FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Are We Just Friends?

with Steve and Candice Watters | August 15, 2011
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Are you tired of feeling like a lady-in-waiting? Today Steve and Candice Watters tell how they first met and what it took for them to finally hear wedding bells. Candice advises young women to nourish a budding relationship by refusing to be a young man’s pal.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Are you tired of feeling like a lady-in-waiting? Today Steve and Candice Watters tell how they first met and what it took for them to finally hear wedding bells. Candice advises young women to nourish a budding relationship by refusing to be a young man’s pal.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Are you tired of feeling like a lady-in-waiting?

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Are We Just Friends?

With Steve and Candice Watters
August 15, 2011
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Bob:  If you’re a single, young woman in your 20’s, someday you’d like to be married.  You have a lot of guys you are friends with—maybe one guy, in particular, who is a special friend; but that’s all? Take some advice from Candice Watters.

Candice:  Friendship is good; but if marriage is what you really want, you have to be vigilant that you don’t let those friendships fritter away the decade of the 20’s, when you really are at your height of marriage-ability with friendships, if those friendships don’t have the promise of moving toward marriage.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, August 15th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  We’re going to have a conversation that could be controversial today with Steve and Candice Watters about some of the ideas Candice shares in her book for singles called Get Married.

Welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition, probably the first time The Rembrandts have been played on this radio station.  Do you remember back a couple of years ago when you kicked up all the dust about guys stepping up and getting married?


Dennis:  Well, I actually didn’t kick up the dust; we just played a little message by Al Mohler.


Bob:  Actually this was one of the more fun moments we’ve ever had on FamilyLife Today because, I don’t know if you remember this, but you came into the studio that day and I wouldn’t tell you what we were going to talk about.  You had not heard the Al Mohler clip that I had for you.


Dennis:  I had not—I am remembering this now.  This was a set-up.

Bob:  I thought, “I’m just going to play this, and then I want your reaction,” because I wasn’t exactly sure how you were going to react.

Dennis:  Oh, oh sure you weren’t!

 Bob:  So, I hit you with it cold; and some of our listeners don’t know this story.  They haven’t heard, but we have pulled out that clip from Dr. Mohler, who is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. We’ll see if we can reengage the subject here today. Can you play that?

Dennis:  This will stir up a little dust with our single listeners.

Dr. Mohler:  (Recorded message)  If you’re 17, 18, 19, 20, in your early 20’s, what are you waiting for?  I don’t mean to get married this weekend; I mean to look for the spouse God has given you.  What are you waiting for?  Do you think all of a sudden you’re going to be 25 or 26 and you’re going to get a telegram from heaven, “By the way—”  Do you think Ed McMahon’s going to show up at your door or something like that? It’s not going to happen!

You have to be urgently seeking as much as you would seek what God would have you to do vocationally, as much as you would seek what God would have you to do in terms of your mission for life.  Understand that you must be looking, guys, for that wife of your youth in whom you can find such fulfillment when the “we” is created and a one-flesh relationship is given, and you grow up together in the faith, and in the Lord, and in your adulthood.

Dennis:  The dust is stirred sufficiently!

Bob:  Now, when we played that and I asked you, “Would you agree with Dr. Mohler that guys need to get after it, and find a wife and get married?”  You said—

Dennis:  Absolutely!

Bob:  Then we got all these letters from women going, “Thank you for playing that.  Now, what do we do?”

Dennis:  That’s right!

Bob:  “Because we’re sitting out here waiting and what do we do?”

Dennis:  Here is what they need to do.  They need to get a book by Candice Watters called Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen. We just happen to have Candice and her husband Steve here in the studio.

Bob:  Which is validation that your book works right?

Dennis:  It works!  (laughter) 

Candice:  That’s right.  Absolutely.

Dennis:  Welcome to the broadcast.

Candice:  Thank you so much, Dennis.  It’s good to be here.

Dennis:  Steve works for Focus on the Family in their youth program, working with, really, single adults.  This is really what you do for Focus; and Candice, you worked for Focus for a number of years until you became an author and a writer off-line as well as a mother of four children. In fact, I love the back of your book.  It says, “So far the Watters have three children.”  This book is dated!

Candice:  It is dated. That’s right.

Dennis:  You have four now.

Candice:  That’s right.  We have a new little miracle—Theodore.

