A Man's View of Romance (Part Three)
FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript
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Creating A More Romantic Marriage
Day 7 of 8
Guest: Dennis Rainey
From the Series: A Man's View of Romance
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today with our host, Dennis Rainey. Today we're talking about romance, and I believe the band is ready.
(Music: "It Had To Be You")
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the broadcast today as we continue looking at romance and today looking at how a man views that subject.
Dennis: And because of how he spells it, don't you think we ought to talk to the parents of some younger listeners who eavesdrop into FamilyLife Today occasionally, Bob?
Bob: Yeah, it would probably be a good idea for some of our younger listeners not to listen in on the broadcast today, because the nature of some of this material will be sensitive, and that's because husbands have kind of a one-track mind when it comes to romance.
Dennis: Yeah, we've been talking about how women view romance relationally, and we've hopefully done a good job on previous days of really equipping the men to know how to meet the relational needs of their wives so that their wives can have romance spelled on their hearts by men who really understand their language of love.
But as we move to men, men spell romance differently. They spell it s-e-x, and a lot of Christian marriages really suffer because they drift, and they become bored, and I think one of the best illustrations of how a man feels was written in Dr. Ed Wheat's book, "Love Life," and it was from a man who really shared how he felt. He writes, "My wife and I need help. I feel that all of our troubles stem from one cause – my wife does not want to have intercourse with me, and I cannot accept this. The situation has existed all of our 18 years of marriage. We currently have relations about once a month. This occurs normally after many days of my frustrating attempts to have her respond. Then it is not a love affair, but a surrender or duty attitude on her part. I love my wife. She's an outstanding wife, mother, and friend, except that she does not physically love me. I'm afraid to face up to the fact that maybe my wife just doesn't love me and can't respond to me. I have asked myself many times, 'What are you still married for?' I have no answer. I do not know what to do."
That man is feeling rejection at the core of his manhood. Now, on behalf of that wife, there may be causes for her that are inhibiting her own sex drive toward her husband that she needs to deal with. But for that man, can you sense the rejection that he's feeling? He's questioning the whole act of marriage, and that really points out the importance of this subject. Romance is not an option for Christian marriage. Romance ought to be a part of every Christian marriage. Now, that doesn't mean there's not going to be times in a marriage relationship when you go through a valley or a drought, and there simply isn't a lot of time or a lot of feelings left over to experience romance, but I'm going to tell you something – that ought not to be the steady diet of a marriage relationship. I believe God intended us to experience romantic love all of our married days.
Bob: Well, 1 Corinthians 7 speaks directly to that issue, doesn't it?
Dennis: Yeah, verse 2 says, "But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife and let each woman have her own husband."
Bob: Now, what does that mean, "because of immoralities?"
Dennis: Well, I think Paul recognized the temptation that is in the marketplace, and realizing how, especially, men are wired, as well as women, by the way – they can be tempted even through relationships toward sexual immorality. Paul was a realist. He said because of the evil that lurks in the marketplace, you need to make your marriage bed a priority.
Then there is a fascinating verse – in verse 5 it says, "Stop depriving one another." That's a command – don't deprive one another sexual relations except by agreement. Paul was realizing the need for us, as couples, to make our marriage bed a priority and specifically on this broadcast today I want to speak honestly and straightforwardly to the wives about helping them understand their husband's sex drive and his need for romantic love that only you, as his wife, can communicate.
Bob: I should interrupt you here just for a minute and let our listeners know, if they're tuning in for the first day, we've been talking about the subject of romance for several days. We've talked about the foxes that interrupt romance in the marriage relationship. You've talked to men about how they can be lovers of their wives and really treat them with dignity and respect and cherish them and romance them. And then you spent a full day talking with men about what you're going to talk with their wives about on today's broadcast, and I think it's important for our listeners to realize that some of the hard things that you're going to say on today's broadcast fit into that context.
Dennis: Yeah, and I'm going to start right out with a hard thing to hear, and so, wives, please, I wish I could go back and give you the context of previous broadcasts, but I'm just talkin' to you straight, because I think today we really need to give you the benefit of hearing from a man how it really is. And the first thing I want to say is you, as a wife, need to assume responsibility for your husband's sexual needs.
You know, it was interesting, Bob, as I did a lot of hours of research and thinking and reading in preparation for this series, I reflected back that there are a number of books, there are a number of counselors that are telling the men how to romance their wives, and, really, there's a drought of writing about this subject of male sexuality helping women, helping wives, understand their responsibility to meet this area of physical need in their husbands lives. And the interesting thing is, as I began to read, I began to feel like, more and more, the weight of romance fell squarely, nearly 100 percent, on the man's shoulders. Now, do I think he primarily is responsible for this? Yes. But does that primary responsibility of the man absolve the woman of all responsibility? Huh-huh. I believe she has responsibility as well.
