All I Want is a Little Respect
About the Guest
Dennis and Barbara Rainey say that understanding what your husband needs and providing that is a powerful way to communicate respect.
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
Try understanding what your husband needs.
All I Want is a Little Respect
Bob: There is something profoundly spiritual that happens when a couple comes together in marital intimacy. Here's Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: As the Bible says, marriage is the picture of Christ's relationship with the Church. So, I think that, in marital intimacy, what we are longing for is—we're longing for that kind of connection that we were made for, in a relationship with Him—because we were made for relationship with God, and we were made for intimacy with one another.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 6th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Real romance happens when two people come together, soul-to-soul. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. We’ve been having this conflict over romantic music all this week. I really think it’s time we go back to the first theme. Go ahead and hit the first theme music; alright? Here we go. [Jazz music]
Bob: It's got a little more energy; it's got a little more mood to it than that—the piano is nice, but that one's got just a little more punch; don’t you think? [Laughter]
Barbara: Does that mean it's because you like it better?
Bob: Well, I don't know. I guess it's just different situations call for different moods.
Dennis: That's right; and when we come to the subject of rekindling the romance in your marriage—where we're doing a romantic makeover of couples' marriages—we certainly approach romance differently.
Bob: We do.
Dennis: We've already talked this week about how a wife views romance—and how she needs to feel secure, how she needs to feel loved and accepted—and how a man can communicate those things to her so she can experience romance.
Bob: And those are really core foundational needs. When we talk about a romantic makeover, I think people think, you know, new pillow shams for the bed, new wallpaper—and your wife is here with us—Barbara—wouldn't that sound like kind of a romantic makeover to you if you spruced up the bedroom a little bit?
Barbara: Well, it would be a part of it. That would be nice.
Bob: But when you get to the core needs—that's where things like security and acceptance—if that's not happening, the pillow shams aren't going to make any difference.
Barbara: That's right; it makes no difference.
Dennis: You can have all the candles burning, in the world—
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: —and have all the right music—whether it be piano or jazz—and it's not going to change the mood because, if a woman doesn't feel loved by her husband—cherished and nourished by him—then she is not going to experience romance in their marriage.
Bob: Is it the same for a man? I mean, if a woman needs security and acceptance in order to feel safe in a romantic relationship, does a man have those same needs? And here—I would imagine that we're going to deal with some themes that may be for more mature audiences. Parents may decide whether their children ought to continue with this part of the conversation—but does a man have those same needs for security and acceptance?
Dennis: You know, I think he does; but I think he needs them in different ways. He needs security. He needs affirmation and acceptance for who he is as a man, but I think one of the key words for a man is respect. In fact, in our book, Rekindling the Romance, we share the top five romantic needs of your man. Now, no top-five list would be true for every man, but I've talked to far too many men to know that these aren't far off—if they're not 100 percent accurate. Let me just give those top five to you.
Number one, he needs his wife to respect and celebrate who he is as a man and how God made him to be intimate with his wife. Secondly, he needs a wife to make his romantic needs a priority in their relationship. Third, he needs his wife to desire and make him feel wanted, from an intimate standpoint. He needs his wife to feel unashamed of her passion and desire for him. Number four, he needs his wife to be adventuresome, fun, and imaginative when it comes to intimacy. And, finally, he needs his wife to let him know that he did it—that he was “the man”—that he brought her great delight and great pleasure.
Bob: Barbara, those five needs that Dennis talked about are all wrapped up in marital intimacy which, obviously, as you wrote to women in your half of the book, Rekindling the Romance, you were challenging them to understand that that's an essential part of a husband's need in a relationship. How is that wrapped up with the whole issue of respect—do you think?
Barbara: Well, I think a wife needs to understand what her husband needs before she can meet those needs. I think most men need to be respected for who they are, as men. And if she doesn't understand that, then she might say things that are belittling—might do things that communicate that she doesn't appreciate who he is, as a man, and how God has wired him. So, I think before you can begin to take the steps that are necessary for a makeover in your relationship, you have to know what the real core is for a man. He needs to be respected.
Bob: Does that mean that this issue of respect goes beyond intimacy—it’s bigger than just what goes on in marital romance?
