Love Cherishes (Love Dare Day 11)

The dare for today hearkens back to Day 10’s dare to do something ‘unexpected’ like wash the car or do a load of laundry and Day 2 “Do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness” (p.9). It is…

What need does your spouse have that you could meet today? Can ou run an errand? Give a back rub or a foot massage? Is there housework that you could help with? Choose a gesture that says ‘I Cherish You’ and do it with a smile.

Well, honestly, I do a lot of these things as a matter of course—you know I do. The one thing that I could help with is laundry (a little more). I can’t stand doing too much laundry!

Loving Your Wife = Loving Yourself

The beauty of Day 11 isn’t in the dare. It’s in the reminders in the devotional itself. A key point comes from Ephesians 5:28-29: “he who loves his own wife loves himself…”.  On either side of that excerpt, Paul points out that loving our wives is like loving our own bodies.

The upshot is that if I love you, then I’m taking care of me. If I don’t love you, then I’m doing the equivalent of smoking 2 packs a day, eating 13 Twinkies, and drinking a fifth of anything—Coffee, Coke, or bourbon.

The writers of The Love Dare put it like this:

When you mistreat your mate, you are also mistreating yourself. Think about it. Your lives are now interwoven together. Your spouse cannot experience joy or pain, blessing or cursing, without it also affecting you. So when you attack your mate [I assume verbally here], it is like attcking your own body. (p.52)

The challenge is that when I am not loving you like I should, then I’m eating mental and spiritual junk food. When I love you, it’s like fruit and veggies to the soul.

Trade-In Vs. Nursing Back to Health

The lie these days is that if you’re not doing what I want or if you’re acting in a way that brings out a bad mood in me, then I should make you change or, to use the Day 11 metaphor, ‘turn you in’ for a new model. The chapter opens with a story about a guy who takes his car for repairs. Instead of repairing the car, he trades it in for a new vehicle.

The metaphor that the writers say should be more like marriage was a hand injury metaphor: If a guy hurts his hand at work, he won’t simply cut it off. He’ll do what he can to nurture that hand back to health. That’s how we handle pain, suffering, even injury in marriage–by cherishing and nurturing whatever wound is there.

What I need to do is check myself. If something is bringing out a foul reaction in me, then I need to see what my glitch is. If you or I have a valid gripe, then we simply need to learn to fight fair, clean, and lovingly.

It’s possible.

Back to the dare: The need I met was, well, we went on a date. My parents kept the kids (their idea from a week ago, admittedly). We had Mexican, a margarita, a wonderful walk through downtown Roswell. It was a beautiful summer night.

Because You Pin and Do

You just crafted a cool little appetizer/dessert stand:

You keep making cool food and cool crafts that you find on Pinterest. I just think it’s neat. I’d be all pinning stuff all the time and never, ever going back and doing anything.

You pin and do. I’m glad and love that little bit about you.

That is all.

Love is Unconditional (Love Dare Day 10)

But what if over the course of years, your wife or husband stopped being every one of those things [that you’d list for why you love him or her]. Would you still love them? p.46

This love dare challenges the idea that we love people solely because of what they bring to the table. Let me be more specific: it challenges the idea that I love you (my wife–remember these are directed specifically to her) primarily because of who you are–your character traits, your looks, your humor, etc.

Love Because of Choice

The upshot from that would be that I only love you when you display those qualities. Or if it’s because of your beauty, if something happened to you to get rid of your classic gorgeousness, then I’d no longer love you. Or if I love you because of your sweetness, then I’d stop loving you if you were being a bear.

The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one beingloved but rather by the one choosing to love. p.46

I wrote before that I love you because I’m called to love you. It feels sterile and unromantic to say that.

Love Isn’t a Whim

But I can guarantee that we will have more opportunities for romance throughout our lives if I love you because I’m called to than if I love you based on the whims of how I’m feeling and you’re acting.

If I’m committed to being the best for you that I can be…

If I’m committed to responding to your moods with grace…

If I’m committed to drawing on the power of the Holy Spirit when I realize I’m acting like a turd…

If I’m committed to looking through to your heart and what your heart needs (although I’m imperfect and won’t get it right all the time)…

…then, we will have plenty of opportunities for romance. It’s like we’ll have built a solid foundations and framed out the house so well, that we’ll be able to do the fun redecorating as often as we want because we’ll be confident that the house will be ours forever.

The other day, in the morning, I left. I was mad. Honestly, I might have had reason for it. You were in a sour mood. You weren’t your sweetest (later that day, it was probably my turn).

Ditching Jerk Entitlement

I felt empowered to be a jerk to you later. I felt it was my right.  Thankfully, I caught myself. Maybe it was due to reading this book.

