FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Married to a High Energy Man, Part 1

with Barbara Rainey, Dottie McDowell | July 19, 2004
Play Pause

What is it like being married to a high energy man like Dennis Rainey or Josh McDowell? Find out on today's broadcast by listening to the experts--their wives, Dottie and Barbara.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • What is it like being married to a high energy man like Dennis Rainey or Josh McDowell? Find out on today's broadcast by listening to the experts--their wives, Dottie and Barbara.

  • 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.

What is it like being married to a high energy man?

MP3 Download Transcript

Married to a High Energy Man, Part 1

With Barbara Rainey, Dottie McDow...more
July 19, 2004
| Download Transcript PDF


Bob: For more than three decades, Josh McDowell has been on the go as a speaker, a writer, an apologist.  He has had a worldwide impact for the Gospel.  Imagine being married to a guy on the go.  Here's Josh's wife, Dottie McDowell.

Dottie: I'm trying to gather schedules from all the kids in various places right now, and Josh asked me to get this just a couple of days ago – of their different schedules so he can see when Thanksgiving, when Christmas, when Easter breaks are so that we can plan to have family times.  He's made this priority, and it's just something that he does.  And Josh has a very intricate schedule, but that's priority to him.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, July 19th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Do you ever feel like you're competing with everyone else for your talented husband's time and attention?

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  You know, I've heard you tell, Dennis, about a time, early in your marriage, when your wife Barbara came to you and said, "You know, you are moving faster than I can go."  She had to say, kind of, "Whoa, slow down, buddy."

Dennis: You think?  She's here in the studio.

Bob: That's right.  I hear her in the background.  Do you remember?

Barbara: I do remember.

Bob: Then I'm not going to ask you about it.  I'm going to ask Barbara about it.  What was going on?

Barbara: Well, I was married to somebody who had a whole lot more energy than I did, and who had a whole lot more ideas.  Dennis is a much bigger-picture thinker than I am.  I'm much more detailed, and I'm not the visionary kind of person.  And so he was dreaming up all these things and agreeing to go speak at all these conferences and go places and do things, and I was kind of panting to keep up – kind of – (makes panting sounds) – you know?  And I was feeling a little left in the dust, and we had this big conversation where we talked about how different we were and how I was feeling and how he was feeling, and it was a real pivotal point in our marriage, where Dennis made an important decision based on that conversation.

Dennis: I'd like to say that I felt these anchors, not merely splashing into the water, Bob, but one of them hit me on the head.  This woman I married was not a limitation to accomplishing what God wanted to do through me; she was a partner, and that meant that I couldn't outrun her and one day she had to throw one of those anchors out and hit me on the head to get my attention, and it was probably through tears.  I don't remember the exact day, but the reality was, as a man, I finally heard her.  I finally understood that if I left her in the dust, at the end, I was going to be a man by myself.

Bob: We're going to talk on the broadcast today about what it's like to be married to a man who is high energy, on the go, and you're feeling a little bit like maybe you're left in the dust.  And, along with your wife, Barbara, we have another guest here who may be able to relate to some of those feelings.

Dennis: You know, if there is another man on this planet who definitely has more energy than me – and I'm sure there are many men who have more energy than me – but there is one that we don't even need to go put the scale out.

Bob: Don't need to measure.

Dennis: He would drag me around by the nape of my neck.  I know, because he's an associate; I've worked with him on Campus Crusade for Christ staff for a number of years.  He's Josh McDowell.  And Josh speaks worldwide.  I like to kid him.  I say, "Josh, with your left hand you'll be writing a book, with your right hand you'll be dictating a letter, and at the same time you're doing both of those, you'll be playing with your kids on the floor.  Are you sure, Josh, you're not bionic?

 And we have an eyewitness here in the studio – his wife, Dottie.

Bob: The bionic woman joins us in the studio.

Dennis: No, no, I want to ask her – is Josh bionic, Dottie?

Dottie: He is.  There is no question.

Dennis: I don't know where he gets his energy, because he really is a hard-driving person. 

 First of all, welcome to FamilyLife Today.

Dottie: Thank you.

