Ways to Rekindle Romance
About the Guest
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
Dennis Rainey offers suggestions for ways couples can use adventure, intrigue, and surprise to keep the romance alive.
Ways to Rekindle Romance
Bob: The Bible says our goal in our marriage should be to regard our spouse as more important than ourselves. Dennis Rainey says, “If that’s your goal, you need to understand what your spouse is going through.”
Dennis: This is really a good question to ask almost every quarter in your marriage: “Sweetheart, what are your top three needs right now that I need to know so I can pray for you and, perhaps, help you solve and meet those needs? What are your top three needs?”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, June 15th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. What are some ways that we can make sure we are rekindling the romance in our marriages? We’ll explore that today with Dennis Rainey. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
Have you found that there are seasons in marriage where romance happens a little more easily than in other seasons?
Bob: No? Really? [Laughter] It’s been one long ride for you; huh?
Dennis: It’s been—it’s like any fire. You have to get the wood out, create the spot, spark it, light it—maybe, relight it. [Laughter]
Bob: Stir the coals a little bit.
Dennis: Stir the coals a little bit. [Laughter] Yes; I think early in our marriage, before we had kids—and that was only two years—there was a lot of romance, and fun, and intrigue. One of our radio listeners—I’ve quoted this lady many, many times here on the broadcast—she said, “It was romance that gave us our children, and then children took our romance.” [Laughter] I think there are a lot of competing forces for affection, time, and also sparks.
Bob: But it’s not just kids; job priorities; there can be physical challenges that you face in marriage; there can be stress or anxiety; there can be issues with other relationships—in-laws, sibling relationships.
Bob: There is a lot that can make it hard for the two of you to get that time when you are able to just look at each other and go, “You know, I really love you; and I’m glad to be with you.”
Dennis: This message was given to help couples re-fire the romance. If you missed the first half of the message, then I’d encourage you to go back and listen to it. I’d ask you to listen to it for two reasons: one is—it’s going to remind you of your marriage covenant and the commitment that you made to one another; but secondly, it’s also going to talk about quenching fatal attractions that can cause destructive wildfires.
Bob: Putting some boundaries around your marriage; right?
Dennis: Right. I shared my boundaries of what Barbara and I have agreed to in my life—how I travel, who I travel with, who I talk to, and my relationships with other women—whether it’s coworkers or people I meet on the road: “How am I going to handle it?”
I think Barbara and I have worked out a really healthy trust relationship because of boundaries that we, together, set around my life, earlier in our marriage.
Bob: Yes; at one point in this message, you turned straight to the men; and you said, “Alright; if you’re going to keep the fire going in your marriage, there is something you need to do.” That’s where we are going to dive into today as we hear Part Two of your message on keeping romance alive in your marriage. Here’s Dennis.
Dennis: Roman numeral III: “Light a fire: Learn to speak woman.” [Laughter] Guys, you need to learn a foreign language; okay? It’s a foreign language—Ephesians, Chapter 5, verse 25—look at this: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
Look at verses 28 and 29 of the same passage: “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
How do you learn to speak woman? Just like you’d speak a foreign language—you listen to it, and you begin to associate words with their meaning. You begin to understand your wife—that her words have meaning, sometimes, that you’ve been missing. She is different. You didn’t marry yourself. You married her because God made her to be wo-man—different from you.
Dr. Willard Harley, who for 20 years had more than 2,200 clients, discovered the top five needs of a woman through his research.
Starting with number five—and guys, you might want to write these down—starting with number five going to number one—he said:
Number five: “Family commitment.” There’s that security need, again, that we talked about.
Number four: “Security—spiritual, emotional, relational”—and guys—“sexual.”
Number three: “Honesty and openness.” One of her greatest needs is for you, as a man, to let her into the interior of your life.
Number two: “Conversation,”—just plain old conversation.
Finally, Number one: “Affection.” You say, “There—there it is!” It is nonsexual affection—it’s affection that doesn’t have a demand; it’s affection that says, “I love you.”
