Dare 16: Fault Lines

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:

Unbroken Woman

My Beloved Is Mine!

Broken But Not Forgotten


The Respect Dare Blog (author Nina Roesner)

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33 Comments on “Dare 16: Fault Lines”

  1. Asking respectfully for what you need is not finding fault. Going on to find fault when your need is not met just the way you wanted is finding fault. This is a hard one for me – I fall back on the principle of making a request and letting of my need to control the response to that request.

    It’s been so interesting to read your process – I did much of this in 2012 without the formal “respect dare” bc I didn’t know it existed. I got so tired of holding up the “mirror” and seeing my internal ugliness. It gets better I promise! Look at the work The Lord has already done in your marriage and know that He is walking this path with you!

    1. When asking for what I need and finding fault have always happened in tandem, it’s a process to learn to separate the two. I have been asking my husband for help in this: “How can I communicate xyz to you in a way that will help you hear me rather than sounding like the way I’ve always complained?” So at least I don’t have to figure it out alone.

      I’ve done a lot of the process of becoming more respectful on my own,.That was hard in a different way than this is.

  2. Everybody occasionally makes wrong decisions, so when other people make decisions that are obviously wrong, I don’t think it’s wrong to question them. Sometimes we are even obliged to do it. At work, for instance, we are more or less being paid for doing it (at least if you have any kind of managerial responsibility). In marriage I think we are obliged to do it if a decision will harm our family. It’s not disrespectful at all.

    I think what’s important is that we don’t identify people (including our spouse) with their wrong decisions. In other words, that we don’t see them as “refusers” :-), “selfish”, “irresponsible”, “stupid” etc. So even though there are certainly faulty decisions, we should not look at people as being faulty.

    1. Very true. We are all so much more than our sins, and when people see us only as a sinner of a particular kind, they miss out on so much. Although I’ve tended to be a fault-finder, I’ve always been able to see a person’s whole self and I see fault in context.

  3. Once again thanks for your transparency and honesty. I started out believing that The Respect Dare was going to be about how I change how I treat my husband. Yet what it really is about is how God is revealing to me my brokenness and my total need for Him. God has designed women to respect in all areas of their lives. Doing that in His power is our strength and does not require being a doormat or weak. Stay strong – you are doing great work and are very brave sharing your struggles. We are all going through them!

    1. I’m glad you posted! I was thinking about you yesterday and wondering if you’re still trying to work through this process. As I get through the layers of stuff to my brokenness, it gets easier to see what my core issues are and where the healing can begin.

  4. You are right! You failed to call attention only to what is right and good, to refuse to find fault with what you do or don’t do. You need to try this one again and be sure to start with you. Just let me know if you need any help with what’s right and good about the Forgiven Wife.

  5. *sigh* letting go, miserable little words.. Since Feb that’s what I’ve been trying to do. I actually thought there was much progress, now? It seems, not so much. I am so with ya on the “dude,” comment!! This week is just one huge bundle of frustration. I’m a mess….and who pays the price? Mr justme. Another hurdle to climb, sure was hopping those hurdles would get closer to the ground. Ugh!

    1. Your hubby sounds much like mine. Very patient men. I am fortunate. I have these walls built so high that sometimes bringing them down is monumental! One day I will finally realize that building them in the first place is a waste of time.

        1. cgpags,
          oh…..you’re right, God will break them down! I just hope, I’ll be left standing! When you figure out the why of protection…look me up, I think I’m too stubborn to see the “backhoe” nearby.

        2. You probably won’t be left standing. You will be in a posture of complete surrender, kneeling at the feet of Jesus washing his feet with your cleansing tears, THEN you will stand up a new creation. Praising Him for what he is doing in marriages all around the globe. Praying for a groundswell of marriages that have a complete and sturdy, firm foundation in Him. Then praying that those marriages begin a ripple effect of helping others figure this “God’s Way, not the world’s way” of marriage.

  6. FW: “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.”

    But you also link back to the “Digging Deeper post from June 17 where your conclusion was that it was NOT about control, but about protection! So, is the message that control is the means whereas protection is the end?

      1. Actually it makes a lot of sense!

        But I don’t think being in control is (necessarily) an illusion. On the contrary, I think control can be very real (particularly in marriage).

        1. The more I thought I was in control, the less I was able to handle any blips or unexpected occurrences–and the more I worked to control other things even more. It was a vicious cycle.

  7. You have perfectly expressed the issue I have been trying to explain to myself and my husband but never found the right words….or have just been too afraid to say them

    1. Feel free to print this out and highlight the words that speak for you as well. I have to say that much of this process is bringing up things I’ve been unwilling or unable to admit–to myself as well as to my husband.

