Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Red Book Challenge: Writing With Your Spouse and Improving Your Marriage

My husband and I started doing this a few years into our relationship. The original book disappeared several years ago, at an appropriate time at the beginning of our difficult phase. For those of you that have been following along for a while, you know that we have only been married a little over a year at this point, and have been together a total of 7 years now. When we recovered our relationship and decided to get married, I decided to re-institute the Red Book.

I have done this with each of my kids with varying success. I have even done this with my best friend when we lived in different states, and we filled several books, which she holds to this day. We call them "The Tomes".

This is my challenge for you. For your relationship.

This can be started by either partner, but I have written this from the perspective of the woman, since that is my experience.

For my marriage, we have a Red Book. But the color doesn't matter, just choose a blank book that inspires you! It could be a spiral notebook for that matter!

Show the book to your spouse, and tell them that you'd like to write back and forth together in this book. Set any "rules" you need to so you both feel safe with this experience. But keep it light. Keep it fun! This is not HOMEWORK! This is just a way of recording the best things about your life together! If your spouse is not receptive, then do not push the matter. Perhaps you can write in it yourself, and then gift it to him all filled up, on your anniversary. No more words are said about it, once the initial conversation about the purpose of the book is explained.

Note the date, maybe the time if that is important to you.

Write a love note in your book to your spouse.

It doesn't have to be long. But fill a page.

If your sentences are not enough to fill each line of the page, then write huge, or draw some little pictures or characters in between things.

A beautifully crafted but simple "I You!" might be what you need to express!

Share your heart.

Use positive words only.

Write a list of your favorite things about your spouse!

Write a list of things you appreciate.

Write about how your heart aches when you are apart. How you KNOW that you belong together. How you can just know when he's thinking about you.

Use only words that build up your partner. Thank him for being good to you. Thank him for doing some "thing that he does" that makes your life better/easier/more fun.

Write something that makes you feel vulnerable, scared maybe, and follow it immediately with how you know, see, feel, trust, that whatever that situation is, you know you can do it together. You know that you are safe with this person that you chose to have in your life.

Perhaps an apology for a hasty behavior. NOT blaming him for anything, being real ... you acted hastily, or angrily because you felt scared, you felt alone, you felt trapped. And you know that your heart heals past these things by sharing with him, but at that moment, you are feeling very emotional, and feel that perhaps your thoughts might not come out right, and you don't want to cause further drama.

Perhaps you just had a wonderful adventure together, and it made you feel particularly connected, and you want him to know how close you feel.

Write a dream you have for your relationship. Even a little one ... Do you have a wish that you could take a little trip some where special. Do you dream of the day when you will own a home? Or can you envision that time when you will get to build something together? Plans of planting a garden, and working together to grow beautiful food that you will love to eat.

Tell your spouse how excited you are to be doing this life together. How much you appreciate him letting you have these big dreams, even if you cannot act on them now, you can have the dream.

Tell him you love him for letting you cry during sappy movies, or even those commercials with the adorable puppies!

That you love him for loving you, just the way you are! That you want to grow and improve together, because to possibilities together are boundless!

Now, give him the book. Sometimes I hide it in his suitcase when he has to travel. This last time I just left it on his night stand.

This is the hard part for us girls ... The back and forth of the book is not a daily thing. It might be several months before I find that book sitting on my night stand again, or in my purse, or in my suitcase because I've gone on a trip.

This can be super challenging, maybe even scary, for us girls, as we want instant interaction. But it's OK for both you and he to just gift him your words, and let his heart mull them over and absorb them.

I have on occasion had something more that I have wanted to add to the book when it's not my turn. I have on occasion asked if I could have it as I have something I want to share in it. Sometimes he will grant that, and at others, he makes me squirm and wait my turn. That is ok too! It is good for me to wait my turn to respond to his thoughts with out piling more and more of mine on! At those times, I might write a little note on a card, and hold onto it until it is my turn again. Generally, I find that if I still want it recorded in the book, I can then just tape that piece of paper to my page, and continue with my current entry. Other times, that feeling has been expressed in other ways, and I don't feel the need to add it.

Loving Well is Living Well!
Try it, and share your experience.

Love SuziQue

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