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Keeping the Romance Sizzling in Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Keeping the Romance Sizzling in Your Marriage (Part 1 of 2)

Best-selling authors Bill and Pam Farrel offer advice for building marital romance and sexual intimacy from their book Red Hot Monogamy: Making Your Marriage Sizzle. (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date: July 7, 2011


John Fuller: Welcome to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller and here’s a thought from our broadcast guest, Bill Farrel, about intimacy in marriage.


Bill Farrel: I think it’s an area of a lot of tension, because for women, there’s a warm-up period and you like advance notice and – and you want it to be part of the whole relationship. But you know, for most guys, all it really takes is for you to walk by.

End of Excerpt

John: Well, that’s just one of the many differences between men and women, and today we’ll hear some practical advice on how to make those differences work together. Our host is author and Focus president, Jim Daly and if you can tell from that clip, our conversation is going to be about marital intimacy, so with that warning, if you have young children nearby, you might have them occupied elsewhere for this discussion.

Jim, I think though, despite that little warning, we’re gonna have a lot of sensitivity and I expect, some laughs as well, as we cover this topic today.

Jim Daly: Well, it’s important John. This area of intimacy in marriage is critical. So many couples are suffering because we don’t talk about it, because we don’t address it. And I think uh, our guests, Bill and Pam Farrel, are going to do a terrific job in helping all of us with intimacy within our marriages. So, Bill and Pam, welcome back to Focus on the Family. 


Pam Farrel: Thanks. It’s a delight to be here. 

Jim: Good to have you with us. Now this title is hilario- Red-Hot Monogamy. 

Pam: Yeah and actually, it got its title from our 25th wedding anniversary. Our friend, Anita Renfroe um, you know Women of Faith, the “Momsense” YouTube phenomenon that she is. 

John: She is quite funny. 

Pam: She is hilarious. And she was out. She’s – her and John are great friends and they were out for our 25th wedding anniversary. She was doing the music. And so, she got up in front of the crowd at this dinner party that we had for a couple hundred and she said, “Hey, y’all! We’re here to celebrate Pam and Bill’s righteous red-hot monogamy.” 

And my – our whole table knew that we had just signed a book contract with Harvest House to write a book about sex for couples. But it didn’t have a title yet. And so, they looked at us. They’re like, “That’s a great title.” And so, when Anita got off the stage, she said, “Girlfriend, if you want, you can use that,” so we did. 

Bill: Well, and we loved that title, because there’s so many messages in our world that the best sexual experiences are outside of marriage. But all the studies say that the best experiences are actually in long-term relationships. And so, we live in this world that’s giving us a mixed message. And we just love the – to be able to say, “Hey, the best stuff is in committed relationship.” 

Jim: And all the research… 

Bill: It’s not outside of it. 

Jim: …shows that. 

Bill: All the research. 

Jim: That’s very true. There’s over, I think, 200 practical suggestions, Bill and Pam that you make in the book, but it really does start outside the bedroom. So, why don’t we start there, as well? 

Pam: Yeah. We like to say that Red-Hot Monogamy is full of hands-on homework, pun completely intended – homework that you want to do. At the end of every chapter we try to make it applicable and practical and fun. 

Jim: Do we as couples, we fail at that, don’t we? We see that very compartmentalized, particularly men, but we – we do. 

Bill: Well… 

Jim: We just kinda work toward that goal, rather than seeing the whole day as maybe adding to that delight. 

Bill: Well, and Jim, I think you know, in fairness to people, it’s quite a challenge, because I – I’ve been a pastor my whole adult life, been doing weddings forever. I have never had a couple come to me and say, “Hey, Bill, we’ve been talking and what we’ve decided we’d really like in life is we’d like to get a big mortgage. We want to get some kids running around that make us really busy. We want to get involved in our community, so we’re kind of overwhelmed. Um, and so, because we want to be overwhelmed with responsibility together, we – we want to get married.” Like, I’ve never heard that up front. 

And yet, that often is what life turns into, is you start a family, you get very busy in the community, and you pick up lots and lots of responsibility. The reason why people get married is they like the way they interrupt each other’s lives. And so, it’s a challenge to keep it alive. It’s a challenge to keep it going. So, it’s not just that we’re failing out there. It’s a challenge. And if we learn that every aspect of our life will help our intimacy, we will do much better with the big picture. 

Jim: It’s interesting. You kinda go against the grain in the book. You talked about a date night, but you talk about going ahead and bringing the – the household items… 

Bill: Right. 

Jim: …to the discussion. That seems antithetical to what many have suggested. You come with flowers and with candlelight and you talk nothing but romantic language. You’re saying, eh, you need some time to really get through the business of the household. 

