Dare: Contact your spouse sometime during the business of the day. Have no agenda other than asking how he or she is doing and if there is anything you could do for them.
Background: Remember that feeling you had when you first started dating your spouse? That one when all you wanted to do was be together, and when you were apart all you did was think of each other? After marriage, those feelings of adoration and awe begin to subside and we can let the romance wither. We lose that thoughtfulness of our other and begin to focus on every thing else. They get left behind, forgotten. This dare is about understanding your other half, and beginning to remember them again. Men (generally) have a one-track mind. Whatever it is they are involved in is the only thing they are thinking about. Women (generally) multi-task like crazy. Men say what they mean; women hint around about what we are trying to convey. We expect our men to be able to know what we are thinking, even if we don’t say it (or say it outright). They are not mind-readers, as much as we wish they were. Thoughtfulness requires us to understand how our spouse works, and then we should work toward helping them understand us. If you are upset because your husband did not come home in time for dinner, than say it. Don’t just get mad and expect him to know why you are mad. Begin to think about how your spouse processes information and speak in a way that they will understand. Think about the next big event you could be planning for (ours is Christmas…I already have been thoughtfully considering what I should buy for him). Is there something you can do today to meet one of his needs? Just take a minute and think about all of the things you love about that person.
My Experience: My husband calls me often every time he is at work. If I do not hear from him, it is because he is so busy he has not even had time to eat. Given a choice, he calls me over running to grab a snack. I, on the other hand, cringe every time I hear the phone ring. It is not that I do not want to talk to him, it is just that he always seems to call in the middle of a lesson or when the baby is crying. Unless I really, really need something, I do not contact him. Since he cannot answer my phone calls, I decided I would text him throughout the day. My text was “How are you? I miss you…” He called me five minutes later and said he did not understand my text. After a flash of guilt, I said I meant how work was going. Our conversation went as normal. However, 30 minutes later, he starts texting me and telling me about something he is struggling with at work right now. It was a wonderful feeling to have him confide in me, even if it was through a text. I knew how he was really feeling today. Although I cannot fix his sadness, I can be supportive and try to make his day a little better by staying positive.
Dare: Whatever you put your time, energy, and money into will become more important to you. It’s hard to care for something you are not investing in. Along with restraining from negative comments, buy your spouse something that says, “I was thinking of you today.”
Background: One way we can improve our marriages is to be selfless. We should try being less selfish, and give more to our spouses. We are all selfish, even if we do not want to admit it. If we do something nice for someone because it will benefit us, we are being selfish. We cannot have love and be selfish at the same time. Sometimes, we must put the happiness of our spouse ahead of our own. Kendrick says, “Be the first to demonstrate real love to [your spouse], with your eyes wide open. And when all is said and done, you’ll both be more fulfilled.” We should try to keep our spouse’s best interests in mind, and to serve them in ways that need to be served. We want them to see us looking out for them first.
My Experience: I had a difficult time accepting my selfishness. I feel like I give to everyone all day long. However, when I took a good, hard look at my day, I realize that I give my all to my children and homeschool, but I have a hard time doing for my husband. When he gets home and asks me to make him something to eat, I give him an exasperated look and tell him how tired I am and I busy I have been today. I AM exhausted when he gets home, but I should still try to serve him by making him what he likes (it is always fairly easy to make). I also can buy items for our homeschool and not bat an eye, but every time my husband points out a video game he has been waiting for, I tell him we should not be spending money on that kind of thing. So, for this dare I bought him that video game. I left it in the bathroom with a sweet note, and he found it when he got home from work. He brought it out and said, “Why did you get this? I love it!!!” He then spent the rest of the evening playing the game. Some of the tasks I wanted him to get done (washing the dog, helping with chores, etc.) did not get done, but he enjoyed playing his new game and begged me to come sit and watch him beat the bad guy. Childish, I know, but it is something he hardly gets to do and it made him happy. The money and the lost time were worth it because of how excited he was!
Note: If your budget truly will not allow for you to purchase something for your spouse, make something! This gift does not have to be expensive or extravagant…it just needs to let your spouse know that you were thinking of them.
I am going out of order here to fit our schedule…
Dare 3: Ask your spouse to tell you three things that cause him/her to be uncomfortable or irritated with you. You must do so without attacking them or justifying your behavior. This is from their perspective only.
Background: How often do we fight with our spouse in the car and then step out at a gathering seconds later with smile on our faces like nothing just happened? We, as people, tend to be short with our husbands/wives, yet act like everything is perfect around others. We should treat our spouse like we treat others, because they should matter the most to us. Having good manners around our spouse should be the norm, even when no one else is around. Kendrick lays out three principles to put into place. The first is “Guard the Golden Rule.” We all remember this from elementary, when we were told we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. We should treat our spouses the same way we want them to treat us. This does not mean you will see an immediate difference in their response to you, but keep at it. The second is “No Double Standards.” Kendrick says we should “be as considerate to your spouse as you are to strangers and coworkers.” The third is “Honor Requests.” If your husband/wife has asked you to do something and it is within reason to do, than do it! They will notice that you start doing what they ask, and they will begin to respect that.
