Tending to Your Marriage
About the Guest
Do you feel like you're connecting with your husband? If not, the two of you might want to spend more time behind closed doors. Author Nina Roesner explains that physical intimacy is as important to men as emotionally connecting is to women; without that, a man may be less attentive to his wife emotionally. Roesner encourages wives not to neglect intimacy in their marriage, but to respect their husband's needs in the bedroom, as well as out of it, knowing that by doing so she's building a healthy relationship.
Author Nina Roesner explains that physical intimacy is as important to men as emotionally connecting is to women; without that, a man may be less attentive to his wife emotionally.
Tending to Your Marriage
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, September 6th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll talk today about the mysterious connection between a husband feeling respected and the sexual dimension of a marriage relationship. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. Before we dive in to what we’re going to talk about today, I want to remind our listeners, here at the beginning of today’s program, about the special offer we’re making this week and next week for FamilyLife Today listeners. We are about to kick off our fall season of Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways, and we’d like to invite you to attend an upcoming getaway; and we want to sweeten the deal a little bit. So, if you will sign up this week or next week, you can save 50 percent off the regular registration fee and attend the getaway, essentially, at half-price.
We know it takes 100 percent to make a marriage work. Right now, it only takes
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Now, if I remember right—when we left off yesterday, you were explaining to wives about how they need to submit to their husbands. Is there more that you want to say to wives about submitting to their husbands?
Dennis: Actually, I’ve got some more that I want our guest on today’s broadcast—that I want her to say—but I want to begin by asking her: “What is—out of all 40 of The Respect Dare challenges she gives women to implement with their husbands—
Dennis: —“knowing how to respect him, communicate that she really does adore him—
Dennis: —“esteem him,”—give me some more words, Bob.
Bob: I think you’ve got the subject covered.
Bob: Out of all 40 of the ones she’s written, you want to know which one is the hardest?—which one is the most—
Dennis: “Which one is the most challenging to you, Nina?” Let me just tell our listeners who you are. Nina Roesner joins us again on FamilyLife Today. She is the leader of Greater Impact ministries, which is a Christian training organization. She’s got more than 20 years in communication, which means she’s communicated perfectly and flawlessly with her husband Jim since 1991. [Laughter] If you believe that, you haven’t listened to the two earlier broadcasts that we did. She has three children and lives in Loveland, Ohio.
So, now, I’ve given you just a few seconds to process.
Dennis: Out of all 40, which one of these was the most challenging?
Nina: Initiate, which is—well, I just want to talk about sex, I guess, guys, which is—I’m sorry—just a little awkward! [Laughter]
Dennis: First of all, I just want you to know—I didn’t know the answer to the question. [Laughter]
Bob: That’s right!
Nina: Well, you asked! [Laughter]
Dennis: Bob didn’t know.
Bob: But that’s okay. You’re talking about something that you are not alone in, in terms of what’s a challenge for a wife.
Nina: Right. I’ll just be real up-front with you right now. I talk about this with women all the time. This is the first time—other than talking about it with my husband—that I’ve talked to men about it. So, this is a little weird for me. [Laughter]
Bob: Just pretend like Dennis and I are a couple of the girls; okay?
Dennis: Oh no, Bob!
Nina: Yes; that’s not going to work—
Bob: That’s not going to work?
Nina: —for me.
Dennis: I don’t think that’s going to work.
Nina: I’m just going to look over here. [Laughter]
The reason that I picked that is not because my husband has any issues in that department. We have a marvelous relationship, physically. The issue, for me, is that, like a lot of women—matter of fact, most women—we’re wired to be slow starters. So, I don’t think about it. Most women, honestly, don’t.
There are some that do, but—and especially, as you get older and you go through menopause or you are younger and you have little kids—you go through all these phases. It’s really difficult to keep that part of your marriage important, and alive, and vibrant. I forget that it’s even there and worth doing.
So, choosing to initiate—and then, putting it on my calendar / you know, taking those steps to—and encouraging other women. That’s one of the reasons I keep doing the dare book over and over myself—just to make sure that we’re pursuing him.
Bob: Can I make a confession here? When I get—
Bob: When I got my copy of your book, The Respect Dare, and I was reviewing it, I did look just to see: “Is there one in here? Oh, yes, number 28. I wonder if we are going to get to number 28 in our conversation,” [Laughter] because, honestly, here’s the conversation—and I’ll just keep transparent with you. Mary Ann and I have had this conversation—
—I have said to her, “You can show me respect all day long—
Dennis: —“with your words…”
Bob: —“with your actions / with your attitude—the whole thing!
