The Raineys Answer Your Questions About ParentingJanuary 6, 2011
Today on the broadcast, Dennis and Barbara Rainey answer your questions about romance in marriage.
Today on the broadcast, Dennis and Barbara Rainey answer your questions about romance in marriage.
The Raineys Answer Your Questions About Parenting
Bob: Now you know this, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again. When it comes to romance, men and women are very different. Here’s Dennis Rainey:
Dennis: Men and women spell romance with different words. Women spell romance how, men? Don’t look at me like that guys. (Audience laughs) They want relational intimacy. Now ladies, how do men spell romance? Sex. Now why is it you knew the answer to that . . .
Bob: The women, yeah, kind of jumped right all over that one, didn’t you ladies?
Dennis: . . . and the men. Yeah . . . Barbara said the guys are slow learners – is that it? (Audience laughter) Well, we are slow learners, but the point is God made us like this. (Laughter) You did not have to laugh out loud.
Bob: This is FamilyLifeToday for Thursday, January 6th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll spend some time today talking about the sometimes challenging, sometimes delightful differences between men and women when it comes to romance.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. Do you remember that night?
Dennis: I do. I do. Brings back some memories.
Bob: That was a fun night.
Dennis: Those guys just had a big question mark on their face. “Would you give me a hint?”
Bob: That’s right. “Woman, I’m still trying to. . .”
Dennis: “Can I call someone?”
Bob: “Phone a friend? I need a lifeline here.”
Dennis: Yeah. No doubt.
Bob: Well, we are going to hear today some interaction that took place. We had, I guess – I don’t know, three or four hundred people who came out for an evening – a little marriage refresher, some questions and answers that took place. This all happened in Seattle, and it was a couple of years ago that we were up there for this event, but it was a great evening with FamilyLife Today listeners, talking about marriage. We talked a little bit about parenting, but most of what we focused in on was how to keep your marriage healthy and fresh and pointed in the right direction.
Dennis: No, no, no, no. We were talking about how to keep romance alive and sexual intimacy occurring in your marriage relationship.
Bob: That’s a big . . .
Dennis: You kind of beat around the bush on that, Bob.
Bob: That’s a big part of what we did talk about . . .
Dennis: Yes, it was.
Bob: As we were up there that evening. And really it’s a big part of what we’re focused on here in the new year. I’ve been thinking about the video series that is getting ready to premiere five weeks from now. It’s called The Art of Marriage. There are hundreds of locations that have signed up all around the country that are going to be hosting a Friday night and Saturday event for couples.
Dennis: It’s hosted by individual couples or an individual person who said, “You know what? I’ve had enough of the breakdown of marriage and family today in my community, and I want to do something.”
So what Bob Lepine did, was he created a six-session video experience where you can have this delivered to your church or to a place where you want to host this. I know some that are actually holding these events in lake houses and in basements and in their neighborhoods, on their flat screen TV, inviting friends over, and kind of making it a weekend to learn about marriage and family. And you’re going to learn about communication, about conflict, about the husband’s role, how a wife can fulfill her job description and responsibilities, about legacy and about what we just talked about here – sexual intimacy and romance in marriage.
Bob: Let me just point out, if you want to attend one of these Art of Marriage events, you can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and look on our website. You type in your zip code; we’ll tell you where there is one being hosted near where you live. And if there’s not one being hosted near where you live, you can still host one. There is still time to pull it off – to get the DVDs and the manuals together. You probably want to have at least four or five couples getting together, so it’s not just you and your spouse. You want to invite a few other folks to come along.
Dennis: By the way, you can go online to theartofmarriage.com and you can click on the – it’s like a movie trailer – and you can see in three-and-a-half minutes that this is a fresh, edgy approach, meant to reach this generation with practical, biblical resources that are going to strengthen their marriage and family.
Bob: Make sure you go to theartofmarriage.com –
Dennis: That’s correct.
