Participants: Willie Oliver, Elaine Oliver
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000055
00:29 Welcome to Marriage in God's Hands.
00:32 I'm Willie Oliver, Director of Family Ministries for the
00:35 Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
00:38 I'm Elaine Oliver, Willie's partner in ministry
00:41 and a Marriage and Family Consultant for the
00:43 Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
00:45 We're delighted to be here and that you have joined us.
00:50 In my work of working with families, I've found that
00:55 when we deal with marriage, one of the issues that surfaces
01:00 is the importance of having fun.
01:03 People have lots of fun when they date.
01:07 They do lots of different things that are fun things, and
01:10 then they get married and their lives go into a pattern
01:16 where it becomes ho-hum and a little boring.
01:20 So we want to talk today about the importance of nurturing fun
01:23 and friendship in marriage.
01:26 I think this is going to be a great topic
01:28 because fun is always a good thing.
01:30 And as couples, we really need to focus on having more fun.
01:35 We've spoken in other segments about nurturing oneness.
01:39 And this is definitely one area in which we can nurture oneness
01:43 in our relationship.
01:45 In the Bible, in the book of Proverbs 17:17,
01:50 it says something very important.
02:00 A friend loves at all times.
02:02 What's poignant about that text is the fact that
02:07 the whole issue of love at all times
02:11 is because love is a principle.
02:14 In marriage, many times we think that
02:17 we have a good marriage because we feel good about each other,
02:20 we like each other.
02:22 The truth is we don't always like each other
02:24 because we don't always do things that are likeable.
02:26 We don't always do things that make our spouse feel good.
02:31 But one thing we need to realize, and that is
02:34 we need to love at all times.
02:36 Because love is a principle and it never changes.
02:40 It's a God thing.
02:41 God loved us and we love God.
02:45 We love our spouse.
02:47 And so, if love is guiding us as a principle,
02:51 we know that despite the fact that there might be
02:54 ups and downs, that we can rely on the principle of love.
03:00 Friendship is essential.
03:03 It's an essential ingredient in marriage.
03:06 And it seems odd that we would have to talk about that
03:10 because when we first get married, most of us do
03:13 start out as friends.
03:14 Well, perhaps we didn't start out as true friends.
03:18 And that's why we want to focus a little bit today on
03:21 nurturing friendship, nurturing fun in a relationship.
03:25 There's another wonderful text in the Bible
03:27 that's found in Proverbs 27:6, and it says:
03:38 When we have friends that we've had for a long time,
03:42 we don't try to terminate that relationship
03:46 because we have a disagreement.
03:47 We stick in there for the long haul.
03:51 And so it needs to be with our marital relationship
03:55 where we're willing to hang in there.
03:57 Where we're willing to treat this relationship
04:01 as a friendship, as a true friendship.
04:04 Something that we're willing to endure the wounds, if you will.
04:09 Because in true friendship wounds will come.
04:14 Apparently what the Bible is saying is that it's
04:16 talking about the faithfulness of friends.
04:18 And of course we're talking in this context
04:21 of the faithfulness of marriage.
04:23 If your spouse is your friend, and you're being wounded
04:26 by what your spouse is saying, but it's a faithful wound.
04:29 And I think when the Bible speaks of a faithful wound,
04:31 it's really speaking about the fact that your spouse,
04:35 who's your friend, may say something that you don't like.
04:38 But they may say that to build you up, to help nurture you,
04:43 to help tell you the truth.
04:44 If you're going down the wrong path, for example,
04:47 or you are engaged in habits that are destructive,
04:51 who else is going to tell you
04:53 but someone who's that close to you.
04:55 Your spouse, your friend.
04:57 So faithful are the wounds of a friend, of a true friend.
05:01 Than what?
05:02 Than the kisses of an enemy.
05:04 Somebody else who doesn't even care about you,
05:06 who may give you flattery and say, "Oh, you're wonderful. "
05:10 But, we're not all so wonderful.
05:12 Because the truth of the matter is, we're human.
