Creating a More Romantic Marriage

FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript
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Creating A More Romantic Marriage 
Day 6 of 8
Guest:                             Dennis Rainey
From the Series:          A Man's View of Romance

 (Music:  "As Time Goes By")
Bob:                This is FamilyLife Today.  Our host is the Executive Director of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Stay with us as we talk about how men view romance today on FamilyLife Today.
(Music:  "As Time Goes By")
                        And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the broadcast today, as we continue to talk about romance on the program today, and today we're going to talk to wives, right, Dennis?
Dennis:          And I've got what one man wants me to do on this broadcast.  He wrote me, "Help my wife understand how I think as a man."
Bob:                And you're going to do that in one broadcast?  
Dennis:          Well, maybe two, but we're goin' for it.  You know, we're talking about how you can build romance into your marriage here in anticipation of Valentine's Day, and there are undoubtedly a number of marriages who are listening into this broadcasts right now, who are much like the sailors of old, who used to be afraid of an area of the ocean called "The Doldrums."
Bob:                The Doldrums?
Dennis:          The Doldrums – they were near the Equator.  It's an actual spot, and it was a place where there was no current, there were no winds, and so a sailor could happen into this area and, literally, their boat could be stalled out in the middle of the ocean for days, even weeks, because there would be no wind to pull them out of The Doldrums, and I think that's what happens in a lot of marriages.  And, you know, that's really why we're doing this series.  We want to help marriages not just merely experience romance, because He wants us to have marriages that are alive, that are thriving, that are contagious – Christian marriages – so that we can tell the world about why our marriage is exciting – and that's Jesus Christ.  And I think Jesus Christ wants us to have a romantic relationship.  He doesn't want us to have our marriage be adrift in The Doldrums.
Bob:                We've talked over the last couple of days about how a man can romance his wife.  It's a different process for a woman to romance her husband?
Dennis:          It sure is.  A woman looks at romance, and she spells romance "relationship."  A man evidently doesn't need that many letters to spell romance, because he spells it very simply – s-e-x, sex.  And what we did was, we surveyed over 800 people at our FamilyLife Marriage Conferences, and it was really quite interesting to see what communicated romance to the men and what communicated romance to the women, and a lot of women are very good students of their husbands, and they are becoming very astute at learning how to communicate romantically in the love language of their husbands so that they have that romance as part of their relationship.
Bob:                You know, I've got to believe there are some wives who, right off the bat, though, almost resent you saying that.  They almost resent you saying that romance and sex are synonymous for a husband because maybe it puts pressure on them, or maybe they just don't want that to be all there is to romance with their husbands.
Dennis:          Well, there are a lot of women who have an aversion to that, because they are so relationally bent, but whether you resent it or your embrace it, I think you need to listen carefully what we're about to talk about, because it is of vital importance to any marriage that wants to be all that God intended.  
                        I ran across this little piece by Dr. Joyce Brothers, and Barbara and I included it in our book, "Building Your Mate's Self Esteem," and Dr. Brothers really points out that boredom in the bedroom can really be the demise of a marriage relationship.  She writes, "Sexual boredom is a major element in the 20-year fractures in marriage.  Too many women" – now listen to this carefully – "too many women accept their husband's decreasing interest in sex without stopping to think what might be causing it."
                        I think what we've got to do over the next couple of days is talk straight to women about this subject of sex with their husbands, because it's my personal belief that there are a lot of men who are very, very frustrated with what is taking place in the Christian bedrooms of America – notice I said the "Christian bedrooms."  I'm talkin' about the marriages that are attempting to love each other with the sacrificial love that Christ spoke of in Ephesians, chapter 5.  There are women who are committed to their husbands but somehow, in the Christian community, I don't sense the sparkle and the sizzle that ought to be a part of Christian marriage.  And for that reason, I'm going to risk it.  I really want to talk honestly and straight about the sexual needs of men today.
                        Now, as I do that, I really feel like, at this point, I need a little bit of a disclaimer here, because there is no doubt about it that men are selfish, and there are a lot of women who are listening to our broadcast who are married to men who really ought to be lined up on the 30-yard line in the Rose Bowl and kicked through the goalpost, because they are self-absorbed, they treat their wives like they're an object and, personally, I'd like to work 'em over, because they are either quoting verses, they're goin' to church and, in the meantime, they really do not give women the dignity that they ought to have.  We talked on the previous broadcast about how men need to romance their wives, and so I want the women listeners to know that I've been careful to talk about how women need to be treated by their husbands first.  But men are selfish.
                        A second disclaimer I want to say is that a lot of men have damaged women emotionally.  I mean, they've neglected them, they've not made them a part of their lives, they have become apathetic.  There is no excuse for a man treating a woman with anything other than the love which Christ commands us to treat our wives.  