Dennis: Dottie, you've undoubtedly learned many, many lessons in juggling a household, a family, a marriage, in the process.  If there was a young woman who is listening to the broadcast today and maybe she's on her way home from work or fixing dinner, she's married to a high-energy man.  What would be the single most important piece of advice you would give her as she contemplates all the issues she's got to juggle?

Dottie: You know, first, Dennis, I would have to address the man, because this is where Josh is amazing.  Because I know, in my heart, that we are first; that family is first – of course, I mean first with God – that the ministry does not come before us.  I have the freedom to let him go and do what he has to do, and I want him to do it.  And so I would not address the young woman.  Yes, I would, in her attitude, and I'll get to that after.  But I would address the young man and say, "Look, you be there for your family. If you cannot be there physically, you be on the phone with that wife, you be interacting with her, you be thinking about her, take your children when you can and travel, be in tune with her emotionally, and be there for her."

 And when a woman knows that the husband is there, she can live with the fact that he may not always be physically there.  I know that I'm first in Josh's life.  I know that our family is first and, consequently, I'm secure in our relationship.  So I want him to do what he was designed by God to do.

Bob: You know, Dennis, I remember having Josh on the broadcast, and I'll never forget him saying this – he said, "I want you to know something."  He said it to both of us – "My ministry is the most important thing in my life.  It's number one with me.  The ministry is number one."

Dennis: I remember this.

Bob: And we were all kind of there going, "Josh, no, no, you're supposed to say God's number one, family is" – you know.  But he said, "My ministry is number one," and then he looked at us, and he said, "And my number-one ministry is to my wife and to my kids."  And I thought, "That's the perspective."  That's what you're talking about.

Dottie: That's exactly right.

Bob: Yes.  Barbara, that sense of knowing that in the middle of everything else that's going on, your husband is focused on you makes a difference, doesn't it?

Barbara: Oh, yes, it makes a big difference, because then you do have the freedom to say, "Yes, I want you to go do this," or "Yes, it's fine," because I know that he's going to call or I know that he's praying for us or I know that we really are number one on the priority list of his life.  And something else I think, too, that a lot of women need to see is I think a lot of wives need to see their husbands deny themselves for her and for the children.  And it may mean at some point he needs to cancel an event, or he needs to not go play golf with his buddies on Saturday when he's home, or he needs to not do something he was planning to do to physically demonstrate "you are my priority, and I do put you first above everything else."  Because sometimes that's what she needs to see.  She needs to see it demonstrated, not just in words and not just him doing things or providing things or being there when he needs to be there, but that he would go to the extreme measure of canceling something, proves to her that he really does put her first.

Dottie: One thing that comes to my mind is my dad.  My dad was a master at this.  I have a brother and a sister and, as a young man, my dad made a very important and significant choice, and that was he decided – he was invited by several of the executives that he worked with to play golf.  There is nothing wrong with golf, but what he decided to do was instead of playing golf with the guys, he bought a boat with the idea that we would do this together as a family.  And so we would spend our weekends in the summer up in Massachusetts on this boat.  And instead of him going golfing with his friends, it would be a family time every weekend.  And that was so incredibly significant because I knew that my dad wanted to spend time with us and my mom.  And he would take me, as a kid, to Red Sox games, and he'd take my brother out looking at used cars; he played sonnets on the piano with my sister.  He did the things that we all individually loved and made us special and took special time with my mother.

Bob: I've got to step in here, because one of the things that's been hard for me – I'm a father of five, Dennis is a father of six, Barbara, when you stop and think of the needs of a family, spending one-on-one time with your kids, wow.  I mean, just trying to find the schedule to do that can be overwhelming.  And yet you know you need to be doing it.  It's a real challenge.

Barbara: It's a real challenge, and it takes a lot of planning and a lot of thought and a lot of energy.  And it doesn't always have to be one-on-one.  We've discovered, with our family, we don't have to spend one-on-one time – the same amount of one-on-one time with each child each year.  I mean, you just can't do that.  So there are a lot of things that happen in a group with all of the kids together.

