Advice for the Romantically Challenged
About the Guest
So you think you're ship shape in the romance department, right? Think again. In part two of "Romance for Dummies", Bob is back for an eleventh and most critical tip for the romantically challenged.
Bob LepineBob Lepine is the Lead Pastor at Redeemer Community Church in Little Rock, Arkansas which he helped plant in 2008. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Great Commission Collective, a church planting ministry connecting more than 150 churches world wide. Bob also hosts Mornings on Family Radio, a network of more than 70 radio stations in the US. He is also well known to radio and podcast listeners as the long-time co-host of FamilyLife Today® and as the on-air announcer for Truth...more
So you think you’re ship shape in the romance department, right? Think again.
Advice for the Romantically Challenged
Bob: There is a difference between love in marriage and romance; right? The truth is there is never going to be much romance unless you figure out how to get the love part right.
Woman: I would say romance is the little things, and little things can add up to be a part of true love.
Woman: It’s kind of like the candy coating of an M&M®. You know, like the chocolate would be the true love.
Man: True love is the day-to-day commitment that you have as husband and wife to serve each other—to love each other, even when you don’t feel like loving each other—and just the day-to-day activity.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, June 21st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk about cultivating romance in marriage by understanding what real love looks like. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition.
Dennis: You know, Bob, we had so many people who enjoyed the first half of your message from the Love Like You Mean It Cruise™.
Bob: Yes—“Romance for Dummies”.
Dennis: You gave ten tips for the romantically-challenged. Back, by popular demand, is not the same message, but the second half—
Bob: Part Two of the message.
Dennis: —of the message that you gave earlier.
Bob: Yes, and this was, as you said, on the 2012 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. We wanted to make sure that our listeners knew that the 2013 Love Like You Mean It is starting to fill up. So, if you’ve even thought about joining us Valentine’s week of 2013—to be with Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Mary Ann and I are going to be on the cruise. Voddie Baucham is going to be back with us again this year. Dr. Eric Mason is joining us.
Dennis: All kinds of entertainment.
Bob: Yes, we’ve got Anthony Evans, who is going to be onboard. Denver & the Mile High Orchestra, Sara Groves, the guys from 321 Improv are going to be there. I mean, it’s a fun event; but our focus for the event is your marriage relationship and how that marriage relationship can be strengthened, and what the Bible has to say about building strong, healthy relationships, that go the distance and that honor Christ.
Our team was telling me recently, “We’re starting to sell out.” I had asked them if we could do something special for FamilyLife Today listeners, just to encourage them to go ahead and sign up and make sure they’re with us Valentine’s week of 2013. So, between now and Monday, June 25th, when you get in touch with us, let us know you’re a FamilyLife Today listener and you’d like to come along with us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.
When you sign up at the regular price, your spouse comes at half-price. Now, this is the only time we’re making a special offer available this year. It’s only good between now and Monday, the 25th. So, if you’re interested, get in touch with us. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click on the link for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. All the details about the special offer are available there, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Mention that you listen to FamilyLife Today and you’d like information about the special offer that we’re making for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. Again, the offer expires Monday, June 25th. So, get in touch with us. We’d love to have you on next year’s cruise.
Dennis: As we’ve mentioned, you kicked off the cruise, on Monday night, with a message on “Romance for Dummies”. You gave the ten tips—actually, you gave 11 tips. The 11th tip is this message—that the quality of your romance, as it enhances your relationship with your spouse, will encourage the sexual dimension of your marriage relationship. Let’s listen to Dr. Love, Bob Lepine, from the Love Like You Mean It cruise.
Bob: So, those are ten, but I really have to get to number 11 because we have to talk about the fact that there is a correlation between romance and sex. Now, I mean taking the time to cultivate a warm, tender, romantic relationship will most often improve the frequency and the quality of your sexual relationship. In other words, good sex doesn’t lead to good romance; good romance leads to good sex.
Now, my co-workers had some thoughts on this. One of them said, “Long periods of no sex in marriage do not promote romance.” You’d agree with that; right? I mean—I said, “What do you mean long periods?” He said, “Well, if you are a guy, that’s measured in hours. If you’re a woman, it’s weeks or months.” But, going for long periods of time, without having sex, does not promote good romance; and it’s usually different things to different people.
