truth

An Open Letter to My Husband on Our 7th Wedding Anniversary

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Then.

Bay:

You know me well enough to know that I’m not good at putting on a front. Or as we used to say back in the day, “faking the funk.” I feel deeply. And my desire to be authentic and transparent in every area of my life means that those feelings–the ones driven by my flesh as well as the Holy Spirit–are often on display in both the best and the worst ways. You’ve also had to live through/deal with the fact that much of my work as a writer, my calling and purpose means I often feel compelled to share the story of my life–a story that you are very much a part of–with the masses. I’m so grateful that you’ve been really good about that.

Welp. This is another one of those moments. 🙂

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Now.

The truth is, this hasn’t been a great year for us. It’s been the toughest year of our married lives. There’s so much broken. So much misunderstanding. And yes, much resentment. So waking up this morning on our 7th wedding anniversary, I thought…”wow, this is different.” My mind didn’t go to flowers or dinner or any potential…ahem…bedroom shenanigans. Today, for me, my thoughts are not on celebration but more contemplation. Where are we? What does God want for us in this season? How do we navigate the million and one land mines in our union? How do we keep our daughter protected; keep her from being a casualty in all our “war of the roses” moments?

The simple answer is…I don’t know.

(You know that’s not an easy admission for me.)

I want to share a story with you: One day, while taking our K to school, she started whining and crying about how her mosquito bites hurt. I tried to console her. I tried to tell her that mosquito bites itch for a little while but then they go away. But nothing was working. Then, I realized something. I was trying to find a way to make her not feel the hurt–and she was looking at me like I was crazy.  I wasn’t going to make her not feel the pain–not even a little bit. So that’s when, not even thinking, I said, “Sometimes boo-boos have to hurt for a while before they heal.”

Talk about a lightbulb moment for me. This thing hurts right now. It. Hurts. The reason I’m even doing this in the public forum is because I refuse to just post happy anniversary pictures, and date night recaps on Facebook and pretend like it doesn’t. I have absolutely no desire to paint a pretty perfect picture for folks in order to keep up appearances. There are too many other couples like us who need to know that–like I told our Sugarplum–in relationships, sometimes things hurt for a while before they heal. And yes, I know all my feminist girlfriends are side-eyeing me right now but that’s okay. I’m old enough to know that good, long-lasting relationships are often crafted in the hard places. The sharpening of our characters and all that jazz.

And I suppose I could get all mystical and religious about it too. I could start talking about  how the number 7 in biblical numerology means completion and maybe God needed us to complete a cycle or season of character building. As “deep” as that is, I’m not sure if that gets to the real heart of the matter. I think people use that kind of stuff sometimes as a way to mask their reality. I don’t want to do that. Of course, the whole 7 years completion thing could very well be true but honestly, I’m not sure what that means for today. This moment. And all the moments that have come before where we have not been good to each other–and the scars that have resulted.

Here’s what I do know though: I love you.

Is that love real? Yes.

Is it the same love I felt on August 23, 2008 when we stood before God and family and made a covenant with each other? No.

But I’m not quite sure it’s supposed to be either.

The love I feel today is one of my choosing. It’s a commitment to hang on even in those “he has one more time” moments when–real talk–I want to pack my ish and “do better by my damn self.”

It’s a commitment to look into the face of K and know that she is just as much you as she is me and the pure, unconditional love she has for her Daddy is worth protecting somehow.

It’s a commitment to be fully me but, as I’m realizing today, it’s also a commitment to allow you to be fully you.

(Also not an easy thing for me.)

I suppose that it’s only when I come to terms with both–who I really am and who you really are–and accept that there is absolutely nothing I can do to change either truths, that I leave room for God to do an amazing work in both us. I want to do that. I want to get out of the way so God can truly heal the wounds in our relationships–the ones we brought to it and the wounds we’ve inflicted on each other while together. So many people, in an effort to offer advice, will say to us, “Go back to the beginning. Go back to the first day.” And I do understand what they mean. But I don’t think that’s the right thing for us. For us, God must do a new thing. We don’t need to “go back.” We need to start from today.

Like some wives, I could run down a detailed list of your gaps and flaws as I’m sure you could do the same. We could ramble on about all the whys and why nots regarding how we ended up here but I’m not sure what purpose that would serve. At the end of the day, there are some core things I know without any doubt.

You are a good man with a beautiful heart.

You try.

You love our daughter.

You love me.

Does that love look the way I’d always like it to? No.

Do I recognize it? Yes.

