Dare: For today’s dare, get two sheets of paper. On the first one, spend a few minutes writing out the positive things about your spouse. Then do the same things on the second sheet. Place both sheets in a secret place for another day. There is a different purpose and plan for each. At some point during the remainder of the day, pick a positive attribute from the first list and thank your spouse for having this characteristic.
Background: How much time do we spend thinking about the negative things our spouse does? How much time do we spend thinking about the positive things? If you are anything like me, I bet you spend more time thinking about the negative things than the positive things. It is so easy to see our spouse’s negative attributes, yet we forget to take time to think about everything good they do. Even if our spouse has many faults, they also have a few redeeming qualities. Let us spend more time dwelling on the positive and start giving grace for their downsides. Kendrick explains, “As you choose to mediate on the positives, you will learn that many more wonderful character qualities could be written…this is a crucial step as you learn to lead your heart to truly love your spouse.” We do this because we love them, not because they deserve it.
My Experience: I thought this dare would be easy to complete. I was sure that my negative list would be longer than my positive list. However, as I started thinking about my spouse, I found it was not hard finding things I loved about him. My positive list ended up being longer than my negative list. Once my lists were composed, I found a second to thank my spouse for one of his positive attributes. Although he kind of brushed the compliment off, I hope that he knows how much he is appreciated.
Which list was harder for you to write? How did your husband react to being thanked for something?
Dare: Choose today to react to tough circumstances in your marriage in loving ways instead of with irritation. Begin by making a list below of areas where you need to add margin to your schedule. Then list any wrong motivations that you need to release from your life.
Background: This dare is all about being irritable. We do not want to be irritable…irritable people are not fun to be around. Kendrick points out two main reasons people become irritable: stress and selfishness. Even if you do not feel stressed, you can be. Stress is not just caused by having too much to do or too little time to do it. Stress can be caused by bitterness, lack of nutrition, lack of rest, lack of exercise, arguing, overworking, and overspending. We need to learn to balance and prioritize to help us live a less stressful (more fulfilling) life. Selfishness also causes irritability. Analyzing our motives for keeping certain things in our life can help us see the areas we are being selfish in. Some motivations can never be satisfied, so cutting them out will help us feel better about our life and ourself. Love should be our motivation for all things. Kendrick states, ” Love will lead you to forgive instead of holding a grudge. To be grateful instead of greedy. To be content rather than running into more debt.” Look at the things you do and list why you do them. Can the desire you want ever be met? Are you giving something more important up in exchange for that desire?
My Experience: I have said it before…I am BUSY. Many days I feel like I am too busy. I thought I could not cut anything out, even though my husband and I were unable to spend any time together. Then I read this dare. Here is a list of everything my schedule is comprised of:
- Grad School
- Girl Scouts
- House Work
I think I got it all. And I did not include the things I like doing, but hardly have time for (sewing, reading, etc.). The biggest area of selfishness right now is Grad school. It takes so much of my time, and it is not necessary at this time in my life. With my BA and teaching certificate, I would be hirable as a teacher if I ever needed to get an actual job. I am still young (just turned 25 today!!!), and I can always go back to school when my children are older and more self-sufficient. My husband and I have had a long talk and I have decided that not continuing with my own schooling would be a good decision for our family. Although my husband graciously offered to do whatever it took to keep me in school, I have decided that I am not willing to sacrifice my time with him or my children to earn a degree I do not need in the immediate future. While I am a little sad, I feel a HUGE burden lifted and feel much more relaxed. I still have many things on my plate, but I am hoping careful planning and consolidation will help me feel like I have more time to spend with my family.
In which areas do you need to add margin? Will it be hard for you to give up?
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.
My life is busy. My life is beyond busy. My life is so busy it is crazy. Between private tutoring, homeschooling, grad school, and family life, I feel like I barely get a chance to breath. Teaching my children is one of my top priorities, and sometimes I forget to take the time to appreciate other people (ahem…my husband). At the end of the day, after teaching, cleaning, playing, learning, I do not really feel like doing anything. To make it even more difficult, my husband works late often. On an early day, he is home by 6:45 (once a week). Regular days, he is home by 7:45. Twice a week, he is home after 9:30. He gets home around my bed time (or at least when I wish I was in bed), and it is hard to want to be a good wife to him when all I can think about is counting sheep. Our marriage is great (also greatly imperfect), and he is super supportive, but I want to give him more…more than just a quick phone call that is interrupted by crying children…more than a half-hour a night watching a TV show. Then, I found our copy of The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. This book is a few years old and we never started it, but I thought it would be worth a try!
My goal through this book is to help make our marriage even stronger. My husband has no idea I am about to do this, and I am excited to see what rewards we get from it. I want our marriage to stay strong through the times we are surrounded by craziness, because all to soon it will just be the two of us. I do not want to wake up one day and feel like I have a stranger next to me. I love my husband now, and I want us to be strong always! Join me on my (secret) adventure! Each day, I will be reading through The Love Dare and implementing the dares it gives me. Each Tuesday, I will be posting about my experience. I would love if you all would read this book with me and work on completing the dares. Feel free to leave comments on each post I make about my own experience. I would love to hear how it is going for you!