Relationships

Every Day Should Be Valentine’s Day

Ah, love. Something we all want, whether we admit it or not, and only about half of people truly find.

Kevin and I will have been married nearly 31 years this May. We knew, right away, that we were right for each other. However, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it hasn’t always been chocolate kisses and sparkly jewelry throughout our marriage – mainly because of my issues.

More on that later.

Sure. We all love at some point in our lives, but is it true love?

What does that even mean?

What does true love really mean? In order to figure out if you’ve found true love, it’s important to first understand what true love actually entails. Essentially, true love means that you have an unwavering, unbreakable and unparalleled fondness and devotion for your partner. It’s also defined by an emotional as well as physical connection with him or her that runs immeasurably deep, and life without your significant other would be practically unthinkable. Source

According to liveabout.com, here are some signs that you have found true love:

1. You care about this person unconditionally. A tell-tale sign that you’ve found true love is that you absolutely and undeniably adore your partner with no strings attached. In other words, no matter what circumstances may befall you and through good times as well as bad, you support and deeply care for this person. Unconditional love is at the very heart of what true love means and entails.

I’ll talk about each of these points as they apply to my life. I can only speak to my own experiences, everyone has slightly different definitions and vastly different opinions largely dependent on how you were raised to view love and who you are as a person – your genetic makeup, I suppose.

Take everything I say with a grain of salt, again, this has been my experience as an old, *ahem*, married woman.

Obviously, I love Kevin. I wouldn’t have married him and produced two sons with him if I didn’t love him. But I don’t think I TRULY recognized or understood what that meant until he had his motorcycle accident.

That was a coming to Jesus moment for me. I could have lost him! I will never, NEVER, forget the overwhelming feeling of panic and fear I experienced when I got that voicemail, from a perfect stranger, mind you, that Kevin had been involved in a motorcycle accident and they were taking him to our local hospital.  I remember standing there, listening to this strange man’s voice, coaxing me into a personal nightmare and thinking, “I should take a shower.” I had been cleaning house when I listened to that voicemail and I don’t know about you, but I’m not a 50’s kind of woman where I clean house in a frou-four dress and lipstick- I tend to look like something that a dog dragged out of a grave when I clean house, because dude, I’m cleaning house with a purpose, not to go through the motions. At any rate, I looked ROUGH.

I actually made it to the bedroom and was starting to shed my clothes when reality took me by the baby hairs and said, “WAKE UP WOMAN! Get to the hospital NOW.” The man on the message said it was a bad accident, was he close to death? What if I was in the shower and he died? So many horrific thoughts went through my head and I finally punctured the shock bubble I had surrounded myself with and grabbed my keys. Screw it, I needed to find out what was going on.

Long story short, he was badly injured. His pelvis “was a bag of glass,” according to the ER doctor. (I will NEVER forget he said that). And he needed to be transferred to a university hospital where they could put him back together. (Anyone else thinking Humpty Dumpty? You’re welcome).

Again, long story short, I lived at the university hospital for two weeks, then he was shipped back to our hometown and had another week (? I forget because that whole time frame was a blur) of rehab before we could bring him home. He was in a wheelchair for weeks because he had to be non-weight bearing while he healed. He, in essence, had to learn to walk again.

All of this to say, I didn’t REALLY appreciate him being in my life until that accident. I took him for granted. I’m not proud of that admission, but it’s the truth. Suddenly, our relationship dynamic switched. He needed me more than I needed him. You don’t fully know how much you love someone until you have to wipe their butt. Just sayin’.

That, my friends, is unconditional love. That was the moment I knew, I don’t want to live my life without him.

2. You fully accept your partner. An additional indicator of true love is that you understand and accept your partner for the person who he or she truly is. You’re not trying to change your mate, fix him or her and/or turn him or her into a different person. Rather, you fully accept, appreciate and adore your partner, flaws and all. 

I feel like this applies more to Kevin, than to me. Yes, he has flaws but I feel like I have more. And he’s endured a lot, A LOT, from me over the years. Contrary to popular belief, (or maybe not), I’m not the easiest person to get to know. I am very guarded and cautious when it comes to fully sharing myself and to be honest, I don’t fully share myself, even with him. But he has stuck it out and there are times I look back and shake my head – I can’t believe he stuck around, quite honestly. To me, that shows me he truly loves me because I think the majority of men would have said, “bye.”

3. You can talk about anything. When you’ve found true love, it means that you can candidly and honestly discuss anything with this person. True love implies that you’re completely truthful with your mate, aren’t holding back different aspects of your past and are able to fully open up to him or her. You share an intimacy that’s emotional as well as physical, and your loving connection is stronger because of your willingness and ability to be open and vulnerable around each other.

Agreed. Sort of. I tell Kevin … most things. To be honest, I don’t tell him everything. Not because I have anything to hide but because he’s a man and he’s genuinely not interested in some of the things I talk about. However, I have told him things I have NEVER told anyone else. It started with being honest with myself and then sharing a part of myself that I guard closely and in doing that, I think that helped Kevin understand me more. I trust him and know that he would never tell anyone else and never use that part of me as leverage. Again, it took many years to build that level of trust but we endured and I think those are the keys to any relationship – time and endurance.

4. You’re completely yourself with this person. When you’ve found true love, you’re able to be totally authentic with your partner. You’re not pretending to be someone you’re not, feigning interests, passions or pastimes and/or acting in a way that doesn’t reflect the real you. Being yourself in your relationship is essential to experiencing true love. 

Yes and no. I am myself around him, we burp, fart and are occasionally gross with one another because we ARE comfortable with one another but I wouldn’t say I’m 100% myself around him 100% of the time. I will sometimes feign passions and pastimes because I know NOT doing those things would hurt his feelings. Besides, just because I’m not interested in whatever he’s selling doesn’t make it okay for me to act like a jerk and not pay attention to him. I will say though, after being married for nearly 31 years, we generally do our own thing most of the time. He has his interests, I have my interests and we do things together every week – like a standing date night(s) and doing our podcast together. We enjoy and respect our space and time and we need that to fully appreciate one another when we ARE together, if that makes sense.

5. You respect each other. In order to experience true love, it also means that there’s a high level of respect, kindness and compassion between you and your partner. You can empathize with one another, see each other’s point of view and are able to resolve conflicts and squabbles in a way that’s constructive and respectful of each other’s well-being.

Yes, but it’s not easy and doesn’t happen over night. I used to pick fights with him – not intentionally, though there were moments … but again, after being together for so long, we have LEARNED to agree to disagree. I have to constantly tell myself, “pick your battles.” And often times, our “battles” aren’t bad enough to really make it into a “thing.” I’m not into drama – I can’t stand it, I don’t have the energy for it and I don’t care to participate in it. That not only applies to marriage but outside marriage.

6. You have similar values. In order to experience true love, your morals and values have to be aligned with those of your partner. While you may have your differences, such as where you grew up, your religious background or simply your obsession with football, true love means that you’re on the same page when it comes to distinguishing right from wrong. In a word, having similar principles is a principle component of true love.

