FamilyLife Today® Podcast

A Keeper of His Wife

with Rick Phillips | November 9, 2010
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Eve was in Adam's care. Who is in yours? Author Rick Phillips explains what it means for a man to be the keeper of his wife, to nourish and cherish her with self-denying love.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Eve was in Adam's care. Who is in yours? Author Rick Phillips explains what it means for a man to be the keeper of his wife, to nourish and cherish her with self-denying love.

  • 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.

Eve was in Adam’s care.

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A Keeper of His Wife

With Rick Phillips
November 09, 2010
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Bob:  Talk about a man as a protector.  I mean, in today’s world I don’t carry a sword to work.  So, what is my—I’m not packing heat today.  What does protector look like?

Dennis:  Today?  Did you pack it tomorrow?


Bob:  You never know.

Rick:  Two weeks ago, I spoke at a youth retreat.  Here is how I put it to teenage boys: If you are on a date with a young lady, your first priority is her well being.  You are not there for warm feelings for you because you are a Christian.  You are not there just to have a good time.  Her well being—God has placed her under your care.  Your number one priority is that her body and her soul and her heart are kept safe.  That is the biblical perspective of manhood. 

Boaz, now there is a real man for you.  He looks upon Ruth and he has her well being and he is going to take action.  Even before he interacts with her, he is going to do what is right to make sure that she is taken care of. 

So, a biblical man is one who not just kind of shows up and beats his chests; and if there is an assailant there, he steps forward, that may be true.  But one who also is in the mode of watching over.  Psalm 121, “The Lord keeps your soul.  The Lord watches over Israel.”  We are those who watch over and keep things safe precious things that God has placed in our care.


Dennis:  Rick, I wrote a book called Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date.  Now, if you talk about—

Rick:  Were you packing heat? 


Dennis:  No, I had a baseball bat. 

Bob:  Yes.  That is what he used.

Dennis:  It was called the “Respect-her.”  Okay?

Rick:  Alright.

Dennis:  Alright.  I had a friend who read that book who actually did what you are talking about.  He was being a man with his daughters.  He had a couple of daughters who went to the prom, and he called both of the boys in to meet with him prior to going to the prom.  He looked them in the eye; and he said to them, “If there was a terrorist that broke into the prom and began to shoot people, I want you boys to know, you young men, as you take my daughters out to the prom I expect you to take a bullet on behalf of my daughter.” 

He said, “You know, it was kind of interesting.”  It not only shocked and stunned them that here was an older man kind of commissioning them with their assignment for the evening to protect his daughter.  But he also said, “They kind of stood up a little taller in the seat and bowed up as men being commissioned by an older man” to assume what you are calling their God given responsibility.

Bob:  I don’t know if he did this.  He could have gone on and said if there is some other guy at the prom, because the terrorist is probably not going to show up, but if there is some other guy at the prom who starts acting untoward, I expect you to get in the middle and stop it.

Rick:  Or teasing.  Let me give you a story from my own family.  Just a few years ago when my boys were a little younger, my boys were ten and twelve.  They were maybe three years younger, so maybe what six and nine—and eight.  When my older son and my younger son were playing across the street, my younger son came home crying.  I asked, “What happened?” 

It turned out that one of the boys that they were playing with had struck him on the head.  He didn’t hurt him, but he hurt his feelings; and they, basically, ran him off.  So, I said, “Where was your older brother?”  Well, he was there.  By the way now, my older son is a fine young man who I am very proud of.  But this was an episode in which I was able to raise him as a man, right?

Bob:   A little correction.

Rick:  So, I went across the street.  When they saw me, it was like “uh-oh” there he is.  I said, “I only want to talk to one person, my oldest son.”  I asked him, I said, “Why did you not protect and defend your brother?”  What did he tell me? “Why did you not physically defend your brother?”  Because I’m a Christian.

Dennis: Yes.  Sure.

Rick:  When Jesus says turn the other cheek; He is talking about people assaulting you, not assaulting others.  I said, “Next time—let me tell you something, young Christian man.  How would you feel if another man on the street struck you, and I walked away?”  Well, I wouldn’t feel very good.  Well, it would never happen.  I expect you to have bloody knuckles.  I am not telling him to be a fighter, but you physically sacrifice yourself to protect your younger brother. 

About six months later, I was travelling somewhere preaching, and they had a little league game.  There was a man at the little league field stalking my wife, and my older son visited him with an aluminum baseball bat in his hands. 

Bob:  Really?

Rick:  He is like nine years old.  “You’ve been following my mother, and I want to advise you to stop doing that.”  Now that is not bullies; that is not people who long to fight.  But it is inculcating an attitude of responsibility for the safe keeping of those whom God has placed under our care. 

