Bob Kraning: So, there have been disappointments, there’s been stress 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 things 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.
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John Fuller: Pastor Bob Kraning reflecting on 25 years of marriage. And not only did God give him and his wife, Carol, another 25 years, but they ended up all together 62 years married before Bob passed away last year. And you’re gonna hear how to get the most out of your marriage on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: Uh, John, our hearts ache for the Kraning family as they mourn the loss of their patriarch. Uh, but we can celebrate the fact that Bob is with the Lord now, and we can celebrate what they learned during their 62-year marriage. And if you missed part one of Bob’s presentation yesterday, uh, please get in touch with us. We can send you the entire message on CD or audio download. Or you can get the Focus on the Family Broadcast app for your smartphone.
John: Yeah, and, uh, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or you can find those resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: As we heard last time, Bob and Carol wrote down these ideas as they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, and Bob is pulling some concepts from the New Testament, Ephesians chapter four, verses 25 to 32. And along the way, you’ll also hear him refer back to a book he’s been quoting. It’s called The Art of Understanding Your Mate by Cecil Osborne.
John: Here now is Pastor Bob Kraning speaking at Forest Home Christian Camps on Focus on the Family.
Bob: You need to have a daily time that is set to talk. And people say, “That is dumb. We live together.” I said, “Yeah. I know you live together, but you don’t talk together.” Walk in any restaurant and look around the restaurant and you can spot all the married people. They’re not talking.
Bob: You just walk in a restaurant and watch the next time you go. You’ll see all the engaged couples and all the dating people are in intense conversations. All the married people are eating.
Bob: Or they’re just sitting. They haven’t even gotten their food and they’re just sitting. They’re just sitting, kinda looking at the ceiling and-
Bob: … looking over other people. And then every now and then, one of them will go, “Buddump”, and the other one will go, “What?” And then they’ll say it again and that person will respond, and then they’ll look for… You just look around the next day. You’re laughing, but you look around. Married people tend not to talk. And then, they hit a problem and they don’t know how to talk. And it’s unbelievable that we learn in marriage how not to talk. That’s hard to believe, but we do. I think a lot of it has to do with being together all the time. I think it has to do with children. Our kids begin as they’re small, they tend to monopolize conversations, and we get to where we don’t communicate well together on a one to one. I think it’s one of the reasons that men find it difficult to pray with their wives. That’s a big factor in Christian marriages. Husband and wives don’t pray together. And I think one of the big reasons is they don’t communicate well, therefore they don’t pray well. Prayer is communication anyway you want to cut it. See? And that we got to talk. And one of the great ways we get through angry moments, and I think one of the things that’s helped Carol and I, and I tend to be silent. Carol wants to get things solved. Like, Carol tends to come at me. She wants it solved. She wants to know the answer. She wants to know how I feel. And she wants to know what’s going on and she wants to be reassured. Osborne says in his book, “When your wife asks you if you love her, she’s not asking for information. She’s asking for reassurance.” We’ve got to talk. We’ve got to be able to communicate with each other and to be able to talk through those kinds of things. If we don’t, we tend to get destructive. We get sarcastic. We get verbally abusive. We pull up old problems and make them current. And some people even hit. I grew up in a home where if my dad would have ever hit my mom, I’d have passed out flat on the floor. I… You know, I just… I could never hit a woman in all my life. I mean, that’s so far from my thinking. And yet, I counsel people who hit. People who hit have run out of ideas (laughs). See?
