FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Married to a High Energy Man, Part 2

with Barbara Rainey, Dottie McDowell | July 20, 2004
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What is the difference between loving your man and respecting him? On today's broadcast, Dottie McDowell, wife of Josh, and Barbara Rainey, wife of Dennis, help explain.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • What is the difference between loving your man and respecting him? On today's broadcast, Dottie McDowell, wife of Josh, and Barbara Rainey, wife of Dennis, help explain.

  • 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 the difference between loving your man and respecting him?

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Married to a High Energy Man, Part 2

With Barbara Rainey, Dottie McDow...more
July 20, 2004
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Dottie: I think it's important for a woman who may be a little frustrated to look back, remember when you were dating this man – what were the qualities that you so admired then?  He still has those qualities, and I believe that a wife that expresses encouragement and that she stands behind her husband, will have a husband that, little by little, can make steps to improve their relationship.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, July 20th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.   As a wife, are you ever frustrated when your high-energy husband is headed off in some new direction?

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.  You know, there are husbands who move at a slow pace.  Some husbands move at a fast pace.

Dennis: Others move at a supersonic pace.  And we have a wife in the studio today –

Bob: There are some Concorde husbands, is that what you're saying?

Dennis: No, no, no, Bob, I'm sorry, he would be offended if you compared him to the Concorde.  This is the space shuttle model.

Bob: Okay, all right.

Dennis: Josh McDowell is the space shuttle.  He's been in outer space many times.

Bob: And for listeners who don't know, Josh McDowell is on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ.  He is an author, he is a speaker, he's traveled around the world sharing the Gospel and done so for the last 30 years.

Dennis: And we don't have him in the studio.

Bob: That's right.

Dennis: We've got the truth in the studio – it's his wife Dottie.  Dottie, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.

Dottie: Thanks, Dennis.

Bob: In addition to havinf Dottie McDowell with us, we also have the wife of – well – maybe you're the Concorde husband if he's the space shuttle?

Dennis: Compared to Josh, I may be in the Wilbur Wright category compared to Josh McDowell.

Bob: Barbara, welcome back to the broadcast.

Barbara: Thanks, Bob.

Bob: We talked yesterday on the program about what it must be like to be married to guys like you and Josh – guys who keep going at a fast pace, guys who have lots of ideas, guys who are changing planes to get from one city to another and only have a few hours to drop in before they get there.  It can be a hectic pace for a wife to keep.

Dennis: It can, and I've got to go back to a conversation that Dottie and I had on the phone when I was inviting her to come up here and join us on the broadcast.  You know, Bob, she said no originally, and I kind of had to call her and say, "Dottie, come on.  Barbara will get in there with you, and you guys can mix it up together."  And while we were talking, I asked Dottie, I said, "Is there a passage or a Scripture or something that you pound the table about.  You just are passionate about when it comes to this issue of being a wife and really fulfilling God's calling for your life."  And immediately she locked on a passage of Scripture and said, "Oh, yeah.  I could come up there and talk about that."

Bob: I can preach on that.

Dennis: Yeah, and she's over there with her Bible open right now with a big grin on her face, and I think she's got something to share with us here, Bob.  What's the passage of Scripture, Dottie?

Dottie: I do, Dennis.  If I could share with you the most important verse, in my opinion, dealing with the marriage relationship, it would be Ephesians 5:33.  Ephesians 5:33 says, "Nevertheless, let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband."  The reason that this verse is so critical is because it puts forth two extremely important principles.  First it says, "Men love," then it says, "Women respect."  And, to me, when you look at a relationship that is well oiled, a good, excellent relationship, you see a relationship that is built around this verse.

 What you have to ask is, "Okay, what does it means when it says, "Men love," and what does it mean when it says, "Women respect."  When it tells men to love, they need to be a detective.  They need to go out and find out what says "I love you" to my wife.  They need to find out what that is and realize that the sky is the limit in the way that they can communicate love to that wife.  And when it says "Women respect" she needs to find out what it means to respect her husband from his perspective.  And when you see a relationship that is working well, it's a relationship built on this principle.