I sent you this email:

  1. Thank you for sharing with me when you are having a hard time. I appreciate it. Call and cry any time you need to.
  2. If there’s anything I can do to better support or encourage you, please let me know.
  3. You are beautiful. You are talented. You are a good mom.
  4. You and I both struggle with what is like some kind of autistic spectrum thing regarding our preschoolers’ too much crying, noise, etc. We both get overwhelmed. That’s hard.
  5. I’ll pray for you (and you can pray for me) that we’ll get better at that. Simple fact is that our kids (like every damn kid in the world) defy logic.
  6. But they’re wonderful, beautiful, and awesome kids. They really are. Stinking annoying a lot, but they are awesome.
  7. So are you.

So the whole premise of this website: Why I Love Tina, while it might focus on the sweet, fun, and beautiful things about you, is more about my learning to love you better–regardless of what I’m going through, how you’re acting, or whatever comes our way.

Love Makes Good Impressions (Love Dare Day 9)

Too often I come home from work prepping myself for the standoff.

The Standoff

The standoff is that moment when I walk through the door with my best ‘it’s been a hard day at work’ look on my face. My goal is simple:  Can my look beat your look?

It’s ridiculous. As I’ve written before on Love Dare Day 9, it’s not about proving who’s been working hard. It’s about being a refreshment for each other.

We already know that we both work our asses off, right? We believe the best of course!

So, the other day, I came in and had a big smile and gave you a big kiss.

Taking the Room’s Temp

I normally give you a little hug and try to take the temperature of the room:

  1. How have the kids been today?
  2. How are they right now?
  3. Who has or hasn’t eaten dinner or…
  4. Used the bathroom or…
  5. Brushed their teeth…
  6. Needs to go into timeout (I’d volunteer for timeout if you’d let me).

Bringing the Energy

The fact is, if I come in with energy, then perhaps it’ll brighten your day a little. So far, it hasn’t become a habit. I need to start deepening my practice here so when I come in, you’ll feel a little spark to help you land the plane of the day.

 

Taking Care of Each Other

You just had a run of, well, the runs. Laid up for a full day sucking on Gatorade and popping a saltine.

I hated that I couldn’t bust away from my office earlier to take care of the kids while you were all balled up in our bed in tummy pain. Thankfully, your mom was a trooper–from all I heard, trooper-ness was necessary as the boys were wild.

I did get home early from work to take our daughter to the dentis for her first fillings (totally had parental guilt about that one and the fact that apparently we’re redneck white trash that don’t know how to teach our young’ns how to brush their teeth well enough).

Then, I took your mom home and carted the kids to Wendy’s for mini-Frosties (I got over that dental parental guilt pretty quickly, I guess).

But it was fun to play games with the boys and Maggie while you recuperated. We played Ants in the Pants and Cranium Hullabaloo. We had a delicious organic chicken nugget and strawberries dinner.

I enjoyed keeping them out of our room so you could rest. I enjoyed taking care of you a little bit–even putting a little butter on your crackers later in the evening when you were pulling through.

You do good when it’s me who’s all sick and whatnot.

 

Love is not Jealous (Love Dare Day 8)

For this Dare, I was supposed to do 2 things:

  1. Destroy the negative list done Love Dare Day 7.
  2. Pick out an accomplishment and be intentional about highlighting it and appreciating it.

Destroying the Negative

I prayed as often as I could when I started doing  a mental negative list.  My role is not to tally things up. It’s to love you like Christ loves the church. If he doesn’t tally my horrible record against me, then I can’t do yours (which is actually not bad at all).  I have no right to keep records of wrongs.

I have a right to talk to you about things that upset me, but I am not the person to sit and judge. I really should ask your forgiveness for that in the real world.

Being Your Biggest Fan

You’ve been so diligent and two things:

  1. Bringing order to our house–which allows for greater peace, and
  2. Encouraging health and exercise.

I’ve never seen you so disciplined as you have been over the last few months. It’s an incredible example.  I hope I do better at encouraging you.

I pray that I do a better job about my mental lists. For that matter, I also pray that you fall more and more in love with me. I love you and I need you.

Love Believes the Best (Love Dare Day 7)

I was supposed to have made two lists: one of the positive things I think about my spouse and one for the negative things.

For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to do it (again).

But I thought about it all weekend. And I noticed at various times I would start ticking off a list, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Kind of like this:

I love it when she does this, this, this, and this. I’m so thankful when she notices and the way she handles such and such and so forth.

And the alternative:

Why won’t she do this, this, this, and this? How come she doesn’t notice this or that?

In a sense, I did the assignment. It was a full weekend: there were plenty of opportunities for both mental lists.

I was supposed to mention a positive attribute to you.  Perhaps this was a silly way, but I just sent you an email. I appreciate how much you love and care for your mom right now while she’s going through a rough patch.

