FamilyLife Today® Podcast

To Have and To Hold: Tommy Nelson

with Tom Nelson | July 8, 2011
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What does it mean to be the man of the family? Tommy Nelson, author of The Book of Romance, will be instructing men on how to play the role of leader and protector of their families.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • What does it mean to be the man of the family? Tommy Nelson, author of The Book of Romance, will be instructing men on how to play the role of leader and protector of their families.

  • 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 does it mean to be the man of the family?

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To Have and To Hold: Tommy Nelson

With Tom Nelson
July 08, 2011
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Bob:  When it comes to communication, men and women are very different.  Here's Tommy Nelson.

Tommy:  Let me tell you somethin' about us men, and we're bad about this, when women talk about listening, they talk about the total person focused on them, deeming them with personhood.  Men just take incoming information.  

We can be sittin' there with the remote, watchin' a game, and we can just periodically give her, "Yeah, okay.  Mm hmm."  One time my wife grabbed me, and she said, "Listen with your face."

Bob:  This is FamilyLifeToday for Friday, July 8th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  Tommy Nelson offers some help for men today on how we can do a better job of loving our wives.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  Has Barbara ever grabbed you by the cheeks and said, “Listen with your face?”

Dennis:  No, but she’s gotten my attention and made that point.  There’s no question.  I’ve heard that same line, maybe not exactly like Tommy Nelson just expressed it.

Bob:  Our wives do not like it when we try to multi-task during a conversation, do they?

Dennis:  You think?

Bob:  I’ve just found that to be . . .

Dennis:  You know, I think one of the chief ways we show love in a marriage relationship is by paying attention to our wives, and that means turning our face toward them and looking them eye-to-eye and being all there in the moment.  That is not easy for a man to do when he’s looking out of the corner of his eye at his cell phone or his email.

Bob:  Alright, stop it.  Stop it.

Dennis:  Or his newspaper, or the news.  I mean, I’m the worst at TV.  If TV is on, it’s like it’s got this magnet that draws my face and my ear in that direction.

Bob:  Well, we’re going to get a lot of coaching today from a pastor and a speaker, Pastor Tommy Nelson, who is the pastor at Denton Bible Church in suburban Dallas, Texas.  Tommy has spoken at conferences all across the country on relationships, on marriage.  He has taught through the Song of Solomon I don’t know how many times.

Dennis:  Right.

Bob:  Today he is going to coach men on what it looks like for a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the church.

Dennis:  And we’ve already heard from Tommy this week where he gave women six points, six ways to demonstrate their role as a wife with their husbands, and the guys were sitting there going, “Yeah.  Give it to ‘em Tommy.  Tell them.  Tell them how they’re supposed to live.” 

Bob:  And the wives were going, “When do you get – When’s our turn?”

Dennis:  Equal time.  Well, you know what?  It takes more points for men.

Bob:  Here is Pastor Tommy Nelson.

Dennis:  Ten points.  Ten ways to love your wife.

Tommy:  Let’s talk to the men.  “Husbands, love your wives like Christ loved the church.”  Fellows, do you know how we interpret that?  We're always ready for some big, heroic act of martyrdom.  We're always ready:  If the bad guys start bombing our shores, we're headin' off.  If some crazy guy comes after our wife, we're gonna throw ourselves between her and him. 

There probably won't be three or four times in your marriage you'll have to do that.  You are probably not gonna have to physically lay your life down, so if you're looking for some big, heroic thing, you're probably not gonna find it. 

But, gentlemen, what that means is, is that you turn from yourself and you honor her, you die a day at a time in doing what is best for your wife, as Jesus Christ did what was best for you and I.  It means that your decisions are with her in mind. 

Let me give you about 10 things, and ladies, in just a minute you’re going to turn and comment to your husband on these. 

Number one – you must work.  You say, "Tom, why don't you start with a more elaborate thing?"  No.  You've got to work by the sweat of your brow.  Fellas, do you know what it means when women talk to another woman and they said, "She married a Peter Pan." 

Do you know what it is to marry Peter Pan?  It's to marry some gadfly guy that, like the Book of Proverbs says, "He pursues vain things" – he doesn't work, he's always lookin' for the lottery, you know.  He's out there tryin' to make a million dollars overnight, and he doesn't work, and the burden falls on his wife.

If your wife wants to work, you worked it out within yourselves, if you have no problem, that's okay, but it's not her responsibility.  It is your responsibility.  No woman feels like giving herself to a bum. 

