What word should you never use in marriage? Find out the answer to this question and so much more as Dennis and Barbara Rainey share marriages principles from their 44 years together.
What word should you never use in marriage? Find out the answer to this question and so much more as Dennis and Barbara Rainey share marriages principles from their 44 years together.
Bob: There is one thing that every husband and every wife has to come to grips with—got to admit and affirm—if their marriage is ever going to be what God intends for it to be. Dennis Rainey tells us what it is.
Dennis: I am the problem in my marriage. Our selfishness—love redeems us from our selfishness, calling us out of the living for ourselves and sacrificing for another person so that they might feel loved and feel included in a lifetime.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, July 11th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We have something of a checklist for you today of some of the most important things you need to know about being married and raising a family. We’ll hear those things from Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. There have been occasions in my life where I’ve been able to sit at a table with a group of folks and just eavesdrop on a conversation where everything that’s being shared is just kind of a pearl of wisdom. You know, you’re with somebody who has walked with Christ for a number of years—maybe with a couple of people—and they’re just sharing the lessons they’ve learned in life. You’d feel awkward getting out a notepad and taking notes, but you feel like you wish you had it recorded so that you could refer back to what you’re hearing at the dinner table.
Dennis: And that’s what I tried to do, Bob, in developing a message a number of years ago that initially was given at a seminary to a group of seminary students.
But what we tried to do is kind of put the cookies on the lower shelf and say, “Here are some of the most important lessons that I wish someone had just distilled out—and talked to us frankly and honestly about these issues—and helped us set some boundaries in our marriage and in our family and kind of helped us navigate everything that the culture is throwing at us.”
This first point—it’s the ninth point / if you want to get the first eight, you’re going to have to listen to an earlier broadcast—but this point number nine we’re about to talk about, Bob, is one that I think every couple needs to apply in their marriage.
Bob: Yes; we’ve already heard you work through the first eight points in this message this week, and we have another dozen to go. So—this is Dennis and Barbara Rainey speaking to an audience of married couples about some of the most important lessons they’ve learned on marriage and family in their 40-plus years of marriage.
Dennis: Number 9: “Never use the ‘D’ word in your marriage.” Instead, use the “C” word—covenant and commitment in marriage. It’s the kind of covenant that says, “I’d marry you all over again.” If you have ever used the “D” word in front of your kids, could I encourage you to go back home and, if need be, to make the point with your kids?—get on your knees before them and ask them to forgive you for ever having that word—the “D” word / “divorce”—being uttered by your lips. Why? Because once something is introduced into a relationship, it can become a reality. Repent of using the “D” word. Don’t use it.
Barbara: Number 10: “Honoring our parents has brought life to our marriage.”
In Exodus 20—that’s the chapter in which all the Ten Commandments are listed, and the fifth one is found in verse 12—it says, “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God has given you.”
We all want to have length of days; don’t we? None of us wish to die young. Well, here’s the formula: “If you want to live a long life and be blessed by God, it says, ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”
Dennis: I spoke on this to high school students for a number of years until I finally became convicted I hadn’t done it with my parents. So what happened was—my dad died, and I had never really honored him as I wanted to by writing a tribute. So I decided I’d write my mom a tribute. She hung that tribute up right above where she had dinner for a number of years without my dad, as he died at the age of 66. She made the postman read it / the repairman read it. [Laughter] She said that was the life-giving instrument of words to her.
Write a tribute and honor your parents.
Number 11: “My marriage and family are redemptive.” They have saved me from toxic self-absorption. This is Jesus speaking in this passage—John 15: “This is My commandment”—He said—“that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lays down his life for his friends.”
Paul David Tripp spoke about this last night. You/I am the problem in my marriage—our selfishness—love redeems us from our selfishness, calling us out of living for ourselves and sacrificing for another person so that they might be loved and feel included in a lifetime.
Number 12: “Your wife is your number-one disciple.” I got this from the President and Founder of Cru®, Dr. Bill Bright.
And it’s really a picture of the command to husbands in Ephesians, Chapter 5, verses 28 and 29, where he commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and to sanctify her. What does that mean, to sanctify your wife? It means that someday you’re going to be asked by Jesus Christ to present her before God Almighty as blameless/spotless. What an assignment, guys, to love your wife and to so disciple her and keep on encouraging her to follow Jesus Christ. What a great privilege.
