Dennis and Barbara Rainey encourage you to give your marriage a romantic lift by accepting your spouse as he/she is.
Dennis and Barbara Rainey encourage you to give your marriage a romantic lift by accepting your spouse as he/she is.
Bob: Welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. Do you like that any better – with the piano there?
Dennis: I do, I do, I like that a lot better – a little mellow.
Bob: Yes, it puts you in the mood?
Dennis: I'm thinking about dancing with Barbara. She's here in the studio with us.
Bob: Barbara, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Barbara: Thank you, Bob.
Dennis: Do you think our listeners would have a problem if the host of FamilyLife Today danced with his wife?
Bob: I think we just – we're not going to have any dancing on this radio program. I just don't want anybody watching their radio while there's dancing going on.
We're not going to allow that, but we are going to talk about a romantic makeover for your marriage. Is dancing an important part of a romantic makeover?
Barbara: I think dancing would be up there at the top of the list …
Barbara: Not number one, but, yes, it would be one of those important ingredients.
Bob: So if Dennis said to you, "Hey, how about Friday night let's go dancing?"
Barbara: I'd say yes.
Bob: You'd be all over that?
Dennis: If I knew how to dance.
Barbara: Yes, that would help.
Dennis: That would help.
Bob: Have you ever taken any lessons, any dancing lessons?
Barbara: We've talked about it, but we haven't actually done it.
Bob: Talked about it but haven't done it?
Barbara: I know.
Bob: What happened?
Dennis: Busted again.
Bob: Why didn't it happen, Dennis?
Dennis: Well …
Bob: Deer hunting season got in the way?
Dennis: It might have.
Barbara: That could be.
Barbara: Schedule, you know, that kind of thing.
Dennis: Skill level could be a basic issue.
Barbara: I think that's a copout.
Bob: It could be a copout. I'm thinking, let's see, root canal or dancing lessons, root canal or dancing …
Dennis: I was getting ready to say …
Barbara: Surely not.
Dennis: Barbara and I will take dancing lessons if you and Mary Ann will.
Bob: Well, check with me in a few years. I'm still trying to weigh out root canal or ballroom dancing.
Barbara: I didn't think it would be that painful.
Dennis: We are talking about a romantic makeover, and if you're going to have a makeover – well, you need to start with an inventory. You have to go throughout whatever is going to be improved and remodeled and refurbished, whether it's a house or a person or a relationship, and you have to just do an inventory to determine what's wrong, what's right, how can we make it better?
Bob: Well, that's what these plastic surgeons do on the TV show. They look at the nose and the chin and the teeth and all the rest and decide what all they're going to try to fix.
Dennis: Why are you looking at me like that?
Bob: Or the people who do the house makeovers – the extreme makeovers on the house. They go in and look at the cabinets and the carpet, and they decide what are the priorities and what are we going to address first, and we only have a few days, so how do we take care of this, and we've talked this week about taking an inventory to see how your romantic relationship is doing so you can tweak it, how you can make it a little better. Sometimes all couples need to do is make a few adjustments, and they can move their marriage in a much more romantic direction.
Dennis: Yes, in fact, Barbara purchased a rose not too long ago that needed a makeover.
Bob: You bought an ugly rose?
Dennis: No, it was a beautiful rose bush, except where she wanted to plant it was not a good spot. And she brought it home and said, "Here is where I want to plant it." I said, "Sweetheart, that's a delightful place to plant the rose. The problem is it's not going to get the sun, and it's not going to have the right nutrients and all in this spot where it's going to flourish, where it's going to grow and have a lot of blooms." And, sure enough, after about three years, she said, "Could you move that rose for me, because it's not really doing much right there."
Bob: So you mean when you told her that it wouldn't work in that spot, she said, "We're going to go ahead and plant it there, anyway?"
Dennis: That's right.
Barbara: Yes, I said, "Let's try it and see."
Dennis: That's right, and so we did, and …
Bob: You wanted to share this illustration just because you were right on this one, don't you?
Dennis: It's one of the few times that …
Barbara: … it could be …
Dennis: … one of the few times in the yard I have been right. So I did dig it up, and we moved it to another magnificent bed to the side of our house that – well, it got sun for three or four hours a day. It didn't get it, frankly, as much as it should have, but we put it in some of the finest dirt and soil that we had ever made. We made some compost, and we mixed it all up, and there was water, and there were nutrients applied, and that rose has gone crazy. Now, it still hasn't bloomed …
Barbara: Because it's just been this year. So we're expecting …
Bob: … big things …
Barbara: … an abundance of blooms this spring. But it has grown about 12 feet. It's just taken off.
