Dear Husband, Stop Being Afraid

Don't Be Afraid photo by basykes

Veronica Grace doesn’t want her husband’s fears to get in the way of living the life they both want.

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Dear Husband,

Stop being afraid of so much. I’ve talked to you about each of these things but maybe if I announce it to the world you will be able to really feel each of them deep in your bones.

Please please, stop being afraid you are not enough. You are more than I ever thought possible. You don’t have to be the most handsome/rich/confident/genius/manly man. You don’t have to be the most because it’s not about being the most. It’s about being the puzzle piece that fits mine. It’s about your strangeness fitting so well with my strangeness. It’s about that beloved sense of ease and peace and comfort I get when we are together, except when it’s about the silly excited feeling I get when I get to see you after a day apart. It’s about having contrasting and complementary levels of awesomeness and suckyness. It’s about you being the most authentic person I know.

Stop being afraid that I’m mad at you and just not telling you. Seriously…it’s been years and even though it’s rare that I get angry with you has there ever been a time when I was mad, and you couldn’t tell? I’ll tell you what, if I’m ever angry with you and I don’t tell you I am, I give you permission to ignore it until I get off my ass and tell you. Deal?

Stop being afraid I won’t like things. Things you like, things you do for me, things that have nothing to do with you. Really! It’s ok if I don’t like the same things as you. I can think the thing/show/movie you are totally into is ridiculous and still think you are amazing. You know me really well so it’s rare that I don’t like things you do for me, let’s just get that out of the way. But let’s say you did do something for me that I wasn’t excited about. I’m still excited that you thought to do something for me! I am still happy. Now let’s say that you did something for me and it actually made me crabby. It’s ok for me to be crabby. I am not entitled to a lack of irritation in my life and it’s not your responsibility to keep my life irritation free at all times. Just be thoughtful about things you have influence over. Most of all stop worrying if I’m irritated by things outside of your control. No matter what you were taught, it is not the husband’s job to fix everything. I totally appreciate that you care for my comfort, it’s one of my favorite things about you. I just care more about you being happy and worry free than I care about me being irritated once in awhile.

Stop being afraid that I don’t find you attractive. I get that you look in the mirror and can’t see why I would find you attractive…you think men are icky. I, on the other hand, am a straight woman so while I’m certainly not attracted to all men, I am absolutely attracted to you. Including all of the parts you think are so funny looking. I’m the expert on who I find attractive so just trust me on this one, you are totally my type.

Stop being afraid to tell me when you need help. It seems like somewhere along the way you got the message that you aren’t supposed to need help, and that you most certainly are not supposed to ask for it. But if you don’t tell me what you need, if you won’t let me help you, you are cheating me out of being able to be a strong partner for you. You are cheating me out of opportunities to support you. Think about it, how would you feel if I didn’t let you help me do anything? Now realize that I feel the same way when you don’t let me help you. I know you don’t always know what you need but when you do, please tell me.

Stop being afraid to tell me what you want. I’m a big girl, if you want something from me I’m not willing or able to give I’ll say so. If you want something I don’t think is a good idea for our family we’ll talk about it. Maybe we’ll decide we can’t afford that big screen tv right now…but if you tell me you really want it, we will start saving for it because you rarely ask for anything for yourself. Getting what we want doesn’t necessarily make us happy, but I still love hearing about what you think might make your life easier or bring you pleasure.

Stop being afraid that I’m going to decide I don’t want you anymore. I can’t guarantee my feelings for all eternity to come, but I can tell you that as of this day I love you deeply, I want you intensely and you are my best friend. I can’t imagine not being with you. But, I can easily imagine how much of the joy of us you could miss while you’re busy being afraid it’s not going to last, so please stop being afraid.

