Building A Marriage While Building The Fairly OddParents Pt.I
Chris Grace: Welcome to another Art of Relationships Podcast. This is an opportunity, Tim, that we've had to just hang out and talk about all kinds of things, relationships. There's been some fun ones, and there's some opportunities we have to interview some guests, and today that opportunity is now in front of us.
Tim Muehlhoff: Well you know, a bunch of our guests, my kids are like ... I have two kids in grad school; one's a junior here at Biola University, and most times they're like, "Oh, yeah, that's fine." You know, the head of The Marriage Project, so what? Who cares?
Well, today's guest, they were like, "Oh my goodness! This is my favorite show." So we are excited to have some really creative people, and why don't you introduce them to us, Chris.
Chris Grace: Well, we have Butch Hartman and his wife Julieann Hartman and-
Butch Hartman: Hey, I'm one of the fun guests.
Chris Grace: Yes.
Butch Hartman: You have fun guests, I hope we're one of the fun ones. Julieann, let's really try and be fun.
Julieann Hartman: Yes.
Tim Muehlhoff: No pressure.
Chris Grace: So the name may ring a bell, Butch Hartman. Butch, it rings a bell for a lot of people simply because of the animation work, your creative work, and everything, primarily because of what show? I would imagine Fairly OddParents?
Butch Hartman: That was the first show I was really known for, Fairly OddParents, and after that show got very successful, I was able to do a show called Danny Phantom, which it didn't run as long as Fairly OddParents, but it has a massive cult following. People say some shows have a niche, it's very odd with Danny Phantom. Danny Phantom has everyone in that niche. Danny Phantom's a very sought after ... People want me to bring it back all the time. It's very popular.
Then I have another show I did after that called T.U.F.F. Puppy, which is about a secret agent dog who's kind of a moron. Then after that I sold the show, very, about in the last two years called Bunsen Is a Beast, that was my fourth show on Nickelodeon. So four cartoons over the last 20 years. I've been there for 20 years.
Tim Muehlhoff: 20 years.
Butch Hartman: Just left there in February as a matter of fact.
Tim Muehlhoff: Wow.
Butch Hartman: Yeah.
Chris Grace: Well, we wanna hear about that story a little bit, and your journey, and then Julieann just hear from you as well, and what it's like to be in this world, and then as believers. We'd love to hear that journey as well. I know you've got some new things going on-
Butch Hartman: Yes, sir.
Chris Grace: ... in the area of marriage and relationships, and we just wanna hear all about it.
Butch Hartman: Yeah, well, we've been married for 26 years. My lovely wife here, Julieann. We met in a standup comedy club of all places.
Chris Grace: Did you really?
Butch Hartman: Yeah, I was doing standup comedy and so was she. Obviously, we're super successful at it, that's why we're not doing it today. So that was really a good thing to do. We got married in 1992. We were not saved people. We started our Christian walk together too around 1999. I got saved at Fred Price's church, Crenshaw Christian Center. We went there for 10 years, and I was actually ... I went from not wanting to go to church, to being an usher at Crenshaw Christian Center. I was the only white usher at Crenshaw Christian Center. It was very easy.
What a wonderful family of people we met there. And really just started walking with God at that point. From that point, I sold Fairly OddParents around the same time, and just started really applying biblical principles and biblical teaching to my work, and how I approached my work, and how I approached our marriage. We would not be married today if it wasn't for Jesus.
Julieann Hartman: This is a miracle. It really is because we both came from situations where we had no example of what a family, what a husband and wife, let alone the family as well.
Butch Hartman: Very chaotic homes, both of us.
Julieann Hartman: Lots of divorce on my side, lots of divorce on his side. Lot of substance abuse, and so we really didn't know. Butch watched the Brady Bunch, and that was his way-
Butch Hartman: Raise your hand if you know the Brady Bunch.
Julieann Hartman: He was out searching for Carol Brady.
Butch Hartman: And I couldn't find her, so I found Julieann instead.
Julieann Hartman: So you settled on me. We really had no tools. We had no one around us to really model what a relationship was supposed to look like. That was before Christ, so when we got into the word, we still didn't really know a lot of people because you come from the [inaudible], so you don't have a lot of Christian friends at that time, but we had the Word of God that told us what a relationship was supposed to look like. And we really stuck to that. We used it against each other a lot.
