FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Feed the Fire of Romance

with Bob Lepine, Dennis Rainey | February 9, 2010
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Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey encourages couples to feed the fire of romance in their marriages.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey encourages couples to feed the fire of romance in their marriages.

  • 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.

Dennis Rainey encourages couples to feed the fire of romance in their marriages.

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Feed the Fire of Romance

With Bob Lepine, Dennis Rainey
February 09, 2010
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Bob:  When it comes to having a fire in the fireplace, do you prefer those instance logs that are easy and quick, or do you like a real wood fire?  According to Dennis Rainey, if a fire in the fireplace is like romance in a marriage, then the kind of fuel you prefer may depend on whether you're a man or a woman.

Dennis:  What are men looking for when they think about starting a fire?  They are looking for fire starters – quick fire starters.  Women, on the other hand, have different needs.  Women want a real relationship.  They're not interested in a fake fire log.  They want the snap, crackle, and pop of a real relationship with you.

Bob:  And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.  I was just out at your house.  You've got a real fireplace, right?

Dennis:  We have a fireplace and a fire pit.

Bob:  You've got the wood burning – I'm talking about in the house – that wood burning fireplace, right?

Dennis:  That's right.

Bob:  You burn real logs?

Dennis:  It's not illegal in Arkansas like it is in many places around the country.

Bob:  You burn real logs in there, right?

Dennis:  I do.

Bob:  Do you ever throw in the prefab thing and just light the corners?

Dennis:  Absolutely, so I can get the fire going to start the green – you know, sometimes you cut wood that's kind of green, and it takes those wax-saturated sawdust logger things to do it.

Bob:  But we're guys who like our fires to get going quick, right?

Dennis:  I think so – in more ways than one.

Bob:  That's right.

Dennis:  You're speaking romantically, aren't you?

Bob:  That's exactly what I'm talking about.

Dennis:  And that's what – I had the privilege to speak a number of folks out in Southern California when you and I had the chance to go out and be a part of KKLA's 20th anniversary. 

Bob:  Yes, as a part of their year-long celebration, they had Alistair Begg and Chuck Swindoll and Steve Arterburn and Chip Ingram, a number of different speakers come out and speak throughout the year, and we went in August that year and had a great evening with, I don't know, it was 1,200 to 1,500 of our listeners who came out, and you talked about …

Dennis:  … starting fires.

Bob:  You talked about romance …

Dennis:  … maintaining fires …

Bob:  … and keeping …

Dennis:  … keeping the fire in your fire pit …

Bob:  … keeping it contained within the appropriate boundaries, as we've already heard this week, and then …

Dennis:  … this is a biblical concept, Bob.  Song of Solomon, chapter 8, verse 6 says, "Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death, jealousy as severe as Sheol, its flashes are the flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.  Many waters cannot quench it nor will rivers overflow it.  If a man were to give all his riches of his house for love, it would utterly be despised."

What he's saying there is the sexual and romantic dimension of a marriage relationship is powerful.

Bob:  And part of what you said that night is that we have to understand that as men and women, we approach this whole subject differently.

Dennis:  [from audiotape] We are different when it comes to starting a fire.  Have you noticed?  What are men looking for when they think about starting a fire?  They are looking for fire starters – quick fire starters.  Women, on the other hand, have different needs.  They're not looking for fire starters.  They're looking for something else and, guys, this is not what they're looking for – a fire log.

Now, why is this not what they're looking for?  All you need to do is read the directions.  "Loosen the wrapper around the fire log to create an air space.  Do not open the wrapper.  Place the fire log on the grate near the rear of the fireplace, use only one log at a time, and do not add anything to the fire log."  It goes on to tell you that there are arrows, which tell you where to place the fire.  Men want arrows; women want a real relationship.  They're not interested in a fake fire log.  They want the snap, crackle, and pop of a real relationship with you.

And so, guys, because I'm going to give the women a list of five things here in a moment, and you're probably going to want her to write those down, I'm going to encourage you right now to write down five things every woman needs. 

If you don't think your wife doesn't need this, just take a look at what the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians, chapter 5.  He says, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church."  Verse 33 – "Let each individual among you love his own wife even as himself."  Then he gives the wife different instructions about what she is to do for the husband.  But, guys, our assignment is relational.  It’s the real thing.

