okay; yes.
Dennis: He manages—
Bob: Hey, Michael. How you doing today?
Dennis: —the publishing company, The Hungry Planet that Hayley founded.
Michael: I’m just arm candy. [Laughter]
Dennis: You’re what?!
Bob: A milk dud. [Laughter]
Michael: Just forget it. Edit that out. No; instead of a basement, you can call it a fruit cellar. How about that?
Bob: Oh, I like that! So take us to the fruit cellar.
Hayley: It’s more exotic.
Dennis: Maybe the deeds cellar; huh? [Laughter] There was a lot of good fruit taking place in this basement.
Hayley: No. Yes; that’s right—rotten fruit. That was the description of really, at least, our first year of marriage—at least, the first year. It was rotten fruit. I mean, we did not know how to live with another person—certainly, not someone that was that close to us. I had no clue. So, we had a hard time getting along as far as not arguing. We would have many, many debates—we’ll call them. They would end in just: “I have never felt like this before.” I just wanted to hit something——that’s not normal for me. So, I thought, “What do I do with all this anger, and frustration, and bitterness?” Literally, I’m saying this in front of Michael.
Michael: I brought out the best in her.
Hayley: Yes; poor man. But I wanted an annulment: “How does this end? This is horrible!” So, to handle that, we both came up with our own kind of ways because we don’t believe that. We believe we are married for a reason. So, we said, “There’s got to be something we can do.” So, my solution was to go to the thrift store and buy those cheap—$1/ 30 cent, whatever—plates.
I would take them—yes—down to the fruit cellar and stack them up. When we’d have our arguments, I would stomp down there and pick those things up and just hock them at the wall because it’s all stone. I felt so good—I’d like [sound of flinging plate]—it would break all over and “Woo!” I’ll say this to a lot to women; and they say: “Oh! I hadn’t thought of that.” They want to run out and get plates. I say: “That’s not my point! That’s not the point of this.” [Laughter]
Bob: “This is not how you deal with this—
Bob: —“with your anger.”
Hayley: “This is the bad—this is the bad idea that I had!”
Bob: Hayley, you said the first year of your marriage was horrible.
Bob: How long into your marriage before you thought, “This is going to be harder than I thought.”
Hayley: Honeymoon is when we figured that out.
Hayley: Oh, the honeymoon—let’s just say I had these ideas about what marriage was. Just so people can get the picture of what my ideas were—and many people laugh at this so feel free to laugh—I thought that marriage meant that I would get a massage every day, that I would have a shopping partner that would go and help me try on clothes and would love to cook with me. Basically, I thought I was going to get a girlfriend I guess. [Laughter]
Michael: We were going to do each others’ hair. [Laughter]
Dennis: Hold it! Where did you get both of those ideas to begin with?
Hayley: Chick flicks—I don’t know; right? That’s just like the perfect man.
Dennis: Okay; keep going.
Hayley: Okay; so I had a lot of ideas and one of them was we were going to elope. We were going to go to this tropical island, which we did, and have this perfect little elopement wedding. We get there—Michael has saved up all this mileage and all these hotel points for us to get this suite. We get up there and it’s overlooking the McDonald®’s parking lot rather than the beach, which is what I came for.
Michael: Wrong side.
Hayley: I was looking at the little bitty room across the hall—which I could see the maid setting up—with this beautiful view of the blue ocean. I was like: “Oh! That is—I’ll take that room!” Anyway, that started off with my just—I mean, all this to say—I was just self-obsessed of what I thought life should be—the perfect romantic picture. So, it started that way. I tried to swallow that; although, I don’t think I did. Michael can probably say what I was like—my face just dropped.
So, he’s starting out the whole thing, thinking: “What am I? This woman is un-pleasable.” Then, he had to go find a place where we could have the wedding because the beach at the hotel was too—that’s where I thought we were going to do it, and everybody could see us—I was like: “Oh! I don’t want that!” So, he had to go find us a beach. So, yes, I’m just—
Michael: Hayley does not have a poker face.
Hayley: —a charmer; aren’t I?
Michael: Hayley does not have a poker face. If she’s disappointed, it is—
Dennis: Easy to read.
Bob: You knew her well enough to know that this was a part of what you were getting into?
Michael: You know—like when the rollercoaster—you get on it and it has to tote you up to the highest peak?
Bob: Tick, tick, tick.
Michael: On that climb, you have an inkling of the drop, and the twists, and turns, and the G-forces that are about to come.
Michael: That was kind of—I think we were both like, “Okay, was I tall enough for this ride?” [Laughter]
Hayley: “What was I thinking?” [Laughter]
Dennis: You actually kind of came through your honeymoon wondering if you’d made a mistake. You mentioned it, under your breath,—
Dennis: —that you considered an annulment.