Dennis:  Did you think you were going to remain single?  You found yourself in graduate school, and a professor kind of jarred you one day.  You kind of had your world all set for yourself.  You had worked on Capitol Hill for a couple of years.  He made a statement that kind of jarred you to reality though.

Candice:  Well, I was biding my time.  I would have loved to have been married at that point, but I was not.  I thought, “Well, I’m going to go to a Christian graduate school.  I’ll get an advanced degree.  I can get a better job, and I might meet a good man in the process.” So there was both there—I wanted the degree, but I also really wanted to be married—and felt that was a calling.

But it hadn’t happened; and this professor was talking about all the bad things in the news and all the horrible things happening with government.  I raised my hand and I said, “What is the solution?” I’m a very solution-oriented person. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and he said, “Candice, get married, make babies, and do government.” 

I was so offended!  What right did he have to tell me, a woman who would have loved to have been married, to get married?  It is like, “I want to be married!  Nobody is marrying me.”

Dennis:  So, what do you think about a statement like Al Mohler just made that we just replayed here on FamilyLife Today?

Candice:  Well, I love the urgency of it; and I think, “Yes!”

Dennis:  Today—today you think that!

Candice:  Today.  Well, I think I would have thought it then because he wasn’t talking to me as a single woman.  He was talking to the men and saying, “Step up.”  The verse, “He who finds a wife,”—he says, “Go out and look for a wife.”  I felt the problem was that the men weren’t looking.  I knew plenty of single men, but we weren’t dating. There was no interaction going on between us, and there was certainly no urgency.

So, I was so offended with Dr. Morken’s statement.   But after I had a chance to absorb it, and quit being offended and sort of cool down, I thought, “What if what he’s saying isn’t just his opinion, but what if it’s rooted in something deeper?  What if it’s biblical that most believers are supposed to get married and have families, and then change the world through their families?  Maybe, if it’s biblical, God would help me get married.”

So, the switch that flipped for me in that conversation was, “I don’t have to be embarrassed about wanting to be married.”  Not only that, “but I can pray boldly about wanting to be married because if it’s God’s will, then what I’m asking for is what He wants me to have.”  So the fear was gone, and suddenly I felt relief.  It’s like, “Oh, what I want is a good thing.”

Bob:  There are a lot of—and you know this—a lot of single women today who look at their circumstance like you.  They’d like to be married; they don’t feel like they have really any control over the issue at all.  They hear Al Mohler; and they go, “Yes, you preach it, Al; and get those guys stirred up and send one my way.” 

Is there more?  You talk about praying; and I’m hearing the women say; “Okay, I’ve been doing that for a while.”  What can a woman do if she is supposed to be the responder, not the initiator?

Candice:  I really thought the only thing I could do was pray.  So, again—now feeling the freedom that, “I actually have a role to play in this”; that the men have a role to play as the initiator; that God has a role to play as the sovereign Lord over the whole process; that parents and members of the Christian community have a role to play; but also that women have a role to play. 

It’s not simply taking a guy at his word who says, “I want to take you on a date.”  It’s not at that point that her activity starts.  Before that, she is a nurturer; and she has things she can do that make it less likely that she’ll marry.  So, the first thing that a woman needs to know is there are things you can do when you’re in the dating years that can make it less likely.  Stop doing things that will undermine your desire for marriage.


Bob:  Such as?

Candice:  Well, being buddies with a guy—hanging out as friends for a long time.  Yes, friendship is a key to a healthy marriage; but there’s a point at which you realize, “If I continue to let him take up all my time and have access to my intimate affections—not sexual—but just friendship affections—nobody else will ask me out.” 

Other men will look at you and think you’re an item even though you know you’re not an item.  Let me tell you a story.  When Steve and I were good friends, and we were buddies—this was really the beginning of it all.

Dennis:  So, you were friends?

Candice:  We were best friends—yes.  We spent so much time together that all the other men in my circle thought we were dating, and I knew we weren’t.  So, that was a problem; but there was one conversation we had.  I was, at this point, sad that another young man I was interested in hadn’t reciprocated. 

Steve and I were out to dinner; and I still remember sitting by Virginia Beach and the breeze from the ocean is coming in, and I looked at Steve and I said, “I don’t know why this guy didn’t want to take our relationship to marriage. I am going to be a good wife!” 

I started listing off the things that I knew I would bring to a marriage, and I was so passionate about it.  I don’t know what he was thinking, “Maybe he wants to jump in and—“

Bob:  Well, let’s find out what he was thinking!  What are you thinking there with the sea breeze and this woman who is telling you, “Here’s the credentials!”

