Day 10– So, my experiment is still a secret and in case you’ve forgotten, this is what I try to base our marriage on, in general. But, for this month, I am being very intentional about focusing on my marriage, in order to makeover my bad attitude. (This is not in real time, but is very real). If you’ve read these, skip down to the bottom:
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Trial 1: Say Yes, even when I’m not in the mood. This might include saying, “Not right now, but tomorrow morning I would love to meet you in the bedroom.” Or, “After you put the kids to bed and let me take a bath, then I’d consider it.” But, it does mean, never flat-out rejecting my husband. I used to think that sex was simply a physical release; at times that made me feel used. I have come to understand that sex is not just a physical release (although, that’s a great benefit) but, it is a way to minister to my husband. He feels more emotionally secure, confident, and manly when he knows that I want him.

Trial 2: Take Care of My Needs, and not expect Kevin to fulfill them. On Parks and Recreation (the best show of all time), a couple of the main characters have a day. It’s called, “Treat Yo’self! Day”

Most of the time, Kev and I are broke, so hiring a sitter or a house-cleaner is not an option. But instead of giving excuses not to treat myself or blaming Kevin for not taking care of my needs, I started giving myself permission to exercise, to spend time with God, to wake up early and write, to go out with friends, to buy myself little gifts, to feed my soul.

Trial 3: No Bullying. The media has a lot to say about kids bullying each other online, in school, on the bus. But, what if I were to admit that I am sometimes a bully to my husband and children? I needed to be more intentional about how I encouraged my family. This included intentionally complimenting my husband privately and in public, and guarding my emotional responses. I know there are times when my family has felt like they have to walk on eggshells around me. I don’t want to be that person.   

Trial 4: Pray Regularly For Spouse. This means meeting with friends, or meeting with Kevin, or meeting with God alone to take regular time to pray for his heart, his job, his integrity, his love for us, his relationship with God, and our marriage.

Trial 5: No Romance, Outside of Marriage. I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. I saw Safe Haven last weekend, not a comedy—but that’s my kind of thing—emotional manipulation? Bring it on. But, I have to remember that my husband is neither Ryan Gosling nor Josh Duhamel. And in fact, Ryan Gosling isn’t even the Ryan Gosling of The Notebook. So, if  there are movies or shows or books or articles or songs or anything that make me feel like crap about my marriage, that cause me to compare my real life husband to a really fake character, then I can’t have it in my life anymore. Similarly, if I am holding onto memories or feelings about old relationships, or anyone other than my man, I have to let those go without looking back.

A few years ago, I threw out a huge garbage bag full of old journals and photos, some that were linking me to the past. I know that sounds dramatic, but I needed to release some strongholds physically because I believe that actions speak louder than words–and sometimes we need those actions to free ourselves.

Trial 6: Practice Thankfulness. We’ve talked about this on the blog before. There are great gifts that I miss out on daily unless I am intentionally writing them down and thanking God for them. Thankfulness is a discipline. 

Trial 7: Help Him to Love Me. It’s taken me a while to realize that my husband is not a mind reader and he does not speak my love language naturally. So, a few years ago, I literally gave him a list–a file on his computer. It’s entitled, “Gifts You Can Get Me When I Need To Feel Loved.” I organized it in price-ranges, from free to expensive. I usually tell him during these thirty days (or other times in marriage) to go to the list. I NEED the list because I need to feel loved by you

Trial 8: Ask For Forgiveness– I’ll tell you more about this later, but I had to ask for forgiveness for my attitude, and I want to be a person who seeks and gives forgiveness regularly.  

Trial 9: Get Help– During “Marriage Reboots,” we’ve sought marriage counseling, I’ve gone to a counselor-friend, We’ve read books together, sought advice separately, etc. During one of our rough periods in marriage, Kevin went to counselor alone to work on some of his own issues with anger and shame. It brought so much healing to our relationship. 