05:14 And as humans, we make mistakes.
05:17 Sometimes, we may not be saying things that are as kind.
05:21 Sometimes even in our friendships, we may say things
05:24 that are not as nice, and maybe we shouldn't have said it.
05:30 And maybe we should have been more careful.
05:32 And we need to be sensitive to that and say,
05:37 "Ok, this is a friendship and I'm interested
05:40 in nurturing this relationship. "
05:42 And so again, we go back to that notion of
05:45 giving the person the benefit of the doubt.
05:48 We do it in our regular friendships,
05:50 why not do it in our own marriage.
05:53 The Bible continues in Proverbs 27:9
05:56 to expound on the virtues of friendship
05:59 and what it is that friendship does,
06:01 and what is it that friendship is like.
06:03 And it says:
06:13 If we're giving counsel to a friend,
06:15 then we're giving counsel out of regard,
06:17 we're giving counsel out of respect.
06:19 We're giving counsel because we want the best for our friend.
06:23 We want the best for the relationship.
06:25 So in marriage, the closest relationship humans will have,
06:30 God is saying enjoy the friendship,
06:34 trust the friendship.
06:36 Make it so that the friendship counts.
06:39 And it counts because the counsel you're giving is sweet.
06:42 The counsel you're giving is going to move me forward and
06:45 make me a better person than I already am.
06:49 That's so true.
06:50 So, what does this friendship look like?
06:52 What do we want in a friend?
06:54 What are we looking for when we choose our friends?
06:58 What exactly are we looking for?
07:01 Tell me, if we ask the question, "What are you looking for
07:05 when you look for a friend?"
07:07 Well, certainly we're looking for someone to have fun with.
07:09 We're looking for someone who believes
07:12 much the same way we believe.
07:14 We have values in common.
07:16 We have things we like to do in common.
07:18 Perhaps we like the same kinds of foods
07:20 so we're going to eat out together at a particular or
07:23 a favorite restaurant.
07:25 What are you looking for in a friend?
07:28 Someone once said that a friend is someone who
07:30 is happy to see you come and has no immediate plans
07:34 for your change.
07:37 I love that. That is exactly right.
07:40 And do you think that perhaps that's why so often in marriage
07:43 the friendship goes awry?
07:45 Because perhaps there are all these expectations?
07:48 These unmet expectations that we have,
07:52 that we put on our relationship?
07:54 And so, we are looking to change each other
07:58 And maybe we need to come back to that,
08:00 where we just look at our mates as a friend, as a companion.
08:04 One of the things that I would appreciate in a friendship,
08:09 as you asked the question, "what are we looking for in a friend",
08:12 is trust, loyalty.
08:16 Someone who I can trust with my most intimate thoughts.
08:21 That's going to take care of them, that's not going to
08:25 make fun of them.
08:26 That's going to respect what I have to say, what I'm thinking.
08:30 And I don't feel like I have to be someone else
08:32 with that person. So someone who is respectful.
08:35 Someone who'll tell you the truth.
08:39 You know, gently.
08:40 It doesn't have to be the brutal truth, right?
08:45 What else?
08:46 Well, I think in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12,
08:50 there are some wonderful verses there
08:53 that talk about friendship and what we can find in friendship.
08:56 Let's take a look and see what it says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
09:37 So, four points are made in this text.
09:39 One, there's more productivity when there are two.
09:42 And basically, the writer of Ecclesiastes
09:47 is writing to a Jewish audience and the structure of
09:52 what he is saying is very Jewish.
09:55 He begins, actually, in verse 8 speaking about a man
10:01 who's by himself, who can't do a whole lot,
10:03 who is going to become lonely.
10:04 And then it goes into verse 9, "two are better than one"
10:08 because they're more productive.
10:10 So, if two people are working together,
10:12 they can get more work done.
10:14 And it goes on to say in verse 10 that there's more support.
10:18 "For if either of them falls, one will help the other up. "
10:22 So there's support when you have two.
