Seeing Romance Through Eyes Your Spouse
About the Guest
Do men value romance as much as a women? Find out on today's broadcast.
Do men value romance as much as a women?
Barbara: After we'd been married about five years or so in our marriage, we began to experience what we look back and call our "first season of suffering." We had just a lot of really difficult things happen in our marriage. We went from feeling like "We've got this marriage thing down. We're doing okay. We're different, and that's okay, but we're all right, too." At the end of that 12 months feeling like we were strangers.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, February 5th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Is it possible to rekindle the romance in your marriage when you're going through a season of suffering? Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. I'm just happy to know that neither of you were involved in taking any experimental drugs in order to gain your insight into romance. That's correct, isn't it?
Dennis: That is correct.
Barbara: That is correct, yes.
Dennis: But our listeners have no idea why you're talking about experimental drugs.
Bob: Well, because earlier this week, already this week, we heard a mythical story about a husband and wife who were having some marriage problems, went to see a marriage counselor; he gave them some experimental drugs, and they …
Dennis: Again, this is a mythical story …
Bob: It's all fiction, right. They had an opportunity to experience how the other person views romance and to find out that we're pretty different when it comes to this subject.
Dennis: I think all you have to do is just take a casual reading of the Song of Solomon to see how a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, view romance differently. She views romance relationally. He views romance around the physical dimension, the sexual dimension of the relationship.
And because we view it differently, we can miss one another in the relationship.
Bob: You've written about this in a book called "Rekindling the Romance," you wrote it together with your wife, Barbara, who joins us in the studio today. Barbara, thanks for being here.
Barbara: You're welcome.
Bob: Before I ever read the Song of Solomon I began to realize that Mary Ann and I were different in this area of romance.
Barbara: So you didn't need the Bible to tell you that?
Bob: Well, the Bible confirmed what I was experiencing.
Bob: And all you have to do is be married for a little while, and you start to realize we are different. When do you think that idea really hit you upside the head?
Barbara: Hit us upside the head?
Dennis: No, you, honey.
Barbara: Oh, so you didn't know?
Dennis: I probably didn't. You probably got it much earlier than I did.
Barbara: Well, I think that we began to see that difference, at least in the first year or two, but I don't think it was black and white. I don't think I saw it as starkly contrasting as it is until a few years down the road, because I was highly motivated as a new wife, and I was going to do everything right, and so I was really working hard at our relationship.
So it was a couple of years into the marriage, several years into the marriage, before I really got whacked "upside the head," as you put it.
Bob: Was there an event that whacked you?
Barbara: Yes, there were a series of things that happened in our relationship after we had been married about five years. We began to experience what we look back on and call our "first season of suffering." We had medical issues with one of our kids and with myself; we had financial issues with not getting enough in our paycheck a couple of months; Dennis's father died – just a lot of really difficult, traumatic, life-altering kinds of things happened in our marriage, all within a 12-month period.
And we went from feeling like "We've got this marriage thing down. We're doing okay, you know, we're different, that's okay, but we're all right, too." At the end of that 12 months feeling like we were strangers.
I remember feeling really alone and sort of lost because we'd had so many things happen in our relationship that year, in our marriage, and we had so little time to process it and to communicate about it. And add to the fact that we were both really young and didn't know what we were doing, that I think it would have been difficult even if we'd had lots of time to process for us to really understand what we were feeling, because we were young and inexperienced.
Bob: It's a lot easier to have a romantic marriage when you've got a lot of time to walk hand-in-hand around the block.
Bob: When you're fighting fires, one in one direction, another in another direction, you get pulled apart, don't you?
Dennis: You do, and when you're marriage is taking place as ours was, in the midst of a storm, I mean, it was one line of thunderstorms right after another, and I recall, at a point when Barbara nearly died because of a heart problem that she had, actually, beginning to realize, as a man, we were processing life differently; processing suffering differently. I mean, I had not been the one who had nearly died. She'd been the one who had been raced to the hospital with her heart beating 300 beats a minute, and lay there alone in a coronary care unit for nearly eight hours.
In the 30 days that came after that, I just recall I did feel like we were two separate people processing life very, very differently – male and female. And it's a part of what attracted us to one another, but if you're not careful, it can be the very thing that repels you from one another.
And so there was no romance to rekindle. It was about hanging on to one another and to our God together and, frankly, I don't know how a person who is not a follower of Jesus Christ, who doesn't believe the Bible and has some interpretation of that, which comes at him or her. How else can you interpret it if you don't have a God who you look to to give you peace, guidance, comfort, and direction as you go through life together.
Bob: Barbara, I can see how stress and pressure and life circumstances can derail a relationship romantically for a period of time. How did it point out to you that you and Dennis were on different pages when it comes to romance?
