What Belongs to You: A Marriage Letter


Writing letters to your spouse can help you stake a claim in your marriage.

Dear Seth,

Every single thing that belongs to me tells me not to sit down here to write this letter. These days, I would rather go to the back of the property with a 99 ¢ notebook and scribble ink in handwriting through work gloves, but it’s true that when I’m working outside, I think about you a lot. I should write my letters to you under the apple tree.

Today I will plant four of the most royal purple hydrangeas I’ve ever seen, and I’ll take the chickens out to let them spend the day in their coop. I hope to finally mulch the flowerbeds and fill up the little pond out front. My therapist says I love these things because they’re things I can control. I can’t imagine why she thinks I want control – what, with all our children? Oh but I know better. I have no say over the rain, but I can sure make a thirsty garden. We’ll see how well the stupid squash worm keeps away. “Squash borers,” they’re called. Doesn’t the word borer make you want to punch something?

Words have a way with you and me. We wake together at the end of night just to fit them in before the racket crawls out of bed with the four boys. I always pull the curtains open while it’s still pitch. You’ll be reading, and as the gray spreads into the color of light, we clamor together for just a few minutes more before the boys wake up. “Pitch” is a good word, isn’t it? It’s the time of day we love, the forever black. It’s the color of your coffee. Mine is the color of galaxies.

I thought as we aged, we would stop saying “mine.” It’s a selfish word for children in play rooms. But more and more, my knee jerks, and inside my heart “mine” becomes the echo.

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Don’t help me with laundry or the flowers. They’re mine. I have tucked each seed into the vegetable garden, too. I can’t eat the tomatoes of 14 plants, but as they germinate, I think twice before I yield. “What will I do with all my tomatoes?” Imagine me like a girly Scrooge with piles of vegetables instead of gold.

What’s funny is how the kitchen is yours. The kitchen, and the knives and all the sharpening, the meat thermometer, the herbs, and the seasonings are all yours. I loathe the day my energy is spent in a kitchen. Yours is also the fly rod, the British accent during evening story time, the dog-walking, the truck, the breakfasts with John Ray, and the stage-right side of the morning couch. Yours is the trash on Thursday mornings. Yours is the bowl of cereal and the door-locking at night, and yours is the final say about whether we call someone to mow the lawn or not.

I am so glad.

Because yours is photography, I get to see the world two ways, and your music and your St Francis, they share more than I’ll ever give to you.

Yours is a generosity. Even what is yours and yours truly, like the knowledge of how to combine flavors and the ability to play a complex guitar, these become mine because you always seem to give what is yours as a gift to me.

I want to be like you.

Thank you for loving church with me and for appreciating with me how airtight of a show Fringe is.

Yesterday you were very handsome with that wheelbarrow of wood chips. “Wheelbarrow.” Now that’s a good word. So much depends on our green wheelbarrow. So much depends on how we give.

Amber

*****

Read Seth’s letter to me here, and if you decide to write a Marriage Letter this month, please do give us a link in the comments!

amberhaines
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16 Comments

Elisha Joyce
Reply May 4, 2015

I met Seth at the Faith & Culture Writers Conference here in Portland a few weeks ago...I wish I could have met you, too. This is beautiful. Glad to be here with you. These letters are inspiring... I think I have to get to writing my own.

    Keisha
    Reply February 8, 2016

    Fialnly! This is just what I was looking for.

Elizabeth Marshall
Reply May 4, 2015

Oh. Yes. Wow. I am taking sips of this and repenting and rejoicing all at once. The simple. The complex. The mysteries of marriage

Elora
Reply May 4, 2015

Your words are the ones that always leave me breathless. So grateful for you.

Ashley Hales
Reply May 5, 2015

Beautiful, I love too how you shine through these. Not just beautiful but quirky and fun and true. Here's mine: http://www.circlingthestory.com/linkup/belongs/ ‎

Kaitlin Curtice
Reply May 6, 2015

Thank you for this, sister. It always spurs us on.
http://kaitlincurtice.com/2015/05/06/dear-travis-what-is-yours-a-marriage-letter/

melony
Reply May 6, 2015

he's not a words man, my man. i mean that in the sense that he doesn't write and he doesn't read, except for the manual on how to fix the truck or program the computer. but he is a words man in the sense that words of affirmation make him come alive. i know this. but, sigh, i've stopped speaking cause i've stopped noticing. that's the conviction that struck the marrow in my bones reading these letters of yours and seths. caught in the midst of the teens and the 504s and the special needs etc, etc, etc. i've become aware of how i must be intentional in the tending of my heart....and his. what little i know of your story, i know you know all of this sort too-the typical and extra demands of life. i knew i needed to begin again, taking the time to write and speak life into him. but what i realize now is that the difficulty lies in the seeing. as i intentionally re-learn how to see him, the other will flow.

thank you....

Diana Trautwein
Reply May 11, 2015

My this is glorious - thank you, Amber. So wonderfully personal and revealing. . . . just enough. Perfection.

Youssef
Reply July 23, 2015

So, I was reminded of your book this mnnoirg, Erin, when I was in Talbots in Hingham checking out their buy-one-get-one-half-price fall sale. I managed to find a small mountain of things (not big enough that I needed a sherpa, but a smallish one.) While checking out, there were two older patrician-looking women perhaps in their 70s who each had a couple of things, so I told the cashier to please wait on them. I could wait (not really, but I was Good Deed-ing). Now, I know that we shouldn't look for thanks for a random act of kindness, but I was taken aback that neither woman thanked me or even threw a smile my way. The cashier, however, did thank me for my patience. I thought, Well, one out of three is OK. Well, I tried.

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