Romance That Goes the Distance
About the Guest
Dennis and Barbara Rainey tell how going the extra mile in romance can put the "mmmm" back in marriage.
Dennis and Barbara RaineyDennis and Barbara Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Their 43+ years of leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries. Together they have spoken at over 150 Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways and authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples, Staying Close, A Symphony in the Dark, and Barbara’s most recent, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife...more
Going the extra mile in romance can put the “mmmm” back in marriage.
Romance That Goes the Distance
Bob: Do you ever feel like you and your spouse are just missing each other when it comes time to communicate? That has happened with Dennis and Barbara Rainey—believe it or not—but Barbara has a suggestion.
Barbara: That's the good thing about going for walks. It gives you time that's not interrupted by kids; and it's not predetermined—you've got this list of things. So often, we communicate about things that we have to communicate about—we have to communicate about the kids, we have to talk about the schedule, we have to make decisions about things. I really enjoy time with him when it's not governed by objectives and things that have to be done—when we just have time when we can talk about whatever we feel like talking about.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, February 7th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If it’s been awhile since the two of you have had time to connect, maybe you ought to take a walk. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. I think your wife, Barbara, should get to make the call today. We’ve been talking about what kind of romantic music fits a proper romantic makeover for a marriage. Do you want the jazzy version or the piano version?
Barbara: Well, I think we'll do piano. [Dennis: whispering, “Piano; piano.”] [Laughter] We did jazz yesterday; so, piano today.
Bob: I think your husband—okay; here we go. Here is the theme music. [Piano music]
Dennis: You know—that music is really good because it kind of just puts you in the mood for romance.
Bob: It makes me want to go to sleep.
Dennis: Does it?
Bob: Yes, yes. I like something a little—
Barbara: It's not your musical love language?
Dennis: Here is the reason, though—we need to focus on romance in our marriages because we get into ruts and routines in our marriage. I just kind of wrote down what that routine has looked like for us. You know, we get up before sunup. We get on the treadmill. We have a few words with one another—maybe have a little breakfast together—a cup of coffee. We have a kiss on the cheek or the lips; and we say, “Goodbye,” for the day.
I leave to go to work. Barbara stays home to go to work. We both begin to tackle a number of problems that we'll face throughout the day. She may have to deal with endless issues—doctors, laundry, chores, errands. I have endless issues at work. I'm dealing with budgets, finances, human resource issues. And then, our paths cross again, after this laborious day, at about 6:00/6:30 in the evening—when both of us have spent 90 percent of our emotional bank account. I mean, it is banging, “Empty”, at that point.
Bob: Well, not just emotionally—physically, you're tired. You've had a day behind you. You've tapped into your emotional reserves and so, now, here you are together, as man and wife.
Dennis: Yes; and you watch the news together, eat some dinner, read some mail, maybe pay some bills. You clean up from dinner, and then maybe go online—do a little email—watch some sporting event. She may go to bed early because she's had a tough day, and I come in later. You get in this routine; and it is day, after day, after day, of the same routine.
Bob: And romance was not a part of the routine—I noticed.
Dennis: I didn't see it anywhere in here. You know—and our weekends are no better. They're spent catching up on sleep, and family, and household duties. It's no wonder why we have a television program called Desperate Housewives and why Newsweek had, as their cover story, a new generation of married women, who are cheating on their husbands. They're looking for intimacy. They're looking for some excitement.
In fact, one of the quotes in the Newsweek article was one woman, lamenting, saying, "Don't you remember the time when he kissed you with a kiss that launched 1,000 kisses?" Well, you know, you can think back to the times when you dated—when you kissed with a kiss that launched 1,000 kisses—but the nature of this routine, I just read right here—there's not anything there that wants to launch 1,000 kisses. It wants to pour water all over them.