Over in 1 Corinthians, chapter 7, verse 32 through 34, the command there is for husbands to please their wives and for wives to please their husbands, and if it was just the man's responsibility to please his wife, then the command of 1 Corinthians, chapter 7, would have stopped before verse 34 where it addresses the wife.
Bob: Okay, well, if the man is still to take primary responsibility over a couple's romantic relationship, then in what sense does a woman have a responsibility to be romantically involved with her husband? What's her role in all of this?
Dennis: Well, I think she needs to be a part of creatively praying and thinking and actively pursuing her husband on his agenda, and we've stated that repeatedly over this series. His agenda, for most men, is spelled s-e-x. It's on the physical side of the love relationship. Now, that doesn't mean she has to be preoccupied with sex all day long. That's not going to be a part of her wiring and who she is. It just means that she must make her husband a priority in this area of their marriage relationship.
And let me just say to the ladies at this point – I don't want you to think, as we continue to move through these points, because over the next couple of days, these are going to get a little grittier and a little, perhaps, tougher to hear from a woman's perspective, but what I'm going to promise you is this will not be a superficial approach to a subject that, from a Christian perspective, I believe firmly must be dealt with from a biblical standpoint.
The second point I want to make to ladies is that most men – now listen carefully – most men don't understand their own sex drive, and what is compelling them to pursue their wives physically. Now, did you hear that? Most men don't understand themselves sexually. So you're wondering – how am I going to be able to understand him when he doesn't understand himself?
You know, it's really interesting, as you listen to men talk, there are all kinds of sexual innuendoes in their jokes – and I'm not saying, by the way, that they're appropriate – but there's all kinds of statements made that just hint that they are horribly insecure about this subject. And what a man needs is he needs the commitment, the strong commitment, the resilient love of a woman who says, "Sweetheart, I am yours, and I am proud to be yours. You know what? You can be real, and you can be frail, and you can be weak, and I will still respect you, and I will still love you." But the problem is, is most men have a difficult time really hearing that message, because of the threat of this area of their own manhood.
Bob: All right, well, let me get this real practical, if I can. Let's say it's 9:30 tonight, the kids are in bed –
Dennis: – that's ideal, that's not just practical –
Bob: – husband and wife have, oh, a few minutes together on the sofa before they go to bed, and a wife thinks to herself, "Now that thing Dennis was talkin' about on the radio, about how can a wife help her husband understand his own sexual desires" – what does she cuddle up next to him and say that will help initiate a conversation around that subject?
Dennis: Okay, first of all, the couch is a great spot to have this discussion. Maybe even the dinner table or a walk. Of course, if it's dark outside – of course, that may even be a better idea for men, because of the threat. But I would suggest getting a book that Barbara and I wrote called, "The Questions Book." Now this is a book that has 31 questions that I'll bet you've never asked your spouse, and one of the questions I think would really be appropriate here. It's a question that will unlock, I think, what is really behind what communicates romance to your husband. The question is this – what are the three most romantic times that we have shared together as a couple and why?
Then what I would encourage you to do, as a wife, is just listen carefully to what he says and why he says that was romantic to him. Listen to the messages that are behind the statements and listen to what really affirms him in the sexual dimension of your relationship, and if he doesn't mention sex in the first romantic adventure that you have, then that's okay. There may be some things that communicate romance and love to him that are quite apart from a sex act, but I've got to believe that one of those three are going to include something that involved a romantic evening that was enchanting around the subject of sex. And then I would begin to ask him – why that was affirming? Why did that feel affirming? And if conversation goes on, and he feels comfortable, I would talk about his fears. What are your fears around the sex act? Around how you feel about yourself as a man? Talk about his doubts – does he have any? Because most men do have doubts about their ability to perform and really be a great lover of their wives.
Bob: As a wife begins to attempt to open her husband up on this subject, she may meet with resistance either at the very start or anytime she begins to probe more deeply. What should she do when she meets with that resistance?
Dennis: Well, that's the real world. There are some men who, at that point, they're not going to want to talk, and I wouldn't press it at that point. But what you can become sensitive to, as a woman, are those opportunities where perhaps he will be willing to talk and where you can better understand him and where you can begin to probe him with questions when he is willing to open up.
I would also encourage couples around this subject to go to a FamilyLife Marriage Conference because sometimes it takes a whole weekend of a man getting away from his work, from household duties, and experiencing some romance with his wife at a quality hotel to really begin to unthaw the emotions.
Bob: And on Saturday afternoon, as they work through a project, that subject will come up, won't it?