Bob: -- in order to see the trailer and to find out where the events are being held near where you live. As you said, we tackle all kinds of subjects in this video event. One of them that we tackle is the subject of romance and intimacy, which is the same subject that we were tackling when we got together with listeners up in the Pacific Northwest a few years back.
You and Barbara and I had a chance to interact with listeners about romance and passion in marriage –
Dennis: Mm hmm. We did.
Bob: What makes it work.
Dennis: The audience was pretty lively, too.
Bob: They were. In fact, let’s listen to some of the conversation that took place that night, and I think it will be helpful for all of us to get a refresher in this area.
Bob: Thank you. Well, hey, it’s great to be in Seattle, in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve really looked forward to coming up here because of the Cheesecake Factory and for other reasons, too. Some people want to visit every major league ballpark in America, and I think that’s fine, but I’m thinking – You’ve seen Jared for Subway? I’m thinking I could be that for the Cheesecake Factory. Right?
Dennis: In fact, Bob wrote the Cheesecake Factory telling them that he’d been to –
Bob: At that point, 25.
Dennis: -- 25, and they said, “Write us when you’ve been to a few more.”
Bob: Yeah. Get a little closer to your goal. I was kind of put out by that, but I’m still going for it today. I think a lot of couples, married couples, look at romance in marriage kind of the way we look at dessert. It's fun, and it's great, but it's not necessarily something you have to have – it's not broccoli, you know what I'm saying? It's not – there are not a whole lot of nutrients in romance. So if e can have a well-balanced meal …
Dennis: Is your relationship with Mary Ann like broccoli? Is that what you're saying?
Bob: No, and I'm wondering if there's something about food being the metaphor I go to more often. Do you think there's something?
Dennis: I think there is.
Bob: But you're really saying that if we're going to have a well-balanced marriage, romance is not dessert, it's broccoli, it's the minerals and the fiber is there, right?
Dennis: Someone has said that romance is friendship set on fire. I think we get married because of romance – at least that's the initial attraction that two people go through that they're attracted to one another, and that begins the relationship. And yet, for many, the high point of their "relationship" is early marriage.
They enter into a phase of marriage – and I want Barbara to comment on this –they enter into a phase of marriage that many couples never get out of, and they don't realize they were meant to graduate and mature and move through that second phase of marriage into a more mature, satisfying love relationship, and it can be like an hors d'oeuvre, the main course, and dessert all wrapped up in one.
Barbara: All couples also eventually run into what we call "disappointed love," because everyone hits reality, and everyone runs into things about the other person, either that we weren't expecting, we aren’t prepared to deal with, or we’re surprised by.
We’re disappointed, frankly, and disappointed love is not what any of us got married for, and we're usually caught off guard by that. So, as Dennis was saying, too many couples stay there. They stay in disappointed love, and they decide that romance was just something for the beginning, and it's not for now, and they treat it, like Bob was saying, like dessert.
Bob: Eat your vegetables. Yeah, right.
Barbara: And they figure it's not for them anymore, and they end up living in disappointed love for a long time and too many, then, eventually split because they find that they're nothing more than roommates. So the goal is, when you hit disappointment to move beyond it to commitment.
Disappointment is not something that just happens once, sadly. I wish it were true, but it isn't. You hit disappointment in marriage over and over and over again. But if you work through it each time, the commitment becomes greater, stronger, deeper, more lasting, and therefore the relationship is better. So it's a process of dealing with the disappointment and moving through to commitment in order to maintain and sustain the romance.
Bob: Most folks, when they get to disappointment, think, "How can we get back to how it was at the beginning?" And yet you're saying that shouldn't be the goal – to get back to how it was at the beginning, but to get to something that's even better than what we had at the beginning. This mature love you're talking about is really a deeper, more profound, more substantive kind of love than the infatuation and the heavy, passionate romance we had at first.
