Respect Dare 1: Already a Challenge

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!

Day 1 of the Respect Dare. You’d think the first one would be easy-ish. Not for me.

I tried to get a head-start in the study a couple weeks ago. Dare 1 stumped me. Really, I couldn’t even get through the first one. I told you I was stubborn. Do you believe me now?

Here’s my journal entry.

Dare 1, Expectations

Okay, this is just not going to work. We have two assignments:

  • Now, in your journal, under the heading “Expectations for My Progress ,” write out three tangible, measurable statements that would indicate progress is being made for you.
  • On a separate piece of paper, under the heading “Expectations of My Husband That I Release,” write three tangible, measurable statements that are expectations you have held for your husband.

I can’t do either one of them. An example she gives for the first one is to refrain from telling my husband what to do or how. Now, my husband has always told me, “You can tell me what to do or how to do it, but you can’t tell me both.” Oh, I hate when he says that. There’s no logic. You can’t do the second option without having done the first, so basically, I can tell him what to do but if there’s anything important to know I’m not supposed to say anything? Sometimes, it’s important to me to be able to explain what I’ve learned about how to do something in a way that works. So yeah, I can see where this would be something my husband would see as respect, but I just can’t do it.

But here’s the real problem—I think I have such a poor understanding of what “respect” means that I can’t come up with anything. How can I measure progress if I don’t really understand what the goal is? I could probably think of other things my husband complains about, but that feels like giving my power away. I can’t. That’s scary. It’s like telling him he’s in charge of our marriage and in charge of me. I just can’t let that go. Oh, crud, now I’m sitting here crying. What’s wrong with me?

As for releasing my husband of expectations, I know I have some but they’re so ingrained in me that I can’t separate them from just how things are. I have to pay attention.

See? I told you I wouldn’t be any good at this. I think I’m going to flunk respect class.

Several days later…

Expectations for My Progress: I can’t see myself objectively in this area, so I’ve decided to ask my husband what respect would look like to him.

  • Be patient when I ask him to do something. Okay, I can see this. But I’m struggling because the example he used was the lawn mower repair the other day, when I felt incredible anxiety about getting it done and I had absolutely no knowledge of how to do it myself. He used the words “pestering” and “nag.”
  • Make supper when I get home before he does. He does most of the cooking for our family, and when I come home, my introverted self needs to complete hole myself away from the family to recharge. Gotta work on that.

Expectations of My Husband That I Release: No clue. I forgot that I was going to pay attention. The example in the book is an expectation of the husband giving a hug or backrub every day. I don’t know that I have expectations in this regard. I have desires. I want him to not yell. I want him to hug and kiss me. I just don’t know that I expect it.

The next day…

  • Okay, Dare 2 helped me come up with this one: My husband needs to never raise his voice.

The Peaceful Wife has a list of things husbands find disrespectful. I do a lot of things on the list, although to be fair, some of these things I’ve already begun to work on.

I want to be transparent here. I feel upset just looking at this list. Why does my husband get to be treated like a king and pampered and never have to deal with how his actions/words/inactions affect other people? Why does he get to have a bubble around him? So many things on this list go against my grain. Why should I have to be the one to change who I am just so he can think everything is hunky dory? When I think back to our early marriage, I remember arguments about how to fold his underwear, where he wanted his shoes to belong, how much he was willing to share in the housework. In order to maintain some sense of harmony, I simply let go of how I wanted to do things. I felt like I caved and just gave up.

Is it even possible to learn to respect without coming to resent?

Here’s why I know I need to do this Respect Dare: Truly, it isn’t about my husband or our marriage. It’s about me and God. My earthly relationship with my husband mirrors much of my relationship with God. I complain about the rules. I do things my way. I don’t put God center in my life as I should. When I do things the way I should—in my marriage and with God—I am filled with such joy and peace. I need to do this Respect Dare, not for the sake of my marriage but because I need to make a habit of doing well with God. Learning these habits with my husband will carry over into learning them with God. My marriage is like a trial run of the relationship that truly matters most. It is my chance to work things out and learn how to be who God wants me to be. That overwhelms me and frightens me—and then I start wondering whether my husband deserves all this hard emotional work I’m about to do. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t matter, since it’s really about me and God.

Still, if Dare 1 is so hard and took me a few days, will I ever get through to Dare 40? I don’t want to do this. I need to do this.

If you’re doing the Respect Dare with me, how are you doing as you get started?

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17 Comments on “Respect Dare 1: Already a Challenge”

  1. Girl, I love your transparency. It’s needed in this. One thing is obvious is that who you are is not who you think you are. Who you are existing in is a lie from the enemy. He has you tangled up in his web of severe control which leads to your anxieties and fears. One thing the Lord taught me when I was in the throes of a very similar lifestyle is that I never have control over my life. Either He does or the enemy does. Either He’s leading the way or the enemy is leading the way so when I think I have control over anything in my world, the enemy is really controlling my world through me. I’m merely a puppet in his game to destroy my husband and my marriage.

    “Why does my husband get to be treated like a king and pampered and never have to deal with how his actions/words/inactions affect other people?” For me and for many other women, once we were free from the bonds of control, anger, bitterness, and disrespect, much of this changed for our husbands too. When they don’t feel safe emotionally, they aren’t going to be loving and tender to us (same thing for us so we can understand).

    None of us deserved Christ dying for us. Yet he did. We view our husbands actions and inactions through our own lenses which are marred by baggage from our earlier years, society’s horrid influence, and our own sins and desires to have our own way. Each time I think he doesn’t deserve it, I remember I deserve nothing that I have and everything I have is a gift from God . I just surrender in obedience.