10:25 And then verse 11, there's warmth.
10:27 "Two under a blanket will remain warm.
10:30 But one will be cold. "
10:32 So, two are better than one.
10:33 And then verse 12, "And if one can overpower him who is alone,
10:37 two can resist him. "
10:39 So again, we're talking about marriage,
10:42 we're talking about support, we're talking about
10:44 doing more together.
10:46 And there's lots of research in the secular research that
10:49 suggests that married people do better, are happier,
10:54 are more successful, make more money believe it or not.
10:58 Even though we are not suggesting that we should
11:02 love money, but we all need money to live.
11:05 And people who are married also are healthier, live longer,
11:10 and, believe it or not even though that's not the topic
11:13 we're dealing with, have better sex.
11:16 So God wants us, in our relationships, to be happy,
11:21 to be healthy, to be productive, and to support one another.
11:26 I like that. I like that a lot.
11:29 So how do we preserve this friendship in our relationship?
11:32 One of the things that we really have to do is
11:35 we've got to make the time.
11:36 It's really critical that we take the time out.
11:39 So many relationships are struggling today because
11:42 we think we don't have the time for our friendship,
11:48 for the fun in our relationships.
11:50 So we've got to make the time.
11:52 We also need to protect this time from conflict.
11:56 We've spoke about in another segment,
11:59 about dealing with conflict.
12:01 When we deal with our conflict, that's not the time
12:04 that we deal with having fun and preserving our friendship.
12:08 We also need to remember to listen like a friend.
12:12 Spend more time listening as opposed to giving counsel.
12:16 Because many times, people will find the answers for themselves.
12:20 And in our marriages, sometimes we want to always tell the
12:24 other person what to do.
12:25 Whether it's expedient to do so or we just don't want to
12:29 take the time to listen.
12:31 We have much more to say, but we're going to be
12:34 coming back real soon.
12:35 So, just hold on and we will be right back.
12:47 There are many "How To" books available.
12:49 But there's one that's free and perfect for every couple.
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12:55 Bible-based matrimonial advice is given in a light-hearted
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13:22 Welcome back.
13:23 You were saying Elaine?
13:26 I was talking before the break about preserving friendship.
13:29 Because we've been talking about friendship in marriage.
13:32 And it shouldn't be a strange notion, but I think after
13:36 we've been marriage for a while, we forget about the friendship
13:40 part of our relationship.
13:42 So a few of the things that I was sharing was the fact that
13:45 we need to make the time.
13:46 And too often in our relationships, we say that
13:49 we don't have the time to nurture our friendship
13:52 and our fun because we're so bogged down
13:55 with the daily cares of our lives.
13:58 And we need to make the time to be friends with each other,
14:03 to have fun with each other, to share with one another.
14:05 To do things that we did before we got married.
14:10 So making the time is essential to having a great marriage.
14:14 The other thing that is very important is to
14:17 protect this time from conflict.
14:19 So, as we have shared in another segment,
14:22 the time for dealing with conflict
14:27 is not when we're having fun.
14:29 So when we decide we're going to have a date night,
14:31 let's say we have decided that one night a week
14:34 or one day a week, we're going to make it our friendship time,
14:38 our date night, if you will.
14:39 That is not the day that we talk about our problems.
14:42 And it's really important that we separate those two.
14:45 Because if we're always talking about problems,
14:48 it's hard to nurture a friendship.
14:52 So what I'm hearing you say then is that you don't want to be
14:56 talking about problems when you're trying to have fun.
14:58 That when it's fun time...
15:01 it's just fun time.
15:03 Protect it from conflict so that we know we're having fun.
15:06 And that we are having a good time.
15:09 And if we're going to deal with conflict,
15:10 we do that at a separate time when we have decided to do so.
15:14 Right, and I'm sure it's very difficult.
15:16 Because sometimes when we're having problems,
15:19 we want to just go at it,
15:20 we want to tackle that situation.
15:23 And we have to learn in our relationship that there is a
15:26 time and a place for everything.