Oh, 100%. I think this aspect of “true love” is CRUCIAL. If you and your partner aren’t on the same page when it comes to politics, religion and basic beliefs then I feel like that can often times set you up for failure. And kudos to any couples out there there that can maintain a marriage and NOT be on the same page with this stuff, I know for me, I couldn’t do it. I think finding that balance, all the time, with every situation, day-to-day life, working life, parenting, would just be too exhausting for me. I don’t mind a spirited debate now and again but to consistently have that disagreement 24/7 … nope. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want that in my life. And I hope if/when our boys find partners that they understand and actively seek someone who is like minded. I’m not saying I wish them to end up with a female clone of themselves, but it truly helps a relationship when your partner agrees on the BIG things in life.

7. Your happiness levels feed off of each other. If you’re wondering if you’ve found true love, it’s important to pay close attention to your true feelings and emotions. Does making this person happy make you happy in return? Does surprising him or her or doing favors for your partner give you a rush of joy as well? When you and your partner both have a mutual desire to bring happiness and contentment to one another, you should be happy to know that you’re experiencing true love.

Yes. When your partner is happy, YOU’RE happy. Doing things for your partner is part of showing your love for him/her. True love is loving someone OUTSIDE yourself. When he’s hurting, I hurt. When he’s feeling sick, I feel sick, etc.

8. You’re a team. When you’ve found true love, it means that you’re fully committed, dedicated and devoted to each other. With true love, you and your partner work together as one unit to enrich each other’s lives for the better. And rather than behaving in a selfish or egotistical way, you think in terms of “we” instead of “me.” When it comes to true love, your mate is really your teammate. 

Again, yes. We are definitely a team. We are working together for a future. We are working together to be good parents to our sons. There is no “i” in TEAM. And that’s really true. I will, however, confess that I am selfish with my time. I have talked about this before – I don’t feel like my time is my own, the majority of the time, so the time I do have to myself, I am very selfish with it. I need to work on that.

Here are a couple of more tips that I feel are worth mentioning from this site:

9. True love is not about finding yourself in another. Don’t fall in love, or think you’re in love, just because you want to find yourself. Your identity is not to be someone’s other half‒it’s to be yourself! Don’t get so swept up in your partner that you become them. You don’t need to be the number one fan of their favorite band or read all the books they read. Keep your interests and hobbies and you’ll be more interesting to, and interested in, your partner.

Oh, 100% agree with this!

As RuPaul says, “if you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love someone else?” And that’s absolutely true. You need to know yourself, be honest with yourself and accept yourself before you can successfully participate in a relationship. If you’re looking for your partner to define you, you have failed before you have begun. You have to be comfortable in your skin before you can be comfortable allowing someone in your life. And if the person you love doesn’t accept you for you? Then that’s not the person for you. Period.

10. True love is not demanding. Your partner should never ask you to change if you’re truly loved. And if you truly love your partner, you shouldn’t expect him to change. You got into a relationship because you liked each other, and you grew to love each other as you are. Why would you need to change someone you love so deeply? Accept them as they are, and you’ll get that consideration in return.

This goes back to knowing and accepting yourself for who you are. If you’ve done that, you won’t ask, or expect, someone to change for you. What you see is what you get. Don’t like it? Move on.

11. True love comes naturally. Do you have doubts about your partner? Are you not sure they’re right for you? If you’re asking yourself too many questions about your partner, your relationship, and your future together, then you’re probably not in love. When you’re truly in love, you don’t question anything. It feels natural to be with your partner, and you know you can work through anything to achieve that future you’re dreaming of.

We all have to work on our relationships, that’s a given. But if you have to work TOO hard, if you have to change who you are or it feels forced when you’re together, the relationship may not be for you. True love should come easily .. if you’re forcing it to fit your expectations, the relationship will always feel forced.

12. To get love, you must give love. You can’t be in a loving relationship if you hold back. You can’t use love as a bargaining chip. Don’t tell your partner you love him only when he does something good around the house. Don’t give him the cold shoulder if he makes a mistake. You have to love him all the time, regardless of his words or actions, because true love is unconditional. If you give your partner this much love, you’ll get it‒and more!‒in return.

To me, this sounds like emotional blackmail. I only love you when you do something for me and I will withhold my love when you don’t do as I say. I hear this a lot. Your partner is not a dog, do not treat him/her like one. There are no treats for being good, there shouldn’t be disciplinary actions for being bad. You’re two adults that have the ability to communicate with one another. Don’t be shy to tell your partner what he/she did bothered you, or was disrespectful. Chances are, he/she didn’t eve realize their actions were construed that way. Someone who loves you will be willing to hear constructive criticism and will want to do better. I’m not saying it’s always easy to hear that, but out of respect for one another, it’s a conversation that must be had if you two hope to grow together as a couple. And if your partner is not willing, nor has any desire to change his/her behavior, or at least have a conversation about it, then again, you must ask yourself, is this the person for me?

13. True love is based on friendship. So many TV show relationships are based on friends who fall in love over time. It’s a great premise, and a nice daydream, but life isn’t TV. You don’t need to be best friends with your partner since kindergarten for love to last. But you need to be friends with your partner. You need to be able to talk, to share jokes, and to enjoy each others’ company. Over time, the physical passion may fade, but true friendship will last forever.

Again, 100% agree with this. You should not only love your partner but LIKE him/her. In fact, it’s crucial. If you don’t like your partner for who he/she is, how can you build a relationship that will stand the test of time? Forever is a LONG time to be with someone you don’t even LIKE.

14. True love is committed. It’s human nature to be attracted to other people, to allow your head to be turned by an attractive passerby. Don’t let this make you feel guilty. As long as you’re committed to your partner, your relationship is fine. When you’re truly in love, you don’t want to be with anyone else. You can’t imagine spending your time without your sweetheart.

It’s okay to find someone other than your partner to be attractive. You’re human. There are a lot of attractive human beings in this world. However, what is NOT okay is to act on that attraction. You made a commitment to your partner – respect your partner enough to resist the temptation. You’re an adult, not an animal in heat.

And no, I don’t believe someone falls out of love with someone. I think that’s an excuse people come up with to justify bad decisions. I think people get bored with one another. There’s a difference. If that’s the case, talk to your partner about it. Chances are, your partner feels the same. Come up with ways to re-ignite that spark between you. And no, it doesn’t always have to be about sex. Spend time with each other. Find something you can do together. When you’ve been married for as long as I have been, you’re not even the same person you were when you got married. Your partner is not the same person he/she was when you got married. Together, it’s time to rediscover yourself and your partner. Marriage is almost fluid in that respect. You have to both be willing to grow and change together.

Is any of this stuff easy? Hell no. However, anything worth working for is worth having. If you can survive rough patches, and there will be rough patches – think of them as growing pains because honestly, they are, then you can handle anything. I promise you, you will make your relationship stronger. But it takes two to make this work. You can’t improve your relationship all by your lonesome. Sometimes it takes outside help, like a marriage counselor, to help you and your partner to see things clearly. Not everyone is a good communicator but if your partner really wants it to work between the two of you, that person will at least TRY. And it’s hard to accept one’s own weaknesses and flaws. I’m certainly no Betty Crocker – heck, I’m not even that great of a human being most of the time, but I love my husband and I truly, genuinely, can’t imagine my life without him in it.