Love,
Your Wife

Photo: basykes / Flickr

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About Veronica Grace

Veronica Grace is a pragmatic idealist mother to two sons, one who has rudely determined he will become a teenager without her permission and the other who wouldn't notice the world ending as long as he had a book in his hands. She holds equality, honesty and compassion among her highest ideals and has found herself currently obsessed with gender roles and practical minimalism. She is always obsessed with why people do the things they do. You can find her being sassy at http://wearinsassypants.wordpress.com/ and trying to transverse the twitterverse @vsassypants

Comments

  1. Tom Brechlin says:

    Veronica, very nice letter to your husband. I have to ask you, does your husband read GMP? There have been a lot of good articles that address some of his perceived feelings?

    • Veronica Grace says:

      Thank you.

      Yes, he does. Though we’ve only found GMP in the last few months so if you have articles in mind that were good I would love for you to link to them.

      • Might I also recommend: http://www.conscious-transitions.com. A relationship-saving/building website that is outstanding.

      • Tom Brechlin says:

        Sorry it took me so long to respond. I would suggest looking at the articles under “Health, Psych, & Addiction”

        I can in some ways relate to your husband in that my corporate career almost killed me. At the age of 41, after having my second heart attack, I had a quintuple bypass. The stresses of being a sole supported and the relentless drive to be more and make more took its roots in my life. Until then, I was the rock and foundation of my marriage or should I say that’s what I thought. It was life changing for me and I’m not talking about my looking at my mortality. I’m talking about my transition from taking the entire load of family on my shoulders and realizing that I could actually be taken care of. I expected myself to be the be all and end all for everyone in my life. If I fell short, I would feel that I wasn’t doing what was expected of me …. Not what others expected but what “I” expected.

        The day I came to realize that it was okay to be taken care of was in my hospital bed, after surgery. I had good health coverage, good benefits at work, bills were being paid. Wife was home with the teen kids. Being on the Cardiac unit, I was being taken care of hand and foot. All of a sudden I realized how great it felt to be taken care of. Whereas I never wanted any attention, I could do it all don’t need help kind of attitude, I found myself feeling comfort in being taken care of. For the first time in my adult life I allowed people to do what I resisted for many years. Although she’d always been there for me, I began to realize that my wife had my back and I was okay with it.

        Realization was that I was far more important as a dad and a husband then a financial instrument. Being a dad and a husband was that which made the family complete and with that being my focus, it became evident that the rest would fall into place.

        I hope your husband comes to the point where he realizes his worth has nothing to do with what he does or how much he makes. My kids are adults now and the memories they have growing up have nothing to do with my position in the corporate world, or the amount of money I made or “things” we had.

        If you’r interested, I wrote a little about this in an article “How Things Have Changed: Even the Pictures We Take to Remember”

    • Nick Clegg says:

      ” I can’t guarantee my feelings for all eternity to come, but I can tell you that as of this day I love you deeply,” is my favourite quote and its refreshing to hear it coming from a girl, now if the girls could just accept this coming from a guy that would end a whole lot of my problems.

  2. Loved your letter/article, Veronica. Great job! At certain points I felt like it was a letter from my wife. I imagin most men have these insecurites (you answered a few of mine and some my friends have shared with me in the past). However, what I really find amazing is that you had the awareness, courage, patience and cared enough to write this letter to your husband. My guess is that you two communicate very well. Anyway, thanks for the read!

  3. I wish my last girlfriend had been able to write something like this to me rather than letting my fears drive us apart.
    Beautiful :)

  4. Sam Jandwich says:

    Sorry to put the cat amongst the pigeons, but this article felt very familiar to me, and so I thought I’d chime in.

    I recently left my partner of eight years. Right up until the time we broke up, she used to say these sorts of things to me – and she probably thought it was the right thing to do. But the truth is, it just drove me further away.

    The thing is, when I express these doubts about myself to you, I am doing so not because I feel that our connection, or that your attachment to me is tenuous, but because I feel very strongly that, while I am doing OK, there are parts of myself that I know are not functioning to their full potential. Voicing them, and having them recognised, is an important first step in addressing them, one way or another.

