Day 335: Weekly Article: Friendship in Marriage

October 18, 2012

For this act of love, I read this article from Focus on the Family on friendship in marriage. How important for a marriage is friendship and how important for a friendship is spending time together. Through 365 Acts of Love, we’ve developed the habit of spending our evenings together. Whether we’re watching something or reading or talking or cleaning, we’re intentional about being together and enjoying each other. I’m sure that this habit will pay great dividends in the years to come. It already has. Like C. S. Lewis said, “It is when we are doing things together that friendship springs up – painting, sailing ships, praying, philosophizing, and fighting shoulder to shoulder. Friends look in the same direction.”

The article warned against not nourishing and nurturing your friendship with your spouse. When people let the busyness of their lives get in the way of their relationship with their spouse, their friendship with their spouse can wane and the relationship becomes more like a business partnership. For us, I remember thinking of us as roommates. It’s in a situation like that that infidelity is apt to occur.

I’m glad that I’ve seen the importance of maintaining our friendship. It’s been beneficial for our family and relationship and it’s been a lot of fun.


Day 286: Fighting Fair

July 25, 2012

For act 286, I read this article from Focus on the Family about fighting fair. I don’t think we fight a lot, but I’m not sure we fight fair when we do. I tend to verbalize my complaints about you or our marriage ad nauseam, which isn’t cool. But neither would it be cool to always pretend like things are okay. It seems that the main point of the article was that we should not go to extremes by either over or under verbalizing those things that are bothering us.


Day 268: Encouraging Words

July 2, 2012

On Friday (6/22–I’m a little behind), I encouraged you by telling you that I think you’re going to do a great job buying and selling stuff on Craigslist. I really do think that. You’re going to do a great job and you’re going to enjoy it.


Day 208: Foot in Mouth

April 27, 2012

Lately, it seems that I’ve been demanding and overly harsh with you. And from this you’ve taken it that I think you’re not doing much well. To counteract this, I decided to figure out something that you excel in, and then praise you for it. Your love for others immediately came to my mind. In this, you definitely excel—our girls are growing up in a home filled with love thanks to you and our neighbors and friends have experienced your love as well.

When I told you I was thinking about things you excel in, the first question you asked was, “How many did you think of?” I wasn’t sure what to say, because once your love for others came to mind, I stopped trying to come up with stuff. I should’ve explained that I only tried to come up with one thing and that you excel in a lot of things. Instead, I answered in one of the worst ways: “At least one.” It struck me at first as a clever answer that might get me out of a fix, since saying that I thought of at least one thing is consistent with thinking of 100 things. But as the words came out of my mouth, I knew I was in trouble. You interpreted my answer as you should have: as “Only one,” and took it to imply that “You only excel at one thing.” Sadly, this implication had the opposite effect than what I intended for the act of love; that is, it served to confirm your suspicion that I think you don’t do much well. Sheesh. You were gracious, though, and simply rolled your eyes and gave me a hug.

When I actually told you what I came up with, you appreciated my answer.


Day 171: Your Beautiful Eyes

March 19, 2012

For my 171st act of love, I told you this: “Has anyone ever told you how beautiful your eyes are?” “Why?” you asked. “Because they’re so beautiful!”

I want to tell you, again, that I think you’re more beautiful than anyone I’ve ever seen or known. If I don’t tell you that often, I’m sorry.

PS: Maybe you were right to want that raincoat for our oldest: it rained Saturday and Sunday here. Looks like the joke’s on me.

 


Day 158: Your Love Does Not Envy (Much)

March 5, 2012

Last night, I prayed that God would form you into the kind of person who doesn’t envy so that you would be content with where God has you and with what he’s allotted you, and that you would praise him for how he’s blessed you. Although I’m impressed with your ability to be content in a variety of circumstances, all of us could stand to grow in this area.

 


Day 151: You’re Beautiful

February 28, 2012

I actually forgot to commit an act for you on Sunday. So I committed my 151st act of love on Monday morning.

A few days ago, we were watching something on our laptop when you told me that I never tell you you’re pretty. (“Never” in your language means “not often.” We would’ve fought much less over the years had I learned that as a newlywed.) This really irritated me, though I don’t think I showed it. I began to think of all that I do for you through 365* and was even tempted to show you the blog. Then, I calmed down and said, “I think I tell you you’re pretty quite a bit, but I’ll work on saying it more.” You then said that in addition to not often telling you that you’re pretty, I’m not specific enough when I do. You said I should mention what features of yours I think are pretty.*

After thinking over your comment some more, I realized you were right: I don’t often tell you you’re pretty and I don’t make my compliments about your beauty specific. So on Monday, I wrote “You’re beautiful” (and some variations of that) on 10 different notecards and placed them in various spots around the house. The trouble is, I forgot to follow your advice about being specific. You noticed. I’ll try to work on that, honey dear.

Thanks for voicing your criticism. Though I didn’t like hearing it at first, it’s good to know what I can do to improve. Also, it’s good that you’re open enough with me that you can tell me what it is about me or the way I act that’s bothering you.

*This was one of the dangers of 365 that I mentioned in an earlier post. I want 365 to be a free gift to you rather than leverage for me.

