How to Speak Romance to Your Wife, Part 2
About the Guest
Are men and women really that different when it comes to romance? You bet they are! Dennis Rainey explains today on the broadcast.
Are men and women really that different when it comes to romance?
Barbara: Emotional connectedness just means that she feels like they're clicking, they're relating. A wife wants to feel connected to her husband. She wants to feel like they're on the same page; they're singing the same song; and they're not going off in opposite directions. And it's so easy for that to happen for both of them to get busy with separate things and to, all of a sudden, feel distant and distracted.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, January 31st. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Today we'll talk about what a husband can do to make sure his wife doesn't feel distant and disconnected.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. Why can't this be easy like it used to be?
Dennis: What? Are you talking about FamilyLife Today?
Bob: No, I'm talking about …
Dennis: Your job?
Bob: I'm talking – that's never been easy – I'm talking about the quest that I'm on this week to try to figure out what it is that guys can do to cause women to, you know, their heart to flutter and for them just to go, "Ah," and when we were dating that was an easy thing for me to make happen with my wife, Mary Ann. But 25 years-plus into our marriage, it's not as easy. Why can't it be as easy as it used to be, huh? Mr. I-Wrote-Rekindling-The-Romance-Expert man, answer that one for me.
Dennis: I'm not going to answer it, I’m going to point to the reason why it's not as easy.
Bob: You're pointing to Barbara.
Barbara: So I'm the fault for him in marriage.
Dennis: Not the fault for Bob's marriage. She is a woman, I am a man …
Bob: You are just the representative of your species.
Barbara: I see.
Dennis: And we are different. That is the theme of this book. We are different, we speak romance with different dictionaries, different languages, and it wasn't as though God was performing a cruel joke – He wants to teach men how to love their wives. He commanded them to do that in Ephesians 5 – "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church."
There is only one half-mention of a wife needing to love her husband, over in Titus, chapter 2.
Dennis: The reason is, they're natural lovers. But we, as men, Bob, we've got to go to school, we have to be coached, we have to be instructed, and that's why half of this book, one-half of the book, is aimed at men, giving them a vocabulary of romance.
Bob: We recognize the fact that we're different. I don't know that we recognize exactly how different we are or how much we are different, and, as a result, it does take a little more work than we thought it was going to take when we first got married, doesn't it?
Barbara: It takes a lot more work.
Bob: But you make it that way, you women. You know, you make it harder for us.
Barbara: So you're blaming again.
Bob: Well, okay, I don't want to blame. We've talked already this week about the fact that a woman needs a man to give her a safe place; to help her feel secure and safe in a relationship – not just physically safe but emotionally safe, spiritually safe, relationally safe. That's really important, and when we do that it frees you up to respond romantically, is that right?
Barbara: That's correct.
Bob: But there are other things we need to be doing. It's not just about safety and security.
Bob: What's one of the other things?
Dennis: See? This is how it happens. She's withholding. She's playing tough to get.
Bob: Tell me more – what else do we need to be doing …
Barbara: I wasn't playing anything.
Bob: What else do we need to be doing, as men, in order to have our wives admire us?
Barbara: Well, I think another thing is acceptance. I think wives want to continue to know throughout the years that they are still accepted for who they are. I know, for me, when Dennis and I first started dating, it was one of the things that I looked back on that was sort of a sign to me that this was different than any other guy I'd ever dated because I felt accepted by him in a way that I hadn't by anybody else.
But it wasn't just a one-time thing. I need to know that over and over and over and over and over again.
Dennis: Let me just stop you right there and help a man understand why does it seem like, at points, not all the time, but why does it seem like, at points, that a woman's need for acceptance is almost impossible to meet? It's just perpetual. It never goes away.
Barbara: I think there are two reasons. I think one is that I think women are much more insecure than our husbands, perhaps, realize, and so we need to hear it over and over again because the need is greater, and it's not just a – it's not something you can just say one time, and it's done, it's fixed.
Dennis: Before you get to the second one, I want to comment on that because, Bob, there have been times in our marriage when I will say to Barbara, "You're great at that. You are absolutely tremendous at speaking" or writing or watercoloring, and she goes, "You may believe that, but that doesn't mean I do."
And you have said to me on more than one occasion the following statement – "Your belief in me"…
Barbara: "Is greater than mine."
Dennis: "Is greater than my belief in myself."
Barbara: That's correct. And I need that from you, as my husband, because I don't believe in myself as much as you do, and so I need to be reminded that you accept me for who I am because I don't always feel acceptable, or I don't always feel confident in that.
Bob: So when your husband, when Dennis says to you, "You're great at that," and you say, "Well, your belief in me is greater than my own belief in myself," when I hear those kinds of things, I think, "Is she telling me 'quit saying that, I don't believe you'"…
Dennis: Yes, sometimes.
