Day 8 comes from my hilarious and crazy-talented friend, Blythe. I first met Blythe when we were both living in China, teaching English in different cities. We met up on a YSA activity and got to crash at her apartment, and besides making us laugh until we wanted to pee, she taught us all kinds of magic. (For example: if you somehow track down brownie mix in China, which Blythe did because she’s tricky like that, you can add oil and water, skip the egg, and freeze said brownie mix. Because of the oil, it always stays the consistency of soft ice cream. Perfect for scooping with spoonfuls of PB. Also perfect for gaining a quick 20 pounds. WHOOPS.) Besides having the best laugh and such a good heart, she is crazy wise and SUCH a talented photographer especially. You GOTTA check her website. Anyway, I’ll get out the way and let her entry speak for itself. I just love her!
“Learning to love without the expectation of being loved in return. We think it’s a no-brainer, but perhaps we are all guilty of falling prey to the idea of entitled expectations.
Of course we hope that loving someone will result in being loved in return, and of course, when we marry the love of our life, most of us already expect this! But my husband and I have been slowly learning that truly owning the idea of loving without the expectation of love in return can be an amazing force of strength in our marriage.
A typical formula for a marriage that fails (or any relationship for that matter) is when one person in the partnership decides that the other isn’t doing enough, and so they spitefully (either because of resentment or desperation) choose to match that. This manifests in SOOOO many blatant but also subtle ways. (The following illustrations are not gender specific).
The wife who thinks her husband never cleans, so rebels by not cleaning anything to see if he’ll notice.
The husband who is upset his wife didn’t text him throughout the day so when she calls, he ignores it to make a point.
Or maybe a bit more intense examples,
The wife who spent their life savings because she didn’t feel she had a say in where the money went.
The husband who makes a huge career change without having any sort of conversation with his wife because he felt she didn’t support him.
These scenarios have so much in common, but we want to focus in on one element: an act of desperation to force their partner into learning a lesson.
Let’s pause for a minute and talk about desperation. It’s something that often happens when we feel a loss of control. We feel there is nothing else we can do. But what if there was something that would allow us to never reach this point? Or to at least avoid it at little cost to our marriage, and only the cost of our pride?
It requires a great deal of sacrifice, simultaneously testing your ability to love, even–especially–when you feel the other person is less than deserving.
It’s the mastering of accountability–accountability of everything.
Not to be confused with responsibility, accountability allows you to be aware of something and therefore gives you the ability to answer for it. Not that you will, or that it’s your duty, necessarily, but that you can. Responsibility, on the other hand, is where the outcome is entirely your duty to resolve.
Taking accountability for your spouse being upset with you is useful! It’s not so that you can be depressed about it, but rather, when you take accountability for everything in your life, you also take control.
You come to a realm where you think, “okay is this something I can fix? Is there something I can do?” And there almost always is.
Ultimately someone’s happiness is entirely up to them, but when you take accountability for everything in your life, you are able to take action that will actually help the situation. Rather than just feeling upset that they’re upset, or feeling discouraged that they’re discouraged, you have the power to change, to act, to serve, and to give compassion and love.
I hope we all know that marriage is NOT a 50-50 partnership. You both are not going to be able to give 100% all the time. Life is real. Physical barriers are real. Mental and emotional barriers are real. Hormones are real.
Sometimes one of you is only going to be able to give a small percentage because coping with life and change can be difficult. Sometimes one is going to be called upon to give more, and it may feel like you’re being asked to give more for longer periods of time, which may make you feel like this marriage is unfair. But it isn’t relevant. (Don’t worry, it IS a valid feeling, but it’s not relevant).
When it comes down to it, if yesterday was the very last day you had with the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with, you probably have a higher sense of the bigger picture. You probably will dismiss their silly or not so silly acts of discourteousness because you love them. You love them. And when you really think about it you remember, “Of course they are deserving of my 100%, regardless of whether they can only give 10% right now”.
The more you become more concerned with what you can contribute and less concerned with what they can’t, the happier you will be. Life will mean more, and people will be able to sense the love and success you have in your life. You’ll be a contagious force for good, and an example to all relationships in the world.”