Real Marriage Conference – Session #1: Friend (Not Plural!) With Benefits

Real Marriage Conference – Session #1: Friend (Not Plural!) With Benefits

In January, I posted about “Real Marriage” Campaign from Mark & Grace Driscoll from Mars Hill Church.

Yesterday and today, my lovely wife and I went to the Real Marriage Conference with Pastor Mark & Grace Driscoll, at Crossroads Church in Corona, CA. This post and the following posts are my notes from the event. After all the posts, I will also post general reflections.

  • Across all major research, the #1 thing that couples say they want is friendship.
  • Friendship is an eternal attribute of God. The God of the Bible exists in eternal friendship. Jesus had close friends and lived in community while on Earth. Another way to think about it… God is a friend who has friends.
  • The real problem in all relationships and in the world is sin, and the answer is Jesus.
  • Friendship with Jesus is the key to and the only way to have real friendship in your marriage. 
  • Peter, James and John were Jesus’ closest friends.

 Part Two of the Real Marriage Conference Series –  Session #2: Sex: God, Gross, or Gift? with Q&A.

Part Three of the Real Marriage Conference Series –  Session #3: Selfish Lovers vs. Servant Lovers with Q&A.

Part Four of the Real Marriage Conference Series –  Session #4: Can We [insert something sexual]? with Q&A.

True Friendship & Capacity for Deep Relationships

  • Modern culture / media and the availability of technology / social media have skewed our understanding of friendship.
  • In reality we can only have deep relationships with a relatively small amount of friendships. We simply don’t have enough time for tons of deep friendships.
  • Quality relationships take time and have to be intentionally cultivated.
  • A good general rule to live by based on the live of Jesus… “Be friendly toward all, and [true] friends with a few.”
  • Most often, adultery begins with friendships with a person of a different gender… be aware and guard against that.

Married Couples are Friends & Lovers

  • From Song of Solomon, “beloved” translates contextually to “lover”.
  • Notice this section is entitled FRIEND (singular) and lovers…God intends one man to marry and then have sexual connection with one woman, his wife… for a life.
  • For men that focus and live for work / success or any other another idol… we have to remember, “she is my friend”.

Song of Solomon 5:16: “…This is my beloved and this is my friend…”

3 Types of Marriage

  1. Back-to-Back:These people are contentious and sinfully rejecting each other. These marriages have lots of bitterness and sometimes, deep malice.
  2. Shoulder-to-Shoulder: These people can live in the delusion that they are serving each other. They are working together… doing things together… but not connected.
  3. Face-to-Face: These people are looking into each other’s face / eyes and enjoying each other as friends… being intimate with each other. This will inevitably involve some shoulder-to-shoulder time, but face-to-face defines their relationship.

Single people don’t realize how selfish and how much of a liar they are… in varying degrees, dating people are pretending to be someone they really aren’t. BOTH people are… and marriage is what exposes that reality.

FRIENDS – An Acronym for Marriage

F = Fruitful

  • Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply…
  • Proverbs 18:24: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly”
  • Proverbs 24:5-6: “A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; for by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.”
  • Proverbs 13:20: He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed”
  • There will be God-glorifying fruit!… deep relationships, intimacy with the spouse, potentially kids, serving together, church involvement, ministry, knowledge / grace of God, etc.
  • Marriage exists to glorify God… it’s not about you, although we are wonderfully used for His glory.
  • Any “fruit” that does NOT glorify God is the result some type of idolatry… worshiping something else other than God.
  • “I’ve never seen a friendly person that didn’t have friends.”

R = Reciprocal

Ephesians 5:25-29: 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of waterwith the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself; is not puffed up; does not behave rudely; does not seek its own; is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
  • Spouses should be friendly with and to each other.
  • Spouses should seek and pursue each other.
  • Couples don’t fall out of love… they fall out of repentance!

Romans 5:5: “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

I = Intimacy

Proverbs 18:24: “A Man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”

  • Intimacy = seeing into someone. It is an offering and a privilege. Marriage offers a special type of intimacy on reserved for spouses.
  • There are 3 types of conversation… each at a different level of intimacy. (1) Facts (2) Opinions (3) Feelings
  • Women build relationships through shared conversation. Men build relationships through shared experiences
  • Spouses should use this to grow with and toward each other.
  • Men should set aside time to be and talk with their wives one on one. No TV, cell phone, kids, distractions… good ole’ quality time.
  • Women should seek to offer their husbands their presence… just be with him while he does what he enjoys as an activity.
  • Note to Wives: After work, often it is much better to ask your husband “HOW are you doing” than “WHAT did you do today?”

E = Enjoy

Ecclesiastes 9:7-9
7Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
8 Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.
9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of yourvain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.”

  • Marriage does require some work… but it is supposed to be fun!
  • HAVE FUN TOGETHER! Do fun things! God is a fun God! Laugh together!
  • It was the religious people that didn’t like Jesus… other people did! He was invited to parties. Jesus was fun!
  • For the cheapos… spend money on fun with your wife!
  • Marriage and friendship are supposed to be fun!
  • Eternal life begins NOT when we die… but when we meet Jesus. Christians start eternity with him on Earth… so we should enjoy it!
  • Puritan saying: “Friendship cuts grief in half and doubles the joy.”

N = Needed

Genesis 2:18: “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

  • We need each other!
  • Statistically, 93% of people get married. Men and women need each other!

D =  Devoted

Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

  • We are together in celebration AND despair… regardless of situation and circumstance.
  • Driscoll shared the story of his wife’s Uncle, whose wife god Alzheimer’s and lost her memory. She couldn’t remember who her husband of multiple decades was. Even though her husband could not take care of her… he visited her in the care facility multiple times per day to be with her, brush her hair, spend time with her… for YEARS, even though she couldn’t remember who he was.  

S = Sanctifying

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “Two are better than one, because they will have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”

  • Marriage reveals who we really are.
  • Marriage reveals our sins and provides an awesome opportunity to grow in community with our wives.
  • Gary Thomas says “Marriage was designed to make us HOLY, not make us happy”… even though marriage will definitely impact our happiness!
  • In marriage we learn to see our sin AND forgive our spouses. 

Is Your Relationship “Unbalanced”?

The answer to the question of “who starts” in seeking and serving his/her spouse… is you. You offer yourself humbly and seek your spouse.

Questions on Face-to-Face Friendship

  • If you are married, how often do you look into each others’ eyes and faces? Is that hard or easy?
  • How would you rate / rank your friendship?
  • How are you a good and bad friend to your spouse? If you have failed… repent, seek forgiveness, and change.
  • Why do you need your spouse? TELL HIM/HER!
  • How is God using you to make one another more holy?

 Part Two of the Real Marriage Conference Series –  Session #2: Sex: God, Gross, or Gift? with Q&A.

Part Three of the Real Marriage Conference Series –  Session #3: Selfish Lovers vs. Servant Lovers with Q&A.

Part Four of the Real Marriage Conference Series –  Session #4: Can We [insert something sexual]? with Q&A.

Buy the Book: “Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together” by Pastor Mark & Grace Driscoll


  1. Nesha

    Great notes! I just started reading his book yesterday, and it made me realize what a horrible wife I am. I have a lot to learn. I wish he wrote this when we first got married!

  2. Jormari rullan

    God bless , wow as i read this it open my eyes a lot . I am talking to a guy its been two years just talking and we had our ups and downs . But now i see how we are growing . Soon we are planning to become girlfriend and boyfriend . I know God has great things for me and him . And then in the future finally get marry . This website is helping me so much on how to become a wife . Thank you jesus .

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