FamilyLife Today® Podcast

The Top 10 Ways to Romance Your Wife

with Barbara Rainey | February 14, 2007
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Today on the broadcast, popular author Barbara Rainey, wife of "FamilyLife Today" host Dennis Rainey, encourages couples not to let the demands of everyday life snuff out the romance that first brought them together.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Today on the broadcast, popular author Barbara Rainey, wife of "FamilyLife Today" host Dennis Rainey, encourages couples not to let the demands of everyday life snuff out the romance that first brought them together.

  • 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.

Today on the broadcast, popular author Barbara Rainey, wife of “FamilyLife Today” host Dennis Rainey, encourages couples not to let the demands of everyday life snuff out the romance that first brought them together.

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The Top 10 Ways to Romance Your Wife

With Barbara Rainey
February 14, 2007
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Bob: Welcome to FamilyLife Today and, for some reason, maybe because it's Valentine's Day, I have this song stuck in my head from Nat King Cole in the '50s.

[Nat King Cole singing "L-O-V-E"]

 Some of our listeners who may have tuned in in the middle of that song and thought, "Am I on the right station?"  Don't touch that dial, ladies and gentlemen, you are at the right place.  This is FamilyLife Today, the Wednesday edition, the Valentine's Day edition of our program. 

 This week we've had the opportunity to have Barbara Rainey joining us on the program.  Barbara, welcome back.

Barbara: Thanks.

Bob: We're actually going to work our way through a top 10 list this week.  This is a top 10 list that is based on some research that you had done at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences all across the country where you ask husbands and wives to talk about the subject of romance and about what communicates romance to you in marriage.

Dennis: Actually, this top 10 list of romantic acts came from both men and women, but what we determine as we ask the question, the word "romance" is a feminine term.  What communicates romance to a man is so different than what communicates romance to a woman – what we found as we asked over 800 people at our FamilyLife Marriage Conferences is that men would answer the question about what communicated romance to their wives.

Bob: So they use romance as a feminine term?

Dennis: Yes, that's right.

Bob: Well, let me go over the list, Barbara, and I’m going to go from 10 to 1, and I'll read what people indicated expressed romance, and then I want to know, as a man I want to know if any of this is A+B, you know, I'm trying to still put it into the equation.

Barbara: You mean the greatest?

Bob: Yeah.  I'm just trying to get an idea of how I can keep these ideas in front of me and sprinkle them into a relationship as a way to express romance, again, with no hidden agenda.  Number 10, holding hands, particularly, is romantic for a woman.  Do you like holding hands with Dennis?

Barbara: Mm-hm.

Bob: Do you initiate that?

Barbara: Yeah, we both do.

Bob: You reach over and take his hand, and he'll reach over and take your hands?

Barbara: Uh-huh.

Bob: Why is that romantic for you?

Barbara: Oh, I think it just communicates closeness, it communicates – I do it because I say I want to be close to you, and I like you, and you're my friend, and I want to be next to you.  I mean, those are the kinds of things that communicates to me, and that's the reason that I initiate it, and I think that's probably the same for him, too.  So I think it's the closeness that it communicates.

Bob: Okay.  How about number 9, which is massage – footrubs, backrubs, scratching your back, massaging one another – rubbing the neck.  Do you like when Dennis reaches over and rubs the back of your neck?

Barbara: See, I'm learning to like that.  I didn't like that in the early years of our marriage, but I have learned to like that in the last, gosh, five years, three, four, or five years.

Bob: Dennis, massage oftentimes will have a sexual connotation, and some women may pull back from liking massage because they think it's just foreplay.

Dennis: Right.

Barbara: Exactly.  I think that's right.

Bob: So if it's non-sexual massage, where it's just "let me rub your back, and you can fall asleep," and that's okay?

Barbara: Oh, I think so, yeah.

Bob: Number 8 on the list is serving – serving the other person – common courtesies – opening the door, holding a chair out for somebody, doing little acts of sacrifice.  Is that romantic for a woman?

