Seasons of MarriageJanuary 29, 2008
Seasons change, and so do marriages. Today on the broadcast, Dennis and Barbara Rainey talk about the challenges and opportunities each season of marriage affords.
Seasons change, and so do marriages. Today on the broadcast, Dennis and Barbara Rainey talk about the challenges and opportunities each season of marriage affords.
Bob: Every marriage goes through certain predictable phases, and even though those phases are predictable, they can take a couple by surprise. Here's Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: Nobody got married thinking that we were going to have trouble. We all got married imagining that our love was unique. We were going to be able to make it, we were going to sustain this new love forever because we're so committed to one another.
But, inevitably, you will encounter difficulties, and you'll find yourself in disappointed love.
["You Don't Bring me Flowers Anymore"]
Barbara: And that's the real crux, that's the real turning point in a relationship because you can end up in disappointed love, and move into despair and give up.
["You Don't Bring me Flowers Anymore"]
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 29th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How can we move past disappointment and being to rekindle the romance in our marriage? Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. And I just want to know, you know, we've heard this week the story of Brian and Angela going to the marriage counselor, and he's got this experimental medicine, the little vial that you have to take, and it somehow swaps your emotional set and …
Dennis: … with your spouse.
Bob: Right, Brian winds up feeling how Angela normally feels about romance, and Angela winds up feeling how Brian – you know what I'm talking about, right?
Bob: So Brian was all for just downing the stuff, right?
Bob: Would you be? The doctor comes to you and says, "I want to give you a week to drink the stuff and kind of experience romance the way Barbara experiences it?" Are you all for that?
Dennis: I think it would be fascinating to understand how a woman truly feels. So I'd do it, you bet I'd do it, because over our married life, since 1972, I'd have to say that continuously this is where Barbara and I have had to realize we're different from one another. Wouldn't you say that's true, sweetheart?
Barbara: That's very true.
Bob: Barbara, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Barbara: Thank you.
Bob: What we have heard dramatized already this week is actually taken from the beginning of the book the two of you have written called "Rekindling the Romance." Barbara, one of the phrases that's used to describe this difference between men and women in the book is a glorious minefield. I've never been to a glorious minefield before, all I've been to is dangerous minefields. And it is dangerous, right?
Barbara: Right, it can be.
Bob: But where's the glory?
Barbara: So what does it look like, huh?
Barbara: Well, I think the glorious part is that it's really wonderful how God has made us. He has made us so different and so unique and yet perfect complements to one another, and so the glory is that in God's plan for marriage, our differences are meant to complement one another. The minefield part is that our differences cause us to clash, so it's both. It's the good and the bad together in the relationship.
Dennis: Let me just read something we wrote here. It says, "When marriage is firing on all cylinders, it's truly glorious. You might say that marriage is the Cadillac of all earthly relationships. There is no other expression in life that rivals the indescribable ecstasy of romance and sex shared between a husband and a wife in the covenant of marriage. But it's a glorious minefield. You see, there is a cosmic battle raging around your romance."
And we go on to write about how there is an enemy of your soul who wants to destroy romance between you and your spouse. For a man, the minefield, well, it may mean – well, for him that his needs aren't being addressed, or they're not being met.
Bob: You say the glory happens when a marriage is firing on all eight cylinders, but how often is a marriage firing on all eight cylinders. I mean, it seems like there's a progression in marriage – it may start off firing on all eight cylinders.
Dennis: Oh, it starts off firing on 16 cylinders.
Bob: It doesn't have that many.
Dennis: Well, it feels like it's 16, and a man and a woman are swept off their feet by this puppy love, and they think that's the way it's going to be for the rest of their lives, but what we found out in our marriage was that you can't sustain a relationship on puppy love. It takes real bedrock commitment to move a relationship from the beginnings of a marriage all the way through to the maturity of that relationship.
Bob: And it really does move through some identifiable phases, doesn't it?
Barbara: It really does. Marriages all start out with the new, exciting love of being engaged and newlyweds, and in our book we've called that "new love," because that's exactly what it is. Even if you're married for the first time in your 20s or if it's a new marriage for both of you in your 40s or 50s, new love is very much the same in any of those age ranges.
But all marriages are going to hit reality, they're going to hit trouble, they're going to hit difficulty, misunderstandings, whatever it is, and there's going to be disappointment, and so the second phase is disappointed love. We're all disappointed in love because it never stays like we thought it was going to. Nobody got married thinking that we were going to have trouble. We all got married imagining that our love was unique; we were going to be able to make it; we were going to sustain this new love forever because we're so committed to one another.
