Next Stop: Eros
About the Guest
Respect for our husbands has far-reaching effects, especially in the bedroom. Wife and mom Arlene Pellicane lets wives in on a little secret about sex - husbands equate making love with respect, and the less intimacy they share with their wife, the less they feel respected. Hear Arlene's great advice for affair-proofing your marriage.
Arlene PellicaneArlene Pellicane is the author of several books including Calm, Cool and Connected, Parents Rising, and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom. She also writes for for Proverbs 31 Ministries, Girlfriends in God, TheCourage, and MomLife Today. Arlene formerly served as the associate producer for Turning Point Television with Dr. David Jeremiah. Arlene earned her BA from Biola University and her Masters in Journalism from Regent University. Arlene and her husband, James, have bee...more
Respect for our husbands has far-reaching effects, especially in the bedroom.
Next Stop: Eros
Bob: Arlene Pellicane believes that intimacy in marriage is not just a service or a function that a wife performs for her husband.
Arlene: For us women, it’s to say, “This isn’t just for him, but this is really great for us. It’s great for our kids.” This is an all-around great thing because sometimes we think, “Ah, sex is just something we do for the men.” We need to embrace that—“You know what? God made this for me, too;” and that it is a man and a woman coming together. The more we can get in touch with that, the more both the husband and the wife will be happy.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, September 18th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. You knew if we were talking about how wives can help their husbands be happy husbands, we’d eventually get around to this subject; didn’t you? Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Did you ever think to ask our guest how she happened to come up with all of this wisdom about making husbands into happy husbands? Did you ask her that?
Dennis: I didn’t!
Bob: Well, I think you ought to ask her that.
Dennis: Let’s do that.
Dennis: First of all, I’ll introduce her to our audience. Arlene Pellicane joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Arlene, welcome back.
Arlene: Thank you for having me.
Dennis: She’s written a book called 31 Days to a Perfect Husband. [Laughter]
Arlene: That’s who I’m married to—the perfect husband!
Dennis: That’s not the name of the book—31 Days to a Happy Husband. She’s a graduate of Biola, Regent University. She’s a writer, a speaker, and married to James. Is James happy right now?
Arlene: He is pretty happy. It’s a lot of pressure being the happy husband because people ask him—from the book—“Are you really happy?”
Dennis: Well, back to Bob’s question.
Dennis: Where’d you come up with this wisdom?
Arlene: I—my husband, really, because he is an outspoken man. He’s not afraid to say what he needs. He’s Italian—from New York. He does not hedge; he does not haw. He just tells me. He’ll say, “Honey, a lot of men are afraid to say this to their wife; but I’m going to tell you,” and he tells me. Then, he says, “A lot of men feel this way. You should write about it.” So, a lot of the content from the book comes from my husband. I also interviewed many, many men—like Bob Lepine, right over here.
Bob: That’s what I was going for!
Arlene: That’s right.
Bob: Come on!
Dennis: Oh, my goodness.
Bob: She goes right to her husband. I’m going, “Well, wait, what about me?!” [Laughter]
Dennis: I’m sorry. I completely fell for that one.
Bob: You had no idea; did you?
Dennis: I had no idea. [Laughter] I’m going to tell the editors to edit that out. [Laughter]
You talk about five areas, though. If a wife can begin to really think about this and ask God—in and through her—to begin to create these five things in her marriage, she really can see her husband be more content.
Arlene: That’s right.
Dennis: I like the word, “happy”. I think I like the word, “content”, better because the Apostle Paul talked about it. He talked about how he was content when he had a lot—
Dennis: —and he learned how to be content when he had a little; but in all things, he had learned how to be content in Christ. Really, that’s what a wife’s trying to really provide for her husband—is an environment where he can learn how to be content, as a man, in who he is in Christ.
Share with our listeners the five areas in your book.
Bob: The DREAM areas; right?
Arlene: The DREAM areas—they make the word, DREAM. “D” is domestic tranquility. “R” is respect. “E” is eros. “A” is attraction, and “M” is mutual activities—you’ve got to have fun together, still.
Dennis: Okay. So, here’s the question. Which, of any of those, did Bob contribute to; if any?
Arlene: Ah, yes. He probably contributed to three out of the five letters.
Bob: Three out of five.
Dennis: Oh, really?!
Bob: Give me a high five; right there.
Dennis: I’ll give you five. I’ll give you five. There you go.
Bob: Thank you.
Dennis: And the three are?
Arlene: Now, you’re putting me on the spot.
Bob: She’s not going to remember that.
Arlene: I’ll remember the context of the quotes. Then, I’ll have to think of what letters they are. I don’t think we have time for that. I don’t know.