Chris Grace: Oh!
Julieann Hartman: Yeah, it was like, "Is that how Christ loves the church?"
Butch Hartman: "Are you loving your wife as Christ loved the church?" I'm like, "No."
Chris Grace: Gave himself up for her.
Butch Hartman: Yeah, exactly right.
Julieann Hartman: Is that how Jesus would talk to the church?
Butch Hartman: I bet there's a million other examples too, but we really just learned how to walk in peaceful way, and really put others before ourselves. Because I think what we really learned through the Bible, especially, is like Jesus says, "You wanna follow me, you deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me."
Deny yourself first, so denying ourselves is what really made us have a better marriage. I was like maybe I should look at the way she feels here, as opposed to me, and so that really helped. But also running a show. When you run shows in Hollywood, you have a staff of 40, 50 people, and you need to stick to your guns because someone's gonna make the decisions. I'm with creative people all the time, but I have to respect them, and go, well, they have a great idea. This isn't about me right now, their idea is better than mine, let's take that idea, and grow that person.
Lot of people get very egotistical about their shows and things, but I was one of those guys, I tried not to be egotistical, but I really wanted to have a place of growth, a place where people could really have their ideas be heard and be seen.
Chris Grace: In your journey as you think back to that in that time where you started to realize there's more to life, there's something here, and there was this call. Did you guys do it together? Was this something that one of you was more influential in the other? Did God call you both about the same time?
Julieann Hartman: I was actually, my sister invited me to a church down in Orange County when I was about 22 years old, and so I was an actress-
Butch Hartman: So like 3 years ago.
Julieann Hartman: Yeah.
Chris Grace: Well said, well played.
Julieann Hartman: I was an actress, and of course I was depressed because we have to go through all of the emotions to be good actors, but anyway, so all I know is one day I'm at her church, and next thing I know I'm being dunked in water, and up and again. I knew nothing about anything. I just knew, oh, this is supposed to make me better. So I had that experience, but no one told me what to do after that. I had no Bible, I had no one around me, nothing, so I literally woke up the next morning, and I'm looking in the mirror going-
Butch Hartman: "I'm not different."
Julieann Hartman: I'm not different! I was so like, well, that didn't work. Okay, on with my life. I knew I had said those words, but it meant nothing to me. That's why I'm so passionate about people that really don't understand what that meant, who they are in Christ, and we're all about identity.
Butch Hartman: We want people to know that it's not a physical change you go through, it's a heart change you go through. It's a spirit change. So if you are out there, and you are someone who has just received Christ, understand, your spirit has changed. It has changed, but there may be things in your life you have to correct along the way.
Julieann Hartman: We're looking for it. I mean I was physically looking for it, so by the time ... Well, this is kinda funny, but we had our first daughter, and we went, "I think you're supposed to go to church now that you have kids." I mean that's what actually brought us to a church.
Butch Hartman: We don't want her growing up the way we grew up. We want her to have a solidity underneath.
Julieann Hartman: So we went to Church On The Way a couple times, and it was okay. We were not understanding, so again, it's like (silence) blah, blah, you know? Until a friend of ours, a very good friend of ours, we watched him completely change in front of us. We're like, "What are you doing? What changed?" And he said, "You need to come to my church."
So that's when I went down to Crenshaw Christian Center without him, and I came back and I said, I know you're probably not gonna wanna go, but I'm going, and guess what? I'm taking our girls. And he was like, "Fine, go." So I went a couple times, and he was like, "All right, I'm going with you." Then really when they put a Bible in our hands because they had Bibles there, I mean you don't walk in there-
Chris Grace: Without one.
Julieann Hartman: Yeah, if you don't have a Bible, they're putting one in your lap, and they're giving it to you. They put one in our hands, I went, oh, so I can take what he just said-
Chris Grace: And look at it.
Julieann Hartman: And find that here, now start living my life.
Chris Grace: What a great story. That's a great journey.