I will never forget this—Barbara was on the radio with Bob and me—
—and we were talking about how men and women look at romance differently. This was a classic moment—we had been on the radio for 25 years—and Bob asked Barbara, “Well, how do women look at this differently than men?”
She said: “Well, look at it like this. Just because A+B+C=D last night doesn’t mean that A+B+C will equal D tomorrow night.” She said: “She doesn’t want to be figured out! [Laughter] She doesn’t want to be reduced to a formula, so she changes the formula. [Laughter] Just because bringing flowers, getting a babysitter, taking her out to eat, having a great romantic evening, and then ending with sex happened that way—means that next time you try that may be a big zero at that point. [Laughter] She wants to know you’re after her, relationally.”
If you’re going to learn how to speak woman, guys, you have to listen to her speak. How do you learn a foreign language?—you listen to it. You listen and pray a prayer: “God, would You help me to know how to better love my wife? Would You help me to know how to meet her needs?”
Guys, I’m going to give you three questions this week for you to ask your wives to help you learn to speak woman by listening to her answers. If you’re a really, really a smart guy, you’ll write down her answers in front of her. [Laughter] Here are your three questions—they’re really pretty simple.
Ask her: “What’s one of your favorite romantic moments in our marriage and why?”
Second question—this is really a good question to ask almost every quarter in your marriage: “Sweetheart, what are your top three needs right now that I need to know so I can pray for you and, perhaps, help you solve and meet those needs? What are your top three needs?”
Then, finally, number three: “What’s the desire of your heart?”
I love what Elisabeth Elliot said about the mark of a man. Elisabeth Elliot was a missionary to South America for a number of years—lost her husband, who was martyred—but listen to what she said: “A man’s willingness to offer up his life for his wife or for anyone else who happens to be in need of him is not the end of everything. It is only the end of himself,” she said. “He who is fully man has relinquished his right to himself.”
Guys, you’ve been called to love your wives; to nourish your wives, which means to cause to grow; to cherish your wives, which means to value.
Ask the questions that will enable you to do that, intelligently, while speaking the language. Number three: “Light a fire by learning how to speak woman.”
Number four—ladies, you ready?—“Spark a flame by being a magnet to your man.” Spark a flame by being a magnet to your man. Song of Solomon, again, Chapter 4, verses 7-10—this is showing how attractive she is to him: “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. Come with me from Lebanon, my bride. You have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”
By the way, if you’ll take a look in Proverbs, Chapter 6,—
—that’s what the prostitute does to lure men into their nest: the twinkle of the eye, the twist of the pearls, the invitation. Here’s a woman, who understood her power and used it to attract her husband: “How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!” Ladies, you can be a magnet to your man. You’ve got to be a student of him as he is of you.
In the early years of FamilyLife®, we couldn’t afford to take our wives to the conferences. Well, we’d finished on Saturday, and I went up to the room. It was about ten o’clock at night. I called home to talk to Barbara and the kids—had turned on a movie, and the phone rang. It was a woman’s voice on the phone, saying, “Hi; what are you doing?” I said, “Well, I’m watching a movie.” She said, “Can I come up?” I said, “No; I don’t think you can.” “Well why?”—she said—“Why can’t I come up?
“I’d like to come up and be with you.” I said, “Well, that wouldn’t be a good idea.”
She said, “Well why?” I said: “Two reasons. Number one: I am married to a phenomenal woman back in Little Rock, Arkansas, who is a magnet and who has got our family together; and I don’t want to do anything to destroy that family.” Then, I said, “Secondly, I don’t want you to come up, because the movie I’m watching is The Ten Commandments.” [Laughter]
God’s Word and God’s woman can be a magnet to a man’s soul. Ladies, I just want to encourage you to use your magnetism in your man’s life to make a difference.
There are three words that I want to use to describe Barbara Rainey: She respects me; she believes in me; and she receives me.
