Bob Kraning: You know, I’m convinced that in most of our marriages, if we could really guard our tongues, we could solve about 90% of our problems.
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John Fuller: Well, those are words of wisdom from pastor Bob Kraning. And you’ll discover why his advice is worth hearing on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. Welcome to our broadcast. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, when it comes to marriage, Bob and his wife, Carol have the experience that counts. They are married for 62 years until Bob’s death last year at the age of 86.
John: And certainly our hearts go out to the Kraning family. Bob was in ministry for over 50 years and he and Carol have two sons, nine grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. And wow, 62 years of marriage. I wonder how they did that.
Jim: That’s the perfect question, John. And today, and next time, pastor Bob will provide those answers with a message that was recorded when he and Carol had been married for 25 years and they had taken some time to sit down and think through what they’d learned.
John: This is a classic presentation from pastor Bob Kraning recorded back when he was the executive director of Forest Home Christian Camps in Southern California. On today’s episode of Focus on the Family.
Bob: I thought maybe a good way for us to begin, um, this particular week together, Carol and I have just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in May. The last weekend of May 24th was our anniversary. And we have put in 25 years and, uh, our kids did a very special thing for us on that weekend. And, uh, we went away for a couple of days. And when we came home on Sunday afternoon, they had, uh, asked us to get home at a certain hour to go to dinner with, uh, them and their girlfriends and, and fiancé and, uh, so forth. And when we got home, we had about 110 or 120 people in our backyard. And our backyard isn’t big enough for that many people, but, uh, they were all there dressed in costumes of the ’50s. Uh, everybody had their hair greased down and had Bobby socks. And, uh, and, um, we, uh, we just totally were shocked. We had no idea they were doing anything. And we thought if we got to go to dinner with them, we’d be fortunate. And, uh, they just put on a very, very special day for us, had a lot of people out of our past and out of our present and, uh, and all dressed strange.
Bob: And, and, uh, so anyway, we had gone through 25 years, but prior to the celebration on Sunday, Carol and I had gone to Yosemite for a couple of days. My, we’ve lived in California for 25 years and my wife had never seen Yosemite. So I thought maybe it was time. And we went up and spent a couple of days up there and one of the evenings, we had dinner together and we sat and I asked Carol a question that night and we sat and talked about it for a long time. I said, “Babe, I said, tell me, why do you think we’re still together after 25 years? And why is it that we still have fun? And why is it that we still love each other? And that we still enjoy being together. And we enjoy praying together. And, uh, we had this year, I had a sabbatical and we spent five weeks together, uh, 24 hours a day, literally for five weeks and, uh, kind of went into that with some apprehension.” Uh, I traveled a lot and I’m gone a lot, to suddenly be put together for five weeks, 24 hours a day, every day, I, it probably was one of the best experiences, our whole lives. We just had an absolutely super five weeks together. And, uh, it was very, very exciting. So we tried to just put together some things, uh, about 25 years. And why are we together? What’s made it good. And, uh, I would’ve thought maybe this morning, that’d be a good way to begin, wha- what has made our 25 years. Uh, and I don’t really know. I mean, I can’t give you, you know, great answers and say, if you do these four things, you’ll, it’ll be super. But, uh, I did write down five things. Why I don’t think, uh, you know, those are the issues. And I think sometimes from the exterior, we look at a marriage or we look at somebody else. I know I get around certain marriages where I kind of look at the two people and I spend some time with them. And I kind of in my mind, tend to feel, gee, you know, it’s just those people. I mean, they got to make it, they got to get along well together. And yet I’ve counseled some people in my office who are in terrible trouble who talking to them individually or seeing them together, you just look at them and say, how could they ever have a problem? I mean, they they’re so good looking they’re, they’re so