 But with certain kids at certain stages in their lives, you've got to focus on that child for whatever reason.  Perhaps it's the senior year and you know this is your last shot with that child so you focus on that senior.  Or maybe it's a child that's in junior high and going through incredible struggles with his – junior high is always hard, and so you're focusing on that one, but you're not focusing on your third-grader who loves life.  So it doesn't mean that you're favoring one over another, but you do have to focus on those needs as they come up.

Dennis: You know, Barbara mentioned a key word.  She said it takes a lot of planning, and a family doesn't just happen.  No, isolation is what naturally happens.  A family is what happens on purpose.  Our listeners know, from time to time, Barbara and I have, on Sunday evenings, a date night.  That's where we plan, that's where we talk about our priorities.  Dottie, how do you and Josh plan?  How do you keep your ship headed in the right direction?

Dottie: Josh is really good about this, because he plans ahead of time.  As a matter of fact, right now, one thing that I'm doing is I'm trying to gather schedules from kids all over the country that we have, so he can see when Thanksgiving, when Christmas, when Easter breaks are so that we can plan to have family times.  He's made this priority, and it's just something that he does. 

Bob: I remember talking to your son, Sean [sp], who talked about how his dad tried to make sure he was at every one of Sean's basketball games in the midst of a demanding schedule.  And he'd fly halfway across the country to be there for a basketball game.

Dottie: Oftentimes, he was one of the only fathers at the game, and he would go to more games than any of the local fathers that lived right in our little town.  I mean, he made that priority.  He developed his schedule around those games, and Josh has a very intricate schedule, but that's priority to him.

Bob: Dottie, have there been some times, 27 years, been some times when you thought to yourself, "Okay, I know what the Lord's doing in Josh, but, you know, I'd like a normal life.  I'd like him to be home every evening at 5, bring his briefcase in, set it down, we have dinner together every evening.  I'd like him to be a normal husband who is not flying out here and writing books and speaking and on the radio and all of that."

Dennis: You can't ask Barbara that question, Bob.  She just left the studio.

Bob: There have got to be a few nights when you've just thought, "It would have been nice just to have a normal guy."

Dottie: I suppose, every once in a while, that creeps in, but I am a person that loves diversity.  I love fast pace, I love being on the cutting edge, and I think the Lord knew that when he picked us out to be together, because I love the pace that he goes.  I'm proud of him.  I'm proud to be his wife.  I'm proud with what he does; the choices that he makes.  And, yes, there are times when it would be wonderful to have him home, and when I feel like I don't want to give him up.  But yet what's even more priority and what takes over is the fact that I want him out there doing what he has to do.

Bob: You've never resented what he has to do?

Dottie: I think there have been times, and it's those times when maybe I have felt not as appreciated, and Josh is really brilliant at expressing appreciation, and so I think when he began to understand that, then I began to – and I felt appreciated – then I began to be able to let him go.

Bob: Okay, I'm not brilliant at it.  How has he done it?  Clue me in, what can I do?

Dottie: He just – first of all, he says it.  He says it all the time.  On a daily basis, he tells me he appreciates me.  He appreciates the way I keep the house clean, he appreciates the way I take care of the children, he just finds little things – he's not just saying it, he really means it.  He finds little things to build me up so that I feel, in my heart, that my job as a mother and a wife is critical.  He thanks me, and he probably does this on a daily basis – "Thank you for being such a wonderful wife.  Thank you for supporting me."  And I just, you know, I just feel like I'm a part of this.  I'm not always there with him.  I'm not as near as often in the limelight as he is, but I'm really not comfortable there.  I'm far more comfortable in the background; I'm far more comfortable as a cheerleader.  I like to be behind the scenes rooting for him to do important things.

Bob: Barbara, there's got to be a tension, as a wife, because you do want to be a cheerleader, you do like it when your husband is succeeding, and when he's going places, and when he's affirmed, and yet you'd also like him to be home at 5:30 and helping you with the kids.  Have you had that sense of resentment that the ministry was a mistress?

