FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Being Intentional

with Steve and Candice Watters | December 7, 2010
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How do you audition for the role of “spouse"? Today Steve and Candice Watters talk to singles about sizing up a potential mate and building a relationship that will go the distance.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • How do you audition for the role of “spouse"? Today Steve and Candice Watters talk to singles about sizing up a potential mate and building a relationship that will go the distance.

  • 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.

How do you audition for the role of “spouse”?

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Being Intentional

With Steve and Candice Watters
December 07, 2010
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob:  A lot of young single women have got the list put together, right?  The list of what they’re looking for in a future husband.  Candice Watters wants to know, is the right stuff on the list?

Candice:  You know, a young woman needs to know what she’s looking for in a future husband, so to really have a clear-headedness about assessing the men you’re choosing between:  Is he going to be a godly leader?  Am I going to be able to submit to this guy?  What will that look like?  Will he be a good and tender and loving father who can raise up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord?  This is some pretty important stuff, but if you choose poorly, it can be a catastrophe.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, December 7th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Marrying well is not something that just happens.  You’ve got to be intentional.  We’ll talk about that today. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us 

Dennis:  Bob, would you like to know Samson’s way of looking for a woman?

Bob:  I remember it.  It’s one of my favorite verses in the Bible.

Dennis:  He comes back from visiting a foreign country and he goes to his mommy and daddy and says, “Man, go get her for she looks good to me.”

Bob:  Looks good to me.  I remember reading that and going, “I can relate to ol’ Samson there.”

Dennis:  What a criteria for selecting.  He didn’t marry her, I don’t think, did he?

Bob:  No, I don’t think so.  He did wind up with a few other unsavory women along the way, but I was thinking about this whole issue of getting married, because you know when I graduated from college and it came time to look for a job, I had to get serious.  I had to get regimented; I had to send out resumes.  I got busy in the pursuit of a job because that was what was next.  When it came to finding a wife, I just kind of expected that it would happen . . .

Dennis:  So were you pretty passive about this then?

Bob:  Well, I wasn’t passive – I mean I was looking around, I was paying attention, but in the pursuit of a job and in the pursuit of a wife I had two very different mindsets about one.  One you go out and get.

Dennis:  Well, that was kind of Samson’s idea.

Bob:  Right.


The other one though was just kind of supposed to happen more mysteriously with less initiative.  You know, you didn’t send out a resume to ten different girls and say, “You got anything open at your place?”  You just expected to kind of meet and get to . . . and I’m wondering now (actually, it worked out pretty well for me), but I’m just wondering if the generation coming up needs to be as intentional about pursuing marriage as they are about pursuing other aspects of their life.

Dennis:  I’m glad you said it worked out well, by the way, if Mary Ann is listening.

Bob:  That’s right.

Dennis:  Before we talk to Steve and Candice Watters about this subject of marrying well today, I just want to talk to our listeners about standing with us in what has become the largest matching gift in the history of our ministry here in the month of December.

Bob:  Yes, we’ve had some friends of the ministry who have come along and they have put together a matching gift fund of now a little more than $2 million.  So every donation we receive during December is being matched on a dollar for dollar basis.  We’re asking listeners to make as generous a donation as you can so we can take full advantage of this matching gift.

Dennis:  That’s right.  And if you want to keep FamilyLife Today on this station on an ongoing basis, then we just need you to step up and do what you can to stand with us right now.  You know, Bob, more people than ever are downloading our broadcasts on their iPhones, their iPads, their Droids.  They’re experiencing the benefits of this broadcast, and we really need some of them to step up and say, “We want to keep this broadcast coming and able to be downloaded for free, so that we can enjoy the benefits of FamilyLife Today.” 

I just want you to know as a listener, what we’re all about here on FamilyLife Today is bringing the timeless truths of Scripture to your home, to your life, to your family, in an authentic way, and helping you as best we can know how to apply them to win in life’s most important commitments.

Bob:  You can go online at and make an online donation, or you can call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY and donate over the phone.  We just want to say in advance, thanks for your support and your partnership.  We appreciate you.

Dennis:  I agree.

Bob:  Now, what about this issue of being intentional about pursuing someone in marriage?

