Feb 01 2010

Love Dare - Day 27


Love Encourages


Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. – Psalm 25:20


Marriage has a way of altering our vision.  We go in expecting our mate to fulfill our hopes and to make us happy.  But this is an impossible order for our spouse to fill.  Unrealistic expectations breed disappointment.  The higher your expectations, the more likely your spouse will fail you and cause you frustration.


 If a wife expects her husband to always be on time, clean up after himself, and understand all her needs, she will likely live most her married life in constant disappointment.  But if she gets realistic and understands that he’s human, forgetful, and sometimes thoughtless, then she will be more delighted when he is responsible, loving, and kind.


Divorce is nearly inevitable when people refuse to allow their spouses to be human. So there needs to be a transition in your thinking.  You must choose to live by encouragement rather than by expectations.  The way your spouse has been for the last ten years is likely what he or she will be in the future apart from your loving encouragement and an intervention from God.  Love puts the focus on personal responsibility and improving yourself rather than on demanding more from others.


Jesus painted a picture of this when He talked about the person who saw the “speck” in his brother’s eye but didn’t notice the “log” in his own.


“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:4-5).


Does your spouse feel like they’re living with a speck inspector?  Are they routinely on edge, fearful of not living up to your expectations?  Would they say they spend most days sensing more of your disapproval than your acceptance?


Perhaps you’d respond by saying that the problem is not with you but with them.  If they really do come up short in a lot of areas, why is that your fault?  As far as you’re concerned, it takes both of you doing everything you can to make marriage work.  If your mate doesn’t want you to be so critical, they need to realize that the issues you bring up are legitimate.  You’re not saying you’re perfect, by any mean, but it does seem like you should be able to say what you think. Right?


The problem with this kind of attitude is that few people are able to respond to criticism with total objectivity. When it seems clear that someone is unhappy with you – whether by direct confrontation or the silent treatment – it’s hard not to take their displeasure personally.  Especially in marriage.


After all, unlike any other friendship, your relationship with your spouse began with both of you bending over backwards to please the other.  When your mate was your boyfriend or girlfriend, they were completely charmed by your personality.  You could almost do no wrong.  Your life together was so much easier.  And though you didn’t expect it to stay that way forever, you certainly didn’t see them being so sinful and getting so angry with you.  You never expected that this man or woman who promised to love you could get to where they didn’t even seem to like you.


So when this stark contrast becomes living reality, your natural reaction is to resist it.  During the early days of marriage, you may have been more inclined to listen and make subtle changes.  But as the years go by, your spouse’s disapproval only tends to entrench you.  Rather than making you want to correct things, it makes you want to dig in even deeper.


Love is too smart for that. Instead of putting your mate in a position to rebel, love teaches you to give them room to be themselves.  Even if you’re the goal-oriented type who places high demands on yourself, love calls you not to project your hard-driving ways onto your mate’s performance.  You must realize that marriage is a relationship to be enjoyed and savored along the way. It’s a unique friendship designed by God Himself where two people live together in flawed imperfection but deal with it by encouraging each other, not discouraging them.


The Bible says, “Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble” (Isaiah 35:3).  “Encourage one another and build up one another … Encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14).


Don’t you want married life to be a place where you can enjoy free expression of who you are, growing within a safe environment that encourages you even when you fail?  Your spouse does too – and love gives them that privilege.  If your wife or husband has told you on more than one occasion that you make them feel beat down and defeated, you need to take these words to heart.  Make a commitment to daily let go of unrealistic expectations and become your spouse’s greatest encourager.  And the person they’re created by God to be will begin to emerge with new confidence and love for you.


Today’s Dare


Eliminate the poison of unrealistic expectations in your home.  Think of one area where your spouse has told you you’re expecting too much, and tell them you’re sorry for being so hard on them about it.  Promise them you’ll seek to understand, and assure them of your unconditional love.



Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.  (Hebrews 10:24)


Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.


Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.






Comments (14) -

2/1/2010 5:51:41 AM
cj United States
My heart goes out to "just me" and other women who battle lust.  Wow, others out there go through this! What a comfort!  It's been the hardest thing for me to die to, fantasizing; well, with emotional overeating coming in close 2nd!  Most of my friends just say, "Oh you're a writer, go with it and write something!"  
But, I've noticed something.  My fantasies are always "all about me".  I want my life to be "all about Jesus".   Everything I long for (often inspired by great lit/movie heroes) Jesus IS. I long to be faithful to both He and hubby.  If I write that book, it'd have to bring glory to God, all my imaginations to be under HIS obedience.
I'm not there yet, the more I long for purity of mind, the more fierce the enemy tempts me.  
Ya know when Jesus says it's better to cut off the member of your body that causes you to sin?  I joke to those who know my wild imagination, that I'd have to cut off my head!  LOL  

