How to Speak Romance to Your Wife, Part 1
About the Guest
Why is romance so important to a woman? Find out by joining Dennis and Barbara Rainey for today's broadcast.
Why is romance so important to a woman?
Bob: Guys, you remember when you and your wife were dating, and you tended to hang on every word she said, and you tried to figure her out, learn what her desires were, pick up clues from the subtle hints she dropped?
Now that you're married, you just wish she'd spell it out for you and make it easy, right? Well, according to Barbara Rainey, your wife still wishes you were trying to figure her out.
Barbara: I think that's part of what's romantic to us, is we want, and we wish, and we hope that we could make suggestions and that our husbands would be as tuned into us as they were when we were dating. Because, see, that motivation you see early on in the new love phase, we wives hope that motivation will still be there, and that you pick up on those kinds of things, because you want to please one another so much.
So I think that there is still that hope that he would pick up on it. I mean, how romantic is that? That would be wonderful.
This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, January 30th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Now, guys, listen – if you want to rekindle the romance in your marriage, you may have to tune back in a little bit.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. How is it that the man who, on the wedding day, seems like the man of your dreams, winds up being the man of your bad dreams later on, you know, the guy of your nightmares. How does that happen?
Dennis: Ask Barbara.
Bob: How does that happen, Barbara? Barbara Rainey joins us on the program again today. Barbara, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Barbara: Thank you, Bob.
Bob: How does that happen?
Barbara: I think it's just the reality of waking up someday and realizing that we're both real people, and we're not performing anymore like we were when we were dating.
Bob: The dream wasn't real in the first place?
Dennis: The myth that was sold …
Bob: … during the engaged period …
Dennis: … was oversold.
Bob: Whenever I'm speaking at one of our Weekend to Remember conferences, I will often say to the engaged couples, "Now, you both realize you are just lying to each other. Every time you're getting together, you're lying to each other.
Dennis: And, you know, it's interesting, Bob, at the Weekend to Remember, these engaged couples write on their evaluations, "You know, that really offended me that you said that."
Bob: That's right, that's right, because they still like being in the dream. Everybody wants to be in the dream, but all of the married …
Barbara: It seems like reality to them.
Bob: But all of the married couples, as soon as you say, "You're lying to each other." And I'll call on them at the Weekend to Remember. I'll say, "Now, married couples, am I telling the truth? Did you lie to each other?"
Dennis: Oh, their heads are nodding.
Bob: They're nodding, "Yeah, we were lying to each other," and then I'll tell them how I lied to Mary Ann and how she lied to me. I'll give them some examples, and they can begin to see, "Maybe we aren't really revealing our real selves during the new love phase of a relationship."
Dennis: Well, what happens in a marriage is what we wrote about in our book, "Rekindling the Romance." Day after day, the cold, hard reality hacks away at what the sold as the truth but quickly is revealed, as you said, as a lie. He thinks, "Why can't she be ready on time?" All right, now, that's never happened to our marriage.
And she's evaluating, "Why doesn't he help me clean up after dinner anymore?"
Bob: Mm-hm, that's never happened in your marriage, either.
Dennis: No, never, never. He also thinks, "Why can't she balance a checkbook. It's pretty simple math, you know?" Or "Why can't she cook as well as my mother?" Those are a couple of …
Barbara: That doesn't go over very well.
Dennis: No, it doesn't, but she's thinking, "Can't he pick up his clothes or his underwear for once?" Or "Why does he spend so much time watching the stupid ball games on TV?" Then he begins to think, "Why doesn't she want sex as much as I do?" To which she responds, "Doesn't he like going shopping with me anymore at the mall?" Or he adds, "Does she always talk this much? Why does she talk this much?" And she counters, "Why has he stopped talking to me?"
That's what happens in a relationship. We begin to miss one another, reality presses in, and we do end up feeling like the other person lied to us.
Bob: Well, and we find out how different we really are.
Dennis: But if you go back to the book of Genesis, in Genesis, chapter 2, what did God say? "It is not good that the man be alone." Now, what is God saying there? Well, He's saying, "The way I created a man is with a unique need for relationship." Now, the problem is, he doesn't know he needs a relationship. What he thinks he needs is sex.
But in the process of pursuing his wife for the sexual dimension of their marriage relationship, he makes a magnificent discovery, and that is, "You know what? I'm learning how to relate to a person who is imperfect and to a person who is different from me."
And I think it takes many years in the marriage relationship before most men realize you know what? I have a relationship deficit, and my wife, Barbara, has taught me how to truly love, how to truly relate to another person.