Hayley: I just knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that was who I was supposed to marry. I didn’t necessarily like it, even before, over—a lot of spiritual issues. I was an author. We were discussing spiritual topics. We would debate, and I had a lot of growth ahead of me I didn’t see coming. He was—I believe he was put there to help me get there.
I know it’s hard for a lot of women to have a man come in and say, “Okay, there are some things about you that need to change,” but I love God enough to say, “I want that!” I did not like the fights; but I knew that, at the ultimate end of that, was death to self that I needed in my life—to have more of Christ in my life.
Bob: Most of the books you’ve written have been aimed at young people.
This book, The Fruitful Wife, is really aimed at your peer group—wives. And you take—
Dennis: I want to correct that. It’s aimed at selfish people. [Laughter]
Michael: That’s our peer group too! [Laughter]
Bob: Yes; that’s right.
Hayley: It’s everyone. [Laughter]
Bob: It’s all about the fruit of the Spirit being manifest in a wife’s life. I’m guessing that you came to this subject because, over the years you’ve been married, you’ve seen God at work, producing fruit.
Hayley: Actually, what happened was—I started to look—I don’t know how it came to me—but we’ll just saying it was during one day of study when I looked at Galatians 5:22 that listed the nine fruit. As I started to look at those fruit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—I looked at each one. I said: “Love—don’t got it. Joy—uh-uh. Peace—definitely not.” I went through the list, and I found kindness: “Okay, that’s pretty easy. I’m not mean. I’m not a mean person. So, I’ve got kindness! Is that good enough? Is that displaying the Spirit in me?”
My answer was—after looking at verses/a lot of things Jesus said—I started to get scared. I’m like: “Ahhh! You can tell a tree by its fruit. What kind of tree am I?” It started to bother me. I started to say: “Is this something that is available to everyone, or do we pick and choose? Do we only get a part of them? Do I really have to live my life without those other eight, and I only get one; or does God want us to have all of those? Is all of that fruit available, and not only available, but commanded? Is it part of our life, as disciples?” So, my answer was: “Yes! I am meant to have this fruit, and I want to do something about that.”
Dennis: Jesus says to His disciples in John 14:16—He says, “You know, it’s really to your advantage that I go away.” Now, that has to be a pretty startling statement. The Son of God / God in flesh says, “You know what? It’s good that I’m going to leave you because, when I leave, I’m going to send to you One who will, not just be with you, but in you; that is, the Holy Spirit / the Helper.”
That’s really what you’re tapping into, here, for a married couple—is learning how to tap into the Holy Spirit’s work in your soul so you can begin to manifest the fruit you described: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and so forth.
Bob: And I’m just curious because you said you did a self-analysis, and you got one of nine. I’m thinking to myself: “You’re just being hard on yourself. You’re just being self-critical.” I want to ask—I want to ask the eye witness. [Laughter]
Dennis: Oh, Bob.
Bob: I want to know! Would you say that—of the nine fruit of love, joy, peace, patience...—that, “Yes, kindness was there, but the rest were lacking”?
Michael: No, she is scoring herself far too generously—
Bob: Oh, wow!
Michael: —because—and she testifies to this,—
Michael: —in the book, that even her understanding of kindness was askew. How about that?
That what she thought was kind was treating other people how she would like to be treated instead of how they’d like to be treated. So, really, in the book, she talks about that she was 0 for 9. But the thing was—was I was 0 for 9 as well. So, she was difficult to live with; but just as difficult as I was because we were both going down this road together.
Bob: And I’m just curious because, if Mary Ann was here / if my wife was here, and we were talking about my self-analysis, there would be some on the list that she would say are worse than others. Let’s just be honest. Most of us can look at this list and say: “I’m a B-minus here. I’m a D-plus there.” Which of the nine was at the bottom of the list? Where were you flunking out?
Hayley: I hate to say this, but I think anybody that’s missing any of these is the first one. It’s love because love, as we looked at the love verse everyone reads at the wedding—1 Corinthians 13—that verse, as you go through it, includes every other fruit in it, except self-control.
Bob: “Love is patient. Love is kind...”
Bob: Yes, that’s interesting.
Hayley: So, you see that, without love, you are a clanging cymbal. I don’t believe that any of those other fruit can flow until we understand what love is. That’s the biggest and most important, I think, issue that we could spend decades on—you know.
Dennis: One of the things you talk about in the chapter where you do discuss love is you have “Confessions of a Selfish Woman.” I’d like you to read it because I think this is where we, ultimately, have to come to in our marriages if we are going to get love right. We have to understand who we are and our need for God to do a work in our soul to create real love for another person.
Hayley: And I will add too—I want to say that this isn’t just for women. I mean, this is The Fruitful Wife; but this fruit is necessary for all of us—married/unmarried, male/female. So, I think we could all probably relate to this—whoever is listening.
