His Word and Your Marriage
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Nina Roesner explains what happens when a spouse loves the marriage more than they love Jesus or His Word. When Roesner’s marriage wasn’t meeting her expectations six months in, she thought she had married the wrong person. She didn’t realize the infatuation part of love wears off. Roesner tells what she learned about respect and submission.
His Word and Your Marriage
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, September 26th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I’m Bob Lepine. There are some adjustments you might be able to make in your marriage that could have a significant impact on the quality of your relationship. We’re going to talk with Nina Roesner today about what some of those adjustments might be. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I don’t know when it was that it dawned on us; but there was some—maybe, it just happened slowly over time. Mary Ann and I began to realize that there is a difference between being Christians, who are married, and being people whose lives are directed by the Bible and being married. Do you know what I’m saying when I talk about that difference?
Dave: I don’t know; you’ve got me confused already. [Laughter] You better clear that up.
Bob: When we got married, I was thinking: “Because we both love Jesus and because we are both committed to Christ, our marriage is going to be fine. We won’t have issues; we won’t have problems.” Then I realized it’s, not just loving Jesus, but it’s following His Word—
Dave: There you go.
Bob: —and applying His Word in your marriage. That’s where the real paradigm shift starts to come, and that’s where the marriage starts to work out. The fact that you both love Jesus is great; but if you’re not bringing the Word to bear on your marriage relationship, you’re still going to have a lot of problems.
Ann: I think that’s really true, and I feel like that was my life. I think the danger of that comes when our marriage becomes more important than Christ—and our husband’s love for us or perceived love for us—becomes more important than Jesus—
Bob: —it’s a bigger deal.
Ann: —and His love for us; yes.
Bob: One of the fun things we are getting to do in this new season on FamilyLife Today is—I’m getting to introduce you guys to somebody that I’ve known for a while, and that’s the case today. Nina Roesner is joining us on FamilyLife Today. Nina, welcome back.
Nina: I am so glad to be here; it’s fun.
Bob: So, Nina has been here before; we’ve had conversations before. You guys have just met her for the first time, as we are sitting down here today.
Dave: And I’m excited because her book is about how to respect men, so this is going to be a good day. [Laughter]
Ann: He’s always devouring these books, Nina. He’s like: “Oh, did you read this?”—“and this?”—“and this?”—“and this?”
Nina: Really? I’m so sorry.
Ann: Thank you.
Dave: Yes; I really loved your book, and I did do that. I kept highlighting and saying: “Ann, how about this? How about this?” I think she was getting my drift.
Bob: This book comes out of your story, and these guys don’t know your story; some of our listeners don’t know your story. Take us back into the history of the Roesner marriage; can you do that?
Nina: Yes; I related a lot to what you said when we opened. I was not a Christian until I attended a Weekend to Remember®. My husband and I went a couple months before we got married. And this is already public—it’s in one of your magazines—I threw my birth control pills in the garbage at another FamilyLife®Weekend to Remember; but this time, we looked at each other and we said, “We need to live lives that reflect God’s glory.” So, we stopped having sex; and then we got married a couple of months later.
I thought I was going to have this amazing experience because he was Christian; I’m Christian. So, I’m thinking, “He’s going to behave like”—I don’t know—“Dennis Rainey.” [Laughter]
Ann: —or “…Bob Lepine.”
Nina: —“…Bob Lepine.”
What happened was—about six months into my marriage—I was working for Dale Carnegie at the time; and my boss calls me in, and my sales were tanked. He’s like, “What’s up with you?” I said: “You know what? I think I married the wrong person,” and I burst into tears. [Laughter] I had no idea.
Ann: So, you said this to your boss?
Ann: It just came out.
Nina: I was a hot mess. I had no idea because—
Dave: What did your boss say?
Nina: Well, there was this long awkward moment. [Laughter] He said something inspirational—I don’t even remember what it was. Then he stood up, which is the cue to “Get out of my office”; so I did—I left.
Then I began a journey because I knew that I didn’t know. I didn’t even know that that whole twitter-pated infatuation stage of love—where you’re dopamine-overdosed—that that wears off. I started reading and learning; and then God started dragging me, kicking and screaming, through a study on respect and submission; because that’s in the Bible for wives. That was hard.
Now, I’m in a place where we actually have a ministry, where we teach other women how to do this. It’s very exciting to see what relationship with Jesus Christ will do for your marriage.
Bob: You said that the two of you had the perspective that marriage would be in alignment just because of a mutual love for Jesus; but again, until we start to see what His plan and path for our lives is—and until we start to look at what the Scriptures say about how we’re to live this out—that’s where the alignment comes from. Both of you loving Jesus—I’m not trying to diminish that at all; right?
Ann: Yes; that’s really important; right.