I can honestly say, the majority of our problems over the years have stemmed from me. I’m woman enough to admit that. I have issues. I’m a cold fish. I’m not very affectionate and I certainly don’t allow anyone into my heart. Kevin has made it past many obstacles and gates but I haven’t allowed him all the way in – there is something deep within me, something I don’t acknowledge and won’t examine closely enough, to let that happen. However, that’s not Kevin’s fault, it’s mine. So I have had to learn to deal with my short comings and be honest with myself and with him, to work through these issues and come up with compromises we can both live with.

And just so we’re clear, Kevin is not perfect either. But we both made the decision, early on, to never bring up the “D” word. (Divorce). It simply wasn’t an option with us. And because neither one of us allowed the “D” word to be an option, or an out, it made us that much more determined to work it out. It wasn’t easy. And it was down right ugly at times, but we made it through and we understand each other more because of it.

So no, I don’t like Valentine’s Day. Because to me, it sets people up for false expectations. You should show your partner that you love him/her every day, not just ONE day of the year. Yes, love is pretty awesome, but it’s also a lot of work.

Relationships

How to Deal With Selfish People

We all know selfish people.

We’re all selfish to some degree. The trick is to know when it’s healthy and when it’s not.

I’m selfish with my time. I know this and accept this. I think the biggest reason I’m selfish with my time is because most of the time, my time is not my own. Meaning, I work 40+ hours per week and when I’m working, I’m doing things FOR other people. I’m taking care of other people’s needs, answering other people’s questions, listening to other people talk about their lives.

And that’s okay. It comes with the territory. And people interest me, so I can deal and accept that.

Not many people ask me questions about my life. Most of the time, I listen to other people and honestly, I’m okay with that. I don’t really feel that comfortable talking about myself. Not that I’m ashamed of me or my family, I don’t know, I just don’t think I’m that interesting. Again, I say that not in a self-depreciating way but because, honestly, it’s true. When I’m not at work, I keep to myself. I read and write, a lot. I’m okay with my own company. I need alone time to recharge my social batteries. No. I REQUIRE alone time to reset.

Though I guess you could say that blogging about me, my thoughts, is selfish.

I always cringe whenever I read articles or watch videos about “self care,” because I hear self care but think selfish. I shouldn’t think that way, but I do. I think self care is a buzzword nowadays and I think some people go overboard with self care.

Okay – yes, take care of yourself, but when you’re too focused on taking care of yourself, doesn’t that cross the line into selfishness?

Being selfish means there’s a desire to take from others, often to their detriment. However, selfcare is about replenishing your resources without depleting someone else’s. Selfcare is a means of restoring your own energy, which promotes healthy physical and emotional well-being.

I’m a very empathetic person. I try and put myself in other people’s shoes. What must it be like to live their life? Why do they feel the way they do? Why are they acting like that? Where did that attitude come from? Though I like to try and figure out what is behind a person’s attitude, I also have zero patience for people who use excuses for the way they behave. For example – I’m in an abusive relationship. My parents never showed me they loved me. I have depression and anxiety. Etc.

It might be the REASON you’re acting the way you are but it should NEVER be an excuse to treat other people with anything less that respect. Unfortunately, those are issues you’re going to have to address and move past.

For example: I work with a gal who is not nice. She’s mean to co-workers and patients. In fact, patients have complained about her. She has a very Eeyore attitude and she doesn’t even try to be diplomatic or kind – in short, she’s just a bitch. Her reason is she has depression and anxiety and though we’ve never talked about it, it’s common knowledge . She has a standing “date” with her therapist every other week because we, as MA’s, have to decide who is going to cover her while she’s gone.  And okay. I don’t fault her for that and I’m glad she’s seeking help, it means she recognizes she has a problem and she’s actively working on it. However, I feel like others excuse her behavior. “Oh now, so-and-so has anxiety. She’s on medication.” Again, okay. I get that. I get that she has to work harder to reign her nastiness in and I’m sure it’s really hard for her, furthermore, she’s actively working on it, good for her. However, that is NO excuse to treat her co-workers, who only want to help her, like garbage. I think part of this girl’s problem is, she doesn’t recognize when she’s acting like that way because there have been times I’ve gotten so annoyed with her bitchiness I’ve looked at her and said, “What’s with the ‘tude? Are you upset with me?” In which she will reply, “oh, not at all” and suddenly her attitude changes.

I actively avoid her. I have no desire to get to know her or be around all of that negativity. I’m not the only one. Which is sad, really, because I think that conscious decision to not be around her only serves to reinforce her opinion about herself.

At any rate, I have zero patience for selfish people and I have no problem getting away from selfish people. Because ultimately, I don’t care enough to deal with them. But I realize that not everyone is as lucky – they have people in their lives that for whatever reasons, they can’t get away from.

How do you know if someone in your life is selfish?

Here are 14 signs of selfish people from Hack Spirit:


Selfish people are very good manipulators

A manipulative person refers to someone who seeks to control people and circumstances just to achieve what they want. They might use emotional blackmail. Selfish people are skilled manipulators by instinct and a control freak at heart.

Selfish people are uncaring toward others

For example, if you open up your emotions to them, they may try to manipulate you to get what they want or make you feel guilty.

Selfish people plot and scheme against you

Abigail Brenner M.D. wrote on Psychology Today, “Manipulative people are really not interested in you except as a vehicle to allow them to gain control so that you become an unwilling participant in their plans.”

Selfish people are conceited and self-centered

The way selfish people think is that they want to be put first. However, they are not satisfied with being the priority. They also want to put you down.

Ever met someone who insists that everything they say is of relevance and everything that you say is not? That is a classic example of a selfish person.

Selfish people find sharing and giving difficult

Maybe you know of a selfish person but you have some doubts because that someone shows a caring side.

Let me tell you this, it’s all fake. Caring, sharing, and giving are not an easy thing for them to do and those actions will show through in this situation.

For one, they will want something in exchange. Maybe they want everyone to know about it so that they are praised for it.

If you are in this situation, just let their gesture of goodwill go unnoticed and don’t praise them for it.

Selfish people put their own goals ahead of other people

Because of their way of thinking, they expect other people to do things for them. When you see that this is happening, do not let them have what they want.

It’s all about control, so do not give it to them.

Selfish people do not show weakness or vulnerability

Selfish or narcissistic people are scared to show weakness. They think that by helping other people, he or she is demonstrating weakness or internal insecurity.

Selfish people don’t accept constructive criticism

People who are selfish cannot and will not accept constructive criticism. Their huge egos just can’t process that constructive criticism is for their own good.

They only think that you are attempting to devalue their work and their potential. This situation will always end up with the selfish person defending themselves.

Indeed, it is very difficult for them to realize that they are wrong.

Selfish people believe they deserve everything

Being selfish is not only characterized with self-centeredness but also with false sense of entitlement.

For example, they expect to be continuously rewarded even without doing anything. The reason? They just deserve everything and they’re perfect.

Selfish people do not listen to those who do not agree with them

When you say something to a selfish person, even if it’s constructive, will be taken against you. They will think that you are their enemy and you do not deserve their respect or attention.

Selfish people criticize others behind their backs

Selfish people prefer easy judgment and nothing is easier than judging behind a person’s back.

