Finding the Potential in Passion
About the Guest
What first attracted you to your spouse? Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with MarriageToday founder and president, Jimmy Evans, and his wife, Karen, about cultivating passion in marriage.
Jimmy and Karen EvansSince founding MarriageToday in 1994, Jimmy and Karen Evans have encouraged and coached countless couples in building rewarding marriages and healthy homes. The Evans are committed to sharing proven truths that can make the most troubled marriage good, and any good marriage great. They bring more than 25 years experience equipping and teaching couples to MarriageToday’s mission to restore the dream of marriage in America.
What first attracted you to your spouse?
Finding the Potential in Passion
Karen: You may not understand why those little things are great for a marriage, but for a woman it's just – it endears us to think that a man cares enough to go outside his macho world and just take a little walk, you know, or just sit and talk. It's just the idea of man paying attention; that they are actually in tune to me, even if it's a simple little thing like washing the dishes. You know, those are the things that fulfill something in a woman that our passion gets filled up so we want to fulfill the passion within our husbands.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, January 9th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll talk today about the sparks that rekindle the romance in marriage. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. You know the passage in 2 Corinthians 4 where it talks about how we have this treasure, our relationship with Christ, the Gospel. We have it in, I think some versions say "earthen vessels" or in jars of clay. You really could say we have this treasure in cracked pots, don't you think?
Because I'm thinking we've got a couple of cracked pots with us today, that I thought I'd have you introduce to our listeners.
Karen: Hello, we're in the room.
Bob: Oh, yeah, they are here, right here with us.
Dennis: They're joining a couple of patched pots.
Bob: We're all patched pots, aren't we?
Dennis: Jimmy and Karen Evans join us again on FamilyLife Today. Jimmy, Karen, forgive Bob. Many guests have forgiven him, but welcome to the broadcast.
Karen: Thank you.
Dennis: Jimmy and Karen live in Dallas, they've been married for more than 34 years, coming up on 35, and Jimmy has been a pastor for more than 25 years, out in Amarillo, and we've talked about the steak house. Bob – have you ever stopped there? Have you ever stopped at the steak house?
Bob: I've actually eaten at the Big Texan, yes.
Dennis: And did you try the big one?
Bob: I didn't go for the 72-ouncer.
Dennis: The 72-ounce.
Bob: No, I went for something smaller and cleaned my plate.
Dennis: Jimmy is also the president of "Marriage Today," which is seen in most of the major markets around the country and Christian networks, and they've written a book called "Our Secret Paradise," and we've been hearing a great story from their marriage of, really, unmet expectations, disappointment, despair, ultimately the breaking of wills, not just one but both.
Bob: And the patching of the pots.
Dennis: And the patching of the pots. So once the pot is – you know, you get it patched, you've got to pour some passion in there, and that's one of the secrets you talk about in your book. How does passion get lost in a marriage?
Jimmy: Well, you know, the big words, like in our ministry, a television ministry, when we use different words, and we get a reaction, the two biggest words that people react to in a positive way related to marriage is "intimacy" and "passion."
Because when you get married, you want intimacy, you want to be close, but you want passion. The things that people really dread is when the marriage gets stale, and where it then is the honeymoon is over, and you are now stuck in a passionless marriage.
The laws of marriage, first of all, God says, "For this cause, a man shall leave his father and his mother." That means you have to prioritize the relationship. But the second law of marriage found in Genesis 2:24, is "A man shall cleave unto his wife." The word "cleave" there means to pursue with energy. And where, Dennis, you asked the question, "What happens to the passion in marriage?"
We fall in love because we pursue each other, we work at the relationship. It's not just accidental. No one falls in love with the guy working on the car in the garage and the woman watching "Wheel of Fortune" in the living room. That's just not how it happens.
Is you fall in love because you find things to do together, and you put energy into them. You talk, you work, you work on yourself, you look good, you act right.
Dennis: You add fuel to the fire and so the fire burns brighter.
Jimmy: Exactly, and you fall in love, and then – then – once you fall in love, and you get to that place in the relationship where you feel as though you have secured the affection and devotion of the other person, we typically get lazy. We begin to take each other for granted. The things that got us there, we stop doing, and so we don't stay there.