Barbara: Yes, I've had the same feelings that Dottie said she's had from time to time, too.  But, for me, the thing that helps me is when I get a chance to sit down with Dennis, or maybe it's in bed at 10:30 at night after the kids are finally all in bed, and I just am able to express how I feel.  I need to be able to tell him how I feel or what burdens I'm carrying or why it's hard, and when he listens, really listens, to everything I have to say, then it's okay.  It's the idea of having someone to bear the burden with me.  It doesn't mean that it's always going to be easy, but when I know he listens and when I know he really cares, and when he says, "What can I do to help?"  And I know he really means it, which he does, it's just not so heavy anymore.  I can do it better.

Dottie: One thing about Josh that I appreciate so much is that he's teachable.  In the early stages of our marriage, I used to hesitate to share with him sometimes how I'd feel.  I wanted him to just know, by osmosis, that maybe I was sad.  And he didn't seem to be able to pick that up.  He's not very intuitive.  And, finally, I thought to myself, "You know, I wish he could just see in my eyes that I'm sad or I'm disturbed."  But I began to realize he's never going to see it in my eyes.  He's not wired that way.  So I began to realize that I have to tell him sometimes – respectfully and lovingly, but I still have to tell him when I'm feeling badly.  And one thing that's wonderful, one of the many wonderful things about Josh is that he listens, and he's teachable.  He'll learn from that.

 And so because of that, I can go back and share with him again what my needs are, and he'll listen.  And then not only will he listen, but he'll act on it, and he'll change his behavior.  And a wife responds to that.  You know, she comes alive, and she can basically follow her husband to the ends of the earth if he gives her that sensitivity and respect and kindness and gives her his ear, and he has been really effective in doing that.  In the beginning stages, I was afraid to say very much because I thought, "Well, if I tell him that I'm sad, then the magic is gone.  You know, I've had to tell him."  And I came to the conclusion, "Look, am I looking for magic or am I really looking for a solid relationship here?"  And when I got past that, I realized I was looking for communication, not magic.  And if I really understand Josh, I understand the fact that intuitively he may never be able to walk into a room and see me hurting.  I have to say, "Josh, I'm hurting."

Bob: Barbara, Dennis can look in your eyes and tell that there is something wrong.

Dennis: Perfectly, Bob, perfectly.

Barbara: Wrong.  Sometimes he can.  I mean, we've lived together long enough that he can read me a whole lot better now than he did early on.  But I was like Dottie – I wanted him to just know all these things about me, because I thought that was the way it was supposed to be.  I mean, I really did.

Bob: The guys in the movies do that.

Barbara: They do that, and I guess – or the books.  Maybe that's where we get it, I'm not sure, but I had to learn the same lesson – that I needed to communicate with Dennis what I was feeling and what was really going on in my life if I expected him to meet my needs and to care for me, and it really made a big difference.

Dennis: What we're talking about here is 1 Peter 3:7 – living with your wife in an understanding way, and we, as men today, have been instructed by a pair of wives, one of whom is my own, and …

Bob: … you've been taking notes, too, haven't you?

Dennis: I have, I guarantee you.  It's great to be reminded, because I think this thing called "husband" is a job description that is dropped on you one spring day at a marriage ceremony, and you kind of start looking for the fine print, you start looking around, how do you do this thing?  And I think sometimes it takes listening to a pair of women who have been around the block more than a few times with sinful husbands who haven't done it perfectly, but who have gotten back up after they failed, and they've coached and encouraged and implored and struggled with us to help us finish the process of growing up into a mature man who hopefully knows how to care for his wife's needs a little better today than he did 25, 27 years ago.

Bob: You know, I'm thinking of the passage in Proverbs 31 where that virtuous woman's husband is known in the gates.  And part of what the author is saying there is it's because she's been the woman that she's been, and that's what Dottie has expressed today, that's what Barbara has expressed.

Dennis: Yes, and I'd have to say, as I've said many times on the broadcast, I know today, as a man, I would not be who I am – and I'm not talking about from the standpoint of being on the radio, I’m not talking about speaking at conferences, writing books, I'm not talking about any of that.  I'm talking about character; I'm talking about being a real man, being a man who is seeking after God, if it hadn't been for Barbara.  Her belief, her expectancy of me, her encouragement, her perseverance as I've struggled through some areas to grow up in, as I already mentioned, and, you know, there are a lot of wives listening to the broadcast right now who are looking at men who aren't Josh McDowell, and they're going, "I'm not married to Josh McDowell.  I'm sorry, he's nowhere near that."  And, you know, I'd have to say to you, as a wife, the assignment God has given you is to love that man, respect him, encourage him, and fulfill your covenant, your marriage covenant.  And God will meet you at that point of need, and he will encourage you in the process to build into that man's life.