Selfish people exaggerate their achievements

One of the most notorious deficiencies of selfish people is their lack of humility.

Humility, considered as a precious human virtue, is needed for us to grow as people and as social beings in our environment.

But selfish people, having huge egos, will always look for ways to stand out and exaggerate their achievements.

Selfish people are scared of public failure

Selfish people cannot bring themselves to think of their failure. When they fail, either they run from the situation or blame others.

However, when other people fail is another story. They don’t think twice about giving out severe criticism when others fail

Selfish people dominate others

Do you know someone who calls you up whenever he or she feels like it? Or asks you to meet them at their whims and fancies?

This is one characteristic of a selfish person – they wrap you around their fingers and it’s pretty hard to break loose. Victims of selfish people end up losing confidence.


Okay – so we’ve identified selfish people. Now, how do you handle selfish people? This is from Power of Positivity:


Silence is golden

Someone has just said something terribly selfish. Let their words hang in the air as you gaze at them in silence for a few, long, seconds. Pausing like this gives the selfish person a chance to hear their words again and process how you might have taken their meaning in a negative way.

That is not what is best for me.

This statement may sound selfish, but it reflects your assessment of what the selfish person has asked for, and it sets a boundary that you do not want them to cross.

It sounds like you want _______. Is that right?

I like this one. Because it takes the selfish person’s words and turns it back on them. It clarifies their request and forces them to realize what they want, and/or how they are going about getting what they want, is selfish.

I would like a turn to speak when you are done.

A selfish person can monopolize the conversation and unless you make your expectations clear, you might not be able to speak your mind.

I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t word it quite so nicely, personally.

Let’s see if we can find a compromise.

Because life is compromising. Period.

Can you see that what you want is not in my best interests?

This approach is an attempt to get the selfish person to see your point of view. It might not work, but it doesn’t hurt to ask them to TRY to see things from your perspective.

That doesn’t work for me. How about _____ instead?

You’ve made it clear that you do not accept what the selfish person wants and you have stated your preference. What happens next is up to the selfish person’s ability to change their mindset.

Let’s talk about what’s best for both of us.

Again, trying to gain the cooperation of the selfish person will benefit both of you. Researchers studying selfishness found that when there was a choice between a purely selfish result and a result that would benefit the group, a brief discussion before making the choice resulted in people choosing the option that benefitted the group 100% of the time.


I think my favorite comeback is to just say nothing and stare at them. Then, when the silence stretches out for so long it becomes uncomfortable, look at them with a deadpan expression, and call them out. “You do realize that’s a pretty selfish perspective, right?”

But then again, I’m not always a nice person … so take that with a grain of salt.

Here’s a really good video on how to identify if you’re with a selfish, or toxic, person.

 

I hope this was helpful. People are complex and people are flawed. The challenge is to determine whether we should keep these people in our lives and/or not to lose ourselves in the process.

Relationships

The Love Dare – Eleven Years Later

So let’s wrap this Love Dare thing up, shall we?

What did you think? Did you learn anything about yourself? Have you made a commitment to try some of these things in your relationship? If you want things to get better, SOMEONE has to make the first move, why not you?

Kevin and I are approaching our 30th wedding anniversary.

THIRTY YEARS TOGETHER.

Wow. We must be doing something right. But again, we’re not perfect, then or now, and we have spider crawled through mud and barbwire to get to this place, but we’re here and still together.

Our marriage has reached the empty nester / twilight years, now. The boys are long gone, they moved out five/six years ago, and Kevin and I have reconnected once again. We have grown comfortable with each other and work on spending time together, but we also understand that we each need time away from each other.

It’s normal and healthy.

We see very little of each other during the week. I often work late and by the time I get home, Kevin is at LeRoy’s house across the street in his “workshop” and working on all sorts of projects. I’m usually so exhausted by the time I get home from work the last thing I want to do is go somewhere, do something, TALK. He knows this and respects this. He knows I need space to “recharge” and he gives it to me. He’s not always happy with my request to be left alone, but he respects it.

And because he’s so patient with me during the week, we have a standing date on Friday and Saturday nights where we have dinner together, go grocery shopping and/or any other thing we need or want to do.

We find ways to reconnect and it works for us.

He is very patient with me and I try not to abuse that patience. I’m not the easiest person to get along with in the best of circumstances, let alone when things go down the shitter at work and I’m stressed and in high demand. Everyone wants something from me at work, and I’m happy to give as much as I”m capable of, but it does take a toll on me, so by the time I get home, I’m mentally TAPPED OUT.

But. That’s no excuse NOT to give time to Kevin. He deserves my time as well and that’s the point where we talk about it and make “deals.” That way, the problem has been taken out, aired, acknowledged, examined and dealt with so we are both in agreement moving forward.

I don’t expect him to know what I’m thinking and feeling, and the same goes for him. Our communication has gotten LOADS better and now we peacefully co-exist. I make sure and ask for time off at work and we use that pocket of time to plan trips together or simply DO something together.

We respect each other’s need for space and we make a conscious effort to spend time together. – it works.

I honestly, in my bones, feel like the “Fireproof” movie and the Love Dare were two things that really changed who I am, how I perceive myself and my marriage. I’m very grateful that I stumbled across the Love Dare when I did. Who knows where our marriage would have ended up if I hadn’t?

I truly hope learning about the Love Dare has blessed you and that it strengthens your marriage and brings peace to your lives.

Thanks for sticking around and sifting through my dirty laundry with me. It’s never easy publicly displaying your flaws.

Peace.

Relationships

The Love Dare – Day Ten – My Experience

(This post was originally published 5-26-09).

This post is about my personal experience with The Love Dare. If you would like to learn more about The Love Dare, go here.

Love Dare at writefromkaren.com

Day Ten: Love vs. Lust. End it now. Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it. Single out every lie you’ve swallowed in pursuing forbidden pleasure and reject it. Lust cannot be allowed to live in a back bedroom. It must be killed and destroyed — today — and replaced with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with his perfect love. What did you identify as an area of lust? What has this pursuit cost you over time? How has it led you away from the person you want to be? Write about your new commitment to seek Him — and to seek your spouse — rather than seeking after foolish desires.

From The Love Dare book:

¤¤¤ Adam and Eve were supplied with everything they needed in the garden of Eden. They had fellowship with God and intimacy with one another. But after Eve was deceived by the serpent, she saw the forbidden fruit and set her heart on it. Before long, Adam joined in her wishes, and against God’s command both of them ate.

That’s the progression. From eyes to heart to action. And then follows shame and regret.

We, too, have been supplied with everything we need for a full, productive, enriching life. ‘We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Timothy 6:7).

God’s blessings, however, go so far beyond these fundamental needs, we could rightly say that we want for nothing. Yet like Adam and Eve, we still want more. So we set our eyes and hearts on seeking worldly pleasure. We try to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways. For many it’s seeking sexual fulfillment in another person or in pornographic images designed to feel like a real person. We look ,stare, and fantasize. We try to be discreet but barely turn our eyes away. And once our eyes are captured by curiosity, our hearts become entangled. Then we act on our lust.