Very quickly, she respects me for who I am—my workload / my season of life. Ladies, your husband needs to know he’s respected by you. Number two: She believes in me. There’s only one person I want to talk to after I speak, or do something, or write something that I want their opinion from—it’s Barbara—because she won’t give me baloney; she’ll tell me the truth. And third, she receives me.
So, ladies, get your pencil out quickly—time’s wasting here—three questions for you to ask your husband over these next six days. Become a better magnet by listening to your man.
Number one: Hear how he answers the question, “How can I do a better job of encouraging you as the leader of our family?” Ask him that: “How can I do a better job of encouraging you as the leader of our family?”
Number two: “Would you rather be loved or respected?” That’s not a trick question. It may help you, ladies, understand the impact and the difference between love and respect: “Would you rather be loved or respected?”
Number three: “When have you felt most respected by me?—when have you felt most respected by me?”
Spark a flame by being a magnet to your man.
This last one—Roman numeral V: “In order to build a fire in the rain, relational adventure, intrigue, and a surprise.” Song of Solomon, Chapter 8, verses 6-7—we read it earlier: “Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death.” It’s an adventure. Love is an adventure with another imperfect person.
Oswald Chambers said this about the adventure:
“Human nature, if it’s healthy, demands excitement. If it does not obtain thrilling excitement in the right way, it will seek it in the wrong,”—that doesn’t make that right, by the way. He goes on to say: “God never makes bloodless stoics. He makes passionate saints.”
Just a few thoughts on this quickly:
Read a book together out loud. On a vacation that was a week-long, Barbara and I read a 700-page novel out loud to each other—a totally new experience for us. It’s still one of our most special times together, as a couple.
Give the gift of time to one another—ask your spouse, “What would be the ideal morning for you?” Then, do it. Provide the ideal morning / the ideal afternoon / the ideal evening.
Then, the last one: Surprise one another with something fun like you did when you dated.
Some of you have allowed marriage to rob your relationship of its romance. The competition is not over—you’re still in a battle, trying to win your spouse. Sometimes, God can show up in some moments that are holy moments, where a couple go the distance, and their love is a model for others—like this little piece that I’ll close with by a plastic surgeon, Dr. Richard Selzer, who describes a very intimate moment of a woman that he had operated on just some moments before. Listen to his description—this is holy right here—these are his words:
I stand by the bed, where a young woman lies, her mouth twisted in palsy—clownish. A tiny twig of a facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed.
She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that—I really tried. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.
Her husband is in the room; he stands on the opposite side of the bed. Together, they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, very private. “Who are they?”—I ask myself, this wry mouth that I have made—“who gaze at each other and touch each other so generously, so greedily?”
The young woman speaks. “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,”—I say—“It will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent, but the young man smiles. “I kind of like it,”—he says—“It’s kind of cute.”
All at once, I know who he is. I understand. I lower my gaze. Unmindful, he bends down to kiss her crooked mouth; and I am so close that I can see how he twists his lips to accommodate hers to show her that their kiss would still work. I hold my breath and let the wonder in.
Do you realize you’ve been asked to kiss someone, who is broken, with the love of Christ? That’s your assignment for the rest of your life—what an adventure / what a privilege—as you move forward.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to Part Two of a message from Dennis Rainey about keeping romance alive in a marriage. This is something we’ve got to be purposeful and intentional about. The romance isn’t going to just happen by itself.
We’ve got to make it a priority.
Dennis: And that touching story that I shared at the end—of that scene the surgeon had the privilege of observing with a patient—all of us, really, are kissing people with crooked lips. It may not be that their lips are crooked, but their heart is. We’re kissing broken people, and they need our love. Nobody does that perfectly, but you’ve got to keep on keeping on and not withdraw that love when things don’t work out.
And Bob, we kind of laughed about starting a fire. Some of our listeners may have been tempted to turn this off; because there’s not been a fire in some time in their marriage, and they’ve lost hope. I would just encourage you: “Maybe, take this before God in prayer and say, ‘God, would You restore hope in my heart so I might be able to reach out and kiss my spouse and offer some warmth of love?’”
