Love is a verb, and needs to be expressed on a daily basis. That's the topic of today's discussion when Dennis Rainey talks with Dr. Daniel Akin, author of the book God on Sex.
Love is a verb, and needs to be expressed on a daily basis. That's the topic of today's discussion when Dennis Rainey talks with Dr. Daniel Akin, author of the book God on Sex.
Bob: You've heard the old expression, "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy?" Well, what do you do when Mama ain't happy? Danny Akin says at his house, he's had to train his boys on how to respond.
Danny: Because they love their mother, hopefully, having seen a little bit of that in the way their dad loves their mother. They cut her some space. They give her some time and because she is a godly lady, she works through those things, and we get on down the road with a big smile on our face. All of us need some time like that, and sometimes it's what Mom or the wife needs, and if we love them, we'll give it to them.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 9th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How do you love your spouse when your spouse is hard to love? We’re going to talk about that today.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.
Dennis: Bob, what does love look like?
Bob: Love look like?
Dennis: Right. As you think about love, and as you would attempt to bring up an image of what love might look like in a marriage and family relationship, what would you say it looks like?
Bob: Well, the definition I've always used, if I'm talking to couples at a Weekend to Remember® conference or engaged couples, and we have those folks who come to the Weekend to Remember as well, I've said love is a whole lot less about the emotional goo you sometimes feel, you know what I mean?
Dennis: Right, right.
Bob: It's about commitment and self-sacrifice.
Bob: Those are the two things. So what does it look like? Well, it looks like commitment and self-sacrifice. I'll tell you what I think it looks like – do you remember the pastor we interviewed a number of years ago in Ohio? He'd gotten together with a group of guys and they would meet once a month. They were planning a big event for their wives.
Dennis: "Men of the Titanic."
Bob: They called themselves "The Men of the Titanic," and their whole idea was that the ship's going down, it's the men who are going down, you're going to save the women and the children, and they planned a big event, and here is how I knew it was real love with these guys.
They took ballroom dancing lessons, and they learned how to embroider napkins with their wives' names on them, and I said, "It would only be a guy who really loves, who would take the ballroom dancing lessons and do the embroidery on the napkins." You know what I mean?
Dennis: I do know what you mean. Well, all this week we've been talking about love from the perspective of God and specifically what God said about love in the book of Song of Solomon. We have Danny Akin joining us. Danny, you've been a big help this week in kind of helping us unravel this thing called romance and passion in marriage. I want to ask you – what comes to your mind as you think about a picture of love?
Danny: I think it looks like 1 Corinthians 13, and I think that means that love is not an abstract idea. Love is an action word. It's interesting in that particular text, Paul doesn't really define love, he describes love, and he describes love with 16 verbs – all action words, all in a continuous action tense so that love is something you continually do again and again and again.
It's very concrete, it's very tangible. It is something that another person feels, hears, and sees. So it's an action word. It's an action word that embodies the beauty of, I think, the life of the Lord Jesus Christ as a person gives themself sacrificially and in commitment to another person.
Bob: I had somebody one time suggest that you take those four verses from 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, verses 4 through 7, and he said every place where it says "Love is" in that passage, just go through and insert your own name – "Bob is patient, Bob is kind, Bob is not self-seeking." He said you'll get some places where you find you're not telling the truth anymore.
Danny: You get a lump in your throat at certain places, because you know that's not who I am, and yet that's who I ought to be.
Dennis: Danny, you and your wife Charlotte have celebrated your Silver Anniversary; you're now going for the gold.
Dennis: You have four sons. You guys have been through a few things together. You've modeled love in that relationship for those boys of yours, and undoubtedly in all of your years of pastoring and teaching at seminary and ministering to folks all over the country and around the world, you've undoubtedly seen some great illustrations of love.
Danny: Well, Dennis, in the book there is a story that's a true story related to me by the lady that's actually mentioned in it when she contracted breast cancer. And it was of such a severe nature she had to have surgery immediately. She lost one of her breasts. She was given very little chance of a long-term survival. The cancer had even moved into other parts of her body.
She shares that in the hospital, she had not become aware of how she looked. Her hair was matted, she had no makeup, she had swollen up from some of the reaction to antibiotics, and when her husband came in, she just burst into tears. And he said, "Well, sweetheart, I understand this is all too much," and she said, "But you don't understand. Look at what I look like."
She'd seen her reflection in a desk mirror. And there had been a number of people who had come by to see her the previous day, and she said, "This is what they saw," and she says, "I know it could have been taken as vanity, but I just didn't recognize myself, and I was nothing at all of what I really look like."