Number two – you have got to lead – lead.  No Christian woman has ever prayed, “God, send me a wimp, please.  Make him lazy and make him dumb.”


Your wife does not have to drag you to church.  You get up, you get ready, you bathe.  Get that woman in that car, get those kids, you go to the front row.  I see all of these women in my church singing with gusto sitting next to this mildewed kind of fig. 


That infuriates a woman.  You read your Bible.  You be the scholar.  You be the pray-er.  You be the one that puts those kids down and prays with those kids.  You bless the meal, and don't just fire up one of them little flares.  I mean, you get into some doctrine and let your wife – her prayer wants to be "God, let me stay up with this man."  Women, Amen.

Women:  Amen.

Tommy:  She wants to stay up with you.  Write down this – number three – a woman wants to be treated with understanding.  That's what it means to love her.  We have a word for it; we call it "tenderness." 

Peter put it like this – "You husbands live with your wives in an understanding way as with a weaker vessel."  She's china, she's crystal, she's glass, and it means that she's not on your level physically – that emotionally there are some times, guys, you know it and I know it, there are times that your wife cries, and you don't know why; she don't know why; God doesn't know why; and that's okay. 


Very few times have women said, “What’s the matter, dear?”  But we do with our wives, and you are to treat her like crystal, like china.  Listen to this:  In the Song of Solomon that man calls his wife "a hind, a doe, a dove, a mare, a princess, a rose, a lily, a sister, a lamb, a friend."  Can you be gentle with that woman in how you speak to her, how you treat her? 

Number four – your wife wants – understands – love to be honor or esteem.  Fellows, we spend our lives getting patted on the back within sports, within business.  Who is going to esteem your wife?  Who is going to tell your wife that she's wonderful?  Peter says, "Live with your wives in an understanding way as with a weaker vessel."  You be tender, she's not on your level emotionally. 

But then he says, "Grant her honor as a fellow heir in the grace of life."  She's on your level as a human being enjoying the blessedness of life.  "In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free man, male nor female," and God loves her, and that is why Mary is the last one at the cross, and she's the first one at the tomb.  Jesus delighted in those ladies, and you are to esteem your wife. 

She is made from your rib – she is not made from the dirt – from the rib, so that you will naturally take her and pull her close to you.  Are you fellows tender and honoring to that woman?

Put down number five – your wife wants affection, and I didn't say sex, I said affection – non-sexual touching.  Fellas, let me tell you somethin' that if you're doin' this, your wife's prayin' that I'll get around to it.  Getting married does not give you the right to get grabby on that woman.  When you come through the kitchen and go – whop!  She does not say, "Hallelujah.  How's about some more?" 


It's non-sexual – that you pat her hand, that you keep your arm around her, that you embrace her for no good reason.  Somebody told my wife one time – I don’t know who it was, but I praise God for him – that whenever you have a hug, there’s a hemoglobin exchange, and it makes you healthier.  And at times my wife goes through the house going, “Hemoglobin, hemoglobin, hemoglobin.”


Number six – your wife needs help around the house.  There's a couple in our church – Proverbs 31 says that this woman rises early to give portions to her household and to give portions to her maidens.  A guy said to his wife in our church, he said, "When are you gonna rise early to give some of them portions to your household?"  And she said, "When are you gonna get me some of them maidens?" 


Help your wife.  Laura Schlessinger once said that, “To me, the sound of my husband vacuuming is foreplay."  I like that.  Help her.  It’s not beneath you.

Number seven – you need to be able to listen to your wife when she talks.  Let me tell you something about us men, and we're bad about this.  When women talk about listening, they talk about the total person focused on them, deeming them with personhood.  Men just take incoming information, and we can be sittin' there with the remote, watchin' a game, and we can just periodically give her, "Yeah, okay, mm-hm."  One time my wife grabbed me, and she said, "Listen with your face."


Fellows, whenever you go out to eat with your wife, make sure that the TV is behind you.  Am I smart or what?

Number eight – your wife needs, as part of love, developing.  Develop your wife.  Proverbs 31 – that woman is allowed to be everything that she ever imagined.  Y'all remember the old Glen Campbell song?  "These are the dreams of the everyday housewife, who gave up the good life for me."  I don't ever want my wife saying that – "What could I have been if I just hadn't have met this individual?" 

You fellows look at your wife, at her talents, her abilities, and I mean put some money into it and you develop this woman.  If she wants to go to MIT, go get a second job.  Send her to MIT.  My wife got off one time on a photography kick.  I bought her a darkroom.  That’s a fact.  Anything that she wants.  I'm going to make her everything that I can be.

