The Heart of Submission
About the Guest
Dancing is simple. The music plays, and you and your partner follow the rhythm - right? But in the dance of marriage, who leads, and why? Barbara Rainey shares lessons about marriage she has learned as a result of the simple decision to take dancing lessons.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Barbara Rainey shares lessons about marriage she has learned as a result of the simple decision to take dancing lessons.
The Heart of Submission
Bob: But for many women, including Barbara Rainey, the assignment of being a helper is fraught with—
Dennis: And welcome to FamilyLife Today. I am your host, Dennis Rainey, and—
Bob: Wait, wait, wait—
Dennis: I am here with Bob Lepine, and this is such good material today. I am cutting to the chase, and I am going to introduce my wife Barbara. You and I are going to get out of the way and let the women listen to my wife—
Bob: You just jumped in and took my role which, by the way, is right at the heart of what we’re going to hear from your wife, Barbara, about—this whole issue of roles.
Dennis: I was just being a leader, Bob. [Laughter]
Bob: Well, a good leader listens; so listen up. This is FamilyLife Today forThursday, November 7th.
Dennis: I got that.
Bob: Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: Let’s cut to the chase!
Bob: I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk about roles in marriage—
Dennis: Folks need to hear what she has to say.
Bob: —particularly about a wife’s role in marriage—being a helper to her husband. The conversation we’re going to hear is actually stuff that most folks haven’t had a chance to hear. We interviewed Barbara as a part of our work on The Art of Marriage® video series. We included in the video series probably about ten-minutes-worth of the interview. But she had a lot more to say—
Dennis: Oh, yes, she did.
Bob: —than just ten-minutes-worth, and so—
Dennis: And there’s a lot more she said to me, too, that isn’t recorded [Laughter]—
Bob: —once the cameras were off. Well, today we’re going to hear some of what wound up on the cutting room floor as we were putting The Art of Marriage together.
Dennis: What I want to say is: “I want to lay aside all the kidding. I just want to turn to you, as a listener, and I want you to hear me.
Our country is in massive trouble. Marriages and families are falling apart, across the nation. I know that you, as a listener—not all, but many of you—really, really care about what’s happening; and you’d like to do something about it.”
Well, you know what? We have produced something to put in your hands that you will not be embarrassed by—in fact, you’ll be very proud of. It’s The Art of Marriage. What we want to do is make a giant exclamation point on 2-14-14—it’s Friday; the 15th is Saturday. It’s Valentine’s Day. We’re hoping, we’re praying, we’re working to see 2,014 Art of Marriage events in every state, across this country, hosted by you—in small towns, big towns, neighborhoods, churches, lake houses—wherever you want to host it.
Push back against what’s happening in marriages and families today, and be a part of the solution. This resource will help you knock it out of the park and change some people’s lives for eternity.
Bob: And our team is so committed to trying to make this happen—whether it’s Valentine’s weekend, or anytime that works for you this fall, this coming spring—whenever. If you’ll agree that you’ll take five couples through The Art of Marriage, you can go to our website—FamilyLifeToday.com—click on a link—we’ll get you a certificate for a free Art of Marriage video kit. It has what you need to host this event; and the certificate will get you the kit for free, once you’re ready to order the manuals to take, at least, five couples through this material. We’re in this with you because we really want to see this happen.
Dennis: Yes, we want to support you in doing it. That’s why we’re making this offer to you. So, take us up on it; host an Art of Marriage event and make a difference in the lives of the people you love the most!
Bob: And I should say this offer of the free kit is available for a limited time—between now and Thanksgiving—so do it today. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click the link, get the certificate, and plan to host an Art of Marriage event in your community. One of the things folks are going to hear, when you host The Art of Marriage event, is they’re going to hear some straight talk about what a husband’s assignment in marriage is and what a wife’s assignment in marriage is.
Dennis: Oh, yes! [Laughter]
Bob: And your wife was very winsome, I thought, as she explained how she has been challenged, at times, stepping into the role that God has for her, as a wife.
Dennis: Oh yes, she has. And I’m looking at the clock, Bob, and we kind of blew it.
Bob: So much for cutting to the chase! [Laughter]
Dennis: I got on my soapbox. I apologize.
Bob: Alright. Here’s Barbara.
Dennis: We’re going to give her all the time she needs.
Barbara: A couple of years ago, for Christmas, our adult children gave my husband and me—Dennis and me—dancing lessons.