I’ve not done this as I should have, but one of my greatest privileges is to be able to wake up in the morning and Barbara and I are reading our Bibles. We have the time and the silence in our home, now, where we can do this—but to talk about something we’re learning together and to be passing on truth to one another. Your wife is your number-one disciple.
Barbara: Number 13: “Suffering will either drive you apart in your marriage, or it will be used by God to merge you together.”
You know, this is what I consider to be the fine print of marriage. I didn’t read this before I said, “I do.” I assumed, falsely; but I assumed that—because we were both Christians, and because we both believed the Bible, and we were going to make our marriage work by God’s principles found in the Bible—that we would escape suffering. Well, I was wrong; because suffering is a part of living in a broken, fallen world.
Dennis and I have dealt with all kinds of things. Just a few of them are: a heart issue that I had / we’ve had all kinds of issues with our children’s health and our parents’ health. We had a prodigal who was a prodigal for a number of years, and that’s a whole nother story. We’ve dealt with cancer / we’ve dealt with lots of things. We’ve come to understand several things. One is that men and women process suffering and difficulty very differently. It’s important when you go through suffering—and you will go through suffering / you will go through challenges, if you haven’t—it’s so important that we give each other grace.
I want to encourage you, as I remind myself, that when we go through suffering that we choose to continue to believe in God. The temptation during seasons of suffering is to turn on God and to assume it’s all His fault and to walk away from Him. But the strength of it is—when we believe in God and choose to follow Him through hard times, we come out on the other side with a very rich relationship. I wouldn’t trade today the relationship that I have with God now for anything. What we have gone through has allowed me to know God in a way that I wouldn’t have apart from that, and God knew that. God knew that I had to go through these hard things to understand His love / to understand His grace, and it’s so worth it. So, in your marriage, make sure that you turn together when you go through suffering, and don’t let it drive you apart.
Dennis: Number 14—guys, listen up / this is one of the big ones in this—“Maximize your wife’s talents, gifts, experience, and passion as you would an Olympic athlete.” Ephesians 5:28 / 1 Corinthians 9:24-27—Paul talks about running the race and buffeting your body so you can win. Guys, you’re responsible / you’re a steward of your wife’s talents, abilities, gifts.
A number of years ago—in fact, it was about six year ago about this time—Barbara and I got away for four days. We were going to take the first two days and focus on her gifts/her dreams now that we were empty-nesters. We were going to talk about what new vistas were out there for her for two days; and then, we were going to take the second two days and talk about mine. She’s grinning, because she knows we never got to my stuff. [Laughter]
We took all four days on this getaway just talking about her gifts, her dreams, her talents, her core competencies and passion—some of which had to be set aside during the childbearing and child-rearing years—but now could be deployed strategically.
If you’ve been to the bookstore, you’ve seen something Barbara’s created called Ever Thine Home®, where she merges great art and beauty with tremendous theological principles and truth to pass on, generationally, through the holidays that families celebrate, making Jesus Christ the reason for the season. I have to tell you—I was astounded at all that was in her heart / her mind as an artist and as someone who’s studied the Bible for a good bit of her adult life.
Guys, you are a steward of your wife’s talents and abilities. Look out to the horizon with her, and don’t wait until the nest is empty to begin to explore those issues.
Barbara: Number 15: “Women spell romance differently than men,”—shock; right? [Laughter] They spell it: r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p—a very long word because we like lots of conversation. Men spell romance: s-e-x.
Dennis: Very short word.
Barbara: Very short word. But the point is that it’s important to your marriage. God created it—it’s very good—and it’s important for us to learn and grow in this area of our marriage.
Dennis: Yes; and bless your differences. God’s not in heaven as a cosmic killjoy deciding to make men and women differently to punish us. He wants to use that to merge us together in oneness as a couple and to cause us to trust and to believe the right thing.
Number 16: “Build too many guardrails rather than too few in your marriage.”
Ephesians, Chapter 5:15 and 16 talks about the days being evil and not choosing foolishness but being wise about what the will of God is. Spurgeon said, “Of the two evils, choose neither.” I can just tell you—after watching over 40 different men and women in the ministry flame out with sexual affairs, that early in our ministry, Barbara and I decided I was not going to counsel women behind closed doors. You may think I’m some kind of a legalist, but I have to tell you—I just don’t want to be tempted. I can tell you—in the last 44 years, the last two times I was in a car with the opposite sex, other than with my daughters or with Barbara—guardrails.
