Afraid of . . . what?

I owe a great big thank you to Nina Roesner of “The Respect Dare” (check her blog out here!) for inspiring what is probably THE BEST heart to heart conversation I have ever had with my hubby.  This conversation was mentally and emotionally intimate and we reached new levels of understanding.  They may have been levels of understanding we should have reached before but we’re there now!!

The inspiration for this conversation came from a post about femininity that Nina posted a few days ago – click here to read it – in which she dared wives to ask their husbands what the men thought it meant to be feminine.  More specifically, what appealing qualities did their wives have that the men considered feminine.

Hubby and I chatted for close to two hours, starting with that particular subject and then progressing from there to other relationship related topics.

We ended up in a very interesting area – fear.

I know – not exactly where I expected to end up!  Much of our conversation centered around the way I approach him when I need to speak to him.  I know he prefers that I be direct and succinct.  Unfortunately, I often allow “direct and succinct” to come with an edge, almost like I’m challenging him.  That brings out an edge in him that causes him to see me as a competitor rather than as his partner.

NOTE – I AM NOT SAYING I CAUSE HIS BEHAVIOR.  But I can have an impact on how he interacts with me.  And vise versa.

So if I know this – and it’s not the first time we’ve had this conversation – then why do I fail to approach him gently?  And he knows whether I am coming gently or not because he says can see it in my face – specifically my eyes.

But seriously – if I know how to make requests/enter conversation with him in a way that will avoid conflict, why don’t I approach him that way EVERY TIME?!?!   This is a concept that I introduced into the conversation and kind of “talked it through” with hubby.  It boils down to this – I’m afraid.

Direct and succinct with a little bit of force will convey that I’m serious, that what I want from him is important to me and should be taken seriously, right?  Nothing wrong with asserting myself!  But the truth is, I’m afraid.  I’m afraid that, if I approach him gently, I will not be taken seriously.  I fear that he will minimize my desires/my needs and that I will end up feeling discarded.  Ignored.

That’s crazy.  I know it is.  I’ve seen the proof that he WON’T treat me that way.  The most recent event was today.

I have a bone spur in my right shoulder that needs to come out.  Due to a screaming fear of the MRI (I’m more than a little bit claustrophobic) and a busy schedule playing piano for numerous performances/organizations, I have put the surgery off.  The pain is running pretty high today – it’s humid so my arthritis is flaring and the bone spur is letting me know that it is still very much there – and hubby had to leave to move daughter number 2 into the dorm at UNI (go Panthers!!).  I looked at him about 15 minutes before he was due to leave, reminded myself to be gentle, and said very simply, “I’m not trying to be lazy and don’t want to ask too much, but would it be possible for you to empty the dishwasher before you leave?”

He looked at me and said, “Your shoulder?”


“Been pretty bad lately, huh?”

“Nausea inducing.”

“Anything to help, baby.” Kiss and smile and he was out the door.

As if that wasn’t enough, he spoke to my youngest daughter (child #3 who moves into HER dorm at Luther – Go Norse! – at the end of the month!) and said, “I need you to help your mom out by loading the dishwasher.  Her shoulder is really bad right now.”  I made one simple request of him – made it GENTLY – and he sought to not only meet the request but exceed it!

What was I so afraid of again?


“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.”  James 1:23-25

I’ve been dealing with a petulant child lately.  Nothing extreme, no big melt downs.  Just a perpetual pout and the occasional stomping of a foot.

Before I confuse too many people, I am not referring to any of my own children.  In fact, I’m not referring to an actual child at all!  I’m referring to my “inner toddler”.  

I’m being stretched in some fantastic ways lately.  Getting a chance to read through The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner has been such a powerful experience for me.  The reading of each chapter goes so quickly and the dares look deceptively simple since they are handful of questions to answer or a set of seemingly simple instructions to write down a few sentences or statements.  When I sit down to actually carry out the dares, I discover that they are digging deeply into who I am and the “baggage” (both good and bad) that I brought in to my marriage.

But then it happens.  That little girl inside me sticks out her lower lip and says, “I don’t wanna.”  Let me make something very clear.  This is not about the book directly.  It’s more about my attitude.  See, I want an escape clause.  I know that scripture tells me to respect my husband and the implication is that I am to do so unconditionally.  But there is a selfish part of me – larger than I would like to admit – that wants an out.  I want a deadline – “If he isn’t a better husband by  ___________________, the spouse is no longer obligated to . . . ” You get the idea.

We are an instant gratification society. But marriage doesn’t instantly work perfectly; it doesn’t instantly make the two in the relationship happy.  Most of us would be happy if it just consistently got better day after day!  

There I was, implementing my dares, trying to do the right thing.  My prayer life is far more active than ever before (part of a recent dare!) and the growth and learning I’ve already gleaned from the book keeps running through my head.  But that doesn’t mean the aforementioned toddler is behaving herself!

Earlier today, we were discussing finances (Christmas shopping has begun and we have a budget that we need to watch carefully).  My inner toddler started whining – “He doesn’t trust me.”  “He’s being mean and telling me I’m stupid.”  I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t trust myself to speak.  Hubby noticed and asked why I was so quiet.  I was honest and said that discussing finances with him makes me nervous because it has been a hot button topic for us in the past.  He assured me that he was simply trying to think through what we had already purchased and what we still needed to purchase and that he was in no way trying to be negative.  And that’s where it ended.  Not a great victory, I know, but we didn’t get into a knock-down, drag-out fight so I’ll take it.

After running errands/doing a little more shopping and using an early Christmas gift of cash to purchase a fast food supper we were relaxing at home when all of a sudden hubby looked at me and said, “I’m really proud of how creatively you’ve stretched the budget and at how diligently you’ve been tracking your purchases and staying well-within the budget.”  Wow.  It ain’t moonlight and roses but it isn’t typical for us either!  It’s a little victory and a baby step in a new direction.  I’ll take it!