But inevitably, you will encounter difficulties, and you'll find yourself in disappointed love, and that's the real crux, that's the real turning point in a relationship because you can end up in disappointed love and move into despair and give up. Or you can find yourself in a disappointed love phase and decide to work through it, and on the other side you realize, as you stick with it, that the love is better than it was in the beginning, and that's when you experience committed love, which is the third phase.
Dennis: Yeah, and I want to go back to that first new love phase, because that's the way a relationship starts. Anybody can handle that.
Barbara: It's easy.
Dennis: Bob, you and I have interviewed folks who have had a spouse die, and they've been 60, 65, or 70 when they've remarried, and they describe the same kind of electricity that they had when they were 18, 19 years of age.
Bob: There's a giddiness, there's a lightheadedness. It's just – you're swept off by the emotion.
Dennis: Right, and there's nothing wrong with experiencing that. That relationship, however, is going to collide with reality. Ours did. Now, I don't know when we first really started hitting the bumpy roads, but I began to realize that who I'd married in Barbara Rainey was not exactly the person that now I found myself with in a relationship, and I began to find out that she was insecure, and she needed to be encouraged, and she would get quiet, and she would need me to build her up and strengthen her in our relationship.
Bob: She had some quirks, some things you didn't see before you signed the dotted line on this deal?
Dennis: I just remember that there were a lot more emotions in terms of tears and misunderstandings after we got married than before we got married.
Bob: You didn't find out anything different about Dennis after you were married, did you?
Barbara: Oh, yeah, I did.
Bob: Like what?
Barbara: Lots of things. Part of the thing for us is that we dated for a fairly short amount of time, had a short engagement, and were married pretty quickly, so there were more surprises. But, you know, the things that I loved about him, that were different about him than me, he was spontaneous and more impulsive, and all of that was so much fun when we were dating and newlyweds but after we'd been married a while, it wasn't as much fun anymore, because it was an interruption to what I had planned. His impulsivity was – he wanted to go off and do things, and I'm thinking, "Can't we just stay home for a while?"
And so there were all those kinds of adjustments where those same things that attracted us later began to be not so much fun.
Dennis: Well, one of the things you used to say was that when we were dating at the end of the evening, I'd take you home, and you could go be alone and kind of get your perspective back.
Barbara: And think, and …
Dennis: And have some time before the next …
Dennis: Encounter with me. Well, in marriage, the only place she could go was to the bathroom.
Bob: And you did a couple of times.
Barbara: I did, one time.
Bob: And lock the door, and …
Barbara: Just to get away and be by myself, because I didn't realize how much I needed alone time until we got married, because I was able to get alone time before we got married pretty easily. But after we got married, I couldn't get away from him, and it's not that I wanted to get away, I just wanted to have some alone time.
Dennis: Doesn't that sound electric? Couldn't get away from him so I ran to the bathroom.
Barbara: Oh, dear.
Bob: So hear you are, experiencing the disappointment phase, and I think in that phase a lot of couples think, "If we could just get back to the way it was at first."
Dennis: Yeah, that's exactly what we wrote about, Bob, is that people want to go back to that puppy love, but the real pivotal time in a relationship is what you do with disappointment.
Bob: But isn't that what you ought to try to do? I mean, don't you try to get back to how it was at the beginning?
Dennis: Well, I think that's the natural tendency, but I think what we have to realize is there's something better than puppy love; that there is a committed love, a love that can blossom five, 10, 15 years into the marriage that is so much deeper and richer than any puppy love you ever thought about experiencing.
Bob: It's hard to imagine, I mean, for must of us, Barbara, we think about that new love phase, and it was the best thing we ever experienced. It was the most wonderful, most glorious – we'd never felt appreciated like that before, we'd never felt affirmed and connected to another person. It's hard to imagine when you're in the middle of the disappointment phase that there could be something better that you're striving for than what you had at the beginning.
Barbara: That's right, it is hard to imagine, but if people will take God at His Word and trust Him that He can work the impossible; that He can work in your life and in your marriage, I promise it can get better, and it does get better. And it's not just that you go back and rediscover, but moving on to the more mature love, to committed love, is so much richer, as Dennis was saying a minute ago. I think it's more fulfilling, there's more security, there's more confidence, you're more comfortable with one another.
