Early Years of Marriage
About the Guest
Scripture tells us that "by wisdom a house is built." Dennis and Barbara Rainey talk about their early years of marriage and their transition to their new home in Colorado to take on new assignments with Campus Crusade. Reminiscing about their past, Dennis and Barbara talk about their biggest marital adjustments and the arrival of the first of their six children two years later.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Dennis and Barbara Rainey talk about their early years of marriage and the arrival of the first of their six children two years later.
Early Years of Marriage
Bob: The Bible defines marriage as leaving and cleaving. Sometimes, that means we have to leave people who have been our best friends for years. Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: It’s very complicated, and it’s hard to do. It’s really hard for girls, in particular, because we don’t ever like to hurt anybody’s feelings. So, it can be a hard thing to do. I’ve talked to a number of young women, who have struggled with that in that early season of marriage, because they have so many friends and they don’t want to hurt their girlfriends’ feelings. They want to be loyal to their husband, but they don’t want—and it’s a real tension.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, January 29th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. How do you make your marriage a priority, without forsaking lifelong friends? We’re going to talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We’ve been spending time this week examining the different seasons a woman goes through in her life. We’ve been doing that by asking your wife to kind of explore the seasons that she’s been through in her life. She’s joining us, again, on FamilyLife Today. Barbara, welcome back.
Barbara: Thank you, Bob.
Dennis: It really has been fun to be in on these broadcasts because it’s not often I get a chance to be a spectator of sorts while Bob asks the question of the guest, especially when it’s my bride of now more than 42 years. She is revealing all of the stories that have brought us to this point. [Laughter]
And the story you are about to hear is really—largely, as a result of what is captured in Proverbs 24, verses 3 and 4—“By wisdom, a house is built; and by understanding, it is established.
“By knowledge, the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” This season of Barbara’s life—that you are about to hear—is really a story of wisdom gained from the Bible and applying it in her life. As a result, it has built our home. And now, we’re kind of looking back on these seasons and kind of celebrating what God has done. And it says, “By understanding, it is established.” I thought of how much fun it was, earlier, when we talked about how our marriage was established around Jesus Christ—around the knowledge and experience of Him.
Then, finally, verse 4 talks about “By knowledge, the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” And that’s really the result of her having lived out a life that has been obedient to the Scripture. We’re kind of celebrating a life together—that has been filled with all kinds of pleasant and precious riches—maybe not riches in terms of wealth—but a rich life, certainly.
Bob: Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge—key components to a strong relationship and a strong home. I’m just thinking at the pace we’ve been talking about the chapters of your life—
Dennis: We should be finished by the end of the year. [Laughter]
Bob: I’m looking—maybe July.
Dennis: This is the Gone with the Wind version.
Bob: Well, we do want to talk about the early years of marriage. That’s a chapter—for a lot of women, that’s a season that a lot of women go through that’s a season where you gain some wisdom, and some knowledge, and some understanding; right?
Bob: Before we dive into that, share again with our listeners about what you’ve been up to, especially as you start thinking about Easter—which is still a couple of months away—but you’ve been busy trying to design some resources families can use during the Lenten season / during the Easter season to help remind them of what we’re about to celebrate and to use them as a discipleship tool in their home.
Barbara: Well, I have been—and thanks for the opportunity to do this. You know—just as we spend a lot of time anticipating Christmas, I think we need to spend a little bit more time anticipating Easter. I have a real burden to help families find ways to prepare for Easter and to celebrate it in a way that is more worthy of the event itself because Easter is the pivotal event in all of history. Yet, we don’t put a lot of effort into Easter, relative to what we do for Christmas.
Bob: Yes, most of us don’t think about when Easter’s coming until it is Palm Sunday. Then, we go:
Bob: “Oh, man, next week is Easter. I’ve got to get some new shoes for the kids”; right?
Barbara: Yes. Yes; and that’s about all the preparation we put into it. So, we have an Easter banner that you can hang that says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” But we also have several things—that you can actually have discussions about—with your children in your home.
One is called “Behold the Lamb.”
