(This post was originally published 5-17-09).
This post is about my personal experience with The Love Dare. If you would like to learn more about The Love Dare, go here.
Day One: Love is patient – The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you’ll regret.
From The Love Dare book:
¤¤¤ Love works. It is life’s most powerful motivator and has far greater depth and meaning than most people realize. It always does what is best for others and can empower us to face the greatest of problems. We are born with a lifelong thirst for love. Our hearts desperately need it like our lungs need oxygen. Love changes our motivation for living. Relationships become meaningful with it. No marriage is successful without it.
Love is built on two pillars that best define what it is. Those pillars are patience and kindness. All other characteristics of love are extensions of these two attributes. And that’s where your dare will begin. With patience.
Anger is usually caused when the strong desire for something is mixed with disappointment or grief. You don’t get what you want and you start heating up inside. It is often an emotional reaction that flows out of our own selfishness, foolishness, or evil motives.
Patience, however, makes us wise. It doesn’t rush to judgment but listens to what the other person is saying. … Patience helps you give your spouse permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails.
This Love Dare journey is a process, and the first thing you must resolve to possess is patience. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. But it’s a race worth running.¤¤¤
This one was a fairly easy one for me.
Well, it’s easy now, it wasn’t always easy.
I have learned, through some pretty ugly moments and humiliating outbursts, to keep my fat trap shut. I had the tendency to just say the first thing that popped into my head and you know what? I didn’t give a rat’s behind if I hurt Kevin’s feelings or not. After all, it’s a woman’s prerogative to speak her mind, right?
It’s a woman’s prerogative to speak her mind IF what she has to say actually helps, and not hinders, the situation. Just because I feel it, doesn’t give me the right to say it.
Once again, my marriage is not about ME, it’s about US.
But I think I have an unfair advantage for you see, I took a communications class in college and through that class I learned how to speak to someone in a non-threatening way. For example, never use the word YOU, but always refer to the situation, people in general, or turn the situation around and explain how the situation makes ME feel as opposed to what that person is doing wrong.
Wrong: YOU really irritate me when you don’t unload the dishwasher.
The person you’re talking to? Only hears the “YOU really irritate me” part. They tune the rest of it out.
Right: We’re a team, right? I’d really appreciate it if we could take turns unloading the dishwasher.
I can honestly say that communications class curbed my selfish tendencies. It taught me to stop, turn the situation around (think Matrix effect here) and look at it from the other person’s perspective.
(In fact, I’ve been diligently searching for the communications textbook that I used in college because I’d love to post a series about how to effectively communicate with people).
So, this challenge was easy for me because I had already trained myself to reword my irritations and annoyances in various ways so that it wouldn’t come across as bitchy or unreasonable.
But still, there are moments that Kevin gets on my nerves and I open my big mouth and POW – hello foot, nom nom.
And that’s what it takes to successfully communicate with your spouse – it takes a willingness on your part to STOP, THINK, and RETRAIN your reactions because being rash and impulsive really is a dangerous combination, especially when tempers flare.
There are times when Kevin calls me “sassy.” Which is really code for bitchy. And when I stop and think about it, he’s right. I do find myself nagging him sometimes and the man can NOT do anything right. I’m constantly berating him and it’s during those time periods that I force myself to stop and pay attention to what I’m saying to him.
And I end up apologizing to him for treating him so bad. Upon further examination, the reason I even get to that bitchy level is because I’m tired, or hormonal, or frustrated with something other than him, or blahblahblah. The reason really doesn’t matter WHY I’m acting that way, what’s important is to NOT take it out on him.
How is that fair?
So, I’ve learned to be more open with how I’m feeling. “I’m sorry honey, I’m feeling on edge tonight. It has nothing to do with you. I think I need to be alone for a while and work off my bad mood.”
Now keep in mind, I’m not the only bad guy here. But women have more of a tendency to blow things out of proportion so it’s more of a challenge for us to maintain an even keel. But I have found, that by forcing myself to be more patient with Kevin, it teaches him, either consciously or subconsciously, to have more patience with me and to give me the same respect that I give him.
See? Give and take – lead by example. SOMEONE has to take that first step. Why not you?
And by telling him what is going on in my head, it helps him understand, and be more tolerant, of my behavior.
Men can’t read our minds, ladies. Please don’t make them try.