FamilyLife Today® Podcast

The Matter of Marital Roles, Part 1

with | July 30, 2012
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How many hats are you wearing? For a man, there’s the job hat, the father hat, the church hat… lots of hats. But what about your “husband hat”? Pastor James McDonald offers a strong exhortation to men; fail with the husband hat and you’ve failed – period.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • How many hats are you wearing? For a man, there’s the job hat, the father hat, the church hat… lots of hats. But what about your “husband hat”? Pastor James McDonald offers a strong exhortation to men; fail with the husband hat and you’ve failed – period.

  • 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.

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The Matter of Marital Roles, Part 1

July 30, 2012
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Bob:  Men need to bear the weight of God-ordained responsibilities.  Pastor James MacDonald says some responsibilities are more important than others.

James:  A married man is asked to wear a lot of different hats.  Number one, husbands are wearing the provider hat.  Secondly, you get home, you wear the handyman hat.  [Laughter]  How’s that going?  Thirdly, you have to wear the dad hat.  And then fourthly, when you’re done with the provider, and the handyman, and the dad hat, you haven’t even got your most important home-hat on yet.  You have to wear the husband hat.   Except for your Christian hat, this is your most important role.  Blow it with your wife and you’ve blown it, period!

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, July 30th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.   We’re going to hear today from James MacDonald about how we get it right as husbands.  Stay tuned.  

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  I don’t know if I’ve ever asked you this before.  You played both high school and college basketball; right?


Dennis:  Right.

Bob:  Did you have a coach, who was an inspirational coach, who kind of got up in your grill and you know—?

Dennis:  A number of them, all the way through, from the sixth grade on.  In fact, my dad was a great coach in baseball, in terms of building team and skills.  Then, all the way through high school into college, I had some great coaches.  In fact, one won the national championship in JUCO basketball—that’s junior college basketball.

Bob:  You know, I watch these coaches—on TV with college players, and even with pro players—I mean, get in their face.  They’re intense and the veins are bulging.  I think, “Is that motivating to you, as a player, when a coach is chewing you out on the sidelines like that?”

Dennis:  Well, if he’s adding some suggestions to it—[Laughter]

Bob:  If he’s not just—

Dennis:  —to the verbiage.  If it’s just a tear-down, I don’t know that that’s encouraging.  But I do know this—men need to be built up.  Men need someone to put their arm around them and say, “You know what?  You can do this thing called being a man, being a husband, being a father, being a single man in this culture.”  It’s challenging, Bob.  I think every man needs an older man believing in him and cheering him on as he lives life today because it is challenging.

Bob:  Well, I’m excited about this Saturday because we’ve got four world-class manhood coaches who are going to be—

Dennis:  We’re going to have some fun.

Bob: —going to be together in Chicago.  Actually, it’s going to be in cities all across the country because of the National Men’s Simulcast that happens this Saturday.  We’re going to be in Chicago with James MacDonald from Harvest Bible Chapel.  Crawford Loritts is going to be there, Robert Lewis is going to be there, you’re going to be there.

Dennis:  You’re going to be there.

Bob:  I’ll be there, as well.  You guys are going to be getting in some guys’ grills; right?  I mean, you’re going to be up there with your arm around them—

Dennis:  I think there’ll be some—

Bob: —some passion—

Dennis: —exhortation occurring there; but mostly, what I think is going to be occurring is casting a vision for what it means today to be a man in the various roles we have in life, and how we can be successful, and equipping men to be able to do that, and then giving them a vision to make an impact on other men because if there’s ever been a time in our culture, Bob, when we needed men to multiply their lives into others and to spiritually impact another man’s life, it’s today.

Bob:  This message that we’re going to be focused on Saturday is something that we’re pretty passionate about, here at FamilyLife, calling men to understand their roles, and responsibilities, and step into them.  In fact, we have a couple of resources coming out, right after the first of the year, that we’re pretty excited about.

Dennis:  We do.  We have a video event called Stepping Up.  It’s meant to be shown on a Saturday, where men can get together and be done in time to get some chores done on Saturday afternoon.

Bob:  Yes, if you want to do it Friday night and Saturday, you could do that.  If you’ve got a men’s retreat happening, you can use this as a part of that men’s retreat.  It’s the core message of your book, Stepping Up, in video format, as an event for guys.

Dennis:  If you’ve seen The Art of Marriage®, it’s very similar to The Art of Marriage in terms of style.  It’s not a talking head.  It’s all kinds of video clips from the Tomb of the Unknown, to the fire department in New York City, to the inner-city of Fort Worth.  We’re talking about all the various ways, today, boys, young men, and men need to step up and need to be God’s men where they’re living.

