FamilyLife Today® Podcast

How a Man Should Romance His Wife

with C.J. Mahaney | February 9, 2009
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Men, you need to master the romance basics before you can really win your wife. Pastor C.J. Mahaney, author of the book Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God covers what Christian husbands need to know.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Men, you need to master the romance basics before you can really win your wife. Pastor C.J. Mahaney, author of the book Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God covers what Christian husbands need to know.

  • 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.

Men, you need to master the romance basics before you can really win your wife.

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How a Man Should Romance His Wife

With C.J. Mahaney
February 09, 2009
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C.J.: Study your wife – study your wife to discover how you can serve her romantically and relationally.  I've been married 30 years, and there are still things I am discovering about Carolyn that I did not know, and here is what I'm finding – often, I don't know them because I haven't studied her.  And often I haven't studied her, sadly, because I am selfish.  Studying her has made all the difference in serving her.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, February 9th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Valentine's Day is coming up this weekend – so, men, it's time to listen up.  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition, and we are in the final week of our 40-day Love Dare challenge that's been going on, and it's been fun to hear from folks who have been joining with us in the Love Dare and learning to love like they mean it.  This is taken from the book, "The Love Dare," that was featured in the movie, "Fireproof," which is now out on DVD, and if folks are interested in more information about the book or about the DVD, you can go to and all the information you need is available there.

And, of course, one of the reasons we've been doing this 40-day Love Dare is because this weekend is Valentine's Day, and because this weekend is the kickoff weekend for our spring season of FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, and we've got a lot of folks who are planning to be with us this weekend for one of these conferences in the Dallas/Fort Worth area at the Gaylord Texan Resort; in Washington, D.C.; at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania; at a resort in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We've got conferences at a bunch of locations this weekend, but then throughout the spring folks are signing up now for conferences in March and in April and in May and all of the information about the Weekend to Remember conferences are on the website as well.  So you can stop by there and find out more about our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.

But here is today's dare – it's built around the fact that there is a connection between love and God's Word.  Psalm 119 says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."  That's a familiar verse.  So your assignment for today is to commit to reading the Bible every day.  And you might be thinking, "Well, what does that have to do with romance?"  Well, you try it and see if it doesn't start having an impact on you and make you more romantic and desirable.

Find a devotional book or some other resource that will give you guidance, and if your spouse is open to it, see if they will commit to reading the Bible each day with you and then begin submitting every area of your life to what the Bible teaches and start building your house on the rock.  And, again, if you need more information about any of this, go to our website,

And we're going to talk about romance this week, and you know those times in your life when you have someone, an older man, maybe a father in the faith who comes alongside you, puts his arm around you and says, "Let me just give you some coaching tips from my own life, from my own experience," and it's biblically informed, but it's also practical advice on marriage and relationships.

You know how beneficial that has been for you, right?

Dennis: Absolutely.  I've benefited many times from men like Bill Bright, Howard Hendricks, and others who I've had a relationship with who shared some of the lessons they've learned and sometimes it's the lessons they've learned from the mistakes they've had where they're passing on those lessons to a younger generation so that we don't have to make the same mistakes.

Bob: Well, we thought that with romance in the air this time of year, it might be good for us to have a little mentoring, a little coaching, for husbands on how they can express their love and their affection and their romance for their wives.  You know, have someone come along and do a little mentoring.

Dennis: Around romance, you mean?

Bob: Right, right.

Dennis: Yeah, I think it's a great idea, and we're going to do that a couple of ways.  First of all, we're going to feature a message given here in Little Rock by C.J. Mahaney.  C.J. is a pastor from near Baltimore and does a great job.  He's been on FamilyLife Today a number of times.  He's a great friend.  I like C.J. because he is intense.

Bob: He is passionate.

Dennis: He is a passionate man, and he has learned a great deal about romance that he passed on to some men here locally, and we wanted to cut the radio listeners in on this deal and let them hear this message. 

But also, we're going to make available a book that Barbara and I wrote, "Rekindling the Romance," so that the men could take the last half of that book, and they could read that last half of the book, because all men, I think, need all the help they can get when it comes to cultivating romance through the various seasons of marriage.

Bob: Now, the reason you're pointing them to the last half of the book is because the first half of the book is written for wives.

