Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Important Purpose of Your Marriage

Leslie Basham: Every married couple needs to ask themselves, What are we purposefully doing to grow closer together? Dennis Rainey says this is important.

Dennis Rainey: The enemy’s strategy in marriages today is to divide us. There just isn’t a lot in life and unfortunately there’s not a lot even within the Christian community that encourages married couples to be one.

Leslie: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, January 29.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It’s been a joy this week to be talking with Dennis and Barbara Rainey who I think it’s been about 15 years since we first met. We’ve been friends through those years and ministry partners. As we mentioned in the last broadcast, God used FamilyLife in a key way to launch the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. We’ll always be grateful for that.

Many of you are familiar with the ministry of FamilyLife. You’ve read Dennis and Barbara’s books. They’ve authored many. Some of you have had the privilege of attending a Weekend to Remember marriage conference. We want to talk more about that conference in just a moment for those who aren’t familiar with it.

Dennis and Barbara, thank you for being our guests on Revive Our Hearts and for being faithful marriage partners and now letting God use you to invest in the marriages of others.

Barbara Rainey: Thanks, Nancy. We’re glad to be here.

Dennis: We are thrilled to partner with you and cheer you on. We think you’re doing a great work among women in our nation and such a needed voice today.

Nancy: Thank you, Dennis. Over the years it’s been a privilege for Revive Our Hearts to recommend to many couples that they go to a Weekend to Remember marriage conference hosted by FamilyLife. We’ll get emails or letters from somebody whose marriage is really in trouble, and we’ll say to them you need to get to a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember.

I’m just thinking there are probably some of our listeners who don’t know much or anything about that conference. So just give us a sense of what somebody could expect—an engaged couple, a married couple—if they signed up for that weekend. Tell us a little bit about what that experience will be like.

Dennis: Well, as you mentioned, it is for engaged couples, married couples whose marriages are good and they want to make them better. It is for those who are struggling in their marriage. I think most have never gotten away on a weekend get-away like this. So what the Weekend to Remember conference does for married couples is what they couldn’t do for themselves.

We give them the result of more than 33 years of research in the Bible, not by one person, not by just Barbara and me, but by dozens of our couples who have done the research on our conference. We give them the benefit of this biblical research of giving and equipping them with the biblical blueprints for how you build a marriage.

I want to tell you even with a single set of blueprints, two imperfect people, it’s still a challenge.

Nancy: Hard work.

Dennis: But the Weekend to Remember is a time to get the blueprints, to begin to go to work, to experience the benefit, to see it occur in your marriage instantly during the weekend because we have all kinds of projects throughout the weekend that you do privately. Nobody is asked to do anything publicly where they’re embarrassed. We guide them through an experience that truly makes it a Weekend to Remember.

Barbara: The very first topic on the Friday night when couples get there is a session called Why Marriages Fail . Even though the majority of the people sitting in the audience are not in failing marriages—there are a number who are. Those who aren’t in failing marriages have got issues that they’re struggling with. That session on Why Marriages Fail identifies all those different issues that are common to all couples.

For instance, different assumptions and difficult adjustments in marriage. Everybody has difficult adjustments, but we don’t pull back and stop and think that that’s normal and that that’s a part of the reason that we struggle in our marriages.

Another one is the 50/50 relationship. There’s this notion that’s very common that he does his part and I do my part. Then it should work out. But it’s a false assumption that we each do 50%. Instead, we should each be giving 100%. It has to be based on Scripture where we love unconditionally and accept unconditionally.

So there are some things that right off the bat disarm everyone because they’re all sitting there realizing that we’re speaking to them and we’re talking about issues that they’re facing in their marriages because we know from experience that all marriages go through those situations.

Nancy: It’s probably surprising to a lot of people to realize they’re not the only ones experiencing those issues.

Barbara: It is.

Dennis: Well, to that point. We had one couple who said, “You might as well have had our picture up on a tripod on the podium.”

Nancy: But there were a whole bunch of other people thinking the same thing, probably.

Dennis: Exactly. I think that’s our enemy’s strategy today. He wants to make couples think they’re the only ones who have ever experienced this before in their marriage.

There’s a lot of laughter in these weekends. It’s not stodgy, stuffy stuff. It really is authentic speakers who are sharing out of their own failures as well as their own successes—how they’ve done it right, and how they’ve even done it wrong.

I think today there is a need within especially these young couples who are starting out their marriages together—they’re looking for authentic people, authentic messengers who can relate the Bible to where they’re living with stories from their lives of how they’ve done it.

We generally have two couples who are represented at each conference and so they’ll go back and forth throughout the weekend sharing about the various topics. It’s really a team effort. It’s not built around one person’s interpretation of the Bible about marriage and family.