Bob: We've talked, this week, about the makeover and going back to make sure the foundation is solid before we do anything to the rooms, or the walls, or the decoration. For a woman, that means making sure there is security and acceptance. For a man, it means making sure there is fundamental respect for his manhood and his masculinity.
With those in place, though, there are still some things we can do to cause the romantic house to sparkle a little bit rather than be drab or dreary; right?
Dennis: Yes. If you want to have a romantic makeover, I think there's about a half-a-dozen things you need to focus on. One of them is imagination and creativity. Now, if you don't believe this is in the Scripture—take a look at the book of Song of Solomon. Both Solomon and his bride took the time to be able to focus on the romance in their relationship.
Remember her invitation to him? "Come! Let's go to the countryside..." She didn't go on to say, "...so we can do a little antiquing.” She said, "No, let's go visit the vineyard, and there I will give you my love." It's not mentioned in Song of Solomon, Chapter 7, how much, in advance, she invited him to go on this horticultural experience into the vineyard; but you have to kind of pick up on the fact that she invited him, early, to go to the vineyard.
Bob: You're saying she allowed for a little anticipation?
Dennis: She did. She allowed for that anticipation to build a little imagination and to be thinking about, "Wow! There's going to be some things that may take place here." What you're really seeing there, Bob, is a picture of what it used to be like when we dated.
Remember how you used to date? You would plan the date. You'd think through where you're going to go, and what you do next, and what you'd wear, and how you'd get all set for one another, and how you'd try to show her a good night. Well, that's all the stuff of imagination and creativity that adds some spark to the relationship.
Bob: And I'm thinking back to the days when Mary Ann and I were dating. I'm thinking of all the creative things I did as a way to express affection to her. For example, one year, there was a pizza place in town that made heart-shaped pizzas on Valentine's Day. Without telling Mary Ann—she was working at the hospital—she was a nurse—
I knew when her dinner break was going to be. I ordered the heart-shaped pizza so that it would be hot and fresh, right about the time she'd be starting her dinner break. Went by, and picked it up, and surprised her—showed up with a heart-shaped pizza on Valentine's Day, while she was working at the hospital. We fed each other pizza. We talked about how cute she was in her uniform—all of that kind of thing.
Those little things—the heart-shaped pizzas, or the Valentine's Day cards, or the flowers—Barbara, that creativity and use of imagination—it's really saying to your spouse, "I was thinking about you."
Barbara: It communicates that, “You are important enough to me that I've taken the time to plan something—to think about you ahead of time—to use some of my energy and my thinking on you.” It's a way to value your spouse.
Dennis: I'll never forget leaving on a trip—I don't recall how long the trip was—all I remember was coming back on a Friday night and being excited about seeing Barbara because she had invited me to get away—a lot like the bride of Solomon did. It was a real treat. I mean, I'm not at liberty—at this point, with or without her here in the studio, I might add—to talk about what took place—but what happened was—she used her imagination, she used her creativity. She encouraged me and she blessed me, as a man, with that.
I think we underestimate what those things can mean in a marriage relationship, along the way. I think there needs to be those kinds of moments, with some degree of regularity, throughout the year, in a marriage relationship. I know you can’t go to extreme imagination and creativity ideas four or five times a month, but you can do something each month that speaks your spouse’s romantic love language. In the process, what you do is you actually give your marriage a romantic makeover.
Bob: Barbara, can you think of one or two ways that Dennis has connected—using creativity and imagination—to express his love and his affection for you—to be romantic with you?
Barbara: One of the things that he likes to do, as he has mentioned before, is he likes to have a special meal or a romantic quiet meal. One of the ways that he does that is—he knows that with our schedule, that’s difficult for me to pull off. So, he will be the one to go to the store, and buy the ingredients, and do all of the work to create that atmosphere, and that mood, and that time because he knows that—especially, in the years that all of our kids were at home—he knew that that was really difficult for me to do.