15:28 So, protecting the time from conflict is really important.
15:31 Another thing as I said earlier but it's worth repeating,
15:35 is that we need to learn to listen, listen as a friend.
15:39 Remember, we spoke about being slow to speak
15:43 and quick to listen.
15:45 It's really important that we stay away from advice giving.
15:49 Earlier we said that a friend give good counsel?
15:52 But probably, we should stay away from the counsel,
15:56 do less counseling and more listening.
15:59 More often than not, people will find the answers
16:02 to their problems if they're heard.
16:05 What I'm hearing you say, that if people are not asking
16:07 for advice, you probably shouldn't just
16:09 volunteer the advice.
16:11 That's probably a good thing.
16:13 That when people want your opinion,
16:15 they're going to ask you for it.
16:16 "What do you think about this, what do you think about that?"
16:19 If you're always just can't wait to tell your spouse
16:23 what he or she needs to here, you think,
16:26 then it becomes obnoxious.
16:27 And it's not really a lot of fun.
16:31 I think so.
16:32 Now of course, if I see you getting ready to
16:33 go out on the street with purple stripped pants
16:38 and a green polka dot shirt, I may have to
16:41 give you some counsel.
16:42 But I'd try to do it very gently so that you don't feel like
16:46 I'm trying to be your mother or something like that.
16:49 What if I'm enjoying the stripped pants and the
16:52 polka dot shirt, and it's just one of those moments in my life
16:55 where I feel that this is what I want to wear?
16:58 How about that?
17:00 Do you think that I'm going to take kindly
17:02 to your counsel at that time?
17:04 It goes back to what we said earlier about respect.
17:07 Then I need to respect you and your choices.
17:11 Because after all, you are an adult.
17:12 And marriage is for adults.
17:14 And so I need to assume that you've thought this through
17:18 and that you're ok with it.
17:20 And because I love you, I going to be ok with it too.
17:23 So, there might be some method to the madness.
17:26 Perhaps something is happening that you don't know about.
17:29 So go with it, go with the flow.
17:31 The truth of the matter is that fun is very important
17:34 in marriage, and unless we get back to the place where
17:37 we are actually having fun, we're going to start
17:39 asking ourselves, "Why am I with this person?"
17:41 If nobody got married to have a good fight,
17:45 people got married because they enjoyed each other's company...
17:49 Just the other day, I was speaking to a young man
17:51 who can't wait to get married.
17:53 He's getting married to a woman who lives in Sweden.
17:56 And he is counting down the days and perhaps the weeks.
18:01 And he can't wait.
18:02 After waiting so long to get married and
18:06 all the anticipation, well the least you could do is have fun
18:09 after you get married.
18:11 So we usually say to people, once you get married,
18:14 keep doing the things that you use to do before.
18:17 Enjoy each other's company. Do fun things.
18:20 Because what makes it fun in marriage is the fact that
18:23 you're involved in doing fun things.
18:24 Invariably when we are married for a year or two,
18:28 we start going into a rut, and we need to be able
18:31 to get out of our ruts so that we give attention
18:34 to our marriages in a way that will enhance the relationship
18:38 and make us feel that we're really living.
18:41 This is very, very important.
18:42 The whole priority that we place on our relationship,
18:46 and the things that are most important to us,
18:51 are the things that we give priority to.
18:54 So, if our relationships are important to us
18:57 then we've got to give it priority.
18:59 So, it doesn't take much.
19:01 It doesn't have to be something long.
19:03 One of the things that we love to do is we love
19:05 to go for walks together.
19:07 And we will get up early in the morning and take a long walk.
19:11 And those are just such special times for me.
19:13 Because we get to talk like friends do.
19:16 And we get to spend that time together.
19:18 And sometimes they're 20 minute or 30 minute walks.
19:22 Sometimes they're in the morning,
19:23 sometimes we do it in the evenings.
19:25 So, it doesn't even have to be something expensive.
