A Woman's View of Romance (Part Three)
FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript
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Creating A More Romantic Marriage
Day 4 of 8
Guest: Barbara Rainey
From the Series: A Woman's View of Romance
Bob: Welcome to FamilyLife Today. Today we're speaking frankly about how a woman views romance.
(Music: "Love and Marriage")
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the broadcast. We are beginning Week Number 2 of our look at Creating a More Romantic Marriage, and I just want to encourage folks, if you missed any of last week's programs, or if you're going to miss any of this week's programs, this is a series that husbands and wives ought to get and listen to together, and then they can talk, they can interact, about what they hear on the tapes.
Dennis: You know, this subject of developing and cultivating romance in a marriage relationship is a discussion that is long overdue among Christian couples, because we ought to have among the most passionate relationships on the planet. Our God created romance in the first place.
Bob: Well, we're going to talk on today's broadcast about how men and women view romance, and we've brought your wife, Barbara, back in the studio with us today. Barbara, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Barbara: Thanks, good to be here.
Bob: And one of the things that we want to do is look at research.
Bob: You commissioned that be done at our FamilyLife Marriage Conferences across the country – we had a researcher who talked with women about how they view romance, how they view it primarily, is that right?
Dennis: Actually, this Top 10 list of romantic acts came from both men and women.
Bob: Well, let me go over the list, Barbara. I'm going to go from 10 to 1, and I'll read what people indicated expressed romance, and then I want to know, as a man, and I want to know how I can keep these ideas in front of me and sprinkle them into a relationship as a way to express romance – again, with no hidden agenda, no – not driving for anything. Number 10, hands are romantic; holding hands, particularly, is romantic for a woman. Do you like holding hands with Dennis?
Bob: Why is that romantic for you?
Barbara: I do it because it says, "I want to be close to you, and I like you, and you're my friend, and I want to be next to you." I mean, those are the kinds of things that communicates to me, and that's the reason that I initiate it, and I think that's probably the same for him, too. So I think it's the closeness that it communicates.
Bob: Okay, how about Number 9, which is massaging one another – rubbing the neck. Do you like when Dennis reaches over and rubs the back of your neck? Dennis, massage oftentimes will have a sexual connotation, and some women may pull back from liking massage because they think it's just foreplay.
Barbara: Exactly. I think that's right.
Bob: So if it's non-sexual massage where it's just – "Let me rub your back, and you can fall asleep," then that's okay?
Barbara: Oh, I think so, yeah.
Bob: Number 8 on the list is serving – serving the other person – common courtesies – opening the door, holding a chair out for somebody, doing little acts of sacrifice. Is that romantic for a woman?
Barbara: To me, I don't think of that as being as romantic, if I had to define them, as, say, holding hands but, again, I think it's important to do. I think it says "I am denying myself for you. I am going to serve you," and I think that anytime a husband can serve his wife sacrificially and do something for her, he's communicating to her that he cares about her and that he loves her and she's special, and he wants to make her feel special.
Dennis: Let me make a comment on this next one – number 7 – because this made this spot in the combined list – 75 percent of the men picked this item as number 1 of what was most romantic. So this, again, kind of lets you know the men viewed this substantially heavier and weightier than the women did because, together, it became number 7.
Bob: So men had it at number 1, women –
Barbara: Someone must have had it a lot lower for the average to be seven.
Dennis: It must have been a lot lower.
Bob: And number 7 is a kiss – an unexpected kiss, a nibble on the back of the neck, or just kissing each other.
Dennis: Now, why do you think, Barbara, the women would have ranked that so much differently than the men?
Barbara: Because I think it probably, if the truth be known, they might have felt that he had another motive, and I just wonder if some of the women were feeling suspicious. I think some of these other things might be able to be seen as an individual fact or as an individual gesture –
Bob: – so if he opens the door, she doesn't feel he's up to something, but if he kisses her, she wonders what's goin' on in the back of his mind.
Barbara: She might go, "Okay"—yeah, right – "I wonder what he's thinkin'?"
Dennis: And the rest of this list, really, if you look at it, with the exception of this and the massage – really, are statements of a relationship and women view romance through the eyes of a relationship. They want to be loved, known –
Barbara: – understood –
Dennis: – there ya go –
Barbara: – accepted, valued, appreciated –
Dennis: – she knows the words – why did I even try, huh?
