Happily Ever After: Debunking the Myths
About the Guest
Hollywood and fairy tales tell us that marriage means "Happily Ever After." But as Dennis and Barbara Rainey, and Jim and Carol Shores explain, there's much more to marriage than a catchy tagline.
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Dennis and Barbara Rainey talk about marriage
FamilyLife Today programs with Jim and Carol Shores.
Dennis and Barbara RaineyDennis and Barbara Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Their 43+ years of leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries. Together they have spoken at over 150 Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways and authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples, Staying Close, A Symphony in the Dark, and Barbara’s most recent, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife...more
Jim and Carol ShoresCarol Shores developed the Worship Arts Major at Montreat College designed to develop the next generation of Worship Arts leaders. She now teaches workshops nationally, helping churches develop arts integration, creative worship as well as theatre in worship. Her husband, Jim, heads up the Communications Major at Montreat College as well as teaching Environmental Science.
Hollywood and fairy tales tell us that marriage means “Happily Ever After.” But as Dennis and Barbara Rainey, and Jim and Carol Shores explain, there’s much more to marriage than a catchy tagline.
Happily Ever After: Debunking the Myths
Michelle: You know, I’m not married, but I have it on pretty good authority that, after the honeymoon, that’s when the real work of marriage begins; and that’s where the mistakes tend to happen. Here’s Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: I would have to say, if there was a rookie error that I repeated, it would have to have been around scheduling: of underestimating just how fast, how far, how long my wife could run with me.
Barbara: I’d never lived with a man before; so I’m learning about men by living with my husband, who is learning about becoming a man; that, right there, is room for all kinds of mistakes.
Michelle: Well, we’re going to hear from Dennis and Barbara Rainey about the rookie mistakes they made. We’re also going to learn how to get past those mistakes on this edition of FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. When I mention the word, “rookie,” your mind probably goes to baseball—you think of that talented pitcher, or shortstop, or the guy behind the plate with those big arms—and all that talent. You know what comes with all that talent?—because this is the first time that they have ever played in the big leagues, there’s some mistakes that come with that talent. And those rookie seasons?—they happen in sports; they happen in marriage; they happen in a lot of other areas of our life!
Let’s talk about these rookie mistakes a little bit today. Bob Lepine sat down with Dennis and Barbara Rainey, not too long ago, and started to probe into their early years of marriage. But here’s Bob, sharing about one of his rookie mistakes.
[Previous FamilyLife Today® Broadcast]
Bob: In my family, growing up, one of the ways you expressed affection to one another is you teased—you teased and you poked fun at people—and that was a way of saying, “I think you’re really special”; okay? That did not/that was not what—
Barbara: —that didn’t fly with Mary Ann?
Dennis: —that didn’t fly?
Bob: —was not on Mary Ann’s frame of reference, for how to express affection or receive affection, is to be teased at; okay?
Here’s another thing: in our family, growing up, we were pretty much out in the open about what was going on in all aspects of life. If I came down to the breakfast table, it would not have been unusual for my mom to say, “I don’t know if you know, but you have a pimple on your forehead”; okay? I’d go, “Oh, thanks”; right? [Laughter]
So when my wife comes down to the breakfast table, [Laughter] I go, “I don’t know if you know, but there’s a pimple on your…”; and she cries! [Laughter] I thought I was being helpful,—
Bob: —and she cries.
These are rookie mistakes you don’t want to repeat over and over again. Would you look back and say there was a big rookie error?
Dennis: I would have to say, if there was a rookie error that I repeated, it would have to have been around scheduling, as we had children, of underestimating how fast, how far, how long my wife could run with me.
Bob: Would you agree that this was a rookie mistake?
Barbara: Yes, I would. I’m not sure I would have phrased it quite as specifically, but I think that’s a great illustration. I think it was failing to understand how different I was as a woman. I think it’s true for me, too; I think it works for both the woman’s side and the man’s side.