New love is just that – it's new, everything is new, and you're discovering new things, but it still is just at a surface level, whereas when you move to committed love and you discover that mature love of being committed to one another, it's not just a new discovery, it's the reality of knowing that you're committed, knowing that that other person is going to be there for life, knowing that you're loved for who you are because by then they've seen the flaws, and they've seen the weaknesses.
When you're in new love, you haven't seen anything bad, really, to react to.
Dennis: I'll tell you the best illustration of what I think it is. It's this pecan orchard that I jog through occasionally, where I run near the Arkansas River. Now, I've been jogging for 16 years and have been running through this pecan orchard for a number of years, and when it was first planted, there wasn't much shade, there were no pecans, just little saplings. But now if I were to take you into that pecan orchard, there would be plenty of shade, and there's lots of fruit, a lot of nuts that are harvested every fall from that orchard.
What's happened there? Well, the man who tends to that orchard didn't quit when he was attacked by all kinds of insects and drought and hail. He endured storms and took care of those trees until they got enough of a root system, and now there's a harvest.
Well, I think what's happening all across America and especially even in the church is young couples get married, and they have puppy love. They run into difficulty, and they're disappointed, but they don't realize, you know what? That's all about what it takes to grow a mature orchard to get to those fruit-bearing years where you enjoy the richness and the depth that roots bring to two people who know each other very, very well but who don't reject one another; instead, who are committed and who love one another.
Bob: I saw a survey recently that I thought was startling. They had asked couples who had, at one point in their marriage, been on the brink of separation or divorce. These couples were ready to throw in the towel and, for whatever reason, they didn't. They stayed together. They surveyed them five years after that crisis point in their marriage, and they asked them to gauge their marital satisfaction. The overwhelming majority of couples scored themselves, on a 5-point scale, at either a 4 or a 5. They said, "We're wonderfully satisfied in our marriage."
And these are couples who five years earlier had been ready to end it all. Somehow they went from that discouragement and that disappointment to being in a mature place where the love had deepened, and it was richer. I think of it like the difference between a Hostess Ding Dong and a crème brulee. I mean, I used to like Ding Dongs pretty well.
Dennis: A Hostess Ding Dong? Boy, that's out of the past.
Barbara: You were a kid.
Barbara: That's why.
Dennis: Those are those chocolate-covered …
Bob: Yeah, with the cream filling in the middle.
Dennis: Man, those had to be outlawed.
Bob: I liked those. I used to have them every day at lunch, right?
Bob: But now it's been a while since I've had a Ding Dong. I don't really have the same taste for Ding Dongs that I used to have.
Dennis: Crème brulee, huh?
Bob: I'll tell you, you get a chocolate crème brulee …
Barbara: Good stuff, good stuff.
Bob: It is pretty good stuff, but because it's the real thing.
Dennis: I'll tell you what happened in our marriage, and I don't remember what year it was. It's interesting now you can look back on something as significant as this and not be able to nail down the exact year, but somewhere around 15 to 20 years into our marriage, we went through a very difficult time. It was a valley, and Barbara was going through some things that she was needing to get some counsel about, and I was going through, during that same period of time, an intense period of temptation. Now, it wasn't another woman, it wasn't pornography, it was just a temptation to quit, a temptation to toss the towel in.
And looking back on that, and seeing how God meant Barbara and me individually and as a couple, I looking back and think "What a tragedy, what a tragedy, if we would have turned our back on our romance, stopped investing in our relationship, and instead gone our own way and have cashed in 20 years' worth of relationship – yes, puppy love; yes, disappointment, but also cashed in on some of the maturity that was coming as well.
I think a lot of couples underestimate how much life just wears us down and wears us out. But, Bob, that's why romance and cultivating it regularly in your marriage is absolutely imperative. This is why we've written this book. I believe the marriage relationship that is not working on its romance is in the process of dying. It's going to atrophy. It's going to become stale. They're going to become bored with one another and, you know what? There are enough alluring things, whether they be fantasy, on TV, on the Internet, in magazines and books, that can get men's and women's attention today that you can trade in a real relationship for something or someone else.
Bob: I went to let our listeners know how they can get a copy of your book, which we've got in our FamilyLife Resource Center. But before I do, Barbara, I think that this issue of disappointment in marriage may be something that women experience more frequently, more profoundly, than men do.
I don't know how many times I've heard of women who go to their husbands and say, "We need to talk about our relationship, about the disappointments I'm going through," and the husband looks up and goes, "What?"
Barbara: He's clueless.
Bob: He has no idea – is this a greater danger for women, do you think, than it is for men?
