Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Watch this interview.

Leslie Basham: In a healthy marriage there are no secrets, according to Dennis Rainey.

Dennis Rainey: Isolation is the ploy of the enemy. If he can get a couple isolated from each other, he can convince you of anything. He can convince your husband of anything. You really have to guard your marriage against isolation.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for Tuesday, January 3, 2017.

Every marriage has a tendency to drift apart unless we make a concerted effort to stay connected. Dennis and Barbara Rainey talked yesterday about that. Dennis and Barbara founded the ministry FamilyLife, and Dennis serves as president.

The Raineys were in town to talk about Barbara’s newest book, Letters to My Daughters: On the Art of Being a Wife. While they were in town, we put Dennis on the spot and had him join Barbara.

If you missed part one of the conversation, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Let’s pick back up, and if you have younger children with you, keep in mind the conversation is about physical intimacy in marriage.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Dennis you’ve said to Barbara, she reports this at least in her book, “Thanks for making me more effective at work.” What does that mean, and how does it relate to this area?

Dennis: Well, if you want to read a book that was written in the early 70s, it was originally called Sexual Suicide, by Dr. George Gilder, a Harvard sociologist. The book was retitled called Men and Marriage, and it explains how men without women—as in marriage—are barbarians.

Men have been given a drive that is placed, I believe, by God to propagate the human race and also to pursue the woman. If one or both of you didn’t have a desire to be with each other, then when would the pursuit start, and how would the pursuit continue?

Four decades—five decades in the relationship, and he just talks about how men are affirmed by their wives in marriage through the act of coming together in a way that is very affirming, very fulfilling. I’ve told Barbara many times, I would go to work the next day, and I would be highly effective.

It’s how God made us as men and women. And a wife possesses, she ought to be the best at this she could be. If you want to look at the Proverbs, the Proverbs woman of the street in Proverbs 5–7 . . . Read what she does: The twist of the pearls, the wink of the eye, scented sheets. I mean, what she’s doing is using a gift God gave for wrong purposes. She knows how to get a man. “Like an ox to the slaughter,” we’re described.

I think married women ought to be just as wise, maybe more so. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong because she twists it. It just means a wise woman understands and knows how to pull him in from afar.

Nancy: Barbara, you talk about how this has been a journey, this has been a process. And your mother actually gave you some wise counsel just before you got married.

Barbara Rainey: Yes, she did. My mother doesn’t say a whole lot. She’s very private. She’s from that generation that you didn’t talk about these things. And so right before I got married, she very bravely gave me two pieces of advice. It was when I was buying my things for the honeymoon, and she was with me. I was picking out a nightgown, and she said, “You know, he’ll like you better without that on, don’t you?”

That was real sweet. And I said, “Yes.”

And then she said, “It gets better with time.”

And I thought, Isn’t that interesting? The two pieces of advice she gave me, and she was right about both. I knew the first one was right, but especially about “it gets better with time.” It’s not that we know how to perform better than we did when we first got married. It’s that we know each other better.

There’s such a depth and such a richness and such a level of understanding and appreciation and comfort and safety and trust. And I could go on and on. All of those intangibles are so much more solid, so much deeper than they were when we first got married. None of that was really there when we first got married. We said, “I do,” and we believed each other, but it was pretty shallow. Well now all those things are really deep.

So it makes our experience so much richer and more fulfilling than it ever was in the early years of marriage because we’ve endured, and we’ve grown, and we’ve become more of who God intended us to be, and the result is really wonderful.

Nancy: I think it’s really helpful for younger wives to understand that what you’re experiencing now is not necessarily all that there ever will be in this or any other area of your marriage.

Barbara: That’s right.

Nancy: You talk about the oak tree and the time it takes for something of great magnificence to be formed. This is something obviously you guys have talked about a lot. Was that always easy to have those conversations? Or did you guys choose this topic?

Barbara: I don’t remember if it was hard to talk about. I think it probably was just because we all have some level of shame; we all have some level of insecurity about something so intimate. I don’t remember that being challenging, but it was just too long ago, but I’m sure it was.

Nancy: You say in your book that even in recent years you have conversations.

Barbara: We continue to have conversations about it. I wrote this story in the book that we were going somewhere one day, and we were in the car. I don’t even remember how it came up, but the topic of sex came up. I said to Dennis, “You know, sometimes I’m just really confused about our sex life.”

He looked at me, and he said, “Really? Well, I’d like to understand what you mean by that.”

