Five years ago, we attended our first marriage conference: the Love and Respect Conference (loveandrespect.com). We loved it so much and it had such an impact on our marriage that we decided to attend a marriage conference every year; but, we haven’t attended one since (oops). We need to. Right now, we can’t because we have a newborn. Given that, I decided that we could at least listen to a conference from home. So, on Saturday I asked you if you wanted to start listening to the CDs from the Love and Respect Conference. You said yes. We listened to the first CD called “The Crazy Cycle.” At times, we definitely fall into to the Crazy Cycle: my lack of love fuels your lack of respect and vice versa. I’m anxious to listen to the CDs on the Energizing and Rewarded Cycles. Perhaps I’ll learn new ways to love you that I can incorporate into 365 Acts of Love.
For yesterday’s act of love, I read the first chapter of Through the Looking Glass to you. Both you and I have read this book and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland before and enjoyed them.
Also, you went to the store yesterday to pick up a few things and brought back a coffee for me from Starbucks. Your face beamed with delight as you gave me my gift. Since I started 365 Acts of Love, you’ve been more inclined to do kind/loving things for me. These things have been unsolicited and seemingly without expectation of reciprocation by me. Is there a connection between 365 and your kind acts? Maybe.
It’s day 50! I’m nearly 1/7 of the way through 365 Acts of Love and I’m going strong. To celebrate, I wrote you a love letter that I hid in a book on my bookshelf. If you’re reading this post for the first time, it should be late September/early October of next year (unless you somehow found out about this blog). The letter should still be there.
I wish I could say I found a clever place to hide it, like in a book called The Secret Letter or Your Husband Hid a Love Letter in This Book, but I wasn’t so clever–it’s in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will. That’s a pretty safe hiding spot, though, because I’m almost positive you won’t brush up on the free will debate within the next year (is that due to your genetics and upbringing?). I did look for books on our shelf with the word ‘letter’ in their title. There were two–The Scarlet Letter (!) and The Screwtape Letters–but I didn’t like what either choice might suggest about us. The Oxford Handbook of Free Will is on the top shelf with the other philosophical works. Go get your letter!
There’s something you love but rarely have: a clean car. We don’t wash it as much as we would like, because we have no way of doing it for free. And even when we clean it, it quickly becomes dirty–within a few days the outside gets dusty because we park by a field and the inside gets sticky, cluttered, crumby, smelly, etc., because of our kids (oh, the joys of fields and kids!).
Last night, while you atteneded a meeting, I cleaned the car inside and out at a self-service car wash. This wasn’t easy given that I had all three kids with me. We tried to get home before you returned so we could keep our gift a secret until you used the car next; instead, we arrived at the same time as you. Oh, well, it probably would’ve been dusty by the time you used it anyway. You really appreciated that I cleaned the car for you. Really. But, you delicately pointed out that, for once, the car didn’t need cleaned–two days ago, you vacuumed the car and it rained (yes, I count that as getting the car washed, which is why I get really excited when it rains). Oops. Also, I’ve been super busy lately, so I’ve had to do some work in the evenings. So, I let the dishes pile up last night. I guess I could’ve spent my free time washing the dirty dishes instead of our clean car. I didn’t really think this one through.
I’ve noticed some changes in me since I started 365 Acts of Love. Here’s one: throughout a given day, I’ll frequently and automatically consider, for a given action, whether or not that action would be for your good. Before starting 365, I would often act, and only afterwards consider how that situation might affect you. Or, I would act while simultaneously realizing that my action wasn’t for your good. But now, I often pause before committing an act to consider whether or not I would be loving you by that act. I can tell you that this has already preempted some fights. I’m getting amped typing about this because if this is what can happen in 48 days, think about what an entire year can do. We might just come out of this thing with a fantastic marriage. That’s the power of love! (I mean, the Spirit’s transforming work).
For yesterday’s act of love, I lead us through the Lord’s Supper. After we put the older girls to bed and our newborn was asleep, I set our table up with a candle, two glasses of Martinelli’s, and two pieces of a baguette. We quieted ourselves before God as I read Matthew 27, which concerns the Lord’s crucifixion. After reading this passage, we silently confessed our sins and expressed gratitutde for God’s grace. Next, I read I Corinthians 11:23-29 as we took the bread and the cup. Our time together was solemn and meaningful. I chose this as one of my acts of love because I wanted us to connect spiritually: I wanted us to be broken before God together, to praise God for his grace together, and to walk away from the experience united in our commitment to hate sin and pursue God.
