Friday, March 27, 2009
I purposely saved this one for a weekend since I know we are all busy people. Today's dare focuses on understanding your spouse better. When you first met you probably studied everything about them. Now, you are content to just ask how their day was. Try to learn more about your loved one. What are their dreams? Goals? Ambitions?
Take time this weekend to get to know your spouse all over again. When you talk to each other, make sure you do most of the listening.
Here are some helper questions-
1. What do you enjoy the most about your life right now?
2. What do you enjoy the least?
3. What would be your dream job?
4. What are three things you would like to do in the next year?
5. When was the last time you felt filled with joy?
6. If you had to give away a million dollars, who would you give it to?
7. What would you like your life to look like 5 years from now?
8. What have I done in the past that made you feel loved?
You get the picture. Let me know how it goes...you all are awfully quiet lately.
Prepare a special dinner at home, just for the two of you. The dinner can be as nice as you prefer. Focus this time on getting to know your spouse better, perhaps in areas you’ve rarely talked about. Determine to make it an enjoyable evening for you and your mate.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Be a trusted partner. Let your spouse know their secrets are safe with you. There are things that are just between you and your spouse. Keep it that way.
I had a really hard time with this when we first got married. He would tell his family, about my struggles with looking for a job, and then he would tell them how much it paid. And for awhile, he would tell them how much he made. I was never comfortable with this. I feel that money should be a private thing between us. We make it by, and have all the rediclous comforts of modern family. That is all anyone needs to know. He never understood why that bothered me so much, but he stopped talking about it to others. That made me feel so much more like a team. We were together in this world.
Like the book says, you can be close to a childhood friend, a parent, sibling, or cousin. But nothing rivals the closeness of marriage. It is the most intimate of all human relations.
"This blessing of marriage is also it's greatest danger. Someone who knows us this intimately can either love us at depths we never even imagined, or can wound us in ways we will never fully recover from. It's both the fire and fear of marriage. If home is not considered a safe place, you will both be tempted to seek it somewhere else. Perhaps you might initiate a relationship that either flirts with adultery or actually enters in."
Your mate should not have to feel they have to be perfect to seek your approval. Brad used to call this "walking on eggshells". He could never read whether I was happy or sad, so he felt he needed to tiptoe around trying not to anger me just to get through the day. We shouldn't have to walk on eggshells around our loved one. We are safe within the bonds of a loving marriage.
The Bible says "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear"-(1 John 4:18) Your home should be a place of intimate freedom, much like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Being "naked" and "not ashamed" (Genesis 2:25) should exist in your marriage both emotionally and physically.
Basically you have both dumped "baggage" on each other, and that opens us up to being hurt when people know this much about us. People who know me well understand that I am not a natural hugger, it makes me feel very vulnerable. It's a protective measure. And B knows that even a look from him can make me feel so crazy in love with him that I immediately turn away from his gaze so I don't "fall too deep". Cause then I could get hurt.
But God intends for our marriage to be a safe haven. I can now imagine people saying "think of a happy place", that should be your home with your spouse. Accept these secrets as part of what makes your spouse up.....guard them, don't criticize them for it. We are not all perfect. For everything you find wrong with your spouse, I guarantee you have something else that could stand to be changed. If there is a secret that needs repairing, then be the agent of healing and listen without lecturing.
God loves us in spite of our secrets, and He knows every single one of them. Yet He loves us with a depth we can not fathom. This grace is something to work on with our spouses. Intimacy and trust takes time to foster. So be gentle in your approach to open up your spouses heart if it has been damaged by you in the past.
"But your commitment to reestablishing it can happen or anyone willing to take the dare."
Determine to guard your mate’s secrets (unless they are dangerous to them or to you) and to pray for them. Talk with your spouse, and resolve to demonstrate love in spite of these issues. Really listen to them when they share personal thoughts and struggles with you. Make them feel safe.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The jist of today's dare is accepting that you can not change your spouse (or anyone really). OUCH! That's a tough pill to swallow.
"Insanity has been defined as trying the same thing over and over, bu expecting different results". Hmmmmm.....sound familiar? I am INSANE for thinking that me nagging B to do XYZ is eventually going to get through his thick skull to the point where he says "Hey I need to do XYZ to make S happy".
Has your nagging been working? It may get your spouse to load the dishwasher or walk the dog just to get you to stop nagging. But it will be done with the wrong intentions, and with bad feelings. When I nag B I make hm feel like he is a bad spouse. Not really protecting my treasure's heart that way....am I? (BTW after Day 15 I have started referring to B as "my treasure", you can all barf now).
So what can we do when things are not working and getting out of hand? I always like to remember that beautiful poem "Footprints" especially the line "It was then that I carried you".