Dennis: It's amazing. Well, you know what? I think marriages are like that, too. If you're going to have a romantic makeover, you have to kind of pull back and take a look at the ingredients of what causes romance to flourish in your marriage, and for men and women those ingredients are different.
Bob: What is it for a woman? What's at the core of her romantic need? What's she hungry for?
Barbara: I think women need security, and I think they need acceptance. I think they need love spoken to them in those ways. They need to know that no matter how I look, because pregnancies and babies and all those kinds of things change the way a woman looks, and I think she's looking for her husband to still love her and to still accept her and to still be captivated by her no matter how she looks, and no matter what the years may do to her. And from that, then, comes a sense of security and stability and well-being that comes from being accepted completely by another person.
Dennis: And what happens is, as a man, you court this woman who becomes your bride and your wife, and you think, in your own male way of thinking, that because you've made a covenant, because you've made a commitment, because you've said, "I love you," that that security and that acceptance is in place. What else do you need to know? I mean, I've said, said it a couple of times in the last month or so – why wouldn't that be enough? And yet for Barbara and our relationship, one of the big surprises, especially in our first years of marriage was how often she needed me to affirm her, both in terms of giving her a sense of security around my committee – that I wasn't going to go anywhere; that I was going to love here, even though I knew her, and that she didn't need to be afraid.
But then, secondly, she was accepted, even though I knew her. And I think that's one of our greatest fears as we get married. We think, "If you really know me, you won't love me."
Bob: Barbara, when Dennis says thing to you like, "You know, there is no one I would rather spend time with than you." Do you believe that?
Barbara: I think when we first got married, I didn't believe that, because I think I – you know, it's interesting, we get married because we feel that acceptance, and we feel that love from another person, but then after we're married we kind of go, "But did he really mean it?" We start pulling back and questioning it, and I think initially I knew he did want to spend time with me, and he really was committed.
But, with time, things change, and when you get to know each other more, then the question arises – "Now does he still really love me? Does he still really accept me now that he knows what he knows and now that he's seen my old sin nature and now that we've been through these difficulties, is he still going to love me?"
So I think I went through a time when I doubted that for a while, and I wasn't so sure it was real – but I believe it now. I've come to a place of real understanding that I know it's true.
Bob: See, I think one of the challenges we have as husbands is we can affirm our wives; we can express those things that affirm them and create security, but oftentimes they hear it, and they think, "Well, you're just saying that because you have to say it."
Barbara: "Because you have to," yes, I've said that before.
Bob: So how do we break through that as husbands, and do we just keep saying it over and over again and eventually you'll believe it? Is that what it takes?
Barbara: Yes, I think there are two things. I think the husband has to keep saying it over and over again no matter what, and he needs to say it in different ways. He needs to demonstrate it – it's not just the words, it's the actions. There's a lot to communicating that acceptance and that love. So he's got to stay after it. He's got to be creative. He's got to ask God to help him – all of that. But I think the other side of the equation, the other side of the coin, is the wife has to choose to believe that he's telling the truth.
And, for me, I remember where I was even standing the day that Dennis said to me – something – some kind of words of affection or love, and it was just in the middle of a Saturday, if I remember right, but he said, "I love you," and "I think you're wonderful." I don't even know what he said. What I remember is that I felt, "I don't know if he really does, and we've got three or four kids, four or five kids, I don't know, and a lot of days I don't get makeup on, I don't look good, the house is a mess half the time, and I don't know."
So I said back to him, "I don't know if I really believe that or not." And he said back to me, "You can believe it if you want to. You don't have to believe it, but it's true." And I remember it was – that was the moment for me that the light bulb sort of clicked on, and I thought, you know, it really is a question of me choosing to believe that he's telling the truth. I mean, my feelings say to me, "I don't know if he really does." But rather than believe my emotions, I chose to believe the truth. So I think it's both.
Bob: Were you thinking to yourself at that time, "How could he love me?"
Barbara: Yes, I was feeling particularly unlovable that day, and I'm not sure why I was, but I was, and I just thought, "He can't really love me."
Dennis: And just because your wife feels love today …
Barbara: It doesn't mean she'll feel love tomorrow.
Dennis: Yes, yes. She may not believe you tomorrow, and that's why I think the command of Ephesians, chapter 5, is so important. Where the Apostle Paul writes, "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the Word."
It goes on, down here, to say, "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it." And I think two of the most important terms that a husband needs to grab hold of is the concept of cherishing his wife and nourishing his wife.
