There are all sorts of Valentine’s Day challenges and ideas for a romantic day.
One day. Twenty four hours, and honestly, it may amount to a grand total of 2-3 hours with your special other. Too many calories, too many expectations.
No, this isn’t a challenge for just Valentine’s Day. It’s a challenge for every day. Especially if you have been feeling like your marriage could be better.
This is a “secret challenge” too. You can’t tell your spouse about it. Although keeping secrets isn’t usually a good idea, in this case there’s a good reason.
Here’s your challenge:
For the next 14 days:
- Be your sweetest self. Refrain from all anger, sarcasm, disrespect, complaining, or impatience with your spouse. If he ticks you off, suck it up, butter cup. If he hurts your feelings, try to let it go. If he’s mean to you… and I know this is hard… just tell him in a unemotional tone, “Wow, that makes me sad,” and leave it at that. Don’t repay mean with mean (“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” Prov. 18:2 and “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Eph. 4:29)
- Kiss him in the morning, and kiss him in the evening, and any time in between you can. When he turns to you and says, “what’s that for?” “or what’s the matter with you?” just smile and say that you miss kissing him, and think that it’s a great habit to start up again.
- Smile at him a lot. Listen attentively, meaning put down the phone, whatever… and just turn and listen to him like he is telling you the most wonderful thing in the world. Even if he’s telling you the same story for the 100th time… just let him feel listened to. And perhaps lose the need to be right all the time? Some of the sexiest words for a man are “you are right.”
- When you’re apart, text him something sweet, funny, or sexy. Tell him you’re thinking about him.
- Try to find at least one thing each day to affirm or compliment him about, preferably something you know he might be proud about. Appreciate him, out loud. Yes, I know this can be hard sometimes when you’ve felt icky about him. “I’ve been thinking how grateful I am that you/we together can afford this nice house we live in/our car/your (our) jobs/that vacation last year/how you have fun with the kids/your sense of humor/how handy you are in fixing things/how you help your dad Thank you!” Please put aside that mind set of “well, that’s what he SHOULD be doing anyway!”
- Do things, cook things, arrange things in a way you know he likes. If he craves peace when he gets home from work, give it to him after telling him you are happy he is home. Make some of his favorite foods. If seeing a made bed or an organized and uncluttered room makes him happy, grab a few grocery sacks, shove that junk into it, label your bag with the date and shove it into a dark closet (by the way, this is just a temporary fix for us cluttered ADD types… but you’ll be surprised that whenever you do find that bag that you probably have missed very little).
- Suggest a bath or shower together.
- Ask him if you can just give him a back rub. Mow the lawn. Or change his engine oil. give him a BJ and expect nothing in return. Some act of service that makes him feel happy. Let him be right most of the time, for goodness sake! Every guy has his currency…
- When you’re out and about, try to hold his hand, or link your arm in his. If he’s not the hand-holding type (or if you’re not) this may feel awkward. You can always just say, “you know I forgot what it feels like to hold your hand and I remember that I like it,” or “I’ve always wondered what it’s like to hold hands, and this isn’t so bad…”
- If he wants sex, even if you’re not in the mood, even if he’s not been attending to “your needs,” say yes, and enjoy his pleasure.
If after a few days of this, he looks at you strangely and quips something like, “what have you done with my wife?” or “what is going on with you?” just smile and say that you love him, and thought it was a better idea to put your energies into showing him that, and that Valentine’s Day seemed as good a time as any. PERIOD.
Try to avoid initiating any heavy-duty conversations in this time period, especially about your relationship. And please don’t tell him you had a “plan,” or itemize all of the effort you’ve put forth to be nice over these 14 days. He’d just feel like a lab experiment that you’re trying to manipulate. If anything, see this exercise as something for your own character. The side benefit is that it might be contagious and he’ll join you. It can open doors that have been sealed shut due to hurt and misunderstanding. Let him start to realize that maybe your marriage is something worth working harder for.
Now I could feel some of you cringing on the other side of your computer screens; you were shaking your heads and saying, I can’t do THAT! He doesn’t deserve me being so nice! You don’t know how mean he’s been to me! You don’t know how selfish he’s been! He doesn’t deserve this! What about my dignity? What do I get out of this?
To that last point, you may get absolutely nothing out of it besides the satisfaction that you’ve become a better person and tried harder. That you can rise above the petty stuff. And perhaps you’ll be clearer that you might be in a seriously bad relationship (but I pray not), or a situation that requires professional help.
But what you might get is a husband who starts to reciprocate what he’s seeing in action, if only a little. A husband who remembers what it feels like to be loved, respected, honored. To feel like he’s not always wrong, but maybe right sometimes?
Seriously, what have you got to lose?
I’m not asking you to be a doormat, or to be abused, or be used. Some are even saying, I do these things ALL THE TIME! If your man has been abusive to you, this is not designed to allow him to further abuse you emotionally, verbally, or physically (and this then is another conversation). However, if your husband at one point was your lover, the man you didn’t think you could live without, he’s probably still there buried under years of neglect, wear and tear. All I’m suggesting is that you be love for 14 days, and to not engage negatively (and to be honest about your tendency to do that). Maybe let it go a few days longer if you’re seeing it might help.
Because you know, love is the most excellent way…
As I mentioned in my previous post about Valentines, I plan to pray the “love is” passage in 1 Corinthians 13 daily, inserting my own name in place of the word “love:”
… is patient, … is kind, … does not envy, … does not boast, … is not proud. … does not dishonor others, … is not self-seeking, … is not easily angered, …keeps no record of wrongs. … does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. … always protects, always trusts, always homes, always perseveres. … never fails.
Report back here! Let us know how it’s going, the frustrations, the doubts–and hopefully some triumphs! We can follow up on next steps after the end of the month. I will be praying for you and encouraging you. I’m praying healing and renewal and strengthening in your marriages, and this for you:
Let us not be weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Gal 6:9; Rom. 12:12; Rom. 8:28).