Barbara: Well, you did a good job.
Bob: It just wasn't complete. All right, number 10 was holding hands; number 9, massage; number 8 serving one another, opening doors, common courtesies; number 7, kissing; number 6 was walking. Now, there's a romantic 30 minutes – we went on a walk together – that's romantic for women?
Barbara: Well, it's very relational. I think if you go for a walk, chances are you're going to go for a walk away from daily responsibilities – away from the telephone, away from the television, away from the children, away from work, away from whatever – and it allows you to focus on the relationship without having to sit on a couch and look at each other eye-to-eye and be relational, which is sometimes very threatening.
Dennis: And I think the reason why most men would respond just as you did, Bob, is because of what Barbara just said – it's not sexual. When we think of what's romantic to us, and we really evaluate it, we would not put walking at the top of the list.
Bob: We're going to talk about this next week – but it is interesting, because I hear you saying in this – part of what speaks romance to a woman is "Get me outta here." In the day-to-day of life with all of the kids and with all of the responsibilities – get me away from this for a little while, and that will be so refreshing to me, it will speak volumes. That's at least a part of it, and then – have a relationship with me.
Barbara: I think that's part of it, mm-hm.
Bob: All right, number 5 on the list – something written – written notes or letters or poems or cards or notes on the bathroom mirror or just some written remind of affection – is that romantic?
Barbara: Mm-hm, I think it is. In fact, I found this note, and I don't know how old it was, but Dennis had taped a note in the bathroom, and it said, "Have you found all the little notes around that say how much I love you?" It was just fun to see that and read it again, and I thought, "You know, that's still true," and I don't know what the notes all were, but it was fun to see that.
Bob: As you said that, I was thinking it was years ago – I don't know how many years ago – but one night Mary Ann had gone to bed, she was exhausted, and I sat up, and I wrote a half a dozen of the notes, and I scattered them around the house in places where it might be weeks before she would find them, and one of them was in a recipe folder that she had for chicken dishes, and I just put it in there figuring, you know, it could be six months from now, but she'll find it, it will be a surprise. Well, five, 10 years later, it's still in the same – every time I'm goin' through there, I go –
Dennis: – has she never seen it?
Bob: Oh, she's seen it.
Barbara: She's probably seen it and left it there.
Bob: But she's never thrown it away, and I keep – you know – why don't you throw this thing away? I mean, it's old, it's on old stationery.
All right, let me read through the list here again – number 10, hands; number 9, massage; number 8, serving one another; number 7, kiss; number 6, walking; number 5, something written; number 4, going out on a day – time away – dates with no kids, dinner out, a weekend at a bed and breakfast – just time alone together on dates. Is that romantic?
Barbara: Yeah, mm-hm. I think, for the same reason again, I think a wife feels that she is the focus of her husband's attention when she knows that he's doing this for her.
Bob: You two have made that a regular part of your relationship. There is, as often as you're able, on a weekly basis, you have a date. Does that make it less special?
Bob: It's routine?
Barbara: Huh-uh, not at all.
Bob: You look forward to Sunday night date night, even if it's every week?
Barbara: Yeah, I look forward to that moreso now than when we tried doing this when our kids were young. We tried doing it when our children were young, and it was hard to do it, because it was hard to get babysitters, and it was hard to get away, and in those years, it was easier for us to spend time together at home because the kids all went to bed at 7:30 or 8, and we had two hours, at least, every evening. Well, now that our children are older, it's really tough to get two seconds alone at home.
Dennis: Right, but when the kids were little, one of the ways we solved the problem of babysitters was we would go ahead and put the kids to bed, and then I would prepare the meal and would give Barbara 30, 45 minutes to run about doing her duties, and then I would take the meal upstairs to our bedroom and had a table at the foot of our bed that I put a nice tablecloth on and with the good plates and the napkins and the good silverware and had a beautiful candlelight dinner there, and when the meal was over, you didn't have to go anywhere and, frankly, we have some great memories of those conversations because at the end of the evening there was nothing to change the mood of the evening. We didn't have to go anywhere – we were there, and I took the dishes downstairs while she got ready for bed and cleaned up the kitchen so she didn't come back downstairs the next morning to a dirty kitchen.