I have to tell you I was absolutely thrilled! My eyes lit up and I went: “Oh! How fun—dancing lessons!” Dennis kind of looked at it. He had this real skeptical look on his face. He thought, “Oh, this is really going to be good.” [Laughter]
I thought that I was the one who really had this down because I used to love to dance. I just love it! I love rhythm and I love all of that, but I married someone who has two left feet. So, we went to our first class. The very first thing the instructor said to us—she said, “Rhythm is learned.” I thought: “Really? I don’t think so.” But I discovered, within a lesson or two, that she was right. Rhythm can be learned. For some people, it is natural; but some people really can get it. He was counting, “One, two, three—one, two, three;” but he got it!
As we progressed, I continued to think, “This is going to be easy for me. It is really him who is going to be struggling with this concept of dancing.” But another interesting thing happened on about lesson two or three. Our instructor’s focus on that lesson was on the woman, who is the follower. I thought: “Okay. This is easy. I can follow.”
One of the examples that she had us practice was for the women to follow the man’s lead by closing our eyes. It was tricky because I wasn’t really following like I thought I was. I was really trying to help him lead all this time. I realized that I wasn’t such a great follower! I thought, after 30-some years of marriage, I really had this following-thing down pat; but I didn’t have it down pat. I am like a lot of women. We kind of like to be in charge, and we kind of like to know where we are going.
To have my eyes closed and to have to totally respond, based on his initiation—and feeling that—was a little bit un-nerving; but it was a very important lesson in the whole concept of dancing. It was really important for me to understand that I was leading more than I thought I was. I was trying to influence his direction a lot more than I thought I was because I thought I was smarter in dancing than he was.
The whole dancing experience really did sort of bleed over into other areas of our marriage. I was surprised by that, too. I remember, several times, in the course of those lessons, that I would come home and then think: “Where else am I not following so well?” and, “How else might I respond better in my role, as a wife?”
I started our marriage thinking that I really had this figured out. Yet, I learned, through the years, that following is not nearly as easy as I thought it was going to be because I had a lot of ideas. It is not that I didn’t share my ideas because I did; but following is an art form. Dance is an art form. You have to really be in sync in order to dance well.
There were lots of times when Dennis would take off in one direction, and I didn’t think we were supposed to go that way. I thought the dance went this way. I would resist that pull and try to get us to go the opposite direction—which, of course, I would get my toes stepped on or we would bump into another couple. There was always some kind of consequence.
Bob: Did you try to twirl her when she wasn’t ready?
Dennis: Oh, yes! [Laughter] Oh, yes. I did that.
I tried kind of the over-my-leg drop—where she is cascading over—with me holding her.
Dennis: That didn’t work real well either. [Laughter] I am glad they don’t have our dancing on YouTube.
Bob: On video. [Laughter]
I thought this was a very interesting observation of hers—this analogy of dancing and understanding her role in marriage. In fact, I just asked her if there had been other times in your marriage when she has found it challenging to follow your lead. She shared a story that you have shared before—
Bob: —but it was interesting to hear her perspective. This all happened about 15 years ago—right?
Dennis: Yes—probably about that.
Barbara: When our daughter, Rebecca, who is our fourth child, was 12, she was in gymnastics. She had started taking gymnastics at about 8 years old. We discovered, even within that first year of her taking lessons, that she was really good.
She was naturally limber. She had a great little body for gymnastics. I have to tell you that, as a mom, I absolutely loved watching her do gymnastics. Part of it was because it was something that I always admired in the Olympics; but it was also because I always wished I could do it, and I never could. So, having a daughter who could do something that I always wanted to do was really a delight. It is a real trap, for parents, when you have a child who is really good at something that you always wished that you could do.
As Rebecca approached her twelfth birthday, we had a decision to make because, at that juncture of her life, she needed to move to another level of gymnastics. That next level of gymnastics meant that she would be in lessons three or four times a week for three or four hours each. The location of this new gym was about a 45-minute drive across town.
As Dennis and I talked about it, I just automatically assumed we would put her in. I mean, my goodness, she had talent. She had gifts. We needed to develop those talents and gifts. It was a stewardship from God. Of course, we had to let her go to the next level of gymnastics.
But she was approaching her fifth-grade year or sixth-grade year—I can’t remember exactly—and as Dennis and I talked about it, he said: “You know, I don’t know that we need to put her through this. I don’t know that I want her spending that many hours with a group of coaches.” He said, “When you look at it, she is going to be spending more time at the gym than she is at home.”
I rationalized and I thought: “She is so good, and she is so gifted. Maybe, she will get a college scholarship. Maybe, we will get big bucks out of this. Maybe, she will go to the Olympics!” Dennis kept saying: “No. I just don’t know that this is what she needs. I don’t know that this is what our family needs.” I have to tell you, this discussion went on for three months.
