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Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Love Dare: The 1st 10 Dares

When Zach and I went to San Diego last October we heard Kirk Cameron speak about his movie called "Fireproof." I figured it'd be a cheesy family movie with awful acting and I hadn't planned on seeing it until we heard Kirk speak about it and then Zach and I couldn't wait to watch it for ourselves! It was an AWESOME movie that really hits home about marriage relationships.

Recently our church started a Wednesday night class that will cover The Love Dare which is the book that Kirk Cameron's character followed throughout the movie. I was so excited about it and Zach and I decided that we'd go to the first week of the class at church where they watched the movie. I went the next week to the class (Kye was badly teething so Zach stayed) and we had a struggle deciding what to do: do we go to the Love Dare class on Wed nights and miss the Christian Student Center? Or do we get the Love Dare book and follow it ourselves and still go to the CSC Wed nights?

We decided to do the book on our own and still attend the Student Center on Wednesdays. No, we're not students but we've been so involved there for so long that we want to continue to go as long as we can which probably won't be much longer since Kye will be needing a Wednesday night bible study here soon!

This whole Love Dare thing has been SO tough!!! I'm so glad Zach and I committed to doing it but that doesn't mean it's easy!!! We're through the first 10 dares (we are doing one dare every 2 days and we put it on hold while in Mexico). Here is how I've done so far on the first 10 dares!

Dare 1 Love is Patient: This was the one I was "dreading" the most. It's all about being nice to your spouse! I know that sounds awful but this is something I struggle with. Poor Zach comes home from a day of work and I'm often in a bad mood! I take my rough day with the baby or annoyances with other things out on him which is so so so wrong but I know it's a common thing with us stay at home mom's! We can't take it out on our kids, we don't see anyone else EVER so our husbands have to get it all. Out of all the dares, this has been the one that I've put the MOST effort in. Like the book says: "When you choose to be patient, you respond in a positive way to a negative situation." and "It is a choice to control your emotions rather than allowing your emotions to control you." I never, ever am mean on purpose! I let my emotions get the best of me and I don't have control over them. I'm praying so much for God to help me to be a better wife to Zach and a HAPPIER wife!!!

Dare 2 Love is Kind: "The kind husband or wife will be the one who greets first, smiles first, serves first, and forgives first." I am SO bad about not doing things unless it's done equally for me. Zach leaves a cup or dirty dish in the sink and I leave that junk there as long as it takes him to remember to put it away. So silly! Even with this Love Dare journey one of my biggest struggles has been holding back what I'm supposed to do for the day and waiting to see if Zach does it too. I get super frustrated when I feel like I'm working harder on all this than he is and it makes me want to give up. It shouldn't be that way and I should be doing this for ME and working on MYSELF! For this dare we were supposed to continue to be nice but then also do a random act of kindness. I surprised Zach while he was working outside with a big glass of water. I know it's a small thing but that's what love is all about! Little things for each other that say "I love you!"

Dare 3 Love is not Selfish: "Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves." So true! How often do we think "so and so is so selfish" but we rarely think we are being selfish ourselves! This kind of fit with my frustrations of feeling like Zach should be doing just as much as I was doing on this journey. That it should be equal effort. I have to realize that marriage is never truly 50/50. We should both be giving 100% of ourselves all the time and then we will be getting what we need from the other person too. It's so much easier said than done though! For this dare we were supposed to invest in something for the other person that shows we care about them. I bought Zach a Polo t-shirt but I also made him a card. I feel like for Zach it's harder to give money up as he's pretty tight, but for me it's harder to give up my time and I took about 45 min out of my day and made Zach a pretty card telling him how much I love him. Zach surprised me with lunch from Sister's Pizza which was so yummy and so sweet!

Dare 4 Love is Thoughtful: This one wasn't a big thing for us. We see each other all the time throughout the day since Zach works from home but the dare was to contact each other some point in the day just to say I was thinking of him and see if there is anything I could do for him. We're supposed to make this a regular thing and I feel like this is something we already do regularly. I guess I could work on asking him if I can do more for him but he already knows I think about him all the time! We hit a wall on this day and thought about quitting. It's a tough journey. It sounds easy probably but when you are both doing it and doing it separately it is tough. We decided to keep working through it though! I remind myself that in the movie the main character almost quit several times and got frustrated but kept going and it paid off in the end!