Nancy: But it is based on the Bible.

Dennis: It is and on Saturday morning we talk about the purpose that God had for marriage originally. If you’re going to experience something that God made for you, don’t you think it would help to understand the three purposes He had in mind?

  • To reflect His image
  • To reproduce a godly heritage
  • To reign together in spiritual warfare and in spiritual battle

When a couple begins to understand that there is more at stake in their marriage than just getting their own needs met, but that God’s character is on the line, His reputation is at stake in your marriage, and that He’s got a noble calling that has generational impact; all of a sudden marriage becomes much broader, bigger than just two individual people.

It has God’s grand scheme in mind. I’ll tell you it’s interesting, Nancy, to watch the lights go on in people’s lives as they realize that there really is something bigger going on in our marriage than just us.

Nancy: It really is about the glory of God and reflecting to the world the redemptive plan of Christ, His love for His Church. It’s an earthly picture of an eternal and heavenly reality. So it’s worth paying the price, going through the effort to believe God to get you through those rough spots and to have a marriage that not just survives but thrives.

Dennis: That’s right. Even marriages with this noble calling are going to experience conflict. They need to know how to communicate. The need to know how to forgive. They need to know how to ask for forgiveness. We’ve got sessions that walk people through and equip them with how to do that from a biblical perspective.

Even explaining what forgiveness is, that forgiveness is giving up the right to punish another person. So when you say, “I forgive you,” it’s not merely mouthing words. In our marriage relationship we both know that when the other one comes and asks for forgiveness, what’s on the line is that you’re going to give up the right to punish them, to give up the right to either hurt them with silence or to hurt them with words or to reject them. The conference really equips couples to know how to do that in an effective way.

I would hope that every married person who’s listening to this broadcast, if they have not been to a Weekend to Remember or if it’s been more than a couple of years, would take advantage of the opportunity to get to one of these conferences. There’s probably one in your area or you may want to go to some other location and really get away from your area. But to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage conference.

If you’re engaged to be married, I don’t think you ought to consider getting married without first going through this conference. Whether you’ve been married a year or ten years or forty years or more, at every season in marriage there are carburetor adjustments that need to be made to keep that marriage really going in the way God intended it to.

I know, Barbara, that we’ve had some of our listeners say to us, "I’d love to go to one of these marriage conferences, but my husband isn’t interested in something like this." We’ve had many write us and say, "Our marriage is falling apart. My wife has left me, or she’s checked out of the marriage. Could you talk to her and see if you can get her to go to a Weekend to Remember marriage conference with me?"

How would you encourage a wife who says this is something our marriage really needs but I’m not sure my husband is open to that?

Barbara: I think for a wife she has an opportunity to ask him. She may only have one opportunity, and so she needs to really pray about when and how to extend that invitation to her husband and make it inviting, make it interesting to him so that he knows that it’s going to be a safe place, and he’s not going to be put on the spot.

I think there’s a way that she can approach it so that he feels welcome, and he feels like it would be an okay thing for him to do. But I would also say to any wives, or husbands even for that matter, if your spouse doesn’t want to go, there’s no reason why you can’t go on your own. Better learn what your role is as the wife or as the husband and maybe you would learn some things over the weekend that you can do to strengthen your part of the marriage, that will really make your husband or your wife take notice, and then they will be more interested in coming and finding out what is this that you learned the next time it comes around to your city.

While we really want couples to come because the work is really best done as a couple, it’s absolutely open to individuals coming—husbands and wives coming whose husbands or wives may not be interested.

Nancy: If your mate is not walking with the Lord, is not interested in improving the marriage, one of the little secrets I’ve observed over the years is that where there is a marriage conflict, the one who wants to see the marriage changed and improved is usually the one who holds the key to that marriage being transformed. That’s counter-intuitive because we tend to think if the other person would change or would get fixed, then the marriage would improve.

Barbara: I think the key is knowing what motivates your spouse. I think we as women have great influence with our husbands, and we have great power in their lives. I think a woman needs to use that gift that God has given her and figure out a way to get your husband to go. I think you can do that. I think God will give you the key to his heart in getting him there, whether it’s a weekend fishing or going to Nascar or you let him go do his thing with a bunch of guys or whether it’s enticing him to come for a romantic weekend. Use what God’s given you. It’s an okay thing.

Nancy: A starting place is to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and click on the link there that will take you to FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember marriage conference. Get the information. Find out a city and date that will be convenient for you and really do take advantage of this opportunity. We’re talking all the time through email and other means with our listeners who are desperate to see God intervene in their marriage or they just want it to be more of the marriage God intended it to be.

