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!
Sometimes I feel like I could write the textbook on carrying my husband’s burdens and walking alongside him. Other times, I see how much more I could have done. And I know that for a time, I was the one who added most of the burdens in his life.
For several months before I began to make some sexual changes, God was placing questions and observations in my mind. I was chatting online with a friend. She was asking me about what kind of support I had as we struggled with my husband’s continuing unemployment, and I was telling her about the ways my friends and co-workers were supporting me. I looked over at my husband, sitting with his sad eyes and slumped shoulders. It occurred to me to wonder, “Who does he have to support him? All he has is me. Oh.” We had gone past the constant arguing and were starting in a phase of apathy. There were times I didn’t even care enough to respond with heat to anything he did or said.
I remember the feeling of my heart sinking as I realized that he faced the most difficult experience in his life but had absolutely no one to support him. What kind of person was I? I didn’t let myself think about what it meant to be his wife because that would have gotten into the possibility that withholding sex was wrong—but I looked at my husband and saw an incredibly lonely and sad man.
Over the next few months, my heart began to soften as I noticed his loneliness. It prepared my heart to find the courage to make the sexual changes I needed to.
And now, this Dare asks me to list the wrongs my husband has committed against me, burn the list, and choose to forgive him. It asks me to make a list of the wrongs I’ve committed against my husband and to ask for his forgiveness.
I will not go down that path—not out of stubborn resistance to the spirit of this Dare but because it is done.
The wrongs I perceived my husband as committing against me are things I’ve since learned were not intended to hurt; rather, they came out of his own hurts. I no longer consider them wrongs. Forgiveness is not even needed. Writing them down would serve only to remind me of what I used to feel and believe. I’ve worked so hard to get past that point. I am not going back, even for a short visit.
As for the wrongs I’ve committed against my husband, well, I’ve already asked for and received his forgiveness. He has specifically asked me not to do so again. I am no longer that wife who provided no support or physical comfort. I’ve expressed my regrets. I have repented of my sins against him, and I have committed to making up for the pain I caused him for the rest of our lives together. He knows I love him. He feels married. He regularly tells me how happy he is that I am his wife. He knows that I stand beside him and that I look forward to doing so for some time.
The last part of the Dare asks me to take a step toward spiritual intimacy with my husband. Our spiritual intimacy is not where I would like it to be.
I have never wanted anyone’s leadership because of my fear of giving up knowledge and control. I still have those issues, although they are more muted now. I still have very mixed feelings about headship and submission (which is all over the Christian blogosphere at the moment—here and here and here, for starters). I understand it quite differently than I did a few months ago, and the idea doesn’t frighten me in the way it once did. How this will fit with our marriage—if it will—remains to be seen.
However, I hunger for spiritual leadership. My inclination is to say that I will think carefully about how to approach this with my husband without coming across as disrespectful or critical—but then I see that I don’t need to do that. I can offer it to God and ask Him to lead my husband to the place he and I both need him to be.
Wait, is that really me saying that? Looks like I’m making some progress after all.
If you are following the Respect Dare, how are you doing?
Read these other bloggers to learn about their experiences with the Respect Dare:
The Respect Dare Blog (author Nina Roesner)