This week my husband and I celebrated 9 years of marriage; marriage full of adventures and hardships; marriage where we were connected like glue and where we were distance like Pluto and the sun. Marriage is hard stuff….so is parenting. People really don’t tell you about the hard stuff, but it is there.
A few years ago, we were in a rough patch. It was a place I don’t like to dwell on long, but we were still committed to each other, to our family and our future. Because, I don’t know about you, but when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or Murphy’s Law hits our house, or the toddler pushes EVERY.SINGLE.BUTTON of mine, I start mentally breaking down my life. Why I’m not good enough, why my husband is not good enough, why my children do not behave the way I want them to. And then guess who usually gets the brunt of this negativity…..my husband, my partner for life. Why? Because he is there, and he is closest to me and it is easy to release on him with hurtful, devastating words. Words that are not thought out but pushed out with emotion full of turmoil and frustration and they hang in the air like the Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff and then they fall treacherously on our hearts. These words take time to heal and work through.
During this troubled time, we decided to try The Love Dare Challenge. This book is a biblically based challenge for 40 days to strengthen your relationship with your partner. Each day provides a bible verse, discussion points and then a dare. The daily dares provides you and your partner actions, reflections, prayers, journaling points, etc. that are sometimes easy and sometime difficult.
Now, in true form for us, we did one week of it and then stopped. Ironically, the Day Seven challenge is the one I want to focus on. It’s title is “love believes the best”. The dare of the day is to take two sheets of paper and write down the positives of your partner on one sheet and the negatives on the other sheet. Here is the thing, at that dark place in our relationship it was REALLY EASY to find the negative. I had been keeping a list for a while. The pen ink was flowing. Then the ink stopped on the positive sheet. I honestly, could not think of anything. And this is where I started crying. What had happened from those early days of our dating where all I could see was the amazing things about this man and was ready to defend him against anyone? And now I could not find anything positive about him and I was the one attacking him? The tears poured freely, I sobbed, I released. This was not the way I wanted it, not the way I wanted to treat my partner for life. So I sat there and looked around and prayed for God to help me find the positive.
And there it was: my husband always put the toilet seat down after he used the potty making sure that I don’t have to touch the dirty seat or fear falling in during the middle of the night. I had to be thankful for that…right??? That was something positive. And then I saw that he had put toothpaste on my toothbrush showing me that he cares for my physical wellbeing. And then I remembered how he is so caring for others that he has stopped on a busy road to remove bricks and stones that scattered or given people rides home when it is completely out of his way. The ink on the paper started flowing and flowing and after a while I found I had many more positives about my husband than I had negatives.
The change in my heart was transforming. I wanted to find more positives about him, and each time I saw something negative, like a sock left on the floor or a To Do left undone, I reflected on the way he played with our son in ways I cannot or that he has an emergency plan for our family or how he can walk up to a stranger and offer them assistance in any situation. After this exercise I made a pact to myself that I would always have a running list of things that my husband does positively for our household so that even in my darkest of days, when I am struggling and want to lash out at anyone and he is there, I can reflect on these and see that he is the most positive thing in my life. It helps my focus on what he does for our family and what a role model he is for our children and me. His heart is so selfless and kind and he thinks of things I never would think of and protects our family in ways I can’t even imagine. And these are the things I fell in love with many, many years ago.
Our Family Friday challenge is to sit down and write the positives about every member of your family. Your partner, your children, heck even your dogs and cats…because each and every one of them can get on your nerves when the timing is right. We usually lash out at our most loved friends and family in our time of struggles and so the hope is that with keeping this list you can reflect on the positive of them instead of the negative. Depending on where you are in life, it might be hard to start the list, but I hope like me you are able to see something small and then let that snowball in to greater things. Keep this list handy and reflect on it often, in good and bad times. Those times when the toddler is pushing EVERY.SINGLE.BUTTON. and you are about to yell at them, reflect on their radiant smile when they see you after you have been gone for a while. Or maybe the dog is underfoot for the 10th time that day, remember how loving they are when you are sad. I bet, once you start focusing on these the little negatives that have been building up will not seem so bad and might even turn into some positives.
Have you done the The Love Dare? If so, how did it impact your relationship? In writing your positive lists, what were some things that surprised you? Do you find it helpful to keep this list handy? What other ways can you help yourself when you feel the snowball of negativity overcoming you?
Additionally, you might also be interested in these posts: 1) Making Memories , 2) Letter to My Husband, 3)Happy Valentine’s Day, 4)Date Night with My Husband 5)Becoming a Better Wife and Mother, 6) Taste bud memories,