Starting on Palm Sunday, you read a very short little card that has a short story in it. It talks about Jesus coming into Jerusalem on the donkey and what that means and “Why is that important that we know about that and talk about that?” Then, on Monday, it talks about what He probably did on Monday / what He probably did on Tuesday. You walk through Holy Week, as a family. It’s a way to prepare your heart for the celebration of Resurrection Sunday.
Dennis: And it doesn’t take that long.
Barbara: It does not take that long.
Dennis: I mean, you can read these stories in less than three or four minutes—
Barbara: They are very short.
Dennis: —and then, have a little discussion with your kids about what they mean. And I’ll tell you, Bob, we really need to use these days, not just explain to our children what happened, but why it happened.
Bob: Well, folks can find out more by going to your website. If they go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” at the top of the page, there is a link there for Ever Thine Home®, which is the name for the resources that you’ve been creating. All of those resources are available, online.
There is a catalogue we can send folks. So, if they want to call 1-800-FL-TODAY and ask for the catalogue, we’ll send it out to them.
Now, let’s talk about the early years of marriage for you. Where’d you go on your honeymoon?
Barbara: Well, we had this very interesting and very fun honeymoon. My husband likes to plan and think ahead. So, he planned this honeymoon—we were married in Houston. We spent a couple nights in Houston. We, then, drove to Colorado which is where we were going to be living. We stayed there a night or two. Then, we got in the car, and we travelled around the state of Colorado. We camped one night. We stayed in a hotel another night. We just kind of went somewhere different every night.
I had never been to Colorado in my life. So, we went all over the state for about ten days?—was it ten days or was it two weeks?
Dennis: It was about ten days.
Barbara: Something like that.
Bob: Camping on the honeymoon? That was okay.
Barbara: We went camping on the honeymoon; and yes, it was okay. But it was also a brand-new experience. One of the things that I learned—
—probably from the camping—
Dennis: —is that it snows at 8,000 feet in September. [Laughter]
Barbara: Yes, I learned that. But I also learned that I married someone who likes to do adventurous things—and that this was the beginning of many new experiences that I’d never done before. Camping was the first one, and we camped at 8,000 feet. And I nearly froze to death. [Laughter]
Bob: Now, you had known Dennis for a couple of years before you guys got married—you’d been friends in college.
Bob: You had had this whirlwind engagement, and you were married six weeks after he proposed; but right away, on the honeymoon, you were starting to realize, “There are things about him I just didn’t know.”
Barbara: Yes; exactly. And that was one of them; and then, we went fishing. I’d never been fishing in my life. I mean, we had a lot of fun—I mean, I enjoyed the camping trip—but I just nearly froze to death.
Dennis: We went in the off-season. So, we stayed at the Broadmoor Hotel for 21 bucks.
Dennis: I mean, we went all over the state.
And the interesting thing was—Barbara and I have been places, all over the world, on behalf of FamilyLife, and have visited some very fun, romantic spots. I’ve asked her, on numerous occasions, what’s her favorite and—haven’t asked her recently—but for years, that honeymoon was her favorite of all the trips we’d made, notwithstanding the snow at 8,000 feet.
Bob: So, you didn’t have any tearful moments on the honeymoon, where you thought, “What have I gotten myself into?”
Barbara: No, I did not. I know there are brides who do, but I didn’t. I was so convinced and so confident that God had led us to be married, but I just—I really didn’t have any doubts / I didn’t have any concerns.
Bob: Now, the year before, you’d been on the campus at the University of South Carolina, working with Campus Crusade for Christ—working with college students. That’s what your life was going to be all about.
Bob: You had not even been considering, in May,,—
Bob: —that in September—
Barbara: I would be married.
Bob: So, you didn’t really have a whole lot of time to think about:
Bob: “What’s my life, as a wife, going to be like?”
Barbara: No, I didn’t. But I wasn’t really too worried about that either because I had a really good role model in my mom. She was a good wife to my dad, and they had a good relationship. I just didn’t come into marriage with a lot of anxiety or a lot of confusion about what I was supposed to do as a wife, honestly.
Bob: Insecurity? Were you insecure?