We can also lust after possessions or power or prideful ambition. We see what others have and we want it. Our hearts are deceived into saying, “I could be happy if I only had this.” then we make the decision to go after it.

Lust is in opposition to love. It means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden. And for a believer, it’s the first step out of fellowship with the Lord and with others. That’s because every object of your lust — whether it’s a young coworker or a film actress, or coveting after a half-million dollar house or a sports car — represents the beginnings of a lie. This person or thing that seems to promise sheer satisfaction is more like a bottomless pit of unmet longings.

Lust always breeds more lust. Lust will make you dissatisfied with your husband or wife. It breeds anger, numbs hearts, and destroys marriages. Rather than fullness, it leads to emptiness.

It’s time to expose lust for what it really is — a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill. Lust is like a warning light on the dashboard of your heart, alerting you to the fact that you are not allowing God’s love to fill you. When your eyes and heart are on Him, your actions will lead you to lasting joy, not to endless cycles of regret and condemnation.

Are you tired of being lied to by lust? Are you fed up with believing that forbidden pleasures are able to keep you happy and content? Then begin setting your eyes on the Word of God. Let His promises of peace and freedom work their way into your heart. Daily receive the unconditional love He has already proven to you through the cross. Focus on being grateful for everything God has already given you rather than choosing discontentment.

You’ll find yourself so full on what He provides, you won’t be hungry anymore for the junk food of lust.

And while you’re at it, set your eyes and heart on your spouse again. ¤¤¤

***My Experience***

 

There are still so many lessons that I could have shared with you from The Love Dare book. And I would have loved to continue sharing those lessons with you, but I don’t think the authors would have appreciated me virtually presenting their entire book to you, free of charge. So honestly, I urge you to go out and buy this book so you can practice the rest of the dares and read so much more on what I’ve written here.

(And for the record, I was not asked to promote this book. I did not accept any sort of monetary or materialistic incentive to talk about The Love Dare. I did all of this, I bared my soul to the Internet, I shared my marital life with you, in the hopes that through my experiences and the excerpts I’ve shared from The Love Dare book, it would touch and bless your life.)

But out of all of the remaining lessons in this book (forgiveness, intimacy, the importance of prayer, faithfulness, accountability, unity, etc), I chose to share the love vs. lust lesson with you because to me, it’s one of the single most important contributors to a failing marriage.

I should know – it nearly ruined my marriage.

When you hear the word lust, you automatically think of sex. And yes, of course, lusting after another man or woman is wrong and the fuse that could ultimately destroy your life (if lit), but I opted to talk about the lust part of this dare to also point out to you that it doesn’t always mean the sexual kind of lust —

It can also apply to anything that takes your focus, dedication and desire away from your marriage.

And in a lot of ways, I think it’s more dangerous because it’s subtle, it disguises itself in good intentions, it’s manageable, and it’s everywhere.

It’s incredibly easy to lose sight of what’s important. Temptations are everywhere and they are attractive, fun, dangerous, delicious and decadent – hence the reason they are temptations. If they weren’t all these things, people wouldn’t be tempted to go down that road to begin with.

Here are some examples of things that can cause friction in the marriage if you’re not careful and if you don’t maintain self-control:

Friends
Online activities
Work
Children
Hobbies / Entertainment
Commitments

And the list goes on and on – it can be anything, really, if you stop to think about it. If something is taking your focus, your attention, your time away from your marriage and you’re allowing it to poison your thinking about your marriage and/or your spouse, then it can technically be called lust.

Let me explain:

Friends – Having friends is great. It can also ruin your marriage if you’re not careful. Let’s say your girlfriend is having trouble in her own marriage. And she spends most of her time bitching about her husband, or about men in general, and how she would love to just get out and start over. Even though you’re being a good friend by offering her your attention and your advice, be careful. That discontent has a way of penetrating your own life and if left unchecked, can start coloring your own opinions about your life and spouse. Before long, you’re also spending most of your time bitching about the little things and convincing yourself that your own marriage is less than perfect (which it will be – no marriage is perfect) and without even realizing it, you’re treating your spouse differently and making mountains out of molehills.

I should know, I’ve been there. I worked with a group of women who did exactly that and it started affecting me. I started acting differently. I was dissatisfied. I lost focus on what was important and when I realized what was happening, I quit the job. I walked away from the poison and I immediately felt better. It was like stepping out of a smoke-filled room and breathing fresh air for the first time in seven years.

Online Activities – This. Is. A. Biggie. We all spend so much time online that it’s so easy, so very, very easy, to step into an online persona, to BE a different person online.

It starts with the IMs. Then graduates into chat rooms. And before long, you start behaving like a different person because it’s all just harmless fun, right? What’s a little flirtatious activity? You’re not hurting anyone. You’ll never meet that person in real life.

But being that other person becomes more fun than being your real-life person. Stepping into that fantasy world starts becoming more fun than living reality and before long, you’re spending more and more time online and BEING that person so that you start doing uncharacteristic things like staying online later and later, or sneaking a chat when your spouse is not around.

You start becoming close to another online “person” and before long, you’re making tentative plans to meet, in real life.

*raises hand* Yep. Happened to me. And again, I had the strength to step back, take a good, hard look at myself in the mirror and ask myself, “What the hell am I doing?!”

I cut out all the chatting. I put a stop to the temptation and re-focused my energies on my marriage.

I honestly don’t know how Kevin has put up with me all these years. I like to pride myself on being this strong person, but honestly folks, I’m not. I’ve dipped a toe in nearly every temptation that is out there.

This also applies to online games. And that’s THE biggest reason I never allowed myself to join the online Sims game. Because I KNOW me. I KNOW I would get sucked into the game and though I would have loads of fun, it’s not worth neglecting, or hurting, my family in the process.

It also applies to naughty websites or websites that “encourage” you to have an affair because you “deserve” it. *snort* You DESERVE heartache and unhappiness? Because that’s exactly what will happen if you succumb to their empty promises. Stay strong and simply don’t click.

There has to be (or there will be) a time you HAVE to just shut it down and walk away.

Work – being too focused on getting that promotion so that you’re opting to spend more and more late nights at the office instead of making it home. (And then there’s the whole office romance thing. Another biggie).

Children – Yes, children are important. Yes, they need looking after. No, they shouldn’t be allowed to take your focus away from your mate. Children are smart buggers. And if they see they can take advantage of you, they will – every time. Children need to be taught that mom and dad need some alone time. They need date nights. And even though it SEEMS selfish to put your marital needs ahead of your children, it’s not. Children need to see the unity and the commitment. They feel more secure when their parents are happy and in order for the parents to be happy, they need to spend time with one another.

Children are tougher than we think they are. They’ll survive without mommy or daddy for a few hours or even for a night. They’ll be fine if you don’t spend every waking moment, or every last ounce of your energy on them.

Hobbies / Entertainment – same concept as the online activities. Just watch your time and devotion and make sure it’s not becoming a substitute for what’s real.

Commitments – Taking care of people is admirable. Volunteering your time is wonderful. But don’t allow your commitments to encroach on your time with your spouse. Cut back on your responsibilities outside the home. You can’t do it all. Manage your time wisely. Don’t make commitments to other people more important than your marriage. And even though you may not see it that way, I’m betting the neglected spouse does.