Barbara: That's really true, Bob, because what we had at first is the hope of that kind of relationship. Once we move through disappointed love to the commitment kind of love then we realize that the hope can actually happen. Therefore, it's more fulfilling.
In our relationship, for instance, I know that we're committed to one another, and I've experienced that acceptance over and over and over again in lots of situations that weren't what I expected and that weren't pleasant. And if I was hoping for what we had in the beginning, it would be so shallow. But what we have now is far better. It's worth fighting through the disappointment that's going to happen over and over again, to commitment, and that's what sustains real romance.
Bob: So if we all want romance, we all want that kind of connection and that kind of love, and yet we experience disappointment, but we all want what's on the other side of that, how come it's so hard?
Dennis: Well, because we spell romance differently. Men and women spell romance with different words with a different dictionary. Women spell romance, how, men? Relationship, friendship – don't look at me like that, guys. One of them said “talking”– well, that's part of a relationship. They want intimacy, and they want relational intimacy.
Now, ladies, how do men spell romance? Sex. Now, why is it you knew the answer to that?
Bob: … yeah, kind of jumped right all over that one, didn't you, ladies?
Dennis: Barbara said the guys are slow learners, is that it? Well, we are slow learners, you know, but the point is God made us like this. [Laughter] You did not have to laugh that loud. He did make us like this, and he made a woman with a need for a relationship, and he made a man with a need for physical intimacy.
What's happened in our culture today is, in many regards, we've blessed the woman's need for a relationship and have cursed the man's need for physical intimacy. So you get couples locked up with one another who have moved from new love into disappointed love who are spelling romance how they want it spelled, and so he's trying to communicate love to her physically, and she's trying to communicate love to him relationally, and they're missing each other.
What has to happen is we have to realize, first of all, God is not playing a cruel joke on His creation. He made us different for a purpose. He wanted to teach men self-denial, self-sacrifice, to pursue Christ, and to die to self on behalf of our wives. And He also called women to move on to their husband's agenda to meet their needs as well.
I think in this dance of romance that we go through in marriage we're really in need of a Christian perspective, a perspective that goes to the Song of Solomon. I mean, God didn't stutter. He put that book right smack in the middle of the Bible so we wouldn't miss it. And it's right in the middle of literature that exalts who God is, and I think the Song of Solomon exalts who God is, because our God is a passionate God.
He's a romantic God. God pursues us. He is after us with His love, and that love chased me down when I was a 19, 20-year-old young man at the University of Arkansas, and I believe our God is a God of romance.
Bob: Barbara, you’ll hear from couples all the time. A wife is frustrated because she feels like all her husband is interested in is having his needs met, and he’s not interested in pursuing a relationship at all. Or the two of you may hear from a man who says, “I’m trying to be a loving, relational husband. My wife is not interested in what I’m hungry for in a relationship.” It’s hard for us to love one another in the midst of that and to sacrifice and keep giving if we feel like the other person isn’t paying any attention.
If you’re talking to a wife who says, “My husband just seems tuned out on the need that I have for relationship, for communication, for companionship, to be a friend,” how would you counsel her?
Barbara: Well, in very few marriage are both spouses, are the husband and the wife both have the same level of need. In other words, it seems like couples are feeling opposite in one side or the other: either the wife is more interested or the husband is more interested. There didn’t seem to be too many relationships where they felt that their needs were totally balanced and that they were both doing a good job meeting one another’s needs. Did I explain that well?
That was an interesting statistic, because it’s not just the women who feel like their husbands are not talking, and it’s not just the men who feel like the women are not interested. It was really both, and that was interesting to see that that was true.
Dennis: Both the husband and the wife ought to become a student of one another. When you become a student of your spouse you begin to recognize what it is that communicates romance to Barbara. For a number of years I would reach over to Barbara and I would massage her shoulders and her neck, like this. And with some degree of regularity she would say, “Would you please quit that?” I’d go, “But it feels good, doesn’t it?” “No.”