Dennis:  Well, I think this next generation of single folks needs to be trained and they need to have a biblical perspective about being single and about following Christ, and then how to make the selection of who they’re going to marry.  We have a couple with us whose lives and ministry are all about marrying well.  Steve and Candice Watters join us on FamilyLife Today.  Steve, Candice, welcome back.

Steve:  Thanks.

Candice:  Thanks, Dennis.

Dennis:  Steve and Candice have four children, been married since 1997, and have a ministry called Marry Well, right?

Steve:  That’s right.

Dennis:  And a website by the same name,, right?

Steve:  That’s right.

Dennis:  And you’re all about helping singles be equipped to make this choice.  Where should they start if they’re going to marry well?

Bob:  Do they need to put a resume together like I’m talking about here?  Get it circulated?

Steve:  Absolutely.  Get it online and get a head hunter.

Dennis:  Get some references. 


Well, your website actually – what you’re recommending for singles as they come to your website – that they bring a pastor, a mentor, someone who has discipled them.  Right?

Steve:  Yes.  You know, it is a larger picture.  It does start with asking, “What is marriage, and what is marriage all about?”  Because obviously there are plenty of opportunities for companionship and dating.  When you talk about marriage, people know it’s something different, and so you start with, “What is the biblical job description for marriage?”  It’s very different from Hollywood marriage. 

You know, I think probably one of the biggest concerns we have is that a lot of good, well-intentioned Christian people are waiting for God to write their Hollywood love story. They are waiting for something to fall in their laps, and even the model they have of what they’re waiting for has a little bit of God in it, but has a whole lot of the last movie they saw, and a lot of what they are reading and seeing around them.  That’s not necessarily what God designed for marriage, and they are the ones that are often the most frustrated, the most bitter at God because he’s not delivering that for them.

Bob:  Candice, you know I talk about, kind of tongue-in-cheek, do you apply for a spouse the same way you apply for a job, but I think there is this other side to it where we just think that we’re going to wander through life and at some point Cupid with the arrow is going to hit us and the other person simultaneously, and there’s going to be the spark and we’re going to know this is what life is supposed to be.

Candice:  Yes.  Well you know the emotional aspect of falling in love is an important part of the process, but I think we’ve made it the only part of the process.  It’s all we focus on, and we need to be aware of what we bring to a marriage. 

A young woman needs to know what are the benefits she’s going to bring to this relationship.  What are her strengths, what are her skills?  She also needs to know what she’s looking for.  What benefits and strengths and skills is she looking for in a future husband? 

And so, to really have a clear-headedness about assessing the men you’re choosing between.  Is he going to be . . .  Not just is he attractive and do I get the excitement in my heart when I’m with him?  You know, does he make me tingly or nervous or butterflies in my belly?  Is he going to be a godly leader?  Am I going to be able to submit to this guy?  What will that look like?  Will he be a good and tender and loving father who can raise up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord?  I mean this is some pretty important stuff.  Like Steve said last time, if you choose well this can be the catalyst to great fruitfulness for the kingdom.

Dennis:  No doubt.  No doubt.

Candice:  But if you choose poorly, it can be a catastrophe.

Dennis:  Candice, I’m listening to you and I’m thinking, “Yes, you’ve been married thirteen years.  You’ve made the choice, you’ve sealed the deal.”  How clear in your thinking were you as a single woman about these matters before you started dating Steve?

Candice:  I was pretty clear about what I was going to bring to the table, Dennis.  I at one point actually sat down with Steve when I was thinking we should be together and we weren’t, and I said, talking about another guy who decided he didn’t want to date me, I said to Steve, “I don’t understand why he walked away.  I’m going to be a good wife, and I’m a good cook,” and I started kind of listing. . .

Bob:  You had your resume right there.

Candice:  It’s embarrassing now.  He laughs about it, but I really did have a sense of I want this, and I hope to have it and I hope God blesses me with it, but I didn’t have a whole lot of clarity. I just prayed every day.  And when I met a guy that I was attracted to I think I threw up some prayers and said, “Oh, Lord, please let it happen.”  I went into it naïve, I think. 

That’s why I’m so glad my parents prayed all those years for a good match, and I think this is why the prayers of parents matter, because when you’re the twenty-something, and in this culture you’re just kind of going with the flow.