Again, I’m telling you all this because I’ve lived it. I KNOW how easy it is to be too tired, to be stretched thin, to be distracted or wooed from what’s important to me and my family as a unit.

And I’m STILL working on controlling this whole online/computer thing.

And I’m done.

Thank you for reading these past ten days. It’s been a long, mentally exhausting journey for me and though I’m tired, I’m glad I wrote all of this out. It feels good to purge and hopefully by reading about my experiences, it might help you with yours.

Hang in there. Marriage is a lot of work, but in the end, it truly is worth it. Hopefully, you can convince your spouse to make that journey with you.

Good luck and God Bless.

Relationships

The Love Dare – Day Nine – My Experience

(This post was originally published 5-25-09).

This post is about my personal experience with The Love Dare. If you would like to learn more about The Love Dare, go here.

Love Dare at writefromkaren.com

Day Nine: Love takes delight. Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse. Do something he/she would love to do or a project they’d really like to work on. Just be together. What did you decide to give up? What did you do together? How did it go? What new thing did you learn (or relearn) about your spouse?

From The Love Dare book:

¤¤¤ One of the most important things you should learn on your Love Dare journey is that you should not just follow your heart. You should lead it. You don’t let your feelings and emotions do the driving. You put them on the back seat and tell them where you’re going.

In your marriage relationship, you won’t always feel like loving. It is unrealistic for your heart to constantly thrill at the thought of spending every moment with your spouse. Nobody can maintain a burning desire for togetherness just on feelings alone. But it’s also difficult to love someone only out of obligation.

A newlywed takes delight in the one they now call their spouse. Their love is fresh and young, and the hopes for a romantic future linger in their hearts. However, there is something just as powerful as that fresh, new love. It comes from the decision to delight in your spouse and to love him or her no matter how long you’ve been married. In other words, love that chooses to love is just as powerful as love that feels like loving. In many ways, it’s a truer love because it has its eyes wide open.

Left to ourselves, we’ll always lean toward being disapproving of one another. She’ll get on your nerves. He’ll aggravate you. But our days are too short to waste in bickering over petty things. Life is too fleeting for that.

Instead, it’s time to lead your heart to once again delight in your mate. Enjoy your spouse. Take her hand and seek her companionship. Desire his conversation. Remember why you fell in love with her personality. Accept this person — quirks and all — and welcome him or her back into your heart.

Again, you get to choose what you treasure. It’s not like you’re born with certain pre-sets and preferences you’re destined to operate from. If you’re irritable, it’s because you choose to be. If you can’t function without a clean house, it’s because you’ve decided no other way will do. If you pick at your mate more than you praise them, it’s because you’ve allowed your heart to be selfish. You’ve led yourself into criticism.

So now it’s time to lead your heart back out. It’s time to learn to delight in your spouse again, then to watch your heart actually start enjoying who they are.

Today’s dare may be directing you to a real and radical change of heart. For some, the move toward delight may be only a small step away. For others, it may require a giant leap from ongoing disgust.

But if you’ve been delighted before — which you were when you got married — you can be delighted again. Even if it’s been a long time. Even if it a whole lot has happened to change your perspective.

The responsibility is yours to relearn what you love about this one to whom you’ve promised yourself forever. ¤¤¤

***My Experience***

 

Kevin is my best friend. He always has been. So we’ve always done everything together from the very first date. We LIKE each other’s company. We LIKE hanging around with each other.

Granted, there are times he drives me insane because after all, he’s a guy. And because he’s male, his listening skills aren’t the best. And because he’s male, he tends to want to fix everything as opposed to just passively sitting by and allowing me to vent or sound off. And because he’s male, he simply doesn’t understand WHY I get so upset over things (quite frankly, neither do I, at times).

So, having him as my best friend isn’t always that satisfying – I crave a female friendship at times. The problem is, I don’t have a female friendship I can turn to. (Totally my fault and totally my choice).

There are times I need more from him than he’s capable of giving me. I realize this. I accept this. And I make adjustments. It’s certainly not his fault – he’s simply being who he is.

We are constantly doing things for each other that we don’t want to. I make trips to Lowe’s with him (I hate Lowe’s – such a snoozer for me). He is constantly doing things for me (I call it my “honey-do” list) and he doesn’t always feel like doing them.

He CONSTANTLY wants to go play tennis – I can’t stand tennis, you’re chasing a ball around and I feel stupid doing it – but I go because I know he enjoys it.

I talked him into tanning with me even though he felt completely uncomfortable with the idea and now, he is actually enjoying himself and wonders why he hadn’t been doing this in year’s past (sure beats sweating in the sun for hours at a time and hey! No tans lines! SEXY).

My point is, we do things with each other even when we don’t necessarily like it, or want to, but in the end, we end up enjoying the activity and we have solidified our relationship as a result.

Bonus.

So I would suggest make the effort. Spend time together. DO things together. INVEST your time in each other.

The same can be said about sex, too. I’ve purposefully kept the intimate aspect of this dare out because well, it’s a personal and intimate thing and I’m certainly not going to talk about my sex life with the world. However, I will say this, ladies, lighten up on the whole sex issue.

Seriously.

This goes right along with the whole “I really don’t want to, or feel like it” thing, but the funny thing is, once you get started, one can actually get into it and enjoy it.

And trust me when I say, your man? Will be putty in your hands if he’s satisfied. Enough said.

Does this make it sound like you’re using sex as a tool? Well yes, you are, to an extent. But you’re also respecting the FACT that he’s male and he HAS NEEDS that simply must be met. When they’re met, he’s more relaxed, he’s happier and he is more willing to be the type of husband you want him to be.

And gentlemen, please respect the fact that sex for a woman? Is all about the emotional aspect. Tease her. Make her laugh. Challenge her intellectually. Make her FEEL sexy and you’re in.

*wink*

The Love Dare book has a section about intimacy. And for many, this is a SERIOUS issue – one that must be addressed and worked through because like it or not, sex is absolutely a big part of marriage.

I’m trying to talk Kevin into making a video with me today. We’ll have been married for 19 years tomorrow and I thought it would be cute to talk about when we first met and silly stuff like that. I have no idea if he’ll actually agree to it, but if he does, he will because he loves me and he wants to make me happy.

And I will likely tag along with him to the music store today so he can buy more guitar strings – not because I want to, but because he wants me to. To him, that’s a sign that I love him when I’m willing to put my desires aside and go with him.

Give, give and take. It’s a pattern that takes some getting used to, but it’s also a pattern that works in a marriage.

Now go, take delight in each other today.

Relationships

The Love Dare – Day Eight – My Experience

(This post was originally published 5-24-09). 

This post is about my personal experience with The Love Dare. If you would like to learn more about The Love Dare, go here.

Love Dare at writefromkaren.com

Day Eight: Love fights fair. Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement. If your mate is not ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to “fight” by. Resolve to abide by them when the next disagreement occurs. If your spouse participated with you, what was their response? What rules did you write for yourself?

From The Love Dare book:

¤¤¤ Like it or not, conflict in marriage is simply inevitable. When you tied the knot as bride and groom, you joined not only your hopes and dreams but also your hurts, fears, imperfections, and emotional baggage. From the moment you unpacked from your honeymoon, you began the real process of unpacking one another, unpleasantly discovering how sinful and selfish each of you could be.