You also cracked me up a few times this weekend. There are so many good things about you.

Because of the Dishwasher

You called me out.

We fellows believe we have the corner of the market on how to load a dishwasher.

First, we’re usually right.

Second, it probably isn’t something I need to be all smarty-pants about – I did just write about not being rude.

Third, you were pretty funny: “You and your dad need to have a reality check. Just because you say it’s the right way to load a dishwasher doesn’t mean it’s the ONLY way to load a dishwasher and other ways are completely wrong.”

It was a funny little kitchen, post-dinner exchange. But it put me in my place. I need that sometimes (by ‘sometimes’ I mean every few hours).

Love is not irritable – Love Dare Day 6

Love’s not being rude and not being irritable seem to be about the same thing, but irritability might be more of a subset of rudeness brought on by a selfish response to stress.

Stress, Selfishness, and Irritability

What I lack in outright anger and rage and yelling, I make up for in spades with irritability.  The writers of The Love Dare note that stress, brought on by ‘overworking, overplaying, and overspending’ can be huge sources of stressful irritability. So can arguing, division, and bitterness.

My sources of stress that lead to irritability tend to be:

  1. Financial stress – Both not having what I feel is ‘enough’ and having a hard time paying the bills
  2. Parental stress – Sometimes, I just get frustrated with my inability to reason with 3 yr olds and that spills over into how grumpy I am.
  3. Time Management stress – I get frustrated when I get up early to tend to my disciplines and get side-swiped by preschoolers’ 5:30 wake up time.
  4. ‘Who Am I’ stress – My personal ontological questioning messes with my head. What should I be doing with my life?

Then, like the writers talk about in The Love Dare, I respond selfishly as if I’m the only one who matters. Consequently, I can be grumpy regardless of who I upset in the process. They should let me because I’m being a big whiny baby.

So, as it relates to you, my sweet wife: I’m sorry when I’m a grumpy jerk. I’m sorry when I react to things because people, places, or things are infringing on my personal right to never be uncomfortable.

You deserve a gracious, patient husband. I pray I grow more and more in this area.

The Dare: Create Margin

I’m supposed to list areas in my schedule where I can create margin. Perhaps I could also list things around the 4 bullets above that would help me be less of a butt:

  1. Create Hard Boundaries Around Work: Leave for work at 7am and leave to come home at 5pm. When home, do not let email bleed throughout the evening. Pick a 15 minute processing time if I really must.
  2. Budget: Create a monthly budget and use cash so we don’t overspend and get stressed that way.
  3. Work Diligently: While at work, make the most of it so it won’t need to bleed into after hours.
  4. Honor Myself: I simply mean that I pursue one or two things reasonably that honor the ‘who am I’ question.
  5. No Raised Voices: I can be firm, but I must not yell.
  6. A Rescue Word? I know I should invite you to throw a shoe at me if I get too grumpy. Perhaps a funny rescue word instead?

I’ll try to gently love you out of irritability, too. I know you hate mornings! 😉

Love is not rude – Love Dare Day 5

*Note that this is my second pass through The Love Dare (I only got to day 22 or 23 last time). I’m trying to do it in a more succinct manner this time… the way it was intended.

Being rude can mean all kinds of things.

It could be the burps and farts that husbands (never me, of course) tend to slip around their wives–even during dinner.

It could be the occasional foul mouth or off-color joke. Or the frequent foul mouth or off-color joke. Again, I’m not copping to any of this stuff.

It could be sarcastic comments or calling you out in front of other people.

It could be laziness and grumpiness due to weariness, so somehow I feel like I have the right to be an ass.

Being Not Rude

My dare today is to ask you 3 things I do that irritate you or make you uncomfortable. Honestly, I don’t know if this is necessary. I do think I need to be more aware of when I make your hair stand on end. I know, for the most part, what you like and don’t like regarding my behavior and how I speak with you.

But in response to this day’s challenge:

  1. I will attempt to show you more courtesy than I show coworkers or strangers (we all know we can be more pleasant to outsiders than to those closest to us).
  2. I will put a cap on it while we eat–you know what I mean.
  3. I will work to ferret out sarcasm–that kind that’s ok on the basketball court with buddies, but not awesome at home.
  4. I will not withhold my around the house labor out of any attempt to ‘get you back’ for something. I don’t think I do this anyway, but in case, I’ll try to make sure I don’t anymore.

Being Pleasant

Instead, I’ll try to be pleasant and to increase peace at the house. In the end, we all want a place that feels like home, a place that is safe, comfortable, and a little peaceful (even if it’s chaotic in that kids are kids and life is busy).

Thanks for being a pleasant and not rude person, yourself!