What happens when you do every favor asked of you by your partner for a month? Good things. Good things happen.
We just wrapped up our love experiment for the month- asking your spouse what you can do for them each week and then doing every thing asked of you. This challenge is based on Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages, specifically the love language of gifts.
Time for a re-cap!
If you’ve read any of my past love language challenge recaps,
You might notice a pattern that these experiments are always more challenging for me to complete than I thought they would be. Every time.
Even though I really prioritize my marriage, I’m still busy. By the end of the day I’m typically physically and mentally spent.
I find that there are no shortage of good ways to spend my time and energy and marriage is just one among many. Which of course is one of the reasons I do these marriage experiments- so that I won’t forget to save some time and energy for my marriage.
Even so, I find it VERY easy to forget and be distracted from these experiment goals every single time.
I say that to make sure you, my readers know that its ok if you set out to do a marriage goal and fail in completing it 100%. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Small acts matter. In fact, they matter a lot.
Such was the case this month. I certainly didn’t spend as much time and energy serving Rich and I set out to do, but I did little things and I thought about it more. And I count that as a success.
Specifically, here were two lessons learned:
Selfless service REALLY does make you happier
After I wrote this post about a little trick I learned years and years ago to get your marriage out of a rut (do everything in your power to make your spouse happy for one week). I thought, “Huh, its been a long time since I’ve done a happy week, what better time than now?”
So I set out to do it- to find ways to serve Rich and make him happy for a week, things he didn’t ask for or anticipate. The biggest thing I did may sound small, but to me it felt like a big sacrifice.
As you may or may not know, I am in the middle of writing a book about mixed-faith marriages. I sort of dropped the project for a few months in the midst of moving and during the sick months of pregnancy, but it always loomed over me like a dark cloud of something I knew I should be doing but wasn’t.
I decided November was my month. I was going to take the bull by the horns and attack this thing. I set a schedule, I made a little calendar. I was set. Since I am RUBBISH at getting any writing done at home, this would require nightly visits to a coffee shop, which I actually enjoy greatly.
Well, November is also National Novel Writing Month, where you write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Rich has partcipated most years in the past six years, and it has become something that brings him a lot of joy and fulfillment. He is currently sitting on a novel idea and was debating whether or not to devote himself completely.
As I was thinking of what I could do to make him happy, I knew I wanted to somehow make it easier for him to find time to focus and write his novel. So I decided to give up my much-loved visits to a coffee shop for a week and send him instead. Again, that probably sounds little, but to me it was big. I was really worried I wouldn’t get anything done that week, and that I would be off my schedule and become resentful toward Rich.
But that didn’t happen. He knows how I feel about my night-time coffee shop dates and appreciated it for the sacrifice he knew it was. It made him feel loved and happy. He came home happier after having worked hard on a project he loved. And honestly, I didn’t feel resentful at all. I was so happy to have found a way to make him really happy.
I was surprised to find how good it felt to serve someone in a heart-felt way.
If you are looking for ways to serve, you can find them
The love experiment for the month was to ask your partner what you could do to serve them for the week and then to do everything they asked.
The potential problem with this experiment is what to do if they don’t ask for anything? That is Rich’s usual response when I ask him what I can do for him.
However, even if he doesn’t ask for things outright, I figured out this month that if I am really looking for ways to serve, opportunities typically present themselves. When I listened carefully to the things he expressed were difficult for him throughout his day or little complaints he had, ideas would spring to mind of how to serve him.
The story above about writing is the perfect example. One night Rich was telling me that he really wanted to do National Novel Writing Month, but he just wasn’t sure where to find the time. Normally, I would say something like, “Yeah, that’s a toughie” or if I were feeling advice-y (his favorite 😉 ), I would probably suggest areas in his life I felt he could cut down on to make more time for himself. Double points for being judgmental AND not helpful!
And if this were a normal month, I would proceed in not ever thinking about that conversation again. But since I was already looking for how to serve, I knew there was something I could do. So I did and it was genuinely appreciated.
So if you can’t think of much to do to serve your spouse, start asking questions about their problems. Start really listening to what is bothering them and what they are caring about. I bet you’ll think of something. 🙂
Here’s the official love experiment summary explained scientific method style:
I really hope these experiments of ours are inspiring you. I would hate for them to have the opposite effect by causing thoughts like, “Ugh! One more thing I’m failing at.” or “One more thing to do!”
Again, I’ve been really surprised at how difficult it is to accomplish something that I know is good for me and that I actually ENJOY doing!! So, I get it, its hard.
I guess I just want to make the point that when we work to experiment in our marriage improvement, really every other part of our lives go better.
It’s work. But its the best and most worthwhile kind of work.
So go forth and create your OWN love experiments.
Keep on keeping on lab mates.