Love Dare Day 7: Love Believes the Best

Love believes the best”  or “thinks no evil” (1 Cor 13:5) always sounded to me as if love requires sticking our head in the sand and pretending we don’t see anything wrong in the person, place, thing, etc. that we’re trying to love.

The writers of The Love Dare indicate that it might be more of a focus thing.

They describe two metaphorical rooms in our hearts: The Appreciation Room and the Depreciation Room. One has kind words and phrases written all over, describing the good qualities of our spouses. The other room has phrases and words that describe the things that bother or irritate us about our spouse.

The question: In which room do I spend most of my time?

Do I linger in the appreciation room and focus on the gifts present in my wife, plotting how to surprise her with acts of kindness or words of encouragement?

Or Do I prop my feet up in the ‘depreciation’ room and plot my zingers and make my cases and justify any ill feelings or bad habits I allow myself to indulge in?

Believing the best means that I practice focusing on the good stuff. Lord knows I’m toast if my wife focused on the things in my life that bug her. (I’m temporarily suspending the use of second person ‘you’).

Today’s Dare

I was supposed to have written out two lists. One has phrases and words that could be found in the good room. The other has attributes that I might plaster up in th bad room.  They are now hidden away in a secret place, per the instructions on page 34.

The second part of the dare: Pick a positive attribute from the first list and thakn your spouse for having this characteristic.

My pick was her awesome skill at finding fun things for our kids to do. It’s so awesome to get random pics during the day of our kids at a park or a story time or doing a craft. I’m so not good at that stuff (but she does inspire me to pull something out of a hat on a Saturday when she’s gone).

Lesson Learned (back to second person—i.e. ‘you’ as in my wife, who is supposed to be the future audience for this blog):

This dare helps me focus on the things that are such gifts in you. Back to Day 6, I notice when I’m stressed or selfish, that I tend toward the depreciation room because, well, it’s easy to justify laziness out of that room. But that’s uncool. You are so awesome in so many ways. I want to be the person in your life that encourages you in those things.

Day 8 Prep: Love is not jealous. I’m supposed to set fire to the negative list, and focus on being your biggest fan! Celebrate your victory today! Share with you some gladness about a recent success.

Dare Accepted!

Love Dare Day 6, Love Is Not Irritable

Who says it isn’t? We both have our moments and fight over who has more of a right to be irritable on any particular day: You’ve had a rough one with the kids or maybe I’ve struggled at work for one of a bunch of reasons.

Unfortunately, we resort to using each other as punching bags because, well, we can. That’s uncool.

So, with that in mind, I worked on this dare. There wasn’t anything in particular for me to do yesterday, so I just worked on the journaling homework:

Where must I create margin?

  1. End of Day: I need to plan for the end of my work day much earlier.  I can still do some things, but it’s a good idea for me to have everything organized and clean so that when my time to leave hits, I can stand up and get out and not be too late.
  2. Meals: Corollary to the last one is that I’d like to get home for meals. Our kids are at the age when we need to start the family meals.
  3. Screen time: I need to spend less time in front of a computer, phone, or TV. I need to be more available during my off time.
  4. Get to Bed: I need to hit the sack earlier so I have more energy in general.

What are wrong motivations that I need to remove?

  1. Selfishness: I need to do some work here. I get irritable when my time and projects are infringed on. That’s no bueno.
  2. Stress: I need to learn to leave it at the office. Period.

Well, even now, I left no margin at the office to finish this post. I should be at the gym right now working out so I can get home by 7:00 or so. I’ll probably still get home by then, but I won’t get much of a work out in.  By the way, I keep forgetting my Y card. They are going to start looking at me askance. J

Prep for Day 7: Love Believes theBest. I’m going to have to list the things I love about you and the things that I’m not so fond of. This is another one I’m not looking forward to! I’d hate to see your list!

Love Dare Day 5: Love is Not Rude

Well, this one was a difficult one for a couple different reasons.

  1. It’s the first dare that requires interaction (I had to ask you 3 things that annoy/irritate you about me).
  2. It’s not easy to hear things that irritate or annoy someone about myself (especially coming from my spouse).
  3. I don’t think it’s easy for you to verbalize things that annoy or irritate you about me without feeling a little bad about it.

I asked you in a kind of joking manner about on Saturday, but you never responded.

So, I suppose I didn’t satisfy this main project for this dare.

That said, I was super-aware of my comments and tone of voice and the way I spoke to you. I tried really hard to avoid sarcasm—even jokingly.

I tried to catch it quick and reign it in. Hopefully it helped. The thing is that I want you to feel cherished. Sure, bantering is okay, but I don’t want to treat you like one of the boys. You’re not. You’re my wife. You should feel safe with me, and one of the best ways I can do that is through the way I speak to you.

Here’s to my continued quest to avoid rudeness!

Day 6: Love isn’t irritable—awareness of my stress and selfishness. The project: List areas where I need to create margin. Notice wrong motivations: anger, lust, envy, bitterness, etc. Where do these factor into my irritability (if at all)?

This book is starting to meddle! I don’t know if I’m liking it. 🙂 But it’s worth it.

Because You Make Chicken Pot Pie

Nothing screams sweet evening couch time like when you make chicken pot pie.

You did that last night. We had salad, chicken pot pie (maybe a margarita, but I won’t confirm). And a sitcom or three.

It was a wonderful, sweet, happy, fun night.

I loved it. I love you.

Love Dare, Day 4: Love is Thoughtful

The dare for ‘thoughtfulness’ was to make a call at least once with no agenda but to see how you were doing or if there was anything I could do for you.