Now guess who does like to have his neck massaged and rubbed. What was I doing? I was communicating my need for romance and how I would like to be loved through my own grid to her. What communicates romance to her is me helping with the dishes, putting the kids to bed, helping pick up the house, going for a walk with her, even times when we’re not even talking but just interacting together.
Bob: We want to throw things open to you all. I know some of you may have questions on your own about romance, about marriage. Maybe it’s not about romance but it’s about some other aspect of marriage. Maybe it’s about kids, parenting. Okay, who’ve we got? Right down here.
Woman: Okay, my question is this for my friend because we’re not married yet, so it doesn’t apply, but they have three daughters, nine, seven and five. They will not leave their bedroom. So what can I take to her to say…
Bob: You say the kids are sleeping in mom and dad’s room.
Woman: On the floor, yes.
Bob: On the floor.
Woman: They put them to bed. Then they’re coming down – “We’re scared” you know, and they let them sleep on the floor. It’s totally affecting their intimate life
Bob: There is actually a parenting philosophy that says this is a good thing. Barbara, do you want to talk about the family bed? Do you agree with that idea?
Barbara: I don't think we should get into that.
Bob: You don't want to get into the family bed?
Barbara: No, we didn't practice the family bed, I can answer that way.
Bob: What would you do if the kids were on the floor and wouldn’t leave?
Barbara: We didn’t let our kids sleep in our room unless they were sick or something was wrong. I mean, when we had bad thunderstorms or something they would come in. We would let them come in and we prayed with them and taught them that they had to trust God, and that they needed to trust him, and that we would protect them and that nobody was going to get them and all those things that kids worry about.
But it’s a real value decision and I know that it’s something that you as a couple need to talk through. We did not think that that was healthy for us and healthy for our marriage. I think that the children need to be trained, if that’s a problem for them, they need to be trained to stay in their rooms and disciplined if necessary to stay out. Do you want to add to that?
Dennis: Yes, I would like to add to that. Here is what they need to do, and I really agree with what Barbara said. Number one, the husband and wife need to go out on a date, and they need to get their powder dry. They need to get a game plan for how they're going to handle this. The game plan might sound something like this: they get their game plan together, and they call a little family meeting with the nine, seven, and five – is that right? Right there at the dinner table and says, "Okay, there's a new ball game in town. Tonight you're going to go to bed in your bedroom; you're going to sleep in your bed. There will not be any tolerance for this. Here is going to be what happens if you get up once; here is what will happen if you come in twice. The bedroom for mom and dad is off limits. Am I clear about this?"
I'd make them articulate back to me what I just said – all three of them. And then back it up, because all three will most likely test you the first five nights. But after five nights it will be a habit. That issue will be all over, whether it’s a kid crying through the night at twelve months of age, two years of age. The child finds a way to manipulate the parents and make good on it, and the children are better students of us than we are of them.
Bob: It will be a miserable five nights – it will be.
Dennis: They'll make you pay the price. But Mom and Dad have to be together.
Barbara: And they have to win.
Bob: All of our kids went through a phase where they would come into our room and want to get in bed after we'd put them to bed in their bed. They'd wake up an hour later; they'd come and want to get in bed with Mom and Dad. Here's your little five-year-old, "I'm scared, could I get in bed?" And, you know, you don't want to be the ogre and, "No, go back to your" – so we'd bring them in bed and cuddle with them for a little bit, and then we'd take them back to their bed.
Well, they'd keep coming in. Well, I remember, with my boys, saying to them, as I put them to bed at night, I'd say, "You know how you've been coming into Mom and Dad's room the last couple of nights?" "Uh-huh." "Well, tonight I don't want you to do that. And if you wake up, and you're scared, here is what I want you to remember – if you can sleep in your bed all night, I'm going to give you a quarter in the morning.