Butch Hartman: A lot of churches didn't offer that. If you're gonna search for it, because the Bible says, "He's a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. If you diligently seek Him, He will reward you." So you've gotta diligently seek Him. You might get saved that one day, but it's walking that out, and having the heart to wanna follow what Christ has put in your heart. So that's kinda where we went.
Tim Muehlhoff: One of the first things we did as a center is came up with this marriage mentoring curriculum, because what you're discussing is you needed mentors.
Julieann Hartman: Yes.
Tim Muehlhoff: You needed somebody to sit down and not only in the walk with Christ, discipleship, but also in a Christian marriage, just to sit down and say, hey, you made this life changing decision. That didn't mean your marriage improved at all.
Butch Hartman: Exactly.
Tim Muehlhoff: And so that's why we just decided as a Center for Marriage and Relationships, we got to find couples that will just take time to mentor, and now how cool that you're in a place now, later, that you could do the mentoring.
Butch Hartman: We actually do mentor a lot of people.
Julieann Hartman: Oh, absolutely, we do a lot.
Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, that's great.
Julieann Hartman: We do a lot.
Butch Hartman: And we mentor a lot of single people. She mentors-
Julieann Hartman: Especially single moms.
Butch Hartman: She mentors a lot of single mothers.
Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, great.
Chris Grace: That's great.
Butch Hartman: I mentor a lot of younger boy, like teenage boys.
Julieann Hartman: He's usually getting the kids, like the sons.
Butch Hartman: I do. I'll get the kids of, the sons of the singles.
Julieann Hartman: Because think about it, the fathers leave, and in the most cases that we have in our area, the fathers are nowhere near the children.
Butch Hartman: That's why God designed couples to be together, so children could have that influence of both a man and a woman as they get older. A lot of people are gonna kill us for saying this, but it's like that's just the way it's supposed to be.
Chris Grace: Right.
Butch Hartman: You know, a boy or a girl without both parental models to follow will suffer in some way. Now, can you survive that way? Of course you can, but is it ideal? Is it the ideal way to survive? Of course it's not the ideal way to survive. So we do our best to try and keep people together as much as we can only because we came from the chaotic situation-
Chris Grace: Right.
Butch Hartman: ... ourselves. We know what it's like.
Julieann Hartman: I didn't have my father, and he didn't have his mother. So we both-
Tim Muehlhoff: You both had this-
Julieann Hartman: The chances of us staying together were so slim because I didn't trust a man, and he didn't trust a woman. Like I said, only-
Butch Hartman: I didn't trust men either. I didn't trust many people.
Julieann Hartman: Only God put this together because there's no other explanation.
Butch Hartman: We just drove two and half hours in the car to get down here, and we're still married, so just making sure you guys understand how-
Julieann H.: We only fought about four times.
Chris Grace: In this whole time now that you're finding out there is something really important in this world, that there's much more meaning out there than you guys knew when you started. It seems as if this was a pretty quick transformation, but then it's been a journey over the years, and now it sounds like you have some passions about this area. You're starting a new foundation, or at least a new-
Butch Hartman: We have a foundation we started in 2005 called Hartman House, that's our charitable foundation where we build homes around the world.
Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, great.
Butch Hartman: We go to third-world countries and we supply food and clothing, whatever they need. We do things here in town. We actually support a homeless center called New Friends Homeless Center in Encino. We support a center for abused children in Texarkana, Arkansas called Water Springs Ranch. It's amazing.
Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah, sure.
Butch Hartman: But we also are starting a brand new family streaming service called All Access Entertainment, and that's been in our hearts for many, many years. That was actually prophesied to us in Crenshaw. In 2005, this pastor prophesied that we're gonna have our own studio someday. At that time I was working at Nickelodeon, I'm like, I'm not gonna have my own studio. My girls are little, I'm just liking doing what I'm doing.
What does the Bible say? God will give you the desires of your heart. Even if you don't have that desire, He'll give you a desire. So as the years went by I started getting this desire. I really wanna do my own stuff. 'Cause I thought I was gonna impact culture through Nickelodeon, and I did, but I wanna impact it even more through my own network, and I wanna bring the family back together.