 When I've asked women, and I've asked women all around our nation and really in other countries – what is the one thing that you need most from your husband or, if you're a single woman, what is the one thing you look forward to most received from your husband?  Across the board, with no exceptions, it has always been love.  Why?  Because God has created women as creatures of love, and I believe that is their greatest need from a husband, is to be loved.

 And when a woman is loved, she feels the freedom to express to her husband the respect that he needs, and when he is receiving the respect that he needs, he has really no alternative then to express to her the love that she needs.  I have asked different men – what is your greatest need from your wife?  And it's always respect.  I was able to speak to a group of men – this was a number of years ago – a wonderful group of men, all in full-time Christian work, and I started out my meeting with them – what is your wife's greatest need?  And after they looked at me blank for a few seconds, I got answers like, "financial security," "trust," "kindness," "generosity."  The last man raised his hand; the last person that hadn't spoken yet raised his hand and said, "What about love?"

 Respect was one of the first answers given.  Why?  Because men think from a perspective of needing respect.  If you ask your husband, or if you ask a man, how do you feel about Bob down the street?  Usually, he will answer based on respect – "Oh, I really respect Bob.  You know, he's a good worker, he's a good provider," but if you ask a woman, "How do you feel about so-and-so?"  She'll probably base her answer on how she feels about love – "Oh, I love Emily."  "I love Nancy."  Because we are women, we are creatures of love.  And so God knew this.  And I think that if He didn't reveal this to us in Scripture, we would not naturally understand this.  I know that when I first married Josh, because I loved him so much, and I needed love, I figured his number-one need would be to be loved, because that was my greatest need.  I was wrong.  His number-one need from me, although he needs to be loved, and he wants to be loved, and that's very important to him, but his number-one need from me is to be respected.

Dennis: Let me stop you there for a second, because – what's the difference, as you love your husband, between loving him and respecting him?

Dottie: I believe that respect means that you can communicate to your husband that you stand behind him, you are his greatest fan, you admire him, that you believe in him.  It's my privilege, as a wife, to communicate to him that I am there for him.  And each wife has a unique opportunity to do that.  In my situation, for example, as a speaker's wife, one way that I can communicate to Josh that I respect him is to sit right in the front row when he's speaking.  I can't always do that, but as often as I can, I want to be right there in the front row when he's speaking so that he knows that I'm behind him, and I'm beside him in what he has to say.

Bob: You know, I've never forgotten, Dennis, being on a retreat one time – this was before Mary Ann and I were married, and we were together on a retreat, and there was a husband and wife who were leading the retreat, and, candidly, she was a much better speaker than he was.  She was dynamic, she had great illustrations, she was just easy to follow.  He was kind of stiff and a little boring, and just – he wasn't the same kind of speaker she was.

 I don't know what they talked about that weekend, and that wasn't the message that got left with me.  I'll never forget watching her watch him while he spoke.  Now, I'm watching him going, "Lady, you're better than he is."  She's watching him like she's never heard anybody with such eloquence and such wisdom in the world.  And I sat there, and I thought, "I want a wife who watches me like that; who takes notes and who nods and who is hanging on the words."  And you and I have talked about this before – when we get done speaking, we get off the platform, and people come up and go, "Oh, that was wonderful," and that's all fine.  But what we really care about is when we get back to the room, and we say to our wives, "How'd I do?"

Dennis: Yeah, and, you know, be careful here, because some of our wives are not married to speakers, and they're going, "What's the front row for me?"  Well, it may be the front row for you is when he comes home from work at the end of the day, having worked hard to provide for your family or having had him try to leave the family in a family night or get all the kids together to go to church on Sunday morning and direct your family spiritually – any act where a husband is being a man, leading, attempting to set a direction for your family, come alongside him at that point and, as Dottie does for Josh, and as you described that one wife there that within her face and within her eyes, there is approval, there is affirmation, there is a statement that says, "You're my man, I'm glad you're my man, I'm proud of you."

