Giving the Gift of Domestic Tranquility
About the Guest
Would others describe your home as peaceful? Arlene Pellicane, author of "31 Days to a Happy Husband," talks to wives about the importance of making their homes a sanctuary of peace and order. Sharing stories from her own life, Arlene explains how husbands want and need a place of rest, and can't often find it if the house is a wreck, the kids are screaming, and their wives are focused on everything but them.
Would others describe your home as peaceful?
Giving the Gift of Domestic Tranquility
Bob: One of the keys to a happy marriage is to have a happy husband. Arlene Pellicane says, “We need to understand there’s a difference between a self-absorbed man and a happy husband.”
Arlene: If we can learn how to serve our husbands, we can be more content with the role that we play. That’s going to rub off on our husbands. So, when I say a happy husband, I mean a husband that is not ignored, a husband that’s not second to the children, a husband that—if he says he has a need—we don’t say, “Oh, well, you’re just a man.” So, a husband, who is heard, respected, cared for—and I believe that husbands are not as complicated as wives—if they get that, they’re going to be pretty happy!
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, September 17th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Before you go thinking that today’s program is all about how a woman can become a slave to her husband—hang on. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks—
Dennis: I’m really excited about this broadcast today.
Bob: Are you?
Dennis: I am.
Dennis: Well, the name of the book we’re going to be talking about is 31 Days to a Happy Husband. Now, why wouldn’t I be happy about that?! [Laughter]
Bob: Is there something that needs to—
Dennis: I think I need to call Barbara! This is a good subject we’ve got today.
Bob: But you’re happy; aren’t you?
Dennis: Oh, absolutely!
Bob: Yes. Every day is a happy day.
Dennis: Barbara and I just celebrated our 40th Anniversary.
Dennis: I agree with that. She’s been a great wife, and she could’ve used this book early on.
Bob: Because you weren’t all that happy early on? [Laughter]
Dennis: No, no, no. This is one of these conversations that is going to equip a lot of wives to better understand their husbands, and it’s going to help husbands know how to articulate their needs to their wives.
Bob: We should just say, because anytime we have a conversation like this, there are some folks who say, “When are you going to talk to the men about what they need to do?” We try to do that. In fact, I think we’ve been doing that pretty hard here.
Dennis: I think we have. We’ve written a little book called Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. If you’re a man, and you haven’t read that book, and if you haven’t heard about the new video series that we’ve got coming out for men—it’s a 10-session video series that is designed for small groups, big groups, father/son—
Bob: There is a video event we’re putting together. Again, all of it’s designed to challenge men to step up and be men. So—
Dennis: So, actually, we’re giving it to the men a lot harder than the women because we’re only spending one session today on this, and we’ve got a 10-week series for the men.
Arlene Pellicane joins us on FamilyLife Today. Do you have a book, Arlene, that’s going to be coming out called 31 Days—
Arlene: —to a Happy Wife?
Arlene: Yes, I think that’s a good title. I had a husband say, “Oh, 31 Days to a Happy Husband. You don’t even need 31 days. You only need ‘Day 1: Sleep, Day 2: Sex, and Day 3: Food!’” [Laughter] Does that sound pretty good? But he said, “If you had to do for a wife, that that would be like War and Peace.” That was the challenge to me.
Dennis: Arlene is a graduate of Biola; also, has her masters in Journalism from Regent University. She’s a writer, a speaker, wife of one husband, James, lives in San Diego, along with their three children.
You start out in your book—you’ve got five areas that you talk about for husbands to be happy—but before you give those, you have to tell the wedding story.
Arlene: We have a great wedding story.
Dennis: I love a great wedding story, and you’ve got one—I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like this.
Arlene: We had our professor, our college M.Div.—he was James’s M.Div. professor, Dr. Charles Holman. He was going to do the ceremony. This was only his second wedding. I was not concerned about this. We were fine. Here he was about to do the service, and the service began. All the music was playing. Everything was just right. I was standing out in the hallway, waiting for my big moment. The bridesmaids had not entered the building. My aunt was playing the piano, and there was a break in the music. When the music broke, the pastor took that as his cue to start. Dr. Holman started saying, “Dearly, beloved, here we are gathered” I thought—
Bob: You’re not even in there yet? [Laughter]
Arlene: We’re not even in the room! I was still in the hallway. I thought, “The wedding is starting without me!”
Dennis: He’s up there with the groom—
Dennis: Who does he think he’s going to marry?