Bob: Or is she saying, "Say it over and over and over again, keep telling me that."
Barbara: Yes, that's true, too.
Bob: Well, so what do we do?
Are we supposed to, as husbands, continue to affirm, and I'll say to Mary Ann, I'll say, "You really are beautiful." You know? I admire – and she is. And she'll go, "You're not looking very close. You must be – you need to have your eyes examined." Again, it's that same kind of insecurity that I think all women experience.
So my question is, tomorrow should I say, "No, you really – I know I said this yesterday, but you really do look nice," but she'll say it again. She'll say – she'll signal at me like, "Stop, stop, stop, don't go on like that." Like you're embarrassing – because "I don't really believe this."
So do I keep going or stop?
Barbara: No, you need to keep saying it. I mean, I really think you do need to keep saying it. But I think what it really is for wives, and I know this has been true for me, is that I know my husband believes that, but I also know that he's committed to me, and I also know that he has to be loyal to me because he's made a commitment to me for life. So I want to know, "Is he saying this because he has to or because he really believes it?" And sometimes I have to hear it several times in different ways to know that he really genuinely means it, and that he's not saying it because he has to, because he's stuck with me, he's married to me for life, and he's supposed to say those things. But I want to know, does he really believe it? Do you really, really believe that's true about me, or are you just saying that because you have to? Does that make sense?
Bob: It does make sense, and you also want to know that he's not just saying it because he's hoping that it will soften you up for later on, right?
Barbara: That's exactly right, that's the other one.
Dennis: Hold it, hold it, hold it. Are you implying that a man would compliment his wife?
Bob: No, I don't think I'm implying that. I think I'm being pretty direct. I think I'm being real straightforward. Yes, of course, a man is going to say things like that sometimes with the hope that it will put his wife in a romantic mood. You've done that, haven't you? Be honest, you've done that, haven't you? Look at that smile on his face.
Dennis: Barbara, have I ever done that?
Barbara: I feel like you have.
Dennis: That's the issue.
It's not whether or not I've done it, it's whether she feels like I've done it for that purpose.
Barbara: And what you've always told me is communication is not what is said, it's what's heard. And, see, as wives, sometimes we don't hear …
Dennis: Stop pointing at me.
Barbara: [inaudible] lecturing.
Dennis: Go ahead.
Barbara: But sometimes we, as wives, hear something different than what you may have meant.
Dennis: You just pointed at me twice.
Barbara: I know, I know, I'm sorry.
Dennis: You had two points, Barbara, and I interrupted you. What was the second point you wanted to make?
Barbara: Well, the second thing I was going to say about our need is that I think both of us – both husbands and wives need to realize that we do have a deficit that cannot be met by another person totally. We're created to have our needs met ultimately by Christ, and so I have an acceptance need that you can meet to a certain degree but you, as my husband, can't meet in completely. That can only be completely met by Jesus Christ.
I remember, early in our marriage, when Dennis would say to me over and over again, "I love you." He said it for years, and I remember at about year 10, for some reason, that's the year that I think this happened, I remember he said it to me again, which he was very, very good, always has been very good at telling me how much he loves me. But I'll never forget, he said this to me one day, it was a Saturday afternoon, I think. It was some ordinary day, and he was home, and he said it in the middle of the day, and I knew that I didn't look particularly lovely. I knew that it wasn't necessarily because of the circumstances. He walked through the room and said, "I love you."
And I looked back at him, and I said, "I just don't believe that. That can't be true. How can you love me today of all days," you know, with what was going on. And he said, "You can believe it or not, but it's true." And I realized in that moment that I had a choice – that I could believe him, that he meant it, or I could doubt him and choose to believe that he was just lying or that he was playing with me or manipulating or whatever I could choose to believe the truth.
And I think that, as wives, we need to understand that we have a deep need that can only be met by Jesus Christ for acceptance and security and love, but we also have a need that can be met by our husbands at another level, and we need both.
Dennis: And I think that's what the Apostle Peter was saying in 1 Peter 3:7, when he said, "Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way as with a weaker vessel as a joint heir of the grace of life." The issue is realizing, number one, there are some needs you can meet and, secondly, there are some needs you won't be able to meet. What you do need to do is to take responsibility for the ones that you can meet. Don't criticize her, tell her how you love her, tell her why you're glad you chose her as your soul partner and your mate.
I think, sometimes, we get married, and we think the prize is won, and because the prize is now ours, we think the competition is now over. We are still competing for our wives, guys. You're competing against the marketplace, against children, against ideas. You, as a husband, need to love your wives and meet them at their point of need, and they need acceptance.