Bob: And they’re just… There’s no more ideas, so you hit. And that’s kind of a crazy thing. Okay? But those are the kind of things that happen out of anger. And then, probably the most important thing he says in this passage is, “Don’t let the devil get a foothold.” I’m convinced that the devil gets his toes in the best in a long-term anger situation. You get a couple that get in a hassle and can’t get it solved, all of a sudden you’ve got a husband who’s getting strokes from a secretary. You’ve got a wife who’s getting strokes at work or somewhere else. And all of a sudden, you’ve got an extra affair going on because people can’t solve a problem within the structure of the marriage. And all the devil needs is one little crack. I’ve got a very close, personal friend in the ministry who the devil got a toe into his life in this area this year and he has done probably… Will probably never be in the ministry again. He wrote me a letter and he said, “This happened in a way that I cannot believe.” In his letter he said, “The devil duped me.” He’s a guy who’s preached about that for the last 22 years, has been a very close, personal friend of mine. But he… The, uh… The devil got a foothold. He just got a toe in the crack. In this situation you say, “Well, that cannot be and that could never happen to me.” Folks, there but for the grace of God walk I. And, uh, I’m just saying, boy, to me, long-term anger situations in a marriage are a great place for the devil to get a foothold. He’ll get in there and begin something that becomes incredibly destructive. And he warns us about it. That long-term anger will do that. So, I encourage you in that area. Agree to disagree. Make room for one another. Let me just tell you about some of the differences between Carol and I. We talked about this. We… We’re different people in some areas. I’m a sports freak. And I’m not as bad now as I used to be, but I’m still bad. But I used to be awful. I’ll tell you how bad I am. I was in Bonn, Germany when Carol and I were in Europe this year. I was in Bonn, Germany at a convention. And a guy walked up to me and introduced himself, and, uh, found out I was in Forest Home. He came over and introduced himself. And, uh, Paul and I began to talk and, and the longer we talked, I thought, “I know this guy. I know this guy.” And he kept talking, you know, and he’s the head of, uh, Navigators for Europe. He’s the European director of the Navigators organization. And we were talking and all of a sudden I said… (laughs) And he’s, he’s telling me some major thing and I have no… And as my wife has told many of you, I’m a terrible listener. And I… And I’m turning over. He’s telling me this marvelous thing about the Navigators and I’m thinking, “Who is this guy? Who is this guy?” And right in the middle this conversation, I went, “Army. You were an All- American fullback from Army.”
Bob: And he’s in another world. I mean, he’s telling me something to-… And he just stopped. And he says, “What?” I said, “You were an All-American fullback at Army.” I said, “You were there the same time Roger Staubach was at Navy.” He said, “How did you know that?”
Bob: I said, “I used to be a sports freak.”
Bob: I said, “I knew I knew who you were the minute I saw you and heard your name.” And we laughed. He laughed for about 10 minutes. He said, “Kraning, I’m trying to be spiritual and you’re talking Army.”
Bob: And, uh… But that’s how I used to turn. My head just turned that way. I knew everybody and I knew everything they’d ever done. And I married a wife who is very much into classical music. She really enjoys classical music. Classical music to me is strange, uh.
Bob: But you know, it’s interesting. Um, those are two very big differences we have. I’m very much a private person away from Forest Home. I do not like to entertain in our home. I do not like to have lots of people at our home. Uh, if we never had anybody for dinner but our family, I’d be totally content. And some of you are going, “I… That’s hard for me to believe,” but I’m like that. I’m a very private person at home. And my home is not a hotel. It never has been and it probably never will be. And I’m just like that. Carol loves to… If we have 28 people every night for dinner, Carol will be thrilled. She loves people at our home. She loves to have people and she loves to entertain. And she knows that I’m private, and she tends not to entertain much because of that. But I’ve had to make allowances there. We’re two very different people there and we think differently there. Uh, I’m an only child. And I never had to apologize very often as a kid. Occasionally to my parents just to keep peace. But I never apologized much. Carol grew up in a family of five kids. Carol apologized every day just to survive.
Bob: And we’re two totally different people. And it’s very hard for me to apologize. It’s very hard for me to say I’m sorry. It’s very easy for Carol often. Carol will make many more concessions to me at that point than I will to her. We talked about it. She brought that up recently. And, uh… (laughs).
Bob: No, but it was in a healthy conversation. We were talking about this week and I said, “What are other diff-…” and she brought that up immediately. She said, “Your only child background, you’re totally different than I am.” I look back over our marriage and I said to Carol the other day, I said, “Don’t you feel we get angry a lot less? And when we do sometimes get bugged, it’s over more important things than it used to be.” You know, it usually is over an issue now, some major issue that either has to do with how we feel about a conviction in some area we just don’t agree. Rather than just the little nitty picky things that come up all the time. We just… You just get mad for no reason. “I’m just mad. I don’t… You know? I’m just mad. He just came in looking funny and I’m mad,” you know? Or, “He said he’d be home at five and he got home at seven after, and I’m just bugged,” you know? Those are the kinds of things you go through sometimes early in the marriage. I think the maturity of a marriage, you tend to make your anger worthwhile.
