The Love Dare*
Love believes the best
[Love] believes all things, hopes all things. –1Corinthians 13:7
In the deep and private corridors of your heart, there is a room. It’s called the Appreciation Room. It’s where your thoughts go when you encounter positive and encouraging things about your spouse. And every so often, you enjoy visiting this special place.
On the walls are written kind words and phrases describing the good attributes of your mate. These may includes characteristics like “honest” and “intelligent”, or phrases like “diligent worker,” “wonder cook,” or “beautiful eyes.” They are things you discovered about your husband or wife that have embedded themselves in memory. When you think about these things, your appreciation for your spouse begins to increase. In fact, the more time you spend meditating on these positive attributes, the more grateful you are for your mate.
More things in the Appreciation Room were likely written in the initial stages of your relationship. You could summarize them as things you liked and respected about your loved one. They were true, honorable, and good. And you spent a great deal of time dwelling on them in this room…before you were married. But you may have found that you don’t visit this special room as often as you once did. That’s because there is another competing room nearby.
Down another darker corridor of your heart lies the Depreciation Room, and unfortunately you visit there as well.
On its walls are written the things that bother and irritate you about your spouse. These things were placed there out of frustration, hurt feelings, and the disappointment of unmet expectations.
This room is lined with the weaknesses and failures of your husband or wife. Their bad habits, hurtful words, and poor decisions are written in large letters that cover the walls from one end to the other. If you stay in this room long enough, you get depressed and start expressing things like, “My wife is so selfish,” or “My husband can be such a jerk.” Or maybe, “I think I married the wrong person.”
Some people write very hateful things in this room, where tell-off statements are rehearsed for the next argument. Emotional injuries fester here, adding more scathing remarks to the walls. It’s where ammunition is kept for the next big fight and bitterness is allowed to spread like a disease. People fall out of love here.
But know this. Spending time in the Depreciation Room kill marriages. Divorces are plotted in this room and violent plans are schemed. The more time you spend in this place, the more your heart devalues your spouse. It begins the moment you walk in the door, and your care for them lessens with every second that ticks by.
You may say, “But these things are true!” Yes, but so are the things in the Appreciation Room. Everyone fails and has areas that need growth. Everyone has unresolved issues, hurts, and personal baggage. This is an aspect of being human. We have all sinned. But we have this unfortunate tendency to downplay our own negative attributes while putting our partner’s failures under a magnifying glass.
Let’s get down to the real issue here. Love knows about the Depreciation Room and does not live in denial that it exists.
But love chooses not to live there.
You must decide to stop running to this room and lingering there after every frustrating event in your relationship. It does you no good and drains the joy out of your marriage.
Love chooses to believe the best about people. It gives them the benefit of the doubt. It refuses to fill in the unknowns with negative assumptions. And when our worst hopes are proven to be true, love makes every effort to deal with them and move forward. As much as possible, love focuses on the positive.
It’s time to start thinking differently. It’s time to let love lead your thoughts and your focus. The only reason you should glance in the door of the Depreciation Room is to know how to pray for your spouse. And the only reason you should ever go in this room is to write “Covered in Love” in huge letters across the walls.
It’s time to move into the Appreciation Room, to settle down and make it your home. As you choose to meditate on the positives, you will learn that many more wonderful character qualities could be written across these walls. Your spouse is a living, breathing, endless book to be read. Dreams and hopes have yet to be realized. Talents and abilities may be discovered like hidden treasure. But the choice to explore them starts with a decision by you.
You must develop the habit of reining in your negative thoughts and focusing on the positive attributes of your mate. This is a crucial step as you learn to leaf your heart to truly love your spouse. It is a decision that you make, whether they deserve it or not.
THIS WEEK’S DARE
FOR THIS WEEK’S DARE, GET TWO SHEETS OF PAPER. ON THE FIRST ONE, SPEND A FEW MINUTES WRITING OUT POSITIVE THINGS ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE. THEN DO THE SAME WITH NEGATIVE THINGS ON THE SECOND SHEET. PLACE BOTH SHEETS IN A SECRET PLACE FOR ANOTHER DAY. THERE IS A DIFFERENT PURPOSE AND PLAN FOR EACH. AT SOME POINT DURING THE REMAINDER OF THE WEEK, PICK A POSITIVE ATTRIBUTE FROM THE FIRST LIST AND THANK YOUR SPOUSE FOR HAVING THIS CHARACTERISTIC.
You may want to keep a journal and answer these questions daily:
Which list was easier to make? What did this reveal about your thoughts? What attributes did you thank your spouse for having
If there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8 NKJV)
*As featured in Fireproof, the movie.
The Love Dare copyright 2008 by Stephen Kendrick & Alex Kendrick