A lot of people think, "If I marry the right person, the emotion should happen effortlessly and naturally for the rest of my life." We call it chemistry. If the chemistry is right, I'm just going to wake up every morning, look at you, and just say, "Hallelujah, praise God, man, I'm telling, isn't this fantastic."
But if I don't have that reaction, and the emotions begin to get stale, especially when they're negative, there's something wrong. If we have to work at this thing, there's something wrong. But the law that God set forth in the beginning is marriages work.
Dennis: You know, I like the way you put that. We do get married thinking that marriage is this everlasting can of sterno, you know, you light it, it's just going to keep on burning forever. But if you've ever used sterno, that flame will go out, and whatever you're trying to keep warm will cool, and a marriage needs to – well, you used the word "invest." You need to put the fuel into the fire.
Bob: Do you think this issue of passion, Karen, is something that women are as interested in pursuing as men are? Your husband used both intimacy and passion as the two words.
Karen: I think women desire it more than men. Personally, I'm a relation person. I like relationship, and so to be intimate, but one of the things with Jimmy and I, it was pretty easy to communicate. We always communicate, and that's what connected us. But it takes a lot, though, to keep the passion going.
Dennis: Karen, define romance from a woman's dictionary. Because we know the man's dictionary defines it a little differently.
Karen: Yeah, romance, for a woman, is when a man – like, when Jimmy thinks about me, and he plans things without me having to say anything. When he goes outside of the norm, and he does things just out of his heart, and I'm not expecting it, that's romantic.
I mean, you know, it's like …
Dennis: Give me an illustration.
Karen: Okay, let's say, if he sent me flower for no reason – oh, my gosh, that's so romantic. You know, if …
Dennis: So it's that simple?
Karen: Oh, we're not complicated.
Jimmy: Oh, I don't agree with that.
Karen: We're not. I told you a million times.
Dennis: Could we vote on that here in the studio?
Karen: It's just a simple thing, just remember. Ohhhhhhh.
Bob: Now you know it's three against one, you're in trouble here in the studio.
Karen: Uh-huh, well, I'm trying to get it through your head.
Dennis: There you go.
Jimmy: The passion of the relationship – and women desire romance. I mean, there no doubt about it. But – and you were asking, "What is the definition?" Well, we both have different definitions, but the point is, Jesus said in Matthew 6, and this is the key of passion in marriage. We talk about it in the book, "Our Secret Paradise," the seeker of lasting passion.
He said, "Wherever your treasure is, there will your heart be also." The word "treasure," a lot of people think, "Well, wherever my gold coins are."
Bob: Wherever my money is, right?
Jimmy: Where my money is. The word is actually "thesaurus." It means wherever you deposit the treasures of your life, that's where your cardia will be – passion. The word "cardia" means your physical heart; it also means the seat of your passions.
Jesus said wherever you're investing yourself, your passion will end up being there. Well, when we got married, we loved each other, and we fell in love when we were working at the relationship. Then I took my thesaurus and moved it from Karen to golf, and I went to work, and when I wasn't working, I was golfing. And I'm just telling you, I was a nut on the golf course.
When I was on the golf course, I was energetic, I was whooping and hollering, I was excited. When I went home, I just had no energy whatsoever. We had a passionless marriage. After several years – there's no trick to this. Jesus said, "Wherever you are investing yourself, your passion is always going to be there."
Dennis: And so you can invest and not have a lot of feelings?
Jimmy: If you're investing in your marriage, there are two laws – sowing and reaping. You reap what you sow, you also reap where you sow. If you're sowing in work, you're going to have passion in your work. If you're sowing in your children, you're going to have passion with your children. But if you sow in your children, it doesn't translate to marriage. If you're sowing on the golf course, it doesn't translate to your marriage. You have to sow in your marriage, and wherever your treasure is, your passion is going to be there.