I think marriages and people need that today.
Bob: If a husband or a wife was here and said: “Every time I try to light a match to get a fire going, my spouse just blows it out. I have tried over and over again, and I am rebuffed. So, I just moved to isolation,” what would you say?
Dennis: Well, I would say: “Not at night, when you are both exhausted, but maybe, some Saturday morning, go on a date and—either have written a letter that you take with you that you read or you give to your spouse—and you just appeal to the relationship. You appeal for their love / for their heart to trust you once again.” I think some of the reasons those fires go out, Bob, is there has been broken trust.
Dennis: Someone, who has broken that trust, may want it to be like flipping a switch and make it all right again.
Usually, where there has been a major breach of trust—maybe, around affairs or pornography—it takes some time. You might / ought to talk about: “What will it take to rebuild that trust?” and “What do [I] need to do?”
Bob: Sometimes, there’s a pain that your spouse is experiencing / some kind of an emotional hurt—it may have nothing to do with you. It could just be that whatever is the source of that pain is bleeding through, and you’re getting the brunt end of it; but this is where we are called to persevere in love, even in the hard times.
Dennis: We’re called to, again, kiss people with crooked lips. Bob, I do think this is an interesting age; because there are a lot of things being shared in public of assaults, of abuse, of affairs that occurred. I think it ought to make us more tender toward one another to protect our marriages but also to help in the restorative process of compassionate love for our spouse.
We all need that.
I would say, too, if you haven’t scheduled a Weekend to Remember®, we’ve got—what?—30/35 of them this fall?
Dennis: Sign up for one of these things—they are really, really good. We had over 60,000 people go through the Weekend to Remember in the last 12 months. It is the best getaway for couples, where you’re going to be enriched, biblically and spiritually; but you’ll laugh—you’ll laugh a lot, you’ll have some fun, and you’ll have a date night.
Some of our listeners have been hearing me talk about this for a long time; and I’ve talked to you—I’ve said, “Hey, have you ever been to the conference?” “No; I haven’t been yet.” “Break out. Start a fire, and we’ll be there to help pour a little kerosene on it.”
Bob: Yes; you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and find out more about the getaway.
We’re having our last getaways of the spring this weekend, but we have a full lineup of getaways happening this fall. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information.
And we’ve got copies of a book that you and Barbara have written on the subject of romance. It’s called Rekindling the Romance—it’s one of my favorite books that you guys have written. Half the book is written to the husbands; half the book is written to the wives. You can order a copy of the book from us at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to order: 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, this weekend, please remember to be in prayer for hundreds of couples in Orlando, Florida, and in Sugarland, Texas, who are joining us for our final Weekend to Remember marriage getaways of spring 2018. We’ll be kicking off Weekend to Remember events again in the fall. These weekend getaways are a part of how we work to effectively develop godly marriages and families.
In fact, this is where FamilyLife Today got started, back more than 40 years ago.
When you invest in this ministry, you help us expand the reach and the impact, not only of the getaways and this daily radio program, but all that we are doing—online / the resources we are developing. Thanks for your ongoing support of this ministry. More people are being impacted more often because you give.
And if you’re able to help with a donation today, we’d like to say, “Thank you for your support,” by sending you a copy of a book that Barbara Rainey has written for young moms and young wives. It’s called Letters to My Daughters, and it’s her thoughts on what the Bible has to say about those key roles that a woman plays in a marriage. We’ll send you a copy of the book when you request it as you make a donation to FamilyLife Today, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com or by calling 1-800-358-6329—1-800-FL-TODAY. You can also mail your donation, along with your request for Barbara’s book, to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
And we hope you have a great weekend this weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church; and then, we hope you’ll join us back on Monday when Jonathan and Wynter Pitts are going to be here to talk about raising daughters—trusting God as you raise the girl or the girls He’s given you. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry.
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