Then, the next few thoughts came from women. One woman said, “You need to remove everything from your bedroom that doesn’t have to do with either sleep or romance.” She said, “Laundry, toys, and clutter have to go; and lingerie, candles, and body oils need to stay.” Then, she said, “If you’re tempted to sleep in a sweatshirt and sweat pants, get rid of them.” She said, “Flirt with your spouse and have fun flirting. Send him mushy love letters, emails, and voice mails at work.” “If you are going to flirt with him,” she said, “you better follow through; alright? Don’t flirt and say, ‘No, I didn’t mean that—no!’” That’s just mean; okay? [Laughter] She said, “Proverbs 13:12 says, ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. So, if you’re going to flirt, fulfill the longing. It’s life-giving.”
Then, she pointed this out. She said, “By the way, there are women at your husband’s office who know how to flirt with him. So, why don’t you out-do them?” Well, we’ll go on. She said, “Do you know any women who use sex as a weapon? When you refuse to have intimate relations with your husband because you didn’t get your way—that’s unfair, and it’s mean.” She said, “Not only that, but it’s a sin.”
First Corinthians 7:5 says, “Don’t deprive one another, except by mutual consent and then, only for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” That verse is really saying that you are not to use sex as a weapon against one another. I’ve talked to couples where this has been an issue in their marriage. It’s really a sin to do that.
Now, the last three of these tips came from men. I had a co-worker who said, “You know, over time, I’ve learned that cooking dinner for the family, cleaning the dishes, and putting the kids to bed means more than a dozen roses and a cheesy card to my wife;” or put another way, he said, “I’ve learned that the little, green light on the dishwasher is a real turn-on for her if I’m the one who set it.” [Laughter]
Then, another co-worker said, “Some of the best marriage advice we ever got was buying a massage table. That was a great marital investment.” So, you may want to consider that.
Then, I loved this one. A guy said, “The key ingredient for romance for us having lots of undistracted time together where we can talk about anything without interruptions in the shower.”
Now, I want you to understand that all of this stuff that we’ve talked about this evening related to romance. All of these tips, all of these ideas, can be helpful in cultivating a more romantic relationship but only—listen to me—only if your relationship is planted in the right soil to begin with—only if it’s being built on the right foundation.
You see, being romantic with one another is not an event that you do and, then, you store it away until the next time you are feeling romantic again. Being romantic—expressing your care and love for one another—is something that should be a part of the fabric of our life. If you are not doing that, we need to start doing that. Some of you are saying, “Well, the reason I’m not doing that is because my spouse doesn’t do it for me.” Well, you’re in the downward spiral.
You’ve got to be the one who steps forward and says, “I’m going to start expressing.” Even if you get shutdown, or rebuffed, or rebuked the first time—even if there is sarcasm, you just need to keep at it and express to your spouse your love and your care. You know how flowers need the right conditions in order to bloom. Romance is the same way. Real, deep, lasting, passionate romance flourishes in the hearts that have been radically transformed by an understanding of the supernatural love that God has for us.
In order for you to love somebody else well, you have to first understand the love of God for you. It’s once you understand the love of God for you—now, you know how to love somebody else well. In loving somebody else well, the blossoms of romance start to emerge on the tree of your marriage relationship.
Inside Mary Ann’s wedding band, if you were to look at the engraving with a magnifying glass, you would see 1 John 4:19, which says this, “We love because He first loved us.” That’s true. In every relationship, our ability to love one another is dependent on our understanding of God’s love for us. The more you understand, the more you meditate on, the more you focus on and believe God’s love for you, the more you are filled up and able to pour out love for another person. In fact, I want you to follow me, here. If you have romance issues, you probably really have love issues. If you want more romance in your marriage, you need to focus on the love in your marriage.
There are two passages in the Bible that I want us to look at, just briefly, before we wrap things up here tonight. The Book of First John tells you there are two tests to determine whether a person is a genuine child of God because there are imposters among us. There are those who proclaim that they are children of God, and they are not. There are some people who think they are children of God, and they are not.
So, we have to understand, “How to do we know if somebody really is a child of God? How do we know if we really are a child of God?” John writes in First John and gives us the answer to that question. He says the first way you know if somebody is really a child of God—it’s a theological test—do they believe the right stuff about Jesus?
If they don’t believe the right stuff about Jesus, if they don’t believe the revelation of God about Himself and about His Son, then, they are not Christians, no matter what else they tell you. That’s why you can meet people who are nice, and kind, and good, and decent people who are not Christians because they don’t believe what the Bible reveals as true about who Jesus is.
The first test is the theological test, but the second test is the relational test. Not only do they believe the right stuff, but they have the right kind of love for one another. Somebody can believe all the right things; but if their life is absent of love, the Bible tells us that their expression of their faith is worthless. Faith without works is dead. The Bible tells you that that love is a clanging cymbal, or it’s a noisy gong. So, we have to have the right beliefs; but then, we also have to have the right love.
That’s where First John comes in. First John 4:7 says this: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” You see the source there. First of all, “Beloved, let us love one another,”—suggestion or command? It’s a command. Does that say, “Love one another when the feelings are there?” No. Does it say, “Love one another when the mood hits you?” No. It is a command to be actively loving one another.
“Beloved, let us love one another.” That’s the command. How do we do that? Love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” When you are born of God and know God, He fills you up with love and the love spills out of you to other people. So, if you have a love problem in your marriage, you have a God problem in your marriage. If you have a romance problem, you have love problem. If you have a love problem, you have a God problem because the more you know and understand the love of God for you, the more you are able to demonstrate and manifest love for one another.
In fact, First John 4: 10 says, “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” John is saying love is not some warm, sentimental feeling that God has for you. It’s not that God looks and goes, “Oh, you just make Me feel so special. I just love you so much.” No. In fact, the Bible says, “While we were still rebels and enemies against God, God loved us. He sent His Son to die for us to demonstrate His love for us while we were still hostile toward Him.” What kind of love is that? What would your marriage look like if, while you were still hostile toward one another, one of you stepped out and said, “I am going to love you; I’m going to love you, sacrificially. I’m going to love you with kindness and sacrifice”?
You see, love is not all about the romantic feelings. It’s about commitment and self-sacrifice for one another. The test of love is, “Are we sacrificing for the one we love? Are we giving up our lives, our own desires, for the one we love?” The only way that’s going to happen is if you meditate on and contemplate the love that God has for you.
The more you think about God’s love for you, demonstrated in Christ dying on a cross to forgive your sins, to renew your life, to give you life that you didn’t have before—the more you capture that—the more filled up with love you become because that’s the only response that’s logical to what God has done. The more filled up with love you become, the more you start to manifest the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience—which, by the way, those are really romantic, attractive things. Grumpiness and distracted—no. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control—those are turn-ons; okay?
First John 4:16, “We’ve come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love. Whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him.” As you abide in God, you come to know His love. It spills out of you. Then, verse 20 says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he’s a liar.” I want to apply that in marriage. If anyone says, “I love God, but I hate my spouse,”—he’s a liar—not a liar about hating his spouse. He’s a liar about saying he loves God.
It says this commandment we have from Him, “Whoever loves God must also love his brother”—commandment. You may read that and think, “Well, I don’t hate my spouse. I mean, I—yes, I’m okay. I can tolerate him.” Listen—there are a lot of places in Scripture where the Bible teaches us that failing to love someone is the same as hating that person.
When you fail to love another person, Jesus says, “You must hate your father, mother, brother, sister.” He’s not saying you need to go out and hate them. He’s saying, “You must love Me so much that your love for them looks like hate.” Jesus said, “I know you say, ‘Well, I’ve never murdered anybody,’ but have you ever said, ‘You fool’? Have you ever said raca toward another person? Have you ever hated somebody in your heart? Then, you have committed murder toward them. This is serious stuff!
Do you love your spouse? First of all, do you love God? Are you filled up with the love that He has for you? Do you understand that? Have you gotten your mind around that yet? Do you understand what Christ demonstrated for us by dying and giving Himself up for us—the love that is contained there? He did it because He loves you. Let that love fill you up, so that it spills out. When it spills out and you are loving one another in marriage, romance starts to blossom, in all kinds of unexpected ways.
There’s a last passage I want to direct our attention to. It’s a familiar one. It is First Corinthians 13—that famous love passage. There are four verses in there—verses 4, 5, 6, and 7—that talk about what love should look like. What are the qualities of real biblical love? Let me just read the passage: “Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast. It’s not arrogant or rude. It doesn’t insist on its own way. It’s not irritable or resentful. It doesn’t rejoice at wrongdoing. It rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Somebody, one time, as I was hearing that passage taught, said, “Here’s what I want you do. I want you to read back through that, and I want you to take the word, “love”, out of it. I want you to put your name in there.” I want you to read that passage and think about it in the context of your marriage relationship. Then, I’m going to do it with my name, just so you can hear that; but you put your name in there and see, “Does this describe you?” If I went up to somebody and I said, “I want to describe Bob to you. Bob is patient and kind.” Would they go, “Who are you talking about?”