Arlene: Only. Then, his wife—we have heard was saying, [in a concerned tone] “Somebody, please, stop him!” [Laughter] But nobody could stop him. He got through the whole thing. He got to the point that he said, “Now, who gives this woman to this man in marriage?” He looked down, and he only saw my husband-to-be. He said, “Where’s Peter?”—who is my dad because he’s supposed to answer that question; right?! He’s still not clueing in, “The bride is not there.” He’s looking for Peter. He’s looking for the answer to the question.
Then, he says, “Oh my; oh my.” Then, the music starts. The door flies open. They kick the bridesmaids down the aisle. I come down the aisle. He saved himself so gloriously. He said, “Now, we are ready to begin the wedding.” The rest of the wedding was flawless, but it started without me.
Dennis: Here’s the thing. Weddings, really, are a dime a dozen in terms of how they start and how they go. What makes them classic—
Arlene: That’s right.
Dennis: —are these moments!
Arlene: Yes. The whole—all the people watching—
Dennis: No one’s going to forget that.
Arlene: They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know—should they laugh? Should they be mortified? It was very nervous. They kind of went [nervous laughter] like this—[Laughter]
Dennis: Okay, let’s go to your book. You have five sections in your book. Just quickly give our listeners a rundown of these five areas that you believe are really important for a husband to be “happy”.
Arlene: These areas will be very easy to remember because they form the word, DREAM, because so many times, we start with that dream in marriage; but then real life kicks in and it becomes more of this dull-routine thing. So, taking the word, DREAM, the “D” is domestic tranquility. The “R” is respect. The “E” is eros. The “A” is attraction, and the “M” is mutual activities.
Dennis: Alright, now, let’s go to the first one—
Dennis: —domestic tranquility.
Arlene: That’s right.
Dennis: That’s where you start.
Dennis: A peaceful home—
Arlene: A peaceful home.
Dennis: That’s what a man is really looking for?
Arlene: Yes, you think of it. The man—he’s been out all day. He’s been slaying his dragons. He’s stressed; and he wants to come to a home where he feels loved, and appreciated, and wanted.
Now, for the women, we think, “Well, that’s really nice. I’ve been home all day with these crazy kids, and my laundry, and my to-do list. I’m supposed to have a peaceful home with my husband when he comes home.” So, I understand that. I have three kids. They are two, five, and seven. There are many times where it’s not necessarily peaceful when he walks in the door.
The thought there is, for us, first of all to recognize, “You know what? When my husband comes home, I want it to be a place where he enjoys being.” What’s enjoyable? Well, it can be crazy. It can be loud, but it’s got to have that sense of peace and that domestic tranquility that there is peace in the home.
For me, sometimes that means disciplining my kids and making sure that we are right before he walks in that door. It means picking up. We know, “Okay, you can’t pick up the whole house, but you can pick up from the garage to the dinner table.” Get that kind of cleaned up a little bit, and get you kids involved in doing that so that when he walks in the home, he feels like, “Oh, I’m glad I’m here,” instead of like, “This is a nightmare. I should have stayed at work an hour later.”
Bob: It sounds like what you’re saying is that there ought to be some purposefulness and some thought to this entry point.
Bob: You know about when your husband’s going to come home. If you just do a little bit of planning and preparation, you can make that entry a happy one. That sets the tone for the rest of the evening; doesn’t it?
Arlene: It does. It sounds like it’s overwhelming; but if you just say, “You know what? I’m just going to clear the entryway, and I’m going to put on a little lipstick. I’m going to greet him with a hug, and a smile, and say, ‘Honey, we’re so glad you’re here. Welcome to the zoo.’” You know? But let it be something that he’s happy to be there; and he feels like, “Wow! They took some effort to welcome me home.”
Dennis: I want to give some men some advice because there are some husbands listening to us right now that are going, “Oh, yes!”—
Bob: “I’m getting a copy of this book and taking it home tonight!”
Dennis: “I know what my lecture is tonight when I arrive home. I’m going to pull out the big guns on this deal.” Here’s my advice to that husband—you need to take care of the kids for a long weekend—a Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, all day Sunday—so your wife comes back Sunday night. After you do that, then, you can have this conversation. [Laughter]
Bob: Once you have a little empathy for what goes on around the house all day?
Dennis: I’m telling you. I did this more than once. The first time I did it, I was praying for my wife’s return. But your point is you have to make your home livable—
Dennis: —where both the kids and the adults can live there.