Barbara: Oh, yes. I was real insecure. I—because I’m a firstborn and a perfectionist, I really, really wanted to do this job right. I was determined I was going to do it right, and I was going to be the best wife ever. So, I did struggle with that; but I started worrying about failing, later on down the road—but I didn’t start out being afraid to fail.
Bob: Your priorities, the year before, had been all about the Kingdom—all about ministry / all about discipling college students. Your priorities had to shift—now that you were setting up home in Boulder, Colorado, married to Dennis, and you were a wife.
Did you just naturally flow into these new priorities easily; or did you find yourself thinking, “I want to be back doing what I was doing last year”?
Barbara: No, I never wanted to go back to what I was doing last year. I think, for the most part, the transition was a relatively easy one for me. Now, again, we had moments / we had struggles; but it was a relatively easy transition.
Bob: And I guess I’m thinking today of young women who get married. They’ve been to college. They’ve had a career focus—they’ve maybe had a year or two—three/four years in the job—and they’re maybe starting to feel some of the “Boy, if I stay at this job five years, I get a promotion and I get a raise.” Now, they are married. They are trying to move it in, alongside a thriving career. They’re finding that the hours in the day have shrunk for them. You know what I’m talking about?
Barbara: Oh, I do know what you are talking about. I think part of the reason I didn’t experience that is because I was still doing, when we got married, what I did when I was single.
I was doing ministry on a campus; and then, after we got married, I was doing ministry again on a different campus. So, I didn’t have that sort of ripping away and the confusion of identity.
Dennis: I think the reason that didn’t happen, Bob, is because she didn’t change missions. She had been about a mission of making an impact on people’s lives with the gospel of Jesus Christ on the college campus. Well, we just moved her down to high school as she was working with me because that was a part of my job.
It’s why I think young couples today really need to pay attention and evaluate: “What is my mission? What am I about? Why am I here? What am I designed, by God, to do? Who is this person that I’m thinking about spending the rest of my life with? Do we have similar missions? Are we about the same thing?”
And I think, much like a bicycle built for two is designed for two people to go in the same direction, at the same speed, at the same time—
—I think, when a marriage begins with a pair of people / a husband and a wife, yielded to Jesus Christ on His mission for their lives—I’m telling you—there will still be bumps in the road / there will be curves, and hills, and all kinds of issues; but it’ll settle a lot of problems on the frontend.
Bob: I think a lot of young women today, who are leading very full single lives—whether it is career, their group of friends, stuff they’re doing at church, activities—their life is pretty full. Then, they meet a guy and they fall in love; and they’re getting married. Nobody’s stopped to say: “You don’t have time in your life to keep doing everything you’ve been doing and add a husband to that. So, you’re going to have to figure out what gets carved away because being a wife and building a relationship with a new husband—that’s going to take some time and some energy. You can’t just shoehorn it in”; can you?
Barbara: I agree. I agree with what Dennis said about having a common mission. I think that’s central. That’s the first most important thing; but one of the gifts that we started out with—that we did not plan for / we didn’t expect that it would be—was that we started out our marriage with neither one of us having a set of friends from before marriage.
I often say to young women, who do get married—that one of the very best things they can do is make some kind of a change—they may not be able to literally move to a new place, like we did—but make some kind of a change where you’re both starting out together in the same field—whether it’s a church, or a neighborhood, or something because we were forced to depend upon each other—we were friends with each other. Our relationship really grew quickly because we did everything together.
And even though we were there in Boulder for a year-and-a-half—we were working with high school students—we knew the high school students, and we knew the parents—
—we never, even in that year-and-a-half we were there—we never developed another couple friends even. We just did everything the two of us.
Dennis: One thing I want Barbara to comment on that you wouldn’t know to ask, Bob—
Dennis: —but I want her to share with our audience because this was one of the big adjustments in this opening season of our lives together—was me asking her: “What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What’s going on in your life?” because she was a lot quieter than I ever imagined, after I married her.
Barbara: Yes, I didn’t say a whole lot. [Laughter] And he would often—he’d say to me, “A penny for your thoughts.” I’d go, “Well, I don’t know.” I’d think about it for a while. Then, I’d say a little something; but we developed this understanding—I’ll tell them about the cans.