classy. They’re just such neat people. You can’t believe people like that can get in trouble in the marriage. So the five things I wrote down that are not the reasons, one uh, I put down number one, it’s just ’cause we’re neat people and we have it all together. And it’s very simple. It’s just because of the kind of people we are, it works. We’ve found that’s not true. Uh, Carol would tell you quickly that I don’t have it all together (laughs). And sometimes things aren’t all that good. The second thing I wrote down is when we had marvelous counseling before we got married. Our premarital counseling, I think lasted about 10 or 12 minutes. Um, in total I can only remember one thing he said, and that was [inaudible] and I don’t think I’ll tell it this morning, but I, uh, I, uh, that’s the only thing I remember out of what was said to us in about 10 or 12 minutes, that was the extent of the premarital counseling that we had. Uh, I will say this, we have, uh, parents, uh, my mom and dad had their 50th wedding anniversary two years ago. And three weeks before my folks had their 50th Carol’s folks had their 50th. So we do have good examples behind us, uh, that I think have been very helpful. And, but it is not because we had good counselors. The third thing I wrote down, it is not because we are in the ministry at Forest Home. I think people sometimes say to me, you know, I’ll bet you, it just helps everything including your marriage because you’re at Forest Home. Forest Home can be a real drag on a marriage. Um, I just want you to know that it’s not all, you know, really neat to be at Forest Home, uh, the hours you spend in the summer. Um, the kind of time you put in, uh, I’m normally up here by quarter to eight in the morning. And I usually don’t home before 11:00 at night. And those can be very hard things on a marriage if you don’t have a good feel about where you’re trying to go in your marriage. So it is not that. Um, the fourth thing I wrote down is because we have two neat kids, uh, you know, I’m prejudiced, I feel we do have two neat kids. Uh, and I’m very grateful to God for our 23 and our 17-year-olds. They’re good guys, and they’re great to have around, but they also at points in our lives have been a drag on our marriage. Fifth thing I wrote down is that, uh, it’s just because, uh, we have good personalities and we’re always up. I have people, I, my wife has many people. Ask Carol, “Is Bob really like what we see on the platform?” And my wife, it really only takes her a very brief amount of time to say no.
Bob: Uh, um, because you know what I am when I’m hosting a conference is not what I am all the time in my life. I am not that kind of a person every day. I have days when I’m down. I have days when I get up and I don’t want to come here and do my thing. Uh, my wife prays for me every now and then. The Lord get him up. You know, he is flat and, uh, and I am like that. And that happens to me. So it isn’t that, it isn’t that just, you know, we’re kind of neat and laid back and it just works. And, and I tend to be up a lot, you know, and, I am, but I tend to crash when I walk out of here. So Carol has to put up with the downs that come out of walking off of this platform. I’d put down at the bottom. If we have had conflicts in our marriage, we have had times of grief in our marriage. We have had some major arguments in our marriage. We have had illness. I have had two major surgeries. We have had deaths. Uh, I look at all the things we’ve had in our marriage and I think it’s pretty normal. I think it’s the thing is that other people have in their marriages. And somehow within the thrust of that, we’ve been able to put together 25 years and we’re still excited about another 25 if God should give it to us. And I think it’s important that somewhere in there, maybe some things have fallen together. And I am sure there are a number of people sitting in here. Let me just ask for fun as we start this morning, how many of you have been married less than five years? Anybody. Okay. We’ve got several less than five years. How many less than 10? Lots of hands less than 10. Okay. How many less than 15? Not including the fives and the tens. Okay. Less than 15. Okay. How about less than 20. Okay. How about over 30? One, two, three, four, five. Six. How about over 40? Got one, two, three, three couples over 40. Anybody hit 50, no fifties yet.
Audience: 36 if we make it to Thursday.
Bob: If you make it till Thursday (laughing) little shaky, 36.
Bob: 39. How long have you been married.
Bob: 46. Ah, you know, isn’t it interesting? I mean, how about the other couple back here? How long have you been married?