Bob: Not how you handle it, but what it’s over. It’d b-… It’s over major issues. And you tend to find that in major issues, you have to talk ’em through. You’ve got to get through ’em. And they’re critical issues. And we’ve been through some tough talk times, but boy, get time when you talk. You can’t shut doors. You can’t go out and drive around the block for five hours in your car. Somewhere you got to come back and face it. See? And people do that. They get in the car and just drive. “I’m gonna drive. I’m mad. I’m gonna drive.” Well, that’s fine except for the people that are out there on the street, you know? And, uh, they may not be thrilled that you’re out there driving. Okay. Next thing that he talks about. Let him who steals, steal no longer. I just tried to write down four things that we steal in a marriage. And I’m sure you could add to this list maybe 10 other things. First thing I wrote down was time. We tend to steal time a great deal. Uh, little thing that I read recently where a guy wrote down, he said, “If you put your work factor into 50 hours a week,” okay? Some of you may be 40, but let’s say 50. Some of you’re up to 90 and I hope you… God speaks to you while you’re here this week, ’cause you’re in trouble. But let’s say you work 50 hours a week, and let’s say you spend 10 hours driving to and from work. Let’s say you sleep 56 hours. Now you can adjust that any way you want to. I don’t sleep 56 hours, but you might. That leaves 52 hours. I guess my question is: what do you do with that 52 hours? If the average child gets seven and a half minutes a week of Daddy’s time, what do you do with that 52 hours? What do you do as a wife, what do you do as a husband with that time? Time is a thing we can steal from each other very, very easily. You get bugged at your husband a little bit, so you know he’s gonna be home on Thursdays, so you plan things. So, you’ll be gone on Thursday. “I’ll show him. He’s gonna be home, I’ll be gone. He’s always gone. I’m gonna be gone.” The husband, he could come home at six o’clock or five o’clock, but he chooses to go play racquetball or something weird. See, see?
Bob: Nothing wrong with racquetball, but if it’s consistently taking time away from a spouse, and you’re doing it for any… You know. And we do it for all kinds of reasons. Guys say, “Well, I go play racquetball five times a week because I want to be healthy,” and his marriage is going right in the pits. See? What do you do with your time? What do you do with those 52 hours that you have? How much of that kinda time does your wife get? How much of that time does your husband get? And how constructive is that time as you spend it together? What kinda time do your children get out of that? See, there’s a lot of factors in there that have to be dealt with. Second thing that I wrote down is the other thing we can steal is individuality. Not allowing our spouse to be themselves. Whichever direction. I just wrote these things down and this was just over this last year. My wife… And I’m not saying anything great or bad about Carol. This is just Carol. She’s an R- RN and she works usually two days a week at the hospital. Sometimes three, but usually two. Uh, she’s president of the district PTA, which is a very time-consuming thing. She’s on the drug abuse council for the city of Redlands. She’s in the church choir. She’s a member of the mission’s board at the church and an officer in the Missionary Society for Women. She’s a wife and she’s a mother. Now that’s a lot of things. And I can respond. Sometimes I respond negatively ’cause she tends to take on tons. And she’s amazing. She gets an amazing amount of things done. But sometimes I get bugged and I’ll say, “Honey, don’t take on one more thing,” you know? “That’s enough.”
Bob: And, uh… And I get bugged sometimes. But you know something, if I said to Carol tomorrow, “Don’t…” You know, “This next year, you’re not gonna do any of these. Here are six things, seven things. I don’t want you to do any of these.” “Well, what can I do?” “Well, don’t do anything. Just stay home.” I would destroy my wife. My wife thrives in those areas. Her whole personhood is locked up in that, see? And somewhere in there, I have to and she has to make adjustments backwards sometimes. And she does. She backs out of certain things because she knows it’s robbing time on the other end. But that’s her. And I want her to be her. Third thing I wrote down is money. Um, you know, one… Uh, every now then, you get a… You get one member of a marriage that will do weird things. You know, the guy that buys five cars in one year because he thinks it’s fun, you know? And, and they can’t make the house payment. Uh, that’s crazy, you know? That’s just craziness. Some people have the kinda money they buy five cars a year and it doesn’t even make their bank account hiccup. But there are other people who can’t do that, see? Mine would, uh, do more than that if I got into some weird way of doing things. But, but how do we handle those kinds of things? We can rob each other there. We can be, we can be very tight in those areas, or we can be ridiculous in those areas and create so much stress that we cannot cope.
John: You’re listening to Bob Kraning on Focus on the Family. And we have a CD of this entire presentation, so you can listen again, maybe with your spouse, and then share it with a friend. Um, it’s available for a monthly pledge or a one-time donation of any amount to the ministry of Focus on the Family. Just call us. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s go ahead and return now to more from Bob Kraning.
