The Thing We Don't Talk About
By Janel Breitenstein
It was early in our marriage when I summoned the courage to ask my father-in-law about his first marriage and subsequent divorce. (It was the one my husband had been too young to remember.)
My family is the kind that talks about nearly everything, and sometimes right at the dinner table. As a general guideline, we embrace cringe-worthy moments.
But being too new to my husband’s family, I didn’t know that the subject of his parents’ marriage had been rubber-stamped: “TABOO—THOU SHALT NOT TALK ABOUT THIS.”
The funny thing? My father-in-law didn’t seem to be the least bit flustered. Perhaps because of the passage of time, perhaps because I didn’t know any better, he answered questions my husband had never attempted to ask. My husband’s eyes widened as he understood new parts of a mystery-smudged history he’d only wondered about.
What’s the one thing in your marriage you don’t talk about?
Maybe it’s money. Maybe you don’t ask about his feelings when he’s in that mood, or you’ve never asked her about what she specifically feels during sex. Maybe you don’t ask about that shadowy area of his childhood, or talk about guys she dated before.
Where could your relationship go if it could go anywhere?
What I’m not saying? “Don’t hold back. Say whatever comes to mind.”
Our culture has confused “being yourself” with “If you think it, say it” at the expense of loving the person in front of you well. Ephesians 4:29 still applies: We don’t speak what’s corrupting, but only say what builds up, gives grace, and is appropriate for the occasion.
But God designed marriage as a place where we’re naked emotionally, physically, spiritually … and yet not ashamed (Genesis 2:25).
When my husband wanted to etch that on the inside of his wedding ring, his good-girl little wife-to-be was embarrassed. But now I understand that’s a core trait of relational health: being completely known, and completely loved.
Be a little more courageous, a little more vulnerable. What former taboo could bring you closer?
The good stuff: And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25)
Action points: The next time you come to something you couldn’t possibly talk about with your spouse, challenge yourself to take one step closer to your mate—for a one-step-closer-to-real relationship.
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