What healed our marriage is when I hung up my golf clubs for several years, and I told Karen, because, you know, we were on the brink of breaking up and our marriage failing, and I said, "Whatever it takes, I'll do," and I hung up my golf clubs, and I took the energy that I was investing on the golf course, and began to invest it back into Karen. It didn't heal our marriage overnight, but within a matter of weeks, we began to see resurrected passion. Within a matter of months, we were more in love than we'd ever been before.
So there's hope for a person listening right now, and they just think, "I'm trapped in this nothing marriage," and whatever – you may have become lazy, you're taking each other for granted. When you being – regardless of your feelings, and you just make your mind up, I'm going to so seed in the soil of my spouse.
Jesus said it – "Wherever your treasure is, your passion is going to be there," and what happens is resurrected love.
Bob: Do you remember back to that time five years into your marriage when you hung up your golf clubs; do you remember specific ways you began to make deposits?
Bob: Was it flowers, like she's asking about?
Jimmy: No, it really wasn't.
Karen: I remember flowers.
Jimmy: Well, I probably sent flowers, but the thing I remember is the next morning when I woke up after I told her that I was sorry and committed to the marriage is I didn't know what to do. I just – I had never done it. I was a terrible husband, and so I was just praying, "God help."
The things that I remember doing was talking nice to her, and stopped yelling at her. The other thing I remember doing is spending time with her. Karen would ask me – I would come in, and she would say, "Can we go for a walk?" And I would say, "Karen, I'm tired," you know, and back then I smoked. And if I ran out of cigarettes, I'd walk on my knees for 10 miles to go get cigarettes, but I would not get up for my wife and sometimes even for my children just to do the most basic things.
What I remember doing were the basic things – we went on walks, we talked, I started treating her more kindly, I'd call her during the day, and then just simply being home with her and helping around the house. Those things are the things that turned our marriage around, as simple as they seem.
Bob: Now, that doesn't sound to me like as much as playing golf.
Dennis: You're just being honest, Bob.
Bob: I'm being honest.
Dennis: Some of our listeners just went, "Now, wait a second."
Bob: I'm just going, "Okay, walking with my wife and saying nice things versus playing golf."
Dennis: I've seen you play golf, Bob. I think you need to pick the walk.
Bob: Yeah, you're right about that. I'd give it up.
Jimmy: Well, you know something? It wasn't when I was playing golf with my friends and, you know, having great times on the golf course, and I would come home, and we fought all the time and our marriage was terrible – that's exactly what I thought, is that I would rather be out here with them because when I go home I get it. You know, she gives me a dirty look, and we get in a fight. I'd rather be on the golf course.
But, again, wherever your treasure is, that's where your passion will be, and so you don't just reap what you sow, you reap where you sow. So what happened was when I stopped investing on the golf course – this is the conflict, Bob, exactly what you said – a guy goes to work, and he's investing at work, he's great at it, he's diligent there, he's having success, and he's sharing that success with fellow employees. There's a bond, there's a chemistry, there's excitement, and he goes home, and his wife says, "Why didn't you come from work? Why are you at work all the time? Why don't you talk to me the way you talk to your friends at work, why don't you do this?"
Immediately, there's a negative at home, there's a positive over here, and you're conflicted because I'm reaping over here. The point is this – the only thing that helps my marriage is a focused, prioritized, investment of myself, not money, though it's important to be a provider – if I don't give of myself, the passion is never going to be in that marriage relationship.
Bob: Karen, if you were going to invest in your marriage, if you were going to invest in Jimmy today, what would you do? He talked about spending time with you and going on walks and being home and saying sweet things.
Karen: Well, I'm sorry I had to say this, but he says this in the book, "Just a lot of sex."
Bob: Now, why are you sorry you have to say that?
Jimmy: Why do you think I married her?
Karen: I mean, seriously, that's what makes him happy, it's what makes most guys happy, so I – but, you know, that and just honoring him, I mean, making him feel as special as he does when he gets honored by people in the ministry or the church or, you know, he's recognized for who he is because he writes a book or being on TV, you know, he needs to know that at home, that I appreciate him, and I think he's just as wonderful as the people out there in the world, and so, you know, it's kind of like this– you know, what you need and what you want is not necessarily what he wants.