After church yesterday, I surprised you by taking our family to Elephant Bar for their Sunday brunch. This was a big deal because you love to eat out, but we try to save money by not eating out often. I hope you felt special. I think you did because you talked about our brunch a lot yesterday.
You weren’t the only one who enjoyed it. Our oldest daughter loves Elephant Bar–whenever we decide to eat out, she votes to eat there. On our way to the restaurant, I told you what we were doing, but not her. As we pulled into the parking lot, she saw the restaurant, hung her head, and said “I wish we could eat at Elephant Bar.” (What did she think we were doing in the parking lot for Elephant Bar? Taunting her?) “We are,” I replied. She brightened up immediately.
When I talked to our pastor later that day, he asked how I was doing. “Great! I took the family to Elephant Bar for brunch.” “They deserved that,” he replied. “They did. They give up a lot because of me.” He agreed. I’m sorry, honey, that I can’t take you to restaurants all the time–financially, we’ve sacrificed so much to pursue my dream. I wish I could treat you like a queen, lavishing you with expensive gifts, taking you out all the time, etc. But even though I can’t do those things, I can still treasure you–by guarding you, fighting for you, giving of myself for you, caring for you, etc. If I did the former things without the latter, you wouldn’t feel loved. And if you had to give up one for the other, it’s obvious which you’d choose. In the end, you wouldn’t want me to spend inordinate amounts of money on things we don’t need, given that we could use the same money to (for example) feed the hungry or spread the Gospel. (Having said that, I’m not opposed to taking you to Elephant Bar once in a while.)
Since I started 365 acts of love, it’s been difficult to stay mad at you. On Friday night, I got mildly upset at you (and you at me) for something stupid. Moments later, I began thinking about Saturday’s act of love. I couldn’t stay mad at you while planning out an expression of my love for you (Even still, I decided not to talk about our dispute while we were both tired.)
While you slept on Saturday morning, the girls and I brought pancakes, bacon, a sliced pear, and coffee to your bedside. It wasn’t even Mother’s Day! We gently woke you. You sat up, saw us with breakfast for you, and smiled the sweetest of smiles. As you ate, we talked about why we were upset at each other. The conversation went much better than the night before: our bodies were rested and the act of love put both of our hearts in better places.
Last night, I wrote a different note of encouragement on each of 5 note cards, then stuck/hid those cards in different places around the house. Here are the five notes: (1) “You’re beautiful,” (2) “I’m so glad I married you,” (3) “God loves you,” (4) “You’re a wonderful, godly woman,” and (5) “I love you.” I taped (1) to the bathroom mirror because I want you to see yourself as beautiful as you read the note. Also, I want you to see it every morning when you get ready so you can go about your day knowing your husband thinks you’re beautiful. Okay, there’s one more reason: when I get ready in the morning, I want to pretend that the note’s written to me. (2) is in the spice cabinet. I want to say I put it there because marrying you spiced up my life. Although you do spice things up, the cabinet just looked like a good hiding spot. I placed (3) in the towel closet. Again, I had no particular reason for placing (3) there. Although, God loves you even when you need a towel. You’ll find (4) taped to the coffee in the freezer. (5) I put somewhere in the house; but honestly, I can’t remember where. It might still be there as you’re reading this a year from now.
Last night, I broke out our card games. I decided to play cards with you for yesterday’s act of love because we typically have lots of fun when we do (see day 19). I pictured us laughing, flirting, and being silly with each other. I pictured me winning a bunch of times and you losing a bunch of (Monopoly) money. I pictured you telling me I’m the greatest husband in the world and feeling my bicep. Overall, I pictured us having a good time. We did, but almost none of those things happened. We sat on the couch and played a single, quiet game of cards. Halfway through, you told me your feet hurt and needed massaged. I massaged them. If that was a ruse to get my mind off the game, it didn’t work–I kicked your butt (how romantic!).