FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Using Wisdom With a Man

with Barbara Rainey, Robert Lewis | April 25, 2008
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How can a woman best connect to a man? On the broadcast today, family experts Dennis and Barbara Rainey talk with pastor and Men’s Fraternity founder, Dr. Robert Lewis, about connecting to a man. Don’t miss Robert sharing the ten mistakes women most often make relating to the opposite sex.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • How can a woman best connect to a man? On the broadcast today, family experts Dennis and Barbara Rainey talk with pastor and Men’s Fraternity founder, Dr. Robert Lewis, about connecting to a man. Don’t miss Robert sharing the ten mistakes women most often make relating to the opposite sex.

  • 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.

How can a woman best connect to a man?

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Using Wisdom With a Man

With Barbara Rainey, Robert Lewis
April 25, 2008
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Bob: Maybe you've seen the verse in Proverbs that talks about how it's better to live on the corner of the roof than to live in a house with a woman who nags.

[musical transition]

Well, how do you raise important issues in your marriage?  How do you get your husband's attention without nagging?

Barbara: Nagging is trying to bring attention to something that is a concern.

Bob: Here's Barbara Rainey.

Barbara: And the real way to bring attention to something that's a concern for you, as a wife, is to sort of call a time out and communicate it and be sure that your communication is done in love.

[musical transition]

Because the bottom line, nagging is not done in love.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, April 25th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  How does a woman bring attention to an issue that needs to be addressed without nagging?  We'll talk about that and more today.  Stay tuned.

[musical transition]

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  You know, sometimes when you're trying to explain something or define something, you have to do it by way of comparison.  If somebody had never seen a zebra, and you're trying to explain a zebra to somebody, you say, "Well, it's like a horse but it's got black and white stripes on it."  So you have to have some frame of reference to understand the comparison.

One of the challenges we come to when we're talking about what it means to be masculine and what it means to be feminine is that we often feel like we define those in terms of the contrast to the other.  And one of the things we've been trying to do this week is really pull past that a little bit and go back to the Scriptures and say there are differences, I mean, part of what defines a man as different than a woman is that there is a contrast.  But at the core of the Scriptures, there is an essence to both masculinity and femininity, and we've been trying to probe that this week.

Dennis: You know, it's interesting – in essence, we are both made in the image of God, and yet He did make us two distinct, different, human beings with different functions and different roles in life, and I think it's important we've talked about all this week that we understand what those differences are and especially as we relate it to marriage, which is what I want to talk about today.

And to do that, I've asked Barbara to come in, my wife of 35 years, welcome back, sweetie.

Barbara: Thank you.

Dennis: And Robert Lewis, who is a friend for more than 30 years.  It's kind of old home week here.

Bob: I'm trying to think, he's got to be a friend for longer than 30 years because he knew both of you before you were married, didn't he?

Dennis: Did I say 30?  Well, he's my pastor for 30, that's what I meant to say.  He's been a friend since 1968?

Robert: Yeah, that's right.

Dennis: That's bad math is what that is.

Robert:  Do you know what that means?  That means we're old.

Barbara: Real old.

Bob: A couple of old zebras right here.

Dennis: No doubt about it, no doubt about it.  Well, Robert was my pastor for a number of years. He's authored a number of books. He's the founder of Men's Fraternity, and he's written a new book called "The New Eve," and, Robert, I know you to be a man – you're not a man of negativity, you're a positive guy, but you have a list in your book, "The New Eve," that I find quite interesting as you encourage women to know how best to relate to the men in their lives – it's 10 no-nos.  I don't think I've ever heard you use a list of 10 negative things to do or not do.  Why don't you share this list of 10 no-nos as women relate to men, especially their husbands?

Robert: Well, just in keeping with my more positive nature, let me just say in the chapter those 10 no-nos come from, I give there other points that are very positive, but I end the chapter on the 10 no-nos.  And these are just for all women.  These are just things that I've seen because it's under the umbrella of using wisdom with a man and at the end of the chapter there are just some things that I use these 10 no-nos to kind of summarize errors that I think oftentimes women can make in relationship to a man.  So that's where they come from.

Bob: Okay, so, for example, what's one of them?

Robert: Okay, here's one of them – never commit to a man on what he could be.

Barbara: You mean commit to marriage?

Robert: That's right – well, I'd even say, in some ways …

Barbara: In business, too, I suppose.

Robert: In anything on what he could be.  The best way to predict the future is see what the track record has already been.  Now, that doesn't mean he can't get better and can't do – you know, can't elevate his game, but so often I see women commit to a man thinking, "I'm going to help him step up and I'm going to buff out all these, you know, quills and imperfections, and he'll get to where he loves God or he'll get to where he works hard, or he'll keep – he'll start not getting into so much debt, and simply his past history becomes his future history.