And I thought, I don’t know what I mean by that. Let me think about that. And so I thought about it and kind of fumbled my way into it, but because we were driving in a car for two hours, we had plenty of time to have this conversation. I eventually found words to express what I meant when I said I felt confused. And he said, “Oh. I didn’t know that. I didn’t understand that about you.”

That happened—the book’s not that old—so it happened in the last few years. So it is an ongoing growth, which is why I compare it to gardening because in gardening, there are always weeds that grow every year no matter how much spray any chemicals, how much weed guard, you’re always going to get weeds. It’s an ongoing process.

And it’s very true in this area of your relationship, too. There are always weeds that are going to sprout that you have to pull up. And the weeds are usually fear weeds. There will be these little fears that pop up, or little trust issues that pop up. You have to identify them, name then for what they are, and pull those weeds in the relationship.

Dennis: And one of the things Barbara talks about—I think it’s in the book—is just not quitting. I think the enemy wants to get wives, and for that matter, husbands, to just hang it up, park it permanently. That’s a tragedy.

I know that the aging process, there may be a time when that time of lovemaking may not occur. But I think as long as it’s physically able to occur between a husband and a wife, it needs to be cultivated.

You just can’t question what God has designed. To give up on it and to hang it up because it’s been difficult or it’s not easy—you wouldn’t do that on your spiritual lives because it’s been difficult. You wouldn’t do that really on your emotional lives—that wouldn’t be healthy. Why would you do it here?

I think a lot of life is just plain hard, messy, difficult, challenging, and yet there’s growth that occurs. And as Barbara’s talking about her mom, I can’t think of better advice than to say to her, “It gets better with time.” What a great perspective coming from a mother to a daughter around something that is going to take a lifetime to figure it out.

Nancy: And keeping in mind that we have an enemy who opposes.

Dennis: Yes, we do.

Nancy: And he’s trying to separate couples. And one of the ways he does that is through temptation. I think sometimes, as single women, they assume once they’re married there won’t be temptation anymore. And yet the enemy still comes. How do you deal with that when there’s desire outside of the marriage, something that’s put in front of you that may be tempting? Do you take it to the Lord? Do you take it to each other? How do you do that?

Barbara: Yes, and yes. We talk a lot about accountability in the Christian community. We talk about having accountability partners. This is my greatest accountability partner, and I am his. So I think in the marriage relationship, when there are temptations, I tell him, and he tells me, and we tell the Lord, too.

But if I try to hide that, or if he tries to hide something like that in our relationship, then there’s that wall that’s going up again because there’s a secret between us. And marriage is not a place for secrets. Our relationship with Christ is not a place for secrets. We have to be transparent with one another, and that’s how we love each other and support each other.

Dennis: This is where sin grows, when you keep a secret. This is where it brings forth death.

Early in our marriage, I led a guy to Christ who was a little rough around the edges, and I didn’t realize it. But at the Bible study we were having in our home for breakfast, he was making overtures toward Barbara.

Barbara: I was aware of this. I began to notice that he was just a little more friendly than I felt he should be. I didn’t say anything because I thought I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to. I was a fairly newly married, and this whole being married thing was new to me. And I thought to myself, Okay, if I tell Dennis this is happening, is he going to think it’s my fault? Is he going to think I’m inviting this? And I thought, I’m not, but I don’t want to risk that.

So I waited. And then the next week it happened again. So I debated internally for a while, “What do I do? What do I say? Do I not say anything?” It was a risk for me. It was a real scary thing to tell him what I was experiencing and what I was feeling.

And the great part of it is once I told him, he believed me, and he moved the Bible study to another location immediately. The next week they met somewhere else, and they never met in our house again, and that was the end of it.

But it was what I discovered, and he discovered with me together that day was how important it was for us to be transparent and real with our temptations, with our uncomfortable situations. I was not tempted. I was not attracted to him. But I was nervous about this relationship. I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t know what to do. He was married. He had kids. And I just knew I didn’t like it.

But it was so hopeful that when I told him, we were together. I wasn’t fighting it by myself. I wasn’t imagining it by myself. I wasn’t trying to figure out what to do by myself. Together, when I told him, now we were a team, and we were going to fix this together. And that’s what marriage is supposed to be about.

Dennis: Isolation is the ploy of the enemy. If he can get a couple isolated from each other, he can convince you of anything. He can convince your husband of anything. You really have to guard your marriage against isolation.