    What feels like bondage right now, you will discover is actual freedom once you fight through these spiritual strongholds and learn to identify the enemy’s voice speaking death into you about your husband and about yourself.

    Love you! So glad to have you in this with me!

    1. That whole “surrender in obedience” thing….I’m still working on that. I know I’ll get somewhere better than where I am now. I expected it to be hard, but I didn’t expect it to be hard the first day.

  2. The Forgiven Wife,
    I am so excited for you and proud of you for taking the first step on this journey. 🙂 It is painful at first – there is no way around that. It is HARD to look at ourselves and allow God to open up the darkest corners of our souls and shine His blazing light into those areas. It is PAINFUL to be still on the operating table while God removes the cancer and gangrene. But it is the path to true Life in Christ. 🙂

    Why should you have to work so hard at respect and your husband doesn’t have to do anything and gets to be treated like a king? That is a great question, and one that many wives ask.

    Th great answer is – your power is when you focus on you, your sin, your obedience to Christ. Your motives are KEY here. And when your motives are to obey Jesus, to love and reverence Him and you really make Him LORD – then it is a joy to obey Him. You will be held accountable for your motives, your thoughts, your sin, your obedience to God’s Word – and your husband will be held accountable separately. You will be judged individually when you stand before God. And I know that you want to hear, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” That is why we do this – to please Christ alone.

    Delving into expectations helps us to see some of our idols. I personally had A LOT of idols in my heart and didn’t even know it. My idols were – trying to be in control, feeling loved, making my husband responsible for my happiness, and self. I trusted myself, not God. I thought everything depended on me, not Him. I didn’t understand His sovereignty. As we begin these probing questions, it goes deep – all the way to the foundation of our faith in CHrist, our understanding of who He is and our understanding of where God’s responsibilities begin and ours end.

    It is easy to point to our husbands and say, “God, he needs to change.” That is what I did for 14.5 years. It got me nowhere.

    The power comes when you allow God to change YOU. And you trust God to work in your man. But the amazing thing is, that when you do this- that is also the pathway for God to change your husband, too.

    I had no idea what respect meant either when I began this journey 4.5 years ago. How I wish I had those lists at the top of my blog – what husbands say is disrespectful and what husbands feel is respectful. That would have really helped me a lot. 🙂

    This is all about you and Jesus. I can’t wait to see what He has in store!!! 🙂 Praying for you, my precious sister in Christ!

    I’m here if you need to talk. 🙂

    1. God has been making a lot of changes in me over the past couple years (started around the time I started getting out of His way–funny how it works that way). The fact that I even showed up for this is a sign of some of the change already going on. Thanks for the prayers!

      1. ForgivenWife,
        I am VERY VERY proud of you for taking on The Respect Dare. It is PAINFUL but so worth it. 🙂 THANK YOU for sharing your journey with other wives in the midst of your learning. I didn’t start blogging until a few years after I began learning all of this stuff. I think it is so important for wives to be able to see the real gritty, painful, difficult part firsthand and from a fresh perspective. You are a blessing! Thank you for allowing God to use you to encourage others. I know many, many wives relate to your feelings and I believe God will use you to encourage and bless countless other wives with this. Much love to you! 🙂

  3. “Is it even possible to learn to respect without coming to resent?”

    Are you in my head??? I agree that it is ultimately really about me and God. Hard work ahead. Right now I am even questioning my foundational belief in God. He better be real or all this work ahead has no real purpose other than to make my husband feel “hunky dory “.

  4. Ok, that made me laugh. Not AT you, but with you. This is precisely why I used the word “tailing” the other day when you asked who’s going along. I don’t have the book, so I knew that between you and peaceful wife, I’d get the most of it. I, like you, am very stubborn.*gasp* I couldn’t agree more with your bubble comment. I also know that what works for one, doesn’t for the other. Mr. Justme is a saint (mostly), so he doesn’t really fit in a mold. Even with your tears, I love the way you write!

  5. I too wonder if ill get through this.. I hold resentment now. I don’t think he deserves this.. But I know I need to if my marriage is to survive. I need to let go of my wants and expectations and learn to feel happy giving and serving others.. It’s very hard when you feel like you are getting nothing in return to keep giving and loving

    1. I’ve decided I really need to focus on doing this for God rather than my husband. That makes the resentment a little easier as I tackle this. But you’re right. It’s hard to keep going sometimes.

  6. “Truly, it isn’t about my husband or our marriage. It’s about me and God. My earthly relationship with my husband mirrors much of my relationship with God.” BINGO!!

    I really REALLY struggled in this – which is kind of sad if you look at it from a husband’s perspective because respect is to men what love is to women (put another way authority/submission). So when I learned that struggling to respect my husband was akin to him struggling to love me. It felt yucky.

    “Is it even possible to learn to respect without coming to resent?” YES, but facing your resentment square on and speaking to it for what it is – the spoilt-ness of the fleshly woman (at least it was for me).

    “Why does my husband get to be treated like a king and pampered and never have to deal with how his actions/words/inactions affect other people? Why does he get to have a bubble around him? So many things on this list go against my grain. Why should I have to be the one to change who I am just so he can think everything is hunky dory? ” This was the HARDEST step for me BUT it yielded the best results. It’s not up to me to be the Holy Spirit in Darrell’s life. This is how my husband described it to me. “You give me an excuse to not hear from God. I’m so busy fighting with you about everything you want me to do – everything you want me to be. I have to wear my ‘armour’ all the time and be suited for battle. This makes it impossible for me to hear the ‘still small quiet’ voice of God – YOU drown Him out.” Basically, by making your husband’s life as comfortable as you can – you open up a direct path to your husband’s mind and heart.

    Keep on keeping on girl!!

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