Bob: Fourth thing I wrote down, and maybe the most important, is trust. You know something, I hope you have been together long enough to know the vulnerable areas of your spouse. I, I am convinced that every person in this room is fragile in some areas. You know, sometimes I see a guy… I… There’s a guy that comes to Forest Home and he’s not here this week, but he’s a good guy and I like him. But I’ve heard him say things about his wife and to his wife or to somebody about his wife, and I’ve seen expressions on her face that are scary. And he’s kinda a big guy, and he kinda does everything that way, you know? And he’ll share something, that in my mind, it’s kind of inside marriage stuff. And he’ll ki-… And it’s kind of in jest toward her. And I- I’ve been at a table with him on two occasions where I just felt like she died. I want to tell you some things. There are some things that you can know about the Kranings and there’s some things you’ll never know. And I hope that’s true of every couple in this place. There are things that are private to the Kranings. There are things that are private to Carol, but I know them. And if I somewhere breach that privacy, I can really clobber and rob something that is very, very dear to both of us. There are intimacies in a marriage and in a love relationship that just ought not to go outside. And the longer you’re married, the more you’re aware of the fragile areas of your spouse. And gals, I don’t care how tough he seems to be. I’ll guarantee you he’s got some glass in him somewhere. And if you get a hammer to it at the right time, you’re gonna break it. And I think every guy that’s been married any length of time knows that you’ve got a wife who has some fragile spots. Boy, there are intimate things that we can rob from one another. I don’t care how long we’ve been married. We can rob them and we can use them to cheat and hurt and clobber and be very, very destructive. And sometimes, unfortunately, very thoughtlessly. Really not intending to hurt, but I hope you know that. Time, individuality, money and trust you can add to your list. 10 more things. “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification,” to build up, to help. 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. It’s the little statements that we make. It’s the little shots that we take. It’s the little bullets that go out of the end of the gun that we then have to spend great amounts of time recovering from. And he warns us. He warns us within the family of God. And certainly if it’s important there, it’s got to be important in our own homes. The little shots we take at our kids sometimes. The things that we say to them that are devastating. It’s all words. And he just reminds us, you know, that it’s very, very important. Words… I wrote down words tend to last. They tend to stay around. Remember that that person you’re married to is fragile. Be careful what you say. And then the final thing. “And do not grieve the Spirit of God,” he says. And he comes down. he says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. You know, I think if there’s anything that Carol and I have done in 25 years it’s learn to forgive and forget. My greatest example probably came from my own father. And I won’t tell you the incident, but I pulled a real boner when I was in high school. And it still stands out in my mind. Something my father forbid me to do. I did it, it caused some damage, it caused a lot of hurt. And I remember the night when I had apologized and I was crushed after I’d done it, obviously, as any high school kid is. But I’ll never forget my father standing in front of me, and I was sitting in… On a chair in the living room and my dad got up and walked across the room and stood in front of me. And he looked down and he stuck his hand out. I was, like, a junior in high school and he stuck his hand out. And he said, “Bob, I just want you to know something. I don’t agree with what you did and you know that.” But he said, “I want you to know that I forgive you.” And you know to… From that day to this, I never heard another word about that incident. That was the end of the incident and it was major. But once my dad saw repentance, my dad said “You’re forgiven.” And never again… And I did other stupid things. But never again did that be his bridge to get at me for the thing I had just done. “Boy, this is just like…” or, “Remember when….” Never. Probably the greatest lesson of forgiveness I learned in my life wa- was from my own father when he said, “I forgive you. You are forgiven.” And my dad never again threw that up at me. Tenderhearted, forgiving one another. I think if there was anything that Carol and I have done, it’s been to forgive quickly and get it out of our system and get it over with and make it permanent. And boy, that seems to be critical to me. Learn to forgive. And I just wrote down at the end, you know, it’s interesting when you look back over your years of marriage, it’s basically the good times that you remember. It’s the fun we take pictures of, you ever notice that? Do you ever look through pictures albums and see pictures of arguments and…?
Bob: You know, giant hassles? You know, “Hey, here’s our biggie we had ’58,” you know?