Steve:  Well, I thought, “She was going to pull the portfolio out right then and say, ‘This is what I have to offer,’ and you know, ‘Make me an offer right there.’”  (laughter)

Bob:  Were you thinking that she was trying to persuade you to move along?

Steve:  Yes, I wasn’t entirely naïve that our friendship had potential, even though, especially as a southern guy, every stereotype I had about what a wife should be was being broken by Candice.  I grew up expecting to marry a southern belle, someone with long flowing hair like my mom; and then I meet this girl.  We’re connecting; but she’s got this Washington, D.C.,-power persona, these padded shoulders in her jackets.

Dennis:  And a sparkle in her eyes, Nick! I’m not saying southern belles don’t have that, but it’s been sharpened inside the Beltway. 

Steve:  That’s right.  She was a Beltway girl.

Dennis:  How old were you at the time?

Steve:  We were 25.

Dennis:  Okay, now here’s what I want to clarify. I like the way you said this, Candice. You said, “Single women should not just be buddies with guys.” 

Candice:  Right.

Dennis:  Yet, you all started out as friends.  The key here is that the relationship must progress through friendship to go somewhere.  Otherwise, you’re just giving all your time to someone who wants the security of having a pal and a buddy but doesn’t want to risk a real romantic relationship with the opposite sex.

Candice:  I had to step in and interrupt the inertia of this friendship because I think it would have continued indefinitely, potentially.

Dennis:  Comfort—“It’s comfortable.”

Candice:  That’s right. It was a good thing, but it wasn’t the best thing.  What it needed to have was the momentum of friendship moving towards something—toward a goal.  So often, in our culture, even within the church, friendship is seen as a great holding pattern.  There is no real push or even encouragement to say, “Okay, guys and gals— you are of the age now—it’s time to find a wife.  It’s time to let families be forming among you.”

Bob:  I have to tell you one of my favorite, all-time stories.  I was at dinner one night with a number of couples, and we were sharing stories of how you got engaged.  So, I asked this couple, I said, “How did you get engaged?”  She said, “Well, there was a particular weekend where we were going to be together for the weekend, and I pretty much knew he was going to ask me.” 

I said, “Well, how did you know?” She said, “Because I had given him a deadline.”  I went, “Hang on, what are you saying?”  She backed up—she was 30; he was 30—they’d been dating for a couple of years.  She finally said to him, “Look—I’m not getting younger; so you have four months to decide.  I’m either the one, or I’m not; but I get a ring by this date, or it’s over.”

Candice:  Well, I think some people would be so offended by that, but Bob, didn’t dads used to do that back in the day?  Didn’t someone stand up for the woman and say, “What are your intentions?”

Steve:  What are your intentions for my daughter?”

Candice:  Nobody asks that for young women anymore.  They are out there alone.  It’s like they are completely unprotected.  So they do often have to step in.  I call it “pulling a Ruth.”  That’s what I did with Steve.  I said, “I love our friendship.  It’s great, but what I really want is to get married.  I hope it’s to you; but if our relationship isn’t moving in that direction, I need to know because nobody else is going to ask me out because they all think we’re dating.”

I knew, though, that what we had was not what God designed us to be in at this age in our lives.  It’s not like we were 19.

Bob:  The holding-pattern thing needed to get off the dime.

Candice:  Exactly.  And so I didn’t propose.  I didn’t try to step up as the leader and take over the relationship and say, “Here’s where we’re going.”  I appealed to the leader in him and said, “I need you to be in charge here.  I need you to lead.  I need to know where you’re leading.” 

Women need to be reminded, and empowered, and encouraged that friendship is good; but if marriage is what you really want, you have to be vigilant that you don’t let those friendships fritter away the decade of the 20’s, when you really are at your height of marriage-ability with friendships, if those friendships don’t have the promise of moving toward marriage.

Bob:  Let me have Dennis tell you a story about a night in Dallas in 1972 when he was walking across a parking lot with this friend of his—Barbara.

Dennis:  Yes—North Park Shopping Center. Barbara and I had a friendship going.  I reached over to hold her hand.  The sun was going down and it was a little bit like the breeze on the beach that you were experiencing.

Candice:  A little romantic?

Dennis:  It was a little bit, you know.  I reached over to hold her hand, and she turned to me. It really was the equivalent of what you’re saying.  She asked me a question, “Why did you do that?  Why did you do that?”