Now, for men, they can pull back for a moment and think, "What do you really cherish? Is it your truck or your car, your golf clubs, your fishing pole" …
Bob: … your laptop? I mean, I'm just starting to go through the list myself.
Dennis: What do you really cherish? Well, because you cherish it, how do you treat it? Well, you take care of it; you pay attention to it; you tend to the needs of it.
Barbara: You protect it and make sure it doesn't get broken.
Barbara: And if a man cherishes his wife, and he begins to realize you know what? The greatest assignment other than his responsibility of walking with God – the greatest privilege God gives him in a lifetime is to love his wife. I know that would be my greatest privilege – is being able to love and care for my wife Barbara.
Now, I got to become an expert at what it means to truly cherish her, and a part of that means finding out what causes you, as a woman, to feel cherished. Now, I've already put you on the spot this week, but I'm going to do it again. For you, as a woman, my wife, what causes you to feel cherished? Because I think, for the average man, and I'm giving her some time to think right now – I think, for the average man, we don't even think in these terms, and I think therein lies part of the secret if we're going to have romance in our marriage and have one of these romantic makeovers. We have to learn what it means to truly cherish our wives.
Barbara: Well, if you take the car analogy that you mentioned earlier, Dennis, about when a man values his car, what does he do? He takes care of it. And there are a lot of men who really value their cars, and they'll spend their entire Saturday afternoon cleaning it, polishing it, waxing it, all of that stuff. Well, that's a demonstration of how valuable that car is, and if he would take that same amount of thought and focus and energy and put it toward demonstrating how much he values his wife, that would speak volumes.
Bob: Not polishing and waxing her – that's not what you're saying?
Barbara: No, no, no. But any wife can watch her husband do that and spend that kind of time on what's important, and if she feels that he's going to spend that kind of time and attention on her, then she's going to feel valued.
Dennis: Let me share a negative illustration of this from one of our listeners who wrote us. I'm going to call her "Pam." She said, "My husband Keith has called me almost every low-life name that he can think of. He's called me fat, he said that I'm not good in the intimate area of our marriage relationship, and although it's been almost eight years ago that Keith said these things, I can't forget them. We've now been married more than 17 years, and TV is still more important to him than me. Recently, while staying in a motel, I purchased a new nightgown. When I changed clothes in front of him, his look was one of disgust. Keith didn't have to say a word. The look on his face told me exactly how he felt about me. I feel so rejected physically. I can count on one hand in the last two years the number of times Keith has told me that I've looked nice. He's never at home in the evenings to help me with the children and on weekends he usually finds something other than his family to keep him busy. When I've tried to talk about this, I get yelled at or spoken down to. I hate living like this. I don't know where to turn for help."
Well, here's a woman who is certainly not being nourished and cherished, and what that husband doesn't realize is not only is he being disobedient to Scripture and Christ's command to love his wife as Christ loved the church, but he is also going to reap what he's sown. He's not going to reap a great marriage, a great family at the end of his life. And he's going to grow old alone. Sure, he may have his cronies that he may be out drinking with or hanging around with, but he's certainly not going to have an enduring relationship with a friend who has shared life with him.
Bob: When we talk about this fundamental need that a woman has for acceptance and security, we need to really make sure that we've covered some very basic things; that is that a husband is not doing anything that would threaten the very nature of the marriage relationship. He's got to make sure that he's reaffirming his commitment regularly, and that he's not saying one day, "I'm committed to you," and the next day, "Maybe it would be better if we got a divorce." That's got to be completely out of the vocabulary and out of the dynamic of the marriage, doesn't it?
Dennis: Well, go back to what the Bible challenges husbands to do – He called us to love our wives as Christ loved the church, and then He told us how to do that. He said, "Nourish and cherish her." Well, what does it mean to nourish another person? Well, you provide the ingredients they need for life. That may mean praying with her; that may mean reading the Scriptures with her; that may mean sharing what's going on in your life with her – those things nourish a woman's soul. They want to know what's going on in our lives. They want to be partners in life. They don't want to receive a two-minute news report at the end of the day of what we did. They want to be joint heirs in life with their husbands.
And so it's the wise husband who realizes that he has to go back and become a student of his wife to say, "How do I nourish her? How do I cherish her? How do I speak to her in ways that will communicate to her that she is a priority, and that I do love her?"
Bob: Barbara, I know one of the things that is a part of what Mary Ann needs in terms of security is to know that our relationship is private; that I'm not talking to other people about what's going on in our relationship. If she thinks I am, or if I have been, she'll feel violated and insecure, and it will cause her to retreat.
