How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. — Proverbs 3:13
“I don’t understand him/her! Why does he/she do that?” Have you ever thought that, or said that about your spouse? We see these differences in our spouses all the time—even at Christmas. There are couples who disagree over colored lights vs. white lights on the tree; purchasing a live tree vs. using an artificial tree; opening presents on Christmas Eve vs. Christmas morning; sharing Christmas with in-laws vs. having Christmas alone . . . . you get the idea. There are usually good reasons for these differences, but do you take the time to know and understand the differences between you and your spouse?
Chances are that while you were dating you thought the differences were interesting and exciting. For example: perhaps you are a “planner,” and your boyfriend or girlfriend was more spontaneous. You thought that was invigorating—and it opened you up to new adventures as opposed to getting bogged down in details. But now you’re married, and the differences can be real sources of irritation and frustration. You want to save up the money for a trip—and they want to just “go.” And that’s just one example . . .
Today’s dare is not going to take us into “solving” the problems of differences, but rather understanding your spouse better. After all, that’s the first step. The analogy in chapter 18 of The Love Dare is that if you “studied” your sweetheart while you were dating and found your understanding of them reached the level of a “high school diploma,” now is the time to take that knowledge to a new level. Learn more about their likes and dislikes, ask good questions, listen, pray for discernment and get a “college degree” concerning them . . . . and then a “master’s degree” . . . and if you’re fortunate over time, a “doctorate.” The authors write, “There is a depth of beauty and meaning inside your wife or husband that will amaze you as you discover more of it. Enter the mystery with expectation and enthusiasm. Desire to know this person even better than you do now. Make him or her your chosen field of study, and you will fill your home with the kind of riches only love can provide.” (p.88)
Here is today’s dare during deployment: Today we’re going to build on yesterday’s dare. The challenge yesterday was to ask your spouse some questions which would help you to grow in intimacy—sharing things that are personal. From that conversation, write down two things that you learned about your spouse that you didn’t know before. Consider two more questions to ask them in the future, perhaps about something that hurt them or excited them. Examples might be: “What things in the past do you wish could be erased from ever happening?” “What words would you like to hear from me more often?” (p. 207) The goal of getting a “doctorate degree” on your spouse will take time and some intentional conversations, but it will be worth it. There are rewards to understanding each other!
Let us share a great idea that we heard from a military couple. It worked for them and, depending on the circumstances of your deployment, it just might work for you too. They had a “date” every week. They called it that—and made it a special time each week. This was not the regular email or cell phone exchange of information they had every day or every few days, but a time set-aside every week as a “date.” They would get ready for it as one would for a date, and spent as long a time as they could just talking and sharing with each other. They were very creative in the ways that they made this special—even by arranging for childcare so that they could talk without distraction. This might not work for everybody (obviously), but we thought it was a beautiful idea to pass along . . .
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
The ear of the wise seeks knowledge. — Proverbs 18:15b
Wise men store up knowledge, but with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand. — Proverbs 10:14
A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out. — Proverbs 20:5
The Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding — Proverbs 2:6
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. — Proverbs 24:3,4
Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding. — Proverbs 4:7
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)