Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Break From Tradition

Yesterday was a great Valentine's Day for us. And folks, that is rare. You see, I used to get all worked up about this most romantic of holidays. In fact, when we were dating, our first fight was on Valentine's because I was so disappointed. I was not setting a good precedent.

For me, part of being married has been learning to let go of my expectations. I learned to go into the day focusing on others and not on what I am getting out of the deal. Then anything that happens is a pleasant surprise... and anything that doesn't happen is not a huge disappointment. One of the ways I have done this is to plan a family celebration. I always make red food-- spaghetti, Cherry 7Up, etc. The kids love it and look forward to it every year. I always serve a heart-shaped cake for dessert and we just have a fun family time. No pressure for Curt to produce anything-- he can just enjoy having his family gathered around a special, memorable meal. It relaxed things a lot around here.

But that didn't happen yesterday. We broke tradition (much to the chagrin of our children, I might add) and went to the Love and Respect Marriage Conference... along with 2900 other people. Friday night and half of Saturday was spent learning how to better meet each other's needs. Did you know that men need respect more than they need love? And yet the culture pushes love, love, love so much that women miss the very thing their man needs. We need love, but to get the love we seek, we must respect our husbands-- the love is born out of the respect we invest in him. The conference taught about how this cycle works from both partners' perspective.

This is a compelling message that isn't being taught... but should be. My eyes were opened to some of my past mistakes and some great perspective for how I can handle things in the future. We women put so much emphasis on love and miss the very thing our husband craves. I have to say, if you get a chance to go to one of these, by all means DO. You can have a great marriage or a failing one... you will learn either way. I can't think of a better way to spend Valentine's Day and I am SO glad we went. If you don't have access to the conference, they do have cd's and dvd's and books, etc. you can purchase at their website. If you are struggling in your marriage, I would strongly encourage you to get these resources and make the investment of time to listen to them. Even if you aren't struggling, this is something worthwhile to learn. It will change the way you see your husband... and that's a good thing.

After the conference, we went to pick the kids up (God bless my mother in law for being willing to invest in our marriage and give of her time to keep them for us) and headed home for a brief rest before the evening portion of our very full day began. The kids got to go to a Valentine kids' night out at a local dance studio, owned by my friend Jackie. They had a blast playing games, making crafts, eating pizza, and watching a movie. While the kids were occupied, Curt and I snuck off for dinner, some hot tea at Barnes and Noble, and a movie. Then we raced back to pick up the kids.

It was a full day, an exhausting day, but a great one. I hope yours was wonderful!
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mamatwoboys said...

I have started the Love and Respect book three times and just could not get into it. I am intrigued by your conference experience and think I will give it another try. Thanks for sharing!

Julie Coleman said...

Shanti Feldman wrote a book on the respect thing. I think it was called "For Women Only." When reading it, I asked my husband which he wanted more, love or respect. He struggled with the question because he could not separate the two in his mind. You can't have one without the other.

So in a sense, he really validated this idea. Love IS respect, at least in his mind.

A long time ago, a wise woman once told me, "You alone are responsible to teach your children to respect their father." I will be forever thankful for her words to me. I had just a one-year-old at the time, and was already in the habit of complaining to him about my husband. Nothing vicious, but when I disagreed with Steve, or felt angry about something, I used my toddler as my sounding block. When my friend told me about teaching children to respect their dad, I was stopped cold. I realized every word I said against his father was building a wall to his respecting him later on.

And we teach with more than just our words. I was also acutely aware that if I didn't show respect for Steve, the children would learn loudly and clearly from my example. This was made clear to me while I was teaching. A family from Guatemala was in our school. The husband had a pretty lowly view of his wife-- treated her very badly. And guess how the little boys treated their mom-- just like Daddy. Examples are even more powerful than our words.

I guess I've gone on long enough. But I just wanted to AMEN! to your post. Keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

I had to work, but my husband and boys surprised me by showing up at work, each one with a card or a gift behind their back. Sweeties! :-) I'm very blessed!

Flamingo Mama said...

how cool is that...we did the same thing this weekend! except it was Shaunti Feldman who came to our church. She was great. I was blown away by some of what I learned...or what was reinforced to me. I thought that everyone should "hear this stuff" glad that you guys did too!

mom said...

I heartily agree! Love and Respect is an awesome eye opening study which is helpful for EVERY marriage! What a wonderful way for the two of you to spend a portion of Valentine's weekend :-)

Tammy ~@~
Garden Glimpses

MooBee Mama said...

That book sounds so good! Thank you for mentioning it and for the encouraging post!

Anonymous said...

Hi. I don't usually leave comments although I REALLY enjoy your blog! I did attempt to read this book but struggled. Basically because I felt like he sounded arrogant and always blamed the wife. Maybe it got better as you went through it but it just felt like one of those "what the wives are always doing wrong" books. Maybe I'll give it another try. I do understand and believe in the concept; it was like one of those smack in the back of the head moments! :-)

DOakley said...

Hi, Marybeth.

I did the Love and Respect marriage conference, last Fall, and learned a lot. I thought it was so great to hear that someone had actually figured out the difference between what is actually said and what is heard between both parties.

You really can't do the book without the video. The video adds a whole other dimension to the lessons.

I have been able to translate what I learned there into my relationship with my husband and can pinpoint those moments when I'm disrespectful, or those moments when I need to reinforce my respect for my husband.

I must also add, if you haven't seen Fireproof, yet, that is an absolute relational must, as well.

I have learned through all this that I can't keep thinking...oh, I wish my husband we here to hear this. I need to focus on me and what I can learn and bring to the relationship. And, hopefully, teach my husband through how I act on what I've learned.

StumbleBee said...

Things are a little tight for us this year. We've had to become very creative and show our affection through little things.

I loved the Kay's Jewelry campaign this year, "Love Rocks". My can't stand these types of ads, he feels that a man is forced into buying jewelry. Well, we happend to watch this one together.

For Valentine's Day, he got a homemade pet rock from me. On the bottom it says,To my amazing husband "Love Rocks". It brought a smile to his face.