Bob:  In addition to the video event, there’s also a 10-week study that guys can go through.  It’s a video study that we’ve put together, using some of the same elements that are part of the video event, along with a workbook.  Again, all of this is because we think this is an urgent message, at this point in our culture.

Dennis:  I think, Bob, if we don’t win the battle for equipping men with a true biblical vision for manhood, how can a man ever assume the responsibility of being a husband, a father, a grandfather, and begin to impact generations?  I think today the great need is for a number of men to reach down those steps, that I talk about in the book, to grab a young man or a boy’s hand and say, “Come on.  Let’s step up and keep stepping up into responsibility of what God expects of you as a man.  Let’s make an impact on our world for Jesus Christ.”

Bob:  One of the guys who is a part of this Saturday’s event, the National Men’s Simulcast, is Pastor James MacDonald.  He is also featured in the video series that we’re releasing in January.  He recently spoke to his home church, Harvest Bible Chapel, about a man’s responsibility in the home, in a marriage, his responsibility to sacrificially love his wife and to live with her in an understanding way.

We’re going to get a little coaching session today as we hear the first part of that message from James MacDonald, taken from Ephesians, Chapter 5.  Get ready for Coach MacDonald to get in your grill, here, a little bit, and call you up.

Dennis:  Yes.

[Recorded Message]

James:  This message is for husbands.  A husband is a person who has a wife.  [Laughter]  “Like wow!  You worked on that all week?”  I did.  [Laughter]  If you stood at the front of a church or in front of a Justice of the Peace, and you held a woman’s hand, you made some promises to her, and to God, and to whoever was there to witness, you are a husband.  Historically, it comes from the root word meaning someone who manages and directs with care and wisdom.  A husband is one who takes responsibility for his wife; okay?

Now, Ephesians 5:25—isn’t it great that God’s Word pulls this exact subject to the forefront?  Ephesians 5:25 begins, “Husbands, love your wives.”  I’m just going to camp on this for a few minutes here—this simple phrase.  Let’s take it a word at a time.  Right now, we’re working on “husbands”.

A married man is asked to wear a lot of different hats.  Number one, husbands are wearing the provider hat.  Bring home the bacon.  Work hard.  Get ahead.  Save for college.  Be successful, but be at home.  Work hard enough to provide for the things that your family needs; but when you get home, don’t come home like some guy who exhausted himself, even though you did.  Save your best energies for the people at home.

Everywhere you go, the demands on you are highest.  You have to be at your best at work or you won’t be at work.  You have to be at best at home because everyone keeps telling you, including the preacher over at the church, that that role is the most important role that you have, as a husband and a father.  So, you wear the provider hat.

Secondly, when you get home, you wear the handyman hat.  Cut the grass, fix the plumbing, build this, and change that.  Do it cheap, but do it right!  [Laughter]  How’s that going? 

Thirdly, you have to wear the dad hat—play with the kids, train the kids spiritually, spend time with them, go to their games.  Here’s the tension—be fun but be firm.  You have to wear the dad hat.

And then fourthly, when you’re done with the provider, and the handyman, and the dad hat, you haven’t even got your most important home-hat on yet.  You have to wear the husband hat.  Except for the Christian hat, this is your most important role.  Blow it with your wife and you’ve blown it, period!  You can be successful everywhere else; but if you fail at this, you have failed! 

It’s a lot of responsibility.  The Bible indicates that all of this is resting upon the person called “husband”.  So, we have our job clear.  Let’s go to the next word. “Husbands,—

Congregation:  Love.

James: —love your wives.  Love them.  The Greek verb there—the original language is the word, agapao.  Now, this is not talking about eros, which is physical or sexual love.  It’s not talking about that.  When it says, “Husbands, love your wives,” the word is agapao.  It’s the biblical term that describes God’s love—a giving love, a selfless love, a sacrificial love. 

Men, you should be able to—just as quick as quick can be—you should be able to jot down a list of three, or four, or five things that you won’t be doing this week, that you may even want to do; but you won’t be doing them because you’re going to love your wife.  You don’t get to do everything you want to do.  We’re all so selfish; aren’t we?  The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives.”  That is the greatest calling that you have.  No matter what choices your children make, no matter how you’re ill-treated in the marketplace, no matter how you’re betrayed by friends and other people, if you get this one thing done, you are a successful man.  This is an awesome calling that we’ve been given.  Husbands, love—love—selflessly love your wife.

This kind of love is an act of the will.  Some people say, “Yeah, I’m kind of not feeling it anymore.”  This isn’t a feeling move.  This is an act of your will—first, discipline; then desire; then delight.  Jot this down, “Do the things that love does and you will feel the things that love feels.”  Men, start doing again the things that love does.  Think back to how you wooed this girl and how you won this girl; alright?  How many of those things— you don’t do those anymore?  Shame on you!  Go back and do the things that love did and you will feel the things that love felt; okay?  First, actions—then, the feelings follow.  Get busy about those things. 