Her husband immediately left the room and came back in with a cart of shampoo and cream and lotions. He picked his wife up, carried her over to a sink, set her down in his lap, put her head into the sink, and began to wash her hair. He finished washing her hair, he blow-dried it; he then combed it. He then put makeup on her – lipstick and then she looked at herself in the mirror, and as she says in the story, she was herself again.
She then burst into tears, and her husband began to say, "Oh, honey, don't cry, you'll mess up my makeup job." But as she shares, she was crying, not because of the surgery. She was crying because of the love of a man that had become so evident to her in those very crucial moments when her world was just crumbling all around her. Yet she says of all the things she thinks about over her marriage, there was never more tender or precious time than those few moments in that hospital room when her husband loved her in a way that any woman would have understood.
Dennis: Ephesians, chapter 5, commands husbands to love our wives as Christ loved the church.
Danny: And gave Himself for her.
Dennis: I wonder sometimes if, as husbands, we become so shortsighted about our wives, we tend to look at them sort of one-dimensionally and kind of see them having life all together, and we don't understand what our real assignment is. On more than one occasion, Barbara has had to remind me. She said, "You know, I don't have life quite wired together as well as you think I do. I really need your love. I need your help."
Danny: And sometimes it has to be a tragedy along these lines before a man, unfortunately, gets the wakeup call, and wouldn't it be wonderful if we would get the call a bit sooner, realizing that that is, indeed, what's going on underneath the surface. That's just who they are, it's how God wired them together. It makes them both absolutely wonderful and mysterious and exciting. But, on the other hand, there is a vulnerability there, there's a tenderness there. Thank God that it is there, because we certainly would be worse off without having that kind of mate brought alongside of us in or marriage.
Dennis: You're talking about principles from the book of Song of Solomon about passion and romance and sex in marriage, and as we mentioned earlier, has to do with a relationship. And, really, what we're talking about here is training husbands to know how to meet their wife's needs. That may mean putting the kids to bed, washing the dishes, turning off the TV, putting down the newspaper.
Last night I picked up a good book, which usually puts me right to sleep before I go to sleep, and I picked it up and started reading, and the voice from across the bed of my wife said, "If you wouldn't mind, I'd like you to put down the book, and I'd like for you and I to say a few more words than just 10 that we've had all day together."
Dennis: And so …
Bob: Is that how she said it?
Dennis: She really did.
Bob: Just like that?
Dennis: Just about like that – she said – I don't think she'd truly counted all the words – it might have been 12 or 13, but I closed the book, reached over – and her light was still on. I turned my light off and turned and faced her, and I said, "Okay, where do you want to start?" So she said, "Give me a rundown on your day."
Now, typically, what a wife is looking for is something more than the Readers' Digest 15-second cable news network version of a man's day.
Bob: It was a typical day, you know, nothing really much happened, like that?
Dennis: Yes, right, grunt and, you know, you've breezed your way through it.
Danny: And pick your book back up.
Dennis: Yes. Instead, I began to start in the morning, and I went through every meeting, every conversation, and took what I felt like was a long time and probably four minutes later …
Bob: You'd poured yourself out.
Dennis: Finished my day, you know? Then I turned to her and asked her for the same and, you know, it took a little longer than four minutes for her. But, you know, that was a good time of conversation, and then we had prayer together and went to sleep. But I think our wives are looking for a relationship. For some men the real sacrifice may be in turning the TV off, putting the paper down, closing their book, and turning and facing their wives – or going for a walk together. But the point is, our wives need our love, and that's what we were commanded to do by the Savior.
Bob: Well, we're commanded to live with our wives in an understanding way. That's what Peter exhorts us to in 1 Peter, chapter 3, right? And you've had to learn a little bit about how to live with your wife in an understanding way, haven't you?
Danny: Absolutely, and, you know, to be fair to these ladies, even godly women who love the Lord sometimes have bad days. My poor wife, bless her heart, was condemned to a male dormitory. There are four sons and me, and she says, basically, she has raised five men.
In her less than warm-and-fuzzy moments, she has said that she is convinced that men will do things a dog won't do. I'm not sure that that's true, but I can't argue with her because she has a lot of experience in that area. But in our home we used to playfully say that when Mom seemed to be having a bad day, Mom's got that look in her eye. There was just something about the way that …
Dennis: Now, you and the guys would …
Danny: Oh, yes, it was not shared with her.
Dennis: This was kind of insider language between the sons and the dad.
Danny: This was a male dormitory code word.
Dennis: Code language.
Danny: Yes, sir. And, actually, I came home one day when we were living in Wake Forest, North Carolina; my four sons met me on the front porch – "Stop, Daddy, stop. We have got to talk," and Timothy, my youngest, who was about seven or eight said, "Dad, the look is back, and it's back big time this time, and you've got to do something."