Bob: That really ties to number 3, which is meals. Number 4 is a date together; number 3 is having meals together – special meals, candlelight, quiet dinner alone, picnics, a breakfast out together – those kinds of events, but what is it about a picnic away or Dennis saying, "Let's go out and have breakfast, just the two of us." What is it about that that's romantic?
Barbara: Well, I think it's the unexpected. The one that jumps off the list that you just read to me is picnic because that's one we've done so seldom, and that would be, to me, the most fun because that's one which is hardly ever done. So I think keeping variety in it is really a good idea, but there's a lot (inaudible) –
Bob: – make note of that. I'm just checkin' to see if you're makin' notes here.
Barbara: He knows. We've talked about it. It's just hard to pull off.
Bob: All right, number 2 is touch, and with this we're not talking about sexual touch, we're talking about holding or hugs or cuddling or affection in public and yet, even as I say that, I think, for a lot of women, being touched may always feel sexual to them. They may, like with a kiss or with a massage, wonder what's really behind this, mightn't they?
Barbara: Well, I think so, but I think that's where a husband needs to know his wife, and he needs to ask her questions, he needs to seek to understand who she is and where she's coming from and why she feels the way she does and how she will respond to different things, because it may be that she will feel somewhat suspicious with physical touch. And so he may need to assure her – "I just want to hug you because I love you – no strings attached, I'm just committed to you, and that's all I want you to know" – or something that helps her understand his meaning or his intent behind it, because I do think that, just like with holding hands, it communicates closeness, it communicates "I like you." I think hugs and other kinds of affection that's non-sexual affection sends the same message. It communicates I like you and I want to be close to you, and I think you're a neat person.
Dennis: Yeah, one of the best-sellers at our FamilyLife Marriage Conference is Ed Wheat's book, "Love Life For Every Married Couple," and it's a book about romance, and when I first read this a number of years ago, I kind of laughed that he would need to take three pages in the book to give married couples exercises for learning how to touch one another. But on page 184 through 186 he has 25 suggestions for touching, and I'll just read a couple of these, because they're really quite instructive, I think.
"Number 1 – when dating, young people can scarcely be kept apart. Most married couples have forgotten how much fun physical closeness can be. So set aside practice times at night, at least once a week, to learn the delights of non-sexual body caressing." At this point, in our marriage conference, when I read this, all the engaged people fall out of their chairs laughing. The married people aren't laughing. They're goin' "That's a good idea."
"Number 2 – show each other where you like to be touched and the kind of touch that really pleases you. Usually a light touch is the most thrilling. Be imaginative in the way you caress."
You know, I think he's onto something here to give us some practical thoughts about how to re-ignite exploration through tender touching of one another's bodies. I think when we get married the familiarity with one another causes the loss of the intrigue, the exploration, and the excitement, and I think Dr. Wheat does a great job of giving us some practical projects that couples, I think, will find exciting.
Bob: I've got to imagine there are some men who are saying, "This sounds to me like a contradiction in terms – non-sexual touching. I can do that, sure, but in the back of my mind, touching is, for me, sexually stimulating. Whether it's holding hands, whether it's putting my arm around my wife, whether it's re-imagining the things we did on dates – that has a sexual dimension and for me not to have the sexual dimension fulfilled is a sacrifice on my part."
Dennis: That's the point. I think to have those feelings is normal. To deny that you have those feelings is not healthy. I think it's okay to experience attraction, arousal, at that point. I think what our wives are looking for is such a premium, such a value placed upon the relationship and who she is, that we are willing to set aside those desires and not take that touch toward what we, as men, would know would be the intended objective.
Bob: I remember the Ann Landers survey, you know, where they said, "Would you rather have sexual relations with your husband or just cuddle with him?" And women, in droves, said, "I'd rather just cuddle with him," and I thought, "Do the women understand that cuddling with him is stimulating sexually?" And that's the reason that it often goes on to sexual relations, because he's responding to what's going on inside of him, and you're saying he needs to put that to death from time to time.
Dennis: That's right – and not allow his mind to continue on. He needs to build some limits that really communicate to his wife that "I'm willing to set aside my desires for you."
