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!
Our Dare today was to call attention only to what is right and good, to refuse to find fault with what other do or don’t do.
One of the items on my to-do list at work was to send an email to a higher-level administrator expressing concerns about a recent decision. I was stuck. Is expressing concern opposite from calling attention to what is right and good?
I suppose I could have waited until tomorrow to send the email, but I decided I shouldn’t postpone a task just for the Respect Dare. Here was my thinking: if the purpose of the Respect Dare is to reshape my behavior and attitude, then ideally, each day’s lesson would be part of me going forward—so if it wasn’t okay to send that email today, it wouldn’t be okay to send it tomorrow, or the next day, or three months from now.
And I thought about my marriage. There are times, I believe, when we need to be a sounding board for our spouses, and sometimes, this includes being the one person who will be completely honest with them about a decision, a pattern, or a sin. Being respectful—and, I would venture to say, being submissive—does not mean that I sit back saying nothing when my husband is doing wrongful or hurtful things. Sometimes, I need to be the mirror reflecting a difficult truth, just as my husband is that mirror for me.
So, I decided to send the email. I was careful to be kind and gentle in my concerns, and I made a point of building up the positive aspects of the decision I was writing about. I usually do this anyway, but I was more thoughtful about it today. After I got a response to the email a short time later, I was generous in my thanks for the response and the new perspective it provided of the decision.
I was feeling pretty good about having been so kind. But there I was, an hour later, sitting in another person’s office (someone who I knew felt just as strongly about the decision), venting about the decision and how short-sighted I thought it was. At one point, I realized that I had failed this Dare—and instead of trying to do a mid-course correction, I figured I might as well let it all out and I discovered even more complaints in me than I’d realized.
Why do I feel compelled to point out things that I think are wrong? One of my biggest professional frustrations in every job I’ve had is when I see something that could work more smoothly or that simply doesn’t make sense. Instead of just accepting the way things are, I always find a way to insert myself into the process and work to make things work more smoothly—or I stew inside, letting the frustration eat away inside me.
Why am I like this? I tell myself it’s just the way I am—but I also know that I never, ever feel good about myself when I’m pointing out things that I think could be different or better. I do feel good once I’m part of the process of making things better, but why does it get to me so much when things don’t work the way I think they should? I honestly don’t know that it’s possible for me to get through a whole day without finding fault in others.
Digging into this is hard, and it draws on some things I’ve already struggled to work through. I want the world to make sense. I don’t like surprises. I don’t like to feel like the world has been moving along without me. I don’t want to be invisible. I want to know that I matter.
I tell myself that pointing out things that could be better is being constructive, that it is building up others. But it’s really about feeling connected to the things that affect my life. It’s about creating the illusion of control. As I’ve been working on my marriage and our sex life, I’ve struggled with this the most.
It gets back to some of the roots of my sexual refusal and gate-keeping all those years. I couldn’t let my husband set the pace. I couldn’t let my own plans for the evening be interrupted or redirected. I simply couldn’t let go. Even now, when things are so much better in our marriage, there are times when I find that I expect a sexual encounter to go a certain way, and when it doesn’t, I don’t know how to respond.
Then there are times when I completely let go and still don’t have an orgasm, and I lie there, torn. Do I say something? Do I ask for more? Is there a way of saying, “Dude, I’m not done” without sounding like I’m complaining? In all my efforts to try to not complain and to be uplifting (which is fighting my nature), I don’t even know how to ask my husband for what I would like in bed because I don’t want to sound like I’m finding fault in what he’s done or not done.
Tears are streaming down my cheeks right now. I wonder how I ever thought I was grown up enough to get married. I had no business making the promises I did with as much maturing as I had still have in front of me. Building a marriage on my shaky self is like building a house over the fault lines in an earthquake zone.
There are days when I fully believe that God has built us a good marriage despite our individual weaknesses, but there are moments, like now, when I wonder if that’s just an illusion, too.
This sure is a downer of a blog post. Finding fault is connected to the core of who I am, and I honestly don’t know how to let that go.
I failed Dare 16. But I’ll still be back tomorrow.
Read these other bloggers to learn about their experiences with the Respect Dare:
The Respect Dare Blog (author Nina Roesner)