FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Avoiding Romantic Meltdowns

with Bob Lepine | June 20, 2012
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A romantic moon, a cruise ship, violins, flowers--when it comes to romance, you're good, right? Not so fast! Bob Lepine unpacks 10 tips to help you avoid romantic meltdowns, wherever you are. Join us for Bob's crash course in romance for dummies.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • A romantic moon, a cruise ship, violins, flowers--when it comes to romance, you're good, right? Not so fast! Bob Lepine unpacks 10 tips to help you avoid romantic meltdowns, wherever you are. Join us for Bob's crash course in romance for dummies.

  • 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.

A romantic moon, a cruise ship, violins, flowers–when it comes to romance, you’re good, right?

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Avoiding Romantic Meltdowns

With Bob Lepine
June 20, 2012
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Bob:  What is your romantic IQ?  Can you think of the last time you did something particularly romantic in your marriage?  What would your spouse say?  Maybe, it’s time for a refresher; do you think?

Woman 1:  It’s the little sacrifices that he makes for me on a daily basis.

Woman 2:  Romantic?  What’s that?

Woman 3:  He did all the wash.  He cleaned the kitchen.  That is romantic.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, June 20th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.   We’ll offer some remedial romantic help for all married couples on today’s program.  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.


Dennis:  What would a cruise in the Caribbean be, Bob, if it didn’t have a message on romance by Dr. Love?  [Laughter]  That’s you.

Bob:  Well, here’s the thing.  It’s Valentine’s week.  This was back in February of this year.  We had our 2012 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  Voddie Baucham was onboard.  You and I were onboard the boat.  We had the whole ship to ourselves.  Everybody on the ship with us was there for the FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  Sold out—great music—that was a part of it, and it was Valentine’s week.  I thought to myself, “You know, if I’m looking at my own batting average, over Valentine’s Days of yore—”

Dennis:  And that would be—

Bob:  —30.  Well, if you count the dating years—

Dennis:  I’m not talking about the dating years.  I’m talking about your batting average.  What’s your batting average?  Are you hitting 300?

Bob:  If you go all the way back to the dating years, I was better in my rookie seasons than as things went along.  You know what I mean?

Dennis:  I think we need to call Mary Ann and find out what your batting average is.

Bob:  But, here we are—I just thought, “We all need a little message on understanding how we can do a better job of being romantic.”

Dennis:  And so you gave folks a message called “Romance for Dummies”.   You started out with—

Bob:  I didn’t mean to be offensive with it.

Dennis:  —ten tips for the romantically-challenged. 

Bob:  Right.

Dennis:  I have to tell you, Bob, I thought this was really good.  It was a good way to start out.  People had traveled all day; they were a little tired.

Bob:  This was Monday night on the cruise.

Dennis:  Yes.  It kept them awake.  There were a lot of people with notepads out, taking notes, and gleaning a lot of practical application for their own marriage.

Bob:  We should mention that we’re going back out, Valentine’s week of 2013, on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  Dennis and Barbara are going to be there.  Mary Ann and I are going to be there, along with Voddie Baucham, Dr. Eric Mason.  Priscilla Shirer is going to be joining us, Tony Evans’ daughter and his son, Anthony, is going to be there, singing—along with Sara Groves, and Denver & the Mile High Orchestra.

We are starting to see registrations fill up the ship.  I went to our team and said, “Is there a special offer that we can make for our FamilyLife Today listeners?”  They said, “Okay, here’s something we can do.  Between now and Monday, June 25th, FamilyLife Today listeners who sign up—you pay a full registration for yourself, and your spouse comes at half-price.”  They said, “It is only good through Monday, the 25th.  You have to identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener.  This is the only time we’re going to be making this special offer for listeners, between now and the cruise.”

So, if you’d like to join us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, Valentine’s week 2013, no better time to call than right now to sign up.  Go online at for more information; or call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”, and be part of the 2013 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.

Dennis:  Truthfully, this is so good and the message is so rich.  Let’s cut to the chase.  Strap it on, folks!  You’re about to board the Love Like You Mean It cruise.  Here are some tips from Doctor Love—Bob Lepine, himself.

[Recorded Message]

Bob:  Well!  I’m glad you’re here tonight.  We’re going to talk about some of this romance stuff.  I just have to start off by saying I know that we’re all in different places, when it comes to romance. 

I need to start with a quick word to the husbands who are here tonight because husbands—guys, you thought that signing up to be on the Love Like You Mean It cruise took care of Valentine’s Day for you this year; didn’t you?  [Laughter]  You thought, “I am so good this year!”  You have muffed some other years, but this year you can’t lose.  I am here to tell you, “Yes, you can still lose.”  You can be on the Love Like You Mean It cruise and still lose on Valentine’s Day; okay?  The reason for that is because, unless you do something on the day, it doesn’t count.  You can’t accrue points.

Look, I’ve got a lot to unpack with you here.  So, we’re going to start off.  Now, here’s the problem.  We need to start by defining romance.  What is it we’re talking about when we’re talking about romance?  What’s our definition?  I went to the dictionary.  The dictionary defines romance as “an ardent emotional attachment or involvement between two people”.  An ardent emotional attachment or involvement—I thought, “That’s okay.”

Another dictionary said it’s”a pleasurable feeling of excitement and mystery, associated with love”.  Now, that’s a little better; but here’s my definition:  “Romance is this feeling of euphoria or delight that comes over you when somebody admires you, or values you, or makes you feel special or desirable.”  You’ve had that feeling; right? 

But, honestly, what we know about romance doesn’t really come as much from dictionaries or from magazines.  Most of what we know about romance comes from what we see on big screens or on small screens; right?  Have you noticed, in some of these movies, when the mood is right, all of a sudden, these people just break out in song and start singing to one another?  You’ve seen that; right?

I thought, “I have never done that with Mary Ann.”  We’ve been married for 32 years; I don’t think I’ve ever just spontaneously broken out into song and sung a love song to her in the middle of nowhere.  I thought, “Maybe, we should try that.”  So, what we’re going to do to start off tonight is—we’re going to sing love songs to each other; okay?  I’m going to get this guitar, and we’re going to sing a couple of love songs to each other.

I asked Mary Ann if she thought this was a good idea; and she said, “Are you going to sing Let Me Call You Sweetheart?”  I said, “These are not old people.”  She said, “But it’s such a sweet song.”  Who is the lady that just went, “Oohh!” down here?  One of you just did.  Yes; yes, Mary Ann likes that song, too.  So, I’m going to play and sing; and I want you to sing this to one another.  Look at each other and sing Let Me Call You Sweetheart. Are you ready?

[Singing and playing guitar]

Let me call you Sweetheart

I’m in love with you

Let me hear you whisper

That you love me too.

Keep the lovelight burning

In your eyes so true

Let me call you Sweetheart

I’m in love with you


Oh that’s very nice.  You did very nice on that.  [Applause]

Okay.  But I thought we should do something a little more hip than that; okay?  Can we do one more?  Here, let’s try this:

[Singing and playing guitar]

Imagine me and you, I do

I think about you day and night

It’s only right to think about the girl you love

And hold her tight

So happy together


If I should call you up

Invest a dime

And you say you belong to me

And ease my mind

Imagine how the world could be

So very fine

So happy together


Nice job, ladies and gentlemen!  Nice job.  [Applause]

Okay; are we there?  Are we feeling more romantic?  [Laughter]  See how it does it?  You just start singing to one another.  So, on the rest of the cruise, if things are not going so well, you just break out into song.  [Laughter]  You’re in a restaurant—wherever you are—you just break out into song. 

Here’s the thing about romance.  When we have the feeling, we find ourselves thinking, “I sure would like to have that feeling again.”  If you’re married—in fact, you thought, “When you get married, it’s just going to come flooding my way.”  Then, when you get married and that doesn’t happen, you go, “What’s wrong?  I’m not getting it.”  You think, “Maybe, if we went on a cruise.”  We’re going to see if Doctor Love can help you tonight.  I’m here as Doctor Love with “Doctor Love’s Basic Romantic Principles” for tonight.  Are you ready?  This could really help you out of a jam, throughout the rest of the cruise.

By the way, I should tell you some of these principles—I went to our staff.  We have about 300 great staff, who work at FamilyLife, back in Little Rock.  I sent an email to all of them and I said, “I’m going to be sharing some basic romantic tips with folks on the cruise.  I want some help from you.”  So, some of these come from our staff—they sent emails back with some of their advice.  And a disclaimer—some of these are generally true, but not always true.  We’ll test them out on you.  If it’s not true for you, you tell me; okay?