Bob: And your love and respect for him can have a transforming effect on who he is as a man.

Dennis: Yeah, and you know what happens, and Dottie alluded to this – if there's not real commitment, the magic is replaced with an embittered spirit.  If you're not careful, you resent the person God gave you, and that's a tragedy.   Because when resentment replaces commitment and love, that relationship begins to die.  And, you know, I've got to believe right now there is a wife, maybe a husband, who has become embittered toward his spouse and may need to pause right now and just say to the Lord, "Lord, forgive me.  Replace that disappointment, that magic that isn't there any longer, with a renewed commitment and a vitality to love and care for and understand and cherish," or, for a wife, to be understanding and respect her husband and love him and be the kind of wife he needs her to be.

Bob: You think about the kind of schedule that most of these couples are on.  I'm talking about folks who are married to a guy who has got a lot of energy. He's probably real involved at work.  There's probably a lot going on.  Weekends are full.  That's where a shrewd wife will look ahead.  She will find out now, for example, when a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember conference is being held in a city near where she lives later this fall and go ahead and begin to get the date on the calendar so the two of them can get away for a weekend.

 Oftentimes, Dennis, what's needed to resolve the kind of thing you're talking about is for a couple to have an island of time, an island of clarity, two-and-a-half uninterrupted days where they can talk, they can learn, they can grow, they can laugh, they can relax, they can enjoy one another's company, and that's what we try to provide at the Weekend to Remember conferences. 

 We’re hosting these conferences in cities all across the country this summer and into the fall, and there's a complete list on our website of all of the upcoming conference cities.  But I'd just encourage you now – go ahead and find out when the conference is coming, mark the dates on your calendar, and see if you can't begin making plans for a weekend away together as a husband and wife at one of the upcoming Weekend to Remember conferences.

 Or if you live in Southern California or in Indianapolis and Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. and Montgomery, Alabama, or in Central Florida, plan to attend one of our one-day conferences for couples called "Rekindling the Romance."  Those are coming up this fall.  In fact, the first conference is about three or four weeks from now in Anaheim.  If you'd like more information on these one-day events for couples, go to our website at or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY.

 I think the point is time away together like this can be a great way for a wife who feels like she's hanging onto a husband who is going 90 miles an hour.  It can be a great time to step aside, step out of the race for a period of time and to focus on your marriage.  For more information about our FamilyLife Weekend to Remember conferences or our one-day conference called "Rekindling the Romance," go to our website at or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY.  We'd love to have you attend one of these upcoming events.

 And for those of you who are Legacy Partners, you are monthly contributors to FamilyLife Today.  If you are coming to one of our "Rekindling the Romance" events this fall, we have a special invitation for you.  We'd love to have you come backstage for a few minutes so we can say hi and can personally thank you for your support of this ministry.  It's your regular financial support of FamilyLife Today that helps keep us on the air not only in your community but in cities all across the country.  So we're looking forward to the chance that we'll have to greet you and to thank you for your partnership with us in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  Plan to attend one of these events when it comes to a city near where you live, and then plan to come backstage in the middle of the morning.  We'll invite you up and bring you backstage so that we can have a chance to say thank you personally for your ongoing financial support.

 If you're not a Legacy Partner, and you'd like to find out more about how you can become a Legacy Partner and about some of the resources that we make available to our Legacy Partners each month, give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY or go online at  We'd love to have you join the Legacy Partner team.

 Well, tomorrow we're going to be back with more with Dottie McDowell.  We'll talk about what a wife can do when she's married to a roadrunner like Josh McDowell or Dennis Rainey.  I hope you can join 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 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.


We are so happy to provide these transcripts to you.  However, there is a cost to transcribe, create, and produce them for our website.  If you’ve benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would   you consider donating today to help defray the costs? 

Copyright © FamilyLife.  All rights reserved.