Barbara: Yes, I think it is. I think it's much bigger than that. I think it's a wife who respects her husband's manhood—respects his masculinity as different from her femininity. We are very different people. As we've talked about before, it's easy for women to view their husbands through their own lenses and to expect her husband to think like she does, and respond like she does, and be upset when he doesn't. But a wise woman will understand that her husband is wired differently by God. There's a grand design for that—and she will appreciate it, and accept it, and respect him for that.
Bob: It sounds as if you're using respect for your husband and responding with physical intimacy in a marriage as if they're interchangeable. Is a man saying that, “Foundationally, fundamentally, if you really respect me, this is how it's going to manifest itself, primarily”?
Dennis: It's a core issue. I would say this to a woman, “Would you feel like you're loved, and accepted, and embraced as a woman if a man did not accept your need for a relationship with him? In other words, if”—
Bob: —“he didn't spend time with you, he didn't talk much to you”—
Dennis: Right. And when you did—kind of brushed it off and said, "That's just being a woman," or, "You're just the way you are, and I'm different." For a man, this issue is a core issue. He needs to feel like his wife not only understands how God made him but then moves beyond that to say: "You know what? I'll change my priorities to be able to meet you and express myself to you—to meet a unique need that only I can meet in your life."
Bob: Barbara, if I was to ask you: “Do you admire Dennis? Do you respect him?” Would you answer—
Barbara: Oh, yes, definitely.
Bob: What do you admire about him? What are some of the things that—
Barbara: Well, you know, it's really interesting. I've grown in my admiration. When we were first dating and first married, I admired him because he was different. He came in and accepted me in a way that I've never been accepted before, and I felt loved. But as we've grown in the years of marriage, that admiration has become more specific. Those differences have become more specific.
So, now, I can say I admire things about his character; like, for instance, he is a very generous and very giving person—one of the most giving people I've ever known. There are things like that that I see in him that are very lacking in my life. It's how we balance one another.
Bob: What's another area? You admire him for his generosity and a giving person—what else?
Barbara: I admire his leadership, and his tenacity in work, and that he gets up and keeps going, even after days that are hard. I would want to just roll over in bed and pull the covers over my head and say: "I quit! I'm not going back." I'd just want to retreat, and hide, and go away because it's too hard; but he keeps on. Those are all the kinds of qualities that God has built in him, as a leader and as a man, that I think are essence of masculinity.
Bob: Do you express that to him very often?
Barbara: Probably not often enough.
Bob: Did you like hearing that?
Dennis: Oh, yes! Who doesn't, as a man, enjoy hearing those positive words? And every man needs to know, from time to time, what he does do right.
Barbara: What you do right because I'll tell you what you don't do right, too; don’t I? [Laughter]
Bob: Now, if she affirms you in those things that you do right and those things she admires and respects about you, and then it comes time for the two of you to be intimate, and she's not interested or doesn't respond, does that negate all the nice things that she's said about you?
Dennis: It can, sure. I think that's true for most men. I think romance can be urgent and important to a man. For a woman, it may be important but not urgent. So, at the point where a man is initiating, out of a sense of urgency and importance, and his wife does not meet him at that point—
Barbara: —and doesn't recognize the urgency or doesn't value the urgency—
Bob: —or had some other priority—like sleep—on her mind; yes.
Dennis: Right. I think, in the mind of that man, he can begin to question whether her words of respect, around those other areas, are really true or not because, again, this area is really a core issue of how a man is affirmed, uniquely, by his wife. You know, a man gets affirmed about what he does by a lot of people. No other human being on the planet can affirm this area of a man's life.
Bob: And it's the ultimate validator. Ultimately, it validates everything else or it negates everything else. You can affirm in all kinds of areas—and in the back of my mind, I'm thinking: "Well, if you really believe those things, then, of course, you'd respond to my romance. I mean, why wouldn't you—if you really think I'm all that special?” And so, if a woman—if a wife—does not respond, the husband thinks: "Well, you were just making all that stuff up. You don't really feel that way about me because, if you did, you'd respond."
Dennis: I think this is one of the areas, Bob, where the feminist movement has really propagated a lie among women—especially, women of faith. I think women can be deceived into thinking it's just not that important—it's not that central to who he is. And yet, in the research we did, and the feedback we received back from men—man! When we asked the question of men, and when we allowed them to respond, anonymously, we got an earful. The issue was, really, “Would someone please speak straight to our wives about, number one, the importance; but then, secondly, how they can begin to act responsibly to meet this need in their husband's life.”