Bob:  Steve, if you were sitting with a young man today and he was saying, “Boy this girl.  She – ahhh – she makes my heart flutter.”   And there were some red flags in the relationship, you would say, “Down boy.  Even though she makes your heart flutter, those red flags ought to be a concern.” 

Steve:  Yes.

Bob:  Let me turn it around.  Let’s say you’re sitting with this guy and he’s going, “She’s a great gal.  She can cook and she can do this and she can do that, and she’s everything Candice had on her resume, but she doesn’t make my heart flutter.”

Steve:  Wow.

Bob:  “So, do I pursue that because it’s a good match up here even though there’s not an emotional spark?”

Steve:  Obviously emotions matter, and it gives you a good rocket booster, if you will, to get into a relationship.  But I’ve seen in my relationship with Candice and a lot of other guys, love can grow if you build it on a foundation of solid friendship and of people who have a shared passion for God.

Dennis:  And commitment.

Steve:  That’s right.

Dennis:  Life-long commitment, where that relationship feels secure and safe to be real and fail and get forgiven and be loved in spite of.

Steve:  Yes.

Bob:  So would you say to the guy when he says “She’s a great match but there’s no spark,” “Go ahead and pursue it.  The spark will come.”

Steve:  I would say, “See if it can cultivate.  Love can grow on that kind of foundation.”  Now, probably what’s worse is where there’s a spark but no foundation.

Bob:  Right.

Steve:  Am I mixing my metaphors?  Is that bad?

Bob:  I think we all have seen spark and no foundation and how that can lead to ruin.  I’m just curious about good foundation and no spark.  What would you say to the guy?

Candice:  Well, we’ve actually encouraged women at different points and men, “Hey look.  I know you don’t feel it yet, but we observe objectively you guys are a good match, and we think you should at least give it a shot.”  We’ve advised people to do that.

Steve:  We advise them to let it cultivate and if after a period of time there’s still nothing there . . .

Bob:  Right.

Steve:   There does need to be some kind of cultivation to build a life on.

Bob:  So “give it a shot’ means hang out together, spend some time getting to know one another, and just see if some of that quiver in the liver starts to happen.

Candice:  Well, I’ll tell you that . . .

Dennis:  Quiver in the liver!  (Laughter)  Where did that come from? 

Bob:  You’ve had that, haven’t you?  A quiver?

Candice:  What you don’t want to do is encourage them to spend time together and start to be sexual or physical to see if those emotions kick in, because then you create a disaster.

Steve:  You start with where the connections are.  I mean, Candice and I had a shared passion and that’s what we built from.  We encourage people, even if they don’t feel a romantic spark, to say, “Were you brought together because you both enjoyed serving in the children’s ministry?  Was it because you both enjoyed a certain author or artist?”  Start with that.  Start with the thing that you do have a shared passion with.  See if that grows.

Dennis:  And again, we’ve said it many ways here, but remember that the order in which you become one is leave, cleave and become one.  Most singles today start the relationship becoming one.  They start with the sexual dimension and sharing intimacies that should only be reserved for the committed relationship of marriage.  When you do that, as Bob says, the liver . . .  How did you say it?

Bob:  The quiver in the liver.

Dennis:  The quiver in the liver may occur at that point, but it’s not going to be a great foundation for the marriage, because most of marriage is lived outside of the quiver.

Bob:  Yes.

Candice:  That’s right.

Dennis:  I mean, love, in my opinion, is not a feeling. 

Steve:  Right.

Candice:  It’s a decision.

Dennis:  Love is a commitment.

Candice:  Yes.

Dennis:  And the great lie of Hollywood is that love’s first a feeling and then maybe it’s a commitment, and if a commitment at all, it’s a temporal commitment, or a conditional commitment.

Bob:  I’ve had the opportunity in recent days to be coaching a young man who is in his late teens, and he’s looking at relationships and kind of evaluating them.  I’ve said to him, “When a relationship becomes exclusive and romantic, when those two dimensions click in in a relationship, you better be headed toward marriage and both of you understanding that, or you’re headed toward trouble –“

Steve:  Yes.