Barbara: Well, for us, we really discovered how different we were romantically when we were invited to go on a trip to Mazatlan, Mexico, with some friends about three months after I had had my heart episode.
And we thought, "This is going to be a great getaway, we really need the time away." We found someone to keep our two kids …
Bob: You could rekindle the romance, right?
Barbara: Yes, and we took off on a plane, and it just felt like, "This will do it. This will be okay and" …
Dennis: Leave our problems behind, get some …
Barbara: And we both felt a sense of hope, I think, as we flew off into the sunset; that the difference in circumstances, the difference in location, was going to be enough to spark what we had had before.
So we got there, and I think the very first day we – I think we got there late at night, put our stuff in the hotel room, went to bed, slept in the next day, got up and did sightseeing with this other couple, just hung out on the beach. But we were with somebody else, so we didn't have a lot of time, as I remember, to actually talk and connect, just the two of us, that day, which, for me, is really, really important.
Bob: Let me ask Dennis – do you have memories of that first night and that first day?
Dennis: Well, I don't have a lot of specific memories, but I do know kind of how it started. I mean, we started out exhausted, and so there was an opportunity to sleep in and kind of recharge our batteries, but like Barbara was talking about, she didn't need us to be with another couple. She needed time with me, and she just needed to talk.
Well, as a man, there's where I first missed her, because, hey, you know, we're together with another couple, we're in a romantic place, I mean …
Barbara: What more do you need?
Dennis: That's right. We'll have dinner together tonight. We'll talk, and it will be okay. But for a woman, the experience of romance is not about just a one-hour block or two-hour event at the end of the day. It's about the whole day.
Bob: And I'm guessing that you were thinking romantic location at the beach …
Dennis: Oh, my goodness, I mean, it was spectacular.
Barbara: He thought it was a piece of cake because of the location of where we were, and we were removed from the stress of life.
Dennis: Removed from the kids, I mean, that's how you spell romance.
Bob: And you were probably thinking, "We'll have a romantic dinner together" …
Dennis: Which we did.
Bob: … but that wasn't really what you were focused on, was it – the romantic dinner together?
Dennis: Well, of course, Bob.
Barbara: Are you telling the truth?
Bob: I've got him hooked up to a lie detector – look at what the needle is doing right there.
So do you remember – did you have a nice dinner. Did you talk?
Barbara: We had a nice dinner with our friends, and we really did have a good time, and we even did some dancing, and it was – you know, the weather was perfect, and the breeze was blowing off the beach, and there was this little band playing music. I mean, it really was movie-like in supplying the ingredients that we all think need to be there to have romance.
Barbara: The difference is that I was still needing to connect emotionally. I wanted to talk, I wanted to feel like we could connect, and that he could hear what I was feeling, because for the last two or three months, since I'd been in the hospital, I had been battling fears every day for those last three months, of whether or not I was going to wake up and my heart was going to race again or I was going to die.
I mean, I just didn't know, and there was so much unknown, there was so much emotional turmoil that I had been living with for three months, that we'd talked about a little bit but because we had kids around us, and he had his job, we just kind of touched the top of the wave, so to speak, in talking about all that we had been through in the last 12 months.
So I was looking for time to get down in the valleys of those waves and talk about all the things and for him to hear me say some of the things that I needed to say. I wasn't even sure what they all were, either, to tell you the truth. But I knew that couldn't happen in an hour.
Bob: You just wanted some time with your best friend …
Bob: To kind of go through everything you were feeling.
Dennis: And, meanwhile, here I am, taking a look at the waves, I'm going "Let's surf." Let's get out the surfboard.
Bob: Snorkle, scuba …
Dennis: Wax it up, and let's have some fun, you know? So we're down on the beach, and the moon is going down, it was magnificent. I do remember this.
Barbara: I do, too.
Dennis: The evening …
Barbara: It was beautiful.
Dennis: It was just – it was the stuff, like Barbara said, that movies are made of. I mean, there were palm trees, there was a gentle, warm, delightful breeze, there were no insects. I mean, just candlelight, and a dinner right there on the ocean.
Bob: A perfect night.
Dennis: You could hear the waves crashing, I mean, listen, you can hear them even right now.
[waves crashing, seagulls screeching]
Bob: Yes. Cut the sound effects, all right?
Dennis: And so, you know, you end the evening and, as a man views it …
Bob: It's the perfect night to get back to the room and …
Dennis: He has supplied the ingredients for his bride. I mean, this is like, in volleyball terms, the set to a spike.
Bob: So what happened?
Barbara: Well, we got back to the room, and I knew enough, having been married five years, I knew enough to know that my husband wanted to make love, and I knew that we needed to. Deep down inside, I knew this was – that we did, and we needed to connect again.