Trial 10: Ask God to Change My Heart. Kevin tells a story of a time in college when he and his buddies were desperate to stop some bad habits. They were a group of college guys, so you can only guess what those habits were. They developed something called a “sin jar.” They’d have to put money into the jar every time they failed. Soon, the jar was filled with IOU’s, and then abandoned altogether. But, when they began to join together and pray, spend time worshiping God, and studying His word, He changed their hearts. The point is, we can’t will our attitudes or our marriages to change, but God can. He wants to do something beautiful and new in our lives.   

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Day 10
Well, I am a third of the way in and it’s just dawned on me that it might be helpful to involve God. Trial 10, if you will. Ask Him to adjust my attitude. Have I told you about the time when E was really into Dr. Suess’ ABC book? It features Aunt Annie’s Alligators, Benjamin Button’s Bear, and so forth until you get to Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz. One night at dinner, clearly not pleased with what I had prepared, the kid issued a hunger strike. He looked me straight in the eyes, crossed his arms, and grumbled, “Hey Mom. Zizzer. Zazzer. Zuzz.” He might as well have been giving me the finger. He turned Dr. Suess into a scourge.
            The point is, what comes out of the mouth is there in the first place. Dr. Suess didn’t corrupt my child. God, replace my negative attitude with a heart that delights in You.  Love comes from God. You’d think I’d have started there. What can I say, I am a slow learner.
Day 11
The freaking almond butter–Subject spent two hours grinding these almonds to a bloody pulp with a MINI food processor. The noise alone grated on me like sidewalk chalk (have I mentioned I have a real issue with sidewalk chalk), but it also threw off our entire morning. Kids couldn’t sleep because of sound…naps deferred…obnoxious in sound and schedule…argh….
Data Gatherered:  Subject actually thinks my house is his house. Our house is our house, plural possessive. Meaning, he can make the almond butter wherever he wants. (This is beginning to explain his dirty laundry left on our bedroom floor.) That means, I have to learn to be generous. I feel like a toddler sometimes. That’s mine, that’s mine. Nope, it’s ours. 
Day 12 
Logging at 4am. Last night had a conversation with young 20 somethings about “calling” on life and how it should be sacrificial, should make you feel uncomfortable- they’re all longing for God to “call” them to something. I wanted to say, just get married. Just have kids. Talk about sacrificial. But, I’m not a martyr. These are my blessings and gifts. 

I used to joke…well, we’ll all screw up our kids, as long as we give them a therapist’s number, it’s fine. 

How brazen. 

How light-hearted I’ve been at times about this responsibility, this honor, these precious lives you’ve bestowed to me. Oh God, help me to love them and serve them. May they be built up by me, ministered to by me. I need your help. I need you. Put a new song in my mouth, please. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. 
Day 13-14 
I put scripture up all around me. I’ve been praying for my family before they wake up. Romans 10:20 has been my mantra,  Romans 12:10- “Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.”

I can do a lot of things, but if anything is going to really change in my heart, I know I have to honor my husband by apologizing to him. 
Days 15 (and many more after that)
I haven’t told subject about experiment, but I told him that we needed to talk. I confessed my bad attitude, my lack of joy in our marriage, I asked for his forgiveness for not honoring him like I should. I thought it might get ugly. But, as Subject often does, he surprised me. Okay, let’s make a plan. Let’s sit outside on our porch every night this summer and fall in love again. (And we did). 

For the next few weeks, he brought ice cream from my favorite store, wine, card games, flowers… and after the kids (two at that point) went to bed, we sat on the front porch, laughing, and actually communicating—nothing incredibly deep—but rehashing our day, telling childhood stories. Connecting. We prayed together for each other, for the kids.
I don’t want to sit here and say, “Oh this experiment is the magic button that changed my marriage.” But, I’d also be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that my respect, my affection, my love for my husband isn’t being renewed.  

Data Gathered: The beauty of marriage is the commitment–not the romance, not the sex, not even the kids. It’s the fact that within the safe confines of someone who is not going anywhere, I can be free to hash this stuff out, to look ugly in front of him on so many levels, and yet to grow. Our commitment through the good, bad, and the worst versions of ourselves is refining. We help each other look more like Jesus. We help each other look more like the people we are meant to be.  

I’m 15 days in (and counting), and I’m so thankful. 

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