Bob: Barbara, Dennis keeps saying that we need to learn how to speak relationship, as men, okay, I'm hearing that, and I want to know more about what that looks like. When we do that, whatever it is, is that what makes you women go …
Dennis: What did you mean, "Whatever it is?" You're acting like you don't know.
Bob: I'm waiting to hear more about what it means.
Dennis: Did you know how to speak relationship when you got married?
Barbara: He thought he did.
Bob: I did think I did, and I've learned that I'm not …
Dennis: So when was the big aha! for you?
Bob: Yesterday, you know, and tomorrow and the day after. It's a continuing aha! isn't it? I mean, we grow in this. Let me tell you how sometimes this breaks down, or at least how it did recently in our relationship.
Back around the time of our anniversary, Mary Ann and I were – we were talking. I think we were out to dinner, and she said, "You know what would be neat? You know what we ought to do? We ought to get out our wedding video and get the kids and have everybody watch the wedding video.
And I said to her, "Yeah, that would be fun," okay? End of conversation.
Dennis: Thinking it would be fun.
Bob: Well, yeah, I thought that would be fun. Now – I didn't remember that. I didn't think about it later on, and that night as we were going to bed, she said she was a little disappointed that I hadn't gotten out the video and gathered the kids around.
Now, I thought she was just saying that would be a neat thing to do.
Dennis: Just an idea.
Bob: Yeah, it would be fun, no big deal. She thought she was expressing to me, "I would really like this. This would value me. You would show that you're respecting me." And so when I didn't pick up on that, I guess what I communicated was that I really didn't think much of her silly idea …
… and she wasn't all that happy with it. Sometimes, don't you think, Barbara, that women ought to just be a little more direct in how they express what it is that they'd like?
Barbara: I do think sometimes we should be more direct, but I think what we want – I think that's part of what's romantic to us, is we want, and we wish, and we hope that we could make suggestions like that, and that our husbands would be as tuned into us as they were when we were dating.
Because, see, all of this stuff that we're talking about – and so that motivation that you see early on in the new love phase, we wives hope that that motivation will still be there, and when you have conversations when you're newly in love and newly engaged, you pick up on those kinds of things because you want to please one another so much.
So I think that, yes, we need to be more forthright, and we need to be more specific about what we want and what would please us, but I think there's still that hope that we would be …
Bob: That you could drop hints, and we'd pick up on them.
Barbara: That we could drop hints, and that he would pick up on it. I mean, how romantic is that? That would be wonderful.
Bob: That's so annoying.
Dennis: It really is. It really is, because you're expected to be a mindreader.
Barbara: No, it's not being a mindreader. You don't have to read minds.
Dennis: Here is what a man can do, though, and he can grab hold of these three concepts because they're very important if you're going to build a relationship with your wife, and I'll give you all three, and then we'll kind of go back over all of them.
Number one, a wife needs security; trust me, guys, she needs security. Secondly, she needs acceptance; and, third, if you're going to speak romance to her after security and acceptance are in place, she is going to need what she calls "emotional connection."
You don't have to be a mindreader to practically begin to meet your wife's romantic needs relationally in each of these three areas.
Bob: Well, let me have Barbara define them on a woman's terms for us. When you're talking about needing security, do you mean you need an alarm system on the house, is that what you mean?
Barbara: Maybe, maybe not. But I think, relationally, I need to know that my husband is committed to me, and that he's going to be there for me no matter what. So I think it starts in the marriage relationship knowing that we are secure in our relationship. He is committed to me, I'm committed to him, and he's not going anywhere. So that's the first level of security.
Now, there may be another level of security as you move out from that center circle to another ring or another level of where he provides physical security.
Dennis: In fact, was it last night I came home, and our daughter, Rebecca, said she heard someone …
Barbara: Night before last.
Dennis: … someone come in the front door while she was there alone. So when I arrived home with Barbara there, Barbara wanted me to look through the house.
Barbara: I said, "Why don't you look through the house and just be sure."
Dennis: Because that's a man's responsibility – to take care of any intruder that would break into his house. And so I got a flashlight and looked in every closet, went through every room, because we were about to go to bed, and then I decided I'd go outside and found out that there had been a raccoon who had knocked over …
Barbara: One of my pots.
Dennis: One of Barbara's pots …
Barbara: On the deck, and it busted it.
Dennis: And broke it, and that's what sounded like the door opening. Well, I think, for a lot of guys, we can get the flashlight, and we can look in the closet and take care of those intruders, but there are other intruders that come into a marriage that a lot of guys – well, we just need some coaching and encouragement to take the flashlight and shine it on them.
