Bob: Longevity in marriage is not something that just happens. It takes intentionality. Here’s Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: Barbara and I have been married 45 years. I’m going to tell you—we have had some rugged spots in raising six kids through the teenage years and beyond; but we have never, ever uttered the d-word. We made a commitment we would not say the d-word; instead, we have used the c-word: “I’m committed. I’m not leaving. We’re sticking together.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, June 14th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. When your commitment to your marriage is tested—and it will be—what do you do? How do you stay close rather than drifting toward isolation? We’ll hear from Dennis Rainey about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Thanks for joining us.
Dennis: We’re going to start some fires on the broadcast today.
Bob: Start some fires?
Dennis: That’s right—creating fires of romance—
Bob: Okay; that kind of fire.
Dennis: —fires of romance in your marriage. This is FamilyLife Today, Bob.
Bob: Got it.
Dennis: Have you forgotten where you were?!
Bob: I was just wondering what we were going to talk about.
Dennis: That movie that you created—that movie—I think it burned a few extra—
Bob: No; I was just thinking—
Dennis: —extra gray cells.
Bob: —you want to talk about fire today; okay?
Dennis: I don’t have that many to spare. You can spare a few, but—[Laughter]
Bob: This is actually—we’re actually going to hear a portion today of a message that you shared with an audience earlier this year. This was a message about keeping romance alive even in those seasons of life when it’s hard to do; right?
Dennis: I want to encourage all of our listeners to go all the way to the end; because near the end of the broadcast, I share about building some boundaries around your lives / around your marriage; so you can have a fire pit and have the fires burning.
Bob: Alright; well, let’s dive right into the fire; shall we?
Dennis: We shall!
Bob: Here is Part One of a message from—
Dennis: Let’s change that a bit—diving into the fire—[Laughter]
Bob: You’re the one who starting saying—
Dennis: Let’s go start some fires—forget diving in! [Laughter]
Bob: Here’s Dennis Rainey talking about keeping romance alive in your marriage.
Dennis: Well, as some of you know, we have six adult children who are now all married. You know, when we were in the process of raising teenagers, I had a little—I wouldn’t call it a tradition—it was just being a daddy. I decided, when the girls were little and I took them on dates, I would interview their dates; so, when they grew up, they expected Dad to have a little conversation with the guy who wanted to take them out. I interviewed somewhere in the neighborhood of 35/40 young men—actually, 34 to 39—one of them fainted in my front room; he didn’t quite make the cut. [Laughter] But I’ve got to tell you something—it was one of the most holy, high privileges—
—to intersect with these 16- to 18-year-old young men, who had come to take out my daughter.
Well, that was so successful in really connecting with these young men—by the time they got married, and a young man came to ask for their hand in marriage, I decided that, if the wedding was going to cost what it was going to cost, then I was going to have more to say than a line in a wedding when the pastor asked, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”—“Her mother and I do.” [Laughter] I decided I wanted to have something to say to this young man about what it meant to care for, to nourish, to protect, to love, and honor our daughters.
The last one just showed up about a year-and-a-half ago. His name was Josh, and he was showing up to get our daughter who, at the time, was 31; right, sweetie?
Laura had been single a long time, and she had been praying for the young man to come get her. Here’s the thing—because of our work, Barbara and I knew that their marriage was going to take place on a spiritual battlefield. If they were going to keep the fire burning of their romance, they needed to know some things and apply some things in their marriage before they got married. I asked Josh if he would meet with me for six sessions.
Well, by the time I got to Josh, I had refined this a little bit. [Laughter] It started out to be six conversations—they were about 60 minutes each. Well, I met with Josh for 90 minutes. One evening, it lasted for two hours. I think that was the one on sex, but there is no greater privilege—I want to tell—than preparing a young person to go into this institution of marriage—the way the Book opens / the Bible opens—and to help them know how to experience that.
What I want to share with you about keeping the fires burning and building a fire in the rain in your marriage—keeping the romance alive / keeping the relationship thriving—instead of just getting by—I want to shoot straight with you—just like I did with Josh. I want to share with you five ways to keep the fire burning in your marriage. You know this—this is just a tough culture to keep a marriage—the marriage fires burning.
The first point is: “Marriage is built upon the foundation of commitment.” Have you ever tried to strike a match on a windy day? What do you look around for if you’re trying to strike a match on a windy day? You try to find a corner around the building, where you’re out of the wind. Well, I want to talk with you about how commitment can be a wall—a four-sided wall—around your marriage to keep the fires burning, and keep it safe inside the marriage, and to strike the original match that God had for you.
To do that, I want to look at a passage of Scripture: Matthew, Chapter 7, verses 24-27. Look at this: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”—“And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Both houses had the same storms, the same floods, the same winds. One stood; the other perished. Why?—
—because it had been built on the rock of Jesus Christ. Commitment to Christ is the first commitment of two I want to talk with you about—a surrender to Christ that says: “You’ve got my life, Lord. Do with me as You wish.”
