FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Threats to Oneness, Part 1

with Dennis Rainey | July 18, 2011
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What would happen if you built a house with two different sets of blueprints, two different architects, and two different builders constructing the house? Is it any wonder why marriages are failing today? Dennis Rainey talks about five reasons marriages fail.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • What would happen if you built a house with two different sets of blueprints, two different architects, and two different builders constructing the house? Is it any wonder why marriages are failing today? Dennis Rainey talks about five reasons marriages fail.

  • 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.

What would happen if you built a house with two different sets of blueprints, two different architects, and two different builders constructing the house?

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Threats to Oneness, Part 1

With Dennis Rainey
July 18, 2011
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Bob:  You wouldn’t start a business without a business plan.  You wouldn’t head off into battle without a battle plan.  You wouldn’t go out and play a football game without a game plan; yet, a lot of couples head into a marriage with no marriage plan.  Here’s Dennis Rainey.

Dennis:  What would happen if you built a physical house with two different sets of blueprints, two different architects, two different builders constructing that house?  What kind of house would you get? 

When people get married, the husband has a set of blueprints, and the wife has a set of blueprints.  You know what the problem is with that?  They’re not the same set of blueprints. 

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, July 18th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  We’re going to talk today about how a husband and wife can get on the same page when it comes to trying to build a strong marriage.

Welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  If you had to boil down what it is we try to do as a ministry (I’m thinking particularly when we have our Weekend to Remember ® marriage getaways), is there a main message, a main theme, one big idea we want folks to leave the getaway with?

Dennis:  There are several, but I’ll do my best.  I think it’s that God created marriage for a noble purpose: for a husband and wife who are very different to become one and that all your marriage you are going to battle isolation versus oneness.  The question is “Where you going to end up?”  You going to end up isolated from one another?  Or are you going to battle it through using God’s plan; God’s blueprints; submit to Jesus Christ; and end up, as a couple, one with one another?

Bob:  Well, when we speak to couples on this subject, we really start off by talking about the factors in the culture that cause us not to grow closer together but try to push us apart.  We’re really swimming upstream when we try to pursue oneness, aren’t we?

Dennis:  We begin the conference with a message called Five Reasons Why Marriages Fail, Five Reasons Why Couples Aren’t Naturally One, Five Threats that Move Your Marriage to Isolation.  I mean, a lot of couples sit there, and they go, “That’s me! That’s me! That’s us!  That explains a lot.” 

You know what, Bob?  Today, as never before, couples need someone from the outside to explain to them what happens in a marriage relationship where two people who started out with such high expectations, high hope, and great love for one another can within a matter of hours, days, weeks, months, or years be at war with one another; and be isolated from one another in marriage; and instead of experiencing intimacy, be alone in a marriage relationship.

Bob:  Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to have our listeners listen into a couple of the messages that we share at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway.  You and I had an opportunity to get with a group of couples not long ago and go through some of this material; so, we thought we’d share that with our FamilyLife Today listeners. 

In addition, our team has decided to make available to FamilyLife Today listeners a special group rate for those who would like to go ahead and sign up now for an upcoming Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway this fall.  If you go to and you register for an upcoming event, you and your spouse together will save at least $100 per couple on the registration fee for attending an upcoming FamilyLife Today marriage getaway. 

You do that by joining my group.  We’ve got a special group for FamilyLife Today listeners.  You just have to put my name in the group box.  Just type “BOB” in there, and you will get the group rate, which is the lowest rate we offer on attending a Weekend to Remember®. 

If you sign up right now, between now and the end of the month, in addition to getting the special group rate, we’ll send you a game for couples called Spouse-ology.  It’s a fun game where you and other couples can get to know each other better.  So, you get the game, and you get the special rate if you sign up for my group. 

Just go online at, and type “BOB” into the group box.  You’ll save at least $100 per couple on the regular registration fee.  If you get in touch with us before the end of the month, we’ll send you the Spouse-ology game as well. 

Our website is  Look for the suitcase there that says Weekend to Remember®, click there for more information.  Or call us toll-free at 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329.  Make plans now to attend one of our upcoming fall Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways.

Dennis:  You know what?  You just need to decide to do this thing.  Maybe you went to the Weekend to Remember® five years ago, ten years ago, fifteen.  Well, guess what?  Life has changed you, and there has been a lot of water under the bridge.  You need a refresher.  I’m going to tell you, “There’s a lot coming at us today in life that just wears down a couple and moves them toward isolation.”