Candice:  Good for Barbara!

Dennis:  I immediately dropped her hand right there in the parking lot.  (laughter)


Steve:  I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to.”

Dennis:  I didn’t have a good answer. I mean, I really didn’t.  I think the easiest thing for young men to do is to define the relationship physically rather than define it verbally and be intentional about the direction the relationship is going.  It’s safe or safer to hold her hand rather than expose his intentions, or my intentions in this situation, of, “Yes, I’d like to pursue this relationship;” but you’re out there as a man if you do that.

Bob:  Steve, I have to know, what did you say three months into the relationship when she said, “Look, I have to know if this is going somewhere.  I’d like to be married and I think I might like it to be with you, but I have to know.”  Did you feel threatened by that?

Steve:  I did; but in some ways, I felt like the person who wants to get caught.  You know?  I asked, “Can I have the afternoon to pray about it?”  We had a great friendship, and I enjoyed every minute we spent together.  I had never been able to enjoy that much time with a woman before, but I knew that it was about to be fall.  We were coming up on a new crop of students, and I had been—  (laughter)

Candice:  He really used that word—crop!

Steve:  I had been wired in the school system for my whole life to know that, “Even if you have a good thing in the summertime,”—.

Bob:  The new models are coming on the showroom’s floor!  (laughter)

Steve:  There’s always fall!

Dennis:  Yes, but did you know what you were feeling towards her?  Was a part of you calling, “Time out”?

Steve:  Well, you know, the thing I was realizing is that I was going to lose my option of continually test-driving the relationship.  She was about to say, “You’ve been test-driving this car for a while.  Do you want to buy the car?”  I was about to realize I have to either decide, “Is this the model; is this the car; or am I going to lose access to it altogether?”

I finally realized, “That’s how I’ve been treating her—like someone who is test-driving a car.   I’m putting all this wear and tear on her heart.”  As I prayed about it that afternoon, I just felt the heaviness of the conviction that I had been in this coasting mode, enjoying all the great things about this relationship, but not concentrating and being prepared to cut off all my options.

Dennis:  Candice, there are a lot of men listening right now.  They’re coasting.  They’re in the holding pattern.  They’re not defining it, but they do not have any idea how it makes a woman feel who is feeling like she’s on a test ride or a test drive.  Explain to the men how that makes a single woman feel after a time.

Candice:  I think it makes her heartsick because the longer they stay in that pattern, the more reluctant they are to end it because they don’t want to start all over.  That can be many, many years of bad stewardship.  That leaves a woman feeling heartsick.  I think women, if they’re honest with themselves, feel taken advantage of and they feel frustrated. 

There’s almost this, “The man who is the source of my joy, and the man I love, is also the source of my deepest grief and pain.”   It’s a very difficult place for a woman to be.

Dennis:  So, it leaves a woman longing.

Candice:  It does—definitely unfulfilled because God didn’t make us for endless dating relationships.  He made us for marriage.

Bob:  Here’s where I have to wrap up the story I was telling earlier about the woman who said, “You either deliver the ring this date or it’s over.” You remember?

Candice:  Oh yes, what happened?

Bob:  Well, I turned to the guy at dinner and I said, “So, when you got the ultimatum,” I said, “How did you respond to it?” He said, “It was the best thing she could have done.”  He said, “I was 30, and I was okay test-driving,” just like you are talking about. He said, “I’d kind of gotten used to it; it was comfortable; it was nice.”  This was a platonic relationship.  I mean, they were not sexually-active with one another, and he was okay with that.

Candice:  Yes, it’s like going to the lobby of a Broadway show and never going in and taking your seats, right?  You’re missing out on the best thing.  I mean, “Yes, the lobby’s beautiful, but let’s get the show on the road!”  (laughter)

Bob:  There’s a show inside!

Dennis:  The posters don’t tell the whole story.  They only lure you in there.  Well, what moved you off the dime?  What happened at the end of “the half a day to pray about it,” Steve?

Steve:  Well, as I prayed about it, I realized, “I have got a good thing. I have heard a lot from the culture around me about what I should look for in a wife, and I have got a great opportunity in front of me.  While I’ve been distracted, thinking, ‘Maybe there’s a better deal out there—maybe there’s a better deal out there—‘”

Dennis:  Maybe, there’s more crops!  (laughter)

Steve:  You know, “There’s always that fall class.”  I realized, “I’m trying to keep all my options open, and I have got this incredible opportunity right in front of me I haven’t been focusing in on.”  So, I went back to Candice that night and I said, “Let’s call this what it is.  I mean, really, we have been dating.  I just haven’t been honest that this is dating. I want to focus in and see if this is a right fit.” I said, “There are still some things I don’t understand—why we’re so different; why we have such different backgrounds.”