Barbara: Yeah, I don't think that – to me, I don't think of that as being as romantic, if I had to define them as, say, holding hands.  But, again, I think it's important to do.  I think it says I'm denying myself for you.  I'm going to let you go first.  I'm going to help you or I'm going to serve you, and I think that anytime a husband can serve his wife sacrificially and do something for her, he's communicating to her that he cares about her and that he loves her and she's special, and he wants to make her feel special.

Dennis: Let me make a comment on this next one – number 7 – because this made this spot in the combined list.  But this was selected numero uno by the men – 75 percent of the men picked this item as number one of what was most romantic.  So this, again, kind of lets you know the men viewed this substantially heavier and weightier than the women did because together it became number 7.

Bob: So men had it an number 1, women …

Barbara: Women must have had it a lot lower for the average to be 7, right?

Dennis: It must have been a lot lower.

Bob: And number 7 is a kiss.

Dennis: That's right.

Bob: And unexpected kiss, a nibble on the back of the ear or the neck or the – just kissing each other.

Dennis: Now, why do you think, Barbara, the women would have ranked that so much differently than the men?

Barbara: Because I think that probably, if the truth be known, they would feel like it was tied to something.

Bob: So if he opens that door, she doesn't feel he's up to something, but if he kisses her, she wonders what's going on in the back of his mind?

Barbara: She might go, okay, yeah, right, "I wonder what he's thinking?"

Dennis: And the rest of this list, really, if you look at it, with the exception of this and the massage, really are statements of a relationship, and women view romance through the eyes of a relationship.  They want to be one, they want to be courted, they want to be pursued, they want to be loved, known, and …

Barbara: … understand, accepted …

Dennis: … there you go …

Barbara: … valued, appreciated.

Dennis: She knows the words.

Barbara: On and on.

Dennis: Why did I even try, huh?

Barbara: Well, you did a good job.

Bob: It just wasn't complete.


Barbara: No.

Bob: All right, number 10 was holding hands; number 9, massage; number 8, serving one another, opening doors, common courtesies; number 7, kissing; number 6 was walking.  Now, there's a real romantic activity – walking.

Barbara: That sounded cynical.

Bob: Walking, going on hikes …

Dennis: It was said by a man, see?  All he's doing is – he's dropping his guard for a moment.

Bob: I'm just guessing this didn't go at the top of the men's list.  Hey, there's a romantic 30 minutes.  We went on a walk together.  But that's romantic for women?

Barbara: Well, it's very relational.  I think if you go for a walk, chances are you're going to go for a walk away from daily responsibilities, away from the telephone, away from the television, away from the children, away from work, away from whatever, and it allows you to focus on the relationship without having to sit on a couch and look each other eye-to-eye and be relational, which is sometimes very threatening. 

 But you can go for a walk and both be facing in the same direction and have a conversation without it being threatening to either party, usually.  I mean, you could get into a topic that could be real threatening but, more than likely, it's not, and it means, to a wife, that her husband was willing to take the time to initiate being with her in a non-sexual way, and I think taking a walk is probably a very romantic thing for most women for that reason.

Bob: Number 5 on the list – something written – written notes or letters or poems or cards or notes on the bathroom mirror, or just some written reminder of affection.  Is that romantic?

Barbara: Mm-hm, I think it is.  In fact, I was cleaning our bathroom yesterday.  I spent about two hours cleaning our bathroom, and I found this note, and I don't know how old it was, but Dennis had taped a note in the bathroom, and it said, "Have you found all the little notes around that say how much I love you?"  And I had saved it and kind of taped it on the side of the closet wall, and I'd forgotten it was there, and the tape had come loose, and it had fallen to the floor, and I picked it up when I was cleaning yesterday, and it was just another reminder, even though it wasn't recently written – it was probably a year or two old.  I really can't remember when it was, but it was just fun to see that and read it again, and I thought, you know, that's still true.  And I don't know what the notes all were, but it was fun to see that.

 The thing about a conversation is conversations can often be interrupted, whether it's on the phone or in person and by all kinds of different things, but a letter can be read over and over again and treasured.