Bob:  Well, we’re going to understand better today some of the reasons why marriages drift toward isolation as we listen to you talk about that at a recent conference with couples.  Here’s Dennis Rainey talking about why our marriages drift.

Dennis:  [recorded message]  As I talk about what’s happening in marriages and families today, I hearken back to my days when I was growing up as a boy in southwest Missouri.  I used to say I grew up fifteen miles south of Springfield, Missouri, and a few people knew where that was.  I actually tell people, now, that I grew up thirty miles north of Branson, and most people know where that is.

When I was a boy, we used to watch color TV.  It was called “color.”  Ed Sullivan would come out (some of you know who he is).  He would come out and welcome everyone to the really big shoe, the really big show.  He had an entertainer on there from Germany.  His name was Erich Brenn. 

He had an unusual act.  As soon as I bring this out, you’ll know exactly and remember what I’m talking about.  He brought out a number of plates.  He had a table that was real long in front of the cameras.  He would get a stick, he would take that stick, and he’d begin to spin the stick and spin the plate.  He’d be able to leave it, and it would just be whirling along.  How many of you remember this?  A few of you.  Some of you are wondering, “What’s he even talking about up there?” 

Well, he’d get a second plate.  He’d get a stick.  He’d spin that; and then, a third, a fourth, and so on until he had maybe a dozen plates spinning.  Much of the act (Hey, this was a number of years ago.  This was high entertainment back then.  Okay?)—much of the act was running back and forth keeping all these dozen plates spinning.  Just at the moment you thought, “There’s no way he could keep all those plates spinning.”  He would start at one end of the table, and he would gather them up like he was going to the cupboard. 

I’ve thought often about that as we minister to marriages and families around the country because spinning plates is what a lot of us do when we get married.  He meets her in college, work.  They develop a relationship, fall in love, and decide to become one.  So, they get this little thing called marriage going.  It just has all the focus, all the energy, all the attention.  They start spinning those plates. 

Then, there’s the career that begins to expand, and job pressures enter in.  Then, there’s civic responsibilities.  Maybe some responsibility back to the parents or the in laws.  So, it’s not long before you’ve got several plates spinning and humming along at a pretty good clip. 

Then, something interesting happens.  Some of these come along.  Some of us don’t know what causes saucers.  Barbara and I had six of them, six little saucers.  Now, I do know that these saucers do spin.  You can spin them, but what do they take to spin them?  A lot of energy to spin these plates, especially these saucers. 

So, what started out as this couple madly in love, where they got all the focus and all the attention as marriage relationship, this plate called marriage, now, begins to get the leftovers.  So, what we have happening today in our culture, in my opinion, is a crisis.  Because when this plate called marriage wobbles and falls to the floor, it is not merely a marriage that shatters.  Its impact goes all the way down the line into succeeding generations. 

It’s why FamilyLife began to develop a Weekend to Remember® marriage conference a number of years ago back in 1976, where we could begin to take the blueprints as found in the Scripture and begin to equip couples with the blueprints for building a godly marriage. 

Jesus spoke very clearly about building a house.  In Matthew, chapter seven, the last words on the Sermon the Mount were very clear about home building.  He said this: “Everyone, then, who hears these words of mine and does them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded upon the rock.” 

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  The same rain fell, the same floods came, the same winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was its fall.” 

It is not a matter in this culture whether or not you will face a hurricane in your marriage, in your family.  It is just a matter of time.  So, what you are about to receive are the words of Christ and how he challenged us to hear His words and to build our house on the rock.

When people get married, the husband has a set of blueprints, and the wife has a set of blueprints.  You know what the problem is with that?  They’re not the same set of blueprints.  What would happen if you built a physical house with two different sets of blueprints, two different architects, two different builders constructing that house?  Is it any wonder why marriages are failing today?   Two people building a house out of two different sets of blueprints.

So, in the brief time we have here I just want to share with you five reasons why marriages fail, five reasons why achieving oneness in marriage is so elusive.  In Genesis 2, it says, “We’re to leave, we’re to cleave, and we’re to receive.”  We’re to leave our father and mother.  We’re to cleave and make a commitment to each other, and we’re to receive our spouse; so, we can become one.  Yet, is oneness easy?