Bob Lepine said on the broadcast one time: “There is no sex outside of marriage that is that good—none that is worth squandering your legacy and destroying your future.”
Build too many guardrails rather than too few.
Number 17: “Determining core values, as a couple, will enable you to sing off the same song sheet as you raise your children.” Amos 3:3 says: “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to meet?”
Barbara and I, early in our marriage, got away for a planning weekend where we both wrote out the top ten core values that each of us had. I wrote out my top ten, and I ranked them most important to least important. She wrote out her top ten. We looked at the Bible; we avoided religious speak; we tried to make it tangible. As we looked at our kids, we thought, “What do we want to pass on to our kids?” We began to negotiate with each other five that we would build into our kids.
I have to tell you something—we’ve done a lot of really shrewd, smart things in our marriage and family. This was one of the most important; because it forced us to decide: “From this book, what do we want to pass on to our children?”
Core values—you have to hammer those out, as a couple.
Some of our core values you’ll see here. It’s about identity—spiritual identity—“Who am I?”: “Made in God’s image.” It’s about sexual identity—is that a relevant issue today? Relationship—where we disciple your child to know what real love is and how to love and how to experience love. That’s the great commandment—Matthew 22. Character—that’s the Book of Proverbs: how to be wise and not a fool. Finally, mission—children today need to be raised to be on mission and in a relationship with Christ. As they leave home, they need to know what God’s mission is for them—Matthew 28:19-20—the Great Commission.
Number 18: “Interview your daughter’s date, and train your sons not to be clueless.” Take a look at Proverbs—Chapters 5-7.
It’s all about a dad who intersected his son’s world, speaking to him about the ways of aggressive women in his life. I think the Book of Proverbs challenges dads to protect their daughters, which I did in interviewing their dates. I interviewed like 35 guys—I had 4 daughters who were popular at school.
Barbara: Number 19: “Your adult children will need you to become smaller, not bigger, in their lives.” This is a real challenge for parents. It seems to be more of a challenge for moms than it does for dads, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.
We are so used to being important in their lives as we raise our kids; they need us for so much. We’re so important because we’re instilling values; we’re working in their lives; we’re trying to build character. We’re very invested in our kids. But when they go off to college; and especially when they get married, they need to become their own person. They need to figure out their own identity, and they don’t need mom and dad being big in their lives; they need us to be small.
This principle came from a friend of mine. She was telling me about how she had learned this in her life with her kids—this is a mentor couple that’s ahead of us. It’s been important for us to remember that as we relate to our kids—as they’re adults, and they’re married, and they have their own children—to not give advice—but to wait until you’re asked for advice and, then, you can give your advice. Sometimes, that works and sometimes that doesn’t even work. But the principle is: “Be smaller, not bigger.”
Dennis: Number 20: “As I get older, I want to laugh more with my wife, gripe less, and be found guilty of giving her too much love, grace, and mercy rather than too little.” First Corinthians 13 talks about the preeminence of love. How many old people do you know who are really worth emulating?—that you’d like to grow old like them.
Barbara and I want to be one of those couples, together, in our marriage and enjoy one another.
Barbara: Yes. Number 21—we’re on to the two bonus points—Number 21: “The most important decision you will ever make is that of surrendering your heart to Jesus Christ.” Some of you may have never surrendered your life to Christ, and you’ve been hearing about it all week. The most important decision that you can make is to finally, once and for all, surrender your heart to Jesus Christ.
But for the rest of us—surrender is a daily thing / an hourly thing—sometimes, it’s minute by minute—because our hearts want to rise up and rule our lives. What God calls us to do is to surrender to Him, moment by moment / day by day. So the most important decision of any decision—the starting place—is to surrender your life to Christ. Once my heart is surrendered to Christ, then I can deal rightly with Him; and when his heart is surrendered to Christ, we can make progress together.
Dennis: Number 22—it’s not in your notes, but as you leave here—“You need to be on mission.” Acts 13:36 says: “After David had served the purpose of God in his own generation, he fell asleep and he underwent decay.” In other words, he died. David fulfilled the purposes of God in his generation.
I would challenge every person here: “Are you fulfilling, as a couple, God’s purposes for your generation?” That is every generation’s assignment. That mission is the Great Commission—proclaiming the gospel / the good news of Jesus Christ and surrendering to Him. Marriages are being destroyed because they don’t know the blueprints of how to build a godly marriage.
