Romance to last a lifetime
FamilyLife Today radio program co-host Dennis Rainey is executive director of FamilyLife, which sponsors conferences that have been attended by more than 1.5 million people since 1976. He and his wife of 32 years, Barbara, recently co-wrote Rekindling the Romance: Loving the Love of Your Life. Rainey spoke to Evangel News Editor John W. Kennedy about keeping romance alive in marriage.
PE: Why do many husbands and wives have a skewed view of what the other expects romantically?
RAINEY: Women spell romance “relationship.” Men spell it s-e-x. The busy pace that we live unquestionably contributes to why we miss one another. When we fall into bed exhausted at night that’s hardly a time to be creative romantically, let alone have a complete conversation. With disappointment come unresolved conflict, anger, bitterness and resentment. Given enough time, isolation replaces an intimate relationship.
PE: The media often portray romance as stopping at the wedding. Does this affect our expectations?
RAINEY: I went on the Internet recently and nine out of 10 sites that were recommended for romance were for single people. The message is: Romance is not for married people.
PE: You point out in the book that romance may not even last through the honeymoon.
RAINEY: Reality tarnishes a surface view of romance that never grows beyond the initial dating, courtship and engagement. God wants married people to pursue each other intimately all their days. There must be romance that thrives in spite of kids, romance that takes you into the empty-nest years.
PE: What is the role of communication in romance?
RAINEY: Communication is to a relationship what blood is to the body: It carries the nutrients. Relationships without communication slowly atrophy, then die. This culture is the most equipped communication generation in history. We have cell phones, pagers, the Internet, all kinds of devices to communicate with one another. Yet in the same room with each other we give up too soon.
PE: What is the danger to wives who ignore their husbands?
RAINEY: A woman is uniquely empowered by God to meet her husband’s needs. If she doesn’t — because of the nature of how a man is wired — he is going to be far more susceptible to temptations than a man who is having his needs met. A woman’s sexual power, channeled properly, is not evil.
PE: What about the danger for husbands who are selfish in their sexual desires?
RAINEY: Husbands may become sexually greedy and treat their wives like objects. As a result, a wife can feel as though her husband doesn’t understand her, or truly love her.
PE: Children can be a hindrance to a romantic marriage.
RAINEY: We had six children in 10 years. In order to achieve romance we had to lock them out of the bedroom for three-hour segments to give us a chance to connect relationally, emotionally and potentially physically. Children aren’t going to come to you and say, “Mommy and Daddy, have you had any time for romance and passion lately?” In our childrearing years we had a standing date night once a week and it became our opportunity to talk about our marriage. I’m not sure we’d still be married if not for those important hours each week, plus one other discipline: prayer together every day. Outside of praying over a meal, less than 5 percent of all married couples pray together daily.