Barbara and I have been married thirty-six years.  I can’t begin to tell you the number of arguments we’ve had, the currents that we have fought to maintain oneness in our relationship. 

Well, the first reason why marriages fail are difficult adjustments, difficult adjustments.  I wish I had Jake and Rebecca for Jake to tell the story.  You know when you play baseball or football or basketball, everybody gets in their first year, whether it’s in the pros or in college.  What do they call them?  Rookies, right?  You have a rookie season.  Well, in marriage, you get a rookie season, too. 

The problem in marriage is some of the mistakes we make our rookie season can be carried forward.  For Jake, who married our daughter, Rebecca, his rookie season started early about an hour and a half into the marriage. 

It was a glorious ceremony; so, as Rebecca and Jake stood in front about three hundred people cutting the cake, do you know what he did?  When they crossed their arms to feed each other the cake, she took a little bit of the cake; and she smooshed it on his lips a little bit.  This was chocolate cake.  Jake in front of the entire wedding party took the chocolate cake and smooshed it a little bit on her face, all over her face, all over her shoulders, and down her arms.  Yes!  You brides here, what would you have thought about that?  You’re shaking your heads. 

Well, it all got cleaned up, and everything was okay.  But I told Jake before they left to get on a plane to go to New Zealand on their honeymoon to stop by.  I had a little gift for him at the house.  So, Jake came by the house, and there was this giant box that I had for him.  He began to fish through the box; and finally, he pulled out of the box the finest crystal goblet I could find.  With it was a statement:

“Jake, Rebecca is a crystal goblet.  Treat her with care, and she’ll increase in value.  You’ve just begun.”

Everybody gets a few rookie mistakes.  Okay?  Even your son in law gets some rookie mistakes.  But to be married, five, ten, fifteen years and to be clashing with each other, that can threaten your marriage if it continues on in a relationship.

When Barbara and I got married, we had different backgrounds.  We have come to a very profound conclusion as we have run into our backgrounds now, some thirty-six years into our relationship.  It’s a very profound statement.  You might want to write this down: “Different isn’t wrong; it’s just different.” 

I’ve studied this book, the Bible, from cover to cover.  There are no biblically approved personalities in this book, only biblically approved character, only a biblically approved way to make wise choices.  The problem is we marry each other because we’re what?  Different.  Before you get married, it’s like two magnets that attract to each other; but there’s something that happens after we get married, someone takes the magnets—remember when you were a kid, and you’d flip them? 

I’m an adventurer.  Barbara likes to stay home.  Thirty-six years of marriage has made me learn to enjoy staying home and do yard work.  You know what?  Last summer, a year ago, Barbara went to Alaska with me.  She really liked it. 

Different isn’t wrong; it’s just different.  Difficult adjustments can threaten your marriage and your oneness.  All kinds of ways we’re different: our values about where we spend our time, how we spend our money. 

I love the statement Lou Holtz made.  I was at a meeting where he was speaking.  He said, “He didn’t want to say that his wife had a little different philosophy of use of a credit card than he did, but….”  He said, “Some thieves broke into their house the other day and that he checked with the credit card company.  The thieves were spending less money than his wife; so, he hasn’t reported it.” 


Not a good idea, guys, to say that publically.  Difficult adjustments.

Number Two, second reason why marriages fail is the world’s plan.  Couples get married equipped only with the world’s plan.  This is just a simple concept.  Do you know what the world’s plan is for marriage?  When couples stand there and say “I do,” they both come to build their marriage based upon the 50/50 performance relationship. 

It’s real simple.  “Sweetheart, you do your part, and I’ll do my part.”  What’s the problem with her part?  It’s never as much as my part.  It has been said, “The person who says, ‘I’ll meet you half way’ is usually a poor judge of distance.”  Anyone who operates their marriage on a scale, typically, puts his fingers in his hands on his side of the scale.  So, the 50/50 doesn’t work. 

Acceptance can’t be based in a marriage relationship upon the other person’s performance.  Why?  There will be times when (Barbara and I have experienced this) because of illness, because of an emotional valley, because of difficulty with kids, because of challenges at work; one is not going to be able to give to meet the other’s needs.  That’s not going to work as a 50/50 relationship.

Early in our marriage, this became a reality as I began to practice what I thought was every man’s right on Saturday afternoon.  I’d grown up watching my dad.  He’d come home from work.  He worked very hard for five and a half days; but on Saturday at noon, he’d shut his business down and he would come home to watch what was then called “The Game of the Week.” 