Dennis: I took it that way.
I am not good at loving anyone but myself. I’m always my first thought, my first purpose. Even before my own child, I think of myself. It’s not natural for me to love others first.
So, I’m not suggesting that I have arrived; or that I am selfless—quite the opposite. So, it’s a daily reckoning that I must do—reminding myself of God’s love for me and the love that He wants me to give to others as a way to, not only love them, but Him as well. May we all learn to turn our minds to the love of God, daily, so that we may love others the same way that He has loved us.
Bob: There’d be some who would hear you make that confession—and they would say, “You know, it sounds like—you’ve got a self-esteem issue here, Hayley.” [Laughter] You know what I’m saying? They’d say: “You just—you must have a negative self-image. I mean, you are too hard on yourself with all of this.”
Hayley: [Laughter] Well, man, I could talk for days on that topic too.
I think that all of us need to recognize what sin is, and how desperately far away we are from the Father, and how far we are away from His perfection and from the love that He gives us. I think it’s natural / it’s human nature for us to think about ourselves. That’s true.
But when we identify it, and we can confess it like that, then, we draw much closer to what true love is. Self-esteem is something I don’t even think about or broach the subject in my own life because, when it comes to the topic of self, I want to die to that flesh in me. I want to die to the self in me that separates me from God. The more I can confess, and be real, and honest—because if we’re all honest—we do think of ourselves first, even when it comes to loving others. Many of us—we love others; why? So, they will love us back.
Dennis: Right. And we have to go to the Scriptures, I think, to get a proper view of what love is. Hayley, I love how you wrote about this—you said, “The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s—”
Now, a lot of people would say—I ask people everywhere I speak, “What’s the opposite of love?” I hear, “Hate.” To that, I say: “Well, if we consider hate to be the opposite of love, then, it’s very easy for us to say: ‘Well, I don’t hate him. I must be loving because I don’t hate the person.’”
But the truth be told is that we can’t love others as long as we’re focused on self. If you look at that verse on love—the big verse on love in 1 Corinthians 13—you see that: “Love is patient; love is kind...”—it doesn’t have to do with self. It has to do with dying to self / dying to this need to catch someone because they did something wrong, with keeping track of what they did wrong, with attacking them because you are impatient. It is the opposite of self. It’s dying to self and showing grace and kindness to those that bother us, really.
Bob: When a wife is not flourishing in love in a marriage, what happens in the marriage?
Hayley: I think it’s—not only a question of what happens in the marriage but what happens in the home—the wife is, oftentimes, in those situations, the emotional leader, I think, in the marriage and in the home.
She takes a stand—we can take a stand, emotionally, because we feel it so deeply—that we define everyone else’s life by that. It becomes chaos in the home. If you have a man that feels like he is incapable of leading—that she’s not allowing him—I believe it starts with that idea of her understanding what love is. So, I think it’s the foundation of it all.
Bob: Was there a breakthrough for you or was it a gradual, progressive work of God’s Spirit to awaken you to what love is?
Hayley: I had a breakthrough moment, I recall, at a conference—hearing just about love. I was taught what love was—looking at this verse. For me, the biggest was that—when I realized that love wasn’t just a feeling. A lot of us—we hear that all the time: “Love’s not a feeling. It’s an action.” But I heard that, in the context of Scripture, when I heard God commanding us to love our enemies. I thought: “Well, sometimes, I feel like he’s my enemy; and yet, God’s calling me to love. So, love can’t be how I feel about him.”
It can be very easy, in marriage, to say: “Well, I just don’t feel it anymore. I don’t feel love for him.
“So, I’m done.” But if love is not a feeling, then, that doesn’t matter. We have to be able to—we have to be able to put that aside and say, “It’s not about how I feel, but it’s about what God has commanded and what God wants from me.” Because He has commanded it—because He’s asked us to love others—His Holy Spirit allows us/helps us to do that.
The breakthrough for me was saying: “God is not cruel. He’s not trying to make me do something that’s impossible; rather, He’s pointing to His Holy Spirit, saying: ‘You can’t do this without Me. I am the One that can help this in your life, in your marriage, and everywhere else.’”
Dennis: Michael, Bob started the broadcast by tossing you a question—where I kind of figured you end up, sleeping in the dog house—[Laughter]—asking you to measure your wife in each of the nine different fruit of the Holy Spirit. I’m going to give you a chance to move your location tonight from where the puppy stays—
Michael: I’m a dog person. [Laughter]
Dennis: —back to the penthouse; okay?
As you’ve seen the Holy Spirit’s work in Hayley’s life, how have you seen Him create love for you through her?