And I think, honestly, I don’t know all of what God had in mind when He made the sexual dimension of the marriage relationship, but I think it was meant to take two people who could probably spin their plates and be out doing their thing, raising kids, building careers, both of them, and doing their thing and being successful, even in ministry, even in church, even in all these things, and might never be forced to come back together to share intimately, to be close to each other the way God designed if it were not for this dimension.

I think there are some unhealthy attitudes in our culture because of movements that have occurred in the past that have put men down and sought to make how men think about sex as dirty—and certainly there is a twisted side of this—but God designed it. This was His idea in the first place. It wasn’t man’s idea.

I think we need to take a step back and ask the question: Are we celebrating together as a couple? And how are we celebrating? How are we doing?

It just takes work and a commitment over the long haul.

Nancy: Dennis, you’ve said to Barbara, “Women are powerful.”

Dennis: Oh, yes.

Nancy: What do you mean by that? And speak to women. You’ve got the microphone now. There are a lot of women listening. Help us understand from a man’s perspective what that means.

Dennis: Well, I mentioned it a bit earlier. There is a unique power you have in your husbands’ lives, ladies, that no other woman has. The question is: How are you using that power? Sex is used, again, as it talks about in the Scriptures, “to lead a man like an ox to the slaughter.” There’s all kinds of twisted and perverted things happening around this that lure men into destruction.

But at the same time, that same power, sexual power of a woman can be used to draw her husband back to her, back to the marriage, back to the family, back to that civilizing impact that a marriage and a family have on the barbarian.

If you think I’m stretching it here, get George Gilder’s book and just read the first seven chapters. He points out that a wife is extremely powerful in her husband’s life. And use your power. Use it wisely, not sparingly.

Nancy: Barbara, you talked about coming into your marriage with fears and maybe wrong ways of thinking because of previous experiences. So many women and men, in fact it’s maybe the exception today not to come into marriage with those.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: Satan has distorted God’s ideal.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: So, to a young wife who’s coming in, she and/or her husband have those areas of baggage, of failure, how do you get past those and move into a healthy sexual relationship?

Barbara: The way you get past those is to do as James instructs us to do, and that is “confess your sin to one another that you may be healed.” And, as I said, he is my greatest accountability partner, and I need him to share that burden with me, that healing burden with me. He needs me to share where he needs to be healed with him. And together we come before the throne and ask God to heal and bring restoration and wholeness back into our lives from those things that we both bring—all of us bring—into our marriage relationship. So it’s a matter of transparency.

Nancy: What is that, like tell your story? Tell your background?

Barbara: Yes. Absolutely tell your story.

Nancy: Do you advise that before marriage? Once you get married?

Barbara: Oh, I think there needs to be a pretty good level of transparency before marriage because if there’s not, then one or the other spouse can feel like they were lied to.

Nancy: Betrayed.

Barbara: Or tricked into getting married, and “Now I’m going to tell you what the real . . . what you’re really getting.” That’s just not wise. It’s not healthy. So I have always strongly recommended that engaged couples let each other know what they’re bringing in so that they’re not surprised on the other side.

But, even if you do that, there are still surprises on the other side because you’re surprised by how much some of those experiences or fears or whatever continue to influence and rear their ugly heads.

We all enter marriage with lots of baggage because it isn’t just having a bad dating relationship or a bad sexual experience. It’s also all these messages that have come at us from so many different directions that really distort how we feel about it, what we think about it, how we experience it, how we express it.

It takes a long time to bring restoration and healing to all of those things in a marriage. That’s why it’s so important to be transparent with one another and to pray together and to invite the Great Physician to heal and restore, and He will do that.

Dennis: First John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” I think that’s what marriage is all about: Two imperfect people loving one another with a perfect love that comes from above where all of the fears, all of the damage, all the shame, everything that’s happened to us in a fallen planet.

I think we’re like the frogs in the kettle. We don’t realize that we’re cooking to death in a culture that is so sexually saturated with so many different perversions. Life is one long process of trying to restore and redeem that which is broken. And marriage provides a little island in the midst where you can huddle up.

Even in your imperfection you can taste some of that glory. You can taste some of God’s goodness and go, “This is a little bit of what heaven’s going to be like.”

I used to not want to go to heaven because I thought, What are you going to do for eternity? Harps and all that stuff, that’d get boring after a few billion years. But I no longer think that. Our God is a genius. He’s the Master Creator. Even in how we miss it, He still gives us, I think, a taste.

