Remember that Impossible, Ridiculous Until-New-Years Marriage Resolution I made? I purposed to spend my weeks till Christmas not arguing, fussing, or any other negative presentation to my husband. No complaining, no "Why can't you just..." Basically a fast that I was not sure would prove harder or easier to keep than fasting on food.
It has been several weeks, and I have to say I've been surprised by what I have learned from this unusual experience. It started because I felt guilty for realizing that, in attempting to make my marriage better by pushing and fussing, I was actually making it worse. However, I was not sure whether fasting on the above would make anything better, or just leave our marriage in this blank, neutral sort of place.
I was trying to do it for the right reasons:
And so this will be my fast. Not for my husband's sake. For me and for
the Lord. Just like fasting food gives us a chance to exercise
self-control, as well as giving us an opportunity all throughout each
day to choose to re-focus on feeding ourselves spiritually rather than
physically, so this fast will give me an opportunity to grow in the Lord
and honor Him. Each time I want to say something negative to my
husband, it will be a trigger to me to hand that thing over to the Lord.
I need to make a habit of giving the Lord my emotional needs, rather
than dumping them all on my husband.
My fast started over a month ago, and like I said, I've been surprised at what has happened. It's hard to explain succinctly, but I'll try.
1. The first few times I had to bite my tongue were hard. After all, biting your tongue kind of hurts. But a fast of any kind is never easy.
2. I noticed pretty quickly that, when I kept my mouth shut, whatever I was buggered about didn't become bigger than it actually was. We were able to move on and enjoy the evening rather than starting a long discussion that would only go in a bad direction. Hmmm.
3. When I would start feeling negatively, if I put it into a spiritual fasting perspective immediately, I was able to sacrifice my "right" to feel upset and give it over to God as an offering. If I didn't catch it in time, however, though I might be able to not verbally express it, the feeling remained, and I struggled to let it go.
4. Even if the feeling stuck, though it showed in non-verbal ways, just the fact that I chose to keep it myself verbally made an impression on my husband.
5. His gratitude for the above, along with the mere fact that I haven't been negative on purpose, has made him feel particularly pleasantly toward me lately.
God is blessing this fast. Just like a physical fast purifies and in the end benefits, seems this kind does good things too. I hoped it would draw me closer to God and help me develop better habits of not just spitting out how I feel. It has. It has also made my relationship with my husband more fun. We are better friends. He doesn't have to tiptoe around me as much, and I am not always remembering the last thing that disappointed me or waiting for the next thing to upset me.
As weird as it may sound, I've mostly forgotten I'm doing this fast. I only think of it when I get a feeling and want to say something negative, then I have to inwardly talk myself through the process I'm developing. Other than that, I am enjoying the freedom of a relationship without fuss--literally.
As the Bible says in Proverbs 29:11, "A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards."
Another translation puts it, "A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back."
Giving up foolishness shouldn't be a hard thing, but if it's a habit, it is. =) I think I have decided I want to continue this fast even after January 1st arrives and passes. It is a good thing, forcing me to keep my mouth shut when it should stay shut, forcing me to take to God my disappointments rather than unloading them on my husband, and also training me to wait to speak until my harsh feelings subside and I can present my perspective in a calm and appropriate way.
Down the road I'd like to think through some step-by-step tips on how to do this in an everyday, in-the-moment sense, so keep an eye out for that post ahead!
Till then, we'll see if I make it till New Year's. How about you? What do you think about the fasting fussing idea in the first place? Want to give it a try with me?
Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
P.S. After I wrote this post, just this evening something happened and I caught myself speaking in that negative, frustrated tone before I caught myself. I realized it, shut up, and went and sat down and waited. Wouldn't you know it, the thing that I'd reacted to turned out to be him doing something considerate for me rather than the opposite. Good grief.