Bob: Here’s my question for you. Of the five, is there one—
Arlene: Oh, I can say this, though.
Dennis: Oh, no. Maybe you shouldn’t, though.
Arlene: I can say this, though. Bob is the first person quoted in the book—in the Introduction.
Bob: Is that right?!
Arlene: The very first person—
Bob: I didn’t even see that.
Arlene: —of all the wonderful people I interviewed—
Bob: There we go.
Arlene: —he is the very first in the Introduction.
Bob: It wasn’t even alphabetical order; so there we go.
Dennis: It’s on—
Arlene: —page 11.
Dennis: It’s on page 483. [Laughter]
Arlene: Page 11, “I like what host, Bob Lepine, of FamilyLife Today says, ‘Our role is not to figure out how to fix our spouse. Our role is, “How do we reflect Christ in the marriage?”’” Look at Bob Lepine—words of wisdom—framing the book.
Bob: I agree with that, too.
Dennis: Do you know how many books we are going to get here on FamilyLife Today that have you quoted in the first 11 pages? [Laughter]
Bob: Here’s my question for you. Of the DREAM—of the domestic tranquility, respect, eros, attraction, and the doing stuff together, the mutuality—is there one of those that’s bigger than the other four?
Arlene: I think the “E”. I hate to say it, as a woman. The “E”, eros, the sex piece is so important. I would say the “E” and the “R” —and they’re related. The respect and the—I will tell you—my husband—after I thought, “I’m doing a good job respecting my husband. I speak well of him in public. I think well of him.” I asked him one day, “Sweetheart, do I do a good job of respecting you?”
He said, “Yes, but you know where you really show the respect?” I said, “Where do I show the respect?” He said, “In the bedroom.” I said, “In the where?!” He said, “When a man says he needs something—and for many men, it is physical intimacy—then, the wife is either unresponsive, or unenthusiastic, or all these things.” “Then,” he says, “you feel disrespected. So, you didn’t listen to what I said.” He said, “Those are very closely related.”
The good news is, for us wives, again, according to my sweet husband, James, is—he said, “But the sex piece is really easy to fix because if you and your husband can just talk”—and this I know was opening a can of worms—“but if you can talk and really”—this doesn’t have to be rocket science—“but you can get together on this topic, it’ll fix some many other things in your marriage.”
Dennis: You actually write and say in your book that a lot of women view this area like an allergy?
Arlene: Yes! My son, Ethan, had a nut allergy when he was real little; but as he grew older, we thought, “Let’s try.” He would still be like, “Oh, I’m scared. I’m scared,” even though we tested him and it was okay to eat a peanut. He can’t eat a cashew, but he can eat a peanut.
Well, we, women, we’ve been raised—those of us who have been raised in the church, and the way that you would want your daughter to be raised—we’ve been told, “Sex is bad. You don’t want to have sex. People who are promiscuous have sex. You don’t dress that way. People who are in the movies dress that way. You don’t do that.” Then, you become married. And you know, “Oh, now, it’s a green light, green light,” but you still feel allergic to sex. “Let’s not talk about it.” “Let’s not wear something sexy in the bedroom.” “Let’s not experiment.” “Let’s not do any of those things,” —it is like an allergy, you know?
For us, as women, we have to think like, “Wow! I want to learn more about this.” For men, apparently, this is very easy; but for many women—not all—but for many women, it’s a struggle because you think, “Oh, I’m not in the mood as much as he is in the mood.” It’s a struggle for many marriages.
Bob: I think there’s a point here that goes beyond marriage—and that is, as you are raising your kids, you need to raise them with a healthy, biblical view of sexuality so that it’s not, “Bad,” “Bad,” “Bad; now, “Flip the switch.”
Arlene: Right; right. “Now, it’s good!”
Dennis: Yes. I have to tell you this story. It’s not exactly on the subject; but then, again, it really is about a healthy perspective of sex. I got a phone call yesterday from a friend who had just completed Passport2Purity® with his 10-and-half-year-old son.
Of course, Passport2Purity is a father/son getaway or a mother/daughter getaway that’s in a box. It’s got CD’s where we walk through issues of peer pressure, self esteem, convictions, sexuality. It’s got the “birds and the bees” talk in there.
This father had just had this weekend getaway with his son. The son had heard about the birds and the bees for the first time in his life. The son was coming back from the Passport2Purity weekend with his dad. He turned to his dad and said, “Dad, when you get married, do you have to have sex? Is that something you have to do?” [Laughter] You know, I laughed about that when that guy told me that because that’s what we, as parents, should be passing on to our sons and daughters—
Dennis: —a healthy, biblical view of sex—being created by God—and that it is good to bring that perspective into a marriage relationship; but the world is really distorting and twisting. It’s making it difficult for men and women to have a right perspective about sex.
