About the Guest
Nina Roesner wasn't happy in her marriage. Though her husband ranked their relationship a perfect 10, she only rated it a two. Roesner, the executive director of Greater Impact Ministries, tells how God grew her in her relationship with her husband as she began to delve into the topics of respect and submission. Roesner began to realize that she had to communicate her needs, rather than expecting her spouse to read her mind, and that learning to respect her husband was the first step in loving him well.
Nina Roesner’s husband ranked their relationship a perfect 10; she only rated it a two. Roesner tells how God grew her relationship with her husband as she learned about respect and submission.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, September 4th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll hear from Nina Roesner today about how God got her attention that night at small group and what she did about it. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Dennis: I’ve got a question for you, Bob.
Dennis: Yes. When you and Mary Ann—
Bob: You know—I don’t like when you interrupt at the beginning of the program.
Dennis: You don’t?!
Bob: I’m supposed to start the program, and you interrupt me; and I don’t like that!
Dennis: Well, a little respect gets tough. [Laughter] You take me to places—all over the place!
Bob: So what’s your—
Dennis: I’m wondering where you’re going. So, occasionally, it’s good—
Bob: Turnabout is okay; alright.
Dennis: —to throw you a curve, as well.
Bob: What’s your question?
Dennis: So, when you and Mary Ann married, how in touch were you, as a young man, for your need to be respected by Mary Ann?
Bob: I knew it profoundly, but I could not have articulated it well.
Dennis: [Laughter] That is such a lame answer.
Bob: Every guy knows, deep in his core, that he’s longing for respect—it is bone deep! But I could not have put the words to it.
Dennis: Yes; and neither could I. Here’s kind of the kicker of the reason I asked you the question: if you weren’t in touch with your need to be respected,—
Dennis: —if we could have interviewed Mary Ann, do you think she would have understood that?
Bob: I think, again, internally, she knew, kind of, the power of respect; but I don’t think she knew about the importance of it. You know, we talk about this at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. We talk with couples about a husband’s responsibility in marriage and about a wife’s responsibility in marriage. This is something that, I think, is eye-opening for a lot of the couples who attend our getaways.
And one of the reasons I bring that up is because, this week and next week, we are encouraging FamilyLife Today listeners to make plans to attend a Weekend to Remember getaway this fall.
We’re going to be in dozens of cities all across the country between now and the first weekend in December. If you sign up to attend a getaway, this week or next week, you can save 50 percent off the regular registration fee. We know that it takes 100 percent to make a marriage work, but right now it only takes 50 percent for you to go to a getaway.
You can sign up, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. All of the information about the getaways—locations and dates—you’ll find it there. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link for the getaway. Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get the information or to sign up over the phone. You’ll need to use the code: “SAVE50” when you sign up for the getaway in order to qualify for this special offer; and it’s good for the next two weeks.
So, go online to FamilyLifeToday.com now to find out more about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway and get signed up for one of our getaways this fall.
In fact, I’m going to be at the getaway in Parsippany, New Jersey, later in November. I hope our listeners in the New York City area will come on out and spend the weekend with us in Parsippany. And I hope all of our listeners will make plans to be at an upcoming fall Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
Dennis: Well, we’ve got a guest here, who’s been watching us go back and forth, wondering, “Are these guys for real? [Laughter] Are they about to have blows?” [Laughter] Nina Roesner joins us on FamilyLife Today. Nina, we just have a good time here.
Bob: We do respect one another.
Dennis: We do respect each other.
Nina: Yes; that’s obvious in the way that you play together. [Laughter] That’s awesome!
Dennis: Nina has written a book called The Respect Dare. She gives leadership to a ministry called Greater Impact and lives with her husband and their three children near Cincinnati. They’ve been married since 1991.
Bob: I just have to find out, as we start, did you call Alex and Stephen Kendrick and say: “Look, I’m thinking about writing this book called The Respect Dare. Is that okay?”
Nina: Yes; I tried like six times to get hold of them, actually! [Laughter]
Bob: And then you just said, “Okay; I’m going to write it anyway.”
Nina: Yes; pretty much.
Bob: Because our listeners are familiar with The Love Dare—
Nina: Of course.
Bob: —the book they wrote, which is in the movie, Fireproof.
You’ve flipped that whole idea on its side; right?
Nina: Yes. I actually wrote The Respect Dare before I read The Love Dare. I knew of its existence, obviously, because of the movie; but I didn’t want to be a copycat. I just did what I felt God was leading me to do when I wrote the book.
Dennis: So take us back to when you dated. Bob and I heard this story, just a few moments ago, before we came into the studio. Share with our listeners, kind of, your history—not only with Jim but, also, FamilyLife.