Bill: Well, we talk about doing the romantic thing also, but you know how it goes. You know, early in the relationship, you can do anything, that, “Ah! He cares about me.” “She’s awesome. She’s beautiful.” And it works. But as time goes on, what you begin to realize is, that money gets in the way of your discussion. Planning gets in the way of the discussion. Calendar, commitments get in the way of the discussion. 

John: Children. 

Bill: Disagreements over children get in the way. And – and so, you bring the flowers and it reminds her that we haven’t talked about whatever the issue is. 

Pam: Like we like to think of red hot monogamy um, like the diamond ring that many people have for their wedding ring. I mean, a diamond has many facets to it and in the same way intimacy has many facets to it. There is social intimacy and financial intimacy and recreational intimacy and vocational and parental and emotional and spiritual intimacy. Those are many facets. 

And so, the book actually has chapters on each one of those things, because if you’re fightin’ over money, there’s not gonna be a lot of red hot monogamy goin’ on. And if you’re not on the same page with your kids in your parenting, chances are hm, those fires are gonna be cooled. And so, to fan the flame, to add that spark and that sizzle, we want to look at all sides of intimacy. 

Jim: Well, and finances typically are the number one reason couples break up. I mean, it’s fascinating. But you’re saying go ahead and delve into it: deal with the issue. Get yourself a budget; get that out of the way and now we can work on other things. 

Bill: Well – well, and it’s not just getting a budget, Jim. Like – like that’s uh, the – kind of the illusion we have, is if we can get a budget and both agree on the budget, we’re gonna be good. The reason why money is such an issue is we express ourselves with money. That the thing we love about each other is usually different. Like Pam was a very spontaneous, very expressive individual, who loves to inspire people. Well, when we talk about money, that all comes into the discussion. She wants to talk about how can we use our money to inspire people? How can we create spontaneous opportunities to – to run after opportunities? Where I tend to approach life differently. I – I want a system that helps people. That’s kinda how I approach all of life. I – I love bein’ a pastor, because I was able to set up a system that would help people. I like writing books, because it sets up systems that helps people. So, when we talk about money, I want to bring a system that’s gonna help people. Well, when you take a highly spontaneous inspirer together with somebody who’s looking for a system, it’s challenging. But if we can come up with a financial plan that – that gives both of us freedom to express who we are, suddenly now, we feel like we’ve been victorious together. 

Jim: Well, let’s talk the early years of marriage; let’s just go right down the – the life cycle, early years of marriage, red-hot monogamy. How does a young couple, no kids in the home, what should they be doing to uh, make sure that they protect their relationship? 

Pam: Well, I think one of the most important things is to have enough time for red-hot romance. And that – it’s an acrostic. 

Bill: It’s an acrostic that helps you. So the T is for 10 or 20 minutes a day to connect, which this is primarily a skill us guys need to work on, because again, we don’t communicate this way. 

Jim: Ten or twenty minutes. 

Bill: Yes. And that’s just checking in. 

Pam: Like touch base. 

Bill: It’s not problem solving. 

Pam: How was your day? 

Bill: It’s you walking in and say, “Honey, how are you doin’? How was your day?” Okay because again, I would not communicate with you two guys this way. I would not call you every day, “Hey, John, just checkin’ in. You know, how’re you doin’?” 

John: Well, that’s so kind of you. Thank you for calling. 

Bill: Yeah. Like I might call to say, “Hey, you – you gonna – you gonna slay any giants today?” But we just don’t do the checking in thing. But then when we get married, we have to add that skill to our life. And I do want to tell the guys who are listening, I have negotiated this down. See, I asked Pam. I said, “Pam, for you to operate your absolute best, how much time would you want every day just visiting with one another?” 

Pam: Like in a perfect world… 

Bill: Yeah, you doin’ your best. 

Pam: …like vacation – that maybe 90 minutes a day. 

Bill: Ninety minutes? 

Pam: Well, you know… 

Bill: Every day? 

Pam: …Perfect world, perfect world. 

Bill: Okay, so I’ve got it down to 10 to 20, okay? 

Jim: Okay, well done. 

Bill: And so, we’ve negotiated it down. 

Jim: What’s the secret there? 

Bill: Uh, the secret is you just do it. You know, again, as guys, we just practice it. Uh, the more you practice it, the better you get at it. 

Jim: Do you do that uh, if you come home from the office, do you do it right there? 

Pam: And the best thing is for every couple to look for their prime time, 10 to 20 minutes. Because for some couples, it’d be first thing in the morning over a cup of coffee, um, “What’s comin’ up in your day? How can I pray for you? Um, but sometimes it is a drive time, maybe you drive to work together. Um, sometimes it’s meeting at lunch for that quick lunch, um, if you happen to work in the same vicinity, ‘cause the kids are all taken care of. Or sometimes it’s right when he walks in the door and you get the kids busy and you have that first debriefing. 

Jim: But it’s not while you’re doin’ something. I can’t be shaving… 

Pam: Yeah. 