Bob:  It is not just the safe keeping from the enemies outside, but a real man has to be on guard against the evil inclinations of his own heart and protect others from the evil that lurks inside of him.  Don’t we?

Rick:  You know that is especially true in marriage.  The greatest danger facing our wives is our sin.  I had a friend who was pastoring that had normal marital problems, typically things; and I was ministering the word of God.  I was reading Ephesians 5 and teaching him that. 

He came to me one day; and he said, “You know, the Bible says I’m to be willing to die for her as Christ died for me.  If I should take the bullet, he said but I realized that—I thought this way—” Here is how he put it. 

He said, “I thought if a man came into my house with a knife and were going to attack my wife, I would stand before him.  Then I realized that I am the man who comes into my house in my attitude and the way I speak to her and the way I treat her is destroying her.  I have to be willing to put to death my sins if she is going to be safe.”

Dennis:  You know, as you were talking, Rick, I was thinking the word that we’re talking about here: A man being a keeper, a keeper of his wife.  My mind runs to the New Testament in Ephesians 5 where it talks about a man nourishing and cherishing his wife.  It is basically loving his wife with self denying, sacrificial love, giving of himself to protect her, and also help her to grow as a woman.

Rick:  It really is the masculine mandate.  The biblical calling on men to work and keep you’ll see it played out in marriage.  Peter, 1 Peter 3:7—very much like Paul in Ephesians 5—“Live with your wives according to the knowledge, cherishing her.” 

It is the working, it is the nurturing.  Men know your wives.  Pay attention to your wives.  We don’t pay attention to our wives.  We need to repent of that.  We need to be instructed by the Bible.  Then, minister aggressively to your wife and then keep her safe. 

Dennis:  I was doing a Bible study for a group of presidents of companies over the phone.  In fact, Bob, I think you and I did this together.

Bob:  Yes.  I remember this.

Dennis:  I did three sessions.  Bob did three sessions.  These were all really good guys.  They were in the Scriptures.  They were trying to be Christ followers.  I will never forget though to this very point you are talking about here. 

I asked those guys to go around the circle.  Actually, it was around the nation, okay, because there were a number of states represented by the men that were on the phone there.  I said, “Answer this question: Right now, what are your wife’s top three needs?”  It was like I had electrocuted those guys, stunned them. 

Bob:  Anybody still on the line here?  Hello?  Hello?

Rick:  I am going to give a simple technique for learning this; so, men get out a pencil and paper.  It is two words: Ask them. 

Dennis:  Yes.


Bob:  Really?

Rick:  You want to know how to nurture your wife, ask her.  She will tell you how to do it.

Dennis:  That is exactly what ended up happening.  We didn’t get much, much interaction on the question.  So, I said, “Okay.  Here is the assignment out of this week’s Bible study.  I want you to go home, and do not, do not—I repeat for a third time—do not go in and say, ‘Well, I was on this Bible study call and the guy who is leading it said I had to ask you what your three needs are.’ No, no, no.  That is not the way to get a point guys.  You don’t get any points for that kind of a question.”

Go in and say, “Sweetheart, I really do want to understand what your needs are right now.  Would you give it some thought?  Then, after we’ve put the kids to bed or a little later on in the evening, would you just jot down and tell me what are your top three needs.” 

Now, I am talking to some men right now, who are husbands, maybe your wife is listening, too.  I am sorry if that is the case because you are under tremendous pressure right now. 


Bob:  When you get home and ask the question tonight, if your wife just starts to smile real big, it is probably because she was listening to FamilyLife Today.

Rick:  She may send her donations to the following phone number.

Dennis:  That is exactly right.  Here is what you need to do.  You need to say, “Sweetheart, I really do want to know.  We can laugh about this, but I really do want to know what are your top three needs.” 

Here is what a guy needs to understand when he does that.  To be the keeper of your wife doesn’t mean that you ask this question this year; and then, you don’t ask it for another decade.  I mean, this is a seasonal deal.  Your wife’s needs change daily if not weekly, monthly, throughout the year.  Revisit the question quite frequently in different ways so you can be a true man and a keeper of your wife. 

Rick:  It is a modus operandi.  We live this way.  If you do that, Dennis, what you are going to have to do is have medical equipment on by because the first time you do it, she is going to faint.

Bob:  Smelling salts better be right there.


Rick:  It is going to enrich her heart.  She was made by God to respond.  How many people have marital conflict, and at least part of it is the woman has dried up inside because her husband pays no attention to her?  He is far more interested in the Red Sox/Yankees series.  How many times has my wife gone to bed alone because it was the ninth inning?  How much better for me to be more interested or at least just as interested in her than I am with my toys and all the things going on in my life of that nature. 