We wanna have a whole network full of just family friendly entertainment. Not Christian entertainment, but family entertainment because we wanna have people other than just Christians watching our entertainment.
Chris Grace: That's great.
Julieann Hartman: It's important.
Tim Muehlhoff: What's the criteria for that? I'm curious about that. So family friendly ...
Butch Hartman: For example-
Julieann Hartman: Family focused.
Tim Muehlhoff: Family focused.
Butch Hartman: Family focused is our term, but for example, like Napoleon Dynamite's a perfect example of a movie we would have, or The Greatest Showman. Have you seen The Greatest Showman? You haven't seen that either.
Tim Muehlhoff: I have not.
Butch Hartman: Do you ever get out and watch, do you watch anything? He watches football.
Chris Grace: He doesn't know what his children watch apparently.
Butch Hartman: Like School of Rock, there's a couple things I would change about School of Rock, but that's a perfect movie. Will Ferrell's Elf is a great one.
Tim Muehlhoff: Oh, love Elf. I've seen Elf.
Chris Grace: You've seen it.
Tim Muehlhoff: I helped write Elf. I don't talk about it much.
Butch Hartman: That's alright.
Tim Muehlhoff: Well, that's why I'm so busy writing that [crosstalk].
Butch Hartman: I understand. I understand. We'll quiz you about the story in a second.
But that's what I'm talking about, anything you would've seen on the wonderful world of Disney back in the day is something we would wanna watch right now. And we're not gonna be old fashioned, we're gonna be hip, cool, now. We're not gonna be family boring. We're not boring people.
Julieann Hartman: No.
Butch Hartman: We wanna have an awesome network that everybody can get into.
Julieann Hartman: It's funny because we have people saying, "Is this gonna be boring?" And we're like, "Are we boring people?" We don't wanna watch boring entertainment, you know? But we really wanna focus back on the family, meaning that everybody is disconnected. They're on their phones, daughter's upstairs, son's wherever in the basement in Michigan. Families are everywhere, they're disconnected, and so, there's got to be something that brings the family back together whether it's a comedy or they're crying together or they're on an adventure together. Something has to bring the family back together.
Chris Grace: Why can't we have a show where the mom and dad don't split up? Why can't we have a show about-
Julieann Hartman: They have struggles, but they don't split up.
Butch Hartman: How about the kid that doesn't want to do that horrible thing? Or how about a girl who doesn't ... who gets pregnant but doesn't get an abortion? Things like that. I wanna see stories like that that are uplifting. A lot of people might go, "Well, nobody's gonna watch that." But I think people will. And quality animation and everything.
Tim Muehlhoff: Yes, absolutely. The progression that we've seen in culture today when it comes to media. It is almost unheard of that a couple in primetime don't live together first before they get married.
Butch Hartman: That's what I mean.
Tim Muehlhoff: That's just-
Butch Hartman: Unheard of, yeah.
Tim Muehlhoff: That's the standard now. And you're right, we're just watching Netflix the other day, me and my wife, and sure enough this couple are laying in bed together and they make breakfast together and then the next day, they get engaged.
Butch Hartman: Yeah.
Tim Muehlhoff: It's just an interesting progression. You see it long enough in culture, you start to think, well this is the norm.
Butch Hartman: Well, you become numb to it. Listen, I grew up in that ... I grew up with this same kind of entertainment. But I do think you can have entertainment that doesn't preach to people. It doesn't hit them over the head, but it's just like, hey here's a cool way to live. We're just showing you what it's like. Nobody's gonna be perfect, there's gonna be struggles, but let's have something that doesn't ... Like Netflix takes you two hours to find something to watch sometimes, everything's pretty dark. I'm not knocking Netflix but there's a lot of streaming stuff out there ...
Chris Grace: You gotta weed through a lot of bad stuff to get to the good stuff.
Butch Hartman: You do. There's a lot of things out there that you might wanna be careful of.
Tim Muehlhoff: This sounds great.
Butch Hartman: We wanna create as safe an environment as we can without being boring.
Tim Muehlhoff: Yeah.
Chris Grace: As you guys have gone through this and now at this point, would you do Fairly OddParents differently today if you started it again? I mean, you had some great themes in there. You got bullies in there that weren't cast in a good way and Vicky and other characters. But was there anything now you would, if you restarted it all this again and would you think, I might add new themes to make it more or ...