Bob:  “-- either a bad break up down the way or temptation you don’t want to face.”  But I said, “When it becomes exclusive or when it becomes romantic, those are course-setting things –“

Candice:  That’s right.

Bob:  “—and you shouldn’t allow your heart to go to either one of those until you’re ready to say, ‘If this proceeds the way I think it might be proceeding, I’m ready to get married.’”

Candice:  You know, I’ve heard from so many twenty-something women who will be with a guy – he’s a good friend of her’s – and she’s thinking this could go to marriage, and she’ll kind of maybe ask the question, “Where is this headed?  What are your intentions?”  And the guy will say, “Well, I just want to protect your heart, so we’re just not going to go there.” 

I say to her, “You have already gone there and so has he, and he’s defrauding you.”  You know, these women and young men, they get together and they act like they’re married.  They may not be having sex, although statistically a lot of them are, but even if that piece is not there, they are still at a level of intimacy in their friendship that . . .

Bob:  There’s emotional fornication going on.

Candice:  That’s right.  I think this whole idea that a young man will say, “Well I just want to protect your heart”-- I want to say to him, “You need to be strong and courageous.  The way you protect her heart is by marrying her.  Make an honest woman of her.  Form a family.  Do all this for God’s glory, and just watch what God does in your life.”

Steve:  What we’ve found though is that those couples tend to have the most confusion.  They’re trying to figure out, “Why does this seem so confusing?”  What we’ve found is almost every time a single or a couple that’s been dating feels confused about relationships, there’s already been unnecessary physical connection.  Their bodies are already bonding, even though they haven’t decided if this is the person I want to be bonded with.  And then, oftentimes they’re doing this totally off the reservation from community, from their church, from their mentors, from their parents, from people who can objectively look in and give counsel. 

So what we’ve found is that relationships will always be mysterious.  There’s something about it, of all the things in our Christian walk, there will be things about dating relationships and marriage that we’ll never understand.  Men will never quite understand women.  But, there is no reason that we should layer on the unnecessary mystery because we’ve been prematurely physical, because we’re not bringing in counsel.

Bob:  I’m thinking about your website,, where there is an opportunity for people to meet one another and to kind of get to know one another, view profiles, and I’m thinking about Amazon where, at the bottom, you’ve got “customers who like this person also might like . . .”  I just wonder if you’ve got that built in.  “If you like this guy, you might check out these three as well.”


Steve:  Yeah.  Or “add to cart.” 

Dennis:  You know, the thing that I’ve seen in single men, especially after the age of 28 or 29, somewhere in there, this fear that you’re talking about doesn’t just increase with interest.  It’s like it exponentially increases as they approach 30 and after 30 and “the decision” and “the commitment” becomes so huge, so large, so scary, so frightening, that many of them recoil from it.

Steve:  Well, that’s right.  I know there was some great commentary back when Prince William was considering marriage in his 20s.  One of the pieces of commentary was, “You know, there’s something about the valor of our 20s, that when men are young there’s a risk taking, there’s a willingness to get out there and have courage that into your 30s turns into calculation and care and carefulness.  Things that are good for married men who no longer need to be out there pushing the edges and taking as bold of a risk.”  But that’s a bad thing if you haven’t made the leap yet.

Bob:  I remember my wedding day, thinking to myself.  I was 23, Mary Ann was twenty – I’m not going to say how old she was.  I was 23, she was a different age, and I remember thinking, “This is forever.  How do you know?”  There was this song on the radio at the time, “It’s sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along.”

Dennis:  Oh, that – you know – buyer’s remorse is a huge fear.

Bob:  And I’m thinking, “I’m about to say ‘yes’ forever.  What if I meet the ‘one’ next week?”

Candice:  Right.  Right.  But see, that’s totally counter to the biblical mindset that says, “When you say ‘I do,’ that is the one.”  Case closed.

Bob:  I remember thinking that day, “How does anybody make this decision?”  and ultimately you make it by faith.

Candice:  That’s right.

Bob:  You step up and say, “By faith I receive you as the one for me,” and if I meet somebody next week and think, “Boy, maybe she was the right . . . .”  No, she wasn’t the right one.  You met the right one right here and by faith you sealed the deal.

