I am not a quitter. I don't run for the hills when things get tough. I'm not scared of getting to the heart of my weaknesses and failures. Okay...I just lied. Big time! All of that is completely false. But, I want it to be true. I don't want to give what used to be truth power in my life any more. So I am not giving up on this challenge. I am not going to point the blame at my husband's lack of cooperation. It is about me. The going got tough because this challenge hit the nerve of my biggest shortcoming. I don't feel worthy. I don't find value in things that are just for me. If I am not getting approval from an external source, I don't invest in that action. Hence the reason I struggle with my weight, hence the reason I struggle to do kind things when they go unnoticed. I need somebody to tell me it means something to them.
So as I go into this week I am choosing to focus on me. What I need to learn. What I need to overcome. Will you pray for me? Trying to overcome the shortcomings that have plagued you your entire life are hard! And I am going to need some borrowed strength. But I am going to stick with it. Are you with me?
Monday (day 6) - Love is not irritable. A loving wife is not overly sensitive or cranky but exercise emotional self-control. Okay...let's hit the road running with this one! Let's see what the challenge is: Choose today to react to tough circumstances in your marriage in loving ways instead of with irritation. Begin by making a list of areas where you need to add margin to your schedule. Then list any wrong motivations that you need to release from your life (click on the link I attached to day 6 so you can get the full understanding of this).
I think that both stress and selfishness play a role in my negativity. I become cranky and snap when things have just gotten too overwhelming. Most of the time I do this to myself by either doing what feels right in the moment or by overstretching myself...both which lead to stress later on. If I would put work before play I could curb a lot of stress that creeps in when everything needs to be done all at once. If I asked for help and let myself off the hook for the unimportant stuff I would also be less stressed I'm sure. In turn I would be less irritable which I am sure would bless my husband immensely.
Tuesday (day 7) - Love believes the best. Today I am to take two separate pieces of paper and on one take a few minutes to list the positive things about my spouse, on the other I am to list the negative things. I then put them aside for another day. I am to then pick a positive attribute off the list and thank my husband for it at some point throughout the day.
One of my husband's positive attributes is that he is helpful. He really goes out of his way to help me get caught up around the house so that I can relax. I made sure to tell him that today. I actually am pretty good at thanking him on a regular basis for all he is and all he does. But what the book touched on about not spending time dwelling on what is negative about your spouse really spoke to me. While I would like to think I am a mostly positive person, I know all too well that damage that can be done in our relationship when I start going over and over the things I don't like. I honestly believe that a lot of divorces could be avoided if people just changed their thinking. Actions are important too but it starts with the way you think - about yourself, your spouse and your relationship.
Wednesday (day 8) - Love is not jealous. Now when I hear the word jealous and apply it to a relationship I think of a boyfriend being jealous of another man who might have his woman's attention or a wife who is jealous of her husband's sexy secretary. But there is actually another far more destructive form of jealousy that takes place in marriage. When husband and wife become jealous of each other's successes or the good things happening to them. I wish I could say that this doesn't apply to me but at times it does. Not as much as when we first had kids. I was so jealous of the freedom I perceived him having compared to what I felt I had. Every waking, and sleeping, moment of mine was devoted to the kids and they were rarely out of arms length while he got to often think of himself first in a situation and got to do accomplish tasks without munchkins attached at the hip. This ate at me to the point that when he spent two hours mowing the lawn I was fuming because he got to get out and I was stuck. How crazy is that?
This kind of plays off of yesterday's challenge and how important it is to change your thinking in a situation. It was when I stopped comparing what he got to do to what I got to do, when I started valuing my spot in our marriage and in our family instead of cursing it, and when I started focusing on how I could make things easier for him rather than myself that the burning jealousy began to dissipate. Sure, it creeps in once and awhile, but I am much better at curbing it before it gets out of hand. Today's challenge is to discreetly burn the negative list and to share with your spouse how glad you are about a recent success he or she had.
Thursday (day 9) - Love makes good impressions. Today talks a lot about showing greetings and how it is easy to be kind to those we like but they we are called to also be nice to those we find difficult to like. It goes on further to talk about greetings and how we greet our friends and even strangers kindly but don't always do so with our spouse. The challenge for today is to think of a specific way you want to greet your spouse today. Do so with a smile and enthusiasm. Then determine to change your greeting to reflect your love for them.
For me, this is going to really apply when my husband is working day shift. He comes home after a 12 hour shift and I am almost always cooking dinner when he walks in. I usually glance up and say hi because I am busy and other times I am totally disheveled if the past hour, or the entire day, has been particularly rough and I barely greet him at all. I know I need to make an effort not only to stop what I am doing and physically acknowledge he is home, but I also need to put aside the craziness of the day to show him how glad I am he is home. When he walks in that door the boys squeal and through themselves at him and it makes my husband feel loved and glad to be home. I want to make him feel that way too!
Friday (day 10) - Love is unconditional. This year God has hit me with this message over and over again. We live in a world where love is a feeling and as soon as that feeling is over we are encouraged to bail. God's word teaches us about agape love which is both selfless and unconditional. True love, the type that leads to lifetime marriages, is the kind that continues despite the feelings. There are always going to be periods of highs and lows and how you conduct yourself during the lows is what defines your love.
Today's challenge is to do something out of the ordinary for your spouse. Something that proves to you and them that your love is based on your choice and nothing else. You know what I did that was out of the ordinary? Took the blame and apologized without being asked. Our day was a little chaotic because I hadn't planned any of our meals. It sounds simple but it is something that tends to add stress to our day when we have lots of running around to do and need to be in places at specific times. So as we drove to church Friday night I took the time to apologize to my husband for not doing my part. Meals are typically my responsibility and when I drop the ball it causes chaos in the house. I wanted him to know that I acknowledge my part and plan to do better. This is big for me because I have a hard time admitting my faults or shortcomings. He of course forgave me and insured me it wasn't my fault alone but it felt good to not only express this to him but to recognize it myself.
-Update: I went into this week wanting to quit because last week didn't go so well. But I stuck it out and had to tell you that this week was 10 times better. I think that my change of attitude about the whole thing really helped and in turn, my husband has responded in a totally different way as well. I am excited to see what next week brings!
Want to catch up?
The Love Dare Challenge - Days 1-5
Joining the Challenge
Want to join in? I am linking up with Moogie Mama and you can link up too: