A Woman's View of Romance (Part Two)

FamilyLife Today® Radio Transcript
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Creating A More Romantic Marriage 
Day 3 off 8
Guest:                             Barbara Rainey
From the Series:          A Woman's View of Romance
Bob:                This is FamilyLife Today with your host, the executive director of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey.  I'm Bob Lepine.  Today on the broadcast Barbara Rainey joins us to talk about what happens when a man loves a woman.  Stay with us for FamilyLife Today.
(Music:  "When A Man Loves A Woman")
                        And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the broadcast, and if you were not here with us yesterday, you're in big trouble is what you are – if you're a man, particularly.
Dennis:          That's right.
Bob:                I took notes on yesterday's broadcast, and I've got my pencil ready today, because we're learning how a woman views romance. 
Dennis:          We're learning how a woman thinks.
Bob:                That's right.  And women think differently – that's not wrong – they think differently than men, don't they?
Dennis:          They do, and, well, we've got someone in the studio who is definitely a woman.  She is a great woman, she is my wife, and it's really fun to have Barbara back with us on the broadcast again today. 
Bob:                Yeah, Barbara, welcome back to the broadcast.
Barbara:         Thanks, glad to be here.
Bob:                You know, yesterday – and I've been thinkin' about this all night.  I went home and just kinda mulled on this.  It's a little frustrating to know that once I have an idea of how my wife views romance, she's going to change the rules on me – that was one of the lessons from yesterday's broadcast ­– and to be aware that romance is going to get progressively harder as we continue in marriage.  It was easy in courtship, but it gets progressively harder as we're married.  Is that right?
Dennis:          Absolutely.  
Bob:                Well, that's lousy.
Dennis:          Well, you think about – what's God up to here?  He is trying to rid us of selfishness and, if we could, we would kick it in neutral and just coast all the way in to year 50 of the marriage – we wouldn't have to work at it.  It would just be like jumpin' off the edge of a cliff.  We would romantically fall into each other's arms and hopelessly under the control of romance, like gravity, and not have to really work at knowing and loving and caring for and meeting the needs of the other person.  And I think that's why God created marriage – He created it to be redemptive.  He wants me to give up my life for my wife.
Barbara:         Exactly.
Dennis:          And that's why romance becomes really elusive in a marriage where a man is threatening to leave or a man is sending all kinds of signals that he's not committed, and he's putting fear in the marriage, not casting it out.  1 John, chapter 4, talks about "perfect love casting out all fear," and that's a man's assignment, and a lot of men want their wives to fall in a puddle at their feet and romantic love in a swoon, but they're not willing to give up their hobbies, their interests, their selfish desires for their wives.  Now, how do I know that?  Because I'm a man, and because I've done that.
Barbara:         See, when I was thinkin', when you talked about it being redemptive, I was thinking that as you were saying that, and that, ultimately, is what is going to draw a wife to her husband, because when she sees him loving her unconditionally, seeking to understand her and know her and be involved in her life and help her and all of those things, then she is going to respond to him, and as she sees him giving up himself and denying himself and getting rid of his bad habits or putting away his hobbies or whatever for her, those kinds of things are redemptive, and so I think that, in the long haul of things, as we see marriage as being a redemptive relationship, that is the hope of responding to one another.  That is the hope of having romance – is growing together in Christ, denying yourselves for each other, and especially for a husband as the head of the home and the head of his wife, as he will deny himself for her, as he will love her, as he will sacrifice for her, if he will seek to understand her – why she is the way she is and accept her for that and not condemn her for it and not seek to understand her so he can get her to change so he can be happy with her, but all in pursuit of loving her, then she will respond to that ultimately.  Again, it has to be for the purpose, though, that God intended, and that is to love her as Christ loved the church.
Dennis:          With no response in return.
Barbara:         That's right – with no strings attached.  In other words, he can't say, "I'm going to do this, and then she's going to respond, and then I'll get what I want," because that defeats the purpose of sacrificial love, because then it's not self-sacrificing.
Dennis:          And that's the difficulty for a man, because a man usually sets goals, and he is after something, and with romance it may be the sexual dimension of the marriage relationship that he is in pursuit of his wife on, and that's why, as you approach this subject of romance and learning how to speak it as a man to your wife, you've got to understand that you deny your agenda and let the goal be solely that she would feel love; that she would know she is valued, cared for, and cherished, and that she is seeing you nourish her, just as Ephesians 5 talks about.
Bob:                But here's the rub in that – because a man is thinking to himself – "The way I'll know that, the way I'll know that she's been loved is she'll respond."
Dennis:          Right.
Bob:                So if she's not responding, then the message is –
Dennis:          "I haven't done a good job loving her."
Bob:                I haven't done a good job –
Dennis:          – and we've had that conversation.
Barbara:         You've said that to me many times.
