I’ve made it to the end of my 40-day devotional and have learned a lot. I’ve refreshed my mind of many things I’d overlooked, marginalized, or otherwise forgotten. I’ve enjoyed a sense of gladness over my retrospect of marriage. I’ve also been deeply humbled and convicted in my realization of absence and ignorance in my marriage. I thank the Lord for reminders such as these even when painful. My wife needs and wants a proper husband. Books, guides, devotionals, self-help, and other aids that surround and implement the Bible are opportunities for us to deepen and broaden our emphasis on Him as it pertains to marriage. And when we seek Him we tend to do well routinely by our spouses. Getting your mind right with God matters.
-Day 33 – “Love completes each Other” – Oh boy… I’ve improved somewhat over the years with this one, but I fall flat on my face plenty with this one. There’s no way for me to improve in this realm without simply embracing the idea that I’m going to not get what I want, routinely. Today I was dared to include my wife in my upcoming decisions. Had I ignored her counsel in the past, I was to admit this and ask for forgiveness.
There’s a basic reason spouses don’t ask the other for input – they’re not going to agree and they know it. Some, of course, prefer the idea of power or holding the trump card in the marriage, which is pretty unhealthy depending on the subject matter. Thankfully the latter doesn’t adequately describe wifey-poo and me. But, the former? That’s us. If I believe there is a thing that needs to be done or said, I do it. Even when I’m pretty sure my wife won’t like it. I wouldn’t do it if it weren’t the right thing to do, right? So, am I to avoid doing the right thing (in my mind of course) in order to achieve harmony with my spouse?
I can build a happy little utopia with her in terms of decision-making and actions if I default to an agreement with her. However, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions,” is it not? Here’s the problem with what I’ve offered you. It isn’t nearly that simple, nor is this a truly infallible premise. There’s some shaky foundation contained in what I’ve put forward to you.
I’m wondering if the key isn’t to acquiesce or dominate your spouse, of course… Rather, to bring about the conversation that thoroughly honors the other with full facts, emotions, and considerations sufficient to arrive at a mutual decision. …At least that’s the hope. And I have to be honest with you in that, there is a crucial second component contained here few discuss. What am I to do when consensus can’t be reached? Part of me says you do nothing, the other part of me says to do right by God as the default if action needs to occur.
I would love to write for you all that I figured this one out completely and that I’ve mastered it. But I haven’t and I didn’t. Did I improve? Yes. Did I apologize to my wife and ask for forgiveness? Yes. Did she forgive me? If she did, it wasn’t audible. This is her default position – she withholds. She knows what I need or prefers in various situations, and she denies me that thing, action, or response. I am never sure if this is something she’s always done or something I’ve created within her through my own bad behavior, but I have prayed for as long as I can remember that it cease. Sometimes you just don’t get what you want. That doesn’t change what I should be doing in these situations, and this will be hard for me to continue.
I’m a cultural warrior in some sense and I not only identify but stand up gleefully against injustices I see around me. I’m willing to poke my head up out of the hole on matters of ethics and Faith. She’d prefer things to be far less public for us and has apprehension about these things occasionally. She’s not unethical or Faithless. But my brand of meeting and pushback on any given injustice isn’t always embraced by my other half. So you see some of my dilemmas. I think I’m right and I’m fighting what I believe is a good fight, so why ask a question I may be told no upon, essentially stalling this supposed righteous effort, by someone who simply wouldn’t choose this particular battle or battle plan? It begs a great deal of consideration. It requires more conversation among us. If we had more conversation over it, maybe she’d agree with me more. Or maybe I could pick and choose which skirmishes I could take on and let go.
I want to believe if we talked about them more in earnest, this can and will improve. I pray it be. And yes, I recognize that even if a battle can be fought, and won, that it doesn’t dictate that it ‘should’ be necessarily. I need to ponder that one more often.
-Day 34 – “Love celebrates Godliness” – The closer you and your spouse are to God, the more loving you will be in marriage… Seems as if I read that somewhere. It was in a book. John 13:34-35 perhaps? 😉
The challenge? Recognize and thank your spouse for a demonstrated Christian character action. Done.
-Day 35 – “Love is Accountable” – Identify a marriage mentor. That was the task today. I’ve had one for a while now and he’s a fine gentleman. He’s honest and gentile. He’s shrewd and thoughtful. I’m glad to have him in my life and he’s given me some things to ponder at different times in life. I would tell any of you this is an important asset to have.
-Day 36 – “Love is God’s Word” – The task today surrounded committing to daily reading of the Bible. You’d think this would be pretty easy, but there are times I allow myself to become too engaged in other things to do this properly. I really believe it’s a true copout for nearly all of us to say, “my life is too busy.” Poppycock. We choose to be “too busy” and that’s the truth. We can choose to live a more simple life. …One that includes daily reading, prayer, meditation, and reflection. That’s what I’m attempting to achieve with varying degrees of success.
-Day 37 – “Love Agrees in Prayer” – Ask your spouse to pray together? Huh… I don’t remember doing this before in previous trips through “The Love Dare” as it were. I think this is a great idea and truly can be a catalyst towards shared joys and sorrows, better communication, trust, and all the things couples need to do together they often don’t and/or take for granted.
-Day 38 – “Love fulfills Dreams” – I was challenged today with figuring out what my mate would want, if attainable. Then I was to make plans and take steps to facilitate this outcome. This dare requires two important things. 1, that you know your spouse a little bit. And 2, that you can efficiently communicate with her. I’m pretty handy at both, but I wasn’t given a clear path on what this thing is or things are. So this is a bit tricky. Rather than skip the example and allow it to fade, I may resort to choosing some low-hanging fruit if I can’t mine for the good stuff properly.
-Day 39 – “Love Endures” – Pray and meditate. Write a letter of commitment and resolve to wifey-poo. Place it somewhere she’ll find it later. Done.
-Day 40 – “Love is a Covenant” – Scribe a renewal of our vows. Hmmm. There’s a lot of places I could go with this. I really don’t know what I’ll do. But I’ll see what I can come up with… That’ll be blog-worthy I’m sure…
This brings us to the end of a 40-day journey. I’ve messed up a couple of days and I’ve missed a couple of days. But all along I believe it was valuable to keep the importance high so I could focus. Much has been learned and some really helpful things have been unearthed in this process. I truly can’t recommend this enough.
In parting, this is simply commitment. Commitment will get you through the toughest parts of your marriage. Love may or may not. Your commitment before God to one another can sustain you even if and when love falters. Love helps, though, plenty. In order to intensify and fortify that love, you’ll need healthy traits and healthy thoughts. All those lead to a commitment that can be sustained. The Love Dare can help with this if and when your marriage needs the focus, and I’d argue it always needs the focus. Be salt and light my friends.