The Unbroken Woman blog is hosting The Respect Dare. Starting July 10, participants will be using Nina Roesner’s The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband as a guide, posting about their journey. And I will be doing it with you!
For years, I tried to understand everyone except my husband. I figured I knew him, so I just assumed I knew what he was going to do and what he meant.
When I began to make changes in our sex life, though, it was because I was finally able to see the experience from his point of view, from imagining what it was like to be him, married to me. Poor guy. I began to extend some grace. Rather than assume all he wanted was what was between my legs, I chose to assume better.
One of the questions in this Dare is to think about how the relationship between my husband and me would change if my husband does or says something that I interpret as an insult and I choose to respond with a question or some grace. This is exactly what I finally learned to do in my marriage.
So many of our “discussions”—especially about sex, but really, about everything—used to be the result of one question or comment, perceived as an insult by the other and then responded to in a corresponding manner, which then escalated into a game of back-and-forth. We would get to a stopping point in the argument and wonder how on earth we got there. And then we would have the “you started it” accusations. It was a vicious cycle of hurt.
I’m currently spending a few days at my parent’s cabin on a lake. (I love the wonders of technology and pre-scheduling.) At some point during my long weekend, we’ll swim out to the diving raft. We’ll all pile on to rest from our swim and soak in the sun (I hope). Some will sit; others will lie or stand. And then it will happen. Without any warning, one of us will decide that it’s actually warmer back in the water and will jump or dive in. As the person pushes off, the raft will begin tilting back and forth. And the rest of us will go scrambling for our balance as we lose our equilibrium. The raft will be wildly unstable for a few minutes before it settles back down.
Sometimes, we are so prepared for this to happen that we overcompensate. I was lying on the raft once when one of my brothers stood up and took a step. Assuming he was going to jump off, I braced myself and began to roll slightly to be prepared for the disequilibrium—and it didn’t happen. My brother took a step because he wanted to get a better view of a loon. And me? Well, in all my assumption about what he was going to do, I rolled right off that raft and into the water. And that, of course, upset the equilibrium for everyone else on the raft.
So many relationship problems are like that, I think.
Once we get into the habit of something, we go on auto-pilot and don’t even think about what we’re doing. We get into the habit of gossiping. We get into the habit of complaining about co-workers. We get into the habit of putting our husbands’ needs at the bottom of the to-do list. We aren’t even aware that we have these habits—until something happens to upset the equilibrium. And then we over-compensate, like a pendulum swinging to the far side as it tries to find center again.
We rest, soaking in the warmth of just being, and then someone jumps off. Now, on a diving raft, that’s kind of the point. Anyone who doesn’t want to have to deal with constant rocking should just stay in the water floating on a noodle.
A marriage is not a diving raft. If your husband is standing and takes a step, don’t assume he’s going to jump off and rock the boat. Wait. Ask. Be kind. Choose to stay still, and maybe you can both keep your balance.
Read these other bloggers to learn about their experiences with the Respect Dare:
The Respect Dare Blog (author Nina Roesner)