Here’s the first one for guys.  Tip number one:  Don’t try to reduce romance to a formula.  This one actually comes from Barbara Rainey.  She was on a FamilyLife Today program, and she was telling me about Dennis.  She said, “Here’s how it worked with Dennis.” 

She said, “We’ll go out some night, and we’ll have dinner at a nice place.  Then, we’ll go for a walk after dinner.  We’ll just talk, as we have a nice walk together.  It’s just a nice evening, and we’ll go back home and we’ll have sex.”  She said, “Then, about a week later, Dennis will go, ‘Hey, you want to go back to that restaurant; okay?” [Laughter]

She goes, “I know it’s not about the food.  I know exactly what he’s thinking when he does that,” because Barbara says that guys are trying to find the equation.  It’s the, “Let’s see. Restaurant, plus walk, plus moon, plus warm equals sex.  Yes!  I’ve got the equation down.”  So, then, you come back around and you go, “Want to go to the restaurant?”

She said, “Here’s the thing:  Women don’t want to be figured out.  They don’t want it reduced to a formula.  They want it to be mysterious and spontaneous.  If you think it’s a formula, that’s a buzz killer for women.”  And I just go, “That’s just mean for women—okay?”  [Laughter]  “I mean, we’re trying; right?”  But it just doesn’t work that way. So don’t try to reduce romance to a formula.  That’s number one. 

Number two is kind of like that.  It is, “You need to be spontaneous, and creative, and original.  Some of us are not really spontaneous, and creative, and original when it comes to romance.  We’re challenged in that area.  I tried this out with a friend of mine.  I said, “Do you think that’s true—that we need to be spontaneous, and creative, and original?”

He said, “Yes, I think that’s true,” but he said, “except on Valentine’s Day.”  He said, “On Valentine’s Day,” which he described and I wrote it down, “the most un-spontaneous, arbitrary, un-original, commercial-fostered, faux romance day of the year.”  He said, “On that day, whatever else you do, there better be flowers and chocolates, or you will go directly to jail—do not pass Go; do not collect $200—and don’t plan to collect anything else that day;” okay?  So I don’t know what you’re going to do for chocolate and flowers tomorrow, but that’s what you’ve got to do—so, spontaneous, creative, original—that’s number two.

Number three—and this was shared from a friend.  He said, “If your wife’s birthday is during the week, and you decide to celebrate it the weekend before—and you take her to a nice restaurant, and you have an expensive gift, and you have a deep and meaningful conversation—if you don’t give her a card on the day, you’ve still failed at everything.”  Okay?  You’ve got to acknowledge, somehow, the day.

So, guys, a little help here.  Tomorrow morning, when you wake up, the first thing you should say is, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart.”  Okay?  Let’s practice that.  Guys, say it with me, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart.”  Okay, go ahead and say—look at your spouse right now and say, “You’re my one and only Valentine.”  Just say that.  Okay, that does you no good for tomorrow; okay?  [Laughter]  First of all, you didn’t get a point because I had to coach you into saying it.  Secondly, it’s not Valentine’s Day yet.  So, tomorrow morning, first thing, it better be all about “my Valentine”.  I’m just trying to help you out here.

Number four:  Using the words, “your mother”, in a sentence is guaranteed to end any romantic feelings that may have been developing.  [Laughter]  Not only “your mother”, but also, “I told you so,” does not create a romantic buzz; okay?  Avoid those words.  Somebody put it in a poem this way:

To keep your marriage brimming,

With love in the loving cup,

When you’re wrong admit it,

And when you’re right, shut up.


Number five:  If your wife is wearing two different shoes, and she’s lifting her feet, like this, and she asks you, “Which one looks better on me?” the first thing you should do is pray because you have less than a 50-50 chance of getting this right.  I know you’re thinking, “No, there’s at least a 50-50 chance.  She’s only got two feet.”  But the thing is—she is not really asking what you think.  She is asking to see if you will be able to secretly pick the one, she has already decided in her own mind, that she thinks is the right one.  If you should pick the one that she thinks was the right one, she will now reconsider her choice because you picked it.  She thinks, “That can’t be right if he thought that was the right one.”  [Laughter]  That’s true; isn’t it?  Am I right?  I’m right.

