In an attempt to carve out some quality time with my husband instead of just falling onto the couch at the end of the night, Tolar and I participated in a 10 day marriage challenge.
My friend (and Rodan + Fields business partner) Ashley, who blogs over at The Vanilla Tulip, posted about the marriage challenge on her blog and I jumped at the chance to have us participate. So often after Baby K goes to bed, I collapse on the couch and will either watch tv for the rest of the night or fall asleep all while Tolar works on music or plays video games. While our evening activities are relaxing for us after we have been so busy all day long, I didn't like that we were losing our conversation and important time with each other.
So we committed to participating in the challenge and really talking to each other and have loved the process. For anyone wanting to participate yourselves, here are the simple rules:
Spend time together each day (it's helpful to carve out a set time - perhaps after the children are in bed) and discuss your lists of Top 10. Its important to actually talk through your list, giving explanations for everything instead of just reading off your list. This way you and your spouse really get a chance to talk and learn more about each other. You can either write down your answers right before your set meeting time or write down your answers all throughout the day, just make sure everything is complete before you talk each night.
Day 1: What are your top 10 favorite characteristics about one another? Why? (Wife writes 10 for her husband and husband will write 10 for his wife.)
Day 2: What are your top 10 favorite characteristics about yourself? Why? (Wife writes about herself, husband writes about himself.)
Day 3: What are 10 places you have never been to, but would love to go? Why? (Again these are individual lists.)
Day 4: What are 10 of your biggest pet peeves? Why? (In general, not necessarily with one another.)
Day 5: What are 10 things you hope your children learn from you? Why?
Day 6: If you won $100K tomorrow, what 10 things would you buy for yourself? Why? (You cannot save it or spend it on anyone else, you must spend it all on yourself.)
Day 7: What are 10 things that you would like to improve on personally? Why?
Day 8: If you could invite 10 people to dinner, alive or dead, who would they be? Why?
Day 9: What are 10 things that your spouse can do for you, or already does for you, that you really value/appreciate?
Day 10: [Do this one together, perhaps over a date night!] What 10 things do you want to accomplish in the next year as a couple? (Once you have completed your list, put it in an envelope and store it. Then make a point to open it in a year.)
Throughout this challenge, I learned a lot! Of course I learned that I knew quite a lot about Tolar. There were many times as we were sharing our lists that we would make the other guess some answers because we knew each other would know (i.e. I knew that Tolar would want Garth Brooks at his dinner party and he knew that I really value/appreciate his back rubs). All along, I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about Tolar. But he sure surprised me with some of his answers and I LOVE that. In my opinion, marriage wouldn't be that fun if you weren't learning something new about the other all the time. This challenge definitely helped that. And of course, Tolar brought me to tears with his list of qualities he loves about me. So often I find it hard to really love myself and to have someone point out qualities about you that you never even considered - well, it was pretty amazing. Especially because there were some qualities that Tolar loves about me that I really don't like about myself. I did find it easier to list the 10 things I want to work on personally vs. the list of 10 qualities I love about myself. I definitely learned through this challenge that I am too hard on myself. If this man can love me despite everything I hate about myself, even loving things I don't like, well I need to relax and appreciate what I have.
It was also interesting to see just how different we are from each other. This was especially clear on the day that we got to list what we would buy for ourselves - such a fun list! My list consisted of new clothes, shoes, a spa day and interior design service. Tolar's list included lots of musical equipment and firearms. Of course we both knew what the other would write, it was just fun to see it written down and see where our interests lie. And Tolar sure impressed me with his list of people that he would invite to his dinner party. So many of his list I had never heard of. All I was thinking as he was going over his list was "goodness, this man sure is smart." I so appreciated how he thought out his list and that he had great answers to why he would invite everyone.
I am certainly going to miss our top 10 lists now that we have completed the challenge, but I really enjoyed learning new things about ourselves and each other. This challenge has definitely helped us about becoming intentional with our alone time instead of just retreating to our individual spaces.
Have you ever done a marriage challenge? If so, tell me about it in the comment section below.