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I Trust You Because… ~ Marriage Letters

Dear Scott,

We’ve weathered many rocky and dark roads together, two children born with life-threatening conditions, the day-to-day bone-wearying struggle to care for a child with special needs, the end of a church, the death of a child. Statistics say that the burden of all of that should have ripped us apart years ago. I am convinced that we would not be together without trust.

You’ve heard me say more than once that I can’t separate respect and trust. I respect and embrace you as a man, friend, confidante, and lover because I trust you. You say things to me that I refuse to hear from anyone else because you’ve earned my trust and my respect. If you tell me that I’ve said or written something harsh (as is common) or rash, I probably won’t like it (okay, you and I both know I definitely won’t like it), but I’ll listen. I don’t respect, I don’t listen to, and I don’t submit to people who I don’t trust.

respect signThis trust has been hard-won. You know better than anyone the struggles I have being vulnerable with you. I think it has taken you by surprise since I pour my guts out in writing on a blog (by now you know that I feel safer and more in control in written than in spoken word). I don’t let my guard down easily. Control may be an illusion, but I have a death-grip on that illusion. Letting go, even for pleasure, has required time and practice and patience. Trusting you with the shadows in my soul – the doubts, the questions, the fears, and especially the parts that are becoming different than when we first met and married – has been terrifying. How would you respond to me? Would you be disgusted? Disappointed? Turned off?

One of the most valuable lessons I learned about trusting you came after our daughter died. I couldn’t understand why you weren’t adrift in a sea of blackness like I was, and I was irritated that you seemed to be functioning and holding together while I was falling apart. I plucked up enough courage to check out a few books on child loss from the library. In one of them, I read that couples are more likely to stay together when they allow each other to grieve in their own unique way.

I’ve discovered that this applies to everything, not just mourning. When you give each other space to be individuals, to respond to life differently, it tells them that you love them for who they are, not who you want them to be. In the revealing of who I am to you, I have to give you the same space to be you as you hear and respond to it. In the listening, you give me space to be who I am becoming.

So far, every time I tell you something difficult (like that I didn’t know if I believed the Bible was inerrant or that I simply cannot submit to an authority that asks me to relinquish my intellectual, artistic, and expressive freedom), you rise to the occasion. Even after the occasional exasperated, “Why are you are so stubborn?” you hold me close and whisper “I love you” anyway. And every time you do, you sink another pillar of steel into the trust we’ve built together. I know that you’ve got my back, and I hope you know that I’ve got yours.

Your strongest ally,

Joy

Every Monday Scott and I join Seth and Amber to write letters to each other on the fight to keep our marriages happy and healthy. This week’s prompt was “I trust you because” and you can link your letter on Amber’s blog. Next week we’re writing on “Enduring loss together.” (See the schedule of writing prompts for April here.)

 

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Comments

  1. Beauty. I love reading these, thank you so much for sharing your hearts.

  2. “When you give each other space to be individuals, to respond to life differently, it tells them that you love them for who they are, not who you want them to be” … really important words for me to read. XO.
    Lindsey recently posted..In between and among the aid worldMy Profile

  3. I barely know where to begin with telling you how beautiful this is. Trust. Love. Respect. Allowing for differences. Marriage is something I have never experienced, something I have always longed for. You two have been through so much, and seem to understand each other so well, I know it’s not perfect, I know there are struggles, but I see a balance of the two of you greater than the sum of it’s parts – in his letter to you – and in yours to him. God bless and keep you both Joy.
    Craig recently posted..Love says thank you 1,000 times (#’s 869-878)My Profile

  4. well i was going to copy & paste a line or two that i loved from this post, but then it got to be too many! this whole piece was so well said, joy. so BEAUTIFULLY said. i don’t know how long you took to write it, but it felt so natural as if you had sat down & freely expressed in a matter of minutes.

    loved it,
    tanya
    tanya@truthinweakness recently posted..Getting Rid of the LinesMy Profile

  5. This is such a strong post, and it almost makes me grit my teeth.

    “Trusting you with the shadows in my soul – the doubts, the questions, the fears, and especially the parts that are becoming different than when we first met and married – has been terrifying.”

    Crazy Good. Also the part about allowing each other to be individuals makes me feel like I took a marriage class this morning.

    I really adore you, sister.
    Amber@theRunaMuck recently posted..Our Great Cloud of WitnessesMy Profile

  6. This is a great post. You depict a true model of what marriage is supposed to be about here, and Scott appears to be a man who truly reflects the love of Christ in his love for you. I’m not saying you guys are perfect, but that Scott loves you with a love that is rare these days. Thank you for sharing this post.
    Jamie recently posted..What Grade are You?My Profile

  7. Awesome post, Joy.

    “When you give each other space to be individuals, to respond to life differently, it tells them that you love them for who they are, not who you want them to be.”

    Love that.

  8. frogla (Heather Magee) says:

    this is beautiful….just beautiful…i wish I had the words to describe how this touched me & was exactly what I needed to hear in a more juicy exciting way but all I can say is amazing beautiful & thank you for sharing!

Trackbacks

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