Barbara and I signed a commitment in our first Christmas in 1972 and surrendered our lives to Christ; and God showed up and showed off. He gave us great privileges we never dreamed of. I was hoping for two kids—He gave us six; a few grandkids—we got 23. [Laughter] God is a God of great benefits if you’ll surrender to Him and take Him at His word.
I ran across something that I want you all to listen carefully to. It’s a quote by C.S. Lewis that Barbara found:
Imagine yourself a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house.
At first, perhaps, you understand what He’s doing. He’s getting the drains right, stopping the leaks in the roof, and so on. You knew those jobs needed to be done, so you’re not surprised; but presently, God starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is God up to?
The explanation is He is building a quite different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.
Then, listen to Lewis’s conclusion:
You just thought you were being made into a decent little cottage, but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in that palace Himself.
This is the adventure—the adventure of the God of the universe—that you can know Him, and walk with Him, and be obedient to Him, and surrender to Him, and experience what He has for your life. So, how do you do that? How do you get this commitment straight? I think you do it by praying together every day.
Barbara and I have prayed together for 45 years. We have missed a few days, here and there, but not many. Many times, it’s just a short prayer; but I want to tell you something—I’m convinced that two stubborn, selfish, strong-willed human beings, when we bend our wills before Almighty God, He shows up.
I would challenge you, as one of your action points, as you come out of this week, determine you’re going to take God at His word and both begin to yield, on a daily basis, and let that be the wall—the wall that enables you to build a fire in your marriage, where God shows up.
I say it this way: “The couple that prays together stays together and grays together.” It’s a great privilege to walk with Christ with Barbara Rainey and to have done it for 45 years. I love her, and it’s been a privilege to do it with our Savior.
There’s a second commitment here I want you to notice. It’s a commitment to keep your covenant. Song of Solomon, Chapter 8, is a great book on romance. This is the Shulamite woman, Solomon’s wife—she says: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are the flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.”
What is she talking about?
She’s talking about desiring the safety of a promise that says: “I’ve got you, Babe. It’s you and me for a lifetime.” Barbara and I have been married 45 years. I’m going to tell you—we have had some rugged spots in raising six kids through the teenage years and beyond; but we have never, ever uttered the d-word. We made a commitment we would not say the d-word; instead, we have used the c-word: “I’m committed. I’m not leaving. We’re sticking together.” This is the second half of the fence—the fence that says, “We’re in this together for a lifetime.”
How do you build a fire? You build it through a commitment to Christ and a covenant with one another. The first point, then: “Marriage is built upon the foundation of commitments.”
Second way to build a fire in the rain is:
“Quench fatal attractions that cause destructive wildfires.” This is in the news: #MeToo. Our nation is waking up that it cannot be a sexually-permissive nation. The Proverbs warns about this: Proverbs, Chapter 6, verse 25-29—look at this: “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life. Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.”
It says you’ll get scorched—fire can be destructive. Fire in a fireplace, which Barbara and I love, can warm you. A couple of years ago, we were celebrating a new year, sitting by the fire in our fireplace, enjoying a really nice, warm fire with oak burning. All of a sudden, there was a noise—a sound like a jet. There was a chimney fire heading up our chimney. I went outside, and flames were shooting out of the chimney in 360 degrees about three feet. We thought we were going to burn the house down.
Fires can be destructive when they are not burning in the place they need to be burning. Let your fire be for one woman / for one man.
What I learned from that chimney fire—listen to me—preventative maintenance is the place to begin. [Laughter] I should have called a chimney sweep—I didn’t think that it was building up—but it was dangerous!
I look back over my life, and I look and I think, “God has been so good to give me the advice of others who have walked before me to help me build some boundaries to keep my fire in the fireplace.” As a man, I just want you to listen to some of my list that I have developed of boundaries and precautions about the opposite sex. I haven’t done this perfectly, but I—there is no woman who is going to #MeToo about me, because I have been faithful to one woman for 45 years. [Applause]
Just real quickly, here they are:
I try to never get in a car alone with a woman. I can tell you the last two times in forty-five years where that happened; and I thought, “I should not be here.”
I always try to copy Barbara when writing emails to women.
The only women I go to lunch with by myself is Barbara, my daughters, my granddaughters, and my daughters-in-law.
I don’t friend on Facebook® former classmates from high school or college.
I always try to get a side hug instead of a front hug.
If I have a meeting with a woman, the blinds are open, the door is cracked open.
I only kiss members of my family on the cheek and very close friends.
When I struggle consistently with lust, I tell Barbara.
When taking a picture with a female and her husband, I try to put my hand on his back and not hers.
Finally, I made a commitment to Barbara I would not share our personal struggles that we go through with another woman.
Now, you may think some of those are foolish; I don’t. Let me tell you something—just like my chimney, preventative maintenance is the place to start to prevent destructive wildfires.