Bob: Well again, we’ve been listening to Dennis and Barbara Rainey just share some of the wisdom points from 40-plus years of marriage.
You shared this with an audience recently onboard the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise. I know—a lot of times, a message like this—you can feel a little overwhelmed; but your exhortation to the couples, who were listening that night, was: “Don’t be overwhelmed. Just find one or two things that you heard and take it home and apply it.”
Dennis: One point driven home is better than four points left on base—I guess you can’t have four points left on base; can you? [Laughter]
Bob: Depends on what kind of game you’re playing.
Dennis: It does. In this message, I gave 22 points. We actually misled the audience, telling them it was only 20; but we gave them some bonus points.
Here’s what I can assure you—in this generation—back to my last point I was talking about—one of the purposes of God in this generation is to strengthen marriages and families. And if I might be so bold—if you’d like to get into the battle for strengthening marriages and families, could I encourage you to go online and check out the Weekend to Remember® and then form a group of couples—
—from your church, from your community, from your place of work, maybe from where your kids go to school—get the couples together and say, “Let’s go to the Weekend to Remember, and let’s celebrate marriage,” and then bring them. I promise you—you will be about what is one of God’s most important purposes for this generation.
Bob: And you know what? This is the right time to be thinking about doing that in the fall. Don’t wait until September or the middle of October and think, “Oh, we ought to do that.” No; because by then, everybody’s schedules are full with something else. Now’s the time to block out a weekend like that—get it on your calendar and say, “Let’s make this a priority this fall.”
Dennis: And the reason people come to the Weekend to Remember is because someone, like you, invites them to come. If you’ve been to a Weekend to Remember, you’re thinking, “We don’t really need that.” Well, you know what? You take your car in for a wheel alignment / an oil change. Might be that there’s been a few thousand miles on your marriage since the last time you went to a Weekend to Remember.
Why not come?—do something for your marriage and family. Encourage others to come with you. Let’s push back on this culture of divorce and make a positive statement about marriage and family to the next generation.
Bob: I was with a friend last night in the hospital, and I’d gone by to see him. When I got there, he was already talking to the nurse about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. He said, “Oh, tell her more about the Weekend to Remember and what we do.” She’s been married for three years. We talked about where the getaways will be happening this fall, and I sent her home—I said: “Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and look for locations of where Weekend to Remember getaways are going to be happening. Start now to plan for the fall so it doesn’t just creep up on you.”
Our listeners can do the same thing—go to FamilyLifeToday.com—find out when there’s going to be a Weekend to Remember in a city near where you live; or if you’d like to do a little getaway and travel somewhere, just check out the list of locations and dates and plan a special getaway weekend this fall.
The information is available at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call and someone can walk you through all of the locations this fall. Call 1-800-FL-TODAY—that’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, whenever you hear a program like ours, you’re aware that there are lots of people behind the scenes who make a radio program like this possible. It’s not just Dennis and me—we have a whole team here. And even beyond the team here, there’s another team that makes it possible for what we’ve created to be heard by more and more people every year. That’s our Legacy Partner team—those of you who are monthly contributors to the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
You are part of the team that makes this program possible. You’re helping us reach tens of thousands of couples/families every day, not only in this country, but around the world and on a variety of media platforms—radio, streamed on the internet, through our FamilyLife Today mobile app. All of these are ways that you’re helping us reach more people with God’s design for marriage and family.
Over the years, we have been able to train millions of people with the blueprints for marriage. We’ve been able to remind people that it is God who created marriage—He’s the One who knows how to make it work. So, “Thanks,” to those of you who are Legacy Partners.
If you’d like to join the team and help us reach even more people / if you’ve been a regular listener to FamilyLife Today for some time now, why not become a Legacy Partner? Go to FamilyLifeToday.com—you can sign up online; or if you have any questions, call 1-800-FL-TODAY—let me just say, “Thanks,” in advance. If FamilyLife has meant something to you, we’d love to have you be part of the team that helps move this ministry forward.
Now, tomorrow, we want to look at what is one of the toughest assignments that is ever handed to a man in a marriage relationship. That’s the assignment of being a stepdad. Ron Deal is going to join us to talk about what smart stepdads have learned over the years. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team and our Legacy Partners. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; A Cru® Ministry.
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