Bob: Okay, top 10 again – number 10, hands; number 9, massage; number 8, serving one another; number 7, kiss; number 6, walking; number 5, something written; number 4, going out on a date – time away, dates with no kids, dinner out, weekend at a bed-and-breakfast – just time along together on dates.  Is that romantic?

Barbara: Yeah, mm-hm.  I think, for the same reason, again, I think a wife feels that she is the focus of her husband's attention.  I think she feels undistracted by whatever is going on in her life, and so she can again renew that relationship, which is what she wants, with her husband.  She wants a relationship, and when she's got a block of time, whether it's an evening out or a weekend away, she feels like, "I've got him to myself, we can get to know each other."

 And, again, it needs to be genuine from him, from the heart, without strings attached, which, I know is hard to do, but, again, that's what's going to communicate love to her – when she knows that he is doing this for her.

Bob: That really ties to number 3, which is meals.  Number 4 is a date together, number is having meals together, special meals, candlelight, quiet dinner alone, picnics, a breakfast out together – those kinds of events.  What is it about a picnic away or Dennis saying, "Let's go out and have breakfast, just the two of us."  What is it about that that's romantic?

Barbara: Oh, I think it's the unexpected.  I think it's, again, I'm thinking of you and I want to spend some time with you.  And I think it's a safe thing to do.  I mean, going out on a picnic in the middle of the day, it's just a real risk-free, highly relational time to spend together.  And I think the more variety there is in that, like the one that jumps off the list that you just read to me is picnic, because that's one we've done so seldom, and that would be, to me, the most fun, because that's one we just hardly have ever done.

 So I think keeping variety in it is really a good idea.  There's lots of ways to do it.

Bob: I'm just checking here, making notes here.

Dennis: I …

Barbara: He knows, we've talked about it.


 It's just hard to pull off.

Bob: All right, number 2 is touch, and with this we're not talking about sexual touch, we're talking about holding or hugs or cuddling or affection in public, but things that may have a non-sexual side to them.  And yet, even as I say that, I think, for a lot of women, being touched may always feel sexual to them.  They may, like with a kiss or with a massage, wonder what's really behind this, mightn't they?

Barbara: Well, I think so, but I think that's where a husband needs to know his wife, and he needs to ask her questions, he needs to seek to understand who she is and where she's coming from, and why she feels the way she does and how she will respond to different things, because it may be that she will feel somewhat suspicious with physical touch.

 And so he may need to assure her, you know, "I just want to hug you because I love you.  No strings attached, I'm just committed to you, and that's all I want you to know" – or something that helps her understand his meaning or his intent behind it, because I do think that, just like with holding hands, it communicates closeness, it communicates, "I like you."

 I think hugs and other kinds of affection that's non-sexual affection, sends the same message – it communicates "I like you, and I want to be close to you, and I think you're a neat person."

Dennis: One of the bestsellers at our FamilyLife Marriage Conference is Ed Wheat's book, "Love Life for Every Married Couple," and it's a book about romance, and when I first read this a number of years ago, I kind of laughed that he would need to take three pages in the book to give married couples exercises for learning how to touch one another. 

 But on page 184 through 186, he has 25 suggestions for touching.  I think he's onto something here, to give us some practical thoughts about how to re-ignite exploration through tender touching of one another's bodies.  I think when we get married, the familiarity with one another causes the loss of the intrigue, the exploration, and the excitement, and I think Dr. Wheat does a great job of giving us some practical projects that couples, I think, will find exciting.

Bob: I've got to imagine there are some men who are saying, "This sounds to me like a contradiction in terms" – non-sexual touching just – I mean – I can do that, sure, but in the back of my mind, touching is, for me, sexually stimulating, whether it's holding hands; whether it's putting my arm around my wife; whether it's re-imagining the things we did on dates – that has a sexual dimension, and for me not to have the sexual dimension fulfilled is a sacrifice on my part.