 And, too many times, Bob, I think there is this comparison that takes place, and a wife can go, "But I'm not married to Josh McDowell, he's not up in front of thousands of people preaching the Gospel.  It's a little harder where I live."

Bob: But I'll give you another example and, Barbara, maybe you can relate to this one.  I remember one Saturday when I had been doing something out in the garage, and I don't remember what it was.  It may have been fixing a bicycle tire on one of the kids' bikes – something was broken, and I went out to try to fix it.  And it took a while.  It probably took much longer than it needed to, and I klutzed around at it, but I finally got it fixed.  And Mary Ann came out and looked at the work that I had done when I was finished, and she said, "How did you know how to do that?  That is so good."  And, I mean, my chest kind of puffed out a little bit, and I kind of took that socket wrench in my hand and said, "Well, it's nothing."  But, all of a sudden, I felt like a man.

Barbara: Well, I think there are a lot of things like that that a wife can do, because our men really do need to be appreciated and praised for any kind of leadership that they take in the family.  And I really agree with what Dennis was saying about the spiritual leadership, because that is especially difficult for many men.  And a wife can be so undermining to her husband when he does try to lead the family spiritually.  And any kind of direction he tries to give to the kids or to the family unit as a whole, if she can come alongside him and be supportive and help the kids pay attention when Dad's trying to teach something or lead in some way – any way that she can provide that support and encouragement is going to give him courage and confidence that he can try again, and he can do it again.

 So there are many, many areas where a wife can come alongside a husband and provide that kind of support and respect.  It doesn't have to be in a public setting.

Bob: Dottie, let me ask you – if you had a young wife – maybe she'd been married half a dozen years.  She came, and she said, "I'm frustrated in our marriage.  I'm frustrated because the dream I had for my knight in shining armor is now reality, and it's not all that I thought it would be, and I feel us drifting apart, and I don't know what to do."  And she came to you for counsel and advice.  What would you say to her?

Dottie: I think the first thing I would say is, "Have you talked this over with him?  Have you told him your feelings?"  I think it's important to be able to sit down and share your feelings.  Not in a way that is going to cause him to feel threatened but in a very respectful way.  That's where, again, it comes back to this Ephesians 5:33 – that we are to act respectfully.

 So first I think I would ask her, "Have you shared these feelings with him?"  And I would take her to Ephesians 5:33 and say, "Have you done everything that you can do on your side to express to him the respect that you can?"  In other words, have you communicated to him that you stand behind him, you believe in him, you admire him, that you are his greatest fan?

Bob: Barbara, she might respond, at that point, and say, "I'm not sure I do.  I'm not sure I do respect him." 

Barbara: And that's where I think, as a believer, we have access to the God of love, who can change our hearts.  And there are times in relationships with people, and it may not be a marriage relationship, it may be with a child or – I know I've prayed this prayer with some neighbor kids from time to time – but we can go to the God in heaven, who is the God of love who can change our hearts and change our attitudes and changes our perspectives and say, "Lord, I love this man.  You called me to marry this man.  I'm not feeling that way right now, and I need you to change my heart."

And I really believe that God can change our hearts if we really are willing for Him to do so, and God can bring back not just the feelings but the attitude and the perspective and the understanding that, yes, this man is a gift to me, and you can begin – God can change your focus from the things that are disappointing and the things that are negative to the things that are positive, to the things that are good.  Because it's an issue of what are we focusing on in the relationship?  Are we focusing on what is good about this man?  What is right?  What God has put in his life, what the potential is?  Or are we focusing on just all the things that are wrong with him?

 So I really believe that if I were talking to that woman, one of the things that I would say is, "You need to go to the Lord and ask Him to change your perspective and renew it and bring it back in line with what God wants it to be."