Barbara: Yeah, and I was just thinking, as you were saying about the survey that I think probably the reason a lot of women feel that way is they probably weren't loved and cuddled as children by their parents, and they missed that, and they have this deep longing to know that they are loved, and they want that from their husband, and if all they get from their husband is sexual initiation or sexual touching or cuddling, then they think, "Gosh, he doesn't really love me, he just needs me," or "He just wants me for his own pleasure, his own need," and so I think that's, again, another cue for a man to say, "I need to understand my wife. I need to understand why she needs non-sexual affection," and I think we all need affection, because we need to know that we're valued as people, and that's a way to communicate that. But I think that, for a husband, he needs to say, "Okay, why does she feel this way? Why does my wife need non-sexual affection?" And he needs to ask her, and they need to talk that through, and he needs to be willing to give it to her with no strings attached.
Bob: Mm-hm, okay, top 10 again – Number 10, holding hands; number 9, massage; number 8, serving one another; number 7, a kiss; number 6, walking together; number 5, written love notes to one another; number 4, going out on dates; number 3, having meals together; number 2 is non-sexual touching –
Dennis: – and number 1 is not diamonds.
Bob: Number 1, the most romantic act, according to respondents at the FamilyLife Marriage Conference – do you want to say what it was?
Dennis: Go ahead.
Bob: It's flowers – delivered, hand-picked, bringing them home – a single rose – it doesn't seem to matter. I'll never forget being at a FamilyLife Marriage Conference where I was speaking, and I got – we were all waiting for the elevator, a whole group of us waiting for the elevator, and when the elevator car came, here came the guy holding a dozen roses, and he walked off – he was the flower delivery guy – and every woman at the elevator turned to watch, to see which room in the hotel he was going to, and they watched, and they watched – nobody got on the elevator, they just watched.
Barbara: How funny.
Bob: And finally, he went down the hall and finally he stopped at a room and as soon as he did, all these women kind of turned at their husband and glared at him, like, "That wasn't our room. How come you didn't get me flowers?" There is – what is it about flowers, Barbara?
Barbara: Well, I think flowers say that you're special. I think it's the surprise that comes with flowers. I think it's because they're unexpected. I think because it's a frivolous thing, and I think it communicates love. I think it says lots of things to a woman about love and about her being a special person, a valued person, an appreciated person – that her husband is willing to do that for her.
Bob: When Dennis brings home flowers do you immediately stop and think, "What's he up to?"
Barbara: I don't think I have. I really don't think I have.
Bob: So we go through this top 10 list as men – we look at all of the non-sexual things that are on the list, and we say, "Are you sayin' I just need to keep doin' these over and over again, mixing 'em in, a little bit here, a little bit there, and expect nothing in return?"
Barbara: Yeah, but I think husbands need to ask the Lord to help them be creative and ask the Lord to help them think of their wives and ask God to help them understand and pursue, because it isn't – again, as we've talked about a formula several different times – but I think that the idea is that a woman wants to feel special and valued and appreciated and all of those words I've been using, and I think she needs to feel that from her husband in different ways at different times and unique opportunities.
Bob: You know, this is going to sound redundant, but just listening to all of this, I thought romance was supposed to be fun, and it this doesn't sound like as much fun as I had hoped it would be.
Dennis: But I think it is fun. I think it is fun to find out what communicates romance to my wife.
Barbara: And it may not be fun in the way you've always defined fun, because I've learned to enjoy a lot of things through the years of being married to Dennis, because he has introduced me to things that I would have never done on my own and, likewise, he has learned to enjoy things that he would have never done if it weren't for me. So I think we need to be willing to have our definition of fun broadened, because it will be fun, but it may be fun in a different way than what you're thinking and be willing to try something new. You may like it.
Bob: Well, I just want to say thanks. Can I thank your wife for being on the broadcast with us?
Dennis: Only after I do – honey, thanks for sharing your heart and being real for women, so – well – a lot of men can better understand how to communicate love and romance to their wives.
Bob: Yeah, and thanks for the insight I've gotten over the last three days of the broadcast on how women view romance.
Well, on tomorrow's broadcast we're going to talk to – I don't know how to describe him – you described him as the "Michael Jordan of romance," right?
Dennis: Whatever you do, every man needs to listen to tomorrow. You think you are a romantic husband – do not miss tomorrow, because you're going to be blown away by the guy we have the opportunity to talk to tomorrow.
Bob: I hope you can be here for it. Our engineer is Mark Whitlock, our host Dennis Rainey, and I'm –
Dennis: – would you agree, Bob?
Bob: I would agree, absolutely.
Dennis: All right, okay.
Bob: I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
(Music: "Love and Marriage")
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