Dare 6: Not-So-Random Acts of Learning

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!


I’ll say this about the Respect Dare: it’s challenging me to look inside myself. I am not loving this, but at the same time, I am learning some things about myself. Several patterns are emerging as I see a picture of who and how I have been in my life. Sometimes I’m swirling in a morass of muck as I extract the “what I learned and how it shaped my behavior” from the feelings and memories.

In Dare 6, we are challenged to do one act of kindness for our husbands without complaining or expecting anything. How hard can that be? That should be simple. And in a way, it is. My act is laundry-related. No big deal, right? I already have it half-way done.

Here’s one of the common threads I’m learning in these Dares: being understood is a big deal to me. (And yes, that even shows up while I’m thinking about washing my husband’s socks.)

The verse for this chapter is Phillippians 2:14: Do everything without complaining or arguing. (NIV)

I often complain and argue while I’m in the process of doing something that’s been asked of me. I’ve always done this. If anyone has commented on it, my response has been along the lines of, “Why does it matter if I’m complaining if I’m actually doing the thing you asked me to do?” What I’m realizing about the complaining is that it is my way of making sure my feelings are out and presented so I am understood. Honestly, why do I even have feelings about doing things for other people? I don’t know why, but since I do, I have a compulsion to have them recognized and understood.

We are asked what would happen if we communicated more factually and less emotionally with our husbands. So here’s part of my journal related to this question: Even when I’m stating the facts, I state them with emotion.  The outcome would be that he is happy that he doesn’t have to deal with emotions. The outcome for me is that I would be suppressing myself for him. When I think of it that way, communication becomes something with huge implications for me.

And then we’re asked why choosing a good attitude doesn’t make us a doormat. Whoa. True, choosing a good attitude doesn’t make you a doormat. But why is “good attitude” represented by sticking to the facts and communicating in a way my husband likes? What if “good attitude” means something different to me? Nina, dear, you’re rushing me too fast. I’m not here yet.

I’ve bit my tongue (literally) a couple times already today, trying hard not to interrupt him while he’s talking, even if I’m in the middle of doing something else and I’m not interested in what he’s saying. I can just feel a bit of ever-present tension in me. I can’t stand squashing myself down, and that’s exactly how this feels. I’m trying not to argue with him even when he’s wrong. (Okay, even when I think he’s wrong. Is that better?) How can I get into the habit of silencing myself at some times without having that become a permanent self-silencing?

These questions in the Dares about how something isn’t a doormat seem perfectly reasonable the way they’re worded. But I’m having visceral responses where I’m feeling small, irrelevant, invisible, and non-existent. How can this possibly be the process of growth? Why do I have to be broken in order to become a Stepford wife? And why do I think that this is going to make me a Stepford wife? Do I think this process will make me just like everyone else? I don’t think I will lose my self, but I think that deep inside, that is my fear. I have no idea how to let this one go.

There, see? I told you I was going to be transparent and share my mess. As this mess pours out of me, I’m seeing patterns and common threads. Is it possible that at some point I will be able to rearrange all these pieces of me into something that won’t be quite so messy?

Image courtesy of Iamnee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

11 Comments on “Dare 6: Not-So-Random Acts of Learning”

  1. Okay shall I try this again, my computer decided to close the window on me and now I got to remember what I was saying to you, l.o.l. I loved your writing and I loved your honesty. The doormat questions I had a hard time understanding what she was saying. The first one I think I got but this one I ended up leaving blank. I also had hard a time with this dare because i’m pretty much good at doing things for my hubby without complaining. I grew up very old fashion where it was your job to take care of your man or else. So there was no time to complain or argue. You just did what you had to do and be happy! But were my problem comes in is when my hubby just throw his stuff where ever he likes, makes messes and don’t clean up after himself,then I go crazy. So if I had my old attitude this is my job just be happy then I wouldn’t even care. But I have learned I am no one’s maid and I’m to be just as much as respected as the other person. So now I go crazy when things are not the way they should be! What I can say but one day at a time for both you and I, God will get us through this. God Bless

  2. “I’ve bit my tongue (literally) a couple times already today, trying hard not to interrupt him while he’s talking, even if I’m in the middle of doing something else and I’m not interested in what he’s saying. I can just feel a bit of ever-present tension in me. I can’t stand squashing myself down, and that’s exactly how this feels.”

    A couple of thoughts …

    Sometimes it helps to think of it not as squashing yourself down, but rather as being wise and thoughtful, pacing yourself so that you are communicating well and building your relationship. It’s good to hear your spouse through without interruption and you do still have a voice. You can speak your thoughts when you have heard him. It also helps with misunderstandings that come with interruptions and not listening well.

    The other thing, is take some quiet time and ask God to show you what messages are playing through your head (like “when I’m not heard I feel unimportant or I’m nobody or whatever”) and then ask Him to show you His perspective. It’s pretty amazing how healing it can be to hear His truth.

    1. Thank you, Lori. Simply being aware of the messages in my head has been illuminating–and seeing the emergence of patterns in my responses has both distressed and liberated me. I’ve spent a lot of time with God but haven’t thought to ask Him to show me His perspective. I think He’s been showing me anyway. My husband has been paying attention and noticing when I’m struggling. He has been doing a wonderful job of hearing me, letting me talk through what is going on in my head, and helping me step back from the immediate experience and see a bigger picture. As I watch him do this, I am seeing my husband’s–and God’s–love for me more and more every day.

  3. I tend to be a little passive with my husband. All stemming from my childhood and not wanting to cause problems. So this week I had a goal of communicatig better. I did and my husband has been so kind and loving to me. I said to my friend I had no idea who this man was:-))!

  4. I love your openness and honesty. With some blogs, it’s so hard to not feel…that it would be so difficult to be up to their levels. I love how you’ve let us in to your struggles, and I feel that I’m right there with you. It makes me feel more human.

    1. Thank you for this comment. It’s hard to believe sometimes that sharing my messy inner struggles is the right thing to do. I’m glad it helps you to see that you aren’t alone.

  5. Mandisa’s song “What If We Were Real” comes to mind…..

    We keep tryin to make it look so nice
    And we keep hidin’ what’s goin on inside
    But what if I share my brokenness
    What if you share how you feel
    And what if we weren’t afraid of this crazy mess

    What if we were real

    We’d think a little less of ourselves
    We’d care about someone else
    ‘Cause we’d know just how they feel
    Maybe we could let someone love us
    Maybe we’d a little more like Jesus
    Why can’t we learn to real

Leave a Reply!