So I went into the house, checked things out, came back out and said, "Guys, you're right. I've seen this look before, and so here's Dad's counsel – every man for himself."
Dennis: Now, wait a second. What did you actually see when you walked in the house?
Danny: Well, I walked in, Dennis, and she was to the back wall working at the sink, and so all I could see was Charlotte from the back side, but you know, there's sometimes the way a woman is conducting business by her body language. You don't have to see her eyes. She had the look.
Bob: She was focused?
Danny: Oh, was she focused.
Bob: She was intense.
Danny: Intense is not an adequate word.
Bob: She was on mission, whatever the mission was for the day.
Danny: Yes, and we were not a part of it at that particular moment.
Dennis: And so you told the guys to scatter?
Danny: I said, "Every man for himself. I've seen this look. You leave her alone for about two hours; I think she'll be fine. I'm going to leave her alone. If you cross her path, don't call for me. I'm not coming. We're all on our own."
Dennis: So your instruction to the young guys was to understand what she needs right now the most is not you to come engage her in conversation or attempt to have a relationship. She just needs some space.
Danny: And you know what's neat? They have come to see that in recent years as young men, and, on a day or two, they have said, "Mom seems a little – the look's kind of there today, isn't it?" I said, "Yes, she's got a lot going on," and they have learned how to relate to her – not to push an issue, not to demand something.
Because they love their mother, hopefully, having seen a little bit of that in the way their dad loves their mother, they cut her some space. They give her some time, and because she is a godly lady, she works through those things. We get on down the road with a big smile on our face. All of us need some time like that, and sometimes it's what Mom or the wife needs, and if we love them, we'll give it to them.
Dennis: Now, I'm going to risk something that – well, I'm going to test the relationship we have with our female listening audience, all right? This is dangerous, I admit it, but Danny has a list in his book, God on Sex. And I'm counting on, Bob, you and me having enough relationship with our female listeners that they are not going to be offended by some cute humor that is entitled "25 Essentials for a Fantastic Female." Now, what this is, this is – well, 25 kind of half-truths …
Danny: That's fair.
Dennis: That men would give women about what would really make them effective as a wife and a woman.
Danny: And what would bless us on the other end.
Dennis: On the other end, and, again, I want to say don't take this literally. This is just kind of fun. We're just going to have some fun here for the next few moments, and since you wrote this, Danny, I'm going to ask you to read it, and I'm going to send the letters to you, if they come.
Just go through there and – Bob and I may offer a comment or two as we go through here.
Danny: Well, first of all, a man would say to a woman, "Learn to work the toilet seat. If it's up, put it down. We need it up; you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down." And, number five, if you ask a question you don't want an answer to; expect an answer you don't want to hear.
Dennis: Now, think about that one for a moment. That's what we give, as men – answers.
Danny: That's the way we're wired, that's the way we're programmed, especially if we're asked a question. We tend to think that an answer is forthcoming and expected. Twenty-one – all men see in only 16 colors. Peach is a fruit, not a color.
And, finally, most guys own three pairs of shoes. What makes you think we'd be any good at choosing which pair, out of 30, would look good with your dress?
Well, guys, you're brave to put that before your female audience. I just hope they understand we're just playing. We're just trying to have fun, but yet I do agree – men come to some of these issues with a different perspective. If a wife will also work at understanding that, cutting us a little slack, I think she'll be really pleased at the kind of response she gets, because we appreciate it when they overlook some of our peculiarities.
Bob: You know, we hear from guys from time to time who – they've heard us talking about the need to live with your wife in an understanding way, and we talk about conversation, and we talk about care and tenderness and all of the things a husband ought to do. They'll sometimes write and say, "It sounds to us like you're saying guys need to be more feminine. It's just all a process of turning men into feminized males. We need to be more sensitive, and we need to be more accommodating to our wives, and it just feels like the burden is all on the husband. Doesn't my wife have any responsibility to nurture a relationship with me?"
Danny: Well, I'd say two things – one, we're not after feminized males; we're after genuine, masculine males. And a masculine man can be both a strong man and a gentle man all wrapped up in one. The greatest man who ever lived was the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a man's man, but He was also gracious, compassionate, and approachable. And being a man of steel and a man of velvet are not mutually exclusive. You can be, to quote a phrase today, the total package, all right.
But, having said that, no, it is a two-way street, and there are responsibilities that women have and, the fact is, women sometimes come up short as well in the area of romance, in the area of commitment, in the area of relationship.