Bob: I have to step in here because I’m imagining some wives who are going, “Okay, look. Why is it my job to make sure that the house is picked up? He’s adding to the clutter with how he lives. He drops his clothes here and does this. In fact, the whole premise of your book, 31 Days to a Happy Husband, makes it sound like I’m supposed to be his domestic slave.”
Arlene: I’ll have to think about that one, Bob! [Laughter] Well, I think that so much of it is service. It’s true. Sometimes, it does not make sense. It’s true: “I work. My husband works. There’s a mess. Why do I have to do it?” If you look at it that way, all these moments become, “Why do I have to do this?”
If it becomes, “We are a team. We work together as a team. The husband brings something. The wife brings something to the table. This is a way I can serve my family,” whether it is appreciated or not, God sees you. God sees what you’re doing, and He will reward you for the service that you are giving. If we could elevate ourselves—perhaps, instead of feeling like, “I’m this maid around here,” —but instead, to say, “Hey, I’m the one who tidies up. God’s watching. I’m proud of what we’re doing here.”
Bob: That’s good.
Dennis: That really is good. I want to go to kind of the theme of your book. I still want to talk about this domestic tranquility, but I want to better understand what your goal is—a happy husband? Happiness tends to denote circumstance. You’re really talking about something, I think, more related to contentment. That’s what the domestic tranquility is talking about—at least to me, as a man.
Arlene: Yes. That happiness—it can be seen as something that’s—“Oh, we had a great day at work; so, we’re happy! We got this great money; we’re happy!—but to say that happiness is a choice that we can give to each other as a gift. For instance, in a marriage, you can be happy, as a choice, for your husband. A lot of the book is about actually helping the wife to be happy because, usually, when the wife is happy, the husband is pretty happy, too.
In the book—if we can learn how to serve our husbands, if we can learn how to be at peace with our homes, be at peace with us, as wives, we can be more content with the role that we play—that’s going to rub off on our husbands. When I say a happy husband, I mean a husband that’s not ignored, a husband that’s not second to the children, a husband that— if he says he has a need—we don’t say, “Oh, you’re just a man.” A husband, who is heard, respected, cared for—and I believe that husbands are not as complicated as wives—if they get that, they’re going to be pretty happy!
Dennis: One of the ways you talk about better providing that type of contented atmosphere in your home is to get in your husband’s shoes—to kind of walk a mile in his shoes, kind of get where he is and what he’s battling.
Dennis: How did you do that with your husband, James?
Arlene: Sometimes, I would think, “Wow!” If we were having tension about something, I’d think, “Well, I don’t like you very much.” I just thought in my mind, “Well, he’s probably thinking, ‘I don’t like you very much, either.’” So, that—even just that small click in my mind to say, “This is my perspective, but what is his perspective?” Really, before you defend yourself, to pause and to think, “What is he really trying to communicate here? Is there any truth in what he’s saying?”
Typically, I have found when you get defensive, it’s because it hits something that’s true in your life. If he said something about the home and I got defensive, it’s because, yes, my house is kind of a mess. I need to take care of it—you know? So, to be able to say, “I want to listen to what you have to say,” —putting myself in his shoes, trying to understand, “Where is he coming from?” That helped me a lot.
Dennis: Is James a neat freak?
Arlene: He’s not! He’s not. He’s—we have a very similar level of neatness. We like things picked up, but he is definitely not a neat freak; but he is a realtor. He looks at neat homes all day long. So, when he comes home to our home, it’d be nice for him to be able to see a countertop or something like that.
Bob: This subject that you talk about at the beginning of the book—the whole idea of domestic tranquility. You’re not just talking about having the house picked up.
Arlene: That’s right.
Bob: There’s more to it than that; right?
Arlene: Yes. Yes. We talk about having a visible calm, which is your surroundings; but the invisible calm is more important. That is so much that the woman—the wife—that we learn how to be at peace with God, our family, our circumstance; so that when our husband comes home, he comes home to an invisible calm that’s perhaps even more important than the picked-up house.
Dennis: When you’re messing with little children or, for that matter, you’ve got a bunch of teenagers—
Dennis: —a lot is happening in life. There can be a tendency for a husband, when he comes home, where he kind of feels like he’s low man on the totem pole.
Arlene: That’s right.
Dennis: I think, in your book, you refer to it as “Taking a Number”—
Arlene: Take a number.