I remember one night we had gone out for our weekly date night. We had gone over our calendars, and we talked about a bunch of other things. On the way home, we went back to the discussion about Rebecca and gymnastics. We went through everything, all over again, one more time. For the umpteenth time, we went through the same list of disagreeing perspectives on this decision.
Finally, I remember sitting in the car and thinking, “You know, we weren’t ever going to make a decision unless one of us chose to give in.” I remember sitting there, thinking it through, and realizing that that someone who needed to give in was me. I didn’t like it because I still thought I was right. But I knew that, before God, it was mine to choose to follow him not for him to give up and follow me.
Because of that one truth—that I believed was more important than the decision about Rebecca—
because I knew that God knew what He was doing, even though I thought my husband was wrong. I chose, in that moment, to give up. I told him that night—I said: “I want you to know that I am going to follow you in this. I still think you are wrong, and I am still going to pray that God changes your mind. But I am going to follow you in this.” He said, “Okay.”
It was really, really interesting, to me, to see, within a week’s time, how his decision proved to be right. We talked to Rebecca. She said: “Yes, it’s okay. I don’t care if I quit.” I was stunned because I really thought she would put up a fight. When we told the coaches that we were going to be backing out—and then, for a week, I wasn’t driving 45-minutes two ways; and she wasn’t gone all that time. We were able to have dinner as a family—I thought: “Well, this is not so bad. I really could use this extra hour- and-a-half every day.” There were other little things that began to kind of crop up that proved, to me, that my husband’s leadership was right and that mine would have been the wrong choice for our family and for our daughter.
Bob: As I was listening to Barbara—and again, this was a part of a film project we were involved with for The Art of Marriage video event that we are putting together that will launch in February. Folks who want to find out more about The Art of Marriage can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link that you find there.
Dennis: And bring it to your church or your community. That is what this is designed to do—to put the tool in your hand and let you make a difference where you live.
Bob: Yes. We are hoping that there will be thousands of couples who will say: “Hey, we can do this. We will host it in our community, in our church, or another location.” We are hoping that we will have tens of thousands of folks out for an Art of Marriage weekend.
Dennis: In terms of what Barbara was talking about here, as I listened to that story again—as we were filming it, I was just sitting there thinking, “I didn’t force her to change her mind.” I am really, to this day, not sure why. [Laughter] I am not that smart or that mature, honestly. If there is a lesson for men in leading our wives, we need to allow them the privilege of disagreeing and being right or being wrong. That is not easy to be patient.
Bob: When you have the time to be able to allow some process time, that is a great benefit. You need to take that time, and pray about the issue, and see if God changes either of your hearts. Be patient as you are able to be patient in these kinds of situations.
What was interesting to me, as I heard Barbara talk about this, I thought, “I wonder if, when you lead in a direction that she is not necessarily ready to go,—”
Dennis: Yes. This is one of the better questions you asked her. [Laughter]
Bob: I asked her, “Do you ever pout or punish?”
Dennis: I really had to bite my tongue.
Bob: Well, you—
Dennis: I was in the kitchen, watching the interview take place—
Barbara: Have I pouted?
Bob: She stopped and thought, “Gee, I don’t know if I do that?” Then she called out to the kitchen. She said, “Dennis, do I ever pout or punish?” You laughed, out loud, from the kitchen. [Laughter] “Barbara!” you said, “What about travel—travel?” She went, “Oh! Oh, yes.”
Barbara: One of the ongoing tensions in our marriage, all of these years, is the issue of travel. For us, that is a normal part of our marriage—in the car, and on the airplane, and packing, and unpacking. That has created a lot of stress for me because I like things to be ordered. I like for things to be done sequentially, and my husband doesn’t approach life that way. He is much more abstract.
We have had countless occasions, in our marriage, when we have had stress over travel. I have either pouted—or I’ve just been unhappy and refused to speak the whole day that we are traveling—or I have just let him know, in one way or the other, that he is making my life really miserable by taking me on this trip. It is one of those things I really wish I could say—that after 30-some odd years of marriage—that I was really better at it; but I am really not. Sad; but it is true! [Laughter]
It doesn’t always turn out the way it did with my husband and me in our situation with our daughter. There are times, in a marriage, when a husband will make a decision and the wife won’t agree; but she allows him to make the decision—or he just makes it anyway—and it turns out not be a very great decision—it is not very wise. There might be some unintended consequences that aren’t real pleasant.