Bob: Well, it’s interesting to me that you went to this as kind of a foundational issue. I think, in part, because it’s important for men; but I think also it’s so deep and profound. We live in a culture that has made romance, intimacy, and sexuality so shallow; but our whole selves are involved in this coming together.
That’s why Mary Ann and I have had the kind of conversation you and your husband had where I’ve said to her, “You know, you can be saying nice things to me throughout the day. You can be saying, ‘That was smart,’ ‘You are so—I love this about you;’ and at the end of the day, when I say, “So, are you interested?” and you go, “Not tonight,” I go, “Well, why did you lie to me all day long?” because that’s what it feels like.
Arlene: Because the connection is so strong there. For women, it’s just that heart connection. It’s, “Okay, we’re good;” but the man—he learns by body connection. Now, I interviewed Joyce and Cliff Penner, who are the sex therapists. Boy, they set me straight on a lot of topics. I would ask them questions.
I said, “How does a woman become more in the mood for sex?” because you hear that all the time: “How can a woman cultivate her appetite for sex more?” They said, “You know, we would ask a different question.” They said, “We would ask the question, ‘How can a woman get in touch with her sexual being and have sex more for herself than as a pressure from her husband?’ because” —she said— “if they just do it out of duty, out of obligation, ‘Because I have to,’ then, it might work short-term, but it won’t work long-term.”
Well, this made me—all spinning in my mind— “Okay, so I have to think about this.” For us, women, it’s to say, “You know what? This isn’t just for him. I’m not just having sex for him, but I’m having sex because this is really great for us. It’s great for me. It’s great for him. It’s great for our kids.” This is an all-around great thing because sometimes we think, “Ah, sex is just what we do for the men.” We need to embrace that— “You know what? This is for me. God made this for me, too;” and that is a man and a woman coming together. The more we can get in touch with that, the more both the husband and the wife will be happy.
Dennis: It is good for the marriage. It sounds kind of trite to admit that; but over our 40 years of marriage, there is a sense in which two people who—when you don’t come together as a couple, you can become isolated, both be living your independent lives. There’s a need just to come back, so that you’re not tempted by the world.
You talk about this. You talk about how a woman can affair-proof her marriage—now, everybody knows that these are the three principles that James gave you. [Laughter] You’re passing them on to other wives, at this point; but share those three with our listeners, if you would.
Arlene: The first one is the have fun—have fun together. James and I—the last Valentine’s Day, we went out to a park. He had—the kids were with my parents. It was at night. We—he pulled out root beer floats. It was very sweet. He put out a blanket on the grass there, and he told me to lie down. We were going to kiss. I thought to myself, “We’re in the park, laying down kissing!”
There could—we are the people that the families will point at and say, “Oh, shield your eyes, children, from these people!” I was so nervous. He looked at me and he said, “Sweetheart, when we were dating, we would go to a park, and sit on a blanket, and kiss, and it was no problem. Now, we’re married and I can’t kiss you on a blanket in the park?!” We, wives—we have to get back in touch with having fun; right? [Laughter]
Dennis: I’m looking at Bob. Bob and I are going, “Where’s the nearest park?” [Laughter]
Arlene: All you need—
Dennis: Just hope I don’t run in—
Arlene: —is a park and a blanket.
Dennis: —I just hope Barbara and I don’t run into Mary Ann and Bob at the park.
Bob: We’re going to have to wrap up today’s FamilyLife Today.
Arlene: A little bit early?
Bob: Yes, that’s right.
Arlene: See, it is working. See, have fun.
Dennis: Alright. What are the other two?
Arlene: Then, the second one is to build sexual tension. You write a note, “Hey, Thursday night’s going to be great!” You text him, “Honey, I’m really looking forward to seeing you tonight.” “Honey, are you ready for a surprise tonight?”—or whatever. Do something that’s fun, that’s unexpected, that’s creative. It doesn’t take much at all.
Then, the last thing is to be open in your relationship enough so that you could admit attraction if you felt attraction for another person or if your husband did because, you know, many times we want to sweep that under the rug. “That would be terrible!” We don’t want to tell them, but what happens then? You think about it. Then, it grows into something else; but if you could just say, “Honey, there’s this guy I met at the gym. I don’t know—he keeps talking to me. I kind of—let’s talk about this.” You can kill those things before they grow into anything larger than that.
