Thank you Sarah. Another great blog!
Many times in marriage, spouses wish they could change the other. Whether it’s making sure their underwear goes in the hamper rather than beside it or not leaving their coffee-laden spoon on the white counter for the umpteenth time, we can’t always change the negative. We can ask nicely or yell and scream, but regardless, the people we marry will always be who they truly are.
“The Love Dare” has forced me to understand that. Rather than looking at what my spouse does wrong, it’s time I look at what I do wrong. For the past seven days, I’ve had to ignore what bothered me and instead focus on how I handle those situations.
Someone once told me that they didn’t like “The Love Dare” because they thought it made them cater to their spouse. They said they felt like they were doing all the work and their spouse could do whatever he wanted. Well, that’s the point. We all could use a refresher that we can never change the people around us — not our spouses, parents, in-laws, children or friends. They are who they are. We can only change our own behavior and it’s amazing how that alone can alter a relationship.
For the past seven days, my Dares were:
• Day 1 — Patience. “For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all.”
• Day 2 — Kindness. “In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.”
• Day 3 — Selfishness. “Along with restraining from negative comments, buy your spouse something that says, ‘I was thinking of you today.’”
• Day 4 — Thoughtfulness. “Contact your spouse sometime during the business of the day. Have no agenda other than asking how he or she is doing and if there is anything you could do for them.”
• Day 5 — Rudeness. “Ask your spouse to tell you three things that cause him or her to be uncomfortable or irritated with you.”
• Day 6 — Irritability. “Choose today to react to tough circumstances in your marriage in loving ways instead of with irritation.”
I struggled with two different days this week. Here’s why.
Day 3 talks about selfishness. Though I never realized it before, I can be very selfish in relationships.
We all put a lot of time, energy and money into things we enjoy or care about. From birth through toddlerhood and into our childhoods, we’re all innately selfish. Children can’t care for themselves, so it’s up to their parents to meet their needs. While we slowly learn we aren’t at the center of the universe, our selfishness eases, but it’s never fully eliminated. We often put our interests, desires and priorities before our spouses, or we complain about all we have to do to meet our spouses’ needs (that’s me!).
We strive to be the best in our careers, the best mothers, the best wives. That’s all noble, but it can contribute to some level of selfishness. Instead of pooling our time and energy into our marriages and families, we put it into different things, placing more of a burden on our families. If we can’t care fully for our children, we feel like bad parents. If we don’t get that big promotion, we feel we aren’t good at our jobs. And on and on it goes.
Complaining about the time and energy we spend doing things each day is selfish because we’re seeking recognition for doing things that need to be done. It’s kind of like how people tout their large donations to charity. It’s charitable when you don’t talk about it. Otherwise, you’re seeking recognition.
I can be extremely selfish in my marriage, telling my husband all the things I do in a day. I try to let him know I don’t sit around when I’m home since I’m not currently working, something that’s new for our family. It’s as if I make excuses for him to do more and lighten my load. What I want may not be selfish, but my presentation is. Instead of anger and impatience building, I should just ask nicely for help and not criticize if things aren’t done my way or to my standards.
The Dare of buying something for my husband was meant to put him at the forefront of my mind, rather than always thinking about myself. It doesn’t mean I need to always buy him gifts. Ladies, how great do you feel when your husband buys you flowers for an unexpected occasion (and I don’t mean the “I’m Sorry” flowers)? That’s the feeling you can give him when you buy him something special. It could be a movie he’s had his eye on, a cologne that made you think of him or even just his favorite special treat. An easy Dare that makes your spouse feel loved.
A more difficult Dare was Day 5. I had to ask my husband what three things I do that cause him to be uncomfortable or irritated with me. That’s no easy feat. Most people don’t like to be told their faults, but we especially don’t like to be told our faults by someone we love.
I asked my husband what my faults were and he told me he would have to think about it a bit. Awesome. Another tough part was I couldn’t respond to it in any way, which means I couldn’t take what he said and justify it. The good thing is my husband didn’t have a laundry list of things. He only gave me two. As I couldn’t justify them to him, I won’t justify them here:
• “Your impatience about things is sometimes annoying.” Yeah, I totally knew that one. I have terrible patience.
• “You don’t know when to stop arguing about menial things, which end up making it an even bigger argument.” I could see that one too.
I knew both of these were my faults, but now it’s time to figure them out. At some point I will have to sit down and talk about my faults using good communication — communication that doesn’t involve any kind of argument, but a smooth, level conversation. Maybe “The Love Dare” will help with that.
So here goes nothing.
Tune in next Monday for Days 8 through 14.
* * *
Sarah Peachey is a 20-something journalist from the northeast, living in the Southwest near Fort Huachuca, AZ with her husband, two furbabies and infant daughter. She began a career in journalism with The Fort Polk Guardian, an installation newspaper, winning two state awards for her work, and now freelances for military spouse support sites. She is an active blogger on MilitaryOneClick and her blog, “Stetsons, Spurs and Stilettos.” She enjoys spending her days on the shooting range or at home with a good book. She considers herself a bookworm, pianist, wine enthusiast and artist.
To read all of Sarah’s awesome blogs and get a peak at her new sweet baby, click here.