Alright—here’s number six.  This works both ways.  What seems romantic to you may not actually be romantic to your spouse, and vice versa.  This is where Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, really does come in helpful.  Dr. Chapman says that, in our marriages, we wind up speaking foreign languages to one another, often, because he says there are five primary ways that we express love to one another.

One way is through physical touch—holding hands, playing with your hair, back rubs.  Two is things like acts of service.  It’s where you do things designed to help me out—doing the dishes, helping out around the house, or just folding the laundry—those kinds of things.  Number three—words of affirmation—saying tender, sweet things.  Number four is gifts, and number five is quality time together.

Now let’s say your love language is words of affirmation.  You love to have somebody say to you, “You’re really special.”  “You’re so meaningful.”  “You look handsome,”—those kinds of things.  You love that.  So, you think, in order to express love to your spouse, you need to do those things; but if your spouse’s primary love language is acts of service, you can say all the affirming words you want, and unless you’re picking up a broom, it ain’t doing anybody any good; okay?

You have to understand how we speak one another’s love languages.  You have to understand what we value with one another.  In fact, a coworker told this story.  I thought this was good.  He said, “My wife and I are very different.  We complete one another in some great ways.” He said, “One of those ways we complete one another is that she tends to be very practical, very logical.”  He said, “That’s not my natural wiring.” 

“Back in 1985, when we were dating,” he said, “we were living in Chicago.  I decided to really blow it out on her birthday—do something really special.”  He said, “I scored good tickets to see Cats at the Shubert Theater, preceded by dinner at the Pump Room, and I bestowed two special gifts that night, before we went to see the play.  Here we are at a fancy restaurant.  I had two gifts for her.”  The first gift he gave her was Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.  That’s the book by T.S. Eliot on which the musical that they were going to go see is based.  He gave that to her, and she smiled.  That was nice. 

Then, he gave her the second gift.  He said, “I thought this was the real piece d’résistance.  I could not wait for her to open it.”  He said, “Do you remember the International Star Registry, that group that allows you to name a star after somebody?”  You know that group?  He said, “I thought this was the height of romance, naming a star after my wife.  Understand, I knew I wasn’t really naming the star forever for her; but I figured it was kind of a cosmic, romantic gesture.  He says, “Ha! My then-girlfriend, now-wife, opened it up, took a look at it, and said, ‘You didn’t actually pay money for this stupid thing; did you?’”  [Laughter]  He said, “There’s really no good answer to that question, when she asks you that.”

But, then, I had another coworker whose wife is also practical and logical.  He wrote to me and he said, “Even though your wife says she would prefer a potted plant because they live longer, there’s something about the smile she gets on her face when there are roses on her desk that tells you she really does like the roses.”  So, you’d better know the person you’re trying to express romance to because it can’t be a formula.

Here’s another one—number seven:  Never buy a gift for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, or birthday that can be plugged into the wall.  If it has a plug on it, take it back, now.  A guy wrote to me and he said, “When I was first dating my wife, her roommate, Val, who was a cook, received, as a birthday gift from her boyfriend, who was the doctor, the most expensive Cuisinart food processor I have ever seen in my life.

“I was the only one in the room who was impressed.”  This was my guy friend.  He said, “My wife and Val could not believe how insensitive that gift was.  Boy!—was I confused!” 

Now, I asked Mary Ann about that; and she said, “I’d be fine with the expensive Cuisinart food processor if you want to get me that.”  So people are different; but in general, guys, a handy dandy kitchen gadget is not seen as a romantic thing.  I know you think a socket set would be the perfect romantic gift for Valentine’s Day.  That’s just because we’re different on that; alright?

Here’s number eight.  A friend wrote to me and he said, “The best piece of advice I got was from an elderly gentleman, on my wedding day.”  He said, “I had no clue who he was; but he came through the reception line, pointed a shaky finger toward my face, and said, ‘Just keep doing whatever you were doing that made her fall in love with you in the first place, and you’ll be alright.’”  He said, “That’s pretty good counsel.” 