Dennis:          I have.
Barbara:         "I must not be loving you right," and it's not just because I'm not responding sexually or in a particular way, but you're sensing from me a lack of response toward you, and it's because of areas in my life that you didn't understand or that you didn't know about me or that I was unable to trust at a particular phase, and so we've talked those things through.  And I think good, solid, marriage relationships need to take the risk of talking those things through, and I needed to hear you say that, and you needed to hear back from me why I was not feeling loved, why I was not feeling like I could respond, and those kinds of conversations are not easy to have.  I mean, they have been difficult conversations that we've had through the years, but because of our commitment to making this thing work is to making it be all that God intended it to be, we have had some of those really tough conversations, and they've not been fun but, in the long run, as we've had them and had them again, they have ultimately been productive in bringing understanding to each of us, but particularly to Dennis in understanding me and in better how to love me.
Dennis:          You know, as you were talking, there were really two things that I was thinking about – number one, the process that we have been through of 22 years of dialog, and I mean, at points, fierce dialog, I mean heated dialog, and the second thing is what we're talking about here has come out of something that is most fundamental, and that is a commitment, a bedrock, granite-solid that is immovable.
Barbara:         That's right.
Dennis:          No escape clauses, no escape hatches, no way out.
Barbara:         And no threats.
Dennis:          And no threats – never a threat.  This freedom of discussion has come about as a result of two people who are committed – committed, first of all, to Jesus Christ, because without the fear of the Lord and a commitment to Him and setting ourselves apart unto Him first, deciding He will be our Lord and Savior of our lives, our Master, our Redeemer.  He sets the agenda.  It is Him that must be obeyed above all else.  That settles it.  But there have been some evenings that lasted long into the night and some mornings that came early as a result of the dialog.  When we got up in the morning, and we looked at each other, there was no thought of going anywhere.  It was two people deeply committed to Christ, and that commitment was mirrored in our commitment to one another.
Bob:                Yeah, those are the late nights or the early mornings, I'll look at Mary Ann, and I'll say, "You are not my enemy," and she'll say, "You are not my enemy," and we'll keep going, we'll keep after it.
Dennis:          And I think a lot of young couples that are listening to our broadcast today and who go through life – they think they're entering into real war at these points and, yeah, it's rugged.  You're climbing some craggy cliffs at this point, but you know what?  That's a part of a relationship.  I mean, if it was easy and there were no rocky points, I guess I would have to say, "Hm, I think I may fear for you a little bit.  Have you not had anything hard to work through?"  I mean, I really fear for the couple who say they haven't ever argued, who haven't really differed, who haven't really had to hammer some of these misunderstandings out, because it's in those discussions that you realize how different you are from one another, and what a gift God has given you in your spouse.
Bob:                I can imagine that there are women who listen to this discussion and they're going, "Yes, somebody understands what it's like to be a woman.  Somebody understands what women want romantically in marriage," and men listen to it, and they go, "This is much harder work than I ever thought it would be."  
Dennis:          That's right.
Barbara:         That's right.
Dennis:          You go back, and you look at the first year of marriage, and the first year of marriage is like falling off that cliff.  We just kind of fall into each other's arms, and you can't stay away from each other, and you fall helplessly under the control of gravity – romance – and you get married and, all of a sudden, you realize it's not as easy to create that over and over and over again, and then you have children, and you find out it's very difficult, and then you've got health problems and there's job issues and then there are emotional issues and there are extended-family issues, and life becomes cluttered and crowded –
Barbara:         – and complicated –
Dennis:          That's right – where the Lord Himself is at work in your life whittling away and, at that point, it's where the commitment has to kick in, and two people must say to one another – "I love you, I'm committed, we're goin' for it," because, in the end, they are going to have a real relationship with a real person who knows them.  And I've said this to Barbara, even in the middle of some of our heated discussions over the past 22 years – I would rather have the discussion and have the understanding in one another's lives than to go through life denying that I'm disappointed or denying that we have a disagreement or denying that I've got feelings and, as a man, stuff it and have her think she's winning, and you've got to get some of those things out.
But that is a risky feeling because that means the other person has to hear this and must hear it without feeling threatened or like they are being attacked or like the commitment is falling into question.  And that's a real challenge – to let somebody know that you're upset in the middle of the moment but still let them know, "You know what? I’m not goin' anywhere.  I love you, I'm committed to you, but we've got to talk this thing out," and this is where I'd give the man's side of things toward a woman, as a man has tried to love his wife, and he's missed it, and a woman needs to understand that at those points he may be feeling like a failure as a man.  He may have done the best he knows how to do, and he's got to be coached, and the time to coach him is not right after he fails because at that point he's probably feeling like a failure already, anyway.  But write him a letter, somehow communicate to him, but let him know how can he win you and then realize you're going to probably have to re-write that letter again in two or three years after he's – moves it to an A+B=C.