Bob: You know, I remember a guest we had on talking about parenting one time, and she said what our children need to hear from us is, "You know what I like about you?" And then you answer that with something specific. And I sometimes think, in a husband/wife relationship, husbands, rather than just saying, "I really love you," need to say, "You know what I love about you?" And then be able to answer that? We ought to be thinking through some specifics because it does make the claim a little more believable if we can point to something, doesn't it?
Barbara: I think that's a very good practical application, because I do think the general, generic "I love you," can begin to sound hollow after a while. But if you've been – it shows you've been thinking about her and noticing her and observing her when you can come up with something specific, and I think that says more.
Dennis: And a lot of times, it can be something as simple as a note. To start the day, you write her a note and say, "You know, I was just thinking about you, Barbara. I appreciate your creativity and how you light up my life and add new dimensions to it. I mean, I didn't like gardening, I didn't like yard work and now" …
Bob: And you do now?
Dennis: Well, I can't say as I – yeah, I do, I do. The reason I love it is because Barbara and I love it together. We enjoy that work and that time that it gives us together, but it's an expression of her creativity, and it's a new dimension of life that she's introduced me to, and I appreciate that about her.
Bob: So acceptance – that's a big way for a husband to express his love and to express romance to his wife, right?
Barbara: That's correct.
Bob: Anything else?
Barbara: Yes, another one would be emotional connectedness where she just feels like they're clicking, they're connected.
Dennis: I'm going to illustrate this here on FamilyLife Today, because recently Barbara has been saying, "I don't feel like I'm emotionally connected to you."
Dennis: All right? And so, Barbara, I'm going to ask you personally just because you have said this to me several times over the last few days – when you've expressed to me that you haven't felt emotionally connected to me and with me, what are you expressing? What have I missed? What part of the story – what is it you're wanting to talk with me about? Or share with me?
Barbara: Well, it isn't so much what I want to share, it's that I want the time to be able to share it. See, my ideal day with you would be to get in a car and go somewhere where there are no phones and no TVs and no interruptions, and we can just talk.
So I think what I'm saying …
Dennis: So it's not the content of what you want?
Barbara: Well, it may be. It may be on one particular day that there is some particular content to a story that I haven't had a chance to tell you about …
Dennis: But do you hear …
Barbara: … that I want to tell you …
Dennis: But do you hear, to a man, how little sense that makes to a man – that you just want time to talk?
Bob: And there might be something there?
Barbara: Well, there's probably something – there probably will be something there.
Bob: "I want to get in the car and drive, and there might be something there."
Barbara: The point is, there will be something there, but there may not be a particular …
Dennis: But this is why it's difficult …
Barbara: … driving agenda when I say I want to have time with you. Sometimes I may have an agenda of some things I want to cover, but I may not always have an agenda of what I want to cover.
Dennis: But this is why it's so difficult for a man to speak romance because he's thinking bottom line.
Bob: Yeah, give me the task. What are the things we need to talk about?
Dennis: What's the problem? And she's telling me there is no problem, we just need to talk. "Well, about what?"
Barbara: Well, you're my best friend, and so I want to talk to you as my best friend, and I want to tell you about my trip – you guys are all laughing, will you quit?
Bob: No, we're not, no. I'm trying to learn. Help me here.
Barbara: But I'm just saying that, for instance, I just took a trip with our daughter, Rebecca, not too long ago, and we had a wonderful time, and I want to tell you all about it. I want to tell you about the places we went and the things we did and the shopping and the meals and how fighting the interstate was crazy, and I don't know what all, but I want to have time to sit down and go through all of that with you because you're my best friend, and I want to share life with you.
Dennis: And I really want to hear that, but I thought I got the "Gone With the Wind" version of that story.
Barbara: You did. That's just an illustration.
Dennis: Oh, okay.
Barbara: I'm not saying I didn't get to do that.
Dennis: See, here's what happens, Bob. She expressed that to me, and I had enough sense, over three decades of marriage …
Bob: Well, you wrote the book, "Rekindling the Romance."
Dennis: No, forget books.
Barbara: That doesn't mean we know how to get right.
Dennis: Forget books, forget books, all right? You can put your name on a book, that doesn't mean you've got it. I guarantee you, I had to go back and re-read some of my stuff about raising teenagers and loving your wife, et cetera, et cetera. But the point is, we did sit down, and I did listen.
Now, for a man – and, guys, listen to me – this takes some self discipline just to listen, because it may not be the two-minute version or the Reader's Digest version of the story. You may get the "Gone With the Wind" version that talks about all the details of the eight – count 'em, Bob, eight TJ Maxx.
Bob: You went to all eight in Atlanta?
Barbara: No, not all eight.
Dennis: Not all eight in Atlanta, but they visited …
Barbara: We went to eight all together.
