Redecorating the Christian BedroomFebruary 14, 2005
On today's broadcast, Dr. Daniel Akin, a professor of theology and author of the book God on Sex, talks with Dennis Rainey about the romantic measures a husband and wife must take if they want to continue enjoying a passionate marriage.
On today's broadcast, Dr. Daniel Akin, a professor of theology and author of the book God on Sex, talks with Dennis Rainey about the romantic measures a husband and wife must take if they want to continue enjoying a passionate marriage.
Redecorating the Christian Bedroom
Bob: For a marriage to go the distance, couples need to be more than just partners; they need to be companions. Here is Danny Akin.
Danny: I am convinced the longer I am married, that the need for my wife to be my best friend becomes more and more important. I did not think when I got married at 21, I was marrying my best friend. I thought I was marrying this pretty, brown-eyed brunette that would be fun to hug and kiss and to squeeze and all those other kinds of things. But now that I'm 47, I can tell you, knowing that she is my very best friend means so much, and knowing that it means so much, it kindles romance.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, February 14th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Can you say about your spouse what the Bible says – "This is my beloved, and this is my friend?"
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition, the Valentine's Day edition. And we might want to alert some of our listeners that some of our conversation – you may want to decide, as a mom or a dad, whether it's appropriate for younger listeners to be tuned in.
You know, I can imagine there are a lot of godly young men who may be sensing the call, they may sense the call to the ministry or to go to the mission field, and they're looking around thinking, "I ought to go to seminary. I need to be trained to be able to serve the Lord appropriately," and they start looking at what seminary should I go to? They want to know where can I be well trained?
And I'm just wondering – if a guy is looking around, and he comes across this one seminary, and he sees that the head of the seminary, the president of the seminary, wrote a book called "God On Sex," do you think that guy might go, "I'm curious about that seminary. That might be my kind of seminary. I might want to go to that seminary," do you think?
Dennis: I think that guy is not afraid of teaching everything the Bible says.
Bob: The whole counsel of God, right?
Dennis: The whole counsel, and the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary joins us here again – Danny Akin, welcome back to FamilyLife Today, Danny.
Danny: Thank you, Dennis, it's an honor to be here.
Bob: You didn't write this book as a recruiting tool, did you?
Danny: No, but if it works that way, that's just fine with me.
Dennis: It is really a book about – well, from the Song of Solomon about God's perspective on sex, and one of the things you say in your book is that there has been some research done when men and women blow out candles on a birthday cake, and what men and women wish for are different?
Danny: Oh, tragically different. A woman would love to spend more time with a spouse. A man won't say a lower golf score. I don't even want to – I grieve to even have shared that, but that's what men foolishly actually said when asked.
Dennis: Yes, and men, as a result, need help in knowing how to relationally meet the needs of their wives, and that's what the Book of Song of Solomon is all about – training men to know how to meet their wives, heart-to-heart, instead of head-to-head or just body-to-body.
You had a situation with your wife, where you asked her if she thought you, as the leader of a seminary, if she thought you were romantic.
Danny: Yes, several years ago when I was doing a lot of study in this area, reading some of the material that you had produced, I came across again and again and again the reality that women need romance, women need romance. So I came home, asked my wife if she thought I was romantic, she yanked her head around so quickly, I'm amazed to this day she did not damage her neck, and she said, "Well, goodness, after 10 years you ask me that question." She said, "Let me begin by saying I do love you" …
Danny: Yes, it was big uh-oh – "I could not imagine being married to anybody but you, and you're a wonderful daddy to our four sons, but the answer to your question" …
Bob: You put pillows on the floor, because she's about to knock you down.
Danny: I am fixing to hit the deck big-time. And she said, "No, I don't think you have a romantic bone in your body."