Bob: Like what?
Dennis: Well, like issues from the past. Perhaps your wife came from a family where she had been abandoned or abused. Well, that's an intruder that is in her life and in your marriage because you are one. A man needs to understand that intruder needs to be dealt with, and she may need help in dealing with that intruder, and you may not be able to fix it as a husband. You may have to go get a third party, a counselor, to help your wife there.
There may be issues of poor choices that she's made in the past, guilt and shame. She may need forgiveness from you to get rid of that intruder. And then, perhaps, in her past there may have been a divorce. Well, she's brought a whole set of luggage at that point into the relationship and all kinds of baggage that, well, she's going to need you over her lifetime to begin to help her unpack those issues and begin to toss them out and get rid of those things which threaten her security and her life.
Those all speak "relationship" to her, and they make possible romance.
Barbara: You know, I was just thinking, as Dennis was reading through that list of just the seasons of life that a woman goes through – having children and raising them and all the emotional things that are attached to that and how we, as women, need our husbands to go through that, and there is a lot of insecurity in all of those stages of life, and I need to be able to trust him, trust my husband, that he will help me through those, and I can talk about how I feel no matter how stupid I feel or insecure I feel or ashamed or whatever, and he will hear what I have to say and receive me as I am.
Bob: Dennis talked about some of the intruders that showed up in our marriage, I don't know, 15, 20 years in that kind of took everybody by surprise – it took you by surprise, didn't they?
Barbara: Yes. We were entering the teenage years, or maybe we'd even been into the teenage years a couple of years, and I really began to struggle with who I was and my parenting style, and there were just a lot of things that were surfacing. Part of it, I think, just, as a mom, was seeing my kids grow up and realizing that the end was in sight and watching my daughter become a young woman, and all of those things just brought up all kinds of emotions that I wasn't expecting to deal with.
And I remember needing him at a level that I hadn't needed him in quite a while, because I needed my best friend, my husband, to be able to hear me. I needed to talk these things through with him and tell him how I was feeling and what I was struggling with and …
Dennis: Without trying to fix it.
Barbara: And that isn't real easy to do, either.
Barbara: Because, part of the time you don't even – I mean, when you're surprised by those kinds of things, you don't even know for sure you can express it, and, yeah, and you're right, and I didn't always need you to fix it. I needed to be heard and understood and accepted, and then when we got to the point where we needed more help beyond what the two of us could do, then it was time for that. But initially I just needed to be heard, and that takes a lot of time.
Dennis: And it's a man's responsibility to provide that kind of security for his wife so she can be real and bring these things out in the open. Again, I don't think most men understand how romance is tied to whether a woman feels secure as these intruders invade her life, their marriage, and so it takes a man, you know?
The same thing when we thought we'd had a burglar and somebody came into our house. I went and got a flashlight, it was a big flashlight, because if I'd encountered someone, I was going to take him on. Well, Barbara needed me to come alongside her and to take on the intruder in her life as she went through that time of counseling.
Barbara: It's an opportunity for husbands when those things come up in marriage to be the Prince Charming that she wants him to be by stepping into her life and providing that security and providing that encouragement and being that friend, and that is romantic to a wife – to have a husband who will do that.
Bob: When a husband can create an environment where a wife is physically safe, where she is emotionally safe to be transparent, to be real, for her life to be exposed, warts and all, and for him to still love her and accept her, does that make her go "Ah."
Barbara: You're still looking for that, aren't you?
Bob: I'm still looking for that, yeah, because I think guys are looking for that. We're all looking for a woman who will admire us, who will just kind of melt. Is that one of the things that makes that happen?
Barbara: I think so, because that's what we wanted in our dreams and in our Cinderella fantasies is a man who will be that; who will be there. Because it's really difficult to go through all the stages of life and all of the hard things that come with marriage and children, jobs, and just life. And you need someone who will come to your rescue, and I think a husband who comes to his wife's rescue is a romantic husband, and I think that translates into romance for a wife.
Bob: So, making this practical, if I go home tonight and get the flashlight and check the closets, is that going to work for me?
Dennis: If there's been an intruder.
Bob: Oh, well.
Dennis: The question is …
Bob: So could I send somebody over to intrude, and then go …
Dennis: The question is, is where has Mary Ann been fearful. For Barbara, this new season of life where we are right now, the new intruders, and her life and our marriage are the empty nest and menopause and aging and losing some of the youthful beauty but replacing it with a mature beauty that's magnificent.
Bob: You're saying that the security issues change through the various seasons of a marriage.