Dennis: That's the point.  I think to have those feelings is normal.  To deny that you have those feelings is not healthy.  I think it's okay to experience attraction, arousal, at that point.  I think what our wives are looking for is such a premium, such a value placed upon the relationship and who she is, that we are willing to set aside those desires and not take that touch toward what we, as men, would know would be intended objective.

Bob: All right, let me read through the list here again – number 10, holding hands; number 9, massage; number 8, serving one another; number 7, a kiss; number 6, walking together; number 5, written love notes to one another; number 4, going out on dates; number 3, having meals together; number 2 is non-sexual touching.

Dennis: And number 1 is not diamonds.


 It is not a diamond on her finger.

Bob: Number 1 – the most romantic act according to respondents at the FamilyLife Marriage Conference – do you want to say what it was?

Dennis: Go ahead.

Bob: It's flowers – delivered, hand-picked, bringing them home, a single rose, it doesn't seem to matter.  I'll never forget being at a FamilyLife Marriage Conference where I was speaking, and I got – we were all waiting for the elevator, a whole group of us waiting for the elevator, and when the elevator car came, here came the guy holding a dozen roses, and he walked off.  He was the flower delivery guy.  And every woman at the elevator turned to watch, to see which room in the hotel he was going at, and they watched, and they watched, nobody got on the elevator.  They just watched.

Barbara: How funny.

Bob: And, finally, he went down the hall and, finally, he stopped at a room, and as soon as he did, all these women kind of turned to their husband and glared at him, like, "That wasn't our room.  How come you didn't send me flowers?"  There is something – what is it about flowers, Barbara?

Barbara: Well, I think flowers say that you're special, I think it's the surprise that comes with flowers, I think it's because they're unexpected, I think because it's a frivolous thing that communicates, you are so special that I'm willing to spend money on something that's going to wilt and die in two days, and it doesn't matter.

 And I think it communicates love.  I think it says lots of things to a woman about love and about her being a special person, a valued person, an appreciated person that her husband is willing to do that for her.

Bob: When Dennis brings home flowers, do you immediately stop and think, "What's he up to?"

Barbara: I don't think I have, I really don't think I have.

Bob: So we go through this top 10 list, as men, we look at all of the non-sexual things that are on the list, and we say, "Are you saying I just need to keep doing these over and over again, mixing them in, a little bit here, a little bit there, and expect nothing in return?"

Barbara: Yeah, but I think husbands need to ask the Lord to help them be creative and ask the Lord to help them think of their wives and ask God to help them understand and pursue, because it isn't – again, as we've talked about a formula several different times, it isn't going to be formula, and you don't want to overuse a particular thing, whether it's flowers or holding hands or whatever, but I think that the idea is that a woman wants to feel special and valued and appreciated and all of those words I've been using, and I think she needs to feel that from her husband in different ways at different times in unique opportunities.

Dennis: What would you say to the man who said, "There is not a creative bone in my body, and my wife is always saying to me, 'I wish you'd be more romantic,'" but his idea of spending a romantic evening is sitting in front of the tube and watching a National Geographic Special on the platypus.

Barbara: It sounds pretty bad.  Well, I would say two things.  I would say, one, if he has a relationship with Jesus Christ, he's related to the Creator of the Universe, and God is able to give him some creative thoughts.  Whether they are original to him or God shows him something that someone else has done or given him an idea from somebody else, the Lord can help a man be creative.

 And then, secondly, I would say to him, if he would turn off his television, that is a very romantic thing for a woman, because it communicates that he cares more about her than he does about watching TV.  And I think he can turn off that TV, and he can communicate volumes just by that.  He doesn't have to be – I mean, that's not a creative thing, and he may be thinking of something extravagant.  That's not extravagant, but that is an act of self-sacrifice, and anything that he does to deny himself for her will feel loving, and it's loving that the woman wants to feel.  She wants to feel loved and cared for, and that will communicate love and care to his wife.

Bob: You know, this is going to sound redundant, but just listening to all of this, I think – I thought romance was supposed to be fun, and this doesn't sound like as much fun as I had hoped it would be.