Five things she's looking for – number one, she's looking for security.  She wants domestic security.  She wants to know there is relational security.  She wants to know she can count on you.  Guys, your wedding band is a promise – is a promise of a covenant. 

I have a young man that I'm mentoring who is in the ministry, and each night after he would go to bed, he would take off his wedding ring and go to sleep because he didn't like to sleep with his wedding ring on. Well, he lost his wedding ring and he didn't replace it for about three weeks.  His wife began to act kind of insecure about things, and I said – I'll call him Jim – "Jim, why haven't you bought a wedding ring?"  "I didn't think it was that important."  "Well, I'm going to tell you something, it's important to her.  If it's important to her, it needs to be important to you."  Guys, security, security is a part of a real relationship. 

The second need of a woman is for acceptance.  She needs to know that you love her for who she is not for what she does.  She needs to know that you'd marry her all over again.  Third, every wife feels the need for time to connect.  She feels the need to have quality time and quantity time to reconnect emotionally with you.  We're interested in the fire starter and the instant fire.  She wants the slow cultivation of a fire that has warmth for hours.

The fourth thing she's looking for is a real relationship.  She wants to know more about your day than the two-minute news headlines.  Yes, she wants the Gone With the Wind version.  The four-hour, full-length feature film about your day, and you find it difficult to even get two minutes out.  She wants to take a walk with you and develop that relationship. 

And, fifth, she needs attention.  She needs focus.  As you give her that attention and focus, she needs to know that that attention and focus is for something other than sex; that you want a real relationship with her because of your love for her and your affection for her.

Well, become a student of your wife and what she needs.  Do you know what I'd encourage you to do with these five?  Give these to your wife and ask her to rank them, number one to number five, in order of greatest importance and then on a date talk about why she rated them what she did. 

In Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 33 it says, "and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband."  Paul gives men different instruction biblically than he gives wives.  Why?  Because we're different.  He made us with different needs, and men need respect.  Now, wives know that men are wired differently, and we searched around here in Southern California to find these, because this is the best illustration of what men are like.  This is what's called "fat wood."  Fat wood – if you've never used it to start a fire, is fantastic, because it is soaked in resin, oils.  I don't know where this grows and how they harvest it, but I'm going to tell you, I've used this to start a fire, and it starts quick.  It is an illustration of how men are wired.  They're like a whole box of fat wood.  The fire starts quick and burns out quickly as well.

Five things, ladies, you want to write these down?  Five needs of your husband, and the reason I know this is important, because FamilyLife has a little spot on our Internet that we e-mail out to those who want to get a subscription to it called The Family Room.  We won the top award you could win for Internet Magazine's – out of all the Christian ministries with The Family Room.

The number-one article we've had in all the years we've been putting The Family Room out, which is about five years, was responded to by women, I suppose.  It was entitled, "Five Keys to Your Man's Inner Heart."  It could have been retitled, "Five Ways to Cultivate the Fire in Your Man's Heart." 

Number one, he needs respect.  He needs respect for who he is, what he does, and he needs respect for how God wired him as a man.  Secondly, he needs you to make romance a priority – for you to make romance a priority. 

Third, as a man, he needs to feel sexually needed by his wife.  That means at points that you initiate romance.  I’ll never forget speaking at Talbot Seminary to a group of wives Barbara was with me and we were talking about romance and marriage.  One little seminary wife came up to Barbara and me at the end of the talk and she said, Mr. Rainey I just need to ask you a question.  I asked my husband what would make him feel like a man of God.  They were driving home after youth group where he’s a pastor and going through seminary.  The car was dark and I was kind of cuddling with him and you know what he said, Mr. Rainey.  I said, “no.”  He told me what he would like to do is come home from church some day from work or from school and find me naked at the front door. 


She has this little sheepish grin on her face and she asked, do you think he really meant it?


I said, sweetheart, just try it and find out.


That answer to that young man’s statement what would most make you feel like a man of God is the equivalent of him with the vacuum cleaner.   I think you’re sexy when you are doing the vacuum cleaner.  One time Mary Ann told Bob she thought he was sexy when he was doing the dishes.  He asked to do the dishes for the next month and a half at their house. 


