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!
This is not a pleasant post to read. I am whiny. I am complaining about my husband, which I try very hard not to do. I’ve considered not posting it. I am trying to be transparent, so this is a bit raw. It is my journal, mostly uncensored (other than some of the complaining about Big Guy). It captures my thoughts and feelings throughout the day as I try to tackle this Dare. Welcome to the inner workings of my mind, folks. It isn’t pretty.
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As usual, a Dare I totally own (yay, sex!) is followed up by one that bites me in the butt—and not in a fun way. For this Dare, I’m supposed to prayerfully consider my husband as the man he has become and then write for him the characteristics that I’ve seen develop in him over the past few years.
Not Feeling the Dare Today
Here’s my out-loud response to reading this chapter: “Yeah, right.”
I have a few issues with this today. First, at the moment it’s hard to see the changes that have developed in him over the past few years. Honestly, it’s hard for me to see past his frequent irritability. I know it’s medical-related, but it’s what’s right in front of me with him. Does it mean he hasn’t made changes? That the changes he’s made are not positive ones? That I’m letting my temporary frustration cloud my vision? Am I not praying enough to be open to what God is showing me?
Second, I’m letting a couple things from yesterday’s interactions with my husband bug me. It was so nice to see him after being separated for several days—but he approached our sexual reunion in a way that upset me. I still don’t know how to talk with him about it. Our marriage hasn’t yet developed the ability to have conversations about sexual concerns without one of us feeling criticized. So, out of my efforts to be respectful of him and his feelings, I’m saying nothing. I know this isn’t healthy—but I don’t know what the right and healthy approach would be.
Seriously, how is this even possible? I can write a bunch of posts about how to give your husband oral sex, but I can’t tell my husband that he missed an important part of what I needed yesterday? We talk about sex all the time—but I don’t know how to say, “I really need you to do x before y. When you did y and then z without even a half-hearted attempt at x, I wasn’t able to be fully there.” I felt used and resentful, just like I did during the years I was refusing and gate-keeping. Sexual intimacy is so important to a marriage—and the fact that I did not have a good experience is making me feel disconnected from my husband. I will probably say something later today, and it will come out horribly wrong and I will cry. I’m upset with myself that I still can’t have a conversation with my husband and my sexual needs. What is wrong with me? And what is wrong with him that he doesn’t pay enough attention to my responses to be able to recognize when there’s a problem? So yeah, I’m sitting here feeling resentful and frustrated. (Can you tell?)
After we went to bed (to sleep), my husband began to talk about wanting to change churches. I know this is a hard thing for him to think about, so I mostly held his hand and listened. When I did ask some questions, I made an extra effort to be gentle and thoughtful in my wording, asking questions for clarification only. He got defensive anyway. I reminded him that I’m on his team and I’m not the enemy; he felt that I was attacking him. I’m still a bit bruised from that, wondering how much I’m supposed to put up with out of respect.
So now I’m feeling like a doormat. I felt used during sex, and I have no idea what my husband wanted or needed from me during our church conversation. Am I supposed to just let him be grouchy and sexually insensitive because he’s the man? How is this okay? If this is what submission is, I don’t want any part of it. I can’t bear to go through the rest of my life feeling like this.
Image courtesy of sritangphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
And now he gets to have his ego stroked by my writing down for him what positive changes he’s made over the past few years, when I can’t even see any at the moment?
Yeah, I’m resentful right now. So I’m going to go see if I can work through this today.
Could It Be Satan?
I’m reading a blog post for husbands about how to talk with a wife about changes she needs to make. The advice is good, but I’m in tears reading it because I’m not even sure that my husband is aware of how I respond to different conversational approaches, and even if he did, he would say that if I don’t like it, it’s on me to change and not on him.
Why am I feeling like this? I’m feeling resentful and neglected and sad. What is wrong with me? If I weren’t past hormone-related cycle issues, I would wonder what time of the month this is. But I am past that, so I don’t even have that as an explanation. But then I started hearing Dana Carvey in my mind.
Okay, just posting that video makes me laugh and feel better—but is it possible there is some spiritual warfare going on here? Am I even worth Satan’s time? And isn’t it kind of a cop-out to just blame Satan?
Maybe there’s something to this. I’ve noticed some interesting things with this blog in general and the Respect Dare process in particular. Every time I experience personal growth or write a post that seems to reach people, the next day poses multiple challenges—not huge stuff, just enough to make me feel snarky or irritate my husband. God makes good things happen, and the next day, Satan is trying to butt in. Isn’t that special?
God Seeps In
I spent some time with God this morning. I was specifically in prayer about an upcoming collaborative project (that I’m really, really excited about!)—and God managed to seep into my heart about my marriage at the same time. I’m still not feeling capable of tackling this Dare. But I am slightly less resentful of my husband at the moment.
Our conversation about changing churches has shifted some in my mind. The fact that he was thinking about this at all is a sign of inner turmoil for him. My husband isn’t a guy who spends much time reflecting or trying to understand his feelings—so this was way outside his comfort zone. It is not something he would talk about lightly. What I am able to see now is that he was sharing his heart with me. I know how hard it was for him to get to the point of wanting to leave a church. For him to pour out his frustrations to me—while letting me hold on to his hand—was a sign of his comfort and trust in me.
I’m still bothered by our sexual encounter and his frequent irritability—but it is amazing how a new perspective on just one thing can help me feel more settled generally.
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It is late in the afternoon as I write this. At this point, I’m not able to do the Dare yet. I still feel somewhat used and neglected by him, but not as strongly as I did this morning. I know that he needs the positive strokes, just as I do sometimes. But when I’m feeling like this, I just don’t know that I have it in me to be the better person and be the one to do the right thing despite feelings. It feels too much like doormat land, and I just can’t go there right now.
However, I have decided to make one of his favorite comfort food dishes for dinner. He usually does the cooking for us, but I am home today. He just called to say he got handed a project at work that needs to be done by tomorrow morning. So although I’m not in the frame of mind to be able to write to him about his positive changes, I can still thank him for being him in a way that will matter to him. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, after all.
Later in the evening . . . Having dinner ready was good. He had a long day at work, and he was happy to walk in to the smell of food he loved. He spent some time having man-to-man talk with our son about his job, some training he did recently, electronics, and trucks. After a bit, I got out my knitting and said I’d like to ask him a question. “Honey, what would be the best time and way to communicate with you about something sexual that happened between us that I didn’t particularly like?” (I really know how to start a conversation, don’t I?) I acknowledged what he had done and why–and thanked him for having known that his approach was one that I often enjoyed. Then I explained what I’d really needed and asked him to think about whether there was a way I could communicate that during our sexual encounter that would be loving and respectful. He’ll think about it. There was no crying from my end or irritability from his.
After our conversation, I continued with my knitting, and he watched a video online (Sesame Street variation of Sons of Anarchy, I recall). At one point, I realized he was just looking at me. I looked back at him and asked if everything is okay. “Yes, everything’s okay. I’m just looking at you. I love you.” I still can’t bring myself to do this Dare, but I no longer feel used or neglected. God is so good.
Read these other bloggers to learn about their experiences with the Respect Dare:
The Respect Dare Blog (author Nina Roesner)