Dennis: Barbara, there is something within women that wants to rescue a man and also sees, from a visionary standpoint, what he could become.  A lot of women marry a reformation project, don't they?

Barbara: Yeah, they do.  Yeah, there is something within us that wants to help.  It's the way God made us.  We are designed to be helpers, and so we look sometimes, I think, at men and think, "Gosh, if I just had that chance, I know I could help him."

Dennis: And she did.

Barbara: Become all that …


Dennis: It's been a hard go, though, hasn't it, Barbara?

Bob: But, you know, we're laughing about that, but I'm thinking of the woman who is going, okay, never commit to a man based on what he could be but, you know, every guy I'm looking at isn't there yet.  I mean, they're all in process, they're all growing, so what's the difference between committing to a guy who is growing in the right direction versus a guy who shows some of these danger signs?

Robert: Well, that's the key.  They don't need to be things that he's in process with.  They need to be things he's failing at.  They are more than just things where you go, you know, he's growing.  They're things that he's stuck and you think you're going to get him unstuck.

Bob: Okay.

Robert: And I go – it doesn't mean that he might not get unstuck, but I would rather, before you commit to him, he gets unstuck.

Dennis: I'm glad you start with this one, because this has a feeling of protection to me, and I know that's big and important to you.

Robert: Very much so.

Dennis: And women do need to protect themselves and they need men in their lives to protect them.  Now, I want to make it through this list of 10 – the 10 no-nos, but I'm going to empower Barbara to be the only other voice that speaks other than yours …

Bob: That was directed at me, by the way, I just wanted you to know that.

Dennis: No, I’m going on record, I'm not going to say anything, either, until he finishes it because there are some real hot buttons in here, but I want Barbara to comment.  You just stop right in and raise your hand at the point you want to make a comment about one of these 10 because I know you feel strongly on several of them.  Robert, go ahead.

Robert: The second one is never have sex before marriage, and yet the truth is more and more women today do.  There was a major magazine survey that asked men and women "When is it appropriate to have sex in your dating relationship?"  Most of the men – I mean, first of all, the question was an interesting question in light of our culture, but most of the men answered "On the fourth and fifth date."

Dennis: Wow.

Robert: Most of the women answered, "On the first and second date."

Barbara: Oh, my.

Dennis: The women?

Robert: That's right.  It's the …

Dennis: Oh, you turned my mike off.

Robert: It's the new age, it really is, it's the new age of the liberated woman and yet if there is one thing that I see that disempowers a man and causes him to lay down his sword of nobility, it's when a woman lays down her virginity.  It causes him to go downward in his path of how he conducts himself with a woman, not upward.  And the woman who gets the most out of her husband's nobility is the woman who is one of high standards.

Barbara: Because it calls him to step up.

Robert: It causes him to step up, it calls him to discipline, and you know that so well, Barbara.  It calls out the best of him because she represents herself as a prize to be won.

Dennis: This is hard.

Barbara: You're having a hard time?

Bob: Is your tongue bloody yet?

Dennis: Not to comment.

Bob: Go ahead with number three.

Robert: Well, in this age, in this age, this sounds so far off the track in the world in which we live, but yet women who choose wisely and live courageously, women who follow this path, are always rewarded.

Thirdly, never submit to anything immoral or illegal, and this is speaking more to women in marriage.  Wives, sometimes, overly trust their husbands in certain things, and I'm talking about signing documents that they don't understand.  I've had a number of women I've had to counsel who signed a sheet of paper they thought was just another business deal but what – basically, they were signing their financial future away and didn't understand it because their husband was already living recklessly, but they just thought they were supposed to do that as a submissive wife.

And I go, "A submissive wife, there is a certain virtue to a submissive wife, but it's never in signing or giving into anything illegal or immoral, it always leads to disaster, and that's not submission, that's abuse."

Barbara: I agree, totally.

Robert: And then a fourth one would be never stay silent about abuse.  There is a fine line sometime between conflict and what you think is abuse, but I think if you find yourself in that fine line, it's always good to talk to a trusted advisor.  That's not gossip, that's seeking wisdom.  But so many women find themselves in abusive relationship gradually, and then they constantly excuse it until it really is shockingly abusive, but they can't see it. 

It's the old frog in the kettle syndrome, and so I would say to any woman listener, if you're in a situation where you're saying, "This just isn't right, the way I'm being treated."  It doesn't mean that you need to go expose your husband in some way that would embarrass him.  It might just be that you had a bad conflict on something, and he overreacted, but I would say don't hesitate, move forward, get a trusted advisor, talk it out, and then let them help guide you to the next step.

