Has anyone ever seen the Christian based movie Fireproof with Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea? This 2008 movie details the struggles and temptations that marriages can undergo. Trying to avoid divorce, which seems inevitable at the start of the movie, Kirk’s character, Caleb, embarks on a 40-day quest to see if there is any hope left for their union.
At the urging of his father, he reluctantly (at first) uses a 40-day book called The Love Dare. The acts of kindness and affection he is to do for his wife, Catherine, every day, for forty days, are done in secret. As Catherine is the one who is pushing for the divorce, she interprets these sweet gestures as nothing more than a ruse to attain more money or property in the divorce.
There are no spoiler alerts here, as I hope you will see this movie for yourself before your marriage goes to that dark place. Check out this book and let your partner know that you would like to work through this book together. He or she may resist, as my husband did when we did the forty day dare, but once we were in the book for several days, the challenges became fun. They became something to look forward to.
There will be assignments that are fun and easy and there will be assignments that challenge you as a couple. When my husband and I did this dare, we were in an uncertain place and we were in critical need of shaking out that rug that we had been sweeping our marital issues under for many years.
At the time of this writing, we are six years out from having completed this book. It still sits on my shelf in case we may need it again or for when I just want to review our journal entries (yes there is writing involved). What a blessing it was when we took the time each day to learn and grow. As we come upon yet another wedding anniversary, I am delighted that we took the time to invest in ourselves and become stronger as a couple. #StrongerThanBroken
I dare you to see what happens in your forty day trek, and then let me know your results. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and many blessing to you!
So often in a marriage, there is some reason or another that your man or woman exasperates you. Maybe it is too much familiarity, or perhaps you are taking your bad day at work out on your spouse without even realizing it. Whatever the reason I used to find myself getting embroiled up to my elbows in the fight. Dish it out and I’ll not only take it but shovel it right back. Throw me your angry superlatives and I will throw them at you with a vengeance.
Somehow staying angry at my husband and letting the wounds fester never seemed as much fun as making up quickly and getting on with life. That being said, we are over thirty years into the marriage and some of the same stupid disagreements still linger. It’s just our different personalities and temperments clashing (see 7/30/18 blog on Preparation).
Solution? You Zig and I’ll Zag. You go one way and I will go the other. When we cannot handle the same strong discussion or our moods are not in alignment with true marital happiness, I will step out and run some errands, or he will go off on a bike ride. Just the physical distance of being apart for a while dissipates the anger enough that we can both come back with a new perspective. Often times we see that what we were arguing about was ridiculous, to begin with.
Have you ever had an argument about the dishes in the sink? Be thankful there was enough food in the house to dirty up those dishes. Are we out of laundry detergent again? Be thankful that you have enough other outfits to last you the week. Did you forget to bring the mail in from the box at the end of that long driveway? For goodness sake, go take a walk and get it!
Not all arguments are this trite, but honestly, most of them are. Step back and think about how angry you really are that she forgot your favorite flavor of ice cream or that you don’t understand why he still leaves the wet towels on the bathroom floor.
I can always tolerate those idiosyncrasies better when I think of the alternative; not having him around. Try understanding his or her side, and if you cannot, then revel in the fact that you have someone who puts up with your eccentricities and foibles as well.
Recently our financial firm called us when they noticed that my husband had hit the big six-zero. They wanted to talk to us about our investments and perhaps make some changes as we get closer to retirement. From time to time, we do shift around our funds and hope that investing and reinvesting will bring us greater returns when we need it.
It really got me to thinking about how we must on occasion reallocate the “funds” that we are investing into our relationship too if we want to have excellent returns. What does it mean to be “invested” in your relationship? It means time, love, adoration, being a helpmate, honoring and respecting the other person. It means putting yourself second.
You are not invested when you treat your partner as just a friend with benefits. You go about your life as if you are the only one that matters. You are not invested when you bicker about doing more than your share or complaining that there just isn’t the reciprocity there used to be.
If I just struck a nerve, suck it up, cupcake. Now is the time to step up, show up, be there, go the extra mile and stop complaining. Investing in the relationship doesn’t have to be complicated. Small gestures go a long way.
Imagine her surprise when you remember to bring her favorite flavor of ice cream back from the grocery store on your way home from work. Imagine his delight when you stayed on hold for seventeen minutes waiting for your turn in the queue to talk to the refrigerator repairman so that he didn’t have to listen to seventeen minutes of Muzak and that annoying voice saying “We are experiencing high call volume. Please continue to hold”.
Just as financial investments go in and out like a tide, our marital bliss flows high and low too. It doesn’t matter if your partner is silly, moody, crazy, angry, funny, easily agitated, or far from perfect. Deep down in the recesses of your brain, you know your love is powerful and that you have the capacity to share and invest again and again. Lead by example and see what your ultimate return will be.