Bob: 46. Ooh, got two 46’s, you folks need to have lunch together. Um, you know, it’s intriguing to me that in recent months, over the past, well, like two years, two or three places where I’ve been doing couples conferences, I’ve asked this question and you know, the thing that intrigues me is somebody who’s been married 25 years or longer get standing ovations. It’s like, it’s so rare that when people hear that somebody is been married a long time, it’s like, “Oh, right.” And when they start cheering. I mean, there’s a giant thing where I am convinced in my own mind 20 years ago, that was not true. I mean, it was much more normal to have long-term marriage. It was the short-term marriage that people kind of went, “Oh, wow.” You know where now we’ve got so many short-term marriages that when people hear somebody who’s been married 46 years, that’s eternity. I mean, people are going, 46 years. You know, it’s like, nobody does that anymore. And, uh, and yet it’s true. There are people like that who have been married that long. So my 25 seems a little insignificant at this point, but, uh, I’m excited that we have 25. And I want to try to share a couple of things with you. Something that was pointed out to me about a year ago, that really turned my head and got me thinking. And I, uh, if you have a Bible this morning, turn to a passage that I have preached on, on at least seven occasions that I can think of, but never in the context that came to my attention, which really started me thinking. And I took this passage of scripture and tried to tie some things to it. And we’re gonna chew this passage up just with one word this morning, just a little bit, but I don’t think it, it all changes the meaning of the passage. We’re just gonna pull it down from kind of an expanded passage into a little title. And Ephesians 4, beginning at verse 25. Now not Ephesians 5, people here Ephesians and they go, “Oh, not again.” Um, Ephi- Ephesians 4, verse 25. I want to begin at verse 23. And this really talks about our neighbors and our relationship with other Christians. And I want to more pull it down into our marriages this morning and try to take four or five things out of here and just talk about them for the time that we have in front of us. Verse 23, “‘That you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Then in verse 25, we’ll begin here and we’re going to work through 25 to 32. “Therefore laying aside falsehood, speak truth. Each one of you with his neighbor.” And let’s just take the word neighbor this morning and insert the word spouse or husband, or wife. “Laying aside, falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his or her spouse for we are members of one another, be angry and yet do not sin. Do not let the sun go down up on your anger and do not give the devil an opportunity. Let him who steal, steal no longer, but rather let him labor performing with his own hands what is good in order that he may have something to share with him who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment that it may give grace to those who hear and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption, let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice, be kind to one another tenderhearted forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
John: Quite a list there that Bob Kraning is reading from the scripture on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. And you can get a CD of this program for a monthly pledge or a one-time gift of any amount to the ministry. Just call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. Or you can donate and request that CD to share with somebody or listen to again, at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s go ahead and return now to more from Bob Kraning.
Bob: Let’s just take a moment and pray together. And then I’ll just try to give you a five little things to kind of get us thinking this morning. Father, thank you for just this time. And we thank you, especially for your word. Thank you for yourself. And the fact that you love us, that you allow us the privilege of knowing you and in the process of knowing you get some central focus for each one of our lives, that helps tie us together as husbands and wives, and helps us to try to work together and in some way with our lives and our homes really serve you and really be your children. And God so often we’re interested in our lives, counting in these areas that you shared in Ephesians with other members of the church. And yet we’re not that interested in making them count with our own spouses and families who mean more to us than anyone else. And God, I just pray that this week we might be challenged a new and maybe, uh, refreshed and encouraged in some areas to just really be your children, particularly in our own homes where we need so much help and where we really need to be an example to a world that is hurting. We thank you for this in the name of Christ. Amen. Now, um, I just took this and worked with it. And, uh, a friend of mine gave me the idea and got me really turning the necessary. And Carol and I spent a lot of time talking about this last week, and I just want to kind of put these out in front of you and talk a little bit about where we are in this. And, uh, we don’t have these things all together. I wish we did. If we had them all together, we’d have the perfect marriage. It’d be a marvelous thing, but we don’t, but we’re working on them. And I think we’ve learned some things. First of all, in verse 25, therefore laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his spouse, this says with neighbors, and we’re just tightening it up a little bit for, we are members one of another, and I just wrote down, I put, lay aside falsehood and speak the truth. Uh, probably one of the things that Carol and I have done reasonably well, I said to Carol, this morning, we were sitting at the table at the house this morning and I said, honey, and I was going over the outline. And I said, “Do we really tell each other the truth?” And Carol kind of looked up with a little smile and she said, “Well, almost.” I said, “What does that mean?” All right. You know, I thought she’s gonna tell me something. Well, she said, “You know, sometimes it’s like, we tell about 90% of it, but the other 10% might hurt more than we wish. So we hold that for a day or two.” And she gave me a couple of little examples, but I said, “Are we, do you feel we are really truthful with one another? When I come home in the afternoon and you ask me where I’ve been, do you feel, I tell you where I’ve been?” And she said, “There’s no question in my mind that you tell me where you’ve been.” You know, there’s an essence of truth within the structure