Women need to understand men have a much more fragile ego than we ever let on, and the issue of a man's sense of self-worth and the fact that he feels that his wife admires him is of immense importance to him. It is true that men connect sexual intimacy with the fact that their wife cares for them; that she desires them; and a woman sometimes needs to be willing to make a sacrifice in this area out of love for her man.
A man needs a place where he can rest. A man really does need – the phrase came into being because it's true – a man needs a home that is his castle. Well, that will happen if there is a queen in the home, and, by the way, it's interesting, in the Song of Solomon they refer to each other at times by kingly and queenly terminology.
I realize he was the king, she was a queen, and yet later in Israel's history, often these songs were utilized in marriage ceremonies, and the groom was talked about as a king, the wife as a queen. When you treat your man like a king, he'll probably treat you like a queen. And when you treat, in reverse, your wife like a queen, you may expect the treatment of a king as well. There is something about giving to each other in that kind of loving, deferential kind of a way that naturally leads us through the power of Christ to give back to our mate.
Bob: In Ephesians, chapter 5, wives are instructed to respect their husbands.
Bob: And that's not something that we ever see in Scripture in the other direction. Now, that doesn't mean we should be disrespectful of our wives, it just seems to me that God is saying there's a strong need on the part of a man to feel he is admired and respected. That's even affirmed in Scripture, and wives are called upon to meet that need.
Danny: Absolutely, and I think, again, too many women fail to understand what a great need that is in the life of a man. Again, as we've said previously, you find the things they do well; you magnify their strengths, not their weaknesses, and you will build in that man a confidence as well as a desire to even become better in those other areas where perhaps he does struggle and does not do quite so well.
Dennis: Whether you're a husband or a wife, all of us need to be equipped better in terms of knowing how to romantically love and meet the needs of our spouse. If you haven't been to one of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, I want to encourage you to go online to our website at FamilyLife.com and click on a location near you and find out how you can become a better student of your spouse. The whole weekend is really about equipping you to better meet the needs of your spouse, and that begins as we understand them and know how to meet them.
Bob: I've talked to couples who are actually surprised that the Bible has as much to say about a marriage relationship as it has to say. Couples who know their Bible pretty well may know that Ephesians, chapter 5, talks about marriage, but they don't realize that there is a whole lot more in the Bible about how we relate to one another; how we express love to one another, and over the course of two-and-a-half days at the Weekend to Remember conference, we have an opportunity to unpack a whole ton of biblical truth and to do it in a way that's fun. Couples enjoy it. They laugh. They have a great time and they come away with a more solid understanding of how they can live out what God's calling you to in a marriage relationship.
Now this weekend we are kicking off our spring season of Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. We’re going to be hosting these in cities all around the country this spring, and if you’d like to find out when one of these marriage getaways is happening in a city near where you live go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link to the Weekend to Remember and type in your zip code, and find out when getaways are happening near where you live. Or you can get a complete list of all of the cities where these getaways are going to be taking place this spring.
There is also a link to The Art of Marriage website. If you want to find out where this new video event is going to be premiering this weekend, -- again, it may be in a city near where you live -- click on The Art of Marriage link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. You may want to make plans to spend Valentine’s weekend at one of these video events happening near where you live.
And of course, you can get a copy of Danny Akin’s book, God on Sex, when you go to our website as well. The website again is FamilyLifeToday.com. Or you can contact us by phone if that’s easier, 1-800-FL-TODAY. If you have questions about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway or about our Art of Marriage video events, or if you’d like to get a copy of Danny Akin’s book, God on Sex, call 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “TODAY,” and we can answer any questions you have or make arrangements to get the resources you need sent to you.
Finally, a quick word of thanks to those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today through donations. Whether you are a regular monthly supporter of the ministry or somebody who makes a donation from time to time, we appreciate whatever you’re able to do in supporting this ministry.
This month, if you could make a donation we’d love to say thank you by sending you a four-CD series on romance. There’s a message from Dennis included in that collection and you’ll hear a conversation we had, an extended conversation, with Linda Dillow and Lorrane Pintus on a book they wrote called Intimate Issues: Questions Women Ask Most Frequently About Romance and Passion and Intimacy and Sex in Marriage.
Again, if you make a donation this month, feel free to request those CDs. If you donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com, be sure to write the word “ROMANCE” in the online key code box. If you’re donating by phone, when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY just ask for the CDs on romance after you make your donation. Again, we’re happy to send them out to you, and we very much appreciate your partnership and your support of this ministry.
We want to encourage you to be back with us tomorrow, when we’re going to have a friend of Dr. Akin’s joining us. Tom Elliff and his wife, Jeannie will be here to talk about questions husbands and wives ought to be asking one another regularly, at least once a year. We’ll talk about that tomorrow; I hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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