Third, he needs to feel sexually needed.  Fourth, he needs your playful, adventurous companionship.  Do you know what happens in marriage after marriage?  We allow boredom and monotony to rob our marriage of romance and adventure.  We get in a rut and you know what a rut is, don't you?  It's a grave with both ends knocked out of it.  And people get in ruts.  We're creatures of habit.  We need to break out of the ruts and become adventuresome, fun, and imaginative. 

And, finally, fifth, he needs your sexual affirmation when it comes to building a fire – your sexual affirmation.  He needs you to be responsive to him when he initiates, and when he hits a homerun, express it.  Tell him.  There is not a man here who will tell his wife to be quiet. 


I ran across this piece that points out the differences between men and women.  How do you romance a woman?  You wine her and dine her and call her and hug her and support her and surprise her and compliment her.  Smile at her, listen to her, laugh with her, cry with her, romance her, believe in her, cuddle with her, shop with her, give her jewelry, buy her flowers, hold her hand, write love letters to her.  Go to the end of the earth and back for her. 

How do you romance a man?  Arrive naked and bring food. 


Would you like to know what Barbara and I have found is the equivalent of the real fire starter?  I've started many a fire in our fire pit when the wood was wet with good old Kingsford charcoal lighter   You spray and get that wood good and wet – I'm not much of a Boy Scout at that point, but you just throw a match on it, and it lights right away.

Number five, time and focus.  Time and focus are some of the best fire starters in a marriage relationship.  You know why?  Because fires, whether they be real fires in a fire pit or fires in the human heart, the passion and romance go out when they are not tended well and fed with fuel.  If you are wondering why there isn't much romance in your marriage, take a step back and ask how much fresh fuel have you brought to that fire?

I found that three things can extinguish a fire.  Number one, neglect; number two, stress and exhaustion; and the third one is right here.  This is the most unbelievable fire extinguisher you have ever seen.  It can squirt on a fire so quickly.   We had one woman write us on the broadcast.  She said it was romance that gave us our children, and it was children who took our romance. 

If you've got some of these around, you've got to work extra hard to get a fire going.  So turn off the TV and the lights and light up a candle.  Turn up the air conditioner, guys, turn back the sheets, turn on the music, turn in early and go to bed by 9:00.  Turn toward one another and turn on the romantic fires.

Number six create romantic adventure, surprise, and intrigue.  If you go back to the Song of Solomon and you read it over in chapter 7, the Shulamite woman said, "I and my beloved and his desire is for me.  Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country, and let us spend the night there.  Let us arise early and go to the vineyards and see whether the vine has budded and its blossoms have opened, whether the pomegranates have bloomed, and there I will give you my love."  You talk about a horticultural experience – she was inviting him on a picnic that I'll bet you the king never forgot.  She was adventuresome, she was not afraid to edge out, and in the process she added some big logs to the fire. 

Barbara has given me a lot of great gifts over her lifetime, none greater than herself, and the greatest gift she has ever given me at Christmas – and I'll not tell you any more than this, and I have her permission to tell this story – but she gave me a gift called the "The Twelve Nights of Christmas."  Why do affairs happen?  Because we get bored and we are no longer cultivating a fire in here.

The last one – and this is kind of a tough one, and I hate to end on a negative one, but I really think it's very important for many here.  Number seven – adjust your expectations – adjust your expectations.  You know what?  Wood does get wet.  It gets wet, and it's difficult, even with fire starter, to get a good fire going.  Realize that there are going to be times in your marriage and in your life when it's going to be difficult to see passion occur.  There may be a downpour and there may be an extended time of suffering. 

In our marriage there has been numerous health issues, there's been challenges with children who haven't always made the right choices.  You've heard Bob and me talk about it on the radio broadcasts on numerous times.  But it's then when the commitment and the covenant kicks in.

Barbara and I have had a son who was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy and lost his ability to run.  The most athletic child we had, at 13 years of age, who was falling flat on his face on the tennis court.  And I’m going to tell you something, during that period of time, there weren't many romantic fires.  But it was a time to hunker together and to hold one another and to remind one another of our love.

Bob:  Well, again, we've been listening to part 2 of a message on romance in the rain, and …

Dennis:  You can almost count on the rain.

Bob:  It does come – into every life a little rain will fall, right?

Dennis:  It really will.  You know, Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond and the famous song that they sang together …

Bob:  [sings] "You don't bring me flowers" … that one?  Yeah, "You don't sing me love songs."

