(Brenda Munoz Photography)

I took The Love Dare.

I didn’t tell my husband. Instead, I quietly challenged myself each day to take a good hard look at my heart, and to love him differently— better than the day before.

It wasn’t always easy. In fact, the 40 challenge lasted 48 days for me, because some dares required a deeper look into my heart than I was willing to take.

But I fought through my pride and ego and made it out, stronger and more in love with my husband than ever.

From the outside, it didn’t seem like I needed to do any kind of love challenge. From the inside, it didn’t look like I did either.

We are happy. We rarely argue. We love each other and communicate and laugh, daily.

So why did I feel the need to secretly work on my marriage?

Because, I felt my heart changing, and I didn’t like it.

I noticed that the strain of an emotional year was taking a toll on my very being.

My soul felt tired and I knew that if I could feel it, he could too— even if he didn’t consciously realize it.

I needed to see the world— my world, through fresh eyes. And what I walked away with was just that.

Do you need a crash course in how to love?

Before you say no, let me ask you something else.

Do you follow your heart or do you lead it?

I’ve always known that love is more than an emotion— it’s a choice. What I didn’t realize, was that following my heart instead of leading it was road blocking me from loving fully.

Because when you let your heart take the drivers seat it messes with your radio settings and adjusts your mirrors. Next thing you know, you’re in a ditch at the first sign of rain because it turns out your heart isn’t as good a driver as you thought.

I learned simple things:

Like that cleaning the toothpaste cap helps to make his day just a little better.

I learned deep things:

Like that I was subconsciously setting him up to fail by not being direct about things I wanted, such as the trash being taken out or needing one on one time.

If you find yourself saying, “this love dare thing sounds like something my partner needs to do!” then you in fact, need it too.

And if that’s the case, I hope you’ll consider doing it.

Like I said, my marriage was never in a bad place. But it’s in an even better place now than it was before after I took this challenge.

So, I’m sure you all just scrolled down past my mushy post because I know what you really want from me…

To know who won the Small Business Giveaway!

And well, I’m pretty excited too.

So here we go.

Randomly selected by the Gleam generator, the winner is entry #29: AMY PHILLIPS!

Amy, I can’t wait for you to get all of these awesome prizes! I’ll be emailing you shortly, please be sure to respond with a valid shipping address within 7 days so that I can get all of this goodness out to you asap.

Thank you everyone who entered!

I plan on bringing a lot of new things to this space in 2016, including more giveaways for all of you.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.