Barbara: Ultimately, the bottom line in a marriage relationship is really an accountability relationship, which is a real hot button term in Christian circles right now, but my husband needs to know that I'm watching what he does, and he needs to know that I am evaluating what he does just as I know he is watching me, and I think that once a husband knows he can get away with something with his wife, but she's not going to call him on it, then he is emboldened to do something a little bit more drastic perhaps the next time because he knows she's not going to call him on it, and if she continues to not call him on it, not question, not get involved, then he knows he can get away with it, and that's just not a healthy kind of a relationship.  That's an unhealthy kind of a relationship.

Bob: All right, Robert, you can go back to your list of no-nos, and I'll go back on mute here.

Dennis: Number five, number five.

Robert: Number five is never nag.  I think the Scriptures say a lot about the wife who is pointing out her husband's flaws.  This is not encouraging a wife to stay silent about something abusive, this is just ordinary day-to-day things.  One of the things that I see in wives, in particular, that it's real easy to get focused on what's wrong in a relationship, and I'm talking about with good men now.  And so what happens is it becomes like the speck that blocks out the sun, so to speak, because there are a lot of things the husband is doing well, but all she keeps defaulting back to is the one or two things he's not doing and constantly pointing those out rather than cheering for them. 

So nagging is jeer-leading, and what it does, it disempowers a man to want to do better, and so while I would be the first to ask a woman to step up for things that were wrong, illegal or abusive, at the same time she needs to realize that one of the great gifts that she gives to her husband is cheerleading, and that's one of the next ones – never stop cheering for your man.

Never stop building in – she's a mirror.  Other than the word of God, a woman is the most personal mirror a man ever gets to seeing who he is, and when a man looks into a mirror and much of what he gets is "I'm proud of you," "This is what you're good at," "Keep doing this," "This is so good," "I'm so excited about what you're doing in this thing with our son or daughter."  Those kind of things a wife doesn't realize how much that speaks right to the core of the masculine soul, which is a performance-based soul, and men want to win.  And the more a woman, even in a situation where a husband is not maybe doing so well in one area, she can oftentimes help him do better in the area he is not doing well in, not by nagging him in that area but by cheering for him in the areas he is doing good in.

Barbara: The thing I was going to say about nagging, which relates to the other one, is that I think that what we women want is we want to be heard.  And I think what happens is, is when we feel like we're not heard, we feel like, "Well, I just need to say it again and again and again."  And the bottom line is that nagging is trying to bring attention to something that is a concern, and the real way to bring attention to something that's a concern for you, as a wife, is to sort of call a time out and communicate it in another form or another way or another situation, and to be sure that your communication is done in love, because the bottom line, nagging is not done in love, it's usually criticism or critique or, as you were saying, Robert, negative.  And so the way to accomplish what a woman is trying to accomplish when she nags is to take a different tack and to communicate with love so that he can, in fact, hear her.

Robert: Can I give the women one little thing that will empower them past nagging, and I do this a lot with women in counseling.

Bob: We can't say anything so you're in charge.

Dennis: You have to ask permission, we've already …

Robert: Let me take charge here.  It's when you find yourself, as a woman, wanting to bring something up because your husband isn't hearing it.  I tell the guys in Men's Fraternity their wife's got a right to say.  I like Barbara's word, "time out," but it's time out to say something to him as if she's tried to bring something to his attention, and he just won't listen, she probably needs to take just a timeout and say, "Honey, remember me mentioning this to you?" and he says, "Yeah."  "Well, we either need to talk about this and get it resolved, or I need to go talk to someone." 

And in a healthy relationship that gets his attention because marriage was never intended to be a closed system.  And so whether that's with a friend, another male friend, or a pastor, you get further faster by just simply saying exposure is better than nagging for a man, because it gets his attention and then most often he'll say, "Yeah, we need to talk about that."

And that's not because we just trying to – you know, I mean, if a woman was doing that all the time, that would be abusive probably for him, but I'm not talking about a threat, but if she's not getting there, and she's not being heard, then she needs to voice that I'm not being heard and I need a way, a channel, to help you hear me, and if that means going to somebody, I'm going to do that, and I think that gets his attention.

Bob: Okay, we've got three or four of these left, and you only have a few minutes, and we haven't said anything. I just want to be on record with that.

Robert: Another one is never embarrass your man in public, never embarrass your man in public.

Barbara: Amen.