And in recognizing it, I also must come to terms with the ways in which I’ve hurt you.

Forgive me, Bay, for my doubt and disrespect. Forgive me for my harsh and cutting words that I’ve wielded under the guise of telling the truth. The bible says that death and life is in the power of the tongue and I do know that I’ve killed your spirit way too many times out of my own pain, frustration, and heartbreak.

There’s no solution found in doing that. And when I do it, in my head, the Holy Spirit sounds much like the Geico lady in this regard:

“That’s not how this works, Tracey. That’s not how any of this works.” 🙂

If I’m honest, I don’t know what happens next. I can’t see that far ahead. And I suspect that’s where God wants me right now. It’s where He wants us. Focused on the present. Being present with each other. Allowing Him to be present with us.

He is here. That much I know for sure.

So today, on our anniversary, I give you all I have right now: my hope.

Love Always,

Bay

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13 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Husband on Our 7th Wedding Anniversary

  1. Thank you for sharing this. As a photographer, I am always in hesitating to publish more personal photos, yet they are the ones that are my reality. Sharing your story here does more than you think. It lead me to so much thinking about my personal growth in interaction to the people I love around me. I wish you the best for each one of your family.

  2. Such a brave thing to do and I’m blessed to call you my friend. I know we only know each other through Facebook but that doesn’t make the interactions or friendship in my mind less real. I’m going to share your blog with my married groups because I believe it will help others. Your choice not to sugarcoat the state of your marriage, even on your anniversary, is not only brave, it’s a reaffirming moment for me and hopefully for others too. After 18 years of marriage I had a choice to make about my own marriage. After getting out of my own way, remembering why we got married in the first place, recognizing that there was more good than bad, and was willing to compromise (yes I know compromise isn’t always easy), we were able to find understanding, acceptance, forgiveness and was able to make choices that brought back the satisfaction within our relationship. None of this was easy but with God all things are possible. In January we will celebrate 22 year of marriage. I’m praying that you too will find the strength to deal with whatever God has in store for you all. God bless you my friend.

  3. Only 7 years, huh?! Could have fooled me, because you’ve just written the wisdom of ages. Thank you for sharing, Tracey. Blessings over you and to you both. This made think, feel, and pray. ❤

  4. Thank you for your transparency. So many couples need to know it is possible to be open and willing to wade through rough patches to get to the good.

  5. Wow!! You guys have way more going for you than you may think. You honored your husband and God always blesses that:) Article made me feel you are both great people, despite any flaws either of you posses. Light always repels darkness and you just shed a whole lotta light……praying God refreshes, and restores!!

  6. Anyone that has been married has had a time where they posed the question – do I stay or do I go? Your story gave an honest account of this moment in your marriage. Very brave! My anniversary is also August 23 so this made me think about my moment years ago and how I had to cry out to God. Trust Him. Seek Him. Put Him first in all things – your career, your motherhood and your marriage. You have a strong voice – continue using it to bless others.

  7. WOW! That really was real. Don’t know it I have ever admitted it; but I too have said harsh and cutting words during the 38 years of my marriage. Sometimes now I truly regret how mean I have been. I pray you two can figure out how to go on together from here better than my husband and I did back then at 7 years. We kept being mean and now it is a real mess. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Tracey-

    I feel like you’ve witnessed and articulated my entire last year as well. My husband and I were married on August 23, 2008 as well, and aside from our first year or marriage year 7 was by far the most challenging. We’ve had more ups, more downs, and more opportunities to see G_d at work but also more wounds inflicted on each other during this season. One of our sayings has been “back to back”, which comes from the book Love and War by John and Stasi Eldridge. But over the past year I’ve sensed that we have been fighting completely different battles at times instead of standing and protecting each other.

    I know it does and will get better, but you’re right in that the biggest thing I can offer my husband is my hope and complete confidence in him.

    Thank you so much for your honesty, transparency, and encouragement through this post!

  9. Hey Tracey,
    We met at the Black Women’s Narratives event at Big Blue Marble a few weeks back, and promised to stay in touch, so here I am a few weeks later! Lovely blog you have here. Keep on writing. Transparent truths afford transformation. Love is not static – no need to go back to the beginning. The beginning reveals a woman who didn’t know what she now knows – that love takes constant work, and prayer, and trial, and failure, and more work. Love looks like arguments and kisses, two sides of a coin – necessary to make a whole. Keep at it, and Happy Anniversary!

    Thanks for the invitation to your virtual home.

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