Nina: Well, it’s just such a privilege to be here today because of that history. My walk as a Christian began with FamilyLife ministry. I was dating a wonderful man named Jim.
He had a boss who is now a state representative, or a senator, or something.
This guy was asking him all of these questions about his faith: “Why are you dating?” and “What’s the purpose of marriage?” which was kind of freaking him out; because he wasn’t even talking about marrying me at that point. It got him asking himself some questions about where he was at with the Lord. He started asking me some questions. I had absolutely no relationship; I didn’t even really know if I believed in God—I never thought about it.
After a number of conversations, it became very clear that Jim was not going to ask me to marry him unless I was a Christian. So, he started taking me to churches. I still didn’t really get it. We ended up deciding we were going to get married. He really should not have asked me to marry him. We both know that now, but we were pursuing the marriage thing.
At a FamilyLife marriage conference—we went as pre-marrieds—we went through the whole conference. I accepted Christ at the conference. I started pursuing my relationship with Christ. Jim and I were married for, probably, about four years. Like I said, he shouldn’t have married me because I didn’t want children—probably, some of the few things you should work out ahead of time.
Dennis: You were a career woman at the time?
Nina: I really was—very much so. I had no intentions of giving that up to stay home and wipe noses—I thought that was terrible.
I was at another FamilyLife ministry Weekend to Remember, because we kept going back every couple of years; and I felt seriously convicted by God that this was just a wonderful opportunity. We have three wonderful children now—it really is a privilege! The respect piece has played into the relationships with my boys too. That whole teenage rebellion thing—we haven’t had to suffer through all of that. We’ve got these fabulous relationships with our kids.
I just really appreciate the opportunity to even just be here today.
Dennis: I want to take you back to your marriage to Jim. You mention in your book—The Respect Dare—that things weren’t quite going like you expected them to. Was there a dark moment that ultimately got your attention?
Nina: You know, we were sitting around at small group one night; and we were talking about our marriages. We’d been studying marriage, and somebody came up with this bright idea to rate our marriages on a scale of 1 to 10. My heart starts to pound; and I was just going, “I don’t want to do this!” They came around the room, and they get to me. I said, “I’ll take a pass.” Of course, everybody was just really interested in my response at that point. They pressed me for an answer; and I said, “I’m going to give it a 2.” Jim looked at me, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look as hurt as he did at that moment.
Dennis: Now, you—here’s a couple of Christians, both followers of Christ—
Nina: Right; right.
Dennis: —you’re going to church.
Dennis: Did you have a family started at that point?
Bob: Why was your marriage a “2”?
Nina: I wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel loved by my husband. He loved me, but I didn’t receive that in a healthy way. I didn’t perceive his love. I was very self-focused. Even as a Christian, I was not very mature as a Christian. I was very selfish in the way that I viewed relationships. I had bought the lie of the world that marriage is to make us happy. Instead of giving myself in my marriage, I was really trying to receive and focus on, you know, the “happily ever after”—that kind of Prince Charming kind of stuff. Being a career person, I knew what made me feel happy at work. I expected to feel that way in my marriage, and I wasn’t getting that.
Bob: So what was it like after that small group meeting, or did the small group meeting kind of evolve into, “What’s going on with Jim and Nina?” [Laughter]
Dennis: Or the drive home—was it an interesting drive home?
Nina: It was really just a very painful thing. There was dead silence [in the group], because nobody knows what to do with that. Then, he looked at me and he goes, “Well, I guess we have a problem, because I would give us a 10.” Everybody laughed, and then we moved on to the next couple.
Bob: Did you talk about it afterwards?
Nina: Yes. He said: “Why is this a 2? Why are you so unhappy? I’m doing this, this, and this.” In his mind, he was doing all the right things. I could see that he was doing all of those things, but I just didn’t feel loved. There was so much I just didn’t know—first, as a believer, and about having a relationship with God. I was wrapping my identity up in my husband and our relationship. I had some very worldly lies that I fully embraced in my thinking that skewed my understanding of what a healthy marriage, that’s fulfilling and glorifying to God, really looked like.
Bob: Things like—what kind of lies?
Nina: Like: “I’m a second-class citizen if I do something for him and he doesn’t thank me,” or that “I’m really a servant, and that’s a lesser status position.” I didn’t understand having a servant’s heart, and what a fulfilling role that is. I didn’t get that. I wasn’t very mature in that regard.
Dennis: That kind of explains why this book you’ve written begins, in Chapter 1—the first day of the 40-day challenge—around expectations.
Dennis: You had to realign your expectations around what was true.
Dennis: So what ultimately got you on the right path?
Nina: God drug me, kicking and screaming, through a study on respect and submission. It seemed everywhere I went—and this was probably five or six years after that particular small group experience. I was just reading, and everywhere I would go, there would be something on this.