Dennis: Eight all together in four days, and I just – that's amazing.
Bob: You're saying to me there may be some elements of the story, some details that aren't as enthralling to you, as a man listening, as they are to the person – as they are to your wife …
Barbara: Telling the story.
Bob: To your wife, who is telling the story?
Dennis: The thing that makes it enthralling is the friend who is sharing it, and what you have to remember is you know what? When you share these moments, and she's sharing what she's been up to, that's when you're building a real relationship with a real person, and most guys lose sight that those are the building block of a relationship.
Barbara: Well, and I just want to add, too, that I don't think women just want the relationship. I think the relationship is important for a woman to know that that connection is there before she can feel as comfortable responding sexually to her husband, because I think women need the sexual connection to feel connected emotionally as well. It's just that she needs the relational connection – I hate to say "first," always, because I don't think that's the case, but I think that it's easier when that emotional connection is made relationally first for a wife.
So I don't want to give the impression that she has to have the relational connection, and that's all, because I don't think that's true.
Bob: This can't be "Let's Make a Deal" between a husband and wife. You know, I'll sit and listen to you for an hour as you talk if we can be intimate together later on. At the same time, it can't be the kind of 50-50 relationship where if you're not meeting enough of my emotional needs, I'm going to withhold intimacy from you, or if you're not meeting my needs for intimacy, why am I going to sit down and listen to you. That sends a relationship into the spiral of isolation.
It's one of the things at our Weekend to Remember conferences – we help them see how this 50-50 approach, this "I'll meet your needs if you'll meet my needs," can send a relationship to destruction.
What you're saying, Dennis, is rather than the approach of saying, "I'll meet your needs if you'll meet my needs," we've got to say "God's called me to be your lover, and I will love you regardless."
Dennis: We wrote this book because romance is a critical ingredient if a marriage is to become what God intended. Romance, in my opinion, is not optional regardless of our age and regardless of the number of years we've been married.
Romance, I believe, is a part of the passion that God intended two people to stir in one another's hearts –passion for a relationship, passion to be intimate with one another. And what the book was designed to do, Bob, and this is why it's so critical – I think a lot of marriages simply – well, they spiral downward into this negotiation phase you talked about. And they don't know how to get out of it.
And he's speaking romance according to a man's language, and she's speaking it according to a woman's language, and they don't know how to get out of these two separate spirals and get back on one another's agenda like they were when they dated when they were first married and move toward mature love. And that's what "Rekindling the Romance" was designed to do, and we do that through a lot of ways, not merely what's written for a couple to discuss but also several practical projects that occur at the end of each chapter called "Romantic Interludes."
Bob: You know, if couples would take your book with those practical projects in it, and the new resource that our team has come up with called "Simply Romantic Nights" volume 2, "License for Creative Intimacy," you put the two of those together, and you've got lots of great ways to spark some fresh romance in your marriage, because the "Simply Romantic Nights" collection, volume 2, has got 24 great creative dates for a husband and wife, 12 dates for the man to plan out, and 12 for the wife to plan out so each month you can say, "This will be my night," and your spouse can say, "I'll take this night," and you take your romance cards and we lay out the whole evening for you.
We give you a roadmap how you can have a special evening together. You take that together with the book, "Rekindling the Romance," and that's got lots of ideas all the way through the book for fresh ways to express your love to one another.
If you have found that maybe your relationship has just kind of drifted off into the romantic doldrums, and you need a way to breathe a little fresh air into it, contact us by going to our website, FamilyLife.com, get more information about the book, "Rekindling the Romance," and the new "Simply Romantic Nights" collection, volume 2, "License for Creative Intimacy," we'll make arrangements to get these resources sent out to you. You can order them from our website, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. Someone on our team will get the information they need so that we can get these off to you.
We also have a free CD we'd like to send you this week. In fact, we're inviting FamilyLife Today listeners, especially those of you who may be new listeners or who are not as familiar with the ministry of FamilyLife as some of the rest of you are – we'd love to send you a free CD that's a message that our friends, Jody and Linda Dillow, gave a number of years ago on the subject of romance. This is from the Song of Solomon. It's a great message, and the CD is our gift to you this week when you call 1-800-FLTODAY and request it. That's all it takes. Just let us know you'd like a copy and, again, we're happy to send it out to you.
The number is 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. Just call and say, "Hey, I want that free CD," and we're happy to get it out to you, and we appreciate you listening to FamilyLife Today, and we hope you find the CD helpful for your marriage.
Now, tomorrow we've got a lot of very practical ideas for husbands on how you can express romance to your wife in a way that will connect with her. And, wives, you're invited to tune in and see if we get it right, okay? I hope you can all be back with us tomorrow. Dennis and Barbara Rainey are going to be here.
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 tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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