*Your comments weren’t out of the blue, but quite called for given the context of our conversation, which I didn’t reproduce here.


Day 123: Love is Patient

January 30, 2012

As I’ve discussed before, in order to better act lovingly toward you, I need to foster a loving character in myself (through Christ working in me: Jn. 15:1-8; Phil. 2:13-14). One way of doing this is by thinking over, praying about, and exercising love or one of its characteristics.

In light of this, yesterday I did so regarding patience, since love is patient. First, I considered the nature of patience and what it is to act patiently. Then, I prayed that God would afford me opportunities to act patiently and that he would give me the grace to do so when those opportunities arose. Then, I waited for the opportunities. Given that we have three young kids, there were opportunities aplenty. I know that developing character takes time, practice, and grace, but at least yesterday was a step in the right direction.

On a related note, I don’t think I’ve ever prayed for patience before, partly because I’m scared of what circumstances God might use to foster patience in me. After all, suffering is a great vehicle for character growth (Rom. 5:4). But, after years of stifled growth, I’m slowly accepting that the benefits of character growth outweigh the hardships brought on by this vehicle (though I say this as one who hasn’t suffered much). Then again, I’m not waiting for suffering with open arms. Instead, I’m asking God to do with my life what he deems best. Even so, I’m asking reluctantly, which is odd since God’s in a decent position to know what’s best.


Day 120: Soli Deo Gloria

January 27, 2012

Yesterday afternoon, we decided to clean our kitchen and living room, with me opting for the former and you the latter. Before we started, though, you went upstairs to lay the baby down. 30 minutes later, you still hadn’t come back. So I crept upstairs to confirm my suspicion that you’d fallen asleep. You had. For my act of love, then, I let you sleep and I cleaned the kitchen and the living room myself.

It wouldn’t be hard to guess how this scenario would likely have played out a year ago. I probably would have woken you up so that you could do your job or let you sleep but made sure you cleaned later. In either case, though, I might have suspected that you fell asleep intentionally (love believes the best, anyone?) and even subtly accused you of that.

Now though, my thoughts are less and less about how to satisfy my needs and desires (though they are about that, which isn’t necessarily bad) and more and more about how to satisfy your needs and desires.* Throughout my day, my thoughts consistently and automatically turn toward you. I’m also gaining a clearer understanding of what it is that God requires of me as a husband, the purpose for which he designed marriage, what things please you, what kind of person you are and want to be, etc.

In addition, I’m happier and I desire you more. Sure, there are times when I do things for you purely from a sense of duty. But, week by week, my obligations and feelings (i.e., desires and emotions) are lining up. As a newlywed, I had strong (positive!) feelings for you and a sense of duty to commit to you and treat you well, but lacked a firm character underlying my feelings. Then I went through a time in which my feelings waned and my sense of duty remained, while my character slowly developed (due in part, it seems, to my commitment to you). Through 365, I’m happy to be in a place where my character is developing and feelings for you are welling up from that character.

But don’t get me wrong. Even though there’s been change, I’m far from where I need to be. Though my thoughts are less about me than they were, they’re still mostly about me. I’m still entrenched in false beliefs, whether dispositional or occurrent, about who sits on the throne of my life. My desires and emotions continually favor me over God, you, or others. I’m sick of it. What’s worse, though, is that I’m absolutely certain that I’m blind to most of my selfishness. (But it’s by God’s grace that I am and that he reveals my sin to me little by little, since I might despair if I saw it in full view.*)

I’m not going to kid myself, then. 120 days isn’t going to reverse dispositions long established. And while working on my marriage is good, many other aspects of my life and character need transformation. Yet, I’m making progress, however slight.

I chalk this progress up to the grace of God. It’s all by his grace. It’s by grace alone. Grace, grace, grace. Grace. The impetus for working out my relationship with you is God working in me (Phil. 2:12-13). In other words, without God’s work in me, there would be no heart change.

Soli Deo Gloria

*Obviously this doesn’t exhaust my daily thought life. My primary goal is to make God the consistent and automatic object of my thought.

*I got this point from Keller.


Day 118: 365’s Proper Place

January 25, 2012

I gave myself a break yesterday by doing an act that required minimal effort. You went to your parents’ house with our kids, while I stayed home and worked. When you came home, I told you I missed you and that I wish we could’ve spent the day together. That was my act of love. It didn’t rock your world, but you appreciated it.

I want to be consistent with 365 because I think it’s going to have a lasting influence on our marriage, but I also want to live a balanced life. Work is throwing me off enough with all the hours I currently need to put in, so I can’t let 365 get in the way of my relationship with God and others or of proper rest and exercise.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if 365 consumed so much of my time and energy that I neglected my relationship with you to maintain it? It’s simply a tool. I shouldn’t make it more than that. So far, I haven’t sacrificed (much) time with you or others. Instead, I’ve sacrificed some sleep and exercise (I’m attempting to remedy that). And at one point, I neglected my walk with God. But overall, 365’s been the most intrusive in forcing me to reorient my heart so that it’s less self-centered. That’s a good thing.