Bob: You know, I think there is something here that both men and women don't fully understand. I think we tend to think of a man's need for physical intimacy and think, "Well, that's just—it's the physical expression that that man needs." There is something beneath the surface—not at the physical level, but at the emotional level, and even at the spiritual level—that is in the soul of a man—that is touched when a couple comes together in physical intimacy; isn't there?
Barbara: Yes, there really is because it's, as the Bible says, that marriage is the picture of Christ's relationship with the Church. I think that, in marital intimacy, we're longing for that kind of connection that we were made for—that God designed us to be made for, in relationship with Him. So, when we're rejected or when we're not respected for the way God made us, it really is a stab at the core of our personhood because we were made for relationship with God. We were made for intimacy with one another. That needs to be valued in both husband and wife.
Bob: Now, we addressed this issue the last time we talked about this subject, but some of our listeners didn't hear it. Some of the wives, who are listening, saying: "You are not describing my husband. I know that it may be typical for a man to have a strong need in the area of marital intimacy. That's not the case with my husband."
Dennis: Yes, you know, it was interesting, Bob. We received many emails—one from a woman whose husband is only 26. She had recently had a baby. She said she knew her weight was an issue with her husband; but basically, he was no longer interested in her. There was another one who had only been married two years. Her husband, because of his drug habit, was experiencing this problem. Still, yet another—a wife wondered if her husband was addicted to pornography because he was not expressing what we were describing as a normal interest in his wife.
Well, different people have different appetites. There will be marriages—I would estimate 20, perhaps 25 percent of them—where a wife could, perhaps, express interest in this area of their relationship more so than her husband. If that's the case, you just need to recognize that and then begin to manage your expectations appropriately and begin to talk about it, as a couple.
Bob: So, you're saying, “If your husband doesn't have that kind of interest, that doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong”?
Dennis: Not necessarily, but it does need to be a subject of discussion. It doesn't need to be swept under the rug; and you just say, "Well, that's the way he is." You need to explore what's behind that. Why is that the case? Is there something else that is siphoning off his drive and his desire for you, as a woman? It could be that there is something, like pornography or a sexual addiction, that is zapping his drive, at that point. But a couple needs to talk about this and take this seriously.
Bob: If a husband and wife came to both of you, Barbara, and said: "You know, in our marriage, we're both okay with being together intimately, oh, a half-a-dozen times a year. We're kind of okay with that." Would you say, "Well, if you're okay with it and it's working out that way fine for both of you, then that's fine,” or would you say, "That's probably not what God has in mind for your marriage."
Barbara: I think I'd be a little suspicious. I'm not sure exactly what I would say, but I think I would be a little suspicious that maybe things weren't quite what they ought to be and that they should pursue growing in that area of their relationship. One of the things that we discovered, when writing this book, is that very few married couples talk about this area in their relationship. They just accept the way it is and don't discuss it.
That was a surprise to us because we've talked about it a great deal. By talking about it, we've grown in our understanding of one another. We've grown in lots of ways. I would, at the very minimum, I would suggest that they begin discussing it, and begin trying to understand one another better, and find out what's behind that lack of interest.
Bob: So, you're saying half-a-dozen times a year, even if both of them are okay, they need to probe that area because it may be a symptom that all is not well?
Barbara: Yes, I would. Yes, I think they should pursue that.
Bob: Do you agree with that?
Dennis: I do. I think, at that point, a wife does need to ask her husband, “Is there a chance there are any sexual counterfeits” in their marriage. By that, I’m talking about going online, looking at magazines—perhaps dabbling in some other sexual outlet for his drive and passion.
Bob: Having an affair—those are things that may be, as you said, draining a man of physical passion. You listed a number of other things in the book. It could be depression. It could be stress.
Bob: There could be all kinds of factors. They may not be sexual in nature, but they may still be taking a man’s energy away from this area of their marriage. I think the point is—
Dennis: —make it a point of open discussion.
Bob: And if there’s not a regular, healthy—and we're not trying to say, you know, "Here is the biblically-required minimum daily allowance;" you know?
Bob: We're not trying to put a number to it; but we're saying, “If it seems, to you, like your intimacy is less frequent than it ought to be, you need to talk about it, you need to explore it, you need to pray about it, and you may need to seek counsel from others.”