Bob:  Why you wear those padded shoulders?  (laughter)

Candice:  I had given them up by this point.

Steve:  Which helped; but, I said, “I want to focus on those things that I’ve been wondering, ‘If we could be a good fit,’ because of all of our differences.  Instead of just trying to ignore those and just enjoy hanging out as buddies, I think it’s time that we are honest about what the relationship is.”  It was only three months after that?

Candice:  We dated six months, and then were engaged for three months.

Steve:  So, I proposed to Candice.  It took that idea that, “I’m going to lose her.  I’m going to lose this opportunity right in front of me unless I’m serious about it.”  I could finally appreciate it because I could tune out everything else around me.

Dennis:  You know, it’s at this point I wish I had a little sign—course it wouldn’t matter on radio! (laughter)

Maybe we could put it on the internet.  I could hold it up:  “Bob and I love single people.”  Just a little sign to say, “We really do love you.  That’s why we’re talking about this.”  I think today the singles scene is so treacherous—and to have any sense of having a compass, of having clear direction, good counsel, wholesome counsel, godly counsel.  There are so many singles who are being used and using one another.

There’s a tremendous need today within the community of faith—first of all, to set the standard—and to be men and women of integrity and nobility in relationships.  But, beyond that, infiltrate the culture, and call others out of it back to the biblical blueprints.  I think, too, to some good reading material that will help them kind of recalibrate. 

I think there are a lot of single women like you, Candice, who really did long to do the right thing.  They just needed somebody to step into their lives and challenge them to the right standards and the right stuff.

Bob:  Well, when I saw the title of this book Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen I thought, “There’s a smart person right there who knows how to title her book.”  Who’s not going to not want to buy that? What single woman is not going to go, “Okay?”

Dennis:  There’ll be some single men who’ll read this book!  (laughter)

Bob:  We have copies of it in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. If our listeners are interested in getting a copy, you can go online at and get more information about the book. You can order online if you’d like.

Again, it’s, or call toll-free 1-800-FLTODAY; 1-800-358-6329.  We can make arrangements over the phone to have a copy of Candice’s book sent to you. Again, the title is Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen. Order a copy online at or call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY.

Now, let me talk for just a minute to those of you who have been listening to FamilyLife Today for a while.  You’ve been tuned in; you like the program; you’ve found it helpful; but you’ve just never let us know that you’re listening.  During the month of August, we’re hoping that some of you will step forward and say, “We’re listening.  We wanted you to know we’re out here.”

And we’re also hoping that you can make a donation to help support FamilyLife Today.  In fact, we’ve set a goal to try to hear from 2,000 new listeners this month, and we’ve got a thermometer on our website that’s keeping track of how many we’ve heard from.  So if you’re a new listener but you’ve never made a donation, never helped support FamilyLife Today, we’re hoping that the month of August can be the month when you would do that.

If you can, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a CD sampler that features a handful of the messages that we present at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway.  Recently, Dennis and I spoke together at one of these getaways; and we’ve taken some of the messages and put them on audio CD.  We’d love to send those to you as our way of saying, “Thanks,” for your support this month.

If you’d like to receive them, type the word “SAMPLER” into the key code box on the online donation form; or when you call 1-800-FLTODAY, just ask for the CDs from the Weekend to Remember and we’ll get those to you.

And if you are a first-time donor to FamilyLife Today, and your donation this month is $100 or more, you can request a gift certificate to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.  Either use it for yourself or pass it on to someone you know.  

If you’d like to receive the gift certificate, type the word “HUNDRED” into the key code box on the online donation form, or ask for it when you make a donation at 1-800-FLTODAY.  Again, this is for first-time donors who make a donation of $100 or more.  We just want to say we appreciate your partnership with us and the investment that you make in this ministry, and we do love hearing from you.

Now, tomorrow we’re going to talk about what a young single woman, who has a desire to get married, can do to at least let guys know that she’s out there and, at the same time, to protect her heart, to guard it from being trampled on by too many guys.  We’ll talk about that tomorrow; hope you can be with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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