Danny: So being the typical male, that hurt my feelings, but I determined, well, you know, all right, I'm going to still give it a shot. A couple of days later, she was lying on the floor one Friday night. I don't remember where the kids were, I just know they weren't around. I thought this would be a good time to initiate some romance so I came up behind her, began to rub her back and neck, she turned around and looked me in the eye and said, "Why don't you go on, leave me alone, and quit bothering me." I stepped back and said, "I thought that was romantic," and she responded, "No, it's not romantic now, and it won't be romantic later, either." And I knew what that meant, too, and so I went ahead and went to bed that night, early, by myself. There was no future in staying up late that evening.
The next morning – my wife, by the way, guys, loves this stuff from Avon called "Skin So Soft." It will bring oil to dry skin, it smells really nice; it's also an outstanding insect repellent, as anybody from the Deep South quite well knows. And so she puts it on her body at the end of a shower, wipes it off with a towel. Well, I came to the bedroom, I was still bruised from the night before. I pick up her towel, I smell it, and I look at her, and I say, "You know, this towel smells like you," and my wife turned to me and said, "Now, that's romantic."
Well, I quickly said, "Look, don't make fun of me. I know that saying you smell like a towel is not romantic. Even I can figure that much out, but I'm trying on this thing, and you don't have to pick at me." Well, she looked at me and with the sweetest eyes she said, "I really did find that romantic," and she walked out of the room. For a moment I was ready to give up altogether on the romance thing, because if she thinks saying she smells like a towel was romantic, there's no hope for me. There's no hope for her, and I'm sorry, but it is not on my radar screen.
But, you know, God is so gracious, and I do share in the book, God gave me insight that day, He really did, on how this romance thing can work. And, for a guy, it's really helpful – you turn it into a game, and you turn it into a very specific game. It is the game of hide-and-go-seek. She hides it, and you seek it. If you find it, it's wonderful; if you don't find it, well, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; that's the fun of playing a game. You give it another try the next day.
But, guys, I have to say to you I've learned this in my 26 years of being married and watching other marriages as well – women do not play the game fairly.
Danny: Not at all, because, you see, what is romantic, say, on one day …
Dennis: No, you could pick up that same towel 24 hours later, (sniffs) "That smells like you."
Danny: And she is liable to punch me in the nose or something worse.
Dennis: You're exactly right.
Bob: Put it in the hamper, and I'll wash it.
Danny: Yes, yes, absolutely. And so they move the romance, and they move it all over the place all the time partly to see, I think, if we love them enough to keep looking for it. Partly, it's just a reflection of who they are. It's the way God made them, and, as I say to my wife, "You know, honey, God made you an expert at hide-and-go-seek, but He gave you to me so that I might learn this game, too. And, I tell you what, gentlemen, having turned it into a game has put a completely different perspective. And now, even today, being here with you, I'm thinking – "Is there something on this trip I might pick up, I might call, I might do, that actually finds out that's where, on this particular day, she hid the romance."
Dennis: Bob and I have – we have a suggestion.
Danny: I'm listening.
Dennis: "Simply Romantic Nights."
Bob: That can be a good one.
Dennis: Now, have you seen that?
Danny: I have not.
Dennis: I think even you, as a seminary president – a very dignified position of teaching the Scripture, leading a group of highly educated, highly trained faculty – I think that "Simply Romantic Nights" is going to be a little toolkit that you, as a man, being romantically challenged …
Danny: Absolutely, that's who I am – I'm challenged.
Dennis: You are going to find this will be quite helpful.
Bob: There are a dozen romantic ideas for you that are probably the best we've come up with over the years of doing this kind of ministry, and a dozen for her, as well – ways that – well, maybe it's kind of a roadmap that can lead you, more often than not, to where she's hidden the romance.
Dennis: To find the towel.
Bob: Yes, that's right. We've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center. I'll get a copy for you.
Danny: I want one, because guys need roadmaps, and they are very helpful.
Dennis: They are. One of the things you have talked about in your book is you talk about the need for a woman – not merely to play hide-and-seek, where she is waiting for the guy to pursue her, but you challenge women to become a huntress?
Danny: Well, I had a friend …
Dennis: Like a female version of a hunter?