Butch Hartman: Good question. You know, I don't know 'cause the jokes we made back then, I don't think they're bad. I think we can still make the same jokes today. I think, with political correctness that swooped down upon us, I'd have to look at each episode and go, well we can't do that. But I think the themes are pretty much the same.
You have a kid, a little boy, whose parents are nice to him. They love him, but they're a little bit inattentive to him. So as a result, he gets fairy godparents who are ... who give him the power he's always wanted but they're complete idiots and they get everything wrong. They have a rule book, they mess up the rules. "Oh, we stop serving breakfast, which is after 10:30." You know, they can't ... stuff like that.
So, I think we could do the same show, but I would probably add cellphones in there, we'd add ... The internet was brand new when we started Fairy OddParents so we did one where he actually goes into the internet. What is this place called the internet? So, obviously, the internet has been around for a while now so ... I think we'd pretty much be able to do the same thing but with ... I'd probably add a cellphone in there or something. There's probably ... But the themes, I think, thematically, it's about a family, it's about parent that love their kid and a kid just trying to get along in life and I think we could do that for sure.
Tim Muehlhoff: What I love is I teach a class on family communication. And in it, we talk about perspective taking. Not just focusing on what people do but the reasons behind why they do it. What's motivating them? What's their life story? So I love the fact that we meet a bully named Francis-
Butch Hartman: Francis the bully, right.
Tim Muehlhoff: But then we find out that it's because, right, he had abusive parents. He had a tough home life.
Butch Hartman: Yeah, we don't show him getting abused-
Tim Muehlhoff: But it's alluded to, right, that-
Butch Hartman: Yeah, it's alluded to that his dad's not so nice. Yeah, exactly. We have one kid named Chester, Timmy's friend, who comes from the other side of the tracks. And him and his dad live in a trailer park 'cause his dad was a baseball player who was the worst baseball player of all time and so the dad wears a bag over his head to hide his face in shame. But we treated it in a humorous way. Sometimes, it's humorous when I'm talking about it but it's really, it's super, it's funny.
Julieann Hartman: The content is just horrible.
Butch Hartman: Trust me, it's hilarious when you watch it. I gave my crew strict orders like the characters have to come off the page. I don't care where, it's just in comedy in general, I always point to the show, The Office. The office is the most boring environment of all time, but the characters are so hilarious, you'll watch those characters go anywhere.
Julieann Hartman: Paper company.
Butch Hartman: My show came out before The Office. The orders were Cosmo and Wanda have to be so funny, they'll be in any environment, kids have to wanna watch them. And that is where, you know-
Julieann Hartman: And he has some great writers on the show. [crosstalk].
Butch Hartman: And I'll tell you one thing, that show ran for 17 years. They canceled it five times but we just kept praying over the show and you know, I think it's still gonna come back and lo and behold, they would pick it up like a week later. We were gonna cancel it but we want it to come back. So I just really believe that if you keep a positive attitude and if you just understand what God has in store for you and you don't give up and ... If you let the fear get in, we minister on fear all the time. People let fear get in so much and you have to take control over the fear 'cause the Bible says in 2 Timothy, "You weren't born with a spirit of fear. Power of love and a sound mind." So if you weren't born with it, you don't have to hold on to it. You have a choice for fear so we tell people not to follow the fear.
Julieann Hartman: Yeah, 'cause you have authority over it. Think about it, it's the spirit, right? It's not in you, it's something that outside of you that is trying to get on the inside of you and you're the one that lets it in.
Chris Grace: How do you guys see that? Just recently, we had a conference. Tim has published a book recently, Defending Your Marriage. At our conference, we had about 200 people here recently on spiritually defending your marriage and so you talk about fear coming in. It was an important theme for us this past conference that we did and these couples, many of them learned for the first time that there really is things that are both internal that is my own messed up things but then there's also an external, an enemy that can come in and disrupt and take away and prayer seemed to be a very important focus so tell me about that in y'all's relationship, prayer, or fear.