Do you feel like quitting on your marriage at times? I am guilty of that. In fact, I have been married before B...and did quit. But Jesus says to pray rather than quitting (Luke 18:1). The book emphasizes that prayer can bring the calm in the eye of a storm. Do you need a major breakthrough? Prayer can make the difference. Read the last blog post for proof.
From the book:
"God is sovereign. He does things His way. He's not a genie in a lamp that submits to your every wish. But He does love you and desires an intimate relationship with you. This doesn't happen apart from prayer.
Have you ever wondered why God gives you overwhelming insight into your spouse's hidden faults? Do you really think it is for endless nagging? No, it is for effective kneeling. One of the most loving thing you can ever do for your spouse is to pray for them. NO ONE knows better how to pray for your mate than you. Turn your complaints into prayers and watch the Master work while you keep your hands clean."
"Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" -Matthew 7:7
Begin praying today for your spouse’s heart. Pray for three specific areas where you desire for God to work in your spouse’s life and in your marriage.
I am actually several days ahead of the blog on my dares. Last week on Friday I was on Day 16, the dare I will give you in a minute. It asks for you to pray for your spouse and any areas you may need help in. In your marriage, in his heart, in your heart, etc. I prayed for a deeper intimacy and peace in B's heart and mine.
That night after the kids went to bed B asked me if I would like to watch movie. We went to Verizon's on demand site and they had 2 movies we both wanted to see. Fireproof (the movie featuring the Love Dare),and some other movie. I know he really wanted to see the other one, but he chose FP because he knew I wanted to see it. We watched it and I told him that I had been following the Love Dare. The acting in it was pretty bad, but the message was amazing. We sat there after the movie and talked for hours. I told him he was welcome to read my book, but he said he wanted to do the Love Dare on his own. The last three days we have had a peace and contentment in our house and relationship that has never been there. Conflict has been met with understanding. He has been doing housework for me that I would normally nag about. He looks at me different, we talk different. Love is good.
The difference happened when I invited God to be a part of our marriage. Try it, be open to it, and you will experience incredible results. God is love.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Today we are faced with honoring our spouse. Honor is one of those words that never loses it's timeless quality, class, and dignity. To honor someone means to give them respect and high esteem, to treat them as being special and of great worth. You are courteous and polite. You accommodate their wishes if at all possible simply out of respect for who they are.
The book goes on to talk about another word within the scope of honor....holy. We don't often associate holiness as marital trait, but it is essential. To say your mate is holy doesn't mean they are perfect. Holiness means they are set apart for a higher purpose- no longer common or everyday. A person who has become holy to you has a place no one can rival in your heart. This person is to be honored, praised and defended.
From the book:
"When two people marry, each spouse becomes 'holy' to each other by way of 'holy matrimony'. This means no other person in the whole world is supposed to enjoy this level of commitment and endearment from you. Your relationship is like no other. You share physical intimacy with only her, only him. You establish a home together. You bear your children with this person. Your heart, possessions, your life itself is to be wrapped up in the uncommon bond you share with this one person"
Wow, that's pretty deep stuff! When you think of it that way, it's like a special thing just for you that no one in the world can have. Like a treasure God has entrusted to you. Isn't that exciting? I think it's awesome! But what if you don't feel that you are honored by your spouse? The Bible calls us to honor the same regardless. Love dares to say- "Of all the relationships I have, I will value ours the most. Of all things I'm willing to sacrifice, I will sacrifice the most for you. With all your failures, sins, mistakes, and faults-past and present- I still choose to love and honor you". In this atmosphere, love can't help but be rekindled...you are leading your heart to love.
Choose a way to show honor and respect to your spouse that is above your normal routine. It may be holding the door for her. It might be putting his clothes away for him. It may be the way you listen and speak in your communication. Show your mate that he or she is highly esteemed in your eyes.
-For my dare yesterday I realized that B needed some alone time in the house to practice. He is an amazing harpsichordist, yet never actually gets to play very much. If the girls are around they want to be in the room with him so they stand at the gate and cry or try to climb in. At night when they are asleep it is too loud for him to play. I had a chiropractic appt, but took both girls with me, then we went and had a healthy snack at Papa's house, then to the gym. I was exhausted after the 4 hours, but it probably made his day. I was honoring his deep need for a quiet house to himself.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The current theme in this book is that our feelings can't run our lives. We must lead our emotions with decisions and deliberation. If we allow our feelings to determine how strong our marriage relationship is, we're doomed!
The dare today is to lead your heart to delight in your mate. Enjoy your spouse through companionship and conversation! You delighted in your spouse when you first married. Recapture that emotion by leading your heart in that direction. The responsibility is ours to relearn what you love about this one to whom you've promised yourself forever.
Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse. Do something he or she would love to do or a project they’d really like to work on. Just be together.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Fighting fair is the main emphasis of today’s lesson. A lot of the marriage teaching I do focuses on communication. The Bible has a lot to say about how we communicate. While it doesn’t place a lot of restrictions on what we say in the context of sharing feelings and pains, it does restrict us in regard to “how” we talk to each other. The devotion challenges us to talk to our spouses about rules of engagement. I chose to not bring this up with B. Again because he didn't know I was doing this, and I was afraid it would bring up needless tension in his eyes...even though it was for a better cause. I adopted all of these. And, as much as I hate to admit this...I have done most of these (the bad ones) at least once.
Here were some suggestions . . .
We will never mention divorce
We will not bring up old, unrelated items from the past
We will never fight in public or in front of our children
We will call a “time out” if conflicts escalates to a damaging level
We will never touch each other in a harmful way
We will never go to bed angry with one another
Failure is not an option. Whatever it takes, we will work this out
Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement. If your mate is not ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to “fight” by. Resolve to abide by them when the next conflict arises.
Monday, March 16, 2009
So, onto Day 12.....
Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Demonstrate love by willingly choosing to give in to an area of disagreement between you and your spouse. Tell them you are putting their preference first.
Friday, March 13, 2009
I think this one is self explanatory. Love your mate as yourself. Cherish them.
What need does your spouse have that you could meet today? Can you run an errand? Give a back rub or foot massage? Is there housework you could help with? Choose a gesture that says, “I cherish you” and do it with a smile.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
In God's eyes, the ideal marriage is one in which you don't tell your partner "I love you because..." but rather "I love you, period."
3 types of love make up a great marriage: phileo (friendship love) and eros (sexual love). Agape is "sickness in health love".
The only way love can last a lifetime is if it's unconditional.
The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.
Unconditional love, agape love, will not be swayed by time or circumstance.
do something out of the ordinary for your spouse - something that proves (to you and to them) that your love is based on your choice & nothing else.
Demonstrate love to them for the sheer joy of being their partner in marriage.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
We have come a long way so far learning to demonstrate acts of love like patience, kindness and encouragement. So how you greet your spouse each morning may seem like no big deal. But you can tell a lot about the state of a couple's relationship by the way they greet each other. You can see it in their expression, as well as how they speak to one another. It's even more obvious by their physical contact.
It's probably something you don't think about very often- the first thing you say to him in the morning, the look on your face when you get in the car, the energy in your voice when you talk on the phone. But imagine the difference it would make in your spouse's day if everything about you expressed that you were really glad to see them. IT doesn't have to be bold and dramatic every time. But adding warmth gives you the chance to touch your mate's heart in subtle unspoken ways. Remember, love is a choice. So choose to change your greeting. Choose to love.
Think of a specific way you'd like to greet your spouse today. Do it with enthusiasm and a smile. Then determine to change your greeting to reflect love for them.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Determine to become your spouse's biggest fan and reject any thoughts of jealousy. To help you set your heart on your spouse and focus on their achievements, take yesterday's list of negative attributes and discreetly burn it. Then share with your spouse how glad you are about a success he or she recently enjoyed.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I really can't just sum up everything the book says about today's task and do it justice. I highly recommend reading the book, either now, or after you have gone through this.
It basically says we have two rooms in our hearts known as the "appreciation" room and "depreciation" room. In the beginning of our relationships we probably spent all our time in the app room, dreaming about the wonder qualities our beloved had. He smells good, she listens well, he has pretty eyes, she makes me happy, etc etc. You see where this is going.
Now that you have been together some time, you may find yourself spending more time in the depreciation room than the former. Here we have ugly things written on the walls: he works too much, she is selfish, he is lazy, I maybe made a mistake. This room harbors all the weaknesses and failures of your spouse. This room is where you add up all your ammo for your next big fight. People fall out of love in this room. You must decide to stop living in this room. It will drain all of the joy out of your marriage.
You are now probably saying "But those things are true!"....yes, but so are all the wonderful things in the other room. Love chooses to live in the other room. It is aware that the other room is there, but chooses not to stay there. It believes the BEST! It gives your spouse the benefit of the doubt. The only reason you should go back into that other room is to write "covered in love" on the walls.
Your spouse is a living, breathing, endless book to be read. Dreams and hopes have yet to be realized. Talents and abilities may be discovered like hidden treasure. But the choice to explore them starts with a decision from you.
Get two sheets of paper. On the first one, spend a few minutes writing out positive things about your spouse. Then do the same with negative thoughts on the second. Place them both in a secret place for another day. There is a different purpose for each sheet. Then pick one of the positive attributes from your first list, and thank your spouse for it.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Love is hard to offend and quick to forgive. How easily do you get irritated? I know I am SUPER guilty of this one, and this was a tough pill to swallow. When the housework piles up and no one is helping...I get irritated with everyone around me and start being grumpy to everyone.