Dare 5 Love is not Rude: We are all on our best behavior when around others...so why do we show our butts to our spouse? Shouldn't we be the nicest to them? Three principles this dare talks about are: 1. treat your mate the same way you want to be treated (oh that Golden Rule!) 2. Be as considerate to your spouse as you are to strangers and coworkers 3. Consider what your husband or wife already asked you to do or not do, if in doubt then ask. The dare for this day was to ask Zach three things I do that irritate him and to not say ANYTHING in response. So hard! He said that I get easily annoyed with him, don't always appreciate how hard he works, and don't keep the house as consistently clean as it should be. These are all valid points and while I was already working on the last two (I'd kinda lost my cleaning routine when Mr. Kye came along and needed to get back on the right track!) I need to work harder on the first one. I do get easily annoyed but he does so many little annoying things (haha)...blame it on the ADHD!!!

Dare 6 Love is not Irritable: "Love ultimately lowers your stress and helps you release the venom that can build up inside. It then sets up your heart to respond to your spouse with patience and encouragement rather than anger and exasperation." In this dare we were supposed to respond to a negative situation in a positive way. So hard as I just react. I don't think. If I'm mad, I say it and I snap and I need to gain control over that. This lesson was all about margin as well and I didn't know what it was so I googled around about it and it's such a good thing to be mindful of! We need to leave margin room in our lives and not be so overly scheduled. That's something I need to work on. We need FAMILY time and instead we have like every night booked solid. We're gone on the weekends and then the weeknights we have something with someone like every night. It leaves very very little time for us just to be with each other. This is so important as I want my child to grow up with family dinners and as of right now we've only eaten together as a family at the house like 3 or 4 times his whole life! I need to re-prioritize and keep the focus on the most important thing, and that's my husband and child. I'm working on this and this week before we leave for NYC we aren't doing anything any of the nights so we can all be together!

Dare 7 Love Believes the Best: "You must develop the habit of reining in your negative thoughts and focusing on the positive attributes of your mate.  It is a decision you make, whether they deserve it or not." For this dare I had to get two sheets of paper and list all Zach's negative traits and all his positive ones. I started with the positive ones first and I quickly realized that the negative list was almost impossible to write! When you have a man with such awesome positive traits (hello! great Christian, super involved father, so trustworthy, great example, thoughtful, attractive, etc, etc), the small little negative ones seem even MORE small and meaningless! I was supposed to thank Zach for some of his positive attributes so I thanked him in a little note that I left in his box in the bathroom. This exercise really put things in perspective for me and reminded me how blessed I am to be married to such an incredible man!

Dare 8 Love is not Jealous: Zach and I both agreed that this was the first dare that really didn't apply to us at all. It was all about supporting your spouse and not competing with them and we're excellent at this. I do think that if I worked outside the home this would be a lot tougher because we'd both be bringing home money and both have to deal with those kinds of things but instead our jobs compliment each other in a way that there isn't any room for jealousy or competition. For this dare I was to rip up the negative list of traits from yesterday which was so easy for me to do!!!

Dare 9 Love makes good Impressions: This day was all about greeting your spouse and choosing to love them and showing that love through true happiness to see each other. Yet again this was a good one for me and one I really need to work on. Even after reading this dare I haven't done the best I should do with greeting Zach. I forget!!!! He's so good at walking in and saying hey but I'm usually either a) so involved in something (baby?) that I don't notice or pay enough attention to him or b) so eager to tell him something or vent something or remind him of something or just needing adult conversation that I start talking my head off right when I see him. I especially need to do this in the mornings. We have such a routine of getting up, brushing teeth and getting Kye that we often don't even say anything to each other! I need to wake up and say GOOD MORNING to my husband dangit! I mean to remember every morning but I've yet to actually remember so I haven't checked off this dare yet as it still needs work!

Dare 10 Love is Unconditional: "Love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love." "God doesn't love us because we are loveable, but because He is so loving." For this dare I was supposed to do something out of the ordinary for Zach that shoes my love is based on choice and nothing else. I decided I'd organize his closet for him. I hung up all his clothes that were clean but not yet put away (I do the laundry, he puts his own stuff away) and I organized his whole closet by color. It was something small but I know it'll help him see more of his clothes (as I recently did this to my own section of our little closet and it's a BIG help) and I thought it was a small thing that showed I care. I need to do little things like this more often and not even point out that I do them. I've been working on that and I like the feeling of doing something nice and NOT expecting anything in return!

So far so good on this whole Love Dare thing. I really love the book as it's a short little 2 page thing each day that is to the point and not filled with too much fluff. Then the dares are little and good things that take focus but not a TON of time. It's stuff you really could do for the rest of your life and little changes that add up to a big change over time. It also has space for journaling which is great so I can go back and re-read how I did with each dare and how I've grown through this experience. I highly recommend this for all couples as I feel it's already made a big impact on my marriage. Both Zach and I are so much happier together as we realize how much the other is working on this and how this helps us keep US first!!!

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