He would go and do that, and help me by participating in creating an evening that we could have time together—just the two of us. A lot of times, we would do it after the kids were in bed. When our kids were really young, they would all go to bed at eight o’clock; and then, we would have dinner and time for the two of us, late at night.
Bob: Again, the point is he was lightening your load and saying, “I value this time with you, and I want to make it special.”
Dennis: Yes, and I think what happens is marriages become stale. We become stale-mates, at that point. Our God, though, is not a boring God. He is a God who has a tremendous imagination and is creative. He created the earth. John Piper wrote an article called “God is Not Boring”. In that, he said that using our God-given imagination is a Christian duty. He went on to say: “Jesus said, ‘Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.’ We must imagine ourselves in their place and imagine what we would like done to us. Compassionate, sympathetic, helpful love hangs much on the imagination of the lover.”
The point is, as lovers of our spouses, we need to be thinking and imagining, “What would speak volumes to our spouse?” Would it be turning off the TV? Would it be helping her do the dishes? Would it be sending him an email, in the middle of the day, that invites him home to a little more than just a regular meal? But it’s something that speaks of the heart that has imagined something of a gift for the other person.
Bob: And it's important for us, here, to know what our wife does like and doesn't like because it may be that we're trying to express our love over and over again—and all we're doing is annoying the other person. You've talked about this. Which one of you likes to have your hair played with or your neck rubbed?
Barbara: Neck rubbed.
Bob: Yes, it is Dennis that likes that?
Barbara: Yes, he likes it.
Bob: You don't like it?
Barbara: Not particularly; but he would always does it to me, though.
Bob: And it would really kind of annoy you. He's trying to say, "I love you. I love you;" and you're going, "Get your hands off me! That really bugs me."
Dennis: Well, that really points out the need to do an inventory on your spouse. If you're going to refurbish, remodel, and you're going to rekindle the romance in your marriage, then that means you need to know what would create romance with your spouse. And so, in Simply Romantic® Nights—which is a kit of romantic ideas for husbands and wives—we have a romantic inventory. One of the questions asks you to go through a long list of things that fan the flames of romance in your life.
Bob: Like neck rub and back rub?
Dennis: Well, let me give you an illustration—candy, flowers, neck rub, back rub.
Bob: I told you they were in there. You know Barbara doesn't like those.
Dennis: That's right, and she would not have checked those off.
Bob: Just making sure you know that.
Dennis: And in this inventory, you're actually asked to only check off five. Bubble bath, lingerie, love notes, praise in front of others, praise in private, sharing recreational activities, gifts, dancing, eating out, movies, picnics, talking by firelight, a honey-do list that's done, holding my hand, flirting, walking together, spending time with no agenda, public displays of affection, watching you play with the kids, all the bills paid on time—well, you get the point. You do an inventory so that you can truly have a romantic makeover in your marriage because you know what would communicate romance to your spouse.
Bob: Okay, if you don't want back rubs and neck rubs, is there one of those that you would check off and say, "Yes, this is romantic for me."
Dennis: Yes, the “Other.” Barbara would write “Other.” It would be she wants to know she’s appreciated for what she’s done on behalf of the family.
Bob: I wasn’t asking you. I’m asking her. So what—
Dennis: I was answering for her.
Barbara: You think you’ve got me nailed, huh? Is that it?
Dennis: No, I don’t think I’ve got you nailed—never! [Laughter]
Dennis: Did you hear her come back with that?
Barbara: It sounded like you did.
Dennis: For a second, she thought, “Oh, he thinks he’s got me figured out. We’re about to change the equation.”
Bob: “Change the formula, here!”
Dennis: Okay. Answer the question, Sweetheart.
Barbara: Well, one of the ones on this list that I would check is "Spending time together, with no agenda."
Bob: Doing what?