Bob: It is really important.
Bob: But it’s both of you submitting to the authority of His Word and saying, “We’re going to live according to the Bible.” That was kind of the turning point for you—was when you recognized, “Whether or not I like what the Bible says or not”—and there were things you didn’t like; right?
Nina: Oh, that is so true. [Laughter] Yes; first time I heard about submission, all the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I’m like: “This cannot be in here. NO!” Yes; but it’s there. I didn’t understand it; and I thought about it differently, at first, than I do now. It’s actually not what most women think it is.
Dave: Well, talk a little bit about that; because, when I was reading some of the stuff in your chapters about submission, I honestly thought: “You and my wife are very similar in terms of how you think about it. She’s talked about, publicly, being angry and the same thing.” Yet, your perspectives on submission were very, I thought, refreshing.
I mean, one of them—you talk about is being told you couldn’t tell your husband how to drive: “If he’s getting lost, don’t give him advice on directions”—like that’s submission. Yet, you say, “No, that’s not really submission.”
Dave: So, talk about it.
Nina: So—and this actually happened—Jim and I were on our way to visit our accountant, and he’s in the fast lane because he drives fast. We’re cruising down I-71 in Cincinnati, and the exit is coming up. I’m like, “Okay, he’s like way far away from this thing”; but I just read that you don’t ever say anything to your husband about his driving. Then I’m thinking, “But he’s my friend, and he’s going to be really 15-shades-of-purple ticked-off if we miss this appointment.” I was struggling with it.
I just asked him: “So, do you think it would be disrespectful if I said, ‘Hey, that’s our exit’?” And he crosses three lanes of traffic; you know? He pulls up, and he stops the car. He looks at me and he says, “Nan, if you had said to me, ‘Dude, you’re going to miss the exit again!’”—in that tone of voice—“If it had been like that, that’s disrespect; but for you to not say, ‘Hey, there’s our exit,’ and not help me; that’s not being my friend.”
Ann: This word, submission, creates a lot of different responses in women. Some are like, “I love submission,” and others are like: “This is the dumbest thing. What is it? Why did God say this?” Take us back there: “What is submission?” and “What is submission not?”
Nina: Submission isn’t so much about obeying a person. It’s really about obeying Christ and communicating in a way where there is an openness.
I remember being at the store with my husband, trying to buy dishtowels. I had just been told the submissive wife does not make decisions without her husband’s approval on anything. I’m standing there—I’ve got red dishtowels; I’ve got white dishtowels. I’m going: “I want to buy dishtowels. I really like the red ones, but I haven’t asked my husband. So, okay, fine—I’ll ask my husband.” “Jim, which of these do you prefer?” He looks at me and he says: “I married a woman that could make a decision. Where did she go?”
Nina: Yes; so my poor husband—I just feel so bad for him as I went through this stuff, trying to figure it out. [Laughter]
Ann: But you’re trying to figure it out—
Nina: Yes; exactly.
Ann: —because you want to obey God.
Nina: Yes; that was completely my motivation, because I trust God with every single cell in my body. I knew that if I learned what was in the Bible—which I am still—hello; we’ll study the Bible until we die and still not understand the Bible—but if I knew more than I knew then, which was next to nothing, then I’d be better at this/that I’d understand that there would be a way to find joy.
Honestly, there was a lot of that time I was searching for happiness. I made my husband and my marriage an idol which, then, got in the way of my joy. The whole journey was just a hot mess.
Bob: So, are you saying that the whole idea of: “I’ll submit to my husband,” was really motivated by, “Maybe, if I do this, I’ll get the happiness I’m looking for”?
Nina: Right. Initially, I submitted to God because I was trying to purchase a happy marriage. Later in that journey, I had this moment, and—oh my word—God woke me up at, like, four in the morning. I got up, and I went downstairs, and I pulled open the Gospels.
I don’t remember which account I read, but I read about His death and His resurrection. I realized that He did all of that for me. If I had been the last person on the planet/the only person, He still would have done all of that; and He needed to do all of that because of the lack of righteousness within me. It completely destroyed me—it just shredded every piece of something in my soul, and I wept. I looked up and I just said, “Lord, whatever You want me to do, I will do. Send me; I’ll go.”
Then I started seeing things like: “Girl, you be trying to purchase happiness here. You need to get an alignment. This is not an idol. The marriage should not be an idol.” “Okay; well, okay; what do you do? Does that mean I don’t do these things?” Cultivating an actual relationship with Jesus was the catalyst to learning how to do this in a way that made the marriage healthier, honestly, and made me healthier as well. I don’t pretend to be all the way there.
