Monday, May 02, 2011

A Kind Wife

A couple days ago some kind ladies had me join in by writing Day Two of their forty-day Love Dare for wives. Thanks Lori and Teresa! Below is what I contributed.

When my husband and I were first married we moved away for about a year to a little island called Maui. Yes, it was dreamy in many ways and we look back on it fondly.

Though idyllic, it wasn't without its difficulties.

The difficulty came not from our lack of money, our roach-infested car, the very old and used mattress we slept on, or the fact that our grocery budget was so small that I pocketed hot dogs at a work lunch one day to add to a lentil soup at home that called for sausage links - which were definitely out of our price range. No, we look back at all those things and laugh and wonder at the simplicity of life then. 

When I reflect on the difficulties of life in Maui, I think it can be summed up in a word: Expectations. 

I was a twenty-one year old, one-month-married bride, having just moved out of the four-year dating (and engagement) relationship with the most romantic guy in the world.  He constantly wooed me, pursued me, encouraged me, challenged me, and pretty much made me feel like the most beautiful girl who had ever existed.  

My future was looking pretty good floating into marriage on that cloud of adoration. 

It felt like my cloud was quickly dissipating a few months in because not all of my marital expectations were being met, and I was falling fast to the ground. I became a bit bitter, prideful, and sulky.

Now if you'd been observing our marriage from the outside you'd have been wondering what in the world I had to be sulking about (as was my husband, who was trying his hardest to love me well!). Kristian still treated me with respect and romance and kindness, and has always continued to 'pursue' me throughout our marriage.

But the transition from dating to marriage brought with it a few changes, and in my naivety I was not prepared! Where had the constant hand-holding and longing glances gone? Why wasn't I still being told multiple times throughout the day how wonderful I was?  (I know, sounds awful!)

Basically, I was sitting around waiting to be adored (and consequently missing all the ways I was being loved) and I was totally neglecting to ask, "How am I loving him?"

The expectations I was placing on my husband were extremely difficult to live up to.

The theme for Day Two of The Love Dare is "Love is Kind."

The author of The Love Dare material broke Kindness down into four core components:


My thoughts today are drawn to Initiative in regards to Kindness.  
Kindness thinks ahead, then takes the first step. It doesn't sit around waiting to be prompted. The kind husband or wife will be the one who greets first, smiles first, serves first, and forgives first. 
They don't require the other to get their act together before showing love.
When acting from kindness you see the need, then make your move. First. (excerpt from The Love Dare)

As my Hawaiian sob story tells, I was selfishly waiting to be showered with kindness and affection.
In my heart I was accusing my wonderful husband of not taking enough initiative to show kindness to me (at least in quantities I expected).

The difficult expectations I was placing on him left no room for kindness on my part!

I was slow to forgive because I thought he should have realized how he was hurting me.
I was slow to serve because I thought he should be serving me first.

Worst of all, I was seeking my worth and validation in the gift God had given me, not in God himself who is the only One able to fill those needs.

In His extreme grace and kindness, God has taught me much in the six years since about love (though I've still got a long way to go!).

The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke displays such a beautiful example of Initiative wrapped up in kindness and love. One man goes out of his way to stop and help another (and he was even from a clashing race). He goes so far as to take him to shelter, and pay for his lodging and care.

He has taught me that my heart should reflect that of the Good Samaritan's.
He's teaching me to forget about my own agenda and go out of my way to love others. Most specifically, my husband.

I long to be a kind wife who speaks gentle and encouraging words, who is willing to serve first, who takes initiative when there's a need.

I long for my husband to feel the kindness of his Savior by the way I take the initiative to show kindness to him.

If you're up for the challenge, join me in today's dare:
In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.
What discoveries did you make about love? What specifically did you do in this dare? How did you show kindness?