of a marriage that is absolutely critical to survival. Uh, I am intrigued with people that I counsel and I don’t do lots of marital counseling, but I do some very consistently, I am intrigued with people who just get habitual, lying patterns within a marriage. They just simply don’t tell each other the truth. They don’t tell horrible things, but they keep an air of falsehood in the center of their marriage constantly. There are little things that are never told. There are little things that are not quite right. There are things you find out second hand that are not quite like it was said. And I think if there’s anything we’ve done in 25 years, it’s tried to speak the truth, honestly, and lay aside falsehood to be honest people with one another. Let me read you just a little bitty quip. Incidentally, I just read this book. I had read this book a long, long time ago and I just re-read this book, you know, it’s kind of funny with all the marriage manuals out now that give us all the juicy things. People have tended to walk away from some of the better things that have ever been written. And, uh, I think this little book, I don’t care whether you’ve been married a month or whether you’ve been married 40 years, this little book has some marvelous things to say, and it’s a little book, The Art of Understanding Your Mate by Cecil Osborne. And it just has some great, great things in it. And it’s all to deal with relationships. And it’s just a lovely book. Listen to this little bitty clip in here. That’s so well says this. And in this he’s talking about couples that he worked with and he was having a group session with some couples that were in trouble in their marriages. And, uh, this one woman had really vented her anger about her husband. And finally, one night this had come out two or three times, but she had never really spelled it out in the group. And finally, one night she just blurted it out. And she said, and he says, “Until one night, when she revealed to the very small intimate group that she had discovered her husband, Tom had been supporting and living with another woman on and off for several years, suddenly her anger knew no bounds. She vented it in yelling and tears for several minutes. Tom sat and listened in total shock. And certainly for the first time, probably in many years became personal. All right. He blurted out; I’ll get down to brass tacks. I have lived most of our marriage as a pack of lies and I have done it so long that I am just glad to unload it off of my chest. I started by telling one lie to cover one other lie. Then I told five lies to cover those two lies. And then I told 10 to cover the five. And now I’ve told thousands to cover the whole sorry mess.” And he began to cry. And then he goes on and talks about a man in the group who walked over and put his arms around him. And he said, “Honesty, could salvage your problem.” And then he goes on for three pages and tells about what’s happened to the marriage of a couple that looked hopeless that have really put it back together. But isn’t it interesting, have you ever discovered in your life when you tell a lie, if you just don’t quite tell it all the way true. You have always got to remember what you said, because somewhere you’re going to have to say something else to cover up what was not right. And, uh, my man told me many years ago, he said, “Craning, just remember this. If you told the truth, you never have to think about what you said, because if you ever ask again, you’re gonna tell it exactly the same.” And I guess if there’s anything we’ve done in our marriage, it’s been try to speak the truth and have a real honesty in our relationship. There’s a little saying that I picked up out of college, that I have taped in my desk drawer and I’ve kept this around for years. It’s had a great influence on my thinking. It’s this. And maybe some of you’ve heard me give it, “Never sacrifice the permanent on the alter of the immediate.” There are so many things happening in our lives where we do something in the immediate realm that really messes up the permanent experience. I cannot believe people that I’ve counseled over the last year, guys who have gotten involved, Christian men who’ve gotten involved in some little way with some woman, that’s gotten them in all kinds of trouble because they did a little sudden immediate thing that absolutely blasted the whole permanent experience. 20 years invested. And they go out and in a few minutes, do something awful that some of them never recover from. And all out of kind of sacrificing the permanent on the alter of the immediate giving up a momentary pleasure for the truth and for the permanent seems critical to a good marriage, that we really look at our marriages long-term that we really look at it down the road. And I think sometimes we look and we say, “Well, I’ve been married five years, or I’ve been married 10 years. And that seems long.” I look at 25 and God 25 seems short. I, I look back and it seems like in one way, we’ve always been married in another way it seems like it’s been so short. It’s been such a brief amount of time that we’ve had together to put in 25 years. So the first thing that I put down was just speak the truth. Chuck Swindoll made this statement, and boy, it’s a great statement. “Lying and true intimacy in a marriage can never co-exist.” That is a great statement. Lying and true intimacy in a marriage can never co-exist. Say if things are not true within the structure of your relationship, you cannot have true intimacy. Now you have may have intimate moments, but you can never have true intimacy if there are untruths that are weaving in and out and around that marriage. So speak the truth, lay aside false. So then the second thing he says in here is be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down upon your anger and do not give the devil an opportunity. But you know, when he says here, he says, “Be angry and do not sin.” He does not say don’t get angry. And I think it’s probably very difficult for us to live in kind of close living situation that we live in, in a marriage, that intimate relationship of two imperfect people coming into an impossible situation. There’re just gonna be times when we’re gonna get a little hostile things are not going to hit us exactly right. But he’s saying there’s a difference between getting angry and sinning and carrying that out to some major extent, letting it affect actions and all of the things that we do. Be angry and sin not. Here’s a little thing that comes out of this book that I wrote down that I just thought was so good. Cecil Osborne is talking about, remember this wives are seeking a mature, strong understanding, passionate, gentle husband.