It is interesting, this Book begins with a marriage and ends with a marriage. It’s central to what God’s doing. We’re going to get to heaven, and the curtain’s going to come back, and we’re going to go, “Ah! That’s what You were doing. You were using that, too, and those two, to proclaim who You were.”

We used to say this back in the mid-70s, when FamilyLife started: “Your marriage and your covenant-keeping love over a lifetime will be one of the greatest tools to witness to other people within everything in our culture.”

Well, if we said that in 1970, what are we saying today? This is spinning out of control, and if Christ doesn’t come back—I pray for my kids and grandkids because I think we’ve got serious problems all because of the breakdown of the family. It is, in my opinion, front and center for the Church to address it in our communities. We’ve got to address it.

And that’s why I appreciate you being willing to talk about it here on your program. It’s easier to take a middle-of-the-road stance and not get into some of the gritty issues. But this is where people live, and I appreciate you doing it.

Nancy: Yes. I want to read a paragraph from the last page of your book, Barbara, and then I’m going to ask if you would pray for these women, for our listeners, for marriages, and ask God to make them a showcase of His redemptive love.

Barbara: I would love to.

Nancy: Here’s just a paragraph from the end of your book:

"'Till death do us part," Dennis and I each repeated with sincerity, fervor, and passion on our wedding day. There were days and seasons when we weren’t sure we would survive the minefields. It was harder than we dreamed. Much harder. But our mutual decision to never give up, to end every fight or disagreement with the restatement of our promises to never leave, and with a restatement of our faith in the God who is able kept us in the dance in spite of our circumstances and feelings. Because of this commitment, our vision remained, dim at times, but never extinguished.

Thank you for going the distance. Thank you for still saying, “I do,” to each other. Thank you for living out in the warp and woof, the laboratory of life, the minefields, or whatever image you want to use, what it means, “'Til death do us part.”

And thank you for writing a book with such wisdom and insight and help and hope for those who are trying to live out that same vision. The vision is the glory of God.

Barbara: Right.

Nancy: The vision is the Bride and the Lamb and the Wedding Supper of the Lamb coming together and how can our lives give each other as mates and our world a vision of that grand, great, holy, amazing day.

So I know most days our marriages don’t feel like that great, grand picture. No matter how good your marriage is, most days are more just daily. Right? But how can your marriage and mine, and Dennis and Barbara Rainey and ours, collectively together give the world a right view of God and make them hungry and longing for what eternity will bring in that great marriage of the Lamb.

Leslie: We’ve been listening to a conversation between the host of Revive Our Hearts, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and Dennis and Barbara Rainey. They are co-founders of the ministry FamilyLife.

Barbara offers wise advice to younger women in her newest book, Letters to My Daughters: On the Art of Being a Wife.” This book offers practical wisdom from a woman who has raised six kids while maintaining a close relationship with her husband.

We’d like to send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size this week. Ask for Letters to My Daughters when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

When John Gauger was a student, he once ran for a long touchdown—headed the wrong way for the wrong team. He applies that to life and helps you make sure, as you stay busy in a swirl of activity, you’re headed toward the right goal. He’ll be here tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

To wrap up our time, Barbara Rainey is back to pray for wives.

Barbara: Father in heaven, the Great Artist, the Master Choreographer, we worship You. We give thanks for Your amazing, supernatural design for marriage. We are frail. We are broken. And we don’t understand it. Many, many times we don’t understand it. But we know that it is good because it comes from You.

So I pray, Father, that each of these women who are here today and the ones who are listening that You would open their eyes to see marriage from Your perspective, from Your design. Give them a vision for what You want it to be. Give them a hope that theirs can be the kind of marriage that You designed it to be.

Give them courage. Give them encouragement. Give them hope and strength that they would be women who would not give up on Your design, who would not walk away from the plan that You have for them.

I ask that You would strengthen marriages, Christian marriages so that we would reflect to the watching world a picture of who You are, a picture of the great God that we serve and love, who has chosen us out of darkness to walk in Your light. I pray, Father, that You will accomplish that in our lives.

And I pray, Father, that we will all rejoice at the miracles that You work in marriage after marriage after marriage when we surrender our hearts to You and we say, “Have Your way, oh Lord.” And I pray that it would be true of these women and all of us, and that You may be praised. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Dennis: Amen.

Nancy: Amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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