19:28 Because I know a lot of times, for some couples they say,
19:30 "Well, we don't have the money. "
19:32 "We just don't have the resources to do something fun. "
19:35 Everyone can find something fun to do that's free.
19:39 It doesn't cost much to just go for a ride in the car, or
19:43 take a walk in the park.
19:44 Or sit on the couch and just chat together about
19:47 our lives and the things that we enjoy doing.
19:50 There's something else that we need to bring up at
19:52 at this juncture.
19:53 And that is to share with our audience that one of the reasons
19:56 we have fun is not just to have fun for fun sake.
19:59 But when you have fun in the relationship,
20:02 then the relationship is healthier.
20:04 And when the relationship is healthier,
20:06 when you're having bad times, you're more likely to
20:09 speak about the things that are not going so well
20:12 because you're having fun together.
20:13 If you're not having fun together and you don't
20:16 trust each other, and there are things that you're hiding,
20:19 it makes it more difficult to talk about things
20:22 that are not going so well.
20:23 But if you're having fun together,
20:25 that increases your likelihood of talking about things
20:28 that are not going so well.
20:29 Which in turn, makes your relationship more fun,
20:33 which in turn, makes your opportunity to talk about
20:37 things that are not going so well, heightened.
20:40 So the relationship is much more healthy because
20:44 you don't allow things to pile up.
20:46 You talk about them because you're friends.
20:49 So, what you're saying is that if I have fun with you,
20:54 then when I have an issue to bring up
20:58 that's a difficult issue, maybe something that's
21:01 causing disagreement or tension or friction in our marriage,
21:05 if we've been having fun, it's a little easier for you to
21:08 receive what I have to say?
21:11 Because you're my friend, and if you're my friend
21:14 and you're telling me, "Well, we need to work on this",
21:17 but because we have a relationship
21:19 and we have a good relationship, it's much easier
21:22 to handle those matters than if we didn't
21:24 have a good relationship.
21:25 That's why it's important to have fun.
21:28 So how can we share with other couples
21:31 how they can have fun together?
21:33 There are certain things that couples can do to plan for fun.
21:40 For one, make a list of things that you can do.
21:43 Invariably, we talk to couples who say,
21:45 "Well, we're very busy, we're working hard,
21:48 we're trying to make it and we don't even know
21:50 what things we should do. "
21:51 And we say make a list of fun things that you can do.
21:54 Those of you who are watching right now,
21:56 take some paper out, get a pencil or a pen,
21:59 and start writing about fun things that you can do
22:01 with your mate.
22:02 Perhaps 10 things that you can do with your mate.
22:06 Just come up with a list.
22:07 When your spouse comes home, ask him or her
22:09 to make a list.
22:11 And then what?
22:12 Alright, what if you like jogging and I like walking?
22:17 How do we balance that?
22:19 If there are things that I think are fun
22:22 and there are things that you think are fun,
22:24 and the two don't necessarily jive, if you will.
22:28 What do we do?
22:29 We pick something that you like to do
22:31 and we do that today.
22:33 And perhaps tomorrow you can pick something that
22:35 I like to do and we do that.
22:38 So we learn to compromise, right?
22:40 We learn how to compromise our own autonomy.
22:43 And because you're my friend, and now this is an even deeper
22:48 friendship because you're my intimate ally, if you will,
22:51 I'm going to do something that perhaps I'm not crazy about.
22:55 So I will do something that you like,
22:58 you'll do something that I like, and we can make a long list
23:02 of fun things that we can do together.
23:03 Well, we have a life together.
23:05 We're not going anywhere because we're committed to being with
23:08 each other for life.
23:09 So, it doesn't all have to be done in one week or one month.
23:12 Or one year.
23:14 We have things that we could do. We could plan then out.
23:17 What I'm going to ask is pick three things off that list
23:20 that you've made, pick three things.
23:22 And schedule when you can do them with your spouse.
23:25 Next week, next month. Put them in your schedule.