And so, for me, of course, being a woman, we want romance. Well, he doesn't need romance. You know, it's just good sex, and then, you know, talking nice to him. I mean, you know, just honoring him, respecting him, and building him up.
Bob: So you know how I asked him, you know, golf sounds like more fun than going on walks with you and talking to you – does other stuff sound like more fun to you than talking sweet to him and having sex?
Karen: Oh, yeah.
Dennis: Oh, I've got to tell you this story. I was taking to Barbara the other night, and we were kind of planning out a few days, and I said, "You know what I'd like to do?" And then I described an evening. And, in my mind …
Bob: It was the perfect evening.
Dennis: It was a romantic evening, and she looked back at me – I will never forget this look – she goes, "That's not romantic." Boom! It was like this great romantic myth – phhhhhffft – evaporated just like that, and it's the very thing you're talking about. A lot of other things sound more romantic to you as a woman.
There's a lot of men, though, just moved real close to the radio. They just turned it up a little bit louder. They're going, "How can I help my wife get that?" You've been saying that the men don't get the understanding of their wives and what they need.
Karen: Well, I can tell you this – if a woman – a woman has more power than she thinks she does, and it's real simple with a man. I say I'm not complex, but you're real simple, Jimmy. And, you know, really and seriously, if a woman's passion, if her heart really is into making – it's just like when you're dating. You know, how you have that passion and all those feelings, and you can't keep your hands off each other, and that's where you're wanting to go is sex, but if you're trying to stay pure, you don't.
It doesn't change for the man. The man always has that drive and always has that need, and it took years for me to figure that out. I thought, you know, he's just like an ongoing chemistry bank you can't fill up. It's like unbelievable. And so – but he would – finally, I realized, this is something that a man absolutely has to have. I mean, it's like, it's foreign to my thinking just like it is for a man to think, "I'm happy with flowers and walk."
It's foreign to a woman's thinking that sex just – have the sex – just get naked and have sex, they're happy.
Jimmy: Well, a lot of people are constantly – what I say is, a lot of people take the energy that God gave them to love each other to try to change each other, and we look at each other and say, "You don't have my needs, so you can't be normal." And so women don't have the same sexual need that men do, typically, or the need for honor. Men don't have the same need for non-sexual affection and for in-depth communication and things like that.
But when you validate your spouse's needs, and you meet those needs, and you invest in them, it's the most passionate relationship in the world.
Karen: You know, if a man will do those simple things for a woman, he will have great sex.
Jimmy: It helps.
Karen: Because it's like you may not understand why those little things are great for a marriage, but, for a woman, it's just – it endears us, it endears us to think that a man cares enough to go outside his macho world and just take a little walk, you know, or just sit and talk. You know, those are the things that fulfill something in a woman that wants – our passion gets filled up so we want to fulfill the passion within our husbands.
Bob: You know, it seems like anytime we get on this subject anymore, we have to acknowledge that there are a lot of wives listening who are going, "I know that may be typical for a lot of men," but you're hearing this more and more from women who say "My husband does not seem to be typical." What do you think is going on there?
Jimmy: Well, in the book, "Our Secret Paradise," I talk about the secret of ultimate sexual fulfillment, and when people see that title, and it's one of the session in our seminars, it's like, "Oh, my gosh, tell me and" …
Bob: … "skip the rest of this book, let's go to that chapter right now."
Jimmy: Exactly, it's a servant spirit. It's the secret of ultimate sexual fulfillment is the servant spirit, because a servant lives to please someone else. In sexuality in marriage, rarely do you have the same desire at the same time, and men peak sexually at about 20 years old. Women peak at about 40 years old sexually. We're made up different sexually. Men are very visual, we're very physical, women are more emotional in the way that they respond.
If you're waiting to have the same need as your spouse has, you're just going to be waiting for a long time and be very frustrated. The secret of ultimate sexual fulfillment is to live with a person who loves to please somebody else. That's a servant.
Jesus, remember, said the servant is the greatest of all, and so in marriage if a man does not have as high of sexuality or libido as his wife does, he needs to meet her needs. It doesn't matter. And I get a little bit maybe frustrated or even self-righteous when I answer the question because if it's a woman or if it's a man, you serve your spouse. You meet their needs, rather than just standing back saying, "Well, honey, I don't want to because I just don't" …
Bob: "I don't feel it right now."