Dennis: Oh, absolutely. I mean, our children leaving and becoming adults with their own families have brought a whole set of issues to Barbara's life and, thus, to our marriage that I, as a husband, must address and create a sense of security for her so she can look at the future and smile. She doesn't have to think about her new role as a former full-time mom whose life was nearly completely defined around the needs of six little chirping birds, okay, to a new role of being an empty nester with a vision for her life, a dream of how she can use her gifts and abilities and continue to use her life to influence her adult children but to have an agenda that transcends the family.
I mean, Bob, that can create fear in a woman, and it's the wise man who stops and say, "You know what? I need to get a game plan for this. I need to come alongside my wife and create some security so that she can smile as she looks outward to the future."
Bob: This whole subject of security, it's something that both of you deal with in the book, and I think it's very helpful for men, because I don't think we're as fully aware of how important this is as we ought to be, and that's why you spent time writing on this for guys.
We've got copies of your book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and I hope our listeners will call to get a copy, and I hope some guys will call to get a copy. It doesn't have to be your wife who orders the book and puts it on the nightstand. You can go ahead and pick up the phone or go to the website and get a copy, right?
Dennis: Right, and before we're done here, I want Barbara to come back at the end of the broadcast and address the men about how they can create security for their wives around their fears, because she has really helped me understand how important this is for me, as a primary part of my job description, as I love her and create a relationship with her.
Bob: Let me give our listeners information on how they can get to our website, FamilyLife.com, and get more information about your book. When you get to our home page, there's a red button that you see in the middle of the home page that says "go," and if you click that button, it will take you to an area of the site where you can get more information not only about the book, "Rekindling the Romance," but you can also find out about a brand-new resource that our team has put together.
This is actually Volume 2 of something that tens of thousands of our listeners have ordered and appreciated. We came up with a resource a number of years ago called "Simply Romantic Nights," and in a box we gave couples some creative suggestions for how to have a date night together that gives you an opportunity to express your love to your spouse in a kind of a creative way.
Well, Volume 2 of "Simply Romantic Nights," is just now out. It's called "License for Creative Intimacy," and inside the box are 24 more creative ways to express your love to one another in marriage. This is brand-new, and we'd love to get a copy of it off to you. All you have to do, again, is go to our website, FamilyLife.com, click the red button that says "go" on the home page, and that will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about this resource, and you can order online, if you'd like, or call 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team will make arrangements to have the resources you need sent out to you.
And then we have a CD we'd love to send you for free this week. This is a message that was given a number of years ago by our friends, Jody and Linda Dillow, from the Song of Solomon on the subject of romance, understanding the differences between how men and women view this subject of romance, and we want to send out a copy of that CD free to anybody who calls to request it this week here at FamilyLife Today, especially if you've never gotten in touch with us. Maybe you're a new listener to our program, or you've been listening for a while, but you've just never contacted us to let us know that you're listening.
We would love to send you a copy of this CD. You can request it when you call 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-358-6329. Call and say, "I'd like a copy of the free CD on romance," and we're happy to send it out to you. We think you will find that it's helpful, it's biblical, it's practical, and it's something the two of you can listen to and enjoy together. So give us a call and request it. Again, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
Well, as we …
Dennis: Are you still trying to figure out how to cause Mary Ann's heart to go pitter patter? Some of that's arrhythmia.
Bob: That's why I'm tuned in this week. I'm wanting to get this thing resolved. I think that's what guys are hoping for.
Barbara: You want to fix it, huh?
Bob: Well, I don't want to fix it, I just – I think all guys want to be admired, and I want to know what can I do that will cause my wife to go, "He's so wonderful," you know? And she does sometimes. There are other times she goes, "That was not particularly wonderful – what you just did right then, that was not particularly wonderful."
But in this area of security that we've talked about today, what's wonderful, Barbara?
Barbara: You know, I think if men can understand how foundational it is for a wife to feel secure, I think she would see him more as her Prince Charming, because life is hard, and I think for us, as wives, there are a lot of things that we have to deal with and battle as we go through the seasons of life. There are a lot of emotional things, a lot of health issues, a lot of stuff with our kids, and it's difficult, and we need our husbands to be on our team, we need our husbands to be our protector and to be that Prince Charming who wants to serve and to lead and to guide us through life. I want my husband to be my life partner, and I need him to go through all of this with me, and the more I know that he's connected to my emotional needs and willing to hear what I'm feeling at each new stage as we go through it, the more I love him and the more I respond to him and the more I see him as he as, as my man, my knight in shining armor.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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