Bob: I think this is so important; I really do, because I think there are a lot of people—I think I’ve been in this place, where I’m thinking, “I will obey because it will earn me something.” If that’s what you’re trying to do, spiritually—whether it’s your marriage/your kids—whatever: “Okay, I’m going to toe the line; because then I’ve got God on the hook.”
Ann: You feel like it’s spiritual manipulation almost?
Bob: Yes; exactly what it is. It’s you attempting to control God through your behavior. Well, God is not a god who is controlled by human beings; right? [Laughter] So, we have to recognize, as we’re in this, our motivation needs to be: “Lord, I’ll serve You. If that brings challenge, and pain, and unhappiness; I’d rather be unhappy serving You than to try to be finding phony happiness somewhere else.”
When I say “happiness,” I use that word specifically and not joy—
Bob: —because God promises joy.
Bob: Sometimes, we will have unhappy circumstances, but we can have a wellspring of joy in the midst of unhappy circumstances as long as we know we are in the Lord’s will.
Dave: I think it’s inherit in the human condition; don’t you think? I don’t think I’ve ever met a person—ever—and I know that’s a strong statement—that hasn’t had that experience in their relationship with God that: “If I do good, I will get good.”
Bob: We are wired to perform.
Ann: Well, as I listened to you, Nina, I think, when young women come up to me and they say, “What can I do to make my marriage great?”
Ann: I would say what you just talked about—of that full surrender of knowing Jesus. When you know Him, it allows you to think, “I can surrender my whole life to You because You love me; You died for me; You forgave all my sins.” And when you say: “I will do anything,” “I will go anywhere,” that’s the start of a great marriage.
Nina: It really is. We need to define what a great marriage is. You and I both, Ann, work in ministry with women; right? They all say the same thing—they want to purchase the happy.
Nina: Yes; that’s what it’s all about. Well, what if—what if your life doesn’t change/the people around you don’t change—but the way that you feel, as you interact with them, is completely different because you’ve gotten out of Christ’s way inside of you. You’re already carrying Him inside of you when you’ve chosen to follow Him and call Him, “Lord,” and you do what He tells you to do. When you are sold out for Him, then what happens is that we change. Nobody likes to hear that.
When we allow Christ to be in charge of who we are, and we dive into His character, and we get out of the way and let Him interact/the Spirit within us, what we see happening is that we are okay/we are safe. no matter what is going on around us.
That is really an empowering and fulfilling place, where you have peace; you have joy. Everything can be falling apart around you, and people will ask—and I love this when people ask me, “How come you’re not upset?” It doesn’t even occur to me that I should be upset. I know, in that moment, that is not my flesh—that’s Jesus operating through me. It’s an incredible, blessed experience.
Ann: And it’s not a one-time decision either—
Ann: —of saying, “Lord, I give You this.” I need to do that every day because, without Him, I start thinking: “What about me?”
Ann: “What about my needs?” “What about the things he’s not doing?” As we go to Him—it doesn’t mean that all just disappears—it’s saying, “Lord, I need You”—
Ann: —“all the time.”
Nina: —“all the time.”
Nina: We get our identity wrapped up in the behavior of other people.
Nina: Instead, we need to process our emotions with God inside of us instead of pointing fingers and blaming other people—it’s really, really damaging to our relationships. I’m not criticizing what you all did. It happens in every marriage. It happens in mine—parenting—all of it; we do this—but the less we do this and the more we interact with God over our feelings, the more He is able to reveal to us what’s really true.
Dave: You know, here is the coach in me: “Today’s game isn’t about who is on the other sideline. It’s all about us; we play our game. We do what we do; we win. It’s not about them.”
Marriage is the same way, and there is an equation in your book—I found it, and I love it; it’s on Page 112—the equation says this: “The deeper my relationship with God, the better my marriage is.” I’m like, “That is true.” Your husband/your wife cannot be fulfilling their—it doesn’t matter—it’s all about me and my relationship with God. I mean, that is what I would want every engaged person to understand that: “This is all about your relationship with God, not your marriage.”
Ann: Okay; let’s say your husband comes home every day. You’ve been working. You come home; you’re getting dinner. The kids are all going crazy. He sits on the couch; turns on ESPN every day, doesn’t talk to you until bedtime. Then he kind of like gives you that look like, “Hey, how about tonight?” How does that woman respect her husband?
Nina: So, most women—and you’ve heard that question multiple times; and sometimes, it’s cell phone: “He gets on his phone; doesn’t even acknowledge that I am here”; yes. So, we—again, we have to look at this as—and this is going to sound really hard—but if I am blaming him for his behavior/if I am focusing on him and what he’s doing for me, then I’ve decided that I’m the source of truth.