Dennis: That's exactly right. And at that point, the commitment in the relationship, I think, has been heightened, and the freedom that a man feels at that point in the FamilyLife Marriage Conference is a time when I think he may begin to open up.
Bob: Well, you've talked already on the broadcast today about how a woman needs to assume some responsibility in this area, and how most men just don't get it, even about their own sexuality. What else?
Dennis: Well, I think a woman needs to understand that a man needs to be needed by his wife sexually. If you want to see your husband literally go through the ceiling with excitement, express tonight that you need him sexually. You can do that verbally, or you can do that by being friendly to him tonight – how else shall I say it? Genesis 2:18 says, and this is God speaking, "It is not good for the man to be alone." God points out that man needed a counterpart.
I'll never forget a young seminary wife – I was speaking on the West Coast at a major evangelical seminary – and I was talking to the women at a wives' class about how they could communicate love to their husbands, and this young seminarian wife came up after I'd finished speaking, and she said, "Dennis," and she started giggling, she said, "We were driving home the other night from youth group, my husband is a youth pastor, and in the quiet of the car, we were just driving along there in the dark, and I turned to him, and I said, 'Sweetheart, what would really encourage you to be a man of God?'" And she said, "Dennis, there was a moment of silence, and he said, 'Well, if I came home from seminary in the afternoon and found you at home with no clothes on welcoming me home."" And she kinda giggled, and she said, "Do you think he really meant it?" And I said, "I don't know. Maybe you ought to try it."
Now, isn't it interesting that here's a guy who is immersing himself in the study of the scriptures. His wife asked him what can encourage you to become a man of God? You'd think he would want maybe a theological set of books about the Bible, maybe some time with a great man of God. Hm-mm. He wants a time with his wife alone to just be affirmed sexually. Now, that's a message that I think we need to be shouting from the mountaintops today.
Bob: You know, some wives would say, "I feel like I'm doing this for my husband, but at the same time that I'm trying to affirm him, I'm feeling unaffirmed. I'm feeling used."
Dennis: Charlie Shedd in his book, "Letters to Karen," made a powerful statement – and this is a book from a father to his daughter about marriage, love, and about life. He writes, "Be sexually aggressive some of the time. Your husband longs to believe that he's wonderful enough for you to yearn for his sexual companionship. It matters everything to a man if he has a home where he knows he has great value. Your husband can stand much more of the rough-and-tumble of a cutthroat world if you have convinced him that his home is an emotional center where he is vitally important." And did you hear what he was saying to do that? A part of that is being creative and initiating sexually toward your husband.
Bob: I don't even know if you can do this. Do you have any other ideas?
Dennis: I'm not going to go further as to how a woman can do that, graphically talking about that, but I do think what she needs to do is communicate her need of her husband – do that verbally. Let him know that you are his lover. Write him a note, maybe a surprise – let him know that he has occupied your thoughts today sexually. That's good. God would not be ashamed. He would not be up in heaven right now hiding his face, blushing, that I'm saying this over Christian radio. Our God made the whole sexual dimension of marriage, and He's for it.
I think what we want to communicate here is that a woman who wants to please her husband can learn how to do that in a way that communicates love to him and, most likely, those gifts of pleasing your husband will involve sacrifice. That's what makes them so valuable.
Bob: You know, Dennis, tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and I can imagine there are some wives who are listening to the broadcast who think, "I have tried to do what you've talked about today. I have tried to affirm and esteem my husband and build him up, and yet when we are together romantically, when we're together sexually, I feel very unaffirmed. I feel used," and she wonders, "Do I keep going? Do I stay with it?"
Dennis: Boy, that's a tough one, because there are men that, for whatever reason, are unresponsive, and I would say if you're in a marriage like that, you need to seek out a friend of the same sex who can pray for you, who can encourage you, and you need to be vitally involved in your local church, growing spiritually.
Bob: And maybe the broadcasts that we did earlier, where we talked to husbands about how they can romance their wives – maybe that tape would be helpful for a husband.
Dennis: Yeah, and perhaps an invitation to your husband to write a letter explaining his lack of response. Sometimes men can be threatened by verbally communicating, because they're so tangled in their own emotions, they can get free to share it. And perhaps the open invitation to a man to write down his thoughts to his wife, just perhaps there's a man who is listening, or a wife who can use that to help her husband begin to really open up his heart and become vulnerable.
Bob: Are you going to talk more to wives on tomorrow's broadcast?
Dennis: We've got a long list here.
Bob: All right. I hope our listeners can join us for that. Our engineer is Mark Whitlock. Dennis Rainey is our host. I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
(Music: "It Had To Be You")
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