Julieann Hartman: There's bait out there for sure. That you either take it or you don't and that's one thing that people don't realize is that you have authority over that stuff. It's like don't open the door to that. You take pornography and with the internet and our phones, not just young kids but also married men. We all get busy, right?
Butch Hartman: We all know this, there's not very much pornography for women. It's mostly a man issue.
Julieann Hartman: Oh, you just haven't seen my phone.
Chris Grace: Well, hate to tell you, it's growing though. Sadly, it is.
Butch Hartman: It is. But you'll notice, it's predominantly a male-based thing 'cause men are visual. It comes to the ... the Bible says, you gotta guard your eyes, your ears, and your heart. And you guard that eye gate, especially with the phones, with the tablets, and even billboards, it's everywhere. So the temptations are out there everywhere so you have to understand how to guard yourself from that temptation and it all comes down to ego too. It all comes down to self again. We talked about that earlier, it's like well I'm tempted, that would really make me feel good. How would that make other people feel?
Julieann Hartman: Yeah, and they don't realize what that's gonna do for the generation to come in your family when you ... when the man or the woman 'cause women do it too, step out and do something like that. They've really put a big 'ole wedge now between families and now it just ... then, it's like try to bring them to Christ when you had a Bible and you were praying over everybody and now you're ... you've had a girlfriend all this time or you've had a boyfriend all this time. You're like, "What?" That's just so confusing and that why I've been saying, it's like you gotta understand your authority and say no. One thing that I've learned is I check myself. I'm like, what are you thinking right now? Because you can do that. No one else is gonna check your thinking for you.
Tim Muehlhoff: That's so good.
Julieann Hartman: What are you thinking about right now? Am I gonna obsess on maybe he didn't do something I told him to do so now I'm gonna-
Butch Hartman: I always do everything you tell me to.
Julieann Hartman: Yes, I know. I'm so sorry.
Butch Hartman: Every single thing. I drove two and a half hours to get us here.
Julieann Hartman: But now I'm gonna magnify it. No, this is your thing. But now you start magnifying it in your mind. And then the enemies on your shoulder are going, "Yeah, and he didn't remember to do this either." Yeah.
Butch Hartman: That's why you have to watch what you watch. Like, if you watch the news all day, you're gonna get just this lump of dark coal in your soul because the news isn't the same as it was a week ago. The news now is just about destroying people constantly. And you watch the news, all the news focuses on, they say this to you, "Aren't you upset about how you're being treated today?" You're having a great day and you're like, "You know I kinda am upset about how I'm being treated. Tell me more."
Chris Grace: Now that you think about it.
Butch Hartman: And they'll keep telling you how horrible these things are and you're like, you gotta really watch that. You really have to 'cause that's gonna put a seed, everything you hear is a seed that goes into your body and, I mean, into your spirit. And the seed, it could be a good seed or a bad seed. So it's our responsibility-
Tim Muehlhoff: And that's important to friends. That's the importance to having couples that are either gonna help you focus on the negative things that your spouse does or the positive things 'cause-
Julieann Hartman: Oh, girls getting together?
Tim Muehlhoff: Well, guys too. [crosstalk].
So there's something we talk about called divorce clustering, which means when one couple gets a divorce, it really spreads like a virus. And people start talking about divorce and things like that. And even focusing on the positive aspects of it. So there can be positive clustering as well. We have just a group of friends who say, "Yeah, push through that hard time. Yeah, this is a tough season in your marriage but think about all the great things about him. Think about all the great things about her." That counter voice is really important.
Butch Hartman: And this is not to condemn anybody but when you get divorced and you have children and you remarry and you have that whole thing going on where there's two families now.
Julieann Hartman: It's hard.
Butch Hartman: And you're bonded to the person that you have children with for all the rest of your life so it's ... It can just really be difficult and we've met a lot of people where they'll tell us the whole story and it really came down to one little thing. If it had gotten past the one little thing, all the years of chaos would not have happened. I can go back to my own childhood, it's like, well, those few things, but you know, my parents were very young when they got married. And they had bad examples too. And so it all, it can just spread onward and onwards.
Julieann Hartman: And being children of that whole divorce thing, it's awful. And then you've got a lot with the moms hating the dads and telling the kids, "Your father is this and that."