Dennis: But I think it is fun.  I think it is fun to find out what communicates romance to my wife – a unique woman, given as an assignment by God to love, and part of that caring and cherishing of her is to unravel the ball of twine that maybe at points, so much of a challenge, I'd go, "Oh, just for an easy evening, just to have something simple to be able to do." 

 But it has been fun to love Barbara.  Now, have there been moments it's been a challenge?  Yeah.  But I think romance is the sugar and spice of a relationship and of a friendship that adds the spark, the fun, the creativity and, yes, is it hard work?  Yeah.  But, hey, haven't most things in life that have really been worthwhile come through really having to pay a price for them?

Barbara: And it may not be fun in the way you've always defined fun, because I've learned to enjoy a lot of things through the years as being married to Dennis, because he has introduced me to things that I would have never done on my own and, likewise, he has learned to enjoy things that he would have never done if it weren't for me.

 So I think we need to be willing to have our definition of fun broadened, because it will be fun, but it may be fun in a different way than what you're thinking and be willing to try something new.  You may like it.

Bob: The activity is really simply a facilitator for relationship, for you to be able to spend time together as a couple.  One of the chapters that you wrote in the book, "Rekindling the Romance," Barbara, is a chapter called "Putting Your Husband First."

Barbara That's right.

Bob: We've got to make romance and companionship and time together a priority, and it does take some intentionality, and it does take some effort, and it takes some guidance.  And I think both of you, in the book that you wrote, "Rekindling the Romance," have given us great guidance on this subject.

 This is a book that many of our listeners have read.  Those of you who have not read the book, we want to make it available to you.  It's in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  You can go to our website,, and if you click the red button in the middle of the screen that says "Go," it's a heart-shaped button in honor of Valentine's DAY.  You can click that button, it will take you right to a page where you can get more information about the book, "Rekindling the Romance," by Dennis and Barbara Rainey.

 Half of the book for husbands, half of the book for wives, and it's okay for the husband to read the wife's half of the book and for the wife to read the husband's half of the book.

 In addition to that book, we also have a 31-day devotional that the two of you have written called "Moments Together for Intimacy," and any of our listeners who would like to get copies of both books, we'll be happy to send along at no additional cost the CD audio of our conversation this week on the subject of romance with Barbara Rainey, something you may want to listen to again together or pass along to someone who would benefit from hearing this material.

 Maybe it's one of your adult children or maybe it's just a friend you know in the workplace or in the neighborhood or at church.  We'll send the CD along, again, at no additional cost when you get a copy of the book, "Rekindling the Romance," and the 31-day devotional guide, "Moments Together for Intimacy," and you can order that from our website,  Again, click that red button that says "Go," that's in the middle of the screen, and that will take you right to the area of the site where you can order these resources.

 Or call us at 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  Someone on our team can let you know how you can get any of these resources sent out to you.

 Now, for any of you who are able to help the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount this month, we would like to make available to you a thank you gift.  We have a CD that features two messages – one from Pastor C.J. Mahaney, and the other from his wife, Carolyn.  C.J. talks to men about romance basics, Romance 101 for us guys, and Carolyn has a similar message for wives.

 We'd like to send this CD to you as our way of saying thank you for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today during the month of February.  You can request a copy when you make a donation online at, and as you're filling out the online form, you'll see a keycode box.  Just type the word "love" in that keycode box, and we'll know to send the CD out to you.

 Or if you're making your donation by telephone at 1-800-FLTODAY, just request a copy of the February CD of the month, and we'll be happy to send it out to you.  Again, it features C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney talking about romance in marriage.  And it's our thank you gift to you this month when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount.

 Well, tomorrow we want to head in a different direction.  We want to talk with Sharon Hersh about mothers and daughters and this whole subject of sexuality in high school and in college and what does a mom say to a daughter when a daughter says, "Mom, sex is not that big a deal.  Everybody is doing it."  We'll talk about that tomorrow.  I hope you can be with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Mark Whitlock, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.


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