How many times men tell me, “I used to buy her flowers.  I used to take her out on dates.  I used to spend time, just holding her hand and looking into her eyes, and talking to her about our future, and talking to her about the things about her that blessed me, and the things that I loved and adored about her.”  “Yes, how long since you did that?”  “Oh, I don’t know—a long time.  I don’t remember.  I don’t know what’s wrong with her, either.”  [Laughter]  Alright?  Start doing the things that love did and you will feel the things that love felt.  That’s what it means when it says, “Husbands, love your wives.” 

Just as a way of reminder—God holds you responsible for this.  In Genesis, Chapter 3, when Adam and Eve fell, we understand that the man was given responsibility for the wife.  Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone.  I will make a helper fit for him.’”  In Chapter 3, when Eve took the fruit that was forbidden and ate it, interestingly, when God came to hold them accountable, He did not come to the woman.  Genesis 3:9, “But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”  God knew where he was; but Adam didn’t know where he was and shirked his responsibility.  Even though the woman ate first, Adam was not there to take care of her and protect her.  He had failed in his responsibility. 

God moved, not first toward Eve, but toward Adam, to hold him accountable for his family.  How important this is.  You’re responsible for the temperature of the marriage in your home.  You’re responsible.  God holds you responsible.  Someday you’re going to stand before Christ and account for your marriage.  You’re not going to be able to say, “My wife—, my wife—, my wife—”   You’re responsible.  I can’t make it any clearer than that.  I’ll say it a last time—God holds you responsible for the temperature, the tone, the quality of your marriage.  Men, husbands—point to who’s responsible— “I’m responsible;” okay?

Now, that means if you guys have had a quarrel or a fight and you’re doing the silent—you ever do the silent treatment?  Anybody ever do the silent treatment?  Honesty, men—put up your hand—sometimes, if you let that silent thing go on.  You know, you heard about the couple that was doing that; right?  They had a fight.  Then, one day, they didn’t talk; and then another day, they didn’t talk; another day they didn’t talk—went on for four or five days.  Can you believe it?  They never talked—four or five days of silent treatment. 

Finally, he had to go out of town on a trip somewhere for business.  Not wanting to be the first to give in, he wrote a note to her and left it where she’d have to find it—said, “I have to get up at five a.m. for my flight.  Please wake me at five a.m.” —left her a note.  Five a.m. passes.  Nine a.m., he sits straight up in bed.  The sun’s shining in the room; he missed the flight!  Very upset with her, he jumps out of bed.  He’s about to confront her; but he sees, on the table, where he left the note for her, she’s left him a note.  “It’s five a.m.  Wake up.”  [Laughter]  So hey, if that kind of nonsense is going on at your house, men, you’re to say, “I’m responsible.”  Say it.

Congregation:  I’m responsible.

James:  God holds you responsible.  “Husbands, love your wives.”  “Husbands, love your wives.”  Here’s the next part—I bet you can guess it.  We’re done with “husbands” now; we’re done with “love”.  Guess what the next part is.  I’m listening, men.  What is it?

Congregation:  Your.

James:  “Husbands, love your wives.”  Love your wives.  A man who has an eye for every pretty woman walking by—that guy’s a fool; alright?  That guy’s destroying his own marriage, his own wife.  “Husbands, love your wives.”  Your marriage is what you make it.  You say, “Well, I haven’t made it very much.”  Make it something now, then.  Trace all the great future that God will unfold to you to this date, and a change of heart and mind, “I’m going to love my wife.” 

Talk to her; ask her forgiveness.  Before the sun goes down today, get alone.  Sit at a table, take her hand and say, “I have not done—” Regardless of the things that you would want to tell her, regardless of the things that you know that she’s done to make it difficult, take the first step, as the leader of your home, and say, “I have failed you.  I will do better.  Please forgive me.  I see a great future for us.  If we return to the things that we used to do, we will return to the feelings that we used to have.”  Let your humility be the thing that unloads God’s grace upon your marriage and upon your future.  Start afresh today to love her, your wife.

I had to apologize to Kathy.  I’ve been busted three or four times, just in the last couple of weeks, for looking at my phone when Kathy was talking to me.  “Put it down.  Put it away.  Give her your full and undivided attention.”  I’m working on that.  Love her with a love that listens with full attention to the details that she wants to share, not because you think you need to know them, but because you love the person who wants to say it.

Love her with a love that opens up and shows her your real thoughts and feelings—your hurts, and fears, and disappointments.  If you’re in a tough place right now financially, just sit with your partner and say, “I’m fearful about these things.”  Don’t be strong for her in a foolish way and lock her out of your thoughts.  She’s your greatest asset.  Bring her into the discussion and say, “I’m burdened about this.  We need to pray about this together.”  She doesn’t need you to be strong in a way that locks her out.  That’s not real strength at all.  Love her with a love that listens, and opens up, and comes back first to say, “I was wrong.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean that.  Please forgive me.” 