Dennis:  "You hardly talk to me anymore when you come through the door," and it's talking about the death of a relationship.  Bob, everything we do here on FamilyLife Today is talking about relationships.  Either your relationship with God through Jesus Christ, your relationship with your spouse, your relationship with your children or your extended family.  We are here to bring the practical, biblical solutions to bring hope and healing where people need encouragement or just want to add another log to the fire – they're already doing okay.

In closing today’s broadcast I want to suggest three practical ways that couples can build a fire in the rain.  The first one is get a copy of a book that Barbara and I wrote called Rekindling the Romance.  It's a practical book that Barbara and I wrote together.  She wrote the first half, I wrote the second half, and I promise you, it's a gritty book that talks about real life and how you can bring real romance to a marriage that may be struggling or to a marriage that is doing fine.

Bob:  You wrote it that was because in the first half Barbara is speaking to wives, and in the second half you're speaking to husbands, and throughout the book you're trying to help us understand that we're different when we approach this subject and that embracing those differences and understanding those differences can help fuel the passion.

Dennis:  And if you're going to add a log or two to the fire, it takes some intentionality.  You have to have some focus, and you have to say, "You know what?  We're going to keep this thing burning."  But to do that, you have to take time away, and you have to focus on our relationship, and that really leads me to the second application Simply Romantic Nights.  This little collection of ideas, it's a box that has a dozen ideas for the guys, and you don't have to be a romantically challenged husband to benefit from these 12 ideas, because they're great ideas or 12 creative ideas for wives.  It will encourage you, as you put together a statement of romantic love for your spouse in their love langue.

And then the third application is the Weekend to Remember®.  I think there are many listeners right now who have heard you and me talk about the Weekend to Remember® for a number of years and perhaps this Valentine's, instead of candy, instead of flowers, instead of anything else, you need to wrap up an invitation to go to the Weekend to Remember® and take some time this spring when the flowers are blooming and, by the way, Song of Solomon talks about this.  When the birds are chirping outside, and they're beginning the process of the spring when love buds again, why not take some time this spring to get away to a Weekend to Remember® near you and sign you and your spouse up and build a little fire in the ring.

Bob:  As a matter of fact you and Barbara are going to be speaking at a Weekend to Remember® conference this weekend Valentine’s weekend in the Washington, D.C. area at the Gaylord National hotel.  I think we still have some space available if folks would like to come out and join you for the weekend.  Michael and Cindy Easley are going to be speaking there as well along with Ray McKelvy. 

And then I’m going to be speaking at the conference out in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  So if folks live in that area and want to come out and join us we would love to have you out there.  Other conferences are taking place all across the country.  Because it’s Valentine’s weekend a lot of couples are going to be out joining us but then throughout the spring we have conferences in six or seven dozen different cities this spring.  You can get more information about the Weekend to Remember® online at  There is also information there about Dennis and Barbara’s book, Rekindling the Romance.  We have a limited supply of those books available so let me encourage listeners to order early to make sure they get a copy of that book.  Simply Romantic Nights collection you can find out more information about that as well. 

Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY.  1-800-358-6329.  Again that’s 1-800-F-as-in-“family,” L-as-in-“life,” and then the word TODAY.  Someone on our team will make arrangements to get what you need sent out to you.

While we're on the subject of romantic resources, our friends, Jody and Linda Dillow, a number of years ago were speaking at one of our FamilyLife events, and they did a great message on the Four Flames of Intimacy.  They took a hard biblical look at the subject of romance and passion and helped us think the way God thinks about this subject. 

We have the CD of that message available, and during the month of February, we want to make it available to any listener who can make a donation of any amount to the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We are listener-supported, and so it's those donations from listeners like you that help keep us on the air in this city and in cities all across the country, and you can donate either online at or by calling 1-800-FLTODAY. 

If you're donating online, when you come to the key code box on the donation form, type in the word “FOUR” and we'll know that you want the CD from Jody and Linda Dillow, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a donation over the phone, and just mention that you'd like the CD on intimacy, and we'll be happy to send it to you.  Again, thanks for your financial support of FamilyLife Today.  We appreciate your partnership with us.

Tomorrow we’re going to talk to a professor of Christian history.  We’re going to talk about some of the great love stories in church history.  This is really fascinating.  Dr. Michael Haykin is going to be with us tomorrow and I hope you can be with us as well. 

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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