* love letters …

Posted on February 14th, 2010 by melinda in making marriage work

If you’ve come to see who won the Beth Moore book, click here for the winner  & then come back to read today’s special Valentines post.

Happy Valentines Day!  I have thought and thought about this post … did I want to write something comical or satirical … something sweet or maybe even mushy … or something deep, real and personal.  I decided on the latter of those options.  If you aren’t up for some real love stuff today, if you are just looking for a surface sweetheart gushy love post … skip on over this one and come back another day, I won’t be offended.

I want to share with you the most special gift my husband has ever given me.  But before I can do that, I have to be honest and tell you that our relationship has been one heck of a roller coaster ride.  If I am being truthful, which would be my ultimate goal here, then I have to tell you that I have more than once loudly proclaimed “stop this hellish ride, I want off”.  In fact, there are still days, that maybe I don’t want off the marriage roller coaster altogether but a nice break in the action would come as a welcome relief.  It’s not always roses and sunshine here at the ole hacienda, sometimes it’s plain ole crappy, sometimes it’s heavenly bliss and the majority of the time it’s sweet contentment and compromise. 

Our story begins in 1998.  My relationship with my ex husband had officially ended almost a year before.  As a side note here, divorce sucks and then it sucks some more before you can ever move forward.  Let’s just say … I’m not a fan.  I should also tell you, that even though I would have probably never said it aloud, I was not a christian at the time and my life was certainly no shining example on a hill for anyone to be admiring.  Richard and I met at a bar, which in hindsight may have been a strong indication of things to come, this isn’t something I am particularly proud of … but again, it’s the truth and a part of our story.  He was (and still is) 8 years younger than I am.  Go ahead, call me a cougar!  I will condense the next part of the story in to a very simple version … I loved him the first minute we met.  I know that is so cliche’, feel free to gag a bit, it’s ok.  I’m not sure what it is, probably his gruffness, his dancing skills and his cute behind … you know, all those things that make your heart skip a beat or twelve and your under arms to suddenly gush.  I’m sure it was a lot more lust than love to begin with but I knew it he was what I wanted.  For some still unknown reason, I must have been what he wanted also.  The next few years were pretty uneventful, we dated, we moved in together (bad bad idea) and eventually got married.  Someday, I will have to write about our wedding day, it was a hoot and I’m not sure if his mother has forgiven me yet. 

Soon after we got married, what had been a tumultious year, went south in a quick hurry.  I don’t feel any great need to bask in the ugly details, most of you know the ugly details all to well anyway, but for those of you who may not … a series of events and bad decisions culminated in to a very bad night.  Long story short, he ended up in jail, I ended up in a DSS office, the girls ended up devastated and each of our parents would most likely have enjoyed giving the two of us a long lecture and a good old fashion beat down, which we both probably deserved.  I do feel obligated to tell you that alcohol was a major factor in the entire disaster.  It’s not an easy thing to say or share, but if I’m not honest with you now, the rest of our story would be a glossed over, untrue depiction of our marriage. 

When all the dust finally settled and the shock of our ignorance began to set in, I began to pray ernestly, seeking God’s wisdom for the direction I needed to go.  Two things are important in that last sentence … #1.  by this time, I had received the gift of salvation and my relationship with Christ had begun to form on a personal level, little bitty baby steps were being taken.  Richard had also started attending church with us and our church family would prove to be a huge part of God’s plan to restore a very broken marriage. #2. please note, I said,  I was seeking God’s plan for my life … not our life.  I was done with the whole marriage thing.  In my not so humble opinion, I already knew what the outcome was going to be.  I sucked at being a wife, was on the verge of sucking at being a good mom and clearly I sucked at forgiveness and communication, both of which are essential in any relationship.

I have told y’all many a time how richly I have been blessed with good family.  Never, at anytime in my life had that been more clear to me.  Not only did God bless me with wonderful parents, He threw in the best in laws a daughter in law could ever ask for.  Richard and I both have very caring, loving and involved parents.  The best part of that is, they are also all very upfront and honest, they love each of us equally and there has never been side taking on either set of parents part.  All parents involved, helped us each to arrive at some very tough decisions.  Our church family prayed a hedge of protection around us, the both of us, the likes of which I had never experienced.  Now, don’t get me wrong here, there was plenty of anger, disappointment and frustration to go around from those who love us, but it wasn’t expressed in a hurtful way … it was expressed in a loving way, which made more difference than I can ever begin to explain. 

Thru another long series of events it became clear to the both of us that some deep soul searching was God’s plan for each of us, our marriage and our family.  Like I said before, my plan was to be done with this marriage.  God’s plan was a bit different.  Continually, God opened doors and hearts, mine and Richard’s included, to be able to make some decisions that would ultimately (a long way down the road) lead to forgiveness and restoration.  To this day, when I think back about the things that transpired, the way things came together and the people that God put directly in our path, I stand amazed.  It is also a confirmation of the fact that God does still perform miracles. 

First and foremost, we both acknowledge that we had some major issues to deal with.  Our marriage was so battered that getting back together was not even an option at that point, but … working toward that goal was becoming an option.  Richard entered a inpatient rehab facility, I began al anon and the girls got some much needed help and guidance.  We were on our way to what would eventually become a healthy, yet not perfect, marriage. 