So, I was very, very shy; and I was very quiet. And I, as I said earlier, really wanted to win; and I wanted to do this right.
So, I didn’t want to make any mistakes because, if you make mistakes, you can’t do it right— in my thinking. So, I was very cautious about what I would say and what I would do. He would ask me a question. I’d say, “What do you think about that little sentence?” If he reacted okay, then, I’ll get him another sentence or two; but, if he didn’t react well or he was startled in some way or whatever, then, my—
Bob: You’d pull way back?
Dennis: Had a judgment about the sentence.
Bob: So, what about the cans?
Barbara: So, the cans were his illustration. He said that I had this whole warehouse full of goods and inventory. So, in our conversation, I would just set out one can on the counter. If it was received well, then, he might get another can from out of the warehouse onto the counter. But if not, that first can went back in the warehouse. [Laughter]
Dennis: And the doors—
Barbara: —slammed shut.
Dennis: —thwacked shut. [Laughter]
Bob: I do think—for a lot of young women today, this chapter of life—
—that’s the newlywed chapter—you do have to take seriously, “This is going to take some time.” I don’t know that you necessarily say, “We’re not going to have any friends outside the marriage.”
Barbara: No, I don’t think that’s necessarily the answer—that just happened to be what we had.
Bob: But you may need to recalibrate what you’re involvement with your friends—
Bob: —outside the marriage looks like.
Bob: So, if you used to get together with your girlfriends three nights a week—now, that you are married—maybe, it’s one night every other week instead of three nights a week that you are doing something like that.
Barbara: Yes, you really do have to make some adjustments in favor of the marriage relationship because, when you do get married, that needs to become the most important relationship in your life. You need to be feeding it the most, and growing it the most, and paying the most attention to it.
You don’t have to ignore your friends, if you come into marriage and you’re living where you grew up and you’ve got all these friends. On the other hand, they need to, maybe, take second place; or maybe, you don’t maintain all 20 best friends.
You may have to kind of slowly back away from some of them. It’s very complicated, and it’s hard to do. It’s really hard for girls, in particular, because we just don’t like to hurt anybody’s feelings. So, it can be a hard thing to do. I’ve talked to a number of young women, who have struggled with that in that early season of marriage because they have so many friends and they don’t want to hurt their girlfriends’ feelings; and they want to be loyal to their husband—it’s a real tension.
Bob: We say, at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, that the first three to five years of marriage are years of making difficult adjustments because you’re learning new things about one another. You’re going: “I didn’t know you slept in on Saturday morning. I didn’t know you liked to have the temperature really cold in the room.”
Barbara: All of that.
Bob: It’s those kinds of things, where you’re starting to make those adjustments. This requires some time and some grace for a young wife to kind of begin to wear the clothing of being a wife.
Barbara: Yes, it’s a big adjustment. I think, a lot of times, we underestimate that. Well, now, I shouldn’t say a lot of times—I take it back—it is always a big adjustment, no matter—
Bob: And we always underestimate it.
Barbara: And we always underestimate it, no matter what your age, because it’s not just for young brides—it’s for any bride of any age / any season of life. It is always a bigger adjustment than we expect.
Dennis: And one of the ways it manifests itself is kind of how we spend our Saturdays. Barbara thought I was going to be like her dad, which was a giant error because he was a brilliant engineer—who his idea of tinkering—you know, having fun on a weekend would be to tear down an engine and rebuild it. Why don’t you share what happened, early in our marriage, and what happened on a Saturday—kind of your perspective of it?
Barbara: Yes, I just thought Saturdays were for work because, in my family, we all worked every Saturday. We raked the leaves, and we mowed the lawn.
We trimmed the hedges, and we washed the storm windows. I mean, all of us worked together on the weekends—every Saturday.
Dennis: And my dad let the yard die in the summer. [Laughter] He didn’t do yard work.
Bob: Didn’t trim the hedges.
Dennis: I don’t remember my dad ever raking a leaf.
Barbara: Yes, and it wasn’t that I intentionally compared Dennis to my dad. I just assumed that all families were like that because my family was the family that I knew.
