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: We promise each other, “for better or for worse” in marriage; but that doesn’t mean we don’t wind up with doubts about whether our spouse really does love us. Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: 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. I think, initially, I knew he did want to spend time with me, and he really was committed; but with time, things change.
When you get to know each other more, then the question arises: “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?”
Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. After all the consternation about music on yesterday’s program, do you like that any better—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. 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. [Laughter] 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?
Bob: Deer hunting season got in the way?
Dennis: It might have.
Barbara: That could be; 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. [Laughter]
Bob: It could be a copout. I'm thinking, “Let's see—root canal or dancing lessons—root canal—
Dennis: I was getting ready to say—
Barbara: [Laughter] Surely, not!
Bob: —which would I rather do?
Dennis: Barbara and I will take dancing lessons if you and Mary Ann will.
Bob: Well, check with me in a few years. [Laughter] 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. 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. 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? [Laughter]
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. 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?”
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? What?—
Dennis: No, it was a beautiful rose bush—except, where she wanted to plant it, was not a good spot. 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. 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." 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. So, we did; and—
Bob: You wanted to share this illustration just because you were right on this one; didn'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. 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. That rose has gone crazy.
Barbara: 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. 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. 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. From that, then, comes a sense of security, and stability, and well-being that comes from being accepted, completely, by another person.
Dennis: What happens is—as a man, you court this woman who becomes your bride and your wife. 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—I 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 commitment—that I wasn't going to go anywhere—that I was going to love her, even though I knew her—and that she didn't need to be afraid. But that, secondly, she was accepted, even though I knew her. 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 things 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.
I think, initially, I knew he did want to spend time with me, and he really was committed.
But, with time, things change. 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. 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. You’re saying that because you have to say it."
Barbara: "Because you have to." Yes, I've said that before.
Bob: How do we break through that, as husbands? 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. 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. 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. 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...." I said back to him, "I don't know if I really believe that or not." He said back to me, "You can believe it if you want to. You don't have to believe it, but it's true."
I remember—that was the moment, for me, that the light bulb sort of clicked on. 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 because—"
Barbara: Yes, I was feeling particularly unlovable that day. I'm not sure why I was, but I was. I just thought, "He can't really love me. I mean—"
Dennis: And just because your wife feels loved today—
Barbara: —it doesn't mean she'll feel loved tomorrow. That’s right.
Dennis: Yes, yes. She may not believe you tomorrow. 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."
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: Right. “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.
Dennis: Right. 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 have to become an expert at what it means to truly cherish her. 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. 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, there are a lot of men who really value their cars. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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”. 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.
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. It will cause her to retreat.
Barbara: And I think that's really true for a lot of women. 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. 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: 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." 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. [Laughter]
Bob: And I've had to pull back and realize that, “Sure, I was teasing. 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. 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—for so many of us, as women, went through so many insecurities in our teenage years. 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. All of a sudden, we're there. 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. That's why the man's assignment is to love his wife. 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. 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. 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 dates for a husband to engineer—and a dozen different dates for the wife to plan—all of them with the other person’s romantic interests kept in mind. If you order both Dennis and Barbara’s book and the Simply Romantic Nights collection, we’re going to add in a couple of tips books—one for husbands and one for wives—just some suggestions on ways you can keep romance thriving in your marriage relationship.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, we thought this is a great time to make these resources available. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about all that we have available here. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call us, toll-free, at 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. Ask about the book, Rekindling the Romance, or the Simply Romantic Nightscollection. We’ll let you know how you can have those resources sent to you.
Speaking of Valentine’s Day coming up, I wish I could send a valentine to all of the folks who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We really do appreciate your support of this ministry. We are listener-supported. The cost for producing and syndicating this daily radio program is covered by folks, like you, who from time to time, will get in touch with us and let us know that you believe in what we’re trying to do here, and that it’s been helpful for you, and you want to see it continue.
So, “Thanks,” to those of you who have done that in the past. This month, if you can make a donation to help support the ministry, we’d like to send you, as a thank-you gift, a CD of a message I presented, not long ago, on marital intimacy—where we talked about some of the challenges couples face when it comes to keeping romance alive in a marriage relationship—some of the issues that can get in the way of our marital intimacy.
You can request that CD when you make an online donation. Simply go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the button that says “I CARE”; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make a donation over the phone, and ask for the CD on romance when you get in touch with us. Either way, we just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for your support of the ministry. We appreciate hearing from you.
We hope you can be back with us again tomorrow when we’re going to talk about the spiritual dimension of a marriage relationship and why that’s important to our romantic relationship. That comes up tomorrow. Hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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