Barbara: And I think that's really true for a lot of women, and I think that's a part of what we need in the area of protection. We need to know that we are being protected by our husbands, and that the intimacies in our relationship are just for us, and they're not for other people, and I think that's an element that all wives feel – in different degrees and at different levels – but it speaks to the security that we need, as women, to be protected.
Dennis: And I think it's important for a man to understand that he should never, ever make fun of his wife or speak in degrading terms to her or about her to others. I've been around some men sometimes where I just wanted to put my arm around the guy's shoulder and maybe around his neck to say to him at points, "Don't you realize what your words are doing to your wife? They are not nourishing and cherishing her."
In fact, Proverbs 16:24 says, "Pleasant words are a honeycomb – sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." And I think what a man underestimates is the power of his words in his wife's life.
Bob: I know that there are times when I've looked at Mary Ann and said, "I was just teasing, I was just teasing a little bit," but I realize that she didn't see the humor in my quick wit.
Dennis: I've never done that.
Bob: And I've had to pull back and realize that, sure, I was teasing, and it was meant playfully, but there is some part that resonates with her and causes the self-doubt to come out and to say, "Yes, but that must be how you really feel, isn't it?"
Barbara: Well, if it isn't exactly how she really feels, there's some element of truth there, and that's why it stings. If there's no truth to it at all, or even if it's not current, if she felt that way sometime in the past, even as a teenager. The thing is, so many of us, as women, went through so many insecurities in our teenage years, and it just takes forever to grow out of that. So any little jab or something that reminds us of how we used to feel brings that up and, all of a sudden, we're there, and we're feeling that insecurity or we're feeling that threat, and it just doesn't feel good.
Dennis: And what we're talking about here was really one of the surprises early in our marriage when I found out that people had said damaging things to Barbara that she remembered. Now, I'm sure that I've had certain things said to me as a young man growing up, but they didn't seem to have the impact on me that they'd had on her. But as I listen to her talk about some of the things her friends had said or some significant people had said or adults had said to her, you begin to realize a woman internalizes this in a different way than a man does, and that's why the man's assignment is to love his wife, and that's a lifelong assignment, because life will have a way of continuing to bring damage to a woman's soul.
Bob: And if you've got a lifelong assignment like that, you ought to stay studied up, just like a doctor has to go back and take a certain number of hours every year in his profession in order to keep his degree current, a husband ought to go back and do a certain amount of study every year, and some of it should be just understanding your wife better, but it can also be understanding how to be romantic.
Get a copy of the book that the two of you have written called "Rekindling the Romance." Read it together as a couple. Half of the book is for men, half of the book is for women. There are practical suggestions on things couples can do; things husbands can do to reinforce the issues of security and acceptance in the heart of a wife.
We've got the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center and along with it we like to send couples the "Simply Romantic Nights" collection that offers some very specific date nights that couples can have in the coming year.
Dennis: That was tastefully said.
Bob: Thank you – a dozen different dates for him and a dozen different dates for her – all of them with each other's romantic interests in mind. If you'd like to get both the book and the "Simply Romantic Nights" collection, they're available in our FamilyLife Resource Center. I think they're also available at many local Christian bookstores. I know the Family Christian Stores have both of them in stock.
You can go to our website at FamilyLife.com or you can call 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, or stop by your local Christian bookstore, your Family Christian Store. Again, our website is FamilyLife.com. Our toll-free number, 1-800-FLTODAY – contact us and let us get these out to you in time for Valentine's Day.
Speaking of valentines, I wish I could send a valentine to each of our Legacy Partners, the folks who help support this ministry on a monthly basis. We really look at you folks as partners with us in this ministry, because together we're able to take this program and the resources that FamilyLife is creating and distribute them to tens of thousands of people each week, as we seek to provide practical, biblical help for marriages and for families, and you help make that possible with your monthly contributions to FamilyLife Today.
Remember last fall when your book, "Rekindling the Romance" was finished? We made it available to our Legacy Partners as a thank you gift for their ongoing support of this ministry and throughout the year we try to do that – we try to offer practical tools that help strengthen your marriage and your family because, again, we see you as vital and important partners with us in this assignment.
If you'd like to find out more about becoming a Legacy Partner, go to our website at FamilyLife.com. There is information available there. You can sign up online or call 1-800-FLTODAY and say, "I want to be a Legacy Partner," and someone on our team can help get you set up for that, okay?
Now, tomorrow we're going to continue looking at this romantic makeover for our marriages. I hope you can be back 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 tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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