So whether your marriage is in good shape or desperate shape, whether you’ve been married a short time . . . I actually went to the Friday evening of a Weekend to Remember conference a number of years ago. In the opening session they asked for a show of hands to find out who had been married the shortest amount of time of all the couples who were there that weekend. Would you believe there was a couple who had been married, I think it was, three hours? They got done with the wedding and came to the . . .

Dennis: Did they still have their wedding dress and tux on?

Nancy: They didn’t, but they hadn’t had them off for long. This was here in Little Rock. So whether you’ve been married a very short period of time or a very long period of time, what a great opportunity to invest in your marriage.

Dennis: Yes. Listen to a quote from somebody who came to the conference in Colorado Springs, married for 18 years. “It was amazing. The walls came tumbling down. Communication restored. No longer alone, lonely, or isolated. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” That’s why we get married. We don’t get married to become strangers, to be isolated.

Nancy: Or enemies.

Dennis: Yes, exactly. We get married to be one. Yet the enemy’s strategy in marriages today is to divide us. There just isn’t a lot in life and unfortunately there’s not a lot even within the Christian community that encourages married couples to be one. What the conference will do is it will equip you to eliminate isolation in your marriage and to build oneness and intimacy.

Back in Genesis chapter 2, it says, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother. They shall cleave and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, paraphrased). Leave, cleave, become one. It’s a lifetime process. We wish it could happen instantly, and we wish it could happen perfectly. But because it’s between two imperfect people, it’s fraught with all kinds of disappointments and ways we hurt each other.

I’ll tell you, there’s not a married person who’s listening to us right now who doesn’t need just an opportunity to get away, get out of life, turn the cell phone off, stop doing email, and spend some time with your spouse building into your marriage.

Nancy: I’m holding in my hand another terrific resource that along with the Weekend to Remember I think is going to be a great blessing in many of our listeners’ lives. I want to encourage you to ask for a copy of Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s devotional book called Moments With You . There’s a one-page devotional for couples for each day of the year.

Dennis and Barbara, you’ve been married now 37 years and what’s being taught in these Weekend to Remember marriage conferences is really the accumulation of a lifetime of things that God has been teaching you and is still teaching you now as empty nesters, six grown children and 14 grandchildren, and life still happening, still unfolding.

One of the things I’ve wanted to ask you is now as you’re in this empty-nest legacy season of life, what are you doing to keep your marriage fresh and growing?

Barbara: I have to tell you, we are really having fun. It took us a couple of years to transition from the parenting season of life into the empty-nest season of life. We’re doing some fishing trips together, and we’re doing all kinds of fun things together. But one of the things that we have just started doing is that last year at Christmas our children gave us ballroom dancing lessons as a gift. Dennis kind of looked at it like ah-oh.

Dennis: Judgment day!

Nancy: This wasn’t top on your Christmas gift list?

Dennis: Well, we’ve been talking about doing this for a long time, and it really was fine with me. But I think rhythm is a matter of genetics and DNA.

Nancy: You have it or you don’t?

Dennis: God just didn’t give me many cards on this one.

Barbara: So anyway, we got this gift and we signed up a couple months after we got it, and we have been taking dancing lessons. I have to tell you, it’s been a lot of fun, and we’ve learned a lot. But I’ll tell you what’s really been the most interesting about this is what we’re learning about marriage from dancing lessons.

That is, the man when you are dancing, has to be in charge. He’s the leader. The woman has to follow. Of course, I mean it’s kind of a, "Duh. I knew that."

We had a lesson not too long ago where the male instructor worked with me and the female instructor worked with Dennis, and she helped him learn how to lead better. The male instructor was teaching me how to follow.

At first I thought, "Okay, I know how to do this. I mean I’m a better dancer than my husband anyway. So what am I supposed to get out of this?" Well, he worked with me almost the whole time on following, and I realized at the end of that lesson that it’s still hard for me to follow. I mean we’ve been married for 37 years, and I still have a hard time following.

Nancy: Meaning you would rather do what?

Dennis: Take over! Take over! What do you mean what would she like to do?

Nancy: I just wanted to hear you say it.

Barbara: Yes, because when we would dance on the prior lessons because I . . . it’s kind of like this thing we talked about earlier about how I thought that I was more spiritual than my husband. I thought I’m a better dancer than he is too, because I do have a little bit more rhythm than he does. So when he kind of didn’t know what to do, I felt like it was my job to help him know what to do so that we looked good on the dance floor.

Nancy: What happens when you reverse the roles on the dance floor?