Dennis: —“delicious meals…”
Bob: “But then, when I say, ‘So, how about tonight?’ and you go, ‘You know, I’m just—it’s not a good night,’ it’s like, ‘Then why were you lying to me all day today?’”
Bob: And it’s because of how central that is to a man’s psyche; and it’s because, in our minds, we just think, “If you really do admire and respect us, then that would be a natural response.” It would be for us; but we forget you are wired a little different than we’re wired.
Nina: And it’s unfortunate. But, again, it’s one of those things God created.
Nina: And we take things one step further—not just to say, “Yes,” which is biblical. There’s Scripture, you know: “Don’t deny each other”; but we actually encourage wives to pursue, because we want our husbands to feel admired, respected, honored, and pursued/wanted.
Dennis: I want to go back to some little phrase you just kind of dropped off the edge of a sentence—and I hope you are not offended by me asking this, but there are a lot of men who heard you say this little phrase; and they went, “What exactly did she mean by that?” Here is what you said—and you were kind of going through how a woman thinks about this—you said, “Is it worth it?”
Dennis: And I don’t think, by the way, you are unique. Unpack that. Why do women think it may not be worth it?
Nina: Women don’t understand that, to a man, physical intimacy is as meaningful as deep, relational conversation is to us. We have this hormone called oxytocin, which is the bonding hormone. Men release this after gobs of physical contact—often sex.
Women release it with eye contact and with smiles. I mean, that’s why we can be in the grocery store, and just strike up a conversation with a woman, and be laughing, and crying, and then pray with her—I’ve done this. Men would never think about doing that with strangers. It doesn’t happen that quickly—you don’t bond that quickly. Women bond very, very quickly with other humans just by making eye contact and having meaningful conversation.
Men need that physical stimulation—that deep connection to feel really relationally fulfilled. I love the fact that God wired us so that we can do that for each other. So, women hunger after these conversations, and men hunger after intimacy—physical intimacy. It’s the glue that holds a marriage together.
It’s one of the reasons that you can have an argument—and she can still be upset, and he wants to have sex.
Nina: But he’s trying to connect. As wives, we think: “What?! I can’t believe you want that now! Are you kidding me?” Well, he’s trying to repair / he wants to be connected. Am I wrong here? Is that—
Bob: No; I think you are right. I think there are wives, who are thinking, “Okay; but why is it that, with my husband, when we’re intimate, the next thing that happens is he’s rolled over and he’s asleep? I never get the bonding. I never get the conversation or the eye contact. Just seems, to me, like I do my part and then, I’m shut out.”
Nina: Yes; well, we need to be a little more patient because we—yes; it makes him sleepy. Yes; that’s natural and normal. So, maybe, we have our conversation later.
As mature, wise women, we need to use God’s timing. So afterwards is probably not the best time for conversation.
But probably, during, or maybe the next morning or whatever; or later that day, because testosterone levels are actually the highest first thing in the morning—[whispering] so, a little side note. [Laughter]
Dennis: You hinted at what a woman is to do to respect her husband, sexually/physical intimacy.
Dennis: One is pursue / the other is to kind of spice things up—add a sense of surprise and anticipation. How would you coach a young lady, who is maybe in the first five years of her marriage, to pay more attention to this? I’m really picking up on another principle in one of the other days of your 40 days—it goes like this, “Whatever we pay attention to grows.” I think you are right. I also believe that some women, I believe, are afraid that if they pay attention to this, it’ll grow expectations that they are not going to be able to fulfill.
Nina: And the interesting thing is—when we are paying attention to this area of our relationship, our husband is bonding more deeply with us. So, as the babies come and you become exhausted, you have a man that is deeply connected to you because all of his needs have been fulfilled and he’s satisfied. So, he’s going to naturally, more easily have compassion for you.
So on the nights when you are exhausted, it is fine to say to him: “You know, Baby, I really want to do that. Can we make that for tomorrow afternoon?—because I just need to go to sleep like right now.”
Bob: I just want to reinforce—it is fine to say that / it’s much better to say that than it is to say, “Not tonight.”
Nina: Right; or to roll your eyes and go: “Are you kidding me?
Nina: —“Is that all you want from me?”—
Nina: —which is the world’s lie. And it’s—no; what he wants is to connect with you. I don’t pretend to understand it; but you’re sitting here, nodding your heads like crazy. This is really important to men!—[Laughter]
—because that’s how they interact in relationship / they experience relationship this way. So, if we want them to experience relationship with us the way we want it done—if we want, you know, to feel loved in our relationships—we can create an environment where that’s easier for them.