In the first part of this post, I mentioned my favorite gift ever … it’s more like a stack of favorite gifts ever.  While Richard was away at rehab, we learned to communicate in an entirely new way.  When he first got there, we could have no telephone contact, no email, no visits.  Truly, at that time, I was completely fine with that.  I don’t think I realized it then, but it was an opportunity for God to allow my anger to subside, my heart begin to heal and a time out to really pray and seek God’s will for our lives, whether that would ever mean living together again or not, I wasn’t sure of.  A lot of damage had been done on both or our behalf’s, and of course, the girls were and remain a top priority in any decision that the two of us make. 

While Richard was there, those first few weeks, he could do one thing to communicate with us, if he chose to … we could write letters to each other.  I laughed.  I without a doubt knew, I would not be getting any letters, he isn’t a letter writing kinda guy.  If I recall correctly, I even made a bet with Cathy, although I think we both bet that he wouldn’t write the first letter so it was kind of a win win for both of us.  But to my surprise, he did write … we wrote each other.  I can distinctly remember the first day I opened the mail box and saw a plain white envelope with his handwriting on it.  My heart stopped for just a second, my hands shook while I opened it and I cried thru the entire letter.  It wasn’t any Shakespearean poem or proclamation of love, it was simply an apology.  A deep down, heart felt, hand written, viable, tangible, forever to be in my possession, apology.  It was the one gift from him that I needed the most.  There was no sort of explanation, no excuses, no can I come home, nothing … just an “I’m sorry”.  I realize that the gravity of that may not seem so deep to those of you who have blissful, happy, loving marriages.  But to me, at that time, it was the only thing he had to offer me and the girls that would ever make a difference.  And it did make a difference, it was the beginning of a long healing process.  The letters continued to come and go along with some apologizing on my part too.  We learned to communicate in a very different way, an honest and real way, thru written words.  I will tell you, that to this day, I believe those letters were a fundamental building block used as a basis to rebuild our marriage.  I have kept them all.  They are and probably always will be a reminder that even in the worst of times our marriage was worth saving.  They are without a doubt, my favorite gift ever. 

After a year and a half separation, many hours spent with a good christian marriage counselor, lots and lots of prayer, complete sobriety and the willingness to allow God to grow and slowly nurture us into a healthy marriage …. here we are five years later experiencing daily a healthy relationship.  Not all days are good, not all days are full of wonderment, but all days are healthy, emotionally and spiritually.  Marriage isn’t always an easy thing for us. I hope it is for you, I hope with all of my heart, that you and your spouse or significant other, truly love and respect each other and never ever find yourself on the path we were on.  If relationships seem to not be your forte’ either, I hope that you know God has a plan for your life.  If there is or has been hurt, resentment or conflict, please know that those things can be restored if that is truly God’s plan for your life.  I am not a believer that every marriage can be saved(remember, I was divorced once), it’s extremely hard work, on both parts and sometimes that just doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean you are any less valuable as a person, as a spouse, as a parent or most importantly as a child of God.  I just think in our case, we were both willing and thirsty for God to restore our relationship.  I would never encourage you to stay in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, that is not God’s plan for your life.  So please don’t take my words as substance to continue maintaining an abusive pattern, please know that we are most likely the exception, not the rule and that for a very very long time we didn’t live together in the same house.  Know that we were nurtured and loved by many people and that without our relationship with Christ, we would not be together.  We chose to surround ourselves with positive influences, Godly people who emulate what marriage should be, and people who don’t mind being brutally honest in some hard times … I would highly recommend all three of those options.

It  probably wouldn’t hurt any of us or our relationships if we each took time to write our valentine a letter, a note or a card, more than once a year.  I treasure having my letters, I’ve read them more  than once and they are a continuing affirmation of our love.  I don’t care if you write it in red lip stick on your bathroom mirror or draw hearts in the condensed air on your valentines truck window, whatever you do today (and every other day, good or bad) make sure that the special someone in your life knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that your world is better because of them.  A little bit of effort on your part can go a long long way in maintaining a healthy relationship.


5 Comments on “* love letters …”

  1. Marjorie Markham

    May you both have the strength and fortitude to constantly work on your marriage. You guys have come a long way and I hope you go a long way together. Love ya!

    • melinda

      thank you for your encouragment margie, i love you and appreciate your friendship so very much.

  2. Larissa

    Dearest Melinda – I love you! Your testimony is honest, real and strong. Jason and I are together because of letters. To this day, when something is not “right,” he’ll write me a note. It has made many a bad day much better. Thanks for sharing. This is the best Valentine’s message I have heard. I still owe you cans of food for your ministry of helping others and something else I promised . . . What was it? Anyway. You’ll get cans of food and a hug. Happy Valentine’s Day! John 3:16

    Ps I really have to get rid of Jason’s gravatar linked to my email account.

    • melinda

      Dearest Larissa, thank you so very much for your comments. I would be most appreciative of any food donations, at any time, just whatever is good for you. I think the other is light bulbs … but I finally broke down and bought some on one of my recent walmart torture runs, so I’m good to go for a bit. love you! ps: i like that picture of jason, he’s a cutie.

  3. katrina

    Melinda, I cried while reading this post. You really put your life out there for others to know and to reflect on their own relationships. Glory be to God for all he has done for you and your family and we all are very blessed and should take the time to write a love letter to God and thank Him for all He has done, I know it will take more than a few minutes if we take the time to thank him and reflect on all he has done for each one of us.

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