                        And the third disclaimer I've got to say about men is some men have really not assumed responsibility in just the most fundamental sense of their families – to lead it spiritually, to pray, to take their wife's hand and show tenderness, and I want you to know that as we move off in this area of understanding men, that I'm a real-world person here; I know a little bit about what's going on in marriages across the country.  But there's a side of men today that I think is being bashed, that is being neglected by some Christian wives, and I think somebody's got to stand up and say, "Could I take a few moments and just talk with you straight about how a man really thinks and really feels?"
Bob:                As you describe the selfishness of men or their failure to be involved, I know you know, because we get letters from listeners.  For a woman to give herself physically, sexually, to a man who is not connected with her emotionally, or who is disengaged from the relationship otherwise – it feels demeaning.  She feels like a prostitute.
Dennis:          You know, my heart goes out to those women in those situations, because that's not right, and that's not what Christian marriage was meant to be, and, you know, the Bible states it clearly that we're not going to receive all the rewards that are really due to us on this side of eternity, and all I could say at that point is I pray that you might get a chance for you and your husband to experience a FamilyLife Marriage Conference, where he could hear from some men who are real men, who would really challenge him to be a spiritual leader, to be a godly leader of his family and challenge him out of his spiritual apathy, perhaps out of his spiritual deadness.  He may not even be a Christian.  He may be going to church, but he may have never had a life-changing experience with the Savior.
                        And we see that occurring over and over again in our FamilyLife Marriage Conferences, where men come to the conference and at the conference they really become husbands.
Bob:                In the meantime, though, Dennis, are you saying that these wives need to be romantically involved, sexually involved, with their husbands, even in the midst of some of the selfishness and the spiritual apathy that you've described?
Dennis:          Certainly in a situation that is damaging, I would not encourage a woman to continue to submit herself where a husband is damaging her physically, emotionally – but she needs protection in those situations, and that's why we have legal authorities.  Romans, chapter 13 talks about how God has put authority to protect us in the law of the land.  That's why the local church is there to come alongside you and coach you in those situations.
                        But to the rest – and, Bob, this is the larger group that I want to speak to right now – to the rest of the Christian women who are listening in today – I want to ask you, have you somehow become self-seeking in your own rights, even in a self-righteous sense?  Do you feel justified in not responding to your husband and not paying attention to him in a vital area of your marriage relationship?
                        Now, those are hard words to hear from a man, and I almost feel like apologizing on this broadcast for being a man.  That's how strong, Bob, I feel like the current is in this culture of what the women's movement has done.  It has not made it something to be proud of to be a man.  But you know what?  The feelings that I have as a man and other men that have shared with me in counseling and interaction with them at FamilyLife conferences over the past 18 years, I'm tellin' ya, what I'm about to share is real, and there aren't just a few men who feel this, there are a lot of men who feel this.
                        I wonder today, in the Christian community, why has there been such an increase in women who have seemed to resist their husband's sexual advances?  Why does there seem to be such a pushback of a woman – a Christian woman – who doesn't want to do everything she can to please her husband?  Now, I'm not talkin' about doin' weird stuff and feeling used by him, but I'm just talking about going to school on your husband and being the maximum lover that God, the Creator of the universe, the Creator of the sex act, would want you to be in that marriage relationship.
                        And I look back, and I look beyond the activity or the lack of activity in that situation, and I've got to ask a fundamental question – is it selfishness?  Is it deceit?  Has the enemy tricked us?  And I think he has.  I honestly believe that in the Christian community today we're afraid to approach this subject in an honest, forthright manner and have a heart-to-heart discussion.  In the meantime, what we're doing is, I think we're blaming a lot of men for where they have failed, and they have failed, I have failed in properly loving my wife.
But what man is there that can stand up and say that he has done it right?  Because if you're waiting for your husband to do it perfectly, before you respond or before you begin to please him, then, my friend, you're holding your husband under a performance basis.  You've got a gun to his head, and I'm going to tell you what that's going to do to him – that's going to make him mad.  And that's why I think we have some men today who are swapping out their wife of 15 to 20 years for a woman who appears to be responsive, because men want to be affirmed in who they are as a man.
Bob:                Now, you're not saying that a man is justified in doing that.
Dennis:          Oh, absolutely not.  That's adultery.  It's emotional adultery beforehand, and that's wrong, and it's physical adultery if they consummate that relationship outside of marriage.  That man would be absolutely blatantly and flagrantly in disobedience to the law of God, and I'm not justifying that activity, but I'm telling you, a man in that circumstance, who is not married to a woman who is a magnet at home, who draws him back to that home, I'm tellin' ya, that man is susceptible.  He is more open to temptation and evil than the man who is loved at home by a wife who is a real student.