Danny: There was a friend of mine that does marriage counseling that had a lady come to see him one day, thinking about separating from her husband because the area of sex had become just a real difficult, problematic area. She shared with him that he was a good man, a good husband, a good father, but he basically wanted sex, as she could see it, 24/7. That's all he wanted. And she said, "If I did not say no some of the time, we'd be having sex all the time, and I'm just at the end of my rope, and I think maybe separating will take some of the pressure off. What do you think?"
Well, this friend of mine who is a very good counselor, he's also a bit mischievous, said, "Well, I have a question. Do you think we could try something for just a week before you leave him?" And she said, "Well, what is it?" And he said, "I want you to go home, and I want you to become a huntress. I want you to find your husband and as quickly as you can and be intimate with him. Wait a couple of hours, and be intimate again. And even before you go to bed tonight, one more time." The next morning was going to be Saturday morning. He said, "Can you get rid of the kids over the weekend?" She said "Yes." He said, "Fine, wake him up at 6. Find him again at 10. A little after noon – he said, "Basically, for the next week I want you to become the aggressor in this relationship."
Bob: Wear him out.
Danny: Basically, that's what I think he had in mind. So he looks at her and says, "Can you do this?" And she said very playfully but truthfully, "Well, I'd do anything for a week." So he said, "Fine, go home, call me next Friday." Well, she did not call him next Friday; she called him on Monday.
Dennis: Two days later?
Danny: Two days later, and she said, "I don't know what you think you were trying to do, but I think it worked." She said, "My husband is over in the corner of the bedroom right now, and he is waving a white handkerchief at me." She said, "He's had a scared look in his eye for about a day now," and then she said this – "We just had a good long laugh and a good long cry, and we really both feel kind of dumb because an area that God gave us that should have drawn us together nearly tore us apart all because we didn't talk, and we didn't work at understanding each other." And then she made this great statement, Dennis. She said, "You know, we don't have identical sexual appetites, but we've discovered we have very compatible sexual appetites," and I'm quite convinced that's true for virtually all of us. It's very unlikely that we have identical appetites, in the intimate area, with our mate, but it's almost certain they're compatible. And if we would just communicate, talk with each other, work at understanding each other, this area would not become something that nearly tears your marriage apart. But, as she said, "We now know and expect to have the joy in the days ahead that we should have been enjoying," and, for her, for over 15 years.
Bob: Danny, you've opened up a subject here that is something that we hear about time and time again. It's this issue of sexual appetite, and for a lot of couples it's a really mysterious, difficult area. In fact, one of the things we're hearing about more often than we used to is wives who find that the traditional model of having less of an appetite for intimacy than their husband had is reversed.
Danny: That's right. I wonder if, in that particular situation, like many others, a missing link that has developed in that relationship is their friendship. I am convinced the longer I'm married that the need for my wife to be my best friend becomes more and more important. I did not think when I got married at 21, I was marrying my best friend. I thought I was marrying this pretty, brown-eyed brunette that would be fun to hug and kiss and to squeeze and all those other kinds of things. But now that I'm 47, I can tell you, knowing that she is my very best friend means so much, and knowing that it means so much, it kindles romance. When she's your best friend, you want her near. And sometimes you want her near in the terms that lead to sexual intercourse or intimacy, but sometimes I just want her near, and just having her near kindles those flames, and sparks just begin to fly, and that friendship element, I really think that's one area that we've got to give more and more attention. And when I do premarital counseling now, Dennis, I really stress that from day one they need to be working at growing to be one another's very, very, very best friend.
Dennis: And as they develop that friendship, they also need to work on making romance and passion a regular part of that friendship. Someone has said romance is a friendship that has been set on fire. And one of the things that you draw from the Book of Song of Solomon, is that the bedroom ought to be this exclusive place of security, pleasure, adventure, of love, and to do that, though, you have to make it a priority, and that really is what the Song of Solomon talks about. I mean, all the way – I guess – starting in Chapter 4 through Chapter 6, it's talking about ways in which a man and a woman can take their bedroom and turn it into a place where that relationship can be a feast; where enjoying one another can be pleasurable and blessed by God; coach couples on how they can turn their bedrooms into more like the picture that's found in the Song of Solomon.