I had come to the point where I had a strong enough relationship with God that, in my heart, I just wanted to live my life for Him. I yearned to delight Him. I just wanted to be with Him all of the time. I had what I call the “Elijah moment,” where I said: “Send me—I’ll go. I’ll do anything You want me to do.”
The first place He wanted to grow me was in my relationship with my husband. What happened was—I was crawling around on the floor one Christmas, picking up Christmas wrapping paper—you know, we had little kids. Jim is sitting there, reading the newspaper—that’s all he’s doing. I didn’t know that men are different than women. I, still, after so many years of marriage, expected him to just know that I needed help at that time. Instead of being the mature woman, and asking for what I needed, I just seethed quietly.
I was angry, and I started to cry. I am sniffing / I am on my hands and knees—I’m picking up from Christmas—you know, the little pieces that are left over after. He bends his paper back, and looks at me, and goes, “Is everything okay?” I’m sniffing and I’m thinking, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!” I just couldn’t even answer him—I was just so upset. I ended up leaving the room after I finished. I went upstairs. He has no clue what’s going on with me. I was praying, and God was impressing on me that I was the one that needed to change / that I was the one that had the issue.
It wasn’t that he didn’t love me. It was: I needed to be more mature in Christ, and I needed to learn what respect really looked like—not just respect for my husband—but respect for God and respect for myself.
Bob: You know, there are women who hear you tell the story you just told and they go: “I think you came to the wrong conclusion, sister!
Bob: “Because you’re crawling on the floor, picking up the wrapping paper. He’s over in the easy chair, reading the newspaper. You go upstairs and go, ‘This issue is me’?!”
Bob: So, what do you say to that woman?
Nina: Well, I spent a lot of years thinking like that. The problem is that that doesn’t solve anything—it makes things worse. What I’ve learned now—if I were to replay that whole scenario—I would say to my husband, “Hey, Baby, will you help me clean this up?” because I know that men are different. They don’t even see half the things that we see, physically. So, I wouldn’t expect him to even (a) care that there was stuff on the floor and (b) know that I needed help or wanted him to be part of doing something about that.
I would just be a grown-up and respectfully say, “Hey, can we do this now?”
Dennis: You know, as a man, I might look at the paper and I’d go, “You know, if we get that cleaned up by the end of the day…”
Dennis: A man just thinks about it totally differently. It’s a woman’s domain—the home—how clean it is. What you’re talking about is expecting your husband to be a mind-reader—
Dennis: —when we, as men—we’re not really good at that.
Nina: Yes; and it’s one of the lies of the world. I used to teach classes on “Management by Mind-Reading”—making fun of that phrase and saying: “No; you need to articulate what you want. Be clear in your communication.” But in my marriage, for some reason, I forgot that that also applies there. I mean, it’s very simple.
Dennis: And being able to make the request without attaching a lot of emotional baggage to the statement.
Nina: Exactly; exactly.
Dennis: There’s a way to make the statement: “Hey, Sweetie, could you help out with the dishes?” or “…putting the kids to bed tonight? I’m just dead on my feet.”
Dennis: Or it can come with a threat / it can come with anger. It can come with, again, all kinds of emotion.
Bob: When you were a young bride and you would read things in the Bible about “respect your husband” or “Wives, submit to your husbands,” did it just cause your back to stiffen?
Nina: Back-stiffening and hair standing up on the back of my neck; yes; yes.
Bob: Nobody likes to read—I mean, I can understand that—something that says, “Submit yourself” to anybody. That never feels good. Although, the Scripture tells us that we’re all to submit to authorities; right?
Bob: I have to submit / you have to submit—we submit in an authority structure—but there’s something about telling a wife to submit to her husband that is particularly onerous.
Nina: Yes; you know, we live in a culture that communicates that, if we do so, we’re being abused, and we’re subservient, and we’re really maids. Really, the actual living out of respect and submission, in a marriage, is not anything like what the culture would have you believe it looks like.
Dennis: So, at what point did the concept of your husband’s need for respect finally dawn upon you and, ultimately, result in a book here, called The Respect Dare? I mean, think about where we are right now in the story; and you’ve come a long way.
Nina: Oh, my word! The Lord’s done a huge work in my life. The place where the book actually came about was years later, where I had seen that these things actually can have a positive impact on your relationship with your husband. I knew, back then, that God wanted me to do this. It was in His Word—I was called to obey that / I wanted to obey it—and I had to trust Him with it.
So I decided that I was going to run a social experiment in my home with my husband. I was going to do everything I could do to respect him. I started asking him questions:
“Does this feel like respect to you?” or “I see that you’re upset. How did I just upset you? Did I disrespect you in some way?” We were on the freeway one time, and we were headed to an appointment. We were late. He was in the far left lane. He was driving like crazy, so we can get there. Our exit is coming up.