You know, it’s interesting.  We interviewed, this year, a pastor from Houston, Texas.  He had retired from the pastorate.  He was telling us that when he sits with couples who say, “We just don’t have the feelings we used to have,” he takes them to Revelation, Chapter 2.  I thought, “Really?  Marriage advice from Jesus’ instructions to the seven churches in the book of Revelation?” 

But the first church, in the book of Revelation, is the church at Ephesus.  I don’t know if you remember this church, but they were doctrinally sound.  They were trying to do all the right things.  They were not falling into heresy; but Jesus said this—He said, “I have this one thing against you.  You have lost—”   What?  “—your first love.” This church was going through the motions, but they were no longer passionate in their love for Jesus.  Jesus says, “Here’s what you do.  You repent, and you do the things you did at first.” 

This pastor said, “I think that’s pretty good marriage advice.  In those times when you just don’t have the feelings, repent and do the things you did at first.  Just start doing some of the things—go to some of the places you used to go.”  How long has it been since you played putt-putt; right?  Some of you are going, “That would be stupid.”  Try it!  Go out and play some putt-putt.  Mary Ann and I, on our first date—we went to Target.  So, I take her out there all the time.  [Laughter]   That doesn’t have quite the same effect.

Number nine:  Laugh together.  Laughing together promotes romance.  You are never more attractive than when you are happy, and joyful, and laughing.  You’re more attractive then than when you’re grumpy and distracted.  Now, in that same vein, being grumpy or distracted is not a turn-on.  Just let me give you some words of advice.  Nobody sees an angry, grumpy person and goes, “Oh, I am just so drawn to you right now.  I just want to be with you.  You are just making my heart pitter patter;” right?  We want to get out of the room. 

When somebody is distracted—you’ve seen that commercial on TV; right?—where they are having a conversation, and the guy is checking the scores on his cell phone; and the woman is so ticked by that.  Distracted is not good for romance.  Guys, listen.  “Romance for dummies”—I’ve had to learn some of these the hard way.  When I would travel, sometimes, and I would call Mary Ann from wherever I was traveling, I learned pretty soon that when you call her, you at least need to put the TV on mute so she doesn’t hear it in the background while you’re having the conversation. 

But, then, I learned that when the TV is on mute, and you’re watching the sports, and she’s talking about whatever it was that she was talking about because I don’t really remember it.  I wasn’t really paying attention; but I’m going, “Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh.”  Pretty soon, she says, “So what are you watching?”  I’m busted, right there, because I wasn’t paying attention to her.  We need undistracted, focused, joyful, happy relationship for romance.

And then number ten—and this ties into that.  When you’re together, be all there.  When the two of you are together, you need to be all there.  Be focused, get a clue, and focus in on one another.


We’ve been listening to part one of a message from the 2012 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.

Dennis:  By Bob Lepine.

Bob:  A message I titled “Romance for Dummies”.  You know, at some level, we’re all needing some help in this area—a little remedial help.

Dennis:  You know, you’ve got a lifetime to become an expert.  That’s what marriage, I think, was designed to do—to help us learn about our spouse and know how to appropriately provide romance in the relationship.

Bob:  Our team was just telling me that we’re starting to see things fill up for the 2013 cruise.  So, I asked them if we could do something to encourage FamilyLife Today listeners to go ahead and sign up now—make any kind of a special offer.  They came back and said, “We’re only going to make one special offer this year, and it will be for one week.  It’s going to expire on Monday, June 25th.  If you want to share it with the listeners, you can do that.”

Here’s the information:  If you sign up between now and Monday, June 25th, you pay the regular registration for yourself and your spouse comes along at half-price.  The offer is good only for FamilyLife Today listeners.  You have to identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener, and it expires on Monday.  So, go to our website,, for more information.  Click on the link for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise; or call for details at 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.  It may be that 2013 is a landmark anniversary year for you.  It would be a great year for you to join us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  Again, all the details can be found, online, at when you click on the link; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY for more information about the special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners. 

Now, tomorrow, we’re going to provide additional help for couples who need a little remedial romance instruction.  That will come up on tomorrow’s program.  Hope you can join us.

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. 

Help for today.  Hope for tomorrow.

Public Domain Song (1910):  Let Me Call You Sweetheart


Song:         Happy Together, 1967, Lyrics by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon

Poem:         A Word to Husbands

Poet:           Ogden Nash

Copyright:   by Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt;

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