[Laughter] I'll bribe you. I'll give you a quarter in the morning. Now, if you're really scared, and you want to come in, that's okay, but you won't get the quarter. But if you wake up, and you're not that scared, I'll give you a quarter in the morning." A quarter was a big deal, you know, at the right age. And so 75 cents – I had the thing licked, all right, you know? That's what it took for me.
But the challenge for these parents is they've let the pattern build for so long that it's going to take an establishment – as Dennis said – new ballgame in town, new way of dealing with this, five nights of pain, and you should be able to get it turned around.
Bob: And I'll just say here I'm glad those days are over, you know? Nobody’s coming and knocking on the door.
Dennis: I was just smiling – I was thinking, if you did that now, it would cost you 25 bucks.
Bob: Yeah, you couldn't bribe them for a quarter.
Dennis: A quarter wouldn't work anymore. But you know what we're talking about here is making your marriage a priority above your family, and it's so easy to make your marriage very child-centered. Trust me, we've been there.
Barbara and I raised six – we had six in 10 years and, frankly, had to fight the current to make our marriage and our relationship with Christ the real source of strength for our family. If you make that family the strength, and a little thing like allowing kids to control your life by sleeping in the same bed as you, can really begin to drive a wedge between a couple.
Bob: Yes. And you talk about fighting against the current, the same thing is true when it comes to romance and marriage. As you were saying that evening, the current does not lead you toward a more romantic marriage. You’re going to have to be intentional; you’re going to have to paddle upstream to get there and do things that build in to your relationship.
Dennis: Yes. It seems like the longer you paddle, the swifter the current. And frankly, Bob, it’s why I’m excited about offering this new video conference, a six-session video experience, to our listeners, so that they can bring this to their community. Several hundred people have already signed up for February 11, 2011, and bringing The Art of Marriage to their community. It’s going to be their romantic banquet, instead of, you know, some chicken at a dinner that’s not very good –
Bob: Not very romantic.
Dennis: -- and not very entertaining. I’m going to tell you something: Bring this video conference to your community. You will not be sorry you did. In fact, I think what’s going to happen, Bob, is I think literally tens of thousands of people are going to be exposed to this, and they are going to decide that they want to bring it to their neighborhoods, their communities, their churches, and we’re going to see this spawn literally hundreds and thousands of conferences all across the country in the coming months this year.
Bob: This is launching on Valentine’s weekend, which is February 11th and 12th; that’s Friday night and Saturday, two sessions on Friday night, four sessions on Saturday. You can be flexible with how you want to put it together because it’s your event. We just provide you with the materials so you can host an event like this in your community or in your church.
You might say, “I don’t think we can host one.” Actually, you can go online right now and look and see if there is one of these events happening near you.
We’ve got radio station partners that are helping to promote these events. We’ve got local churches that are doing events, we’ve got couples who have stepped up and said, “We’re going to do it in our community.” You just go type in your zip code and you can find out where an Art of Marriage event is happening near you, and then the two of you can go.
The audiences who have seen this in previous settings have really given great feedback, and so, let me encourage you: Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link for The Art of Marriage. You can find out where an event is being held near where you live. If there’s not one being held near where you live or you want to add another one to the list, you can sign on and together you can host an Art of Marriage event in your community, at your local church, or in whatever setting looks right for you.
Find out more by going to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link you find there to The Art of Marriage. We’re pretty excited about the hundreds of locations that are already registered, and looking forward to the launch on February 11th and 12th.
Again, if that weekend doesn’t work for you in your setting, if you want to do one in March or April or May or June or whenever, find out more. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on The Art of Marriage link, or call us toll-free: 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “TODAY,” and we can answer any questions you have about The Art of Marriage or we can get you registered for an event over the phone.
Now tomorrow Chuck Colson is going to join us and we are going to spend some time talking about how God is using average folks, everyday folks like, well, like you and me, to accomplish his purposes in a whole variety of areas, not only here in America, but all around the world. That’s coming up tomorrow. 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 will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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