Who does that first in your relationship?  Kathy, my wife, grew up in a home that didn’t have a good model of conflict resolution.  My parents fought in front of us, made up in front of us.  We saw it all, and it was healthy. 

Early on, in our marriage relationship, I was always the first, when I can remember—maybe, Kathy wants me to say this—that, “We’ve been married for 27 happy years.”  We used to just say, “...for 27 years;” but now, she wants me to say for 27—Amen!  Now, she wants me to say, “...for 27 happy years,” because we know so many people that have been married for a good number, but not happy.  We’ve always been blessed with a happy marriage, but we’ve worked at it.  I can remember a time when I had to say to her, “Honey, it’s always me.  I always am the first person.”  Interestingly, that was at around the ten-year mark. 

At around the 20-year mark, she had to come back to me and say, “Why am I always the first person?  Why do I always have to be the one to humble myself, to break the ice first when there’s been difficulty?”  That should be reciprocal.  You ought to be able to look at your marriage and think of many times where both people have gone first.  If one person in your marriage is always the first to say they’re sorry, always first to break the ice, always first to come back, you are crushing the spirit of that person. 

I’m speaking to you today—it needs to be, at least, reciprocal.  If you’re in a deficit, you need to catch up.  Be the first.  Even as you leave today, she’ll be wondering what you thought about this.  You can take her hand and say, “I’ve been convicted by the Lord.  I know that I’ve been wrong in certain ways, and I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  We’re going to get together today and talk and head toward a better place together.”

“Husbands, love your wives.”  God help us to love our wives.


Bob:  Well, we’ve been listening to Part One of James MacDonald—a message from Ephesians, Chapter 5.

Dennis:  Right.  I thought I was back at Promise Keepers®, in a stadium, there, for a few moments.  He was preaching it.

Bob:  I think he had the attention of the guys; don’t you?

Dennis:  You know—men need to have their attention gathered around this subject of caring for their wives.  Bob, if men are going to step up and become God’s man, then one of the first ways that occurs—and I watched it happen at Promise Keepers’ events.  Men would be called to love their wives, confess a sin, go back and ask her forgiveness. 

This is the place where life makes up its mind—it’s at home.  It’s with your spouse.  It’s where you’re living life in the most intimate of all relationships.  I think James MacDonald is right.  If you are interested in hearing more about how you can love your wife, how you can be God’s man, then, I challenge you to join us this Saturday as we have a National Men’s Simulcast. 

James MacDonald is going to be speaking—Crawford Loritts, Robert Lewis—I’ll be there.  You’ll be there, Bob.  We’re going to have a good time.  We’re going to have a lot of fun.  We’re going to equip men to truly love their wives; but also, to be the dads and to be the business leaders, to be the generational protectors that this culture needs today.

Bob:  You can go to our website,, for more information about the National Men’s Simulcast.  Find out where it’s going to be, in a city near where you live, and plan to join us.  I know that there are churches that are hosting this, with their men’s group in mind; but I know they’d also love to have men from around the city joining them as a part of the event. 

Go online,, for more information on how you can be a part of the National Men’s Simulcast—the Stepping Up Call to Courageous Manhood national men’s event.  Don’t forget—we have more Stepping Up material coming your way, later this fall—a video series, a special video event that your church can host.  We’ll be telling you more about that this fall.  So, stay tuned for that.

And while we’re on the subject of stepping up, the book that you have written on that subject actually came from a message that you presented to a group of men years ago.  We have an audio copy of that message available, along with a message that your wife Barbara presented on how a wife can help her husband step up.  We’re making the two CDs of those messages available this week for folks who can help underwrite the cost of producing and syndicating this daily radio program.

When you make a donation to help support FamilyLife Today, that’s what you’re doing.  You’re helping us cover the cost of getting this programming created and getting it to you on your local radio station or worldwide on the internet.  “Thanks,” for whatever you are able to do in helping to support this ministry.  Again, when you go online this week and made an online donation, just click the “I CARE” button that you find at  After you fill out your online donation form, we’ll automatically send you the two CDs from Dennis and Barbara Rainey; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.  Make a donation over the phone.  Again, we’re happy to get those CDs off to you.  Just request them, if you would, when you contact us by phone at 1-800-FL-TODAY.

And let me encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow when Pastor James MacDonald is going to continue with some straight talk for husbands.  Tomorrow, we’ll talk about what it looks like for a man to live with his wife in an understanding way.  That comes up tomorrow.  Hope you can be here 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 will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today

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