Welcome to fallen humanity.

The storms of life began testing and revealing what you’re really made of. Work demands, health issues, in-law arguments, and financial needs flared up in varying degrees, adding pressure and heat to the relationship.

Every couple goes through it. It’s par for the course. But not every couple survives it.

So don’t think living out today’s dare will drive all conflict from your marriage. Instead, this is about dealing with conflict in such a way that you come out healthier on the other side. Both of you. Together.

The deepest, most heartbreaking damage you’ll ever do (or ever have done) to your marriage will most likely occur in the thick of conflict. That’s because this is when your pride is strongest. Your anger is hottest. You’re the most selfish and judgmental. Your words contain the most venom. You make the worst decision. A great marriage on Monday can start driving off the cliff on Tuesday if unbridled conflict takes over and neither of you has your foot on the brakes.

The wisest way to work through conflict is to learn to fight clean by establishing healthy rules of engagement. If you don’t have guidelines for how you’ll approach hot topics, you won’t stay in bounds when the action heats up.

Basically there are two types of boundaries for dealing with conflict “we” boundaries and “me” boundaries.

“We” boundaries are rules you both agree on beforehand, rules that apply during any fight or altercation. And each of you has the right to gently but directly enforce them if these rules are violated.

“Me” boundaries are rules you personally practice on your own.

Fighting fair means changing your weapons. Disagreeing with dignity. It should result in building a bridge instead of burning one down. Remember, love is not a fight, but it is always worth fighting for. ¤¤¤

***My Experience***

 

If you’ve been reading through my experiences (and I hope you have!), you’ll have guessed that though we don’t have anything concrete or written down, Kevin and I certainly have our rules of engagement mapped out.

We’ve had to come to an agreement on certain issues beforehand because it’s so easy to dig out the “big guns” whenever we’re angry with one another.

And when those “big guns” are brought out, they are really hard to stuff back into place.

Believe me.

And word to the wise – figure out your rules of engagement BEFORE the argument begins – when you’re both calm and rational. Agree not to bring up, mention some things, or behave in a certain way whenever an argument breaks out.

Here are some “we” boundaries:

1. Never mention divorce

Ever.

It’s simply NOT an option. You’re in this relationship for the long haul. You’ll work through this disagreement, somehow, at some point. Once you start entertaining thoughts of divorce, the idea worms itself into your rationale until at some point it explodes into a thousand tiny, sharp pieces of ugly reality and before long, you’ve given up on working it out and instead start preparing yourself to throw in the white towel.

Never mention it. Don’t ever entertain the thought of it. And if your spouse ever brings it up, refuse to discuss it. “Don’t go there” works.

Trust me. 🙂

2. Don’t bring up old, unrelated items from the past

It’s just an excuse to bitch and it’s an obvious attempt to steer the argument from the real issue (unless that IS the real issue at which time you need to openly discuss those old issues and work out an agreement, or work past the past – but only during a more calm moment).

Seriously. Keep the current argument on track. Offer to discuss past issues at another time. Right now, you only have the time and energy for the current issue.

3. Never fight in public or in front of our children

I agree with the never fighting in public – it does nothing but humiliate and degrade a person and that only adds to current insults. Besides, no one likes to see, or witness, another couple’s dirty laundry (unless you work for a low-life tabloid, but whatever). It’s also hard to concentrate on the issue at hand when you’re also battling being on public display.

But the fighting in front of the children thing … yes and no. Being perfect and happy all the time in front of our children is unrealistic and I think it sets an unhealthy precedence for future relationships for our children. It’s good for children to see their parents argue, from time-to-time, as long as they also see the parents make up and move on.

But that’s arguing. The rule says no fighting – and that’s definitely a different animal. Fighting assumes ugly insults, cursing and very unbecoming behavior; children should not see that. And often times the more serious fights can’t be resolved quickly; the tougher issues take a while to work through.

So yes, if a serious fight breaks out, take it behind closed doors, please.

4. Call a “time out” if conflict escalates to a damaging level

Agree to stop the fighting and go to your respective corners (which often means separate rooms in the house – or even take a drive around the neighborhood to cool off), if things get out of hand.

I’ve actually made the “time out” hand signals before to signify I was losing control and we needed a break – from each other.

It’s a good idea to resume the “discussion” after you’ve had a chance to cool off – don’t let it fester.

5. Never, ever, touch each other in anger

This one is pretty self-explanatory but it does bear repeating. Sometimes our words and feelings get trapped inside of us and we’re so frustrated and determined to release them that we physically lash out.

Kevin and I have never struck one another, but we (yes both of us), have thrown things at each other.

And we felt like terrible fools afterwards.

Just don’t go there. Take that time-out before it reaches that level.

6. Don’t go to bed angry with each other

This one is hard. At least for me. Because I NEED that time, alone, to get a hold of my emotions.

But in essence, it’s saying don’t sweep the problem under the rug, don’t allow it to fester so that it becomes an even bigger deal the next time a disagreement crops up.

Try and resolve the issue before you go to bed. If you can’t, at least agree to discuss the issue at a later time.

7. Failure is not an option. Whatever it takes, work it out

That attitude will help give you the determination and resolve to work out issues.

8. Never, ever, EVER say “I love you BUT …”

I’m adding this one because it’s a personal pet peeve of mine. When you say “I love you, BUT…” you’re putting conditions on that love. And don’t just say it when you’re angry, NEVER say it, period. Even though your spouse knows what you mean, subconsciously, the seed of doubt has been planted.

“Oh, they only love me when things are good.” Or, “they only love me when I behave a certain way.”

No, no, no. Don’t say it. Reserve the “I love yous” for those special, isolated moments. Never throw that in when you’re expressing your irritation with the situation or something he/she did that provoked a reaction from you.

If you’re going to reaffirm you love someone, then leave it at that.

“I love you.”

Stop. Say no more.

Here are some examples of “me” boundaries:

1. I will listen first before speaking

Shush. Let the other person speak before offering your thoughts. It shows respect and often times, clarifies a situation – speaking rashly only exasperates the original problem which only adds fuel to the fire.

2. I will deal with my own issues up-front

Be honest with yourself first. If you have issues that are affecting the marriage, confront them, work through them and absolutely acknowledge them – especially if they affect your attitude toward your relationship.

3. I will speak gently and keep my voice down

Which is hard, especially when you’re upset. But remember the old saying, “You can attract more flies with honey?” Seriously, it’s true. It’s hard to absorb something when it’s being shouted in your face because people tend to focus on the anger and be put on the defensive as opposed to the issue behind the anger and the willingness to resolve the issue.

Please don’t assume that I’m an expert on any of this stuff. I’m simply passing my experiences on to you in the hopes that it blesses you and helps you with your own relationships. I’m not saying that my relationship is perfect, nor will it ever be perfect, but we’ve been together for 21 years (married for nearly 19 of those years) and to say I’ve learned a few things about myself specifically and relationships in general would be putting it mildly.

Good luck with your rules of engagement. 🙂

Relationships

The Love Dare – Day Seven – My Experience

(This post was originally published 5-23-09).