But what I didn't realize is how difficult that was going to be, because I still, even though we'd had all those – all the wonderful ingredients that Hollywood says you need to have to have romance, even though all of that had been present, I still didn't feel connected to him on an emotional level. And what I learned is that – in hindsight, what I learned, is that I need to feel connected with him and to feel a sense of intimacy before I engage in physical intercourse, whereas he engages in physical intercourse to get that intimacy.
And so we're both just coming at the same need, which is intimacy in a marriage, we're just coming at it from opposite directions. So that night in the hotel room, even though I knew that that was what he needed and what we needed, I didn't need it yet. I still wanted to have the time to talk and connect and relate and interact, and then I was assuming that we would.
And he didn't understand that about me, and so he began to initiate making love, and I just – I just couldn't do it. I couldn't respond. I tried, I wanted to, I was motivated in my heart because I knew it was the right thing to do, and I wanted to encourage him, but I just couldn't get there. It was like I was two-dimensional. Part of me wanted to be there, but part of me couldn't get there, and I didn't know how to reconcile the two.
Dennis: Barbara was still in the storm. And so – if she doesn't have that shelter and doesn't feel like her husband is in that shelter with her, she's still in the storm.
Bob: After a day of sightseeing and a nice dinner with friends and a romantic walk on the beach, were you thinking about the financial pressures of the last 12 months?
Dennis: You know the answer to that.
Bob: Were you thinking about Barbara's health? Were you thinking about the kids?
Dennis: You know the answer to that, too.
Bob: That was all the farthest thing from your mind.
Dennis: Absolutely. I mean, as a man, you're looking back on the ingredients, and you're thinking, "Hey, good job." You still have it in you, you know?
Bob: You had tucked all of that away …
But all of those real issues from the last 12 months …
Dennis: They're still there.
Bob: You just kind of sealed them off for a while.
Dennis: They're still there, that's right, you know, it's kind of like moving from the storm and the Weather Channel, and you flip it onto the Romance Channel.
Barbara: Oooh, that's a good analogy – and it's so true.
Dennis: But it's not that you can't get back to the Weather Channel in the storm, you can. But, you know, as a man, you've used the channel surfer, and you've moved on. Now, for a woman …
Bob: Barbara's watching the Romance Channel with you, but she's thinking …
Dennis: It's hardwired …
Bob: What's going on on the Weather Channel?
Barbara: That's right.
Bob: I didn't see the end of it, and there may still be a storm going on.
Barbara: The storm's not over. It's not over, yeah.
Dennis: When Jesus wanted to get the attention of a group of people, He used the word "woe." Woe to the scribes and Pharisees, and He called them to account. Well, in this case, woe to the man who has channel surfed away from the storm to the romance channel and ignored the needs of his wife. And woe to that man who does it repeatedly, because that man is going to miss his wife, and it's going to damage her soul.
Barbara: And I think, for the wives, it's woe to the wife who does not pay attention to her husband's need for sexual affirmation, because she will leave him vulnerable to having someone else meet that need. So I think there is a corresponding woe for wives, because it's very important to a husband, and she needs to pay attention to that.
Bob: But let me take you back to the hotel room. Is there anything you could have done differently that night? I mean, you're still on the Weather Channel, and, yeah, you've been watching the Romance Channel for a while, but you're still thinking about the storms.
Dennis: I can answer that for her – no. There really wasn't anything she could have done. I mean, you don't …
Barbara: Except that looking back on it now, I might say, knowing what I know now, I might have said, "Dennis, I need to talk first." But, see, I don't think I understand that about myself then. I think I thought I should have been able to switch channels like he switched channels. I didn't understand how different we really were. I knew we were different but, really, I didn't realize it was that radically different, and so I didn't know enough to be able to say that.
Dennis: But that assumes that after you had said that, that your husband was selfless enough and had enough understanding to have been able to have said, "Okay, let's go out on the balcony, and let's talk."
Bob: If she'd said, "Dennis" …
Dennis: That wasn't who she was married to at that time.
Bob: If she'd said, "Dennis, I need to talk," that evening …
Dennis: I'm not sure I would have heard her. I was …
Barbara: Oh, I don't know, I think you might have.
Dennis: Perhaps, but I know how the evening ended at that point. It ended with me getting angry and picking up a bottle of hand lotion and throwing it through a window.
Barbara: Well, you threw it across the room, and it just happened to hit a window. You weren't aiming for the window.
Dennis: And it wasn't a big window. Some of our listeners are picturing huge windows. It was just a little …
Barbara: It was a little pane of glass.
Dennis: A little narrow windowpane.
Barbara: One of those windows that roll open with a little pane.
Dennis: But it shattered it.
Barbara: Mm-hm, it did.