Surprisingly, this is more difficult than would be expected. I get a little nervous that I’ll catch you in the middle of a stressful moment with the kids or something along those lines. Then I feel guilty that I’m not helping but that I’m working with adults all day and then I probably project that back to you… etc.

Well, those thoughts hearken back to Day 3—selfishness. It’s selfish of me not to call you when you might need to speak to an adult, reasonable person for a couple minutes.

The main thing about thoughtfulness is being mindful of you. It’s important that I learn to learn to listen to both your spoken and unspoken queues.

If I continually get stumped, I need to ask and not get frustrated.

The other point:

Be mindful of upcoming events

Where are opportunities to inject an additional ‘I was thinking of you’  sweetness into a day? Perhaps Columbus Day? (I kid). 

Thoughtfulness, to me, is similar to learning how to be more mindful of the presence of God. It takes some practice. Hopefully by the time you read this blog, you would feel thought of all the time by me!

On the dare to call you with no agenda

I did it. We had a sweet little conversation while you were at Whole Foods. A bit later you sent me a text that I completely misinterpreted that you had Cream of Chicken soup for lunch (you wanted me to pick it up as I had asked if there was something I could do for you, per the dare).  I admit that I thought Cream of Chicken soup by itself was pretty random.

But it seemed like the call set a nice tone between us for the day. I shall practice it!

Day 6 Prep: Love is Not Rude

This dare is a little annoying: Ask your spouse for 3 things that makes her irritated or uncomfortable with you. Do not attack or justify. Just listen.

At least I have a full weekend to do this.  Wish me luck (this request for luck is directed to anybody who might be reading this, not my wife).

Love Dare, Day 3: Love is not selfish

I decided (maybe had it decided for me) that I shouldn’t write the post before I actually do the thing, but after. It might carry more weight.

The dare for yesterday: In addition to avoiding negative comments, buy your spouse something that says you were thinking of her.

I bought Junior Mints and Twizzlers.  I also went to the fabric store to check on the possibility of putting a sewing machine on layaway, but I realize this isn’t 1982. I’m not sure if layaway is an option anywhere anymore outside of K-Mart.

The four bullet points that authors Stephen and Alex Kendrick offer are:

  • Do I truly want what’s best for you?
  • Do I want you to feel loved by me?
  • Do you believe I have your best interests in mind?
  • Do you see me as looking out for myself first?

Well, I feel like I come through these items with flying colors. But if I dig deeper, my answer isn’t so simple.

I feel like I want the best for you, but my actions don’t always have your best in mind. Sometimes, I have my own comfort in mind. Sometimes I have my own agenda. Sometimes I manipulate a situation. Sometimes my acts of kindness have some secret, hidden motive—sometimes it’s an accidental hidden motive.

The point is that I can work on 1 and 2: wanting the best for you (which I honestly feel I do, but I get lazy in my actions) and wanting you to feel loved by me—even BE loved by me.

On points 3 and 4, I can’t know unless I ask you. Do you believe I have your best interests in mind? Do you see me as looking out for me first, then you and then the kids? (We did have a little tiff recently that indicated that you might feel like I’m pretty caught up in my own world and priorities—and I’ve had that as a point to work on since then).

So not being selfish is the goal, buying something for you is the dare. I bought you candy. I wanted to buy a sewing machine.  On the sewing machine, my motive is simply this: To affirm your desire to create and learn a skill that you’ve been wanting to learn for a good long while now.

What I probably need to work on more:

  • Watch how I use my time.
  • Watch how I act at home.
  • Watch to see if I fade into my own little world vs giving myself to you and the kids.

Those are probably more helpful than a gift, although, let’s face it, gifts are awesome.

Today’s challenge: Love is Thoughtful—Contact your spouse sometime during the day with no agenda except to ask how things are going or if there’s anything he/she needs. 

Challenge Accepted. 🙂

Love Dare, Day 2: Love Is Kind

*Note that these posts are typically written from me to my wife, so the ‘you’ referred to would be her, not you, the reader.

Love Is Patient

Yesterday I avoided saying anything negative. What I realized is that I can sometimes treat you like one of the guys, using smart alecky language and comments, joking around. But often that stuff is negative. Having ‘love is patient’ as the theme yesterday with the task of ‘avoiding all negative speech’ was so helpful to me. It caused me to pause, and it also helped me to be more patient with our kids at bed time–an oft trying period!

Love is Kind

The book gives kindness four attributes:

  • Gentleness
  • Helpfulness
  • Willingness
  • Initiative

Kindness isn’t about just being nice and sweet, it’s about action. It’s about my doing things when not told to do them (changing a diaper, getting the dishes done, folding clothes, etc. without your having to ask me for help). It’s also about being gentle and tenderhearted–it’s like the outward working of patience.

Today’s Challenge: Do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness today

This morning I let you sleep in a little later, but I don’t know how unexpected that was–or how intentional it was on my part. I see in my notes in the book that back in 2009, I declared you off duty when I got in for the day, thereby sending you (very happily) to our bedroom for some R&R.

Today, I do not know what I will do. Perhaps a couple baskets of folding laundry? Perhaps I’ll bake a loaf of apple bread just for your mom? A backrub? All of the above?  Hmmmmm…..

One thing is for sure: I need to continue the no negativity thing. You deserve to be built up by me, daily. Regardless of what you experience from your own inner dialogue or from others, you should find safety and encouragement from me.

We’ll see what I end up doing… if you happen to read this, I take suggestions. 🙂