Now, think about that for a second—for me to say that my reality is the one that matters more than his reality, I’ve decided that I’m the source of truth. Instead, I need to go to God and say: “Okay; God, I’m feeling kind of not awesome right now. I’ve been doing all these things all day today, and he’s doing that. I’m not happy with this. What is this? Why am I feeling this way? What is this?” He will comfort me in that; He will say, “Of course, you feel this way. Yes; you’re hurting, and I’m right here with you.” He wraps His arms around me, figuratively speaking; and I get comfort in the middle of that.
Then—and then—He says, “So, is there another truth here?” So, I have to go: “Okay; my husband is in this space. God, what do You want from me right now? How can I take responsibility for my relationship with You and walk this out in this moment? What do I need to do differently?” I would have all of this conversation first.
I wouldn’t just go: “Okay; I’m going to do this behavior…”—walk over, put your hand on his shoulder—because that’s a behavior that doesn’t have the heart behind it. The heart goes: “Hey, honey, are you okay? What’s going on?”—there’s love there and then there’s connection. Sometimes, it takes a few times—sometimes, it doesn’t happen; but when it does, you know, that’s when God’s decided that it will.
Bob: There’s nothing wrong, in that moment, for a wife to say, “Could you, maybe, give me a hand with some stuff here tonight?
Bob: “I’m in the midst of this.” Sometimes, as men, we’re just oblivious to what’s going on in your world; and you’re expecting us to know—
Bob: —and think and feel: “Why aren’t you aware of what I’m thinking and feeling right now?” and “Why aren’t you motivated on your own?”
I know, even as I’m saying this, that a wife is going: “I don’t want to have to ask. [Laughter] I want you to know it and do it on your own.” Well, maybe, one day, we’ll evolve to that point as men but, for now, just coach us a little bit—
Bob: —because we’re okay with that.
Ann: Nina, your story about wrapping the Christmas—were you wrapping presents for Christmas?
Ann: That really relates to—
Bob: It does.
Ann: —what Bob said.
Nina: Yes; I was picking up the trash. It was actually after Christmas, and I was crawling around on my hands and knees. I had three kids, and they were three months, three years, five years—exhausting; right? My husband was a road warrior—travelled. I’m exhausted; I’m picking up stuff after Christmas, and I’m seething—I am so angry.
If I had just asked my husband: “Hey, baby, can you help? We need to clean up the house,” he would have gone, “Oh, okay; sure!” you know? Then he would have pitched in—I’m 100 percent sure of that. Instead, I chose to do the whole seething thing, and—
Ann: It’s a martyring thing that we go through as well.
Nina: It is; it is.
Ann: We do it with our kids as well—
Ann: —like: “Look at them! They don’t even see the trash,” and they really don’t.
Nina: They don’t; yes. Yes; we wander through that. It’s actually idolatry and pride—ouch!—but that’s what that is.
Dave: This is just one thought I had, as I am listening to these two women. Wasn’t it interesting, Bob? We’re watching these two women talking about us men, you know, sitting in a chair.
I did think—to the guy that’s sitting in the chair, “Get out of the chair.” This part of me just says: “I know. I’ve been there,”—I roll my eyes; like I even do the little: “Pfft; don’t you see how important I am?” and “I’m carrying all this…”—and I don’t get out of the chair.
I just want to look at my boy-self: “Grow up; be a man. Serve your wife. Love your wife, and get out of the chair and honor Christ by serving,”—that’s what I would say.
Bob: I think all of us, as men, as we re-enter our workplace/our second workplace—with our [wife] and our kids—we need to not be reentering going, “I just need some downtime.” Now, maybe, you do; maybe, you need—
Bob: —15 minutes/30 minutes to shift gears when you get home, and you need to do this. That’s fine; but don’t think that’s the rest of the evening for you.
Bob: You’ve got work to do. You need to be there and be present and pitch in. It may be that your wife needs some downtime, and you may need to be the one rolling up your sleeves so she can get a break. This is how this dance gets worked out.
But I think, Nina, to your point—when a wife has an attitude about all of this that says, “My heart’s desire is, first of all, to serve the Lord and to live out the way He’s calling me to live; and then, secondly, to respect my husband,”—that is core to what is in the book you’ve written, called 12 Truths to Change Your Marriage.
We’ve got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online to order from us, or you can call. Our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. Our number is 1-800-FL-TODAY. So, again, the book is called 12 Truths to Change Your Marriage. Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to get your copy, or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, I think it’s possible we may have stepped on some toes in today’s program; and we’re not trying to intentionally inflict any kind of injury on anybody; but we also don’t want to shy away from what the Bible has to say about how we love one another well in our marriages and in our families. At FamilyLife®, our goal is to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We believe godly marriages and families can change the world—you do it one home at a time.
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Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about the thin line between offering advice and counsel and attempting to control your spouse. Nina Roesner joins us, again, tomorrow. I hope you can join us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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