When a man takes an interest in her and says, “I’m going to make it my joyful duty to build you up and minister to you,” he is going to get some affection.  It may take some time, but God has designed our wives to respond to that.  It will greatly help our marriages.

Bob:  Rick, the guy who goes home tonight and does what Dennis said, “Honey, what are your three greatest needs?”  She goes, “Well, I am glad you asked because I have had a list and it is longer than three.  It starts with what I’ve been saying to you about that pile in the backyard.  I’ve been wanting that picked up, and you said you’d do it and you haven’t done it.”  He is just going, “That is the last time I am going to ask that question.”

Rick:  He needs to man and to persevere.  He may say to me, “Pastor, my wife is just porcupine creature, and it is just not easy to get close to her.”  I say, “What is a little blood on the hands between you and me?  You be the man.  You start building.  She does need to repent maybe.  Maybe her attitude is not right, but it is probably in part resentment from the emotional and spiritual neglect of a husband who has not been keeping her.” 

“So, persevere, my friend.  I really want to encourage you here is the good news:  God has made her—and I’ve seen it over and over—He has made her to respond.  God sovereignly blesses obedience.”

Ultimately, we do this not to just have great marriages and because we love our wives; we honor and glorify our Lord and we give a living witness to the world around us and you will have the help of the Holy Spirit.  Don’t worry about it, He’ll change her—I’m presuming you married a Christian woman.  You ask her, “What makes you feel ministered to by me, and what makes you feel safe?”  You do it out of love.  Look, she can’t keep it up.  She is made by God to respond in love toward this. 

Dennis:  Yes, but it isn’t the flipping of the switch.  I mean, it is just not going to happen instantly.

Rick:  Perseverance.

Dennis:  One of the places I’ve often wanted to be on a Sunday afternoon as couples are leaving our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways that we are hosting all across the country.  We are going to have 137 of them this year.  The reason I would like to be a little bug in the car as they are driving away from the hotel, as the man turns to his wife and begins to apply some of what he has heard in the “men only” session that we lead there for an hour and a half. 

Now, that session drives the women crazy because they want to be in there with their husbands hearing the marching orders that the guys are getting, but we separate them.  The wives get their own orders.

Rick:  Everybody, let’s read their own mail.

Dennis:  That is exactly right.

Rick:  The husbands are experts on the submission of wives.


Dennis:  Yes.  So, we’ve given it to the guys straight on some of these tools and really training exercises.  I would love to be in that car at the moment as they are driving away, and he finally screws up the courage to turn to his wife; and he goes, “Well, kind of would like to know, what are those, those needs of yours that we talked about?” 

I am sure it is probably butchered.  It is probably mishandled by many men, but you know here is the thing that a guy needs to understand: A man who is even clumsy at attempting to minister to his wife’s heart is a big time winner because as you said our wives were made by God to be like sponges that soak up that sacrificial love, that caring, nourishing—

Bob:  They are designed as responders.

Dennis:  They are.  They are.  When a man is attempting to be a spiritual man, even in a small matter or it may be a big matter for a man, to pray with her and to say, “I’d like to take your hand and may I pray for you and what you just shared with me.”  Those are really the payoff moments for a man.  It is when that marriage certificate that is probably in some lock box actually begins to be transformed into a real marriage between two real people.

Rick:  That is right.  As men, let’s lead.  It is true that your wife has sins, and she has probably not respected you the way the Bible tells her to.  She has probably sinned in her speech that is the way it tends to work.  Let the Lord take care of that. 

I’m not there to change my wife; I’m there to love my wife.  She is a Christian woman; the Holy Spirit is working in her life.  Let’s us take the lead.  You’ve got a marriage that is stuck?  Will you work? 

Here is what I want to do in the book from Genesis 2:15.  Folks, it is simple.  It is not easy—not therefore, easy, but work and keep.  Minister and keep safe.  Start doing it.  God will bless it. 

Dennis:  Okay, Rick, we’ve been talking about how to do it right.  I haven’t talked to your wife, haven’t called her; but you’ve had to have blown it.  You have to have some colossal, major mistakes because you are a strong guy; and when you make a mistake, it is not going to be a little one.

Rick:  Well….

Dennis:  You are shaking your head. 

Rick:  Oh, no this is true.  I mean—

Dennis:  You are agreeing with me.  Alright.

Rick:  Sure.

Dennis:  Share one.  Because there are guys listening to this right now and they are going, Bob Lepine is a little snippy in the morning when he gets up. 


Dennis does this and that.  I can’t relate to those guys they’re too perfect.  So, give us—

Rick:  I think the biggest thing for me is that God has given me a great passion for work.  There are things in my work life that I’m very passionate for: my church.  I write a lot books.  I travel and speak.  It is very easy for me to get caught up in that and lose track of my wife and that part of my life.

