Dare 18: Holding On

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!

The Respect Dare takes me places inside me that I forgot were there. Dare 18 says this: “Choose from this day forward to speak fewer words and to make those count.”

I could have completely skipped this Dare and still told you that I talk too much and say too little. I’m taking the work here seriously, though, so I dutifully answered the questions about how we communicate with others in term of our speaking and listening.

Next thing I knew, I was remembering issues from early in our marriage. Here’s part of what I wrote in my journal:

When I was newly married, I tried to avoid complaining—and I ended up resentful. My husband grew up in a house where his father kept all his shoes on the stairs—each step had one pair of shoes over to the side. So my husband thought he should keep his shoes on the floor of our bedroom. I wanted things in the closet. He didn’t believe everything should have a place, so all my efforts to make us a home resulted in me taking care of his things, or me seething inside because things were out of order, or me feeling unloved because he didn’t care enough about me to do something as simple as close the cupboard after he got a glass out.

I remember just giving up. I’ve never been good at home-making. I’m horrible at it—but my efforts to make us a home led me to feelings of despair and being unloved, so I quit trying. I never knew how to find a balance.

And how did I get here with a Dare about fighting fair? Why am I back at the beginning of my marriage, feeling so unloved because my husband wouldn’t let me make a home in the only way I knew how? It isn’t fighting that’s the problem. It’s knowing what is worth fighting over. I never learned this at all. Early in my life (oh, great, here I am back at Dare 2, all over again!), I learned to avoid conflict. Don’t fight. Don’t yell. Yet sometimes, it comes out—and because I spent so much time avoiding it instead of learning how to do it well and respectfully, horrible and hateful things come out of my mouth. It takes a lot to make me angry, but then I become vicious.

Okay, now I’m looking back at the Dare. It doesn’t say not to speak. It says to save your words for when they count.

And one of the things I do best is connect with other people. How will I do that without my words?

All I can see here is that this Dare is asking me to hold my feelings back—or to not have the feelings at all. If I don’t have my feelings, then who am I? It’s asking me not to talk so much to people. If I don’t talk with people to establish and maintain relationship, then I will feel alone. If my conversations are all about the other people and not about my feelings at all, then I become invisible and don’t matter. Oh, crud. Tears again

This Dare is asking me to be something other than what I am. I just can’t do it. It’s too fast. Why is it so hard for me to let go and just accept that the only thing that truly matters is that I am a daughter of God, saved by the blood of Jesus? Why can’t I just say “thank you” and move on with life? What am I holding onto? And why can’t I just seem to hold on to Jesus instead of this junk from my past that I didn’t know was still there? Why does it always feel like I’m slipping away from what truly matters?

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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9 Comments on “Dare 18: Holding On”

  1. When I read “speak fewer words and make them count”, I think of our marriage. There are many ways my DH and I almost have a role reversal, talking is one if them.

    He is an extrovert, and he “thinks” outloud. When I hear him doing this I hear “indecision” or I just feel like he is rambling, and it frustrates me. Often times, I just block him out because I think “he’s thinking outloud”, then he asks me a question, I say I wasn’t listening, and then he gets frustrated.

    I wonder if this is what the dare was thinking of, at least in part. That way the husband won’t just “block out” the wife because he feels she is rambling, and will actually listen. I could be way off.

    1. You’re probably right. When I’m communicating with my husband, I frequently talk through my feelings, thought processes, and ideas–partly so I can understand what I think but also so he can have all the information necessary as we go on to discuss whatever it is. He’ll think that I’ve just communicated a decision to him, and I’ll think that now he knows everything I know so we can proceed and make a decisions together….and there I go rambling on again…..

  2. I’m one of pretty few words, ya know, the quiet one! ha! And for me communication can be so hard. The reason I usually don’t speak up about something is for fear of hurting someone’s feelings or making him feel bad, kwim?
    There are things tearing at my heart right now regarding the intimacy in my marriage and I am feeling the need to share with my husband, but I always end up clamming up and never saying anything. Then I start feeling resentment and sometimes anger over the situation and the sad part is, my husband doesn’t even know there is truly anything bothering me or at least doesn’t know what it is.
    When we begin dating several years ago I really tried hard to keep the communication open between us since I had been in an emotionally and mentally abusive marriage for 20 years. I knew how important it was for me to truly know this man and we would write email after email to each other talking about ourselves, our dreams, whatever it was. I surprised myself at how open I was about things, even talking openly about sex.
    But I’m much better at writing my thoughts down and still stumble over my words. What do you think of writing a note to communicate thoughts that need to be said but can be difficult to discuss? I admit it makes me feel kind of foolish writing him a letter, but I cannot let this go or I know I will start becoming more resentful and hurt over something that we can come to a mutual agreement on.
    I love your transparency and how God is working in your life.

    1. I would always prefer to write me a letter when I’m really emotional. My husband, however, would prefer a conversation. What I do now is say something like, “I need to share some feelings with you. I don’t completely understand whay I’m feeling, and some of it sounds contradictory. I don’t want a response right away, because it’s important to me that you spend some time thinking and praying about what I say. Would you prefer that I write you a letter, or would you prefer that I just tell you? I will need to get through all of it, all the way through, before I’m able to hear any questions or observations.” Even when he prefers a conversation, I often write things out first to help me think abot how to put things.

      You are hurting. Keeping this from your husband may be easier for him now, but iit sounds like it is affecting your marriage. Won’t his feelings be hurt just as much if he learns you felt you couldn’t share this with him? It won’t be easy, but the strategy of saying nothing hasn’t worked. I’ll say some prayers for you on this.

      1. I honestly prefer a conversation too, but writing a letter has been a good way for me to start that conversation. Gives me a chance to think more clearly and rewrite things as needed, plus gives my husband a chance think on it after he has read it. Then we can more easily come together to discuss the situation.

        But I ended up talking with him about my feelings this morning after a long overdue intimate moment, or two. 😉 It was difficult to get started and still didn’t go like I would have liked, but at least I was able to get the words out. And we talked about how I’ve been feeling which was such a relief to just get it out. I feel so much lighter and happier today. Especially knowing that my husband heard me and understands exactly what I was trying to say…he actually repeated some of it back to me which made me feel he was really tuned in and hearing me.

        Reality is…I’m the HDS and as such will probably never be completely satisfied with the frequency of our lovemaking, but knowing that I can be open and honest with my spouse, even crying out once in a while (like this morning) how hurtful it is going almost a week without making love, makes it more bearable.


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