And for me, my father was a very bad man as far as, you know, he was abusive to everybody but I loved him. And so, remember she was married to him but I was his daughter. And so, to hear someone, "Yeah that didn't work out." And she had every right to but it's like be careful what you say because no matter what, he's a part of me. I didn't marry him, he's not my best friend, he's my father and so now, now I become father-less and go, well what is there for me? I've just got a mom because the man that you keep telling me is this horrible person, I can't have a relationship ... The thoughts in my mind was horrible and so, now you shut down that male thing in you, right? And now here comes a man and you're like, "No, I don't think so. You're not getting in here 'cause the only other one that did, I couldn't talk to anymore and he did horrible things so I can't let you in."
Butch Hartman: So basically, the first three or four years of our marriage was a real blast. It was a real blast.
Tim Muehlhoff: But that's true of ... That's so good for you guys to say this to our listeners. There's a man named John Gottman, he's one of the top marriage experts researchers and he says, boy it's that first two, three year mark that either makes a marriage or breaks it because ... and again, we see tragically couples calling it quits, it used to be like the seven year itch. We saw in research now, Chris, it's down to what? Three, four?
Chris Grace: Now down to even less than three years, is the most common median age ... length of time before a divorce.
Tim Muehlhoff: So I love that listeners are hearing what you're saying is listen the first couple of years are tough, we had to push through it but now, you're married, you have a great ministry, you ... it's obvious you love each other.
Butch Hartman: We also have two amazing daughters that are 20 and 23. That were raised in church and when I say raised in church, we didn't tie them to a chair and make them read scripture. We got them in a youth group, we showed them, like hey, these are some great kids your age-
Julieann Hartman: We were the church at home though. There's the difference because-
Butch Hartman: We explained things at home and we lived it.
Julieann H.: We lived it and that's where a lot of PK's, I feel so bad for them because a lot of their parents are modeling one thing and then at home, it's a whole different thing.
Chris Grace: Well, we want to spend some more time talking about this very thing. What's coming next for you guys? Where you're at? Where you're heading? But also this idea of people who are out in this particular world and this environment who are trying to start a family, starting to have a great foundation for their marriage and just some help and some tips and some ideas of things you guys have learned. Does that sound good for the next area?
Julieann Hartman: Yes.
Butch Hartman: Fantastic, yeah.
Chris Grace: Next topic? Let's do that and continue then. So we're gonna continue this, Tim.
Tim Muehlhoff: Sounds great, I love it. Thanks for joining us.
Christopher Grace serves as the director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships and teaches psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology. He and his wife, Alisa, speak regularly to married couples, churches, singles and college students on the topic of relationships, dating and marriage. Grace earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Colorado State University.
Michigan native Butch Hartman remembers wanting to create cartoons as far back as kindergarten. He recently left Nickelodeon after 20 years where he spearheaded four successful series, including: "The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom, T.U.F.F. Puppy, and Bunsen is a Beast. Hartman began working on Nickelodeon's Oh Yeah, Cartoons! where he created a new short, The Fairly OddParents. The short was then developed into an animated series and became a mega-hit for the network when it launched in 2001. The Fairly OddParents ranks as Nickelodeon's third longest-running animated series, behind Spongebob SquarePants, and Dora the Explorer. In 2011, Nickelodeon commemorated the 10th anniversary of the animated series with the live-action/CG animated TV movie: A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!
Hartman's passion project is Hartman House, a non-profit foundation established by Hartman and his wife Julieann in 2005. Through Hartman House, the Hartman Family help underprivileged children all around the world. Since its formation, Hartman House has helped support numerous global child-based charities. More information regarding the non-profit foundation is available at www.hartmanhouse.org.
Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University and author of several books, including I Beg to Differ and Marriage Forecasting. His most recent publication, Defending Your Marriage, speaks to spiritual warfare in marriage and how to equip yourself to defend your relationship. For the past 18 years, he and his wife, Noreen, have been frequent speakers at FamilyLife marriage conferences. Muehlhoff regularly writes and speaks for the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships. Follow Dr. Muehlhoff on Twitter.