    But if you invalidate my feelings by telling me that everything is OK, and that I don’t need to change, then you become the proverbial ball and chain on my leg. You hold me back from doing anything about the deficits that I feel myself to have – because if I am do do something about them, then I need to take you with me. I need to take you with me because we are a partnership. I don’t want you to change, but I want you to understand that I need to change, that I am not living up to my own standards. I need you to feel those standards too, because if all you want is “enough”, then that means your values don’t align with mine. It means you are satisfied with what I feel is less than acceptable – and it’s hard to respect a person who thinks that way.

    Even though we are a partnership, I am still on my own journey. By denying my need to make this journey you are denying me my individuality, which as an intrinsic part of our partnership, naturally entails the dissolution of that partnership when it is withdrawn. The more you fail to understand that, the more I feel as though you don’t understand me, or even that you are not capable of understanding me. As time goes on I will cease to care what you think, and I will cease to share my whole self with you. I will stop looking for your help, not because I’m afraid of how this might look to you, but because I don’t need the sort of help you offer. Instead, I will tell myself that it has taken me this long to understand that by trying your best to support me you are actually undermining both of us. It is an inescapable dynamic that sets itself up between us – and there comes a point where it has to stop.

    I’ve now been single for just over two months, and it feels like a weight has lifted of my shoulders. I can feel optimistic about the future now, because I know that the conditions exist for me to do the things I need to do in order to get to where I want. I’ve already started doing those things – and in that sense I very much relate to the concept of “moving on” from my relationship, because that’s precisely what it feels like: progress.

    So again I’m sorry to raise this point, but I’d like to suggest that if you are thinking these things then there’s a good chance your relationship is already approaching the stage where it will be irretrievable… but not for the reasons that you might think.

    • Veronica Grace says:

      Sam, I’m happy to have you raise points. I wish I could understand what point you were bringing up. I can feel the soulfulness of your comment but my husband and I have both read what you’ve said and we can’t pick out the point you are trying to make. Maybe if you can explain what it is that you feel your wife should have done?

      • Sam Jandwich says:

        Thanks for your reply Veronica.

        I guess my point is that, when I relate your article to my own experience, there seemed to be potential for you to be misinterpreting your husband’s (and I say “your husband” in the general sense, and am not referring specifically to you, Veronica!) expressions of doubt about his worth or position in the relationship as being expressions of his fears of not being good enough for you.

        Instead, I wanted to raise the possibility that your husband is likely to be perfectly well-aware that you love him unconditionally, but that when he talks about his doubts or vulnerabilities, what he is actually doing is looking for your support for his wanting to take concrete steps towards addressing his vulnerabilities and becoming the person he feels he could be. That is, he is wanting to do these things for *himself*, rather than for you.

        But it’s quite deflating to be told that “don’t worry, you’re fine just the way you are”, when you know in yourself that you could do better…

        … does that make sense? I can certainly accept that this may well be completely out of the blue, but I wanted to let you know what kind of chord your article struck with me!

        • I agree with Sam. If someone has a problem with anxiety and you simply tell them not to worry is like telling someone with depression to ‘just cheer up there’s no reason to be depressed’. If the problem is irrational anxiety then your letter to him is really misguided and naive. As Sam said you invalidate his feelings. If he’s feeling bad all you are doing it telling him he’s wrong, making him feel worse and showing that you don’t understand.
          If your husband has low level insecurites then this will be fine. In the same way chearing up someone who is sad rather than depressed will work. If it’s ‘real’ anxiety (no eqivalent words, sad is to depression, as insecurity/anxiety is to ???), if it’s that bad then this letter makes it worst.

  5. Valter Viglietti says:

    Amazing article, thank you Veronica! :)

    Your husband is a lucky guy having you, and I bet he knows it. ;)
    Now, maybe he just needs to realize (really, truly, deeply) how much you feel lucky having him. :D
    And I know no better way to do that than an article like this.

  6. Just Wondering says:

    Sam/Richard,
    So what do you suggest a partner do instead?

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