Dennis: The Proverbs say "death and life are in the power of the tongue," and what both Dottie and Barbara are talking about here is a woman whose heart is hoped in God.  It refuses to bring death into the relationship.  I think what you two are talking about here is so critical for a lot of marriages, because a lot of couples today are giving up and giving in to despair, and they're entertaining thoughts of divorce at this point.  And rather than regaining a perspective of their commitment to Christ and their commitment to that spouse, instead they make their focus negative, as Barbara was talking about, and the focus on where that guy is failing, and they get their laser beam heart focused on his failures, and, at that point, there are some men who can never win, who could never do it right and, you know, they may be winning in a lot of areas of their lives, but this one area, she's not being pleased.  And I think, at that point, it's the wise woman who comes back and asks the question, "How can I respect my husband?"

Barbara: Well, I think wives also need to be careful that they don't get caught in the trap of comparison, because I think it's real easy for some women to look at their husband and say, "Yeah, but he's not.  If only I was married to" so-and-so or so-and-so, and to compare him on a level that's just not a fair comparison at all.  And what she's doing when she gets caught in that comparison trap is she's forgetting that God has a plan for her man, and the plan that God has for her man is different than the plan He has for somebody else's husband.  And it's her job to respect her man and to be used by God to help reveal that plan for that man, whatever that is.

 I mean, when I married Dennis, I had no idea that we were going to be doing what we're doing today.  It was a mystery to me.  I had no idea where God was going to be taking us.  But it would have been real easy to settle back and say, "Well, he's not like so-and-so," rather than be content with who God has given you, thank God for who He has given you, and focus on becoming the wife that God wants you to be and being the respecter of your man that He wants you to be, and then God is free to reveal that plan and free to develop him into the man that God wants him to be.

Bob: It is easy, though, Barbara, in moments of discontent to look around and go, "I wish Dennis was more like"–

Barbara: Oh, sure.  But there is no perfect man.  I mean, there are a lot of things that Dennis does well, and there are a lot of things he doesn't do well, but when I'm focusing on the things that he doesn't do well, I'm expecting him to be something that he's not, and there is no perfect husband.

Dottie: I think it's important, too, for a woman who may be a little frustrated to look back – remember, when you were dating this man, what were the qualities that you so admired then?  He still has those qualities.  Try to emphasize the positive and try to encourage him.  And I believe that a wife that expresses encouragement and that she stands behind her husband will have a husband that, little by little, can make steps to improve their relationship.

Bob: But, Dennis, a wife may feel the negative shouts and the positive whispers, and all I hear are shouts all day long.

Dennis: Right, and, again, that comparison trap is deadly, because you're always comparing from a distance.  You don't know the reality of somebody else's spouse.  You don't  know who they really are and what they're really like.  You don't know their real weaknesses.  And if you do trade in your spouse for another one, all you're going to get is another imperfect model.  You're not going to get any perfect one.  There was only one perfect man, and He's been working on redeeming all the imperfect models since Easter, okay?

Bob: What you're saying is that the lot is full of lemons, and if you trade in one, you're just going to get another one.

Dennis: I'm telling you, and the statistics bear me out, because people who divorce, who remarry, they have a higher likelihood of divorcing again.  The answer here is not to get out of the relationship.  The answer here is how do we allow the biblical blueprints to work their way out between two imperfect people.  None of us have it together.  That's what Christian marriage is all about.  It's about two imperfect people who are allowing the love of Christ to dwell richly in their relationship.  And that's not easy.  It's hard work.  It's daily, and sometimes there are failures, and you pick yourself back up, and you have to go back and dust yourself off and ask for forgiveness.

Bob: You know, when couples can begin to work off the same set of blueprints in their marriage, it can make a huge difference.  Instead of being pulled in two different directions, now they're pulling together in the same direction, and if you're married to a guy who is on the go, who is high energy, one of the best things you can do is to find time when the two of you can get away and check the blueprints and make sure you're both working off the same set of blueprints.

