“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsmith
Life seems to move pretty fast. Throw in an, almost, three year old boy, with one on the way, a yellow lab and all of the daily to-do’s and that leaves little time to communicate with your significant other.
Communication is the foundation to a deeply connected and rooted relationship.
When you have a family, a job, dinner, laundry, family outings, whatever it is, communication with your partner is typically the one thing that gets tossed to the side.
Two year’s ago my wife and I’s communication, which we’ve been so strong with in the past, took a beating. It began to suffer.
We were experiencing a period where stress was at an all time high for the both of us. Financial adversity was the fuel to a fire that spread throughout our entire relationship.
Instead of communicating our way through it, the majority of the time we kept it to ourselves. Even when we decided to communicate, we said just enough to one another to leave the other person chasing fictional thoughts down unnecessary rabbit holes.
And we increased the distance between us.
Aside from the excuses of not finding the time to honestly communicate with one another, most times we were deliberately dodging those opportunities knowing that the truth was going to hurt. It felt safer to avoid them. That went untold between the two of us.
Either way, it wasn’t a healthy season for us.
We weren’t in a damaging place by any means, far from it, but still close enough where something needed to be done; it was an unfamiliar environment to us. Our relationship was built on honesty, truth and communication. As these foundational elements began to blur, we didn’t really know how to respond or move forward.
As writing was beginning to serve as such a pivotal tool for my personal growth, I wanted to introduce it to my wife, for the both of us, to do together.
So we created a journal.
It’s a Moleskine journal with a collage of photos, of us, glued to the outside cover. There are photos from the early days of our relationship to the present.
The pictures serve as a constant reminder of our journey together. A reminder of where we came from and what we experienced. It’s a visual of our growth, together.
We each write in it. I will write something, directed to her or to us as a whole. I don’t directly hand it to her. I put it in a place that’s part of her normal routine.
Sometimes it’s one day after another when we exchange the journal, sometimes it’s a week or two before we see it back. The idea is not to expect it, but to see it, smile, and become one with the words.
She’ll do the same for me. Place it somewhere that I’ll notice it; my bag, my car and so on.
They almost act as notes to one another. It’s not a place to gripe or to point fingers or to say “I told you so.” It’s a place for peace, to share our dreams and aspirations. It’s a place to be honest and vulnerable; to share our fears with one another.
It’s a place for the subtle reminders of how fortunate and grateful we are to have one another, and our beautiful family. It takes us back to when we first became aware of each other’s existence. Like we were meant to run into each other during lunch of the very first day of college orientation thirteen years ago.
Times have changed, we’ve changed, but we’re changing together, as a family.
We sometimes live on cruise control and forget to take a moment to wholeheartedly communicate with one another. To share the things we think about late at night or when driving from place to place.
The things that occupy our minds when it starts to wonder. The good things, the things we’re thankful for, the things that we see in our future.
Creating this writing space for each of us to share our love for another, has in turn, equipped us to be more vulnerable and honest with one another when face-to-face.
It’s a beautiful thing. The ink on those pages transcends throughout our entire relationship. Our hugs are tighter, more genuine; our smiles more deliberate and meaningful. The hard conversations that we once avoided have become a nonthreatening place.
The very act of writing in our journal to each other has made us better people, better parents, better friends. But most importantly, it’s made us a better team, for the good times and the rough times.
As the adversities of what’s causing such friction manifest, writing from our hearts to one another puts things in perspective. It sheds light into the things that matter; the things that are truly important.
So we continue to do what makes us better together; we write.