Dennis:  Like not know where she is?

Rick:  No.

Dennis:  Lose track with her, what do you mean?

Rick:  I’m the kind of person who sometimes I get in places where the weight of the responsibility that is on me is so great I feel like I’m about to be crushed.  Just prayerfully bearing the obligations and trying to meet the expectations, this is what men feel.  The expectations are more than I can do.  So, we begin to focus on our work too much.

Dennis:  So, what happens in your marriage?  Give me a specific illustration.

Rick:  Well, I don’t know if I want to. 


Dennis:  I know you don’t, but that is why I want you to.

Rick:  No, honestly, I am blessed with a very godly wife.  It becomes hard for her, and it will become hard for every woman.  It will start to affect her attitude.  It will for every woman.  When that happens as a man—here is what happens. 

When God came to Adam in the Garden and He said, “Why did you eat of the tree?”  Adam became the first in a long line of two fingered, male blame shifters.  The woman you gave me that was my problem. 

So, if my wife is struggling emotionally and maybe in her relationship in me, it is very easy for me to start thinking of how bad she is and what she is doing wrong.  Fortunately, I read my Bible, and I go, “You know, Rick….”  Honestly, it is almost always attributed to my emotional neglect of her life.

I’m passionate about everything.  I am a big time Boston Red Sox’s fan.  It is very easy for me to be caught up in things and lose track of where she is emotionally.  To be in a social setting and the demand—people want to talk to me, I’ve got things I’m trying—I’ve got balls in the air. 

But you know she is the precious wife whom God has given me.  I should tell you, God has given me the desire of my heart in a godly woman.  Yet, isn’t this sad that I have to be biblically rebuked and commanded to love my wife?  Women have to be told to respect their husbands.  That is bad enough.  We have to be commanded to love our wives because sin is always going to pull men outward. 

The flesh is going to pull man—what are males’ sins: pride, lust, all those sorts of things.  Female sins are resentment, anxiety, fear.  Well, like every other man, I can be pulled out into the world, all the responsibilities and opportunities.  God wants me to love my wife and to be a faithful husband.  We haven’t even talked about children yet.  God wants me to be faithful in those duties, and I really do, too.  But I have this flesh problem. 

Bob:  Boston Red Sox is that what you said?

Rick:  I did.

Bob:  I was going recommend people get a copy of your book, but not anymore.

Rick:  Don’t tell me you’re a Yankee’s fan.

Bob:  No, no, no.  Not a Yankees—no you can have your Yankees, but Dennis and I went to a World Series game a couple of years ago.  We are still smarting from the beating that the Cardinals took at the hands of the Boston Red Sox.  I was going to recommend a copy of your book until I heard about this Boston thing.  There may still be some folks who (laughing) want to find out more about it. 

You can go to for information about Rick Phillips’ book The Masculine Mandate.  No matter what sports team you cheer for or even if you don’t cheer for any sports team, this is really a book that helps align our thinking biblically around what God has called us to as men. 

In fact, I’ve been getting together with a group of guys at church.  We get together every other Wednesday night; we are going through the book.  It has been a great time and a good discussion around the themes that you address in the book.  The guys are really enjoying the time together. 

So, let me encourage men get a copy for yourself, but you may want to get a couple of copies and just get together with some other guys and go through this material.  Again, the book is called The Masculine Mandate by Rick Phillips.  You can go online at for more information about how to get a copy. 

Again, it is  Or call toll free 800-358-6329.  1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, then the word to TODAY, and ask how you can get a copy of the book The Masculine Mandate by Rick Phillips.  We will get it sent out to you.

Now we want to ask you as a listener to pray for us over the next month and a half, roughly.  This is a critical time here at FamilyLife as it is for a lot of non-profit ministries like ours.  The last 45 or 50 days of the year are when a lot of people will make year end contributions to help support ministries like ours.  What happens in November and December really determines a lot of what will take place in 2011 because it is during these months when much of the critical funding for the ministry happens. 

So, we want to ask you to pray that God would supply exactly what we need, that we would be able to continue on our network of radio stations, continue to maintain and enhance our FamilyLife Today website.  We also want to ask you if you are able to help with the year end contribution.  Go to and make an online donation.  Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a donation over the phone. 

Again, we appreciate you listening, and we appreciate your prayers.  For those of you who are able to help with a donation, we appreciate your financial support as well.  It really is a partnership.  We are thrilled for your involvement.

We hope you’ll be back with us tomorrow.  Rick Phillips is going to be here again, and we are going to talk about our responsibilities as men in raising the next generation.  Particularly, the sons and daughters God has given to us.  We will talk about that tomorrow.  Hope you can be back.

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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today

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