Dennis: Yes, and that's why we wrote the book, Rekindling the Romance, because it provides a chance for a couple to begin to read material, directed at them as a wife—half the book is written to wives—the other half is written to men. Those portions of the book can be discussed, as a couple.
In fact, one husband—who read Barbara's chapters on the power of a wife and her specific power in the life of her husband, that we're talking about here—said: "You know, in all my years of reading," —and this particular man had read a lot of books on marriage and intimacy—he said, "I think this is some of the finest material and most straightforward I've ever heard, woman-to-woman. It needs to get out there because there aren't a lot of women who are shooting straight with other women."
I think that's true today. I think there needs to be an opportunity for older women, who have grown in their understanding, take some younger women, under their wing, and say: "Let me tell you what I've learned over three decades of marriage together. I want to do a little mentoring of you here." I think every wife can benefit by reading Barbara's words around this subject.
Bob: I just forwarded to both of you a copy of an email that we got from a listener who said essentially the same thing. She said: "I'm a homeschooling mom. We have eight kids, between the ages of 5 and 24—all of them still living at home. I have been waiting years for somebody to write the book you wrote." She said, specifically:
I can't thank you enough, Barbara, for your candor and for your honesty. Finally, somebody, in my shoes, has told it like it really is. You've been able to give me some hope. I had grown cynical and hopeless about the romantic side of marriage because of the reasons that you’ve listed; but I heard the two of you talking about the book on FamilyLife Today.
I bought it; and when it came, I started reading it that very night. The short stories that are at the beginning of the men's section and the women's section were completely engrossing. Every time I went somewhere, I took the book with me in case I'd have a few minutes to read. My husband and I took a weekend getaway right about the time the book came. I asked him if he would read the men's part of the book. He agreed.
We wound up having a great dialog about this area of our marriage, that has been a source of frustration for years. Your book has been a tremendous help and encouragement to us. We've been married 27 years. We have a strong, committed marriage with great communication; but your book has helped me understand and accept God's gift for men and women in marriage even better.
In fact, some of what you wrote, Barbara, was like you lifted the thoughts right out of my head. I can't tell you how grateful I am. There is a sweetness in our relationship, even though the stresses of life haven't changed. You know how many stressors eight children can provide—not to mention the rest of life. So, thanks for writing the book and thanks for being so honest.
When you get an email like that—I know that that’s part of the reason you guys wrote the book Rekindling the Romance—is to provide help for couples, whether they’re new in marriage or whether they’ve been married for years—help them understand God’s purpose and design for the romantic aspect of a marriage relationship.
We have copies of the book, Rekindling the Romance,in our FamilyLifeToday Resource Center. In fact, our team has put together a resource kit for Valentine’s Day. It’s the book and the Simply Romantic® Nightscollection—a collection of date ideas for husbands and wives. It’s a year-long date kit—so you can plan out some special events for each other, throughout the year. When you get the book, Rekindling the Romance, and the Simply Romantic Nights collection together, we’re going to include, at no additional cost, a husband’s book and a wife’s book with some romantic tips—just on how to keep the passion alive in your marriage relationship.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about what’s available. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call us, toll-free, at 1-800-FL-TODAY if you’d like more information about the resources we’re making available. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com, and the toll-free number is 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Also, we want to give a quick shout out to those of you who are FamilyLife Today supporters. We are listener-supported. The cost for producing and syndicating this program is something that gets covered by folks, like you, who from time to time, get in touch with us and make a donation to help support the ministry. We also want to thank our Legacy Partners who provide monthly support for this ministry. We appreciate you.
This month, if you’re able to help with a donation of any amount, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you an audio CD—a message I presented, not long ago, about marital intimacy—where we talked about some of the challenges couples face: “What are the things that get in the way of healthy marital intimacy?” “What keeps us from having a vibrant romantic relationship?”
If you’d like to receive that CD, all you have to do is make a donation, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I CARE”; and then, make an online donation and request the CD. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make a donation over the phone, and ask for the CD on marital intimacy. We’re happy to send it out to you. Again, we’re grateful that you partner with us in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
And we hope you can be back with us tomorrow when we’re going to talk about some of the ingredients—some of the seasoning that goes into the romantic recipe. How do you keep the romance from becoming bland? We’re going to talk about that tomorrow. Hope you can be back 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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