I’d never lived with a man before; so I’m learning about men by living with my husband, who is learning about becoming a man; that, right there, is room for all kinds of mistakes. And he was learning about living with me as a woman—he’d never had a sister; he’d never been married before—he didn’t know much about women. I think his framework was he expected me to be able to keep up with his pace; he expected me to think like he thought in certain areas. That took a long, long time for that understanding/to go: “Oh, she really is different,” “Oh, she doesn’t see life the way I do,” “She doesn’t feel the things that I feel,” “She doesn’t…”—whatever.
I think that would be our rookie mistake, was that understanding of our differentness as male and female.
Dennis: The principle is: “It’s okay to have one rookie season; it’s not okay to repeat it.”
Barbara: It’s not only learning from your rookie mistakes to not repeat them; but it’s also learning: “Why did Mary Ann cry when you said that? What was it about that?”—because you were trying to be helpful; so it’s not really that what you said was, in and of itself, wrong. It was how she heard it.
Barbara: To me, that’s the real issue in all of these differences we have in marriage; it’s learning: “Why did that affect her that way?” When you do that, that communicates love; it communicates: “I want to know you,” “I want to understand you.” Maybe you get to the place, eventually, where that stuff doesn’t bother her anymore; and maybe you don’t.
It’s not just figuring out what the rules are—“Okay; I can’t say that, because that was a mistake. I can’t say it,”—but moving beyond knowing what works and what doesn’t work; it’s not a formula. It’s figuring out: “Who is this person?” “What’s important to this person? Why?”
Bob: Right; getting to the heart of the issue.
Bob: Not just having a checklist of do’s and don’ts for marriage—
Bob: —but understanding, “I know how you think, so I can begin to think—
Barbara: —“So, therefore, I don’t want to go there; because that’s hurtful.”
I think most young couples: “Tell me the five things I need to do.” We all approach relationships/we all approach life that way: “Tell me the things that will work, so that I can do them; so that I can avoid pain.”
Michelle: Ah, those rookie mistakes. You’ve never had that problem; right? I am so thankful for Dennis and Barbara Rainey, and also for Bob Lepine, being able to be transparent with us, and vulnerable, and share those mistakes so that we can learn from them.
That’s what we’re going to do today. We’re going to learn, because men and women are different: we think different; we process different; we react different. Many times, we see the world differently. Did you catch the word that I used multiple times there?—different.
I want us to go back to school today with a couple of pros in communication, Jim and Carol Shores. The Shores are great friends of FamilyLife®. They teach couples about communication, while weaving comedy and theater into their presentations. Jim and Carol are both actors, and they’re going to equip us today. Here’s Jim and Carol.
[Previous Event Presentation]
Carol: Jim and I have been married for going on 22 years, and we still find this communication thing a challenge. We’re going to explore a few of those challenges today, and we are going to utilize the characters of Dan and Lauren. Now, back when they met, they were students in college; and they had been going together for a number of weeks. Jim, why don’t you tell us a little about the beginning of their relationship?
Jim: Well, back in the beginning of their relationship, Dan used to bring Lauren flowers.
Carol as Lauren: “How did you know I liked brown-eyed Susan’s?!”
Jim as Dan: “Because you mentioned during lunch that you liked them.”
Carol as Lauren: “You are just wonderful!”
Jim: In the beginning of their relationship, Lauren appreciated every little thing that he did.
Carol as Lauren: “That pizza was great! You’re the only one I know who can rip pizza in a straight line!” [Laughter]
Jim as Dan: “Oh, it was nothing.”
Jim: In the beginning of their relationship, Dan and Lauren felt like they communicated with each other perfectly.
Carol as Lauren and Jim as Dan in unison: “I can’t believe you think that, too!! I know exactly what you mean!”
Carol: But then they got to know each other better; they got to know each other better day, after day, after day. They discovered they had some differences.
Jim as Dan: “I don’t know what it is with her—but when we argue, I feel like I am being perfectly clear; and she just doesn’t get it.”
Carol as Lauren: “When we argue—and by the way, I don’t argue; I discuss with passion—[Laughter]—but when I do, he doesn’t get it! Now, my girlfriends have no trouble understanding me; so what’s the problem?”
Jim: What is the problem?
Carol: The problem is—it’s not so much a problem as we have differences—God created us male and female. We’re not only physically different; we’re emotionally different, as well. But if you don’t understand those differences, then the differences can sound like problems, like these:
Jim as Dan: “She’s so emotional!”
Carol as Lauren: “Just when we get close, all of a sudden, he retreats; and he won’t talk!”
Jim as Dan: “She talks all the time!”
Carol as Lauren: “He doesn’t listen! Whenever I’ve got a problem, all he wants to do is fix it!”
Jim as Dan: “She’s so dramatic.”
Carol as Lauren: “He’s so nuts and bolts!”
Jim as Dan: “I don’t know what it is with her; I mean, just when I feel like I understand her perfectly, she tells me I don’t understand her at all. I mean, I feel like you need an interpreter to get what she means!”
Carol: “So why don’t they just break up while they can?”—that might be what you’re thinking. Well, the truth is that they really do like each other; there’s a lot that’s going well in their relationship. We’re just outlining some of their communication problems.
As many of you already know, even if you love someone, that love can dry up in the face of hurt, resentment, bitterness, and just being consistently misunderstood.
Jim: So right now, using the medium of theater, we’re going to take a look at several of the ways that the opposite sex typically miscommunicate.
Carol: Men and women listen differently, and they listen for different reasons. Rather than trying to explain this, let’s just show you in a scene from the early years of Dan and Lauren’s marriage.
Jim as Dan: “Hey.”
Carol as Lauren: “Hey! How was work?”
Jim as Dan: “Oh, it was fine.”
Carol as Lauren: “Well, I know you were worried about that presentation; that went okay?”
Jim as Dan: “Yes, yes; I was—but you know, I mean, it went fine.” [Laughter]
Carol as Lauren: “Okay; fine. Aren’t you going to ask me about my day?”
Jim as Dan: “Oh, yes; but you asked me about mine first.”
Carol as Lauren: “Because I was interested in knowing how it went.”
Jim as Dan: “I told you; I mean, it was fine.”
Carol as Lauren: “I think we’ve established that.”
Jim as Dan: “How was your day?”
Carol as Lauren: “It was horrible!”
Jim as Dan: “It was horrible? What happened?”
Carol as Lauren: “Well, to start things off, I burned a hole in my favorite white skirt!—you know, the one with the pleats?”
Jim as Dan: “Wait! You burned a hole in it? How did you burn a hole in it?”
Carol as Lauren: “It’s that stupid iron! The plastic part broke off on my trip to New York. Now, every time I look at the thing wrong, it falls over. I went to get a second cup of coffee—I come back—there was a big old scorch mark in my $50 Banana Republic® skirt!”
Jim as Dan: “You know what you need to do?”
Carol as Lauren: “What?”
Jim as Dan: “You need to get a new iron.”
Carol as Lauren: “I know that. Anyway, that’s how my morning started. And then—
Jim as Dan: “I know how you can save your skirt! Cut off the burn mark; make it into a mini-skirt.”
Carol as Lauren: “What?!”
Jim as Dan: “Yes, yes! You cut the place where it scorched—right?—and you sew the skirt so that it’s shorter.”
Carol as Lauren: “You know, I’m not wearing mini-skirts anymore.”
Jim as Dan: “Well, I mean, you could wear it around the house for me! [Laughter] I mean, like I could run and get it. We could start the alterations.”
Carol as Lauren: “I’d like you to let me finish my story.”
Jim as Dan: “Go ahead.”
Carol as Lauren: “Okay, so now I’ve got to change my clothes; that means I’m running late. I drive into town, but there’s no place to park! Finally, I just drive behind the library; I park there. I’m not ten paces away from the car when a policeman, in bike shorts, swoops by, gives me a ticket! Can you believe that?!”
Jim as Dan: “Well, where exactly did you park?”