Jim: …and then say, “Well, tell me how you’re doin’.” 

Pam: Well, actually, if there’s no kids around and it’s quiet in your bathroom, that may be part of the prime time. 

Jim: Okay. 

Pam: Um, ‘cause you’re both lookin’ in the mirror. You can see each other’s eyes. So, you can kinda give a little bit leeway… 

Jim: So that’s one of the rules… 

Pam: …that way. 

Jim: …see each other’s eyes? 

Pam: You see each other’s eyes. 

Jim: Looking at each other. 

Pam: Yeah, that’s important. 

Jim: Yeah. That’s good. 

Pam: And the end of the night is the last one, maybe um, before you go to bed, praying, how was your day and checking in. That’s another opportunity. 

Bill: The I is for invest in a weekly date night. Like this is something you want to start when you first get married and you never want to give it up. Now the date night changes as time goes on. Sometimes you date at home. But as a young couple, you want to date every week. 

Pam: Right and in Red-Hot Monogamy, those – some of those 200 ideas are free or nearly free ideas, because we know that in an economy such as ours or if you’re a young family, strugglin’ on one income ‘cause you want mom to – one of the parents to be there for the kids, sometimes money’s tight. And so, that’s what Bill and I were like when we were newlyweds and he was a youth pastor. We had one budget and it was small. And so we decided a lot of these dates need to be at home. 

So, we had this tradition on Thursday night. That was our date night. The kids had the privilege of going to bed early and they could play with the Thursday night toy box. And those toys couldn’t be played with any other time but Thursday night and they could stay on up on their bed, playing with those toys as long as they wanted to, as long as they didn’t get off the bed. And you know what? Those – all of our kids were really great, very cooperative. 

Jim: I was gonna say, did that always work? 

Pam: It pretty much did, because… 

Bill: We had to establish it first. 

Pam: That – yeah. 

Bill: And once we got it established, then… 

Pam: Once the rule was, if you get off the bed, your toys are gone. Once they clued into that, they really cooperated really well and those Thursday nights became something the whole family looked forward to. 

Jim: And they grew up normally. 

Pam: They did. They’re great guys, yeah. 

Jim: They don’t – they’re not sitting on a bed somewhere waiting for a toy? 

Bill: Every Thursday night. 

Pam: Every Thursday night, yeah. 


Jim: Well, you were going to the acrostic, you had… 

Bill: Well, M is for a monthly uh, day away. 

Jim: Okay. So T? 

Bill: T is for ten to 20 minutes a day just to visit. 

Jim: Right. I? 

Bill: I is invest in a weekly date night. 

Pam: You might need to get some friends together and have like a co-op, so your kids get covered. Trade those opportunities to give each other date nights. M is for the monthly day away and sometimes you might need to be a little creative, finding that six or 8 hours and this is again, mostly for the girls, because if we’re emotionally connected, we’re more in the mood for red-hot monogamy. And so, guys, you’ll do yourself a favor if you create this time. 

And you can really do anything you want on that date. It doesn’t always have to be romance. You just have to do it together. And sometimes you can create it even at home – that unique time. I remember once Bill and I, he was the senior pastor. Um, we had started our writing career, speaking. Um, our – our kids were in that – what I call the oasis. They’re not preschoolers, but they’re not teenagers any more. So, they’re really cooperative at times to your ideas. And so, I looked at our schedule and I said, “Oh, my goodness. It’s like the next two hours are the only two hours I have with Bill all week.” 

And I got a little panicked. I said, “God, you have to help a girl out here.” And so, as Bill’s car drove in, I grabbed the piggy bank. I pulled the boys in the backyard. I said, “Here you go, guys. I counted this money. There’s X amount of dollars in dimes, pennies, quarters and nickels here. Y’all can have all this money, but nobody can come in the house until” – and I broke the piggy bank, spread it all over in the ice plant – “until you get every dime, quarter, penny and nickel and Brock, you get to count it all up. You’re the mathematician. And when it adds up to this, then all three of you boys can come in the house.” And then I put a dime in my pocket and walked in the house. And I got some good time with my husband. And my boys were happy. They got money. They – it was a great game. 

John: How – how many days passed… 

Pam: So… 

John: …before you shared that – that dime in your pocket? 


Jim: Twenty four hours later. 

Pam: Yeah. 

Jim: Kids, come in for breakfast! 

Pam: I actually went out and said, “Oh, Hon, here’s a dime!” Brock’s like, “That’s why it wouldn’t add up!” Oh! 

Jim: Okay, we’ve got T-I-M. 

Bill: Right and the E is escape yearly. And that’s taking a yearly vacation. And sometimes again, it might be 24 hours. Sometimes you might be able to pull off a week or two. 

Jim: And it can be something close to home. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. 

Pam: Right.


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