Michael: She was talking about her breakthrough. I think, really, for me, it was a supernatural realization that, when I did things or said things that were worthy and deserving of her wrath, and she didn’t respond in kind—that was supernatural. That was—especially, from the first year or so of our marriage—that was supernatural change. That was Holy Spirit movement in our home.
Dennis: So, you used to duck when she threw [Laughter]—when she threw the plates?
Michael: No, I was usually over at my punching bag, in the other corner of the—
Dennis: Oh, I had forgotten about that.
Michael: —of the cellar; yes.
Dennis: Yes, it was cheaper.
Bob: But when she starts—not responding evil for evil—when you do something that is wrath-worthy, as you said—
Bob: —and she does not respond with that wrath, but returns a blessing or is kind instead, what did that do to you?
Michael: Well, it turned the volume down in the room—figuratively and literally. I can’t explain it other than to say it allowed me to hear the Holy Spirit convict me and change me because for—she alluded to it. I really do think, in most marriages, the woman sets the initial emotional tone of the home. The old saying: “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
Michael: And that’s true. But if momma is happy in the Lord—if momma is abiding in Christ, and walking in the Spirit, and is showing that selflessness that really defines love—then, it swings the doors wide open for a man to take a leadership role in the family.
Bob: Well, and I know I’ve seen this happen with—in my relationship with Mary Ann. If we are both being selfish and childish, then, we kind of both feel vindicated in our selfishness and childishness because the other person is doing that. [Laughter]
Bob: But when the other person quits, your selfishness and childishness is just kind of hanging out there for everybody to see; and you start to feel it. You start to feel just how selfish and childish you are being when the other person isn’t playing the same game. That’s where that conviction, as you talked about, I think, starts to come in.
Dennis: And what I want our listeners to hear is that the fruit of the Spirit—that is the one we are talking about today—which is love—that’s available to you, right now. Now, that doesn’t mean you are instantly going to grow perfect love—pop out of—like an orange would pop off of a tree, fully ready to be harvested—
—but it does mean that the Holy Spirit will produce, in you, a different response—like Michael described that he’d seen in Hayley.
It’s not just for authors of books/hosts of radio broadcasts. It’s for anyone who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ because it’s clear—when you receive Christ, you are given the Holy Spirit. He’s not just with you—He’s in you. He’s there at work to be able to—I hate to say it / “manufacture”—but to grow—
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: —to grow love in your soul for your spouse in those tough moments, where all of us live life, because we’re all selfish and we all need His work to be able to defeat that selfishness.
Bob: I think it’s helpful for all of us to take a season, and do some self-evaluation, and just say: “Is the work of the Spirit being manifest in my life? Am I seeing fruit happen?” and, “If not, why not?”
Then, the point is—you don’t say, “I’ve got to try harder.” You say: “I’ve got to get closer to Jesus. I’ve got to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. I’ve got to be spiritually-minded, and I’ve got to let the Word of Christ dwell in me richly.” That’s what you are saying, Hayley, in the book that you’ve written, The Fruitful Wife, which, I think, is a good tool for self-examination for any wife.
We’ve got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order a copy of the book—again, the website—FamilyLifeToday.com. Or you can call, toll-free, at 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” We can get a copy of Hayley’s book sent to you.
I should also mention that your wife Barbara has a new book out for wives called Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife. It would be a great companion to the book that Hayley has written. Of course, we’ve got Barbara’s book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center as well.
Again, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to order; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Now, we have a couple of FamilyLife Today listeners—a couple of couples who are celebrating anniversaries today. They live on opposite sides of the country. Chuck and Jean Bryan live in Asheville, North Carolina. They’re celebrating 31 years together today. They listen to FamilyLife Today at WMIT. Then, out in Colorado, Gerald and Heather Stanton live in Franktown, Colorado. Today is their silver wedding anniversary—they’ve been married 25 years today. So “Congratulations!” to the Bryans and to the Stantons.
Anniversaries matter—we think your anniversary matters. That’s why we are spending our 40th anniversary year, as a ministry, thinking about all of the anniversaries that have happened because of your partnership with us, here in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
When you support this work, you’re helping us help couples go the distance in marriage—and not just persevere—but go the distance with joy and with hope.
Right now, we’ve got some friends of the ministry who have come to us—and recognizing it’s our 40th anniversary year and recognizing that it’s about to be the summertime, when there’s often a fall-off in donation support for this ministry—they have agreed that, for the rest of this month, they will match every donation we receive, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $350,000. Of course, we’re hoping to take full advantage of that matching-gift opportunity.
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We hope you will join us back again tomorrow. Michael and Hayley DiMarco are going to be here. We’re going to find out a little bit more about how they relate to one another in the midst of marital conflict and what it looks like for Hayley to be displaying the fruit of the Spirit when she’s not seeing, eye to eye, with her husband. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can join us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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