Let me ask you, you and I as the bride of Christ, has he done us wrong or has he done us good?  He has located what we are.  He has ordained what we are, and he has gifted us for service.  You do this with your wife.

Write this down – your wife – number nine – needs romance.  And, again, I'm not sayin' sex, I mean romance.  Back in the Middle Ages, Latin was the common language.  In different geographic areas they had what were called "vulgar" languages that were common to the common man, and they were called "rum-antic” languages, and it got to where romance was something of the heart.

Your wife wants you to date her – and when I say "date her," I don't mean at the drive-thru at Wendy's.  I mean you put on a shirt that buttons and you sit down, and you look at her, and you listen to her, and you pat her hands. 

Do you guys write your wives love notes?  It doesn't take long – take a little post-it, little stick-ems, and just write 'em. "Love you, thinkin' about you," and just put 'em up.  Do you surprise your wife for no reason?  When I come back from Albertson's sometimes I'll buy my wife a 99-cent plant – that's it. 

Now, most men are very efficient – birthdays, valentines, for no good reason.  I can bring her a 99-cent plant, and I say, "Guess what I got?" and she trembles – "Ahh, ahh."  Plant!  She'll love me forever, for no good reason.

Romancing your wife – go in deep.  Let me tell you fellows something about yourself.  It's true about me, and I'll promise you, it's true about you.  And I had to learn this, incidentally.  I had three brothers and no sisters.  I have two sons, no daughters.  My one son is the shortstop for the University of Kansas; been drafted twice by the pros.  My other son is a sniper.  He kills people, all right?  Now, that's my family.

We're not the most gentle family, but I had to learn how to be tender with my wife; how to take her out, how to touch her hand, and still, to this day, men, and this is true for you, and I'll promise you, you can't do this, either.  I can look at my wife in the eyes, try my best to tell her how deeply I love her, and I can't make it 25 seconds – I start crying.  Now, let a woman do that, she's just gathering speed.  She's getting more eloquent as she goes.  A guy just starts squeakin' – oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. 

Lastly, write this down – the Bible says that you and I are not to be over our own bodies but our wife is.  We are to satisfy our wives sexually.  Before I started doing these Song of Solomon conferences, I never thought I would ever have to say that.  I, frankly, wondered why that verse was there in the Bible – a husband doesn't have authority over his own body but his wife does.  I thought, "Who cares?" 

There's probably been three times in 26 years I said, "Honey, I'm just tired.  Thank you, no."  It just don't happen.  She says to me one time, "You were sleepin'."  Wake me up!


But you know what?  I started doin' the Song of Solomon conferences, and I found out I had to be educated.  I had all kinds of women come up to me and say to me, "My husband – I haven't had sex with him in two months," and they would give me all of these things that I never realized about men. 

Fellows – and if the shoe fits, wear this – some men, sexually, are just bored.  They've had the same woman for all of these years, and they just don't have any creativity, they haven't laid the hearth of courteous conduct, and they're just lazy.  I hope that's not you.

Some guys, God help them, don't have great passion because they have gotten into pornography.  Let me tell you something about pornography.  Pornography will not make you a great lover.  It will kill you sexually with your wife, because you can't get excited now about normative, good, holy love that demands tenderness and affection.  You're just a voyeur and all you can get off are is just to be this peepin' Tom – that's the only way you can do it is to see somethin' that never occurs in a bedroom. 

It's purely fantasm, and it will kill you sexually; and then, thirdly, there are some men that are just selfish.  It's not even a "Thank you, ma'am."  It's just roll over, and he goes to sleep.  That's just selfishness.  You fellas are to learn your wives and satisfy your wives and delight your wives.

Now, gentlemen, those are the things that God commands us to be.

Dennis:  Sure was quiet in there, wasn’t it?

Bob:  Yeah, I was just thinking, “I wish he’d just speak his mind and be clear,” don’t you?

Dennis:  It’s interesting.  He was shooting about as forthrightly and as straight as you can shoot, man to man, with a man’s wife sitting right next to him.  Truthfully, Bob, I think this is one of the best things that occurs at our Weekend to Remember ® Marriage Getaways, is that men have other men who are broken, who have fouled up and done dumb things and shared them with the audience at a Weekend to Remember. 

Men are realizing, “You know what? I’m not the only one.”  And yet, they take men and point them back to the Scriptures and to the God who loves them and who redeems them and will meet them at their point of failure and point of weakness, and say, “I delight in redemption.  I’m the God of the resurrection.”