Carol as Lauren: “Behind the library, next to the dumpster.”
Jim as Dan: “You’re not supposed to park there!”
Carol as Lauren: “I know that! I got a ticket!”
Jim as Dan: “Oh! You know where you should park?—park in front of First Baptist because Sam’s wife works there now. If you walk across the front and smile at her, through the window, she doesn’t call the tow truck.” [Laughter]
Carol as Lauren: [sarcastically] “Isn’t that nice?”
Jim as Dan: “Aren’t you going to finish your story?”
Carol as Lauren: “Why?! You’re not listening.”
Jim as Dan: “What?”
Carol as Lauren: “I think you couldn’t care less!”
Jim as Dan: “What are you talking about?—like I’ve been focused on you since I walked through the door!”
Carol as Lauren: “Fine!”
Jim as Dan: “What did I do wrong?!”
Carol as Lauren: “I just don’t think you really care!”
Jim as Dan: “Well, of course, I care!—like I’m trying to help you out here!”
Carol as Lauren: “Then why aren’t you listening to me?!”
Jim as Dan: “I am!”
Carol as Lauren: “You are unbelievable!”
Jim as Dan: [Long pause] “Sorry! [Long pause] Hey.”
Carol as Lauren: “What?”
Jim as Dan: “I thought maybe we could go fool around.” [Laughter]
Carol as Lauren: “We’re in the middle of an argument.”
Jim as Dan: “Oh; I thought we were done.” [Laughter]
Carol as Lauren: “No, we’re not!”
Jim as Dan: “Okay. [Long pause] So is that a ‘No’?” [Laughter]
Carol as Lauren: “Yes!—that’s a ‘No!’”
Jim as Dan: “Okay. [Long pause] I was just wondering what was for dinner.” [Laughter]
Carol as Lauren: “Whatever you fix!”
Jim as Dan: “Oh, great! I’ll go fire up the grill.”
Carol as Lauren: [Bewildered] “You’re amazing!”
Jim as Dan: “Thank you!" [Laughter] “So are you! I’ll just be outside if you need me.” [Applause]
Jim: Thank you.
Michelle: Have you ever had that type of argument? Where did Dan and Lauren go wrong? How are they communicating and miscommunicating as they make their assumptions about each other? We’re going to take a break; but when we come back, we’re going to hear more on this topic of communication from Jim and Carol. Stay tuned.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. We are in the middle of hearing an argument between Dan and Lauren as acted by Jim and Carol Shores. Again, Jim and Carol are good friends with FamilyLife; and they have done presentations at many of our events. Through these characters of Dan and Lauren, they’re helping us understand the differences between men and women and how best to communicate.
Let’s get back to Dan and Lauren and get an explanation of what’s really going on. Here’s Jim Shores.
Jim: So obviously, guys are not that clueless every day; [Laughter] but—
Carol: But just taking a survey in this room: “How many men here feel he was listening?” Can I see hands?
Jim: Yes! Thank you! [Laughter] He heard every word that came out of her mouth.
Carol: “How many women here feel that he was listening?”—we’ve got a few shaky hands here; yes, yes.
What was she needing? Now, we hear back from you: just yell it out. What was she needing? [Audience voices] “Support.”
Jim: “Sympathy”; “empathy.”
Carol: “Compassion.” Alright; so these are all of these things she was needing. What was he giving her? [Audience voices]
Jim: “Fix it.”
Carol: “Fix it; fix it.” Well, see—women—we work through our problems by talking about our problems and our feelings about our problems—it sort of looks like this—and then it all gets processed out on the other side. Why is this difficult for a guy?
Jim: That’s terrifying! [Laughter] “What the…”—you know, it’s so confusing. I mean, to a guy, it can be very confusing when a woman is processing her feelings. We just don’t know what to do.