Dennis: I'm going to recommend that tomorrow, but, Bob, the half of the book that's to men, I just think today, more than ever, men need to speak the love language of their wives and especially the romantic love language, and I think, as men, we really don't fully understand how to create romance in our marriage after the honeymoon.  And that's why, for the most part, I think romance is only a flicker after the first six miles or six months of the marriage, and why we need to make it a focus and a priority not just around Valentine's Day but throughout the year.

Bob: Well, here is a pastor, a Bible teacher, with some very practical advice, counsel from his own experience, on how you can make romance a priority in your marriage.

C.J.: Please turn to Mark, chapter 4, if you would – Mark, chapter 4 – the very familiar parable of the sower.  This is an encouraging text, it is an encouraging text because it imparts faith for definitive change, faith for definitive change for those who will respond appropriately and obediently to God's Word, for – note that we read in verse 20 that "those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the Word and accept it and bear fruit thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."  There are those who will respond, there are those who will grow, but the growth and the change and the fruitfulness that is described in verse 20 cannot be assumed, cannot be assumed by anyone present for there are conditions.

 So I asked myself this morning, how can I be like the one described in verse 20 bearing some serious fruit?  How can I be numbered among those who didn't merely attend this retreat but were changed?  Here is how – verse 20 is how.  It's very clear how.  We hear, we accept, there is fruit.  And then I love the phrase that follows in verse 24 – "pay attention to what you hear."  It's, in effect, a reiteration, an explanation of what we are reading in verse 20. 

See, the fact that I have a Bible, own a Bible, read a Bible, is not sufficient.  It's essential, but it's not sufficient, and it could be a means to self-deception because listening to truth and not applying truth – see, just listening is not an end in itself anymore than simply looking at oneself in a mirror is an end in itself.  There's a purpose for the mirror, the purpose of the mirror is adjustments, and the purpose of truth is application and practice and obedience.

So – here are practices that I have found in my remaining time that I hope serve you in the cultivation of sex and romance for the glory of God.

Number one, study your wife, study your wife.  Study your wife to discover how you can serve her romantically and relationally.  I've been married 30 years, and there are still things I'm discovering about Carolyn that I did not know, and here is what I'm finding – often, I don't know them because I haven't studied her.  And often I haven't studied her, sadly, because I am selfish.  Studying her has made all the difference in serving her.  By studying her, I've gotten to know her and therefore I am able to more effectively serve her.

So, often, in context of teaching our marriage and romance – we want to proceed to action; we want to proceed to the practical, and there certainly is the importance of that, but prior to the practical is study, and the study of your wife, in particular.  Why I am hesitant to often give illustrations from my life in context like this is your wife is different.  So an activity that might serve my wife romantically might not serve your wife.  You must study your wife to know what does serve her romantically.

You can assume this – your wife is different from you.  Oh, man, I mean, a flood of illustrations comes into my mind – just – and, I mean, so many of them – it's just pathetic about my life.  I mean, if I just think of the whole area of things we've done together to play.  When we were first married, for a number of years, I sought to invite Carolyn into my world so that we might do certain recreational activities together.  Carolyn grew up in a decidedly, categorically, non-athletic world.  She grew up in a Mennonite family, and her dad not only had no interest in sports, he would have viewed all sports as an expression of worldliness, and they didn't have a television, and so hers was a world where sports, in effect, didn't exist.

Well, I grew up where sports was an idol, sadly, and to my shame, I was built into that as a form of idolatry, and I loved all things athletic, and that really was, sadly, part of my conversion.  My world was drugs and athletics.  And so I tried to bring her into my world, and so I took her out to play racquetball with me – once.


Played tennis once, we did a lot of things once.  And it took me so long to get it; that I was selfishly trying to bring her into my world.  I wasn't studying her.  And one day, by the grace of God, because she had references to this – not in the way of – by requesting, but Carolyn grew up fishing with her mom.  That was an activity she did with her mom.  At different times when we were with her parents, they would talk about fishing, and they would even go fishing.

Now, selfish as I am, I wasn't even paying attention because I didn't fish.  I'd fished once, and it was a bad experience.  I was taken fishing; it rained the whole time.  I just thought, "This is the essence of miserable."  We caught no fish in the pouring-down rain.  So that's the only time I fished.  It wasn't difficult to make a commitment at that point, "I will never do this again." 

