Here's bits of the book:
Be completely humble & gentle; bearing with one another in love. Eph. 4:2
Love is built on 2 pillars that best define what it is. Those pillars are patience & kindness. All other characteristics of love are extensions of these 2 attributes. That's where your dare will begin, with patience.
What would the tone & volume of your home be like if you tried this biblical approach: "See that no one repays another evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another" (1 Thess 5:15)
Few of us do patience very well & none of us do it naturally. But wise men & women will pursue it as an essential ingredient to their marriage relationships. That's a good starting point to demonstrate true love.
This Love Dare journey is a process & the first thing you must resolve to possess is patience. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. But it's a race worth running.
THE FIRST DAY OF THIS DARE IS FAIRLY SIMPLE. ALTHO LOVE IS COMMUNICATED IN A NUMBER OF WAYS, OUR WORDS OFTEN COMMUNICATE THE CONDITION OF OUR HEART. FOR THE NEXT DAY, RESOLVE TO SAY NOTHING NEGATIVE TO YOUR SPOUSE AT ALL. IF THE TEMPTATION ARISES, CHOOSE TO SAY ANYTHING. IT'S BETTER TO HOLD YOUR TONGUE THAN TO SAY SOMETHING YOU'LL REGRET.
Did anything happen today to cause anger toward your mate? Were you tempted to think disapproving thoughts & to let them come out in words?
DAY 2 Love is Kind
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as God has forgiven you. Eph. 4:32
Kindness is love in action. If patience is how love reacts in order to minimize a negative circumstance, kindness is how love acts to maximize a postive circumstance. Patience avoids a problem, kindness creates a blessing. One is preventative, the other proactive. These two sides of love are the cornerstones on which many of the other attributes we will discuss are built.
Gentleness. When you are operating from a kindness, you’re careful how you treat your spouse, never being unnecessarily harsh. You’re sensitive. Tender. Even if you need to say hard things, you’ll bend over backwards to make your rebuke or challenge as easy to hear as possible. You speak the truth in love.
Helpfulness. Being kind means you meet the needs of the moment. If it’s housework, you get busy. A listening ear? You give it. Kindness graces a wife with the ability to serve her husband without worrying about her rights. Kindness makes a wife curious to discover what the wife needs, then motivates him to be the one who steps up & ensures those needs are met—even if his are put on hold.
Willingness. Kindness inspires you to be agreeable. Instead of being obstinate, reluctant or stubborn, you cooperate, you stay flexible. Rather than complaining & making excuses, you look for reasons to compromise & accommodate. A kind husband ends thousands of arguments by his willingness to listen first rather than demand his way.
Initiative. Kindness thinks ahead, then takes the first step. It doesn’t sit around waiting to be prompted or coerced before getting off the couch. The kind husband or wife will be the one who greets first, smiles first & 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.
Wasn’t kindness one of the key things that drew you & your spouse together in the first place? When you married, weren’t you expecting to enjoy his or her kindness for the rest of your life? Didn’t your mate feel the same way about you? Even though the years can take the edge of that desire, your enjoyment in marriage is still linked to the daily level of kindness expressed.
It is difficult to demonstrate love when you feel little to no motivation. But love in its truest form is not based on feelings. Rather, love determines th show thoughtful actions even when there is no reward. You will never learn to love until you learn to demonstrate kindness.
IN ADDITION TO SAYING NOTHING NEGATIVE TO YOUR SPOUSE AGAIN TODAY, DO AT LEAST ONE UNEXPECTED GESTURE AS AN ACT OF KINDNESS.
What discoveries about love did you make today? What specifically did you do in this dare? How did you show kindness?
DAY 3 LOVE DARE: LOVE IS NOT SELFISH
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” Romans 12:10
If there were ever a word that basically means the opposite of love, it is selfishness. Unfortunately, it is something that is ingrained in every person from birth. You can see it in the way young children act, & often in the way adults mistreat one another. Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to selfish motives. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves. Yet you cannot point out the many ways your spouse is selfish without admitting that you can be selfish too. That would be hypocritical.
Why do we have such low standards for ourselves but high expectations for our mate? The answer is a painful pill to swallow. We are all selfish.
When a husband puts his interests, desires & priorities in front of his wife, that’s a sign of selfishness. When a wife constantly complains about the time & energy she spends meeting the needs of her husband, that’s a sign of selfishness. But love “does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13:5). Loving couples—the ones who are enjoying the full purpose of marriage—are bent on taking good care of the other flawed human they get to share life with. That’s because true love looks for ways to say “yes”.
One ironic aspect of selfishness is that even generous actions can be selfish if the motive is to gain bragging rights or receive a reward. If you do even a good thing to deceitfully manipulate your husband or wife, you are still being selfish. The bottom line is that you either make decisions out of love for others or love for yourself.
Love is never satisfied except in the welfare of others. You can’t be acting out of real love & selfishness at the same time. Choosing to love your mate will cause you to say “no” to what you want so you can say “yes” to what they need. That’s putting the happiness of your partner above your own. If doesn’t mean you can never experience happiness, but you don’t negate the happiness of your spouse so you can enjoy it yourself.
Love also leads to inner joy. When you prioritize the well-being of your mate, there is a resulting fulfillment that cannot be duplicated by selfish actions. That is a benefit God created & designed for those who genuinely demonstrate love The truth is, when you relinquish your rights for the sake of your mate, you get a chance to lose yourself to the greater purpose of marriage.
If you find it hard to sacrifice your own desires to benefit your spouse, then you have a deeper problem with selfishness than you want to admit.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do I truly want what’s best for my husband or wife?
Do I want them to feel loved by me?
Do they believe I have their best interests in mind?
Do they see me as looking out for myself first?
Whether you like it or not, you have a reputation in the eyes of those around you, especially in the eyes of your spouse. But is it a loving reputation? Remember, your marriage partner also has the challenge of loving a selfish person. So determine to be the first to demonstrate real love to them, with your eyes wide open. And when all is said & done, you’ll both be more fulfilled.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important as yourselves " (Phil. 2:3)
WHATEVER YOU PUT YOUR TIME, ENERGY & MONEY INTO WILL BECOME MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU. IT’S HARD TO CARE FOR SOMETHING YOU ARE NOT INVESTING IN. ALONG WITH RESTRAINING FROM NEGATIVE COMMENTS, BUY YOUR SPOUSE SOMETHING THAT SAYS, “I WAS THINKING OF YOU TODAY”.
What did you choose to give your spouse?
What happened when you gave it?