I had been reading gobs of books. I was reading everything I could get my hands on about how to be a respectful wife. There wasn’t a lot out there—but what there was—I was reading. It said: “You never correct or criticize your husband’s driving. If he’s going to make the wrong turn, you just let him. You let God deal with the outcome of that.” So I’m going: “Okay; I just read that, but we’re going to miss our exit. We’re late for the appointment.” I am struggling with all of this—so I just said, “Baby, would it be disrespectful of me to let you know that that’s our exit?”
He crosses three lanes of traffic and pulls up to the stop light.
He looks at me and he says, “What are you reading now?” [Laughter] I told him; and he said: “You know, if you’d said: ‘I can’t believe that you’re driving like this! You never do this right!’ If you had criticized me or been condescending—yes, that would have been disrespectful. But for you not to say something to me and to allow me to fail—you are not being my friend. You are not helping me get this right.”
Nina: I had this “Aha” moment, where I went: “Okay; it’s going to be different for every man, a little bit. I just need to talk to him and involve him in the process.”
Bob: And tone and attitude are—
Bob: —those are bigger issues than the information.
Bob: That’s what your story points out. He didn’t mind you saying, “Sweetheart, that’s our exit.”
Bob: What he would have minded is if it were like, “You never…! You always…!”—that kind of thing.
Dennis: “You’re about to miss the exit again!!”
Bob: “You bonehead!”—right.
Dennis: “We’re going to be late!”—et cetera; yes.
Well, the thing I want our listeners to hear—number one—is a man may not be in touch with his own need for respect and certainly may not be able to articulate what it looks like—
Dennis: —especially early in the marriage.
Bob: But it’s there!
Dennis: It is there. It is real.
Dennis: And then, the second thing for just the wives to hear—for single women, as far as that goes—there is a tremendous need for a woman to understand how this does help a man’s soul. This is profoundly powerful—to respect him and to find out—almost becoming a student of your husband—
Dennis: —or of men—to say, “What communicates respect to them?” Now, a single woman is not commanded to respect her friend, as a man, the same way that a wife is; but, nonetheless, she should become a student of how to do this.
I want to refer everyone, if you haven’t read this passage recently—
—I would call this a nuclear passage / it’s just packed with all kinds of energy—Ephesians 5:33: “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself.”
Bob: We could spend a lot of time on that; couldn’t we?
Dennis: So, there’s the wife’s need to be loved.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: “And let the wife see that she respects her husband.” So, there’s the husband’s assignment to love and the wife’s mandate to respect her husband—and to find out how to do that.
Dennis: And your illustration of driving down the road—just disarming the statement—
Dennis: —by saying, “Would it be disrespectful if I communicated that you’re about to drive by where we need to turn off here?”
Dennis: That’s brilliant! I mean, it absolutely—for most men—it is going to be able to be received a whole lot more easily. Now, there may be a husband who is so sensitive to the issue—
Dennis: —that you may need to be careful, even with that statement.
Nina: And one of the things that I found that I could do—I just ask a lot of questions.
Nina: Just getting information—it’s possible I’m wrong. That’s one of those things, too, that’s very respectful—is softening whatever you’re going to say with: “You know, I might be wrong here, but I think that may be our exit,” or whatever it is.
Bob: Yes. You know, I’m concerned a little bit that there may be some listeners, who hear this conversation and think: “It sounds like you’re saying a wife is supposed to coddle her husband and treat him with kid gloves. Always make sure you’re saying the right thing.” But what we’re really talking about here is how we love one another. Husbands need to grow in that area / wives need to grow—we all need to do a better job of showing love and respect to one another in a marriage relationship. That’s what you’re encouraging wives to do in the book that you’ve written called The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband through the Practice of Respect in Your Marriage Relationship.
We’ve got copies of Nina’s book, The Respect Dare, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order.
And don’t forget, when you go to the website, get more information about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaways that we’re going to be hosting this fall in cities all across the country. If you sign up this week or next week, and you identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener, you’ll save 50 percent off the regular registration fee. We know it takes 100 percent to make a marriage work; but right now, it only takes 50 percent for you to go to a getaway.
So, again, sign up, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com—use the promo code: “SAVE50” when you sign up—that’s “SAVE5-0”—and you’ll qualify for the special registration rate. Or you can call to register: 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
We do hope you’ll plan to attend an upcoming getaway. These really are great events for husbands and wives.
Now, tomorrow, we want to talk about how a wife’s respect for her husband / her demonstration of respect can actually cause him to open up and to become more transparent. It leads to a deeper level of intimacy in a marriage relationship. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. I 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.
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