Steve:  I think it goes back to the fact that in a consumer-minded culture you think all the work is on the front end:  You make the perfect match and then you coast in marriage.  The reality is, on the front end you ask some good questions, you seek counsel, you pray, but then you make a commitment, and that’s when the real work starts.

Bob:  That’s right.  That’s right.

Dennis:  Yes, and in fact, as we’ve talked about the job description, that’s where I’d really tell people to start.  If you look at a job description you’re always looking at how much experience the person has had that you’re getting ready to hire.  In this particular situation, I would encourage single people to not look at the other person’s resume and history of their work performance in preparation for marriage, but look first at their own.

Steve:  Yes.

Dennis:  What’s your experience with God?  How long have you been committed to him?  What’s been your commitment to your character, and what’s been the track record of your character?  How have you managed money?  How have you handled debt?  Are you running up tons of credit card bills and thinking that doesn’t matter; you can carry those over into a marriage? 

And then, finally, the commitment to self- denial – It’s at the heart of becoming a following of Christ, but I promise you, it is also at the heart of developing a great marriage.  Marriage is not about ‘me.’  It’s about ‘us.’  It’s about ‘you.’ 

Steve and Candice, I just want to thank you for your lives, your track record, your ministry, your heart for singles.  I’m thrilled you guys are helping singles today.  I think there’s a real battleground and I think they need some good folks like you coming alongside them.  Thanks for being on the broadcast, and thanks for what you do.

Steve:  Thank you.

Candice:  You’re welcome.

Bob:  And thanks for what you put together here, too, in A Guy’s Guide to Marrying Well and A Girl’s Guide to Marrying Well – a collection of articles from folks like Gary Thomas and Josh Harris and Suzanne Hadley and Michael Lawrence and others.  These are both free downloads, electronically published downloadable e-books:  A Guy’s Guide to Marrying Well, A Girl’s Guide to Marrying Well.  You can go to and we’ve got the link that will take you right where you need to go so you can download either or both of these books. 

Speaking of downloads, the MP3 of today’s program is available for download.  You can download yesterday and today’s program – either listen back to them or pass them along to a friend – listen to them on your own schedule.  Again, go to and download these programs for free. 

And of course, we’ve got Candice’s book, Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.  If you go online at you can get a copy of that, or call us toll free at 1-800-FL-TODAY and we can arrange to have the book sent to you. 

Again, it’s called Get Married:  What Women Can Do to Help It Happen.  Call 1-800-FL-TODAY to request a copy or go online at  We’ve also got a link to the website we’ve talked about today,, so while you’re on the website you can click over and see what you guys have put together at 

And then finally, Dennis, you were talking about the Weekend to Remember®.  I was just out in San Antonio here a week and a half ago with a great group of folks.  We had a great weekend at the Weekend to Remember, and a number of the folks who came to that conference bought gift certificates to send to friends as Christmas gifts.  I think some of them got them so they can come back again next year, and they’ve already made t heir reservation, as it were. 

If you are interested in a gift certificate to attend a Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway, and we have a number of them coming up this spring, go online at and you can order a Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway gift certificate.  You can find out more about when the Weekend to Remember is going to be in a city near where you live.  Again, the website:


Quickly I want to remind our regular listeners of what Dennis mentioned at the beginning of today’s program.  We’ve had some friends of FamilyLife who have come together and have issued a matching gift challenge, and the amount is up a little more than $2 million right now.  That’s why we are coming to FamilyLife Today listeners and saying, “Can you help us take advantage of this matching gift?”  We want to make sure that we take full advantage of the match, so we’re asking you to make as generous a donation as you can make during the month of December.  Every donation you make is going to be matched dollar for dollar with funds from the matching gift. 

Either go online or call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a $20 or a $30 or a $50 or a $100 or a $500 or a $1000 donation, and that donation is going to be matched dollar for dollar.  Let me just say how grateful we are for those of you who have supported us in the past.  We appreciate it and we hope if God is using the ministry of FamilyLife Today in your life that you’ll consider making a year-end contribution to support FamilyLife Today.

We hope that you’re going to be back with us tomorrow.  Anne Dirks is going to join us.  You’re going to meet a very energetic, passionate, excited grandmother and hear about what she did when all of her grandkids came to her house to spend a week.  It was a blast.  That comes up tomorrow; I hope you can be with us.

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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