Guys tend to be less verbal than women. I mean, if you think about it—if you’ve got a guy—if he’s less verbal and he has a problem, his knee-jerk reaction is not to talk about the problem. He doesn’t want you to know he has the problem, because that calls into question his competency. He’ll try to solve it on his own before you find out. If he’s got a problem he can’t solve, sometimes, he’ll go/a lot of times, he’ll go to a trusted male friend. That friend, he is hoping, will say: “Oh, I had that problem. I did this…it fixed it.” The first guy says, “Thank you.” He employs that solution; gets back to the business of living his life, and he’s fine.
So he hears his wife talking about a problem. What do you think he thinks she’s looking for?—a solution to the problem; so he offers one, being the good guy that he is. She bats it away; he offers another, and she bats it away. He is getting frustrated; she’s getting frustrated.
Of course!—what’s happening?
Carol: Well, it’s because of how God wired us. As women, we are relational; we are about connection and relationship. So when we tell our husband our bad day, and he keeps trying to stop us by fixing the things, what it feels like is that he’s not really caring about what this is really about, which is the heart.
Carol: He just really wants to fix the things, because this whole conversation is just getting kind of annoying; and he just wants the whole thing to go away. But is that true?!
Jim: Yes. [Laughter] I realize, you know, I do—do that—because how convenient, if I can fix the problem, and those emotions die down, and we get past that; and I don’t have to go through that scary minefield of my wife’s heart. The problem with that—if we’re always fixing the problem and circumventing her heart—we’re short-circuiting the emotional intimacy that we got into this marriage for in the first place; you know?
“It’s not good for the man to be alone. I will create a helpmate suitable for him.” We’re designed for each other. It’s not just the woman who needs the emotional intimacy; we both need that, but she is typically better at getting us there.
Carol: So if we were to just like roll the scene back a little bit: “How could”—using the wisdom in this room; some of your suggestions—“how could we turn this scene from frustration into communication?” We want to look at some things that Lauren and Dan could do differently.
Let’s look at my character first: Lauren: “What could she do differently in this scene?” [Audience responses]
Jim: “Tell him, upfront, you just need to vent.” Very often we think, “Well, if you loved me, you would just know.” That’s crazy! [Laughter] We have to say it out loud. I used to say to Carol, “If you don’t say it out loud, I’m not responsible for knowing it.” She was like, “That’s horrible!” [Laughter] “I’m sorry!”
Carol: “What are some other things Lauren could do differently?” [Audience responses] “Use ‘I feel…’ statements.”
Jim: [Laughter] “Vent somewhere else!” Sometimes, that’s appropriate. If your husband is overloaded, and you see a ticking time bomb walking in the door—and you’re going to vent to that—right?—it might be wise to call a girlfriend and go, “I was going to vent to my husband; not today!” That might be a good choice.
Alright; “So what could Dan have done differently?” [Audience responses]
“How do you feel?”
“Tell her about his day instead of just saying, ‘Fine.’”
“I hear what you’re saying.”
“I’m sorry your day went that way.”
“Ask her to tell me more.”
And what?—say it again: “Offer the $60 to buy a new skirt!” [Applause] That kind of solution might be okay. [Laughter]
One more, up here: “It is what it is!” [Laughter] We’ll try!
Alright; so we’re going to take some of these suggestions and replay them. We’ll see how they go.
Carol as Lauren: “Hey!”
Jim as Dan: “Hey.”
Carol as Lauren: “How was work?”
Jim as Dan: “Oh, well, I was going to say, ‘Fine’—but I had a little bird tell me that I should—you know, on the ride home, I was thinking about my day; I went over the details of my day, and I’d like to share them with you.” [Laughter]
Carol as Lauren: “Okay; I was just going to let you have a landing strip here, and be silent for a little while; but okay.”
Jim as Dan: “This is how I’m landing.”
Carol as Lauren: “Okay!”
Jim as Dan: “You know, I had that presentation today. It—okay, words—I was nervous because I felt under-sort of-rehearsed for the thing. Then, my boss’s boss came in; and I didn’t know why he was in the room. Then my boss left, and my boss’s boss watched the presentation.