Barbara:         Well, and let him know that you appreciate him trying – I mean, even that is worth a lot, because I think a woman who understands that her husband is trying to love her and is trying to understand her, she needs to let him know that she appreciates that and that she values that.
Bob:                Do you love Dennis more today than you did 22 years ago?
Barbara:         Oh, gosh, yes.
Dennis:          I wouldn't go back to that first year of marriage –
Bob:                Well, now, wait – with that said, how come it doesn't feel like it?  I mean, back 22 years ago, when all of the feelings were there, was gravity fallin' off a cliff – how come if you loved him so much more 22 years later it doesn't feel like it did then?
Barbara:         Well, I think because I know him more, and I know what his love means.  I mean, I know what it's cost him.  I mean, it's cost him a lot to love me, and he has denied himself a lot.  He has given a lot, he's done a lot, he's prayed a lot, he's tried a lot, he's failed a lot, and I know that it's not cheap.  
Bob:                Do you think there will come a time in the future when it will feel more like it did at the beginning?
Barbara:         I suppose that there's potential for that, just because circumstantially, as the kids are gone and there are less pressures with children and the things that right now are making life stressful for me, and we have more opportunity to spend one-on-one time together, I suppose that there's a potential for that, but I – you know –
Bob:                – do you think it will?  Do you think as the years go on, some of that early romantic feeling will re-emerge?
Dennis:          I think that we have probably gone through one of the toughest periods, or seasons, of our marriage.  We had six kids in 10 years.  I think those years are among the most challenging.  Now we've just gone through another season where we had four teenagers at one time.  That's another season incredibly challenging – maybe even moreso than the six kids in 10 years, because there were some health issues occurring in that period, as well, that were making that especially challenging, too.
But I think, little by little, as the kids leave, and as Barbara's attention can come back again – not solely to me, because her life has never revolved totally around me – but more towards me, I think there will be more room for that to happen, because there will be more time for just the two of us in our relationship and being together.  Because we can't go together a lot of times right now on a plane because she needs to stay here and be a part of the PTA or ministry outreach that the kids are having – or be there just to take care of the kids.
Bob:                And it's the couples who, during the time when the kids are growing, who kind of move everything to the back shelf or let the flame die out, who reach that later time, and there's nothin' there.
Dennis:          Yeah, and that's why this series on romance is so important – I don't think the Christian community is talking enough about romance.  I mean, it is important to a marriage.  Now, we've talked about how difficult it is to achieve, and it's elusive, and it's hard, and it's difficult, and you can't be guaranteed of it.  Now make it important.  Now it almost sounds like a crazy maker, but I think God wants us to have fire in our friendship with our spouse, and I think romance is that fire that flows out of that commitment and that friendship, and I think we've got to pursue one another because I think God put it within us both to long for it, to want it.  And in the process of longing for that, for a man, I think it provides the motivation to pursue his wife.  I think God gave it to him to do that so that he would pursue her.  Otherwise, if a man didn't feel that, what would there be to draw the man toward his wife?  Toward giving up his agenda for her and his rights?  I would have to say I don't know what the motivation would be, other than just some super-spiritual definition.
Barbara:         Yeah, just obey the command.
Dennis:          And that just sounds bland.  Who wants to experience that?  Barbara and I have anything other than a boring marriage.  Is there a lot of romance in our relationship?  Yes.  But is it the kind that Hollywood depicts on the screen?  She's shaking her head no.  No, it's not.  It's not.  It is much deeper than that.  I mean, that's shallow.
Barbara:         The relationship and the commitment and the knowing one another and growing closer and closer together – that's what defines the romance, and that's what it blossoms out of – is that relationship.
Bob:                Well, have a great weekend.  Be back with us on Monday because Barbara's going to join us again, and we're going through Dennis Rainey's Top 10 list of romantic ideas, right – the Top 10 most romantic ideas in America.
Dennis:          That's right.  Are we going to give any of 'em today just to tease 'em?
Bob:                No, no, no – they've got to tune in Monday.  This is information that you got from research that we did –
Dennis:          – that's right.  We surveyed over 800 couples.  So this is the best of the best, Bob.
Bob:                Well, doing my best Casey Kasem impression – "we won't quit 'til we get all the way to Number 1."  That's Casey Kasem.  Come on, you remember American Top 40, don't you?
Dennis:          Oh, yeah.
Bob:                Yeah, that's on Monday's edition of FamilyLife Today.  Join us for that.  Our engineer is Mark Whitlock, our host Dennis Rainey –
Dennis:          Do you have these out-of-body experiences often?
Bob:                I'm Casey Kasem, we'll see you Monday on FamilyLife Today.
(Music:  "When A Man Loves A Woman")
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