Danny: Well, it ought not to be Grand Central Station. It ought to be a place that is exclusively and privately theirs. I'm not saying they never let anyone in there including their children, but it is a place that they know they can go to and be alone. It's a place that they designed purposefully to be attractive to both of them. It is a place where they know they can rest but also a place where they know they can play. And they're thinking about these things. Again, you said it so well – sex and intimacy maintains a priority position in their relationship, so they're continually thinking, "What can I do?"
For my wife, for example, she is a candle fanatic. She loves candles. They don't have to be very expensive. I can go by the Cracker Barrel, pick up three for $1, bring them home from a trip, and her heart is lifted. I can see it on her face, because I was thinking about her, I brought it home for our bedroom, for the privacy of our intimate life, and that is a very little thing, but it's a very big thing to her. And I'm just continually trying to think, as is she, what is it that I can do in the bedroom that pleases Danny that he enjoys that I see puts a spark in his eye and, again, at the 26-year mark, we're still learning, we're still learning new things.
One of the neat things in Song of Solomon is that the end of Chapter 7 the Shulamite woman says of Solomon – "At our gates are pleasant fruits, all manner new and old." There is great wisdom there. Some of the things always work. Keep them there. But even as we grow older in our relationship, we should not ever stop growing, we should keep growing, and there should be new and exciting and different things that we add along the way that, again, continually enable that romance to be rekindled over and over again. And that's what we men need to be striving to help our wives cultivate and develop. Sometimes I think we just give up too soon.
Dennis: We do – or we get caught in a rut.
Dennis: I mean, a lot of bedrooms become boring, both in terms of the surroundings and in terms of what a couple enjoys. We need to find ways of adding some spice and some adventure, creativity. Obviously, all of it mutually agreeable, but it needs to be a place where, as you said well, Danny, a few moments ago, where the husband has thought of what his wife would like, and the wife has thought of what the husband would like, and both of them have acted. It's not just enough to say, "You know, I thought you'd like me in this negligee," or "I thought you'd like to have a candle," but if we don't purchase the candle and take it back and put it in a little bag with a ribbon on top with a card that says, "Just thinking of you. Can't wait to spend the evening with you." It's those kinds of statements to our spouses that endear us to them, and if we don't connect the dots, the romance will grow stale, and we're going to miss the dynamic of what God intended, and what I think the book, Song of Solomon, is all about.
And I just want to thank you, Danny, for coming over here and making the journey from Wake Forest to Little Rock, Arkansas, and for your leadership at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I do think, Bob, that there are going to be a lot of new student applicants at that seminary because of Danny and his leadership and this book.
Bob: Well, they may want to know if you teach a class on this at the seminary?
Danny: Actually, I do teach a class with my wife.
Dennis: Do you really?
Danny: Yes, we do. And then I do a new-student orientation every year that's related to this, and we have an annual marriage conference related to this and, again, much of what I've learned FamilyLife ministries, we've tried to implement there, and I can say this as the president of that school, I look to have a growing relationship with you all, because what you're doing here is not only needed in our homes and churches, it’s needed in the lives of ministers – probably more than ever. And so that's the kind of seminary we're trying to build.
Dennis: You know, as Bob tells folks how they can get a copy of your book, what I'm going to go do is I'm going to go to my office, which is just a little ways away here from the studio, and I'm going to get you a copy of "Simply Romantic Nights" because I think you're going to like this, and you're going to use it not only in your marriage but in your class, too.
Danny: Sounds like a winner.
Dennis: So, Bob, tell them where they can get the book, and I'll be right back.
Bob: I'm thinking that there are guys who are going, "You know, I'm feeling called to preach just after listening to you talk today" and want to go off to seminary.