Dennis: What would you say to the woman, who not only isn’t interested—and even remembering why it is that she would want to do that—which is kind of the way you wrote about it in The Respect Dare—what would you say to that woman who needs to spice up or go there with her husband?
Nina: Well, first of all, I like to encourage her to see her doctor if there is any kind of medical issues there; because there’s, honestly, a whole lot going on in our environments that affect our hormone levels. Different stages of life can affect them too. So, taking good care of ourselves, physically, allows us to be more in tune with our body and have a healthier system that works right—getting enough rest / all those kinds of things really, really matter.
I find it interesting that—yes, some women will serve like crazy, thinking they are doing all the right things; but they are not taking care of themselves which, then, impacts the entire family.
The other thing is that, if everything physically is going well, then, I would encourage her to pray about it. Just ask God to change her heart and to help her understand what delight / what joy is in store for her. He’s so faithful—He will and can do anything. We just have to ask.
Dennis: Yes. I’m thinking, Bob, of The Art of Marriage®, which is our video conference—six DVDs that are shown on a Friday night/Saturday. One of the sessions is on sex.
But I want to go back to the statement that you make in The Respect Dare, number 11. I want you to just unpack this just a bit more, because I think the whole book is about this principle. You said, in The Respect Dare, that “Whatever we pay attention to grows.”
This is really a principle of what you invest in is where you’ll reap the harvest—
Dennis: —with your husband.
And that really is what the whole book is about—is challenging wives to reinvest / to re-up their commitment—to build into their husbands in positive ways in a number of areas of the relationship: what they say to him, how they respond to him, their attitudes, how they support him in the rearing of children, and even in the mistakes he makes. But just comment on the need for wives to grow their marriage / to grow their husband.
Nina: You know, we can create an environment where it’s safe and positive to be able to do that—a safe place to fall, like we talked about before—or we can create an environment where it’s just unsafe, and we’re not willing to take any risks. Spiritual growth is a risk. God asks us to do some crazy things that are outside our comfort zone.
So, as a wife, when I choose to pay attention to the right things—I’m thinking in terms of Philippians 4:8, which says, specifically, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” So, instead of claiming this position of perfection police and criticizing those around us—
Nina: —we really need to build each other up and encourage. As the wife / as the mom, we set the tone for the entire home. We are the thermostat. We can choose to build up others by paying attention to those things and calling attention to them.
Then, in turn, what happens is those people around us—and this applies, to not just our husbands, but our kids too—they’re motivated to do better. They believe they can do the next thing better.
They want to communicate love back to us, as well, because we are filling them. It’s really not any different than our relationship with God. He fills us; and when we experience that, we will do anything for Him. We want to give back.
Bob: I remember a great illustration that Elisabeth Elliot used to share. She would talk about someone coming into a room with a white shirt on. They had their pen in the pocket, and the ink had been leaking in the pen pocket. So, there is a little blue stain at the bottom of the pocket. She said, “Now, when somebody walks into that room, where does your eye immediately go?—to the little blue stain.”
Bob: She said: “It’s normal / it’s natural.” But, she said, “Let’s remember—99 percent of that shirt is white and clean.” [Laughter] She said, “What a lot of wives do is—they just walk around talking about, ‘Yes; that stain / that stain.’ They ignore the 99 percent that is clean.”
Some of our wives, listening, may be thinking, “I don’t know that it’s 99 percent, in my husband’s case. It may be more like 30 percent, or 20 percent, or 10 percent.”
Bob: Don’t be naïve / don’t pretend like the other 90 percent doesn’t exist or there aren’t issues, but let’s spend some time affirming the 10 percent.
Nina: Exactly; because whatever we pay attention to grows—we’re going to get more of that. Not to compare our husbands to children, but if you—I mean, you see this play out at the most base level with a three-year-old when you say, “Don’t touch your sister.” What is this kid going to do? [Laughter] He’s going to poke his sister / they can’t help it.
We, naturally, can reinforce the right things and the positive things. Then, we start having that happen back toward us. Then, you end up in this relationship that you’ve been dying for, in the first place! It’s just really beautiful.
Dennis: There are a lot of traps that are laid for marriages that are attempting to follow Jesus Christ. Early in ours—if Barbara was here, she’d tell this story—she said, “I began to develop a prayer list of things that I was praying for in Dennis, that God would change in [his] life.”