JustMe, I'd say in recognizing fantasizing as sin, when most of the world will tell you it's healthy expression, you've taken the first step to freedom!  
I don't know your husband or what he's like.  But here's what happened to me.  Mine understood in a way I couldnt' believe or didn't think I deserved.  There was incredible freedom and support in the confession.  I pray this for others.  
I pray he will recognize your burden about this as the love that it is, the longing to be faithful, and help you fight the images everywhere that are against us, the greener grass movies, etc.  Have you noticed how many romances have someone engaged or married to a "dolt" till the "right one" comes along?  Instead, God reminds me I'm a dolt too, but that He's perfecting both of us.  
Also, I'm praying for the rest of you out there, going through harder things than I can imagine. May God protect and strengthen you in Christ.
2/1/2010 6:20:45 AM
Broken Hearted United States
Broken Hearted
I purchased the book and have been reading it to my spouse, including my journal entries.  It is amazing how God can give strength and power when only a mere 2 weeks ago I felt my world crumbling.  He is amazing. Today's entry is all about me. I am a control freak and never trust anyone to do things quite as effectively as I could.  I was always critical of spouse and telling the family what to do when.  After reading the dare together this am, my spouse says that there is a difference in me.  I do feel more peace, joy and hope.  There is a bit if a nag still there. We have a cyclical nature of having a blow up, trying to make up and then in about 6-8 weeks we blow up again.  I am praying for sustainability. Which is what God specializes in.  He is the same today, tomorrow and forever.  That is what I want now.  Peace, hope and joy forever.  Continue to pray for us as we continue counseling and accountability.  
2/1/2010 7:09:09 AM
Malinda Daniel United States
Malinda Daniel
I really need this today and to celebrate 22 years of marriage on February 14th.