Some married folks take every chance they get to tell their spouse they are doing something wrong, and are quick to express how hurt or offended they are. Ding ding ding! Sound familiar???
The Love Dare book says this about being irritated:
People who are irritated are locked, loaded and ready to overreact. This is the OPPOSITE reaction of love. The truth is that love does not get angry or hurt unless there is a legitimate and just reason in the sight of God. A loving husband will remain calm and patient, showing mercy by restraining his temper. A loving wife is not overtly sensitive or cranky, but exercises emotional self-control. She chooses to be a flower among the thorns and respond pleasantly in sticky situations.
Ask yourself "Am I a calming breeze, or a storm waiting to happen?"
It then goes on to talk about the two main reasons we become irritable. I'm sure you can tell me at least the first one right off the bat....stress. Stress is an energy drainer that weakens the body's health and makes us cranky. Many things cause stress, and you know what they are in you life, so I won't go on with that, except to say that you must balance the stress in your life. A way the book points for help is in the Bible. Colossians 3:12-14 teaches us t let love guide our relationships so we aren't caught up in unnecessary arguments. Pray for our anxieties (Phil 4:6-7) and delegate when overworked (Exodus 18:17-23). It also tells us in the 10 Commandments to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. This day of worship and rest is there for a reason. Many people in today's busy society run errands, work, etc. Our bodies need this day of restoration of body and soul, and focus on God and family.
The other reason for irritability is selfishness. When you are irritable, it says a lot about what's in your heart. Jesus aid "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Matt 12:34).
Think of the old saying "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade".
Our journals say:
Being easily angered is an indicator that a hidden area of selfishness or insecurity is present where love is supposed to rule. Bust selfishness wears other masks: Lust, bitterness, greed, and pride. These motivations can never be satisfied. Love in your heart helps you let go of unnecessary things. Love will lead you to forgive instead of holding a grudge. It then sets up your heart to respond to your spouse with patience and encouragement rather than anger and exasperation.
Choose today to react to tough times 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.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Nothing irritates others as quickly as being rude. The bottom line is that genuine love minds its manners. Embracing this concept can add fresh air to your relationship.
There are 2 main reasons why people are rude: ignorance and selfishness.
Test yourself with these questions:
- How does your spouse feel about the way you speak ad act around them?
- How does your behavior affect your mate's sense of worth and self-esteem?
- Would your spouse say you're a blessing, or that you're condescending and embarrassing?
If you are thinking that your spouse-not you-is the one who needs work in this area, you're likely suffering from a bad case of ignorance, with a secondary condition of selfishness. Remember, love is not rude but lifts you to a higher standard.
Do you wish you spouse would stop doing things that bother you? Then it's time to stop doing things that bother them.
The three rules of etiquette for married folk:
1. Treat your mate the way you want to be treated.
2. No double standards.
3. Consider what your spouse has already asked of you. If in doubt, ask.
Ask your spouse to tell you 3 things that cause him/her to become uncomfortable or irritated with you. You must do so without attacking them of justifying your behavior. This is from their perspective only!
Today in our journals we learn about the importance of being a thoughtful spouse. It begins by saying that love thinks, constantly. Love is not a mindless feeling that rides on emotion. Loving thoughts precede loving actions.
Remember when you first met how easy it was to daydream about your love. You thought of ways to show them you care, the right things to say, and dreamed of the next time you would met. You would call to say "I can't stop thinking about you".
Now the hunt is over. You won your prize and the motivation for being thoughtful has waned. After a while, you may even begin to ignore the needs of your partner.
"If you don't learn to be thoughtful, you end up regretting missed opportunities to demonstrate love. Thoughtlessness is a silent enemy to a loving relationship."
You can imagine how this goes after several years, or decades of "Today's our anniversary?" or "Why wasn't I included in that decision?", etc etc.
The next section talks about the difference between the way men an women think and communicate. Women think and speak between the lines and "hint" whereas men think in headlines and say what they mean. A man has to listen for the implication in his spouses words, yet the woman needs to not read too deeply into what her husband is saying.
When a couple does not understand this, the result can be countless disagreements. Women are thinking "I shouldn't have to spell this out for him" and a man wonders to himself "Why won't she just tel me what she wants?" Does this sound familiar? It used to be a topic of conversation monthly in our house. Now when I get quiet, my husband assumes I am angry or upset with him and asks what's wrong. He is always looking for that hidden implication that something is not right. It takes awhile to assure him I am just sleepy, or in deep thought.
When was the last time you spent a few minutes thinking about how you could better understand your spouse? What immediate need can you meet? What's the next big event (birthday, anniversary, father's day) you could prepare for? Great marriages come from thinking.
Contact your spouse sometime during the business of the day. Have no agenda other than asking how she or he is doing and is there anything you could do for them.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Hope you have been enjoying the peace in your relationships. I know that I have!