But I realized one time while visiting Carolyn's parents in Sarasota, Florida, she really liked to fish, and she had memories of fishing with her mom, and by studying her and, for a moment, kind of suspending unselfishness, I thought, "Perhaps that would bless her, if I'd take her fishing."  And so that's what I did.  I created this surprise fishing trip in St. Petersburg, which turned into quite a scene, because I didn't know how to fish, and I didn't know anything about bait or anything.  I mean, we had the rods at her parents' house, but after that I knew nothing, and I was too proud to ask, so it was just a – "Surprise, we're going fishing," and we headed off to the bridge to fish, and, you know, I got there, I realized, yeah, you need bait.


You need – this ain't happening without bait, but this is not my world.  So I went over to the bait place and this is how proud I was – it's pathetic.  I'm walking around acting like I know what I'm doing.  I mean, the same thing happens in Home Depot.  If you're discerning, you just say, "That guy doesn't know what he's doing.  He's just too proud to ask for help," and that would be me.  So that's what's happening.  So I'm walking around, and I'm just studying, I'm looking through rods, trying to say, "Okay, bait, where's the bait," and then finally there's this big board with all the different bait.  And so I walk up and position myself, and I'm just trying to act like I know what I'm doing.

Now, the guy behind the counter, I'm sure, is still telling this story to this day, because he does know what he's doing, and this is his career.  He probably started working there when he was four, he just belongs there, this is where he was born, I'm sure, and raised, and will die.  And so I made some general statement about bait, and then he asked for a clarification of that, and so I just said, "shrimp."  And then he just said, "Okay, how much?"  Again, I have no idea what I'm doing, saying, "How about five pounds?"


Listen, I was no pretty sight that day.  We wasted so much bait.  I couldn't get them on right, I didn't know where to put it.  You know, I put it, and then we'd cast it, and it would fly out the other way, and, okay, you know, good thing I got five pounds, we've got a lot to work with here. 

We caught nothing, it's a memory my wife has to this day.  Not because we caught nothing but because of the effort on behalf of her husband to serve her and create a memory with her.  Now, that's the fruit of study.  Left to himself C.J. is selfish, he must study his wife.

Now, next – phone calls during the day.  I would encourage you to – I pretty much every day I call my wife, and at some point in the day just say this, "I don't have anything to talk about, I just wanted to hear your voice."  Create ways to interrupt your wife in the midst of her more difficult work, and I think you would argue – or agree with me that if you have small children, her work is more difficult.  Gifts that are romantic in nature – think through that – studying your wife.  Flowers work and continue to work, don't ask me why.  I don't understand why – they work, they just work, they just work.

Let me argue as well, finally, we're just going to make this a finally – not looking back at the notes – romantic overnights.  Oh, my, my, what fruit from planning romantic overnights.  Daniel Aiken [ph] writes that time and tenderness are essential, they are essential twins for a sexually romantic attractive bedroom.  They are, indeed – time and tenderness.  There is something about getting away from the familiar and devoting time and tenderness that increases romance and the sexual experience.  So I would encourage you – study your wife because where my wife might like to go is not necessarily where your wife would like to go.  Where does your wife like to go?  And do what you can to plan and create memories that will last a lifetime and beyond a lifetime because your children are watching.  They are studying and, by the grace of God, they will emulate your example.

Bob: That is C.J. Mahaney with some counsel for men on the subject of romance and a good reminder.  You know, I don't often stop and think about the fact that my romantic relationship with Mary Ann will have a generational impact that my kids are paying attention; that it will affect the lives of my grandchildren even if they don't see it, but that's true, isn't it?

Dennis: It really is.  In fact, our adult children came back to us and said, "Mom, Dad, we kind of like watching you guys hug and kiss and be a little playful with each other." In fact, one of our adult children kind of got on to us, said, "We don't see you do that as much as we'd like you to do that."  And so I've been working at being more romantically engaged with Barbara and being a little more playful.  Even though we wrote a book called "Rekindling the Romance."

Bob: Well, that's C.J.'s point – it does take work for romance to be a part of a relationship.

Dennis: And there are seasons of life in a marriage and a family where that season can rob the relationship of its romance, and that's why the last half of the book is written to men.  In "Rekindling the Romance," Barbara wrote to the women about how they could be a better student of their husbands.  I wrote to the men, just as C.J. has spoken to them today, around some very basic components. 

And one of the chapters that I have was entitled, "Sailing out of the Doldrums."  There is actually a place near the equator that sailors called the Doldrums because it had no wind, and ships could literally stay there for weeks on end because there was no wind to fill the sails to take them out of there, and that occurs to a lot of marriages.  They go through the marital doldrums.

And we talked about a number of ways you could do it – focus, giving your wife time, creativity, a little adventure and some practical ways to do that, the principle of anticipation, but, frankly, I think for a man who reads this book, this little section I'm about to read – I'm not going to read all of it, but it's a section that – it was something Barbara wanted to make sure that I included as I spoke to the men, and so it has a lot of her words in there, even though I wrote it.

"As a man, I like equations and formulas.  I like them because the logic rings true.  For instance, you can always count on the fact that 2+2=4.  The problem is that equations and formulas work in mathematics and science, but they're not always as reliable when it comes to romancing our wives." Have you found that to be true, Bob?

"Let me explain.  Let's say that you brought your wife flowers with a nice note, and let's say that your thoughtfulness resulted in some nice romance between the two of you.  In a man's way of thinking, the next time he's looking for romance, he tries to reduce their relationship to an equation.  He reasons, if flowers resulted in passion and romance last time, then why not try it again?  I've done this, trust me, it doesn't work that way, and it doesn't work the way you wish it would.

Here is what's happening.  Your wife doesn't want to be figured out.  Barbara once told me that just because A+B+C=D last week, that doesn't mean the same equation works this week.  There's a certain mystery to romancing your wife.  She is a puzzle, but she doesn't want to be pieced together, solved, and framed on the wall.  She wants you to pursue her and to be a student of her all her days."

Bob: We've had a lot of listeners who have contacted us to get a copy of the book, "Rekindling the Romance," that you and Barbara wrote for husbands and wives to re-ignite the romantic relationship in their marriage; to re-prioritize the place of romance in their relationship, and we're hoping, with Valentine's Day around the corner, listeners may want to go to our website,, and get more information about your "Rekindling the Romance," or about the book that C.J. has written called "Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God."  We have both of those books in our FamilyLife Resource Center.

 We also have a book by C.J. Mahaney, who we heard from today.  He's written a wonderful book called "Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God," and any of our listeners who want to contact us to get a copy of your book and C.J.'s book, we'll send at no additional cost the two complete messages from C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney that we're featuring this week on FamilyLife Today, along with a resource that our team has put together called "Simply Romantic Nights" that is a kit designed for couples to give you creative ideas for romance and intimacy in your marriage, date ideas that you can follow through on throughout the year to spark the passion in your marriage relationship.

This has recently been revised and updated by our team, and if you're interested in finding out about the book, "Rekindling the Romance," C.J.'s book, "Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God," or about the Simply Romantic Nights collection, all the information is on our website,, or you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and when you get in touch with us, someone on the team will get back with you and let you know how you can get any of these resources sent to you.

And then don't forget when you get in touch with us that our spring season of Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences kicks off this weekend, Valentine's weekend, in some great locations and then continues throughout the spring in cities all across the country.  You can get more information about the Weekend to Remember on the Web at, or call 1-800-FLTODAY for that information as well.

And when you do get in touch with us, if you are able to help with a donation of any amount to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, this month we'd like to say thank you by making available a two-CD set that features a conversation we had a while back with Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, the author of the book, "Love and Respect."  One of the key things we talked with him about was the issue of unconditional respect in a marriage.  We've heard a lot about unconditional love, but what does unconditional respect look like?  And should respect be unconditional?  We talked about that with Dr. Eggerichs, the CDs are available this month when you make a donation of any amount to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We are listener-supported, and your donations are critical for the ongoing ministry on this station and on other stations all across the country.

If you're donating online, when you come to the keycode box on the donation form, just type in the word "respect," and we'll know to send you these CDs or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  You can make a donation over the phone and just ask for the "Love and Respect" CDs.  We are happy to send them to you, and we so much appreciate your partnership with us in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

Now, tomorrow C.J. Mahaney's wife, Carolyn, is going to offer some counsel for wives on how a woman can more effectively engage her husband in romance.  That comes up tomorrow, I hope you can be with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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