Bob is patient and kind. Bob doesn’t envy or boast. Bob is not arrogant or rude. He doesn’t insist on his own way in marriage. He is not irritable in marriage—not resentful. He doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing, he rejoices with the truth. Bob bears all things in marriage. He believes all things—believes the best about Mary Ann. He hopes all things. He endures all things. Bob’s love never ends, never fails.
Boy, you know what? I started being a liar, back on verse 4 when I was reading that. We’ve got a long way to go in our love for one another; don’t we? If you—if this love doesn’t define you—describe you—if this is not growingly true about you in your marriage relationship with one another, you need to do two things.
First of all, you need to go to God, and you need to repent. You need to say, “God, I’m not the kind of person You have called me to be.” God has sent His Son not just to forgive your sins but to transform you. He gave you a new heart; and that new heart, that is available to you, is a transformed heart that can make you more and more into the kind of person that He wants you to be. If this is not what’s growing in you, then, you need to go to God and say, “God, I’m not the person I need to be. Help me. Send Your Spirit to do a work in my life.”
Then, the second thing you need to do is—you need to go to your spouse—maybe, even on this cruise—and say, “I haven’t been loving you well. I haven’t been loving you the way I should be loving you. That doesn’t describe me. I am irritable. I am proud. I do boast. I do insist on my own way. I am unkind, and I want to change.”
Then, the two of you need to pray, and you need to ask God—and I would tell you this, “Look, don’t go on a love improvement program; but instead, consider the Cross—think about what God did for you. Meditate on the work of Christ on the Cross for you. Let God fill you up with love as you consider His love for you, so that that love will pour out of you to another person.”
Here’s the last think I want to share with you tonight. A friend of mine, when I asked about romantic tips, he sent this email to me. He said, “The most powerful and life- changing principle related to romance that I’ve learned in my 20 years of marriage is this: Romance is never so alive and fulfilling in our marriage as when I am actively pursuing my relationship with God—when I’m leading my wife, especially praying with her—leading our children, spiritually.” He said, “For my wife—she would say it this way, ‘When I’m respecting my husband, when I’m serving him, when I’m leading our children spiritually—.’” This man went on to say, “My wife has said on numerous occasions that when I’m pursuing God, it makes me irresistibly attractive to her.”
You know what? You want to know how to see romance blossom in your marriage—to get the spark back? Run hard and fast after God and see if that doesn’t rekindle the spark between the two of you, as you both grow in grace, and in love, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Pray with me. “Father, my hope and my prayer is that my brothers and sisters, here tonight, would learn and grow in love this week as they think about You, as they think about the Cross, as they think about what You’ve done to demonstrate Your love for us. Lord Jesus, we thank You for the love that You’ve demonstrated. We ask You to make us more and more into the image of Your Son. We pray in Your Name. Amen.”
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening today to Part Two of a message from the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise in 2012—a message on romance. This was the night before Valentine’s Day that I presented this message. I thought, “You probably need some tips to get you ready for the next day.”
Dennis: Prime the pump, absolutely. In fact, I was thinking of your last point there, Bob—just talking about running hard, in the same direction, after God. If you think about it, the whole romantic dimension of the marriage relationship is a whole lot easier if you’re both running in the same direction, at the same pace, toward the same finish line.
I mean, there is a lot to be said for having a sense of mission, a purpose, walking with God together. You’re not going to do it perfectly, but He shows us how two imperfect people can forgive each other, and restore the relationship, and build into that relationship. That’s all a part of enjoying romance, as a couple.
Bob: Well, next year in 2013, we are heading to Key West and then Cozumel. We start the cruise on Monday—I think it is February 11th. Then, we’re done on Friday, February 15th. So, we’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day onboard the cruise.
As I mentioned, there is a special offer available for FamilyLife Today listeners that expires Monday, June 25th. If you’d like to take advantage of this special offer, you sign up and pay the regular price for your registration and your spouse comes at half-price. If you’d like to take advantage of this special offer—and the details of the offer are online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call for more information at 1-800-FL-TODAY. You have to identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener.
Again, it expires Monday, June 25th. For all the information, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Join Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Mary Ann and I, Voddie Baucham and his wife, Dr. Eric Mason, Priscilla Shirer, Tony Evans, Denver & the Mile High Orchestra, Sara Groves—lots of folks are going to be with us on the 2013 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. We’d love to have you along. The details of the special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners are online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call for more information, 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to share with you a conversation that took place onboard our recent Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise with our friends, Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who were along with us—a couple of Courageous movie-makers. We’ll share that conversation tomorrow. Hope you can be with us for that.
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.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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