23:29 As you put them in your schedule and as they come up,
23:31 share it with your mate and let them know
23:34 that this is what we're going to do on a particular night,
23:36 or a particular evening, or a particular weekend,
23:38 and then go ahead and do it.
23:40 The thing is, you have to plan for it to happen.
23:43 If you don't plan it, it's not going to happen.
23:45 If you don't put it on your calendar,
23:46 it's not going to happen.
23:48 What do we put on our calendars?
23:49 Things that are important to us.
23:52 So if we're going to be having fun
23:54 as a married couple, it needs to be important to us.
23:59 And when we give it that importance,
24:01 then we really communicate value to our mate.
24:06 I think another important thing for couples to remember
24:09 is that not everything that we enjoy doing,
24:12 our mate may want to do.
24:14 And I want to stress that, and that's why I've been sort of
24:17 playing with that a little bit.
24:18 Because sometimes we try to force our mate
24:22 to do something that we want to do.
24:24 I love gardening and thank God you enjoy gardening with me.
24:29 But let's say you didn't enjoy gardening as much.
24:31 And actually there's some parts of gardening
24:33 that you don't enjoy as much. That is correct, that's right.
24:35 And do you know what I have learned over the years?
24:37 That I accept the part of gardening that you like.
24:41 And do you know what was really exciting for me?
24:43 And I just want to affirm you here about that is
24:47 that last fall when we were doing our yard clean up
24:49 and we were weeding and all of that,
24:51 we saw that our mailbox needed to be painted.
24:53 And you came outside and you said, "Well, I'll paint the
24:57 mailbox while you do the other things. "
24:59 Now, at first I thought, "Well, I really need help
25:03 with the weeding. "
25:04 But then it occurred to me, if he's going to do the mailbox,
25:08 we're both outside together, and we're doing a fun activity.
25:12 And remember at the end of the day how proud we were?
25:16 We felt fulfilled that we had worked together
25:19 to enhance our surroundings.
25:22 Outside of our home looked nice.
25:23 We had a garden, we had flowers.
25:25 And we had a nice looking mailbox.
25:27 It was wonderful.
25:29 I want to really stress the fact that there was a part of me
25:34 that wanted to be upset.
25:36 Because I don't want anyone to get the impression
25:38 that this just all works flawlessly.
25:41 But there was a part of me that wanted to be upset,
25:43 because I wanted you to do what I wanted you to do.
25:47 And then you came out and you said, "I want to
25:49 spend time with you outside, but I'd rather paint. "
25:52 And I had to make a quick adjustment in my mind,
25:55 change my attitude a little bit, and then say,
25:57 "Wow this is a great thing. We're both outside,
26:00 we're both doing something together as a team. "
26:02 And at the end of the day we were both fulfilled.
26:05 And the mailbox did need to be painted.
26:06 And actually we needed to change it.
26:10 I went to Home Depot, got a new one, bolted it on,
26:14 and all of a sudden, we had a good looking front yard.
26:17 And it's something we did together.
26:19 We had fun, we worked together.
26:21 We felt like we were on the same team.
26:24 And we felt proud of it.
26:26 So that's what needs to happen.
26:27 There are different ways of having fun.
26:29 So there is a deep reward then of nurturing friendship
26:33 in our marriage relationship.
26:35 Ellen White says it well in Adventist Home.
26:53 We see here that God really wants us
26:54 to have a great time in marriage.
26:56 He requires us to have happiness and joy.
27:00 And even though this stuff is difficult,
27:02 it's not very easy, we don't always feel like being nice
27:06 and doing the right thing, we have a promise of success
27:09 in the book of Philippians 4:13, the word of God tells us
27:14 "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. "
27:18 So when I'm not feeling so well, and I'm not in the mood to
27:22 have fun, and yet I realize that there's a need for fun
27:26 in our relationship, I'm going to trust God.
27:29 And give my marriage and put it in God's hands.
27:34 So that we can be what He wants us to be.
27:37 And that the world around us will come to know Him
27:40 because of our joy.
27:42 God bless you.