For my 173rd act of love, I wrote “I love you” with sidewalk chalk on the walkway outside our apartment. This morning, the kids were rowdy as you got them ready to head out the door, though you did your best to keep them under control. When you were ready to go, you opened the front door and saw your love note on the ground, then turned and smiled at me and thanked me as you dragged our crazy kids to the car. I hope my note brings you joy in the midst of a hectic day.
Saturday’s back massage almost didn’t happen. After dinner, we worked on stuff for several hours. Then 11 rolled around and I went to bed, while you stayed up to go on pinterest. Around midnight, I shot up from my sleep because I somehow realized that I didn’t give you your massage. Though I thought about the fact that I had to get up in six hours and though I wanted to stay in bed, I didn’t even consider skipping the massage. I simply got out of bed to do it, without hesitation and almost instinctually.
This is exactly the result I want from 365—that doing loving things for you would be so ingrained in me that I can’t help but do them. I guess this needs to be further ingrained, though, since I went to sleep before I even realized I missed my daily loving act.
I gave you your first of a week of back massages last night. When I told you that I would do this, you gave me a look that I couldn’t figure out. Was it confusion? Suspicion? Incredulity? I’m not sure. But then you smiled and said you can’t wait. I did make a qualification, though—I told you I get to decide how short or long the massages are. You agreed to that, but I think I know why. Whenever I finish giving you a massage, you say, “That’s it?” and you give me this sort of pouty look. I can’t help but say, “No, it’s not,” and resume the massage. (I don’t think it’s manipulation, but honest disappointment.) So really, you’ll determine their length.
For yesterday’s act of love, I wanted us to listen to the second Love and Respect CD. It’s been a long time since we listened to the first one, but I’m intent on finishing them all before 365’s up. You thought it was a great idea, but said you were so tired that you didn’t think you could concentrate on it. “What do you want to do instead?” I asked. “What do I want? A back massage,” you replied. I felt a tinge of disinclination, but said yes anyway. In the end, I quite enjoyed giving you a back massage and you quite enjoyed getting one.
Part of my vision for our marriage is that we’d not stop at loving each other, but would love others too. I want us to be so unified in our relationship that we spend much of our energy working together to help others rather than butting heads. That’s one of the reasons I’ve spent a lot of time fostering my love for you and our love for each other through 365.
Well, last night we took a first step in loving others. After dinner, we made an extra plate of food, then piled the fam into the car so we give the food to someone homeless. We already had a lady in mind, the one who begs in front of Trader Joe’s with her dog. We found her and gave her the food. She seemed excited and appreciative. And our girls enjoyed petting her dog.
Last night, I gave you a greeting card for the first time through 365. You didn’t react like they do in the Hallmark commercials when they get a greeting card, but you still seemed appreciative. Wait . . . was mine even a Hallmark card? I don’t know. Maybe that was the problem.
I liked Saturday’s act of love so much that I did it again yesterday—I waited until a need arose, then fulfilled it. In fact, I might make this kind of act a staple of 365. It makes me more perceptive to your needs—at least your needs at a given moment.
When I came home from work, our two older girls were running around like mad and you looked exhausted. During dinner, you told me we were completely out of toilet paper. Then after dinner, you looked in the freezer, rolled your eyes, and said, “You ate all the ice cream?!” But I didn’t let those things distract me from keeping a sharp lookout for some need of yours to fulfill . . . Actually, by one act, I turned your night around: I took the two crazies with me to Costco to buy toilet paper and ice cream (but let’s face it: ice cream’s a want, not a need).
In figuring out what you need from me, I’m considering everyday things like laundry, kids, and dishes as well as your psychological, spiritual, emotional, etc. needs. The latter are much more difficult for me to figure out than the former. But either way, loving another person seems so unglamorous.
Contrast this with a certain popular TV show in which droves of ladies vie for the affection of a single bachelor. All it takes to produce love, on this show, is a helicopter ride over Tahiti. And all it takes to fall out of love is a shift in emotions. The other day, one lady on the show said she divorced her husband of two years because her feelings for him changed. Maybe he should’ve taken her on a few more helicopter rides.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think a marital commitment should be dependent on something so apt to change as feelings. As I see it, love does involve some romance and some moments that make you feel all toasty inside, but these things don’t exhaust love. Love is often everyday and unglamorous. It involves stuff like laundry and dirty dishes and screaming kids. And it’s characterized by commitment and service and choosing to love whether or not the feelings are there. Though I’ll work hard to romance you (indeed, that’s one of the points of this blog), I want our love to fundamentally involve a commitment to each other. And I want to everyday love you every day.
Typically, I plan a week’s worth of acts at a time, which keeps the stress levels of this blog to a minimum. Some days, though, I don’t have an act planned. By the time 11 PM rolls around on those days, I’m usually still considering what act to do. Not fun.
Anyway, yesterday I decided not to plan a particular act, but to do whatever act seemed most appropriate in light of your needs. In other words, I decided to wait for a need of yours to arise, then to meet it.
As it turned out, you needed someone to save you from me. I woke up with a bad attitude that persisted through much of the day. I just couldn’t shake it, mainly because I didn’t want to. Instead, I wanted to pity myself because of my challenging circumstances at work. While grocery shopping with you guys that afternoon, I realized I was ruining everyone’s good time, and so, that your most pressing need was for me to change my attitude.
After grocery shopping, then, I took us all to a playground so we could have some fun together. More importantly, though, I changed my attitude. The day turned out fairly well, even if my work circumstances remained the same. Which is curious, because I thought for sure that sulking about would really turn things around. So much for that tactic.
Yesterday was a good day at work. I got some good results from my work, but those results required a huge mental push on my part. When we finally put the girls to bed, it was all I could do to sit on the couch (I thought I might get sick). For my act of love, then, I simply held your hand (and the baby) while you watched one of your shows.