I can still remember smelling the propane on his hands because he used to sell propane to farmers and people in the community.  I’d kind of snuggle up next to my dad, and we’d both kind of take a nap together zoning out, watching TV.  So, in our first year of marriage, I kind of settled in.  You know what I mean, guys?  I mean I was exercising what was my picture of what was every man’s right in marriage. 

Except in this case, Barbara came in, and she would kind of hover around my easy chair and circle it.  You know a little bit like road-kill.  I’d say, “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”  She used to say the shortest word in the English vocabulary, “Nothing!”  She would go in the kitchen and start banging pans.  I was sitting in there feeling guilty for watching TV.  I’m going to tell you, it caused some interesting discussions in our first year of marriage.  Why?

I felt like it was my right to become a giant amoeba on Saturday afternoon, but that was not her experience.  Her father, you know what he used to do?  He was engineer for US Steel, Baytown, Texas.  His idea of having fun would be just tear down an engine and rebuild it.  I, on the other hand, score in lower two percentile of all the people on the planet being able to fix things with my hands.  So, we’re in serious trouble here.

Different isn’t wrong; it’s just different.  My performance was not up to the level Barbara thought it ought to be. 

Bob:  Well, we’ve been listening to the first part of a message from Dennis Rainey about the things that threaten our oneness in marriage.  I think all of us can fall into that trap over and over again of where we’re not going to perform if you’re not going to perform, right?

Dennis:  Right.  I’ll never forget a couple coming to the conference in Milwaukee.  Their names were Jim and Debbie.  By the time that message was over, Jim said, “You know, I kept looking up there as you were speaking; and I was thinking, ‘There ought to be a picture of us on the podium because you were so talking about our marriage and who we were and how we were isolated.’”

Here’s the thing, Bob, if you don’t have a plan to counter the world’s plan, if you don’t have God’s plan to be able to handle and know how to adjust to the difference in your marriage; then, you’re going to become a casualty.  You’re going to miss one another.  It’s why I think the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways are such a great investment in making your marriage all that God intended it to be.  Just because you’re both Christians and go to church, doesn’t mean you have a Christian marriage. 

You need God’s plan.  You need God’s vocabulary of what a Christian marriage is and how two imperfect people relate to one another.  Personally, here’s the offer: if you go to the Weekend to Remember® and it’s not one of the best investments you’ve ever made in your marriage, we’ll give you your money back.  I mean it’s that simple. 

It’s a great getaway.  It’s a great investment not only today for your marriage, but for generations to come because your kids are watching you live out the message of what your marriage is all about.

Bob:  Because you are a FamilyLife Today listener, we’re making a group rate available for our FamilyLife Today listeners.  You will save at least $100 per couple on the regular registration fee if you sign up to be part of the FamilyLife Today group.  You don’t have to sit together when you go to the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway.  It just gives you access to this special group rate.

When you fill out your registration form and you see the group name box, just type my name.  Just type “BOB” in there.  Not only will you get the group rate and save at least $100 per couple off the regular registration fee; but if you sign up between now and the end of the month, we’ll also send you a copy of a game called Spouse-ology, which is a fun game for couples to play to get to know one another better.  It’s kind of like a newly-wed game, but you don’t have to be newly-weds to play it.

Again, you can get more information when you go to our website,  You’ll see the blue suitcase there that says Weekend to Remember®.  Click on that.  It’ll take you to the area of the website where you can get information about dates and locations: when the conference is going to be in an area that is either near you or an area you’d like to travel to, to attend a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. 

Once you sign up, if you type “BOB” in the group box, you will save at least $100 off the regular registration fee for a couple.  If we hear from you before the end of the month, we’ll also send you the Spouse-ology game.

So, again, the website,  If you call, just mention that you’re a part of my group.  Call 1-800-FL-TODAY.  Say, “We’re in Bob’s group” or “We want Bob’s special group rate.”  1-800-FL-TODAY, again, is the number to call.  If you have any questions about the getaway, about when it’s going to be in a location near you; again, just call 1-800-FL-TODAY and plan to join us for one of these upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways.

Now, tomorrow, we are going to hear Part Two of Dennis Rainey’s message on the things that cause us to drift apart in marriage, the things that lead to isolation in a marriage relationship.  I hope you can tune in 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

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

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