Barbara: Well, because then, if you've got time, then you can talk about whatever you want to talk about. I mean, that's the good thing about going for walks. It gives you time that's not interrupted by kids; and it's not predetermined—you've got this list of things. So often, we communicate about things that we have to communicate about—we have to communicate about the kids, we have to talk about the schedule, we have to make decisions about things. I really enjoy time with him when it's not driven-time—when it’s not governed by objectives and things that have to be done—when we just have time when we can talk about whatever we feel like talking about.
Bob: Long drives. You've done that before.
Barbara: Long drives. I like those, too.
Bob: With the radio off—just the two of you.
Dennis: And the cell phone off.
Barbara: And silence is fine for a while, too. That doesn't bother either one of us.
Bob: You've got one of those on the list that would be—we know neck rubs would be on your list—what else—one other?
Dennis: All the bills being paid on time. [Laughter]
Bob: And make it snappy; huh?
Dennis: Yes, I'm kidding. I think flirting is pretty cool. I like it when Barbara flirts with me.
Dennis: Yes, yes. I like that.
Bob: In public or in private?
Dennis: Oh, private. There's not much benefit in public.
Bob: But those times when she'll be a little sassy—a twinkle in her eye?
Dennis: Not sassy! What kind of flirting do you enjoy, Bob? [Laughter]
Bob: I’m just thinking—
Bob: I'm just thinking of the time when there might be a snappy comeback to something you say—and she kind of smiles, and her eyes sparkle. That's what I'm talking about; right?
Dennis: Yes; but it's more of a flirting of—you know—more of a flirting like, "I like you."
Bob: Well, creativity and imagination are important ingredients for a healthy, romantic makeover; but some of our listeners are going, "I'm just not that creative. I mean, I don't have the ideas—"
Dennis: Hey, hey, you know what? That's what the book is all about. All these ideas are in there—date nights—there's five fresh ideas for women. They start with “Firing the Desire 101.” They go all the way to 501. With each graduation from 101, 201, 301, etcetera, the risk becomes greater.
Bob: Same thing for the guys?
Dennis: Same thing for the guys—and it's in the language of wives. It's not what would fire the desire in a man. It's the walks, and the talks, and the drives, and the love letters that truly touch a woman's heart and soul.
Bob: Well, and coupled with that, we've got the Simply Romantic Nightscollection—which has a dozen different, very creative ideas for men and another dozen for women. These are date nights that husbands and wives can go on together.
Dennis: I'll tell you—these things are really, really good. Here, Sweetheart, why don't you take that one? You can do that one, and I'll do this one.
Barbara: You mean read it?
Bob: Do you mean read it or do you mean make plans for the weekend?
Dennis: Well, you can read it today; and we can execute over the weekend.
Bob: What's yours called?
Dennis: Mine is called "Play it Again" for Simply Romantic husbands. Here is the built anticipation: “A few days before your Simply Romantic adventure, put a custom CD or cassette in your wife's car stereo. Make sure it's not jazz, but it's piano. Make sure"—
Bob: That's not on the list at all!
Dennis: “Make sure the music will begin when she starts the car. If you narrate the recording, use some of your time to invite her out for a musical date. If you don't narrate, write a note and tape it to the CD or the cassette tape.”
Then, it talks about the main event: “Over dinner talk, about two things. First, discuss your favorite memories from your dating days; and then, discuss your favorite types of music, artists, and songs." You must have written this one, Bob.
Bob: I didn't write this one.
Dennis: "Talk about the lyrics. Describe the way the melodies and arrangements make you feel; and then after—"
Bob: See, if I'd written it, it would say, "Sing these songs to your wife."
Dennis: Yes. "After dinner, take your wife music shopping." Now, how about that? "Pick out a CD or two with the hope of adding a new theme song to the sound track of your marriage." It sounds pretty good.
Dennis: "After you arrive home, try out your new music. If you have a CD changer, put all the new discs in and set the ‘play’ option to ‘shuffle’—as the songs will play in random order. Slow dance or snuggle on the couch as you listen. If a song distracts you or makes you laugh, skip it. If a song causes you to be more passionate—”
Bob: “Play it again.” [Laughter]
Bob: Alright, can you read yours on the air or not?