Barbara: You know, it may be. I hadn't really thought of it that way, but I do think that women – oftentimes, women come into marriage with higher expectations because we have grown up with this Cinderella image of being rescued by a knight in shining armor and Prince Charming is going to come, and we're going to live happily ever after, because we've all grown up on those fairy tales. We've all grown up imagining that that's going to happen someday.
And so when it does happen, we think this is it, and we have the hope and the expectation that this is going to be the best marriage that ever was, and so I think that there is the possibility that women are going to be more disappointed, maybe sooner, maybe more profoundly, because our hope is for an expectation that will never happen.
Bob: Maybe we need to start writing some new fairy tales, do you think, for young girls?
Barbara: It wouldn't be a bad idea.
Bob: Prince Charming comes, he turns out to be kind of a creep, you know …
Barbara: Oh, no, no, no, no, no.
Bob: He burps, and he just – he's a guy.
Barbara: The fairy tales need to go beyond the wedding, that's the problem. They get married, and that's the end of the story, and there's no reality in the fairy tale so the little girls thinks that the wedding is the end.
Bob: Well, but my point is he can turn out to be a creep, but then they can kind of press on and find their way to the mature, committed love that you guys talk about in "Rekindling the Romance."
Dennis: Yeah, and here's what every man needs to know as he finds this book instantly appearing beside his side of the bed on the table. Men, romance is spelled differently by women. They do not operate out of the same dictionary that you and I, as men, are operating out of. Our dictionary is very short. It's made of monosyllabic words, single-syllable words, all right?
But a woman spells romance in a multiple-syllable word – relationship. And it takes years for a man to grow, to learn how to spell "relationship" in a way that meets his wife's needs romantically.
Bob: And if a man wants his marriage to be all that he wants it to be, then he's a wise men to invest in trying to understand more about what's important to his wife, what she wants the marriage relationship to be.
Bob: And that's where the two of you have helped us with the book that you've written, "Rekindling the Romance," because each of you have taken half of the book and tried to give us a glimpse into a man's view of this subject, a woman's view of this subject, and helped us gain some understanding about the opposite sex, and that kind of understanding can help us come together and love one another well and appreciate one another and express ourselves to one another in a way that's helpful.
We've got copies of your book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and this is a great book for husbands and wives to read together to one another, to read with a highlighter, and highlight certain parts and then hand the book over to your spouse and say, "Here, just read the parts I highlighted, because that's kind of how I feel," and it opens up some communication and can help you to begin to interact on some of these issues.
Again, the title of the book is "Rekindling the Romance," and it's in our FamilyLife Resource Center. Along with the book, we've got something brand new that our team has put together to help husbands and wives who may be in a little bit of a romantic rut where their marriage relationship, their romance, has become kind of routine and predictable. This is called "Simply Romantic Nights" volume II, license for creative intimacy. And there's a picture of a '66 Impala SS on the front cover, a red one, and it's Keith Lynch's car, our engineer, it's his car that's on the cover of this. Kind of a classic, retro '66 Chevy.
Anyway, if you would like to get the romance in a box, "Simply Romantic Nights" volume II, 12 romantic ideas for husbands and 12 romantic ideas for wives so you can have a year's worth of special romantic ideas, and if you'd like a copy of the book, "Rekindling the Romance," go to our website, FamilyLife.com, click the red button that says "Go" that you see on the home page, and that will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about these resources. You can order them online, if you'd like.
Again, the website is FamilyLife.com, you can also call for more information or to order these resources at 1-800-FLTODAY. 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we'll make arrangements to get the resources you need sent out to you.
And we've got something special for you this week. We want to send you a free CD. A number of years ago our friends Jody and Linda Dillow gave a message that we thought was a great message on the differences between men and women in the area of romance. This is something that comes from the book, The Song of Solomon," and Jody and Linda gave a great presentation of this material at an event that we were sponsoring.
We'd like to send you a copy of this message on CD absolutely free. All you have to do is call to request it at 1-800-FLTODAY. We hope that those of you who may have never been in touch with us here at FamilyLife, we'd love to hear from you, and we want to invite you to call 1-800-FLTODAY and say, "I'd like a copy of that free CD on romance," it's our gift to you this week when you call 1-800-FLTODAY to request it. That's 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. Again, call and ask about the free CD on romance, and we'll be happy to send it out to you.
Well, tomorrow we're going to continue to look at this subject of romance and see how romance in a marriage relationship can change through the different seasons of a marriage. We'll be back to talk about that with Dennis and Barbara Rainey tomorrow. I hope you can be back as well.
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.
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