Jimmy: Well, whatever, whatever. You know, you get married and part of being married is taking responsibility for the needs of another person. If we could meet our own needs, we wouldn't get married. But we get married because we need a person to meet certain needs for us. Sexuality is at the center of our being, men and women.
Bob: This is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7, that "you're not to be apart from one another unless it's by mutual consent for a period, and then come back together." He expects it to be a marital discipline, doesn't he?
Dennis: He does, and in the process, what we have to do is, as we've been talking about, keep investing.
Dennis: I'd just like you to pray for the couples who are listening to us who maybe they do have three or four wheels off in a ditch, and they're in trouble, and they're in need of the kind of redemption we talked about much earlier that you experience. But God does reach down and touch us in our point of need if we'll humble ourselves. That's what you guys did. So would you mind praying for those couples right now?
Jimmy: You bet, you bet. Father, we just thank you today in Jesus' name that you are a Redeemer and Your nature is not to reject broken things but to fix them. And, Lord, right now we just pray for every man, every woman, every couple listening right now and they're discouraged maybe even hopeless in dealing with very serious issues in their marriage. Lord, right now, we pray that You would just intervene in their circumstances, that You would work in their hearts to give them hope and to help them to have the grace and encouragement to try again and to do different things than maybe they've done before, but in this area of passion, for them to begin to invest in their marriage. Not that there is anything wrong with their children or work or anything else, but if they've taken each other for granted and stopped investing in the marriage, Lord, we pray right now for husbands to turn their hearts back home and toward their wives. For women, for wives, to turn their hearts back to their husbands and begin to invest in them again the way they once did in the relationship. But we pray for miracles and healing to occur in marriages all across America right now in Jesus' name, amen.
Dennis: Amen. And, Jimmy, I want to thank you for your ministry and, Karen, thanks for coming and joining us and for being real.
Karen: Thank you, it was really fun.
Dennis: And sharing your story here with our listeners. I hope a lot of folks, Bob, are going to take advantage of their book, "Our Secret Paradise," and maybe turn on the Christian network and watch their television program.
Bob: Mm-hm. In fact, we've got a link on our website at FamilyLife.com to Jimmy and Karen's website, and so if you'd like to find out more about their television program or about other books that they've written, you can go to our website, FamilyLife.com, click the red "Go" button you see in the middle of the screen. That will take you to an area of the site where there is not only information about their book, "Our Secret Paradise," but also a link to their website.
You can order a copy of the book from us online at FamilyLife.com or you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY for more information about how you can have a copy of this book sent to you.
Let me also encourage you, when you get in touch with us, get more information about our spring season of FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, they kick off here in a few weeks, and we're going to be in dozens of cities all across the country. This week and next week, if you contact us to make a reservation for one of these upcoming conferences, you can save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee just by identifying yourself as a radio listener.
You go to our website, FamilyLife.com, you can get all the information about when the conference is coming to a city near where you live or what weekend looks good for you, and if you'd like to travel to a different city to attend one of these conferences, you can do that. Or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY with any questions you have. Someone can answer those for you, and then you can either register online, or you can register by phone. And if you're registering online, you'll come to a keycode box on the registration form. Just type my name in there, type "Bob," and that way they'll know you're a radio listener, and we'll extend to you the special offer – $60 per couple off the regular registration fee for an upcoming Weekend to Remember conference.
If you call 1-800-FLTODAY and register over the phone, just say, "I'm a friend of Bob. I listen to FamilyLife Today." And we'll make that same special offer available to you over the phone. But, again, it's good just this week and next week, and some of these conferences are starting to fill up already, so I would encourage you to either go online and register or call to register as soon as you possibly can. Again, the toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY, or you can register online at FamilyLife.com.
Well, tomorrow we want to talk about what happens when you marry a really nice guy, and things go wrong. That can happen, and Paul and Sandy Coughlin are going to be with us tomorrow to talk about that. I hope you can be back with us as well.
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 back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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