Barbara: I think I can.
Bob: What's the name of it?
Barbara: This one is called "Private Screening."
Bob: And this is for a wife to be romantic with her husband.
Barbara: Right, with her husband, yes. It says in here to make a personalized invitation: “Make your husband feel special by creating a one-of-a-kind invitation. Hand-write it with calligraphy or use your computer to design a card and an envelope. Include information about a special performance, followed by a surprise private screening, at home. Mail it to his office.”
And what it says is to get tickets to a community theater play, or to a movie, or something and let him know how you want him to dress—that it's going to be a special dress-up occasion, where he needs to wear a sport coat and tie or a suit and tie—and you both get all dressed up and go out for a special evening.
Bob: Do you like it when Dennis gets dressed up, and you go out?
Barbara: I do, actually, yes.
Dennis: We really do. In fact, this little date night here—we've not done this one, specifically—but we've gone out on these dates where we've gotten kind of dressed up. There's something about that that is—
Barbara: —it makes you feel real special.
Dennis: Yes, and it kind of creates some excitement and anticipation.
Barbara: Well, and most people look better when you clean up, and dress up, and fix up, anyway, so—[Laughter]
Bob: —you might as well—a little fresh coat of paint on there; huh?
Barbara: That's right. We always look better when we spruce ourselves up.
Dennis: Is that all there is—just going out?
Dennis: I hope not! [Laughter]
Bob: We're not going to get into what else is included in this thing.
Barbara: I didn't know how much of this you wanted me to read.
Bob: That will be just fine. If you want to know the rest of the date—
Barbara: There you go!
Bob: —you can get a copy of the Simply Romantic Nights collection, along with Dennis and Barbara’s book, Rekindling the Romance. We have both in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. If you buy both of them together, we’ve got some additional goodies we’re throwing in with them—a tips book for husbands and a tips book for wives. All of the information is available. Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com; and you can order from us, online, if you’d like. Again the website: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call, toll-free, 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. Ask about the romantic resources we have available, here at FamilyLife Today; and we’re happy to get them out to you.
Now, I want to take just a minute and say, “Thanks,” to those of you who make FamilyLife Today possible. You help us cover the cost of producing and syndicating this daily radio program—making it available on air, and online, and on your mobile device, as well—for those of you who have the FamilyLife Today audio app for your iPhone.
Our team, recently, had to make a difficult decision to discontinue airing FamilyLife Today on one of the radio stations where it was recently heard. That’s because we had stopped hearing from folks in that area. We want to be good stewards of the resources that have been entrusted to us. So, when we stop hearing from folks, we figure that we ought to be putting that money to better use, elsewhere. That’s a hard choice for us to make because we know there are some folks who depend on this program, in their communities. That’s one reason why it’s important for us to hear from you, from time to time, to let us know that you listen to FamilyLife Today, you appreciate the program; and if you’re able, to help with a donation to support the ministry. We appreciate that, as well.
In fact, this month, when you make a donation to support FamilyLife Today, we’d like to send you an audio CD that features a message I presented, recently, on intimacy in marriage—where we talked about some of the factors that can create challenges in a romantic relationship—some of the reasons why romance begins to wane in a marriage relationship. That audio CD is our thank-you gift, this month, when you support FamilyLife Today with a donation.
Go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I CARE”. Make an online donation to request the CD. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make a donation over the phone, and mention that you’d like the audio CD on marital intimacy. We’re happy to send it to you, and we very much appreciate hearing from you. We’re happy to be partnered together with you in this ministry.
And we hope you can be back with us again tomorrow. We’re going to talk about why adventure is important in a romantic relationship. We’ll hear a story about skydiving and romance. That’s coming up tomorrow. Hope you can tune in.
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 will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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