Those situations are what are difficult. It is like dancing because there are times, when you are dancing, when your husband will make a wrong turn and you bump into another couple or you get your toes stepped on. There are going to be times, in a marriage, when there are consequences that are painful; and they are not pleasant. They are not easy to live with, but the very best thing a wife can do is let her husband fall on his face and learn from his mistakes.
One of the benefits of being married for a long time is that you really learn the nuances of the other person. It is a real liability in the early years of marriage because you don’t know each other well. One of the things, I have discovered over the years, is that there are certain situations when Dennis needs me to sort of be present—to be a support for him.
One of them is that he really likes for me to go with him when he speaks and when he travels—which, of course, creates conflict for me.
But another time is when he is doing something that isn’t necessarily easy for him but is something he needs to do. Specifically, in our marriage and in our relationship, that would be anytime he tries to do something mechanical—like to repair the faucet or go outside and work on the engine of the lawn mower. There have been lots of times, in our marriage, when I have just kind of showed up and I just kind of stand there because I know he needs to be encouraged. He needs my support because those are really hard things for him to do. He is not naturally an engineer. He is not naturally good with his hands.
I have learned, over the years, that when he is having to do one of those kinds of “husband tasks” that he doesn’t enjoy doing—and he doesn’t feel confident doing—that it helps him for me to just be there and say: “It’s okay. I think you can do it.”
If the wrench hits the floor and water goes everywhere, I say: “It is okay. It is only water. It is no big deal.” That is one of those lessons, I have learned over the years of marriage, that I sure didn’t know when we first got married.
Bob: You know, I appreciated Barbara’s candor, her transparency, her honesty.
Dennis: She had to be—I was in the kitchen. [Laughter]
Bob: She was peeling back the curtain and saying, “Look, this is something all of us struggle with.”
Dennis: Everybody pitches a fit somehow, someway. Some people pout; some people throw things, kick things, scream things. I mean, we are horribly broken, as human beings; but that is where the cross and the grace of God come in. That is the redemption of marriage when it is lived with Jesus Christ as the Builder.
Bob: It’s where we can do some things to get better at what we are doing, as married couples.
Dennis: We need training.
Bob: We do need help, and encouragement, and some community, and some equipping. In fact, when we sat down and talked to your wife, Barbara, what we heard today was actually a part of what we were filming for the video series—The Art of Marriage—that was released, back in 2011. We’ve had a number of folks who have gone to see The Art of Marriage.
Dennis: More than a number. We have had over 350,000 people—in the past 30 months—go through The Art of Marriage. All of them are saying the same thing. I had someone, yesterday—remind me this is a first-rate high-quality production that is not cheesy. It’s highly-entertaining, hard-hitting, and it takes us back to the biblical roots and the biblical training that couples today desperately need.
Bob, we did this because we realized a number of people were not going to be able to attend the Weekend to Remember®—
it is just too expensive. So, we wanted to put the cookies on the lower shelf, where tens of thousands of people, on an annual basis, could go through it. Over the next five years, more than five million people are going to see The Art of Marriage.
My question to you, as a listener: “Why not you? Why not now? Why don’t you check out how you and your spouse can host The Art of Marriage and make a big-time difference in your friends?” You just think your friends are all doing well in their marriage. I’m going to tell you something—every marriage has needs, and every marriage needs to go to The Art of Marriage.
Bob: Actually, we have a particular date in mind, too, because Valentine’s Day, as we’ve said, happens on a Friday in 2014. So, have a banquet at your church—a Valentine’s banquet—followed by the first two sessions of The Art of Marriage—there on Friday night. Everybody comes back on Saturday for the final four sessions. You have a Valentine’s weekend marriage event.
As we said, we want to be partners with you in this. So if you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, you click on the link, we’ll get you a certificate that is good for a free event kit—the DVDs, a workbook, and the leader’s guide—everything you need to be able to host this event. Then, you get your location listed online. Get ready to order workbooks. When you order the workbooks, send along the certificate. As long as you have, at least, five couples coming, we’ll send you the kit at our cost; okay?
Join with us and join with hundreds of churches, all around the country, Valentine’s weekend, or whatever weekend works for you, and host an Art of Marriage event. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information. If you have any questions, we have a team of folks, standing by, who will answer any question you have about The Art of Marriage—call 1-800-FL-TODAY—that’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear from another wife who is a part of The Art of Marriage video event. Her name is Mary Kassian. She has some thoughts on what is a wife’s responsibility and role in a marriage relationship. We’ll hear her thoughts tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
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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