One of the ways we prevented it—date nights. Barbara and I had a standing date night on Sunday night. When we would occasionally miss that, when we had teenagers—our kids would come to us and say: “Mom/ Dad, aren’t you going out on a date? We want you out of here tonight!” [Laughter] They were needing a break from us just like we were from them. Our date nights gave us a chance to recalibrate our priorities, along with raising them and how we were doing it—which one needed work.
One of radio listeners wrote us—she said, “It was romance that gave us our children, and it was the children that took our romance.”
Listen to me—your marriage—your marriage must be built to outlast your kids. It is more important that your kids know that you’re wife is far more important to you than they are; and moms, the same thing is true for your love for your husband. My daughter over here [pointing to Laura] knows: I love her / I love her sisters and brothers; but hey, it’s Barbara that I choose over them.
There are other fires you need to quench—just a couple of comments about this—emotional affairs. Emotional affairs are the beginning of a sexual affair. A sexual affair doesn’t start in bed. It starts when two hearts connect around a problem or a need, and two people spark a little fire off to the side. Sexual affairs don’t begin in bed—they begin emotionally.
Quench those fires. I’ve given the phone to a guy and said, “Call her now and put an end to your relationship before it goes too far.” Quench the fire in order to have a fire in your fireplace.
Then, there is the fire today of pornography. I can’t tell you how dangerous this is and how passionately I feel about what we are doing to our sons and our daughters, who are seven/eight/nine/ten years old. We can’t have a permissive society like we’ve had and poison a generation as they get started—it’s addictive in the brain. And who did God give children to?—parents! You can’t be omnipresent, but you know what? You can ask God to help you catch them—
——it’s not to condemn them but walking them out of their failures into being obedient to Jesus Christ.
If anyone here is struggling with pornography and addicted, you’ve got to go to another man, as a man, and confess that. Get in community and find healing and hope, because this is going to destroy our nation. It’s a dangerous, dangerous drug.
Quench fatal attractions that cause destructive wildfires.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to the first part of a message from Dennis Rainey about keeping romance a priority in your marriage. If you’re going to keep romance a priority, you’ve got to make sure that the fire stays in the fireplace; right?
Dennis: You do. Marriage starts out with a white hot heat.
Some of that is youth; some of that is new love; but every marriage needs to experience that white hot heat of romance later on.
Barbara and I, after 45 years of marriage, still battle to find time to start a few fires and to have some romance. If you’re not intentional, I think what can happen is—I think you can kind of let the fire go out.
Bob: Just to make sure that the guys, who are listening, understand what you’re saying. You’re not just saying you need to protect some time to be intimate in bed—
Dennis: Oh no! I’m talking about—to cultivate the relationship / have some time. In fact, last night—Barbara would not mind me sharing this—but last night, we were lying in bed. Barbara says: “This afternoon, when I took a nap, I just had the thought, ‘If I could just fly away—you know the Scriptures about mounting up with wings like eagles?’”—she was just weary; okay?—
—“’I could just fly away’”—then, there was a pause; and she said—“’and take you with me.’” I said, “Man, I was hoping I made the cut!” [Laughter]
That’s what you’re looking for—you’re looking for time with your spouse, where you get a chance to fly away to a spot—take a walk, hold hands, refresh your memories of why you married each other and why you love each other. Don’t let the fire go out.
Bob: You guys have written on this in one of my favorite books that you’ve written together, called Rekindling the Romance, where you talk to both husbands and wives about what we can do to make sure that our love for one another stays vibrant in our marriage relationship through the years. We’ve got copies of that book available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call to order: 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can call 1-800-358-6329 to order Rekindling the Romance by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. The number, again, is 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
What we’ve been talking about today is something that we talk about all the time, here, at FamilyLife®. We’re talking about oneness in marriage. When you boil it down, that’s God’s design for us in a marriage relationship—that a husband and wife could experience the kind of oneness that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all experience in their relationship within the Trinity. That is a perfect oneness that’s experienced within the Trinity. Our oneness will always be imperfect because of our sinfulness; but as followers of Christ, we can have a taste of what that oneness is designed to be.
At FamilyLife, our goal is to continue to provide you with practical biblical help and hope so that your marriage can be all that God intends for it to be and that your family can be strong and can thrive in this culture. We’re grateful for those of you who make this ministry possible. FamilyLife Today could not exist if it weren’t for a committed team of folks who donate to this ministry so that we can continue the work God has called us to do. Your donations help expand the reach of this ministry. More and more people are listening online, downloading these messages, listening through our app. FamilyLife Today is being heard and downloaded worldwide, and you make all of that possible every time you donate.
If you can make a donation today, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a copy of a book Barbara Rainey has written called Letters to My Daughters. In the book, Barbara gives advice on being a wife and a mom. The book is our gift to you when you donate today, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com or when you call to donate—1-800-FL-TODAY is the number.
Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329 to donate. You can also mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Tomorrow, we’ll hear more from Dennis Rainey about how we keep romance alive in our marriage, even when we’re going through tough times. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with 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; a Cru® Ministry.
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