Robert: It says in Proverbs, chapter 12 – thanks, Barbara – it says to embarrass a man is rottenness to his bones.  So that's a never.

Then never treat sex in your marriage casually, and the reason for that is because for the course of a man's life, a woman must get it in her head that that is absolutely life-giving at the core.  And why that is, personally, as a man, I've never figured that out but there is something about us, as men, there is a reaffirmation of life and of relationship and our masculinity by the physical responsiveness of our wives.

Barbara: Yeah, I really agree with you on that, Robert, because that's something that I have grown in my understanding of in the years of marriage.  It's not something that I think is automatically understood for us, as women.  It's something that we have to grow in our understanding of in the course of our marriage.  So I agree that's really important for women to understand and to do.

Robert: Mm-hm.  And then I mention in the book never assume, for a woman, that your husband's job is not your business.  I think men see their jobs a lot in terms of their identity, and so a woman's interest at some level in her husband's vocation and what he's doing and appreciating the pressures he is under and those kind of things is a way of being a teammate for life, and I think it's a really healthy thing.

Dennis: It is, and our listeners knew I'd never make it, and I've got to brag on Barbara at this point because Galatians 6 talks about bearing one another's burdens, and this is one thing Barbara has really done well over the years is she really has entered into my work and carried my burden with me.

Barbara: Well, it's because we view marriage as teamwork and just as I want you to bear my burdens and help me carry my load, it would be selfish if I only wanted you to carry my load but I wasn't interested in helping you carry yours.  And there is something that's very affirming to me when you trust me with your struggles in your job and in your work because then I feel very valued that my opinion and my thoughts and even just my listening ear is important, and so I think that teamwork mentality in marriage is what fuels that.  I need you to enter my world, and you need me to enter your world.

Robert: The last one is just never fall in love with your kids more than you do with him, and most of the statistics tell us that when kids come along the love relationship begins to have competition with all those little rugrats and that even grows, I think, over the season of life because it's easy just to re-create those nurturing instincts for those grandkids and just get so involved with family, kids, and grandkids and stuff that you might lose sight of the adventure with him, and I think that's always important for a woman to remember that her husband needs to be at the core of her heartbeat.

Barbara: Yeah, I really agree with that, and I would say, from my personal experience that it was a struggle to keep that balance, but as we talked about earlier this week, having those guardrails and having those gauges that we were checking all the time, one of the gauges that I always had to reflect on was the priority of the marriage over the relationship with the kids.  And because I knew that biblically my first calling was to my husband and my second calling was to my kids, it helped me get back in line when I would get out of line and focus too much on the kids and be too involved in their lives.  It was a course correction; it was a way to kind of put things back in order.

Robert: Yeah, and I would say a good question for a wife who is starting to feel like her husband is a little distant or brooding is just to come along and ask this question – "Honey, do you think you're my first priority?" 

Dennis: And you better be willing to hear the answer to the question.

Robert: But I think it's a good one that goes to the heart of the matter.

Dennis: It really is, and I don't know, Bob, if we have ever done a broadcast on 10 no-nos before.

Bob: Well, I don't know that we've …

Robert: I don't like leaving so negative, though.

Dennis: It sounded so positive.  No, no, I was going to say, no, no, it's positive because it really has felt like it's been very instructive and very beneficial to women, and I know that is what Robert's all about in his ministry and his book and, Robert, I just want to thank you for being on the broadcast and, sweetheart, I also want to thank you for coming in and joining us on these past few days.

Barbara: You're welcome.

Bob: And this has been really hard, do you know what I mean?

Dennis: I know exactly what you mean, because you and I had to be quiet for a long time, and our listeners still can't believe it.

Bob: My tongue is bleeding.  We've got copies of Robert's book available in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and we're hoping that not only will many women contact us to get a copy of the book, but that they'll use it in small group studies or in mentoring younger women, that this will be the start of helping to refocus women on God's design for biblical femininity.

Again, the title of the book is "The New Eve," by Dr. Robert Lewis, and if you'd like to order a copy, go to our website,, click the box on the right side of the screen that says "Today's Broadcast," where it says, "Learn More."  That will take you to the area of the site where you can get more information about Robert's book, or you can order a copy of it from us online, or if it's easier, simply call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team will make the arrangements necessary to have a copy of this book sent to you.

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With that, we've got to wrap things up for the week.  I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can be back with us on Monday when Lou Priolo is going to join us, and we're going to talk about the problems of being a people pleaser.  You would think that being somebody who tries to please others would be a good thing, but it can also provide some challenges, and we're going to talk about that next week with Lou Priolo.  I hope you can be with us 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'll see you back on Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow.  


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