about faking it

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 | Filed under: life | Tags: , | 15 Comments »

It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt?– Matthew 7:3-4 MSG

I keep seeing all of these marriage lists, blogs, and challenges designed to make your marriage better. They’re weird and I don’t know why they’re so popular. They make your relationship seem forced. I saw one yesterday that said to “look at your husband admiringly, and make sure he sees you.”

That makes me die a little inside. Do people actually think, “Oh! I need to look at my husband admiringly today”? What does “admiringly” even look like? More importantly, why doesn’t it come naturally?

I read things like this and wonder how bleak a marriage has to be that a checklist of “being nice to your spouse” is actually a helpful thing. I don’t doubt that marriages can get off track and fall into a rut. It’s heartbreaking to go through those phases when you know you’re misunderstanding one another and don’t know what went wrong.

My biggest issue with these weird checklists is that they don’t address the underlying issue. They actually cement the issue into a tomb and cover the stench of death with “good deeds” and “admiring looks”. That’s not an attitude adjustment, it’s a way to fake an attitude adjustment.

The underlying issue, the smell of death that you’re trying to cover up, is that it’s easy to see what is wrong with your spouse, and everyone else, and be blind to what is wrong with you.

It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. – Matthew 7:5 MSG

People treat their lives like a continuous social media feed. You’re more concerned with looking like you’re having fun in a photo than just having fun. You don’t have to change a cynical attitude and lack of respect if you can fake admiration and bite your tongue for a day. People actually think that they have appearances to keep up. As though their constant performance isn’t an indication that they are always in costume and never just themselves. People can see through it, you know.

Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. – Matthew 7:12 MSG

I’m pretty sure you don’t want someone to tell you that they appreciate you, and then go check it off their list.

I don’t want to rip it up too much because I want to give you a nudge more than I want to push you down and take your camera away. Stop playing a role. Stop treating your husband like an annoying pet that you’re obligated to feed. People who fake it are running from their own faults, so why don’t you work on that? In the meantime, shave your legs every day. Wear a matching bra and underwear. Don’t be a condescending dictator. Make yourself vulnerable. You can’t post pictures of that stuff.



15 Comments on “about faking it”

  1. 1 likeawarmcupofcoffee said at 9:48 am on January 22nd, 2014:

    Some really good thoughts here. It makes me remember a time when I faked it in weird ways (wearing skirts for the wrong reasons, trying to always be submissive without argument, putting on a good wife show, etc.) and it was all just so plastic. When my husband and I just started being real with each other, and got open to the Lord molding our hearts, our marriage naturally got better. I think we respect each other more. I know we do. I can take the bad as long as we're honest and real and understand our humanness.

    Thanks, Serena.

  2. 2 serenawoods said at 10:03 am on January 22nd, 2014:

    I think respect is the key.

    How terribly lonely a marriage can be when you're not yourself and don't even know who your husband is. You're both trying to be this picture you or someone else has created while the woman and the man buried under all of it are begging to be seen, known, and loved.

    I need some pictures of those skirts for proof. 😉

  3. 3 Amy smith said at 10:06 am on January 22nd, 2014:

    I agreed right up to the shave your legs every day, wear a matching bra and underwear part, because to me, that sounds pretty much exactly like one of those how to be a desirable wife checklists, which I figured this blog post was sort of challenging to start with. Confused.

  4. 4 serenawoods said at 10:17 am on January 22nd, 2014:

    I see what you're saying. The "between the lines" message I was sending with that is this: if you need something to do, then work on your own stuff. It's more tongue in cheek than it is "print this out and mindlessly do it." When you don't feel good about yourself, you're more critical of others. It's transferring your own self-contempt on to others. So, my flippant and even sarcastic advice is to do something for yourself that makes you feel better about yourself, more desirable even, …whatever that may be, and see how that changes your outlook a little. 🙂

  5. 5 Jimmie lee said at 10:33 am on January 22nd, 2014:

    I understand you explanation of why you said that because I was confused at first as well. But I get it now, and I love the message in this post. Thank you

  6. 6 serenawoods said at 10:36 am on January 22nd, 2014:

    Glad to hear it, Jimmie Lee. 🙂 Thanks.

  7. 7 Amy smith said at 2:30 pm on January 22nd, 2014:

    I feel pretty confident in mismatched undergarments, but that's just how I roll. You might have a point with the shaving the legs thing… (Wink)

  8. 8 katie said at 10:13 am on January 22nd, 2014:

    I love this. Upfront, real, confrontational. Thanks fo doing us all a favor by not being cutesy but honest.
    My recent post All Quiet on the Fertility Front

  9. 9 serenawoods said at 10:20 am on January 22nd, 2014:

    🙂 Thanks, Katie.

  10. 10 Monica Williams said at 1:41 pm on January 22nd, 2014:

    Some good things to ponder. I want to defend the checklists just a teeny bit, because they can have some value. Yes we need to guard against hypocrisy and not be deceived that external behavior can substitute for true heart change. But there are times in life when a gap lingers between a true desire for change and the moment-by-moment motivation to behave in new ways. In any long term relationship there will be times when we are called to love one who is not at all lovable. Concrete ideas and goofy checklists can help.

  11. 11 Mickey said at 2:25 pm on January 22nd, 2014:

    Thanks for saying what I'm thinking – I'm confused by all the marriage blogs, posts, advice. Most of it does not make sense to me either. I like your phrase "they make your relationship seemed forced". I am guilty of being nit picky about some one else when I don't feel good about myself. When I do this I'm immediately convicted and remind myself of the horrible things I have done as a spouse and what Christ has done for me. Sometimes I smell like death and I deserve hell. Jesus died for me and my husband and anyone else I might think needs their face washed. Thanks for the reminder, I might need it later today.

  12. 12 Dawn said at 11:37 am on January 23rd, 2014:

    I "get " you gf! I am the person that you are writing to. And I agree, it is all about respect. When I choose to see my husband with respect and appreciation the actions from the "list " automatically show up.

    OMG! That picture is hilarious!!!

  13. 13 Heather said at 3:45 pm on January 23rd, 2014:

    Love this. This post reminds me how weird self photos are. It's weird to see a selfie on Facebook. You are smiling at a turned around phone…..by yourself. Live for the life, not the photo.

  14. 14 serenawoods said at 4:28 pm on January 23rd, 2014:

    I tried to add a selfie but it wouldn't work. It would've been funny. 😉

  15. 15 Chelley said at 9:34 pm on January 23rd, 2014:

    Fabulous post, Serena. Very real and necessary. There'll be no fruit (on the tree) if the roots are not grounded in God's love.

    Classic family pic too !! Is this just a random pic or one of your family (?) at some stage or someone you know? BTW I loved your book. It helped me through a challenging time. Keep being real and keep being you!

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