Dennis: It makes the man not want to dance. Now apply that to life. Same thing’s true in a marriage relationship and a family. If a woman takes over, the man will let her.

Nancy: So you’re not going to fight her for it?

Dennis: No. No. A man will do that. For me on the dance floor we were going through some of this, and I was having to learn how to better lead. There’s a way to make a cradle . . .

Nancy: . . .with your arms?

Dennis: With your arms. Where you’re not a noodle but you’re strong, and as a man you’re showing the direction you’re going on the dance floor.

Nancy: You’re leading.

Barbara: What I learned was that I was to be really, really sensitive to any movement that he made so that I could respond accordingly rather than trying to anticipate which way he’s going to go and move accordingly. You’re touching one another, and you have to be sensitive to any shift in movement or pressure of the arms or the shoulders or whatever.

I just thought how true that is in marriage because God has called us to be one. So that means I need to be so in touch with him that I can follow these suggestions, and he doesn’t have to whack me upside the head to say we’re going this way. I am following his lead, and if I’m really one with him, then I’m going to be sensitive to where he is leading me and therefore follow.

Nancy: And responsive.

Barbara: Yes. It was very instructive, and I think it’s going to be good for our marriage too, interestingly.

Dennis: Picture putting your hand straight out and your palms facing your spouse. That’s how they started out with us. Barbara and I were facing each other. We put our palms and hands together, fingers to fingers, palms to palms. Then they said walk backwards. I would push Barbara backwards and we’d get to the wall, and she would push me.

Barbara: But I had to be sensitive to when he stopped so that I stopped and I didn’t keep going. So you’re communicating through your hands. So when it was time for him to stop, I had to be paying attention to that pressure on my hands from his hands to stop when he stopped. So that when he started going the other direction, I could then respond and follow.

Dennis: I just wonder how many married couples if they began to think of their marriage relationship instead of competition—who’s going to lead, who’s going to take over, a battle for control. But instead if they really learned what the husband’s responsibility was—to lead, to love, to serve, to deny himself. And the wife learned how to respect and yes, the “S” word—submit, and learned how to follow. It sure works on the dance floor, and as we’ve applied it in our marriage, it works in our marriage, too.

Barbara: It works much more smoothly if you follow the rules.

Dennis: You’re not fighting one another for control.

Nancy: Ultimately, that’s a picture of our submission and responsiveness to Christ. When you have Him at the proper place, as Lord of your life and Lord of your marriage and are responding to His leadership, then it’s not going to be so threatening to live out that kind of relationship in marriage.

Dennis: I agree. That’s really where it’s settled right there. If you can get that one right, there’s a much higher likelihood you’ll get the marriage thing right.

Barbara: Exactly.

Nancy: Well thank you, Dennis and Barbara, for not only becoming good on the dance floor . . .

Dennis: Well, now wait. Wait.

Barbara: We didn’t say we were good on the dance floor.

Dennis: We didn’t say that.

Nancy: We’ll put a video of that on ReviveOurHearts.com.

Dennis: No, we’re not.

Nancy: Our listeners would love to see that.

Dennis: Oh, no, no, no, no.

Barbara: There is no video.

Dennis: Nancy, you and I are friends to the bitter end and this is the bitter end.

Nancy: Thank you for learning and living out in your marriage, and continuing to do that, what it means to lead and to follow under the lordship of Jesus Christ and for the many, many ways that He’s using you through the ministry of FamilyLife to help other couples get the dance right and learn how to follow Jesus Christ for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.

You’ve been dear friends. You’ve been dear ministry partners. I just want to say again, thank you. It’s a joy to serve in the same vineyard, in the same kingdom with you. Thank you for being here this week and blessing our listeners with just some glimpses out of your life and your walk with the Lord.

Barbara: We’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been a treat.

Dennis: It really is our privilege.

Leslie: Your marriage is important. It reflects the glory of God. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Dennis and Barbara Rainey about this. We’ve also heard about some important ways couples can grow toward oneness. One way is to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage conference hosted by FamilyLife. These events take place all across the country, and you can get more information on a conference near you at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Over the last few days, Nancy has also been telling you about Moments with You. It’s a devotional book for couples to read together. I hope you’ll get a copy of these 365 entries and let them draw you closer toward God and each other. When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll say thanks by sending the book Moments with You. Just donate at ReviveOurHearts.com or call 1-800-569-5959.

I also need to mention that the interview between Nancy and the Raineys was packed with helpful material. We didn’t have time to air those complete conversations, but when you order the series on CD, you’ll receive additional content. You can order the series at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, how’s your love life? Nancy asks that question and turns to the Bible to help you figure out a solid answer. That’s Monday on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.