  8. I don’t think you “failed”, you learned something. We are usually much too hard on ourselves and I see you doing a lot of really hard work in your heart and marriage. Give yourself some room to grow and to stumble and fall occasionally…that’s called being human.

    I have to say what jumped out at me was your comment, “Dude, I’m not done.” Ha! I was in a terribly bad mood this morning and admittedly upset with my husband, and just down frustrated with myself. Why? All because last night did not come together as I had hoped, and anxiously waited for. 🙁
    My husband’s long work hours during the week (up at 3am and in bed by 8pm) make for one really tired, less than horny husband during the week. And as the high drive spouse I find it extremely difficult to wait almost a week to be intimate again with my hubby. So, yesterday I sent him a text saying how I was looking forward to taking an “early” shower and he agreed that sounded great. Note: my two teen sons from my first marriage live with us, but they were both supposed to be gone until late last night.
    So as we were thinking we had the house to ourselves and it was time to go have a little “fun” in walks my youngest son who is now home for the evening.
    My husband and I finished watching a tv show and then he turns to me and ask if I was coming to bed, to which I was torn as to what to do at this point and told my hubby I didn’t think my son was going to be home. So he went to bed and I then decided that I would sneak in for a quickie. As things started to heat up I made the hard decision to let my pleasure go because 1) it was getting late and my hubby really needed to get to sleep and 2) I felt like I couldn’t stay in there for too long without feeling weird with my son being home. So although he still tried to pleasure me because he does enjoy getting me there first, I told him it probably wouldn’t happen tonight and so he finished. I was left feeling really empty and frustrated since it’s usually me that wants to make love more than he does, and then I felt so very selfish. Selfish that I was caring so much about my own pleasure that I couldn’t just take care of my hubby and be happy about it.
    He did hold me briefly before I got up and told me “next time it’s your turn.” he really is a very loving, caring man and I know he probably felt bad that I didn’t get to finish.

    I’ve been wrestling this morning with how to just not care about myself so much during intimacy. I’ve prayed for a diminished sex drive, prayed that I would just not care about sex and just do it when he is in the mood, but the fact is, I do care about sexual intimacy with my husband and climaxing during our lovemaking makes it so much more special. Why should I give it up when he comes each time?

    And to talk with him about it is very hard for me. I too feel like I’m finding fault with him or his lovemaking skills, which I’m not. he is an amazing lover and I tell him that often. But mostly, I don’t speak up for fear of hurting his feelings. I always care so much for what others will think or feel if I say something that usually it’s safer to not say anything.

    Sorry for the rant, I tend to do that! Ha!
    I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey of healing… 🙂

    1. I wish I had some advice, but I’ve walked that same road at times. My husband was working second shift for a few months this past winter, so it seemed like all our physical intimacy was crammed into the weekends–and when there’s a bit of low T-induced ED, well, let’s just say that even weekends were limited.

      And in case you hadn’t noticed, I have a tendency to rant just a touch, too. 🙂

      1. I finally just asked my husband how he would like me to communicate this need to him. We decided that I can say something like, “You got me so worked up that i just have to finish. Will you please abc while I xyz? I need you.” It felt silly at first, but it works. It praises him for getting me so worked up, and it also helps me advocate for myself and communicate very concretely what I would like for him to do for me.

        Could something like that work for you?

        1. Yeah, that’s a good idea. Problem is, I don’t know what to ask for. Nothing’s ever worked for me. I don’t think it would be a big problem for me to ask once we know what works.

        2. I’m sorry. That’s a whole extra set of frustration, I know. It took me a long time to figure it out. My husband and I agreed early on that it was okay to spend time by myself figuring it out so I could know what kinds of things worked–and the process of figuring it out on my own made it easier to happen when I was with him.

          What have you (either alone or with your husband) tried so far to learn what works and how your body responds?

        3. A lot of different things. I sent an email with more details about myself, as I didn’t want to leave a huge, personal comment here. I’ve spent several sessions by myself, but generally just end up with the same result as when he does it. I can get a little farther a little faster with the instantaneous feedback of doing it myself, but ultimately the same result, either a plateau, or painful overstimulation.

          Also, so as not to completely derail your comments, I think you were right to go ahead and send that concerned email at your work. My work also involves a lot of noticing when things aren’t working properly, and sending polite requests to do things differently. I don’t think of it as complaining or finding fault in others. I think of it as improving systems and processes, which benefits the company by greater efficiency in the long run.

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