Dennis: And I do remember now, thinking back to that moment, it shattered a lot of things. At that point, I was faced with the cold, harsh reality of my selfishness, and for any marriage to go deep and for any marriage to grow in intimacy, both husband and wife have to come to grips with their own selfishness and begin to deal with it, face it, confess it to one another and, yes, the biblical word, "repent," of it and ask your spouse to forgive you.
I know how that evening ended. It ended with the shattering of glass and the shattering of wills, and it ended with me confessing to Barbara my selfishness and asking her to forgive me.
Barbara: And, if I remember right, and I think I did, I'm sure that I asked you to forgive me, too, because I knew that even though I knew I wanted to talk, and even though I knew I need to connect, I also knew that I was selfish, and I knew that part of my inability to respond to you in that time together was because I wanted what I wanted first, and I wanted to be understood first. And so it was a real moment of humility for both of us in our relationship.
Bob: Because you had that time of asking for one another's forgiveness, was that enough to turn around this romantic vacation getaway and make the rest of the time together what you wanted it to be?
Barbara: It did turn it around, and the reason it turned it around is because we both came face-to-face with our own selfishness and how difficult it is to make a marriage work on our own. And even though we were acknowledging Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives, even in that moment, we still were reminded again how dependent we need to be on Him to work this out in our relationship.
And because of that, it was a moment of transparency for both of us, and it was a moment of forgiveness, and it was a moment of being reminded that we're both needy people, and we need Jesus to work in our lives and to make our marriage what He wants it to be; that we can't do it on our own.
Bob: The understanding of this issue of selfishness is really foundational to beginning to recapture and rekindle romance, isn't it?
Dennis: Bob, this book is actually two books in one. It's a book to the men, as we talked about last week, giving them their assignment and their responsibility to speak romance to their wives, and it's also another book that Barbara has written to the wives to know how to best speak romance to their husbands. Why? Because we're different, we're opposite, and because we're opposite, we need coaching to get us beyond our selfishness to self-denial to begin to speak romance and the language of the other person.
Now, if you're married for 10 years, and you've been speaking romance in the language that makes sense to you, you may have been missing your spouse all those years. And so what is marriage but two people who are opposite, who are in a covenant relationship, committed for a lifetime to love one another, to become students of one another so at the end of their lives they can say, "You know what? We found the ways to rekindle the romance in our marriage. We kept romance alive. We didn't let the fires go out, no matter how fierce the storm, no matter how many times we've hurt one another, we found a way to keep the embers glowing and burning."
Bob: Mm-hm. And, you know, there's nothing wrong with a couple saying, "We're at a point in our relationship where we could use a little help in this area. Things have gotten a little chilly, and that's not what we want. We want to be together on this."
And if they get a copy of your book, "Rekindling the Romance," that's one of the things that they can get that can help them in this area. Our team has put together volume 2 of something we call the "Simply Romantic Nights" collection. It's a year's worth of romance in a box with a dozen date night ideas for a husband to pull off to surprise his wife and have a romantic evening together with her, and a dozen date night ideas for a wife to do the same for her husband.
So once a month the two of you can connect in some special romantic activity and see if you can toss another log on the fire and rekindle the romance in your marriage.
You can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and if you look on the right side of the home page, you'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast." If you click on that box, it will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about these resources that are available from us here today at FamilyLife.
The book, "Rekindling the Romance," by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, the "Simply Romantic Nights" collection, volume 2, brand-new from us here at FamilyLife and, again, all the details are on our website at FamilyLife.com.
You can also call 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-358-6329, and someone on our team will make arrangements to have these resources sent out to you.
And then if you can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this month with a donation of any amount, there are two CDs we'd like to send you as a thank you gift. These feature a conversation we had a while back, Dennis, with the authors of a book called "Intimate Issues – 21 Questions Women Ask About Romance and Intimacy in Marriage." The authors are Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus, and these two CDs are a great tool for women to help them think differently, think biblically about this subject of romance in marriage, and it answers a lot of the questions that our listeners have posed to us over the years about this issue.
So we'd love to send these two CDs out to you as our way of saying thank you for your financial support of FamilyLife Today. We are listener-supported, and we depend on that financial support to be able to continue this ministry.
If you're making your donation online, and you'd like to get the CDs, when you come to the keycode box, just type in the word "intimate," and we'll know to send you the CDs. Or call 1-800-FLTODAY. You can make a donation over the phone and just mention that you'd like the CDs that you heard us talking about on the radio and, again, we're happy to send them out to you as our way of saying thank you for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Well, tomorrow we want to talk about the challenges that can exist in a marriage relationship when there are different interests, different desires in the area of romance and intimacy. We're going to talk about that tomorrow. I 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'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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