Barbara: So that was my standard. I assumed that his family was like that. So, I thought—on Saturdays, we would work at something—we would paint furniture / we would hang pictures on the wall. We would do some kind of work.
Bob: And what did he think Saturdays were for?
Barbara: He thought Saturdays were for watching sports on TV—watching TV—and putting his feet up. And I thought, “I don’t think so!” [Laughter]
Dennis: Going fishing.
Barbara: Yes, going fishing.
Dennis: Yes, but one of those Saturdays—I don’t think it was the first Saturdays; but in the first couple of years of our marriage, I had my feet up and was kind of enjoying what my dad and I used to do on a Saturday afternoon—
—kind of watch the game. And it was like a buzzard that came in and kind of did a circle, as buzzards do, around that easy chair that I had wrapped around me.
Bob: Didn’t say anything?—just kind of flew around?
Dennis: It just flew around and didn’t land—and kind of went into the kitchen and banged some pots around. Being the sensitive guy that I am, I kind of figured out that the buzzard didn’t like the kind of action I was providing on that.
Bob: So, you turned up the TV so you couldn’t hear the pots—yes? [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes, I told her to knock it off in the kitchen because I couldn’t hear my TV. [Laughter]
Barbara: We had lots and lots and lots of conversations about Saturdays.
Dennis: Those are rookie mistakes—
Dennis: —that are okay your rookie year, but they are not good to keep repeating.
Barbara: But they lasted a lot longer than the rookie year. [Laugher]
Bob: Okay. The rookie season went on for a while.
Barbara: Yes, it was a long rookie season on that topic!
Bob: My question is: “Did you talk before you got married about how many kids you thought you might want to have?”
Barbara: We did, briefly, because I remember we had a—I came from a family of four. I thought, “You know, four or five”; and he was thinking, “Two or three.” And we just talked about it, but we didn’t make decisions.
Bob: You were kind of okay with whatever—you weren’t thinking much about it.
Bob: Did you talk about how long you wanted to wait to start a family?
Barbara: Probably, but I don’t remember that conversation—
Bob: Okay, so, how long—
Barbara: —I’m sure we did.
Bob: How long did you wait before you started a family?
Barbara: Two years.
Dennis: We celebrated our second anniversary with—
Barbara: —a newborn.
Bob: At the delivery room?
Dennis: No, it wasn’t—
Barbara: No, we were home.
Dennis: We were home.
Barbara: But we were only home a week—I think she was a week old.
Dennis: We had diapers—we were in the game.
Bob: Well, we will hear more about the diaper years tomorrow. But let me encourage listeners, who have not yet had a chance, this week, to go to Barbara’s website and see the resources that you have been working on in the current season of life that you’re in.
Let me encourage you to go to EverThineHome.com. There, you can see the “How Do I Love Thee” banner that’s great for Valentine’s week. But it can be used anytime throughout the year. It’s just a great discipleship tool for families to have conversations about what real love looks like in a family. Again, it’s called “How Do I Love Thee.” You can go to EverThineHome.com. If you have any questions, give us a call at 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
You know, I don’t know if you’ve ever stopped to think about the mission that is behind this daily program. As you tune in and listen, I hope you understand that we have a goal in mind to provide practical biblical help to effectively develop godly families, who change the world, one home at a time.
And we’re grateful for those of you who believe in that mission and who help support what we’re doing, here at FamilyLife Today. We are listener-supported. Your donations help cover the cost of producing and syndicating this daily radio program. And we’re grateful for your partnership.
In fact, we’d love to be able to say a tangible “Thank you.” Right now, when you make a donation to support FamilyLife Today, we’ll send you a copy of Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s devotional guide for couples. It’s called Moments with You. It is designed to bring you closer together and closer to Christ. It’s our gift to you when you make a donation, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click in the upper right-hand corner of our website, FamilyLifeToday.com—click the link that says, “I CARE,” to make an online donation. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. You can make a donation over the phone and ask for the devotional book from Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Or request Moments with You when you mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR.
Our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to get into those early years with kids in the home—the diaper years. We’ll talk about how things had to shift for Barbara Rainey, as a wife and now as a mom, when she brought the kids home—the new season of life that God had for her. That comes up tomorrow. Hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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