Bob: And here’s the husband slamming the door as he walks out in the street, you know? And here’s the wife driving her car in anger, you know? Isn’t it funny? We don’t keep pictures of those things. I look through our picture albums the other night. We got a stack of ’em, and I flipped through some of ’em, and I saw a week we spent at Lake Havasu in a tent. I saw a whole flock of pictures of our two kids, about that big, the first time we ever went snow skiing. I saw a trip that Carol and I took when I made $58 a week (laughs), and we saved a year to go for three days. And I still have pictures of that (laughs). Those are the things you keep pictures of. Not the crud. You get through the crud so you got 50 years of pictures to look at because those are the things that excite you about your marriage. Those are the things you laugh about. Those are things you have fun about. I saw some pictures of the guys at the University of Redlands that I did the bible study with for two years. I saw pictures of a five-day thing we did at Lake Powell with some friends, with all the kids. It was a zoo. But gosh it was fun. That’s what’s in our book. And that’s why you work through your problems and that’s why you work through your hassles. And that’s why you work through the things that are tough so you got good pictures to look at in the times that are good. My wife and I walked in the room the other night of our oldest boy who’s getting married the 31st. And he’s always lived at our house. This will be the first time he’s been gone. We walked in his room the other night and we just looked around the room. And all the pictures… He’s got pictures all over his walls of his high school football days, his college football days, his friends. Forest Home, the five summers he worked here, guys that he worked with. Trophies, he’s got a couple shelves of trophies that he won playing ball. And we stood in there and we cried a little bit. But we said, “Wow. What a privilege. What a privilege to have 22 years with this kid. If God takes him tomorrow, what a privilege we’ve had to have 22 years with him.” Hey, that’s what our family’s all about. And that’s what our 25 years is all about. And that’s what our little picture albums are all about. Because we’ve worked through some hassles and we’ve worked through some crud to have the privilege. God help us just to be Your people, to love and to care for one another in a way that makes You know that we love You and that we love each other. We’ll thank You for it in Christ’s name. Amen.
John: Hmm. What a great way to put those conflicts into perspective. And we’ve been listening, uh, for the past couple of days now to the wisdom of the late Bob Kraning as he reflected on 25 years of marriage with his wife, Carol.
Jim: Bob and Carol were married for a total of 62 years, and as Bob said, it’s not because they were perfect people. There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage. We’re all sinners saved by grace, and we’re working out our sanctification with the Lord as we go through life. And here at Focus, we hear from a lot of young married couples, John, who say, “My marriage isn’t working out. Uh, I must have picked the wrong person.”
Jim: But there is no one person who is the perfect match for you. Don’t let the ads for matchmaking apps fool you. Often the problem lies in a combination of unrealistic expectations and a lack of long-term relationship skills. And if you’re disgruntled with your relationship, you might also find yourself attracted to someone else. Maybe someone at the office who gives you lots of compliments. That’s not the answer. I love that old quote, “Life isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. It’s greener where you water it.” That’s what Bob’s saying. Water and feed your marriage and invest in it and you too can have a rewarding fulfilling relationship that will last a lifetime. I’d also like to point out that we often hear from older listeners who are now in their second or third marriages, and they realize they’re having the same problems that they had in their first marriage. And if that’s the situation you’re facing, let me just say as kindly as I can, the common denominator in all these relationships is you. There may be something that you’re not dealing with in your character and how you relate to your spouse. And I’d like to suggest that you work on that. Don’t just walk away from yet another relationship. And let me offer you a lifeline, just call us here at Focus on the Family. We have Christian counselors right here who specialize in marriage, who would consider it a privilege to spend some time with you on the phone and give you some first steps to consider. We would love to help you. Also, visit us online and check out our marriage assessment tool. It’s designed to help you identify the strengths and the weaknesses of your relationship with your spouse.
John: That’ll be useful, especially if you just need a quick tune up if you will, and, uh, you’ll find a link to that marriage assessment… It’s free… At focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: And if you appreciate the help that Focus on the Family provides for marriages, uh, please make a donation today, and let me recommend you join our team by making a monthly pledge. That’s what Jean and I do. It doesn’t have to be a large amount. It’s the consistency, month to month, that really does help us. When you make a donation of any amount, either one time or a monthly gift, we’ll send you a CD of this message from Bob Kraning. Get in touch with us today.
John: You can reach us by calling 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or stop by our website and donate online and request your CD. We’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Well, next time you’ll hear how a basketball superstar overcame childhood bullying due to her hearing loss.
Tamika Catchings-Smith: At that point, basketball became everything to me. You know, like, that was my God, because I could go outside and I could play and I could practice and, like, nothing else really mattered.