                        Let me just say this at this point – there are some women listening who have done this and you know what?  You don't need to get uptight that you're not doing enough.  If you have really met your husband at his point of need, then you know what?  You need to celebrate that.  And you husbands who are listening who have a wife like that, go home and put your arm around her and say, "Thank God for this woman who meets my every need.  You are a great woman, you're blessed of God.  Thank you for being a great lover with me as your husband."
                        But I think in the Christian community, I think there are some men, and not just a few men, who are angry right now, and they've been wounded by their wife's lack of interest, her neglect, her apathy towards the act of intercourse and wanting to meet her husband's sexual needs.
Bob:                I was with a group of couples recently.  We were talking frankly about how men and women are different and how men view sex, and as we talked about it, I had a woman look at me, and she said, "You know what?  Men are just weird.  If they're thinkin' about it that much, if it's that much on their mind, they're just weird.  I don't understand that at all."
Dennis:          Well, and we've already talked about this on the previous broadcasts – God made us different.
Bob:                Right.
Dennis:          Now, why'd he do that?  Is He cruel?  I know one woman who said in a counseling situation, she said, "I just don't know why God didn't make me more like a man."  And, you know, that's not the solution here.  Your husband doesn't want you to be like a man.  Now, you may say, "Huh-uh, huh-uh, I know different than that."  No, he doesn't want you to be like him, he just wants you to be the receiver of his love in a way that communicates affection and warmth to him, and you need to do that within the full-blown perspective of being a woman, being feminine – not becoming masculine, but being the affirming arms of love of God for your husband.
Bob:                You know, even in those differences, though, and as we talk about the sexual relationship in marriage, men are thinking about sex, but this isn't just about sex, is it?
Dennis:          No, it has to do with who he is as a man.  A woman is commanded to respect her husband.  Ephesians 5:33 says, "Let the wife see to it that she respects her husband."  I really like, Bob, the way the Amplified Bible reads in this verse  -- "And let the wife see to it that she respects and reverences her husband; that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him, and that she defers to him, praises him, loves and admires him exceedingly."
Bob:                I know some men who are going to go buy the Amplified version and take it home and just read it for that.
Dennis:          You know, the best illustration I've ever seen from this came from a woman who was married, I believe, almost 40 years.  She works here at FamilyLife, and her name is Pat Orten [sp], and I'll never forget this.  I was walking out of the office one day – and Pat is a grandma and a great lady.  Her husband died a number of years ago.  And I asked her, I said, "Pat, as an older woman who has mentored some younger women, what do you think is one of the most important things you could share with a young wife as she starts out her marriage?"  And Pat got a sly grin on her face, and she looked back at me, and she said, "Dennis, I would tell women if they want to be treated like a queen, then they need to crown him king."  And she said, "I always sought to crown my husband king about halfway between his car and the front door when he arrived home," and she had a twinkle in her eye like no grandma I've ever seen when she said that.
                        And, you know, Bob, I listened to her, and I said, "That's it.  That's what God wants.  He wants a mature love that has a sparkle to it."  Not a love that becomes mature and has cobwebs all over it.  You know, that's rusty and decayed.  No, it's a love that's excited, and it's a love that is preferring another person, and a part of that preferring moves, I believe, into the bedroom, especially for men today.
Bob:                That's what I was going to ask you – respecting is one thing, but what does that have to do with sex?
Dennis:          The Proverbs says a wise woman builds up her house.  The foolish woman is the one who destroys it and tears it down.  It's a wise woman, I think, who wants to understand her husband's sex drive.  It's a woman who says, "I want to know my husband, and I want to know his fears, his anxieties.  I want to know what's really behind this thing called man," because I think today a lot of men don't even understand that as well.
Bob:                You're saying that there's more being communicated during the sex act than just the pleasure that's associated with it?
Dennis:          Well, we're going to have to talk more about this tomorrow, but I'm saying that, for a man, the sex act represents risk, and for the woman who understands how vulnerable, how risky, how he can feel rejected at this point, it is that woman who becomes the very wise and astute wife, because she realizes that her responsiveness, her love for him, her respecting him at that point – she is esteeming and respecting that man as God's creation, and she's not rejecting what God said was very good.
Bob:                You know, you've spent a lot of time on the broadcast today, Dennis, talking about sexual intimacy in marriage and how important that is for a husband, but the bigger objective here is not just to improve a couple's sex life, is it?
Dennis:          No, it really isn't, and I just want you women to know what we're going to do is really help you romance your spouse, because that is a bedrock issue in marital love.  No, it's not the whole issue, it is merely a part, but I'm going to tell you something, when we ignore this part that God created, we're making a tactical error that is going to cost our marriage dearly.
Bob:                Well, I hope you can join us Monday as we continue to look at this important subject for every marriage relationship.
                        Our engineer is Mark Whitlock.  Dennis Rainey is our host, and I'm Bob Lepine, and we'll see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
(Music:  "As Time Goes By")
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