I was confused and terrified at the same time. I was so worried about what he was thinking that I went on auto-pilot, and I did a fantastic job; I mean, like I didn’t know who was delivering this; it was amazing! It turns out that’s why he was in the room—was that I’m up for a promotion—he wanted to double-check and make sure that I was the guy, and I am.”
Carol as Lauren: “Wow!”
Jim as Dan: “Yes! Yes!” [Applause]
Carol as Lauren: “’Fine,’” would just not have done that justice!”
Jim as Dan: “No—no! So how was your day?”
Carol as Lauren: “It was horrible,”
Jim as Dan: “Really? What happened?”
Carol as Lauren: “I don’t want to vent; well, I do want to vent.”
Jim as Dan: “No, vent—vent, really—I have chocolate in my bag.” [Laughter]
Carol as Lauren: “What I feel/I feel, really, like this big, huge storm in my chest, at the moment. Basically, I had a bad day. The short version is I burned a hole in my favorite white skirt, the one with the pleats.”
Jim as Dan: “Wait! You burned a hole in that? How did you burn a hole in it?”
Carol as Lauren: “The iron—I went to get a second cup of coffee—big old scorch mark; it’s gone.”
Jim as Dan: “You need a new iron.”
Carol as Lauren: “I thank you for that suggestion.” [Laughter]
Jim as Dan: “I’m the man!” [Laughter]
Carol as Lauren: “It’s a good one. But I’ll tell you that, right now, what I really need—
Jim as Dan: “Yes?”
Carol as Lauren: —“I just need you to listen; I don’t need you to fix it. I don’t need you to say anything.”
Jim as Dan: —“at all?”
Carol as Lauren: “You could say, like, ‘Uh-huh.’ [Laughter] That would be helpful.”
Jim as Dan: “Okay; I can do that.”
Carol as Lauren: “Okay? So the skirt’s gone. I changed; drove into town; no place to park; I am right on the edge of being late for this doctor’s appointment. I finally find a parking space behind the library. A policeman comes by; I get a parking ticket for parking next to the dumpster. It was—
Jim as Dan: [Long pause] “How did that make you feel?” [Laughter]
Carol as Lauren: —“like an idiot, because I should have known. I just wasn’t paying attention; I was distracted. I got to the appointment, only to find out that it’s next week. [Laughter from audience] It’s not funny, because—
Jim as Dan: “No, I’m not laughing; I am empathizing.” [Laughter]
Carol as Lauren: “Thank you; thank you.”
Jim as Dan: “Come here; you had a terrible day.” [Dan hugs Lauren]
Carol as Lauren: “I did; I did. [Applause] I feel like I can’t do anything right.”
Jim as Dan: “Honey, you do so much right; it is just not even funny. I love you, and I’m sorry you had a terrible day.”
Carol as Lauren: [Sounding teary-eyed] “Thank you.”
Jim as Dan: “Look what I bought for you.” [Holding flowers]
Carol as Lauren: “Wow! They almost look brand-new!”
Jim as Dan: “I know; right? It is what it is!” [Laughter]
Michelle: The improved communication styles of Dan and Lauren, as acted by Jim and Carol Shores. If you’d like to hear more from Jim and Carol, go to our website, where we have their entire presentation. Also, we have Dennis and Barbara talking about the rookie mistakes and how they made it through those rookie mistakes. That’s at our website, FamilyLifeThisWeek.com; that’s FamilyLifeThisWeek.com.
Coming up next week, we’re going to talk about the tough topic of post-partum depression. It’s really nothing to joke around with, and it’s hard. I’m going to talk with my good friend, Courtney Reissig; and we’re going to bring some hope and healing to those, who are struggling with this topic; and some insight for those who want to help those struggling. I hope you can join us for that.
Hey, thanks for listening! I want to thank the co-founder of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and our president, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” to our engineer today, Keith Lynch, who is a horrible communicator. Thanks to our producers, Marques Holt and Bruce Goff, who are decent communicators. Justin Adams, our mastering engineer, who is a little bit better in his communication; and Megan Martin, our production coordinator, who makes perfect sense all the time.
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