After my Dear Jenny post, I’ve been thinking of the desperate importance of a Dear Eric post…a letter written to my husband, after 22 years of marriage, explaining me. While I wish this was straightforward, I realize the female species is a conundrum even to ourselves. I am learning, after 43 years, to give more grace to myself than I have. To stop staying things like, “Girls are weird” or “I’m so hormonal right now”. Everything I feel, every time I react unexpectedly, the moments when I surprise myself..all of this is a clue to greater understanding and appreciation for girls and women. May we continue to learn and invite our loved ones (especially our men and boys) on the journey with us, with much patience and grace.
Thank you for your seeming limitless patience with me. I am surprised often by your calm demeanor, your willingness to explore my psyche, your ability to keep quiet. I know, at times, I have not been the easiest person to coexist with, and I know frequently your expectations and mine fail to align. I hope to help you on this road. The personal work I’ve accomplished has been greatly a result of your generosity and willingness to ask good questions and hold me in the uncertainty.
After 22 years married, we seem to have a pretty good thing going, not without its moments, but for the most part, a very life-giving relationship. I often wonder how we got so fortunate, for it has seemed easy. But, I must remind myself of the great amount of effort we’ve put into our relationship, both through working individually and together. We have been proactive in making choices to protect and defend our marriage and family, from the traps of busyness and resentment.
Here are a few things I have learned about myself (and other women):
Validation. We women are really good at comparing ourselves to one another. If someone’s thighs are better than mine, I jump to the conclusion that their entire life is better…that I don’t measure up. Please know we are not rational, and when I mention things like this to you, it’s okay to point out my amazing qualities, and to say my thighs look great. We base our perceptions on our assumptions. It takes a lot of reassurance to pull us out of that spiral. You don’t need to agree with my crazy, but you can reaffirm the other wonderful qualities I have.
Security. I don’t need grand adventures. I want a friend. I do need challenge, but I don’t love having my feet off the ground, or careening down a mountain. I appreciate your hard work, but I can’t handle a workaholic. I appreciate your ability to relax, but I can’t handle you drinking too much. I appreciate your definitiveness, but I won’t do well if you fly off the handle. I want us to have freedom with our hard-earned finances, but not to go into debt (too much). I need to be able to trust you, in the smallest of things just as much as the huge. I need a place to be vulnerable. I need you to be vulnerable with me.
Appreciation. I want to be supported, respected…regardless of how much I accomplish. I want you to notice the little things, from managing the kids and their activities, to the taxi driving, and the budget, groceries, and laundry. A small thank you goes such a long way with me. There are the times where you call me out. That’s okay. I just need it to be couched within the many mundane thank you’s. I appreciate that you give me room to be who I am. Thank you for not pressuring me, for trusting me in how I manage time. Thank you for appreciating the balance I bring to our home.
Understanding. A lot lives in my head. It’s just there. It’s not a reflection of my level of trust in you. Things swirl around and bump up against the edges of my brain. If you notice this happen, it’s always a good idea to ask a well-formed question or two, when the kids are settled down, in a quiet space. I do need to get this stuff out, and usually I don’t even know it’s there. Give me a good reason to let it out. I have a lot of grace for imperfect methods, I just need to trust motivations.
Go mining. We have highly acute receptors, buried deeply below the surface that sense the slightest of shifts. We know when something is off. It’s never good to roll your eyes and walk away. Not much gets past us. Our intuition fires, sometimes randomly, but usually we need to pay attention. Feeling and emotions are my barometer. Fear kicks in, leading to control…clean house, kids, food, exercise, money. It’s an indication something is amiss. Please help me. Please listen patiently, kindly. Don’t push too much or lose it. I need you. I need help figuring out my intuition too. Support my extra sense, listen when something isn’t “right”, reassure me in these moments. Work with me. Don’t analyze or scientifically debunk my theory or conclusion. Trust me, even if the fear is misplaced. I might be wrong, please don’t add to my shame. This intuition must be fine-tuned. It is useful, and will come in very handy, particularly with the teenagers we have.
Solving. I know you spend the day solving problems, fixing things, creating. Your work with me is never done. I need you to listen, to let me know it’s going to be okay, and that you will be there no matter what I’ve done or has been done to me. Criticism is not helpful, nor is there anything to fix. I may or may not want your input, you can offer your understanding, and I might want your assistance. Unfortunately, these are very difficult times. I don’t really know the best way myself.
Play “Can You Imagine”. I like to dream, we like to dream together. Play the game, entertain the scenarios, participate in the conversation. I know our finances, our time constraints, our kids. I know all these things, but sometimes it is fun to meander down that little path. We have had some really fun adventures that are results of these conversations.
Say I’m sorry. Every single one of our issues involves the both of us. Each of us make mistakes. We each have to own our part. A well-timed, sincere apology speaks volumes to my heart. Thank you for your willingness to go there.
My home is my refuge. You seem to be able to get away, to go places, recharge. I recharge at home. I take pride in my home. I need it clean and organized, depending on how much chaos is in my life. Thank you for the abilities you have to fix things, to make improvements. I love our home. It feeds me.
To all the men out there…love the one you’ve got. The ass is not greener, according to Glennon Melton. Figure her out, make it your life’s goal to understand her. Just because you can’t or it’s hard or it feels impossible doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Don’t assume, listen, ask questions, seek answers. This life is an endless journey of discovery. I am a mystery unto myself. Please assist us in our self-discovery, be part of our team! The things we can do together are so much greater than alone. Don’t be threatened by the success of your spouse, be impressed and proud. She knows when you are enamored with her.
Eric, these last 22 years have been a fabulous ride. I am so grateful for your desire to understand me, to cherish me, to honor me. I have felt it and am trying to receive it. Thank you for persisting in loving me.
I love you,