 That's what we invite couples to do at our Weekend to Remember conferences that we've been hosting for almost three decades now.  More than a million people have attended one of these weekend conferences, where we pull out the blueprints, the ones that were issued by the original designer, and we hold them up and say, "Do your blueprints match these blueprints?  Can we all get on the same page here?"  And, in the process, can we move toward oneness and intimacy in our marriage relationship?

 And I would encourage all of our listeners – go ahead and look at your fall schedule, get out your calendar, go to our website at  On our site you will find a listing of all of the cities where we're hosting conferences this fall and set aside a weekend where the two of you can get away, can have an island of clarity where you can focus on each other, on your marriage, and on how to make it all that God wants it to be.  These are fun, relaxing, romantic weekends for couples, and I want to encourage you to make it a priority for your marriage this fall.

 If you need more information, if you'd like a free brochure, we can send you one.  Or all the information you need is on our website at  The toll-free number to call for a brochure is 1-800-FLTODAY.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  Or, again, just to go the Web at, and the information you need is available there.

 If you live in or around Southern California, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Montgomery, or Tampa, Florida, plan to join us for one of our one-day conferences for couples this fall called "Rekindling the Romance," where we're going to focus in on that singular subject – how can we bring romance back to life in a marriage relationship?  How can we stir the embers and get the fire going?

 If you'd like more information about that event, again, in Anaheim, California; Indianapolis; Minneapolis; Washington, D.C.; Montgomery, Alabama; or Tampa, Florida, there is information on our website at or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY.  I think the point is make plans this fall to get away together as a couple and refresh and renew your marriage relationship and make sure you're both on the same page when it comes to marriage and when it comes to romance.  Once again, the number to call is 1-800-FLTODAY or our website is

 When you do get in touch with us, somebody may ask you if you'd like to make a donation to FamilyLife Today, and we hope, if you're able, that you will.  FamilyLife Today is a listener-supported ministry, and we depend on those donations to keep it going – keep the radio program on the air in your community and in communities all across the country as well as the other outreaches and ministries of FamilyLife Today.

 You can donate online at  You can give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY, or you can write out a check and mail it to us, and if you need our mailing address, just get in touch with us, and we'll be happy to pass it along to you.  Once again, our toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY and our website is  Dennis?

Dennis: Well, it has been our privilege to provide a soapbox today on the subject of husbands loving their wives and wives …

Bob: … you were so generous in letting go of the soapbox …

Dennis: … wives respecting their husbands, and it's a great privilege to give that soapbox to Dottie McDowell and my wife Barbara.

Bob: And he does not give this soapbox up lightly, ladies, so you've had a great privilege.

Dennis: Barbara knows that.  She's been living with me for 25 years, Bob.  She knows well that I don't give up the soapbox easily.  Dottie, thanks for being on the broadcast.

Dottie: Thank you.

Dennis: We love you and Josh.  Thank God for your ministry.  You have touched the world together as a couple, and I think you're going to touch the world together in the next generation through your children.  You've done a magnificent job, and Barbara and I admire both of you and just thank God for your ministry, your friendship, and count it a privilege to be on the Kingdom team with you.

Dottie: Thank you, Dennis.  It's been a privilege to be here.

Bob: And, Barbara, it's always great to have you joining us in the studio.

Dennis: It is, I agree with that.

Barbara: Thanks, I enjoyed it.

Bob: Let me let our listeners know tomorrow we're going to be dealing with an important subject.  We're going to hear from a pastor whose life went in a very spiritual direction, while his brother's life went in a very different direction.  His brother became a part of the gay community in his city and ultimately died from AIDS.  Dr. Robert Lewis will be here tomorrow to tell us how we can deal with the issue of homosexuality with grace and with truth, and 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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