This post is about my personal experience with The Love Dare. If you would like to learn more about The Love Dare, go here.

Love Dare at writefromkaren.com

Day Seven: Love is not jealous. Determine to become your spouse’s biggest fan and to reject any thoughts of jealously. To help you set your heart on your spouse and focus on their achievements, take yesterday’s list of negative attributes and discreetly burn it. Then share with your spouse how glad you are about a success he/she recently enjoyed. How hard was it to destroy the list? What are some positive experiences that you can celebrate in the life of your mate? How can you encourage them toward future successes?

From The Love Dare book:

¤¤¤ Jealously is one of the strongest drives known to man. It comes from the root word for zeal and means “to burn with an intense fire.” The Scripture pointedly says, “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealously?” (Proverbs 27:4).

There are actually two forms: a legitimate jealously based upon love, and an illegitimate jealously based upon envy. Legitimate jealously sparks when someone you love, who belongs to you, turns his/her heart away and replaces you with someone else.

Illegitimate kind of jealousy is rooted in selfishness. This is to be jealous of someone, to be “moved with envy.”

Do you struggle with being jealous of others? Your friend is more popular, so you feel hatred towards her. Your coworker gets the promotion, so you can’t sleep that night. He may have done nothing wrong, but you become bitter because of his success. It has been said that people are fine with your succeeding, just as long as it is not more than theirs.

Jealously is a common struggle. It is sparked when someone else upstages you and gets something you want. This can be very painful depending upon how selfish you are. Instead of congratulating them, you fume in anger and think ill of them. If you’re not careful, jealously slithers like a viper into your heart and strikes your motivations and relationships. It can poison you from living the life of love God intended.

You don’t usually get jealous of disconnected strangers. The ones you’re tempted to be jealous of are primarily in the same arena with you. They work in your office, play in your league, run in your circles … or live in your house. Yes, if you aren’t careful, jealously can also infect your marriage.

When you were married, you were given the role of becoming your spouse’s biggest cheerleader and the captain of his/her fan club. Both of you became one and were to share in the enjoyment of the other. But if selfishness rules, any good thing happening to only one of you can be a catalyst for envy rather than congratulations.

Because love is not selfish and puts others first, it refuses to let jealously in. It leads you to celebrate the successes of your spouse rather than resenting them. A loving husband doesn’t mind his wife being better at something, having more fun, or getting more applause. He sees her as completing him, not competing with him.

A loving wife will be the first to cheer for her man when he wins. She does not compare her weaknesses to his strengths. She throws a celebration, not a pity party.

It is time to let love, humility, and gratefulness destroy any jealously that springs up in your heart. It’s time to let your mate’s successes draw you closer together and give you greater opportunities to show genuine love. ¤¤¤

***My Experience***

 

Kevin has never really given me a reason to be jealous – the legitimate kind of jealous. Which is odd, considering he’s been married before, you would think I would be jealous of his relationship with his first wife – but I haven’t been. I suppose the biggest reason it never became an issue between us was because I’ve never met his ex-wife and she moved out of the state shortly after their divorce so … they’ve never had any contact with each other in our years together and she’s never been an issue between us.

(Thank you, God).

However, I’ve had bouts of jealousy in our marriage – the red hot, ugly I’m-going-to-rip-your-head-off kind of jealousy. It’s inevitable that someone will come along in your life that you’re attracted to – both physically and emotionally. It’s going to happen – don’t even tell yourself that it won’t.

And when it happens, you’ll be tested in ways you never thought possible. Like a red, ripe, juicy strawberry dipped in decadent chocolate and dripping sweet drops of goodness, temptation will be waved in front of your face.

And it will be so hard, so very hard, to resist that first bite.

But you must. Resisting that temptation will be a true test of your strength, of your commitment to your spouse, and your resolve to honor your promise, to both your spouse and to God.

To give in is to be weak. Deny it all you will, it’s a fact. The reasons one gives in doesn’t matter; the damage has been done. The trust has been broken. And it’s a long, hard road to mend the marriage.

IF it can be mended.

I’ve often wondered how I would feel if Kevin had an affair. What exactly would I do? My gut reaction would be to leave his sorry ass, pronto. But would I? Really? I’m a fair person. I would wonder exactly what I did, or didn’t do, that pushed him over that edge. My husband is only human – if I didn’t give him what he needed then why WOULDN’T he stray from the relationship.

And vice versa, of course.

I don’t know. I’m not an expert. And to lump affairs into one category is cruel and unrealistic – there are so many reasons that it can happen. But if it ever happened to me … I have no idea how I would react. I suppose it all depends on the circumstances.

I’ve had people in my life that had affairs on their spouses. And it’s so easy to judge, to offer criticism when in fact, there are always two sides to the story. The people I’m referring to had the strength to patch things up and they are still together today. But I often wonder just HOW much of a toll it took on their marriage and just HOW happy are they right now?

I admire their willingness, and courage, to navigate that rocky terrain.

And I pray I never have to navigate that rocky terrain.

Kevin has had crushes on women. I know this. He has admitted it. They have been women he’s worked with and I’ve met them at company functions.

They were also gorgeous.

It KILLED me whenever he had to take a business trip with the women he had crushes on. I would agonize and imagine all sorts of illicit scenarios. (Sometimes it’s a curse to have an active imagination). And I’ve had numerous nightmares of him leaving me for another woman – so real that I would wake up in a cold sweat and be convinced that it really happened.

*shudder*

My point is, he was tempted. And I’ve been tempted. The temptation happened – but nothing else did.

I’ve had to learn to trust my husband for really, what choice do I have? I can’t follow him around every minute of every day (at least, not without having a restraining order slapped on me) so at some point, the trust has to be there.

Let’s hope neither of us ever breaks that trust.

As far as the illegitimate jealousy issue: my first reaction was to say no, I’ve never been jealous of my husband’s successes, but that’s not exactly true.

I’ve been jealous of the fact that he had the freedom to pursue his career. He didn’t have the responsibility of taking care of the kids while he traveled and moved up his career track.

I’m jealous of the fact he has a label – accountant. Whenever someone asks me what I do, I cringe. “I”m a web designer.” Which is true, I am. But the clients I have only have updates a few times a week – I certainly can’t call it my full-time job – well, it’s not a job that requires a 40-hour attention span, let’s put it that way.

I’m envious of his intelligence. The man never ceases to amaze me – he KNOWS so much! And here I am in my little corner, drool running down my shirt and lamely waving a DUNCE flag.

Hi.

I’m not jealous of his successes very often, but the feeling does grab me by the nose hairs at times and yanks me back to reality. Instead of wallowing in self-pity though, I’m going to take advantage of the kids being older and able to take care of themselves (I have a 16-year old and a 14-year old, in case you didn’t know that), to start being proactive with my own career aspirations. My goal is to get a job this Fall, pay off my student loans and then go back to college, (paying as I go along), for my masters.

Just TALKING about that goal gets me excited. And it also helps ease my envious feelings about my husband’s successful career. I mean, I’m happy for the man, he certainly deserves his success, he’s worked very, very hard to get where he is today, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m just a teeny-bit jealous of him.