It doesn’t take that long…

So I’ve been going for a little while, and to be honest I’ve been dragging my heels about making effort over the past week. I leave notes on my phone to bless S, and for the most part have become immune…

To me, the thought of thinking of something profoundly loving to say makes me put it off – not that I have nothing to say, but just because I like to give it thought and time and effort.

Which 99 times out of means… You guessed it… Nothing happens.

So here’s a crazy idea – how about I just write something, the shortest blessing… As opposed to nothing?!

Tried it this morning, and this is what I got in reply…

  
So that clearly worked – it’s so great to get an encouragement back… Maybe I’m actually on the right track!

So in short, rather than write/say/do nothing – it’s ok to do a little! 

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The Love Book

This one is a tried and tested tip that I just wish I remembered myself most of the time… The Love Book. Yes, it does involve getting in touch with (and communicating) your more sentimental side, but also yes – it does make a difference!

It is really what it says on the tin – a book. It can be any kind of book, big, little, lots of pages, no pages – anything you can write in. And it’s purpose? To write things in! Encouragements, verses, kind words, praise, prayers, thank yous, pictures, art work, love poetry, songs, whatever takes your fancy… We’ve even used ours to deliver the odd surprise present, or start a good old fashioned treasure hunt…

My saddest admission right now is that the book that we started writing in when we got married almost 10 years ago… Has only just been finished. In 10 years. One measly book. Not proud of that.

So – in my new found desire to be a better husband, I went out and bought not one, but two today!

(That’s a double whammy – gifts and words in one. Jackpot)

I even wrote my first entry… My aim is to write in it at least once a week – it shouldn’t be too hard to say something nice that often, should it?!

Couple of nice words, tactically placed book on the pillow, and hopefully Bob’s your uncle and you have one blessed, loved & valued wife.

Simples.

Oh, and word of warning. Don’t. Ever. Use the book to try and give some ‘constructive criticism’. It is NOT the right place for it.

Practicing Empathy Before Feedback

Empathy is certainly something I know God wants to teach me in this season – empathy with S, empathy with my kids, empathy with my colleagues – seeing things their way before (I mean rather than, ahem…) I impose my opinion.

This is emphasized even further if you know that your significant other’s love language is ‘words of affirmation’ – your (or in my case), my desire to impose my opinion doesn’t just cut across what they were feeling, but actually significantly harms their value of themself, and serves to damage rather than build up in love.

I wrote about empathy just a minute ago, regarding trying to see things the way they see things – even when doing something you think is an act of service – but this covers a whole different area, when in conversation, when in daily life.

So, this may become a mantra for me too…

“Empathize, empathize, empathize!”

This little video was really helpful to me – as I know this is an area I constantly stuff up in!

Source: Practicing Empathy Before Feedback

When is an act of service not an act of service?

Have you ever spent a whole bunch of time doing something that you thought was helping out, and then all you got at the end of it was a bunch of complaints?

I’ve been there – and I’ve been left fuming…

“I did this for you and that for you… I spent X amount of time… I, I, I, I…. Can’t you just acknowledge what I did…”

Now is there something you noticed about my response – I certainly did – the word ‘I’…

I’ve been helping clean up this morning, and like all slightly self-centered human beings, I’ve been thinking all about what a great job, you guessed it, I have been doing.

I’ve been thinking about how many brownie points I’m going to win – the mileage I’m going to get out of it…

So, all of a sudden, the question that started toying around in my mind is – ‘who am I serving here, S, or me?’

And then it dawned on me – it’s not really an act of service – if I’m serving myself!

It’s not really an act of service, if I’m so caught up in what a great job I’m doing bringing her breakfast in bed, and how pleased she’ll be with me – but all the time forgetting that when she actually gets out of bed, she’ll feel obliged to clean up the bombsite I left downstairs in the kitchen!

Is it really an act of service if it creates more work than there was to begin with?

“It’s the thought that counts…” I’ve heard myself say a ton of time, but really – if I’m going to do something, I’ve got to start thinking about who I am serving!

Philippians 2 says:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

True empathy

And I guess now I understand what empathy means – not looking at things my way, but looking at things her way – what will actually bless her? Am I trying to see the things that she sees, or just trying to check a box?

Can I do something that she’ll really appreciate – and would I do it even if she doesn’t notice?

What am I trying to communicate – how great a husband I am? what a wonderful sacrifice I made? Or how much I actually value and love her?

And with that in mind… I better get back to folding clothes.

 

 

Day One – Making a battle plan

So today I’m sick. Useful start! With the family out of the house, I can start making a battle plan.

For anyone into the 5 love languages scene, my wife is a GIFTS person. Gifts Gifts Gifts Gifts Gifts, through and through.

Me? There is almost not a gift-giving-caring-receiving bone in the entirety of my body.

Tension point for marriage? You bet.

One year, I came up with an amazing plan to give my wife one gift a month for her Christmas present – pretty good, right?

Wrong. I lasted until about May – and have been repenting ever since.

So, what is my strategy?

I know my wife is struggling in 2 areas with me: not being loved/romanced/valued (ie. I’ve not done the whole gift-y thang) and not being affirmed/valued in the home – this means that I’ve been undermining the things she says to the kids, treating her as if she’s my daughter and not an equal etc.

My problem is – these things can’t be changed overnight – they need consistency.

So, as forced as it may sound – here’s my first set of solutions (and I’d love to hear any other ideas at this point).

  1. Daily reminder – bless wife.
    1. I can’t imagine how many marriages smartphones have ruined – mine is going to save mine!
  2. Weekly plan
    1. Yup – each day of the week is going to be something else – whether it’s a prayer day, an encouragement day, a gift day -these things don’t come naturally to me, so I’m going to have to start by force
  3. Pray. Pray. Pray.
    1. Fully believe it – every great move of God started with a move of prayer. Someone wise once told me that – if God is going to change my marriage, I better get praying!

So. Off I go and do all of that. I’ll let you know how it goes!