I have written almost 700 posts on the Bubble, and I honestly can't remember the vast majority of them. But a handful stand out to me as truly important, truly life-changing, worthy of recommending again and again.
One of those posts is Women: Save your marriage. In five minutes. It prompted a follow-up post of testimonies from Bubble readers, was reposted by the Diocese of Omaha (that was such an honor!), and continues to generate interest, discussion, and page hits to this day.
Recently, I received the following email from a young wife and mother who has graciously given me permission to publish it here (names and some identifying details have been changed).
It is a powerful letter, and yet typical of the dramatic outcomes I have seen: Again and again, women discover how much power they have to change their marriages in one day -- even five minutes -- with one decision. I encourage any woman who is married to a generally decent man, but who is dissatisfied with her marriage, to read this letter from "Maria" and the original post.
I just wanted to share how a post you wrote has drastically improved my marriage...and literally within 5 minutes just like you said!
John and I have three young children, including twin babies. :) We live 1.5 hours away from John's work. He's up at 5am, out the door at 6am, and home between 6:30pm-8pm. He doesn't get to see the kiddos much except for the weekends. I have a few friends here but certainly nothing like I had in our previous city, before our move. My community and friendships were so strong there, and here it's just in the beginning of growing. So I'm home alone a lot.
I love my children beyond words. I know the responsibility God has entrusted to us and oftentimes it's overwhelming. But in my alone time, I started to build a lot of resentment towards my husband. I was envious of his alone time in the car ride to and from work. No kids crying or whining or screaming. He can have a lunch break, bathroom break all to himself all day long! He can have adult conversations.
And so I really began to lash out in a passive aggressive way and get very, very upset when he came home late and I had to do bedtime by myself...which is the norm these days. I do the night feedings since he has such an early drive, and so I'm just plain tired. I know this hasn't helped anything.
So John would come home and tell me about his desires to go to the gym on the weekends since he hasn't gone since before we married. He shared how he misses riding his bike on the mountains and how he really needs to get the garage cleaned up. And I got so angry. Doesn't he want to spend every free second he has with me and the kids? Doesn't he think I might want to go to the gym? Or anywhere just by myself?
And we got into many many arguments. Ugly, angry, full of resentment and misunderstanding. He felt like was walking on eggshells around me because any free moment he had I expected him to be helping me with the kids or just being by my side.
But I nagged at how he took care of the kids and got frustrated when he didn't follow the exact way I did things. As I type this I am so embarrassed. I also put a lot of pressure on him to find time for us to have a prayer life and he felt so forced. Not that he didn't want to have it, but it was the way I was going about it. He kept telling me, and has for years, that he feels unfulfilled. That killed me and made me angry. Am I not enough? Are our kids not enough? And I would really lay on the guilt.
Well this weekend all these feelings that have been building up in both of us culminated into an epic fight. He told me he feels like he isn't a man...that's he's stifled and controlled. All he wants is a little freedom to exercise and do manly stuff around the house, and I give him guilt trips every time, so he ends up not doing those things, and resentment builds, and now he just can't do it anymore. And then I laid into him how ungrateful he is for all my hard work, yadda, yadda.
And I came downstairs and cried and prayed to Mary for guidance. And then I googled "how to be a supportive wife Catholic"....and your blog was the first link that popped up. I read it and immediately gulped. A real gut punch was dealt to me. And man, did I need it. I am not a controlling, bitter, nagging woman but that's exactly what I had become. John has patiently given into my guilt trips and demands over and over, but he had had enough and was putting his foot down. My mentality was backwards and I was afraid. I was afraid that if I supported him in late nights, gym, weekend bike rides that I would never see him and I would be all alone on the weekends now, too. So I tried to control him. I have ordered the book [note: It also can be checked out at the library] and cannot wait to read it.
After your blog, I ran upstairs and grabbed his face and looked him deeply in the eyes and apologized for turning into a woman he did not recognize and for not being supportive or appreciative. I was so self-centered and focused on my own insecurities that I had neglected to see how exhausted he is, how he hates his drive, hates his job, but is not given any other option than to stay for the time being because of our lifestyle and his pension, how he misses the kids terribly and feels guilt for not seeing them more, how he feels misunderstood by his own wife and how he is craving to get in shape and be healthy and I refuse to let him because it's time away from us.
I got it...my mentality was backwards and in a moment I understood that if I support him, give him space to work out, ride his bike, work on the garage or yard, etc., he will come back to me fulfilled, and all my desires of meeting my needs will be met, and he will be running at the chance to shower me with attention because he will be fulfilled.
So yesterday, he went for a swim and worked on the garage all day. I didn't complain once. I was joyful and focused on the babes and taking care of our home. He would come in and love on the kids and bring Gemma outside with him for a bit and then get back to work. When he finished at the end of day, he grabbed my hand and led me to our couch and said "let's pray baby". He asked! Instead of me asking him to lead! He led on his own. And we had such a beautiful prayer time. After dinner he cleaned up all the dishes! That never happened before without me nagging. He was so loving and complimentary of me and he snuggled with me and told me how grateful he was for today. We both went to bed with peaceful hearts and I am so grateful.
I'm going to do whatever it takes to stay in this mentality because it works! He truly was a different man after I changed my mentality and actions! It was incredible.
Please pray for me to have strength. If you have any advice for finding more joy in my role as a stay at home mommy please please share. You have a plethora of experience and I am only just beginning. God bless you, your family and the work you are doing for Jesus and our Catholic faith.
Very few things bring tears to my eyes, but this hopeful letter did! When I asked Maria if I could use her story, she was very happy to agree, and as some time had elapsed since her first note, she added this:
Things are still going really, really well. It almost feels like when we were first dating and married, but with 3 little ones all around! He is SO stinking happy and this just makes me want to shout for joy. And you know what? He has only stayed at work late ONCE since last week...that seriously never, ever, ever happened. So it truly goes to show he was trying to avoid coming home to a nagging unhappy wife :( And now that I'm supportive and joy filled he wants to be here more. Man...it's just that simple.
Yes, I promise that I will absolutely share this truth with any woman that crosses my path with these issues. I have already shared it with one dear friend. Hopefully she will find as much help as I have.
Thank you again...truly. I'm sending you a big hug :)
And as if to confirm that I needed to print this letter today, a commenter named Michelle wrote the following just this morning on my reversion story, as an aside to her main comment:
"...I want to thank you profusely for the recommendation to read Dr. Laura's book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. I love it. I'm just trying to contain my excitement in trying to get every other woman in the world to read it!"
You and me both, sister!!
Let us pray for marriage, the fount of life and the foundation of society, which is in such crisis and yet needn't be.