I don’t know how long it went—whether it was six months, a year, or more—but she finally became convicted that she was focusing on the wrong thing—back to the ink spot illustration. I think a lot of life really moves us in that direction, where we’re preoccupied with where our spouses have disappointed us, haven’t met our expectations, aren’t making us happy, as you expressed on an earlier broadcast.
Dennis: What you are doing in your book is turning around a negative focus to a positive one and fueling it with 40 days. In fact, I think I have a promise to make the wives who get your book and who use it for 40 straight days: “If your husband doesn’t say something after 20 to 25 days—
Bob: We’ll refund?
Dennis: No; “We may have him declared legally dead and have the estate probated. I mean, he’s not there; I mean—something is dramatically wrong.” [Laughter] I do think—
I do think what Nina has outlined here is really a way to bring life to your marriage.
Bob: And you have been teaching this, now, to more than 5,000 women.
Bob: How many women have you taken through the 40-day Respect Dare? Any idea what number you’ve—because you’ve taught classes on this for a long time; right?
Nina: I haven’t done the math. There have been several thousand.
Bob: Several thousand women.
Bob: What kinds of stories—I mean, as you look back on several thousand women, and they’ve come in and told you stories—what are the ones that you go: “Exactly. That’s what we are hoping happens”?
Nina: You know, the number one story that comes back that, frankly, is the reason that I do this is they grow closer to God.
In growing their relationship with Jesus Christ, they are then able to experience their relationship with their husband and, frankly, all the people in their lives in a more healthy way. They are able to resolve conflict better. Anytime you die to selfishness, and you can view people the way that God views them, you have this experience where you are able to interact, through conflict, in a way that is just so much healthier. You end up with God’s best as the resolution versus, “I win,” / “You lose,” kind of thing. It’s really what’s best.
Bob: I was going to ask you: “What’s the connection between respecting your husband and growing closer to God?” but I think you just said it. It’s—you’re in a position where Philippians 2, verse 3, is being lived out. You’re doing nothing from selfishness or empty conceit—with humility, you are regarding another person as more important than yourself. When you do that, you have this mind in you that was also in Christ Jesus. You are becoming an imitator of Christ, in that moment; and you do grow closer in your relationship with Him.
Nina: Yes, absolutely. It has absolutely nothing to do with being a second-class citizen and everything to do with wrapping your identity up in Christ’s view of you / the way that God sees you, which is precious, and important, and an heir.
Dennis: Nina, I really agree with what you are saying there. I just want to challenge all the wives to respect their husbands—to find a way that God may create the life in your soul that you can move forward in the relationship to risk it again. You may have lost heart in doing well because of a lack of response.
I just think there is no better way to do that than to take your book, and get in the Bible, and to develop that relationship with Christ like you are talking about. I just really appreciate your transparency to talk about everything we’ve talked about today—
Nina: Oh, my!
Dennis: —because you’ve encouraged a lot of wives. I think it will result in a lot of men being encouraged too.
Bob: Yes; I think there are going to be a lot of marriages strengthened by what you’ve shared today and what you’ve shared in the book that you’ve written—The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection to God and Your Husband. As we’ve said, you’ve taught this material to a lot of women in your home town. It’s now available in book form. Our listeners can order a copy of the book when they go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the book is called The Respect Dare; and you can call or go online to get a copy.
And let me encourage you, here, too: “Why not ask your husband?”—just say: “Have you ever thought about us doing one of those weekend getaways that they talk about on the radio?—the Weekend to Remember getaway? Is that something we could do together? Something you’d like to do this fall?”
I mention that because, right now, listeners have an opportunity to register for an upcoming getaway and you will save 50 percent off the regular registration fee.
That offer is good this week and next week only; so we want to encourage you to get information about when and where getaways are going to be happening in your community or in your state. Make plans to have a weekend where you do get away, as husband and wife, and focus on each other and learn more about what the Bible has to say about building a strong marriage relationship. We’ll have dozens of getaways in dozens of cities across the country this fall.
You can get all the information about dates and locations, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can register online—you’ll need the code: “SAVE50”—SAVE5-0—in order to qualify for the special offer. If you have any questions and you can’t find the answer, online, call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Or, if you’d like to register by phone, call the same number: 1-800-FL-TODAY. But be sure to get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we can get a spot reserved for you at an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway this fall.
Again, more information is available, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call if you have any questions: 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear from Pastor H.B. Charles, who has a message for us from probably the best-known passage in the Bible on marriage—Ephesians, Chapter 5; but I think you’ll find he has some unique insights into this passage—maybe some things you haven’t thought about before. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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