There are some marriages who are listening to us right now who are not on the brink of divorce.  You’ve just settled in.  And they need to realize that the good sometimes is the enemy of the best.  You can have the very best God has designed for your marriage, but to do that, you have to invest in it. 

You have to take some time away.  And one of the best ways you can do that is to sit and soak in a Weekend to Remember Marriage Getawayand hear what the Scriptures say about your responsibility in a marriage relationship as the loving servant-leader of your wife and family.

Bob:  I think a lot of couples – it’s like if you had a car and you said, “Well, sure it wobbles at high speed,” or “It misfires and I’m not getting as good gas mileage as I could, but it runs.” – They settle for “it runs,” when all they have to do is take it into the shop, let them align the wheels, let them do the tune-up, and you can walk out and go, “You know what?  This thing really runs good.”  And that’s what we need to be doing with our marriage.

Dennis:  Right.

Bob:  Instead of just saying, “Well, it runs,” let’s say, “Let’s get it tuned up.  Let’s get the wheels aligned, and let’s get this thing running the way it’s supposed to run.”

Dennis:  Right.  And what better way to do it than at a conference that has now trained over two million people.  The Weekend to Remember has had a dramatic impact on a lot of good marriages.  Good marriages that have become better.

I have to tell you, Bob.  Just a few minutes ago I received an email from Barbara.  She had just heard from a friend who had taken their new marriage, their brand-new marriage to one of our conferences, and had really had an encounter with Jesus Christ.  She wrote me and she said, “We have to find a way of getting tens of thousands of more couples to these conferences, because it really is the very finest biblical teaching on marriage and family available in a weekend package today. 

And it works.  It really does work, and so if you’ve never been to one, now is the time to be able to pick up a phone or go online and take a look at one of the 140 locations that we’ll have in the coming 12 months, and sign you and your spouse up for a Weekend to Remember.

Bob:  Our website has information about the Getaway, about the schedule and what it looks like.  And it has the locations and the weekends where we’re going to be in different cities.  Again, we’d encourage you to plan ahead.  Instead of waiting until fall and hearing about the Weekend to Remember and going, “Oh, I meant to sign up for that,” go ahead and do it now.

Again, the website is, and look for the link there for the Weekend to Remember to get all the information you need about the event.  Or call 1-800-FLTODAY and we can have information sent out to you.  Again, the toll-free number is 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “TODAY.”  Ask for more information about the Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway.

I want to encourage the guys who listened to today’s program and heard Tommy Nelson talking about how a man can step up and be the man his wife needs him to be and that God wants him to be.  I want to encourage those guys to get a copy of your new book, which is called Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood, written by our host, Dennis Rainey. 

This is a book that challenges all of us as men to understand our role and then to step up and embrace it.  Again, the title of the book is Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood, and there’s more information about the book online at  Or you can call 1-800“F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “TODAY.”

Now before we wrap up the week, let me say a quick word of thanks to those of you who make this program possible.  FamilyLifeToday is listener-supported.  The way we pay the bills, cover the cost of producing and syndicating this radio program, is by receiving donations from listeners like you, and then using that money to pay the bills. 

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This week, if you’re able to support us with a donation, we’d like to say thank you by sending you either an audio CD or a DVD of a message from Dr. John Piper, a message on what it looks like for marriage to be lived to the glory of God.  What does it mean to really have a God-centered marriage?  This is a classic message from Dr. Piper, presented at an event that we co-sponsored about a decade ago, and we’re making the DVD or the audio CD available as a thank you gift.

If you make your donation to FamilyLife Today online and you’d like to receive the DVD, we’re going to ask you to type the words “GLORY DVD” into the key code box that you see on the online donation form.  If you’d like the audio CD, type “GLORY CD” in the key code box, and we’ll send you the audio.  Or, call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a donation by phone, and just ask for the CD or the DVD of Dr. Piper’s message. 

Again, we’re happy to send it out to you.  We so much appreciate your support of this ministry, particularly here in the summer months when we’re hearing from fewer people than normal.  If you can help with a donation today, we would appreciate it.

And we hope you have a great weekend.  Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can be back with us on Monday, when we’re going to talk about what happens in a family when somebody in the family goes into a depression, when they’re in a dark place.  What’s going on, and how can we help?  Dr. Ed Welch is going to join us, along with Leslie Vernick, as we talk about dealing with depression in a family.  I hope you can be here 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 will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today

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