Dennis: —like going to Baskin-Robbins®—
Arlene: That’s right.
Dennis: —and you take a number, if you’re in line. Of course, that was probably years ago.
Bob: I was thinking of the DMV—
Dennis: There’s no—
Bob: —and you went to Baskin-Robbins. [Laughter]
Arlene: Exactly! Let’s go to Baskin-Robbins!
Dennis: How can a wife help her husband not feel like he’s taking a number?
Arlene: That’s right because the needs are still there; but to be able to recognize—you know, “When we were first courting”—a lot of the book is about thinking back—“When we were courting, how did I treat this man? How can I go back to that?” When you’re courting, it’s like all your attention, your affection, your consideration went toward that man; but now, you have children. All that consideration, attention, affection now goes to the kids. Then, the husband kind of gets the leftovers of that. The husband is not going to say, “Excuse me, could you help me?” because he feels like, “Oh, she’s already overwhelmed. Why do I want to put one more thing on her list?” but he is still crying out for that attention.
Even by doing something small of—for me, if my husband is working in his home office—I try to think, “Well, bring him a glass of cold water.” I mean, it’s nothing, but it’s something. It takes me 20 seconds; but it shows, “I’m thinking of you.” Maybe it’s writing a note, maybe it’s telling your husband—we’ll talk about the “E”, the eros, later—but it’s telling your husband, “We have to schedule this because we have kids, but next Thursday we’re going to have some special time together,” so the husband doesn’t feel like, “I’m just one of many here,” but that he feels really honored.
It can be very small things. It can be—when you are at the dinner table—and you put your arm around his shoulders. It can be very small things that you do throughout the day; but you’re constantly thinking, “How can I make my man important in this home?”
Dennis: I want to put a double underline under this because I’ve had this conversation with Barbara before. There’s not a lot throughout the day that comes into a man’s life that’s saying to him, “You know what? You really are number one! I really was looking forward to seeing you,” at least there shouldn’t be—alright?—especially with the opposite sex.
Dennis: There needs to be one person, one woman, in a man’s life who is saying, “You know what? I’ve been thinking about you today. Let’s go do something together. Let’s spend some time together tonight.” Those are important words—
Dennis: —for a husband to hear. Now, the interesting thing that you wrote about is that sometimes a husband can show you attention. Your husband did. He told you he wanted to put the kids to bed early one night, and you weren’t that excited about his agenda for that evening; were you?
Arlene: Sure; right; right. We have to kind of clue into some things, as well. So—
Dennis: This was the massage he wanted—
Dennis: —to give you. Tell that story.
Arlene: So many times we have this to-do list! I don’t know why it’s so important to us women that we get these things done. So, my husband like—people say, “Be a good husband. Take care of the kids.” He did that! He said, “I’m going to give you a massage tonight.” He wasn’t even—this wasn’t even the lure for love-making. He just said, “I want to give you a massage.”
“Okay,” but what did I do? I stayed up. I did dishes because I don’t like having the dishes in the sink. I did all these things. When I went upstairs, he was already too tired. He said, “Why didn’t you come up earlier? I would have given you a massage.” Then—you can imagine how lame I felt, “I did the dishes.” He’s thinking, “You picked doing the dishes over doing a massage? I would have happily done the dishes tomorrow morning.” So many times, we—women—we whine, we complain, we fuss; but sometimes, our man is trying to be really nice to us. Yet, we still are stuck in our old patterns.
Bob: Arlene, I think there are some women who are listening who are going, “I could do what you’re talking about if I felt like my husband was on the same page. Honestly, it sounds like your husband’s a great guy. He wants to give you a massage. He puts the kids to bed.”
Arlene: Right. It’s like, “Who is this guy?”
Bob: “I can make him a happy husband.”
Dennis: He said he would do the dishes tomorrow.
Bob: That’s right!
Dennis: I mean—”Hello!”
Bob: But you know, there are some wives who have tried some of what you’re talking about; and they just feel like, “I’m getting nowhere. I get no response. He’s in there with ESPN, and I’m tired of trying.” What’s your word to them?
Arlene: The first word is try for the Lord—to all those efforts, all that love, all those things that you are trying to do for him—let your focus be, “God, I’m doing this as unto You.” You know—all those submission passages. Those are the wives’ least favorite verses—right?—in the Bible—but it’s, “Submit to your husband, as to the Lord.”
If we can turn those behaviors and say, “You know what? I am banking on my reward coming from God. I’m going to keep loving this man. I’m going to be patient with him. I’m going to take care of him. I’m going to love him, even if he ignores me, he’s mean to me—you know?—he’s short with me. I’m just going to keep loving him.”
There will come a time where that man will break. There will—something will happen, and it may be the 31 Days to a Happy Husband—that might be the start; but you might say, “I had to read the book 12 times before my husband budged!” But if we wait for the husband to do something magical to change, we will be so disappointed, and we’ll give up; but if we honestly say, “God, I know it’s Your will for me to serve my husband in marriage. I’m going to do it.” If we can do it with that attitude, I—“That’s very nice. It’s philosophical. It sounds good. In the real world, how does that play out because you so want to give up when things like that happen?”
I think talking to godly girlfriends could help—not the kind that bring your husband down and want to talk with you about how he’s such a this and he’s such a that—but women who really care, who can pray with you for that husband. If you gang up on that man with prayer and with a lot of love, he’s going to be affected, even if he doesn’t show it. He will be affected.
When you stand before God, you’re not going to give account for what your husband did; you will give account for what you did.
Dennis: Yes, and as you’ve been talking about that wife, who is in a marriage that—well, the guy is not all that loveable—
Dennis: I was thinking of Romans 12. If there are some wives and, for that matter, husbands who haven’t read this recently, they ought to read Romans, Chapter 12, verses nine through the end of the chapter. Let me just cherry pick some phrases out of here: “...as much as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all,” “Never paying back evil for evil...”, “Not trying to get even...”, “...live in harmony with one another,” “...try to outdo one another in showing honor,” “Let your love be genuine.” Those are all great exhortations.
It’s kind of, in essence, summarized in Philippians 2, where it talks about, “Don’t merely look out for your own interest, look out for the interests of others.” If you want to look out for your own interest only, marriage is not a good relationship to be in.
Arlene: To do that.
Dennis: I just looked a young couple in the eye—that I performed some marriage preparation counseling for—and I told them—I said, “You know—you are about to enter in to a relationship that demands death to self.” That’s what makes a good marriage, and the Scriptures speak to that repeatedly.
Bob: On opening night at our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways, we talk about the things that threaten marital oneness. Really, when you get to the bottom-line, selfishness is at the core of what it is that drives us into isolation from one another. You’ve got to address that because, for both husband and wife, that’s at the core. The only solution for that core is a spiritual solution. It’s a reprioritization of your life to say, “What matters to God is what matters most to me, and that’s how I’m going to live.” It’s on that foundation that the kinds of things we’ve talked about today and the kinds of things you talk about in your book, Arlene, can be built. We’ve been talking about happy husbands.
Arlene’s written a book called 31 Days to a Happy Husband: What a Man Needs Most from His Wife. We’ve got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on how you can get a copy. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call, toll-free, at 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”; and we’ll let you know how you can get a copy of Arlene Pellicane’s book, 31 Days to a Happy Husband.
I had an opportunity—this was a number of months ago. I was speaking at an event for women and doing a breakout session on “What Husbands Wished Their Wives Knew about Men”. I had a chance just to talk, as a man, to these women about how we think as guys about what’s important to us as husbands—about how a wife can honor, respect, love, serve, affirm, encourage her husband. I got great response from the wives who were there. I think it was helpful for them to hear from a man about how they could please the Lord and please their husband. It’s a part of what we do in marriage is— “How can we serve one another in a marriage relationship?”
This month, we are making a copy of that CD, What Husbands Wished Their Wives Knew about Men, available to those of you who are able to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We are listener-supported. The fact that we’re on the air today is because, in the past, we’ve had folks, like you, who have contacted us and said, “We believe in what you’re doing. We want to see it continue;” and they’ve made a donation. We want to say, “Thanks,” to those folks; and we want to ask you if you would consider making a donation today.
Again, when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “I CARE”, make an online donation, we will automatically send you a copy of this CD, What Husbands Wished Their Wives Knew about Men; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a donation over the phone. If you do that, be sure to ask for the CD. Again, it’s the CD for wives. We’ll know what you’re talking about. Let me just say how much we appreciate your partnership with us. Thanks for your support of this ministry.
We want to encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow. We’re going to continue our conversation on what it is that causes husbands to be happy husbands. You knew we’d get around to it sooner or later—we’re going to talk about intimacy tomorrow. I hope you can tune in 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.
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