Bob: And he says, there are no such people.
Bob: He said, it’s very difficult to find a person that has all of those characteristics and can put them together. You just talk about a husband being strong and gentle. Those are two very difficult things for a man. If a man is strong, he tends not to be terribly gentle. It’s very hard for him to get those things into perspective. And yet that’s what a wife is looking for. While a husband, wants an all forgiving, ever loving, totally understanding wife, mother mistress, combination of mother, forgiving unconditionally and unconditional love, a movie star housekeeper, a sounding board and ego builder. And one who thinks his utterances are either profound or at least very witty.
Bob: See, and he’s basically saying folks, there are not people like that. There are people that fulfill some areas of that, or at least attempt to, but we’ve come into a situation that is basically does not exist. I watch young couples trying to get adjusted and the big adjustment is going from that idealistic expectation into reality. And many of them today don’t even attempt it. When the idealist expect- expectation, doesn’t come alive, they just hang it up. And somewhere in there, we get frustrated with one another and sometimes we even get angry with one another. The question is, how do we handle our anger? How do you handle your anger? [inaudible] if we went around the room this morning, everybody was honest. There are lots of ways that anger is handled in here. There are noisy people in here when you’re angry, you, you, say loud things, you do loud things, you slam a door, you, you, you do something to let your spouse know that you’re not happy. Other people in here are probably incredibly quiet, so quiet it’s scary. I tend to be that way. See, now you would think knowing me, some of you were here last summer when I had no voice and you all laughed, you thought it was very funny. I did not think it was funny, but in your mind, you’re going crazy without a voice. What a marvelous experience, you know.
Bob: And yet I tend to be, when Carol get into a hassle, I tend to be very quiet. I tend to just kind of go in a shell and I just kind of want her to know that I’m bugged. And so I do that by just not saying anything and I kind of walk around and I don’t do anything loud. I just don’t do anything. You know? And it doesn’t take… and the boys can walk in the house. You know, our boys will walk in the house and if dad is not noisy, they know something’s wrong. ‘Cause dad’s basically a noisy person. And when dad’s not noisy, something bad is wrong. See, it’s interesting. We handle our anger in all different ways, but let me tell you something. If we don’t within our marriages, handle our anger, basically with communication, we are in trouble. If we cannot communicate through anger, if we cannot communicate in the midst of an angry frustration and be able to talk it through. Some of you guys who have been in my seminar that I’ve done in the afternoons, know that one of the things that I’ve hit it and hit and hit and hit hard on. And I still believe it is a fact, you need to set a talk time in your marriage.
John: And with that insight, we’re gonna come to the end of part one of our presentation from marriage mentor, pastor Bob Kraning, and Jim, there was so much great advice there. All of us can put that to work in our relationship.
Jim: That’s great stuff, John. And as pastor Bob said toward the end there, we need to remember that there are no perfect people. During the dating process we tend to put our best foot forward. I certainly did that. And so in marriage, there can be some surprises once the honeymoon is over.
John: Oh, I think it’s pretty common that even during the honeymoon, some things become apparent.
Jim: Right, yeah. Even during the honeymoon, you might be surprised by what you find out about your new spouse. But if you want to go the distance as Bob’s talking about and celebrate 25 or even 60 years of marriage together, you need to have that willingness to be honest, talk about your problems and ask for help when you need it. And Focus on the Family is here to help. Our own Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley have developed a free marriage assessment that can help you evaluate your relationship in several essential areas like communication and commitment. Uh, come check it out. It’s free at our website today.
John: It is. It’s just a short quiz to help you see where your marriage is strong and also some areas that might need some work. And you’ll find that at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: And let me remind you, Focus on the Family, needs your help as we continue to create materials like the Marriage Assessment Tool to help marriages thrive. And for marriages that need serious help, we also offer our Hope Restored four-day intensives with an over 80% success rate two years later. So, please donate generously if you can. The best way to help us is with a monthly pledge. And when you make a donation of any amount today, either a monthly pledge or a one-time gift, we’ll send you the complete message from pastor Bob Kraning on CD so that you can listen to it again or give it to a friend.
John: Yeah. Join our marriage saving efforts when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459, or donate online and request your CD at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And if you enjoyed today’s program, please make sure to tell a friend to listen in and join us next time as pastor Bob shares more wisdom from a long-time marriage.
Bob Kraning: You know, I’m convinced that in most of our marriages, if we could really guard our tongues, we could solve about 90% of our problems.