2/1/2010 9:07:14 AM
free United States
in the beinning of our marriage my husband was a mamas boy--his mother could do no wrong-even when he would witness her rudeness towards me-this is still going on and i almost filed for divorce-but what do i do? tell him he's not allowed to have a relationship with his mother anymore (i won't lie this sounds great)NO-instead i pray for her (it takes alot but i do it) i believe hurting people hurt people-this is the case of my mother-in-law-she reads the bible, goes to church, claimed CHRIST as her SAVIOR but doesn't allow the HOLY SPIRIT to change her ways-so to keep the peace in our marriage i will allow the HOLY SPIRIT to take the log thats in my eye out-hold my tongue and stop fighting with my husband because of what his mother said or done-when the time is right with GOD i'm sure i will be having a long talk with my mother-in-law-who knows maybe we have some things in common
2/1/2010 9:38:15 AM
Laura Richards United States
Laura Richards
Good one today! Hard one to swallow, because I know I do this. I've felt beat down by my husband as well, but the only thing I can do is worry about myself and getting right with my relationship with Christ. Praise you, Lord, for another wonderful day to better ourselves and our marriages!
2/1/2010 10:08:52 AM
in deep sorrow United States
in deep sorrow
dear shel,
we have so much in common; my husband too was having an affair with his coworker and he chose to not quit his job. i was forcing him to stay home because i knew that i wouldnt survive without him; he was my first love, my first everything. but i came to the realization that i was putting all my energy into spying on him and going through his phone and accusing him instead of focusing on what was and IS most important: our Lord Jesus. i was putting myself in deeper misery so i made a decision. the saying goes "u can be miserable with them (in which is a slow and painful dieing death) or without them. I chose GOD over my husband. i still hurt, but i promise you that GOD has a plan for you. a good one.
im ready to give you the "golden" advice that you've been seeking, Shel. 1st, you need to work on forgiving the mistress; pray for her because she doesn't know GOD and she is lost in this world. Pray that the Lord will touch her and pull her out of the evil darkness she's in. you HAVE to FORGIVE, pray for it. ask GOD to help you forgive her.
2nd, in the mean time, as your husband goes and comes freely, you STAY faithful to your prayer life. PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! pray for GOD's will and not what YOU WANT. we are NOT in control, SHel. GOD is in control and GOD is ALWAYS FIRST, no matter what. it seems to me that you're putting all your energy into worrying and crying for ur husband and his acts. you NEED to focus on GOD and GOD alone right now. IF your marriage was Blessed in church when u married, then u keep your husband, dont throw him out. GOD hates divorce and HE says " pray for your husband. even though he is a nonchristian man, do not leave him. keep him still and pray for him and in my time, he will follow his wife's spiritual lead." it's in the Bible, cant remember the verse. but its there. i'll look it up and send it to u. i know the sadness ur feeling, i was there. i thought of killing myself one too many times. but i didn't. GOD is good. HE saved me.
  if your marriage is NOT Blessed, then maybe you need to do what i did: give hime a choice: join me in this spiritual path, go with me to church and let's seek marital counseling, or i'm doing this alone. he's got a choice and he needs to make it. he's got you hanging and waiting on a tree branch. if he chooses not to join u, then obviously (im sorry to say this to u) but he doesn't love you enough to make ur marriage work. then that's when u make the most difficult decision, like i did, ask him to take his things and tell him that ure giving time alone to figure out what he really wants because right now your focus is on GOD and HIS promises and by him staying is only hindering ur relationship with GOD. in which is true.
there is no way that u can focus on GOD alone when ur husband is there to distract u. right now, ur husband is interfering with ur relationship with GOD. you put GOD FIRST, and i promise you that the rest will fall into place. don't bother ur husband anymore, let him be as he wants and you, my dear friend, PRAY< PRAY< PRAY!
  we cannot force someone to love us. LOVE is a choice. GOD is in control and it's up to HIM and HIS time whether ur husband is in ur book of life. pray especially for GOD's will and not what you want Shel. I am praying for u even though i dont know u. GOD is Good and GOD is FIRST!! "LET GO AND LET GOD!"
2/1/2010 10:27:41 AM
Darrick United States
Okay, I'm the first to say never say can't or impossible. But I'm not sure how this dare will play out. I don't want to be negative and say it won't work but the things my wife say I'm asking the impossible is not Impossible. One of our main problems in our marriage has been discussing and trying to get a handle on finances. On several occasions I have put together a plan to get us debt free. Arranged to see Dave Ramsey, gone to financial counselers, used computer programs to set up a plan to pay off bills. But always thinlk that the time line and the methods we need to take are too extreme and she thinks the goals are unrealistic. I believe that all things are possible and if we take the intiative and have patience we will knock out these bills that are holding us down. So I don't know if I can truly apologize for  being to hard when I don't feel like I'm being hard enough.  
2/1/2010 11:13:13 AM
just me United States
just me
Thank you CJ!
You hit it right on the head!  My fantasies are all about ME!!  I'm feeling sorry for myself because my husband was disabled at a young age and I have to care for him.  Gee, I can't imagine why I would be looking around at the "greener grass". I see all these other men that are "whole" and I guess I want that back.  See...it's all about ME and what I want.
The problem is with ME and my expectations not lining up with God's.  He is expecting me to be the wife in Proverbs 31, and all I can do is whine about how hard it is and how unfair it is. If I would just focus on pleasing God, all the rest will fall into place.  But like you said, if I cut off the offending part, I would be either blind or headless!
Is there any way we can continue this discussion off this board?  Is there somewhere we (and everyone is invited!) can pass our thoughts around without the judging? chat rooms?
2/1/2010 3:30:20 PM
mariela United States
A week ago a broke up w/my boyfriend and I m still here reading... breathing  !!! can anybody pray for me? Please I can Identify myself w day 27
2/1/2010 4:19:53 PM
Ed United States
I once got a bug in my eye.  I couldn't see it, but it was causing quite a stir.  It was getting red and sore.  The more I tried to get whatever was in my eye out, the worse it got.  It was only with the help, and patience of someone who cared that could see more clearly than I, did my eye start to heal.

I hope we are all married to "speck inspectors."  Jesus didn't give this as a suggestion or for it to be misquoted, He gave this command because we're supposed to be eye doctors.
2/1/2010 6:26:30 PM
booklady United States
Struggling to keep up with the daily love dares.  Started off strong and spouse recognized a difference.  Getting kind of weary of being the one who lets go of all the negativity, backs down from an argument,  lets things go.. etc.  Not my personality and not me. If I'm doing improvements to make our marriage better, then he needs to step up to the plate as well instead of sweeping all the issues under the rug.  Intimacy isn't the whole marriage.
2/1/2010 7:23:13 PM
Fefe Colombia
I got many the great news here.
thanks, happy blooging and keep writing
2/1/2010 11:17:10 PM
Valerie United States
I or I should say "WE" my husband and I received this book as a wedding day gift from my parents almost a year ago when we got married on Feb. 14, 2009. I have read through the book and find it very daring but excellent!! We have definitely had our hard times already in this first year, and I dug that book out one night and challenged my husband to go through it with me. I think we didn't even get through the first week and he just couldn't open up about the first questions on the first lesson. I know deep down there is going to be some hurt and issues arise, but I don't know how to get him more interested in talking about his issues too. It seems he always talks about my issues and I feel put down a lot and it doesn't seem fair. How do I approach him in a way that I believe that the book would be good for us "Both" without trying to make him think that I am just wanting him to go through it for his own well-being. He is really sensitive to what has happened in his past and set in his ways of what happened back then.
2/2/2010 11:24:56 AM
Shel United States
Dear Broken Hearted,
Thank You! Thank you, very much, my friend in Christ! May God bless you!
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