Bob: Are you saying—if James came to you and said, “See that woman over there?”
Bob: “She is cute!”
Arlene: No, and, see, here’s the deal. See, we, women, we don’t want that! We don’t want to hear it. We have to be willing to say, “Okay”—kind of detach ourselves and not get so defensive and say, “Well”—
Bob: You want him to say that to you, “She’s cute over there,”?
Arlene: If he’s struggling with it. Now, if he’s just thinking, “Oh, she’s cute,” I mean no.
Bob: Keep it to yourself.
Arlene: Keep it to yourself! [Laughter] But if he’s thinking, “I’ve kind of been thinking about that girl. She’s kind of cute.” I would want to know, “Why is my husband thinking about some other girl that’s not me?” Why do I want to stick my head in the sand and pretend I don’t know?
Dennis: Well, let’s flip the issue of attraction for a woman.
Bob: Wait, wait; wait. I want to know if you—do you ever say to Barbara—
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: —“She’s cute”?
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: About another woman?
Dennis: Oh, yes. When I’m struggling with something, I’ve had that conversation with Barbara. It doesn’t bother her. I mean—we’ve now—we’re four decades into this relationship—and it is like, “I’m glad you trusted me with that.”
Dennis: “I’ll pray for you.” It’s good for her to be aware of that. Let’s take the issue of attraction. Let’s flip it and let’s say, “How can a woman express attraction toward her husband?” because you write about the adulterous woman in Proverbs 5 through 7—
Dennis: —who is twisting the pearls, she’s winking her eyes, she’s luring a guy off the dark street into a bedroom that’s got scented bed sheets and all. That’s all about a woman expressing attraction, being aggressive toward a man.
Arlene: Yes. We can flip that and make that into a very positive way for the married woman. If the married woman did these things—the adulterous woman said, “Come here.” She’s waiting for him. She’s looking out waiting for—so, if we had that anticipation of actually waiting for our husband—Wow!—wouldn’t a husband like that? Feeling like, “My wife’s been waiting to be intimate with me. Wow, that’s fantastic!”
She tells him kind—you know—good words about him. She’s just verbally—she’s affirming him. She dresses sexy. One thing that James thought, when we got married, “Oh, she’s going to be coming home in Victoria’s Secret every night.” Then, all of a sudden, you’re in t-shirts and baggy sweats. You think, “What happened to this?” For a woman to say, “Oh, like that adulterous woman in bed, I’ll dress sexy for you.” For a woman to use those same tactics—but instead of using them for evil to use them for good—if a man feels like, “Wow! My wife is just pouring on this love to me.” We’ll be realistic. This is not an everyday kind of thing.
Arlene: But if, on a regular basis, this man feels wanted, he feels like this is special time— “My wife pursues me,” —he’s going to be very happy.
Bob: You know, we do have some listeners—we’ve heard from them—who’ve said, “Honestly, in our marriage, the interest is more with me, as the wife, than it is with my husband. I’ve tried these things, and he is nonresponsive.” What’s your counsel to that wife?
Arlene: Yes. They—it is surprising because many times we think it’s the man—but sometimes it’s the woman, and it’s the man who is not responsive. From what I heard from different people, the consensus was to not push yourself on that man because as you push yourself on him, he’s going to retract more.
Instead, look for those open doors of opportunity, if you will. If you sense that, “Oh, he’s kind of softening right now,” or, “Oh, he’s even mildly interested,” —to look for those places of opportunity. Talk to him then, or try to do these things then. Look for that green light for him. If you don’t see it, I’d say pray for that green light for him and then, pray that you could have this conversation with him.
Dennis: One of the problems that can be causing that is pornography. Do you have any advice for a wife who is—well, perhaps, she’s suspicious—maybe she’s come in and he’s clicked off the screen quickly—
Dennis: —or she’s found an image on a screen.
Dennis: How would you advise that wife?
Arlene: I would tell that wife to pray first because it is a spiritual battle. One person that I interviewed battled very long and hard with pornography. He said, “When you turn that pornography on, it’s like turning on a satanic realm of—you know there are strongholds there. It is a powerful, spiritual force that you need to pray about.”
I would say to that wife, “First, you pray. You pray for God’s blessing in your home. You pray that God will fill your home. You pray all those things. Then, you look for that opportunity to talk with your husband about it.” It’s very awkward. It’s very difficult. Sometimes, there’s never a right time; but you ask him—it’s very important to be straight with each other—“Is this something that you struggle with? You’ve got to tell me the truth.”