We've got copies of Danny's book available in our FamilyLife Resource Center. It's called "God On Sex." In fact, anybody who wants to order Danny's book and our "Simply Romantic Nights" collection, we're going to make available at no additional cost, either the CD or the cassettes of our conversation with Dr. Danny Akin. You can go to our website at FamilyLife.com for all the information about these resources. Again, our website is FamilyLife.com. Down at the bottom of the screen there is a little button that says, "Go," with "Today's Resources" on that button. You just click on that button, and it will take you right to the page where you get information on all of not only these resources, but we've got a bunch of Valentine's ideas, romantic tips, things for you to make today a more special day for you and your mate.
Speaking of a special day, it is here in Little Rock. We've got thousands of couples who are going to be joining us tonight for a celebration of the marriage covenant here in the state of Arkansas. The governor and his wife are going to be joining us along with Dr. Crawford Loritts and Cece Winans and anybody who is in the area, you're welcome to come on down. It's a free event, it starts tonight at 7:00 at the Altel Arena and we hope to meet a lot of our listeners there this evening.
We want to say a special word of thanks to those listeners who help keep FamilyLife Today on the air on this station and on stations all across the country. We are listener-supported, and if we don't hear from folks, it means that we've got to look long and hard at some things that are ministry priorities that we may not be able to do. When you join with us, when you partner with us in that kind of ministry, well, it's exciting, and we appreciate those of you who do that on an ongoing basis. We really value the relationship with you, and if you've never gotten in contact with us and let us know that you listen to FamilyLife Today, if you've never made a donation to the ministry, can I invite you to go to our website at FamilyLife.com or call 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and join with that team of folks who help underwrite the costs of this ministry. We really appreciate being linked up with you.
(door slams and Dennis enters the room)
Dennis: You don't mind me …
Bob: And we appreciate hearing from you.
Dennis: I'm back. You don't mind me opening your "Simply Romantic Nights" …
Danny: No, sir.
Bob: You know, I told our listeners how they could get a copy of this, too.
Dennis: Really? Well, go ahead, Danny, take a look at it and see what you think. Go ahead and open it up. I've taken the cellophane off of it. That's a little book that just has some – well, just some basics about romance in it and a little – you know, some questions there. But look at the next thing – there's a romantic inventory …
Danny: Oh, my goodness.
Dennis: Now, there's two of them – one for you and one for her, and you already know the answers to those questions undoubtedly, because you wrote a book on it, so you don't probably have much to learn there.
Danny: Well, I would say I could still learn from filling in the blank – "I would describe romance as" – and "I believe my wife would describe romance as" – and "Right now the following obstacles block our way to making romance a priority in our marriage" – those are questions I'm convinced I have to ask every single day.
Bob: Ask it over and over again, that's right.
Dennis: Then there's a little caution – do you see the caution sheet there underneath?
Danny: Yes – "Contents are hot." Guys, this will be read before I even get into my car to make my way back to the airport.
Dennis: But look at what's next – there are simply romantic ideas for you.
Bob: The blue envelopes are for the husbands.
Dennis: Yes, you can't open the burgundy ones. There are 12 for her. Open one of those up.
Danny: Okay, I'll open one for me.
Dennis: And what's the name of this one – what does it say?
Danny: "For simply romantic husbands – Tic-Tac-Toe." And you open it up, and it says – now where do I need to start reading – "Set the stage. Buy one bag of Hershey's kisses." I don't have to go any further than that. She is a chocolate fanatic. Already, I've won.
Dennis: It is the fruit of heaven.
Danny: Well, she would certainly agree with that.
Dennis: Do you know why the Apostle John described the streets of heaven as being silver and gold? Because chocolate had not been found at that point.
Danny: All right, okay, that's an interesting piece of exegesis. I will keep that in mind.
Dennis: You don't have to keep reading, but that just contains a little game that you play that's kind of fun. It adds some romance to your relationship.
Danny: I can tell you this – my wife is the type of lady she would absolutely eat this up. Thank you.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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