My Experience: As we were driving yesterday, I asked my husband to tell me what I do to irritate him. He did not want to talk about it at all. He was not rude about it, and neither was I, but he said he really just didn’t want to think about it. Although his response may have been a small roadblock, I know what I do that irritates him. We have had arguments over it before, so I am well-aware of what I do that he dislikes. I always think I am right (and I still think I am MOST of the time), I am bossy, and I can interrupt when I am excited about something. These qualities are not attractive, and I am working on changing them. I also struggle with all three rules Kendrick challenges us with. This change will come very slowly, and it was one I have to do on my own. None of us are perfect, and I hope that by sharing my weaknesses/imperfections with you, you would be willing to assess yourself and accept the imperfectness in you. It is OK to have faults, and now is the time to assess ourselves and try to fix what we can.
Do you struggle with the three principles? Was your spouse quick to point out your weaknesses or did it take awhile to get them to open up?
Dare 2: In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.
Background: Being patient is only a part of having love. We must also be kind. As Kendrick says, “Patience avoids a problem; kindness creates a blessing.” Kindness can be broken down into four different parts – gentleness, willingness, helpfulness, and initiative. Kendrick also encourages us by saying, “It is difficult to demonstrate love when you feel little to no motivation. But love in its truest sense is not based on feelings.” We cannot expect to be rewarded back if we have love. We may be rewarded eventually, but the reward should not be what encourages us to have love. I want my husband to know that I am kind by the actions I show him. He should be top priority in my attempt to be kind, yet he is the last person I think about being kind to. I do not mean I speak harshly or that we fight, but I forget to do kind things for him. Kindness can have many faces, and we need to assess ourselves and determine ways in which we can be kind to our husbands (once again, much easier said than done).
My Experience: I had no idea what I was going to do to be kind! I read this dare the night before and thought for HOURS about what I could possibly do. Around 12pm on the dare day, I came up with a plan. I decided I would cut the grass for my husband. He always takes care of the yard. I have never cut our entire yard, and I knew that it needed to get done. We had plans for the next day and I knew he was trying to figure out when he would find time to cut the grass. It took me forever!!!!! We have a push reel mower (i.e. it is not motorized). You have to use some muscle to work it. By the time I finished, I had a sunburn and I was exhausted! I learned to have a new appreciation for his time outside. Although the children and I are usually outside while he works, we are just playing around. I realized how much work it takes to cut our yard, and I gained a little more respect for him. His reaction…he still doesn’t know. I want him to see our yard and be relieved. He got home last night after dark and he is still asleep as I type. I am hoping he is excited and grateful that he has one less thing to do today, but I still feel like I learned something even if he doesn’t acknowledge it. In fact, I would not be surprised if his response was something like, “Now you know how I feel.” This journey is not about changing him…it is about changing me, and I feel more positive toward him and the work he does for our family.
Originally, I had planned to post just once a week. However, I need a way to hold myself accountable to this dare, and I have decided to post every day about the dare I completed. I also realized that posting a weeks worth of dares in one day would make for a VERY long post:) So, here is my day 1 adventure…
Dare 1: The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the conditions of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you will regret. (excerpted from The Love Dare)
Background: One of my favorite books in the entire Bible is 1 Corinthians. Notably, chapter 13 and its discussion of love. We are nothing without love. If we do “good” things but do not have the love behind it, it means nothing to God. If I donate a bunch of items to a charity event just so I won’t look bad or just so everyone things I am great, God will know and He will not be happy. If I donate the same items with a heart to do so and a desire to truly help others, God will know where my heart truly is. Love is important to everybody, and we should all work hard to portray it (even though God is the only one who really knows about it sometimes). Love is also patient. Maintaing patience after someone upsets us is not easy. Our gut reaction when we have been wronged is to turn in anger and wrong right back. As Kendrick explains, “The irony of anger toward a wrongful action is that it spawns new wrongs of its own.” Patience, or the lack thereof, can make or break a marriage. Beginning to demonstrate patience is the beginning of our race together to build stronger, happier marriages.
My Experience: Most of my friends will tell you that I am a very patient person…and I generally am. However, being patient with my husband is not always easy. In fact, I find it hardest to be patient with him. As I strived to be patient, I had to overlook many of the things that would normally make me negative toward him. I find it all too easy to think disapproving thoughts about him, and expect him to live up to my (sometimes) impossible standards. He had promised he would start helping me with dishes when he got home from work. When he did get home, he was not feeling well and decided to rest on the couch and watch TV. My normal reaction would be to list all of the things I had accomplished that day and complain about him not being able to help out with one simple task. However, since I was dared to be patient and not be negative, I decided to leave him alone and ask if there was anything I could get for him. It was (really) not easy for me to allow him to rest. In fact, I had to walk out of the room for a few minutes when I first saw him on the couch to keep me from opening my mouth (which has been known to get me into trouble at times). I am sure (hope) he appreciated not being nagged, even though I had a huge list of things I wanted him to get done and I was ready to talk to an adult about my day. But, at the end of the day, I felt it was worth it. Now…if I can only keep this up a little longer….
Was it hard for you to remain patient? How did you help yourself keep calm?