If he says it is, then, you go to counseling, perhaps. You find an accountability group for your husband. You start getting at the root of what the problem is. Sometimes, it’s because it’s something that the husband and wife can fix together. If he can be more fulfilled in his sexual life with his wife, that will subside; but other times, the wife could be doing all that she can sexually for him, and he’s still going to pornography. What’s that wife supposed to do? I think the role of a counselor and the role of him wanting the help or an accountability group to break this thing.
Dennis: More than likely, it’s not going to be a wife who fixes her husband in this area. It’s going to be her husband deciding he is ready to do business with God—
Arlene: That’s right.
Dennis: —and he’s ready to be honest—
Dennis: —with, at least one other man—
Dennis: —who he’s going to give access to his life, where he can ask him the hard questions, at that point.
Bob: And loving him well in this situation doesn’t mean enabling him to continue or being silent about the issue.
Arlene: That’s right.
Dennis: Good point. I also want to underscore something you said, Arlene. If a husband is off into pornography, it does not mean that a wife has failed in her role as a lover and as the man’s wife. This is a sexually-saturated culture we’re in.
Last night, I was watching a sporting event; and Barbara was already in bed. There was an image that came on the screen. I thought, “Isn’t this interesting?” I mean, we’re primetime here. This was a sporting event that families could easily be viewing. The image that was there, to me, was a precursor of pornography. It was a baited hook, “Take the next step. Go to the next image. Go online. Go looking.”
I think men today, as never before, really need to take a step back from what they are allowing into their home. Put some filters on. I’m really proud of my sons and my sons-in-law who have a clicker in their hands when they are watching TV. Perhaps, their sons or daughters are in the room—they’ll click away or they’ll tell their sons to hide their faces. I mean, it’s impossible to get away from it totally; but this is something that men need to take responsibility for.
Bob: I have the channel number for the weather channel memorized.
Dennis: That’s a good idea.
Bob: Typically, it’s a pretty—
Arlene: Safe place.
Bob: —safe place you can go.
Dennis: Yes, good one.
Bob: I’m thinking about—there’s a story we tell in the video series that we put together for Stepping Up™ about a guy who’s on a social networking site, late at night.
Bob: And an old friend pops on and says, “Hey, I didn’t know you were on here.” He’s right there with, “Am I going to follow this?” The bait is on the hook.
Dennis: Don’t tell them—don’t tell them what happens because it’s really well-done and it’s so real. This is what’s happening to a lot of men.
Really, I think what we’re talking about here, Arlene, is we’re talking about men getting honest with other men. That’s why we’ve created this video event for men called Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. It gives men a chance to connect with other men; and maybe, for the first time in their lives, get real, get honest, and turn away from something that’s got a powerful grip in their lives.
Bob: Yes. The Stepping Up series is available now as a ten-part series. There are some men’s groups that are starting to go through it. In January, on Super Bowl Saturday, we’re hoping to have hundreds of locations around the country hosting a one- day Stepping Up event in local churches.
We’ll be talking more about that in the weeks to come; but if you’d like to find out more about the Stepping Up material that is available—not just the book that Dennis has written—but now, the video components that are being added to that, as well—go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link that says, “Stepping Up”.
That is also where you’ll find information about Arlene Pellicane’s book, 31 Days to a Happy Husband: What a Man Needs Most from His Wife. That book is in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center, as well. Again, FamilyLifeToday.com is our website; or if you’d like to order a copy of Arlene’s book, call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
This week, I’m going to be in Indianapolis for the True Woman ’12® event that our friend, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and the Revive Our Hearts® ministry is hosting. I’m going to be emceeing that event, as I’ve had the honor to do at a number of past True Woman events. In fact, a few years ago, I got an opportunity to speak to the women about “What Husbands Wished Their Wives Knew about Men”. I had a chance to talk about how we think as guys and what it is that a man is hoping for from a wife—how she can honor, and respect, and serve, and love him well. I think the women were encouraged by what I had to share. I got a lot of positive feedback.
This month, we are making the CD of that message available to those of you who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation. We depend on your support to continue the work of FamilyLife Today. The cost of producing and syndicating this program is borne by folks, like you, who call in or go online and make a donation to support the ministry.
If you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “I CARE”, and make an online donation this month, we’ll send you a copy of that CD, What Husbands Wished Their Wives Knew about Men. If you call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make your donation, just ask for a copy of the CD so we know that you’d like to receive it. We’re happy to send it to you. We do appreciate, very much, your support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We’re happy to have you as a part of the team, and we appreciate your standing with us.
We hope you can be back with us again tomorrow. Arlene Pellicane is going to be here again. We’re going to talk more about how a wife can honor and affirm her husband. That comes up tomorrow. Hope you can be here.
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.
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