Marriage Letters: How We Co-labor


Dear Seth,

That ancient gallon-sized pickle jar in the garage is full of old homemade chicken broth, isn’t it? It went bad while I was in Haiti, and you had the four boys by yourself, and I bet it started to smell iffy in there, so you pulled it out of the fridge and ran it to the garage so you could carry on with the grind. It’s possible that we all die from it somehow. I nearly died when I saw it. It could blow up, you know. Anyway, I’m not touching that stuff. This is worthy of a stand-off, and I’m not saying I haven’t considered putting it in the trunk of your car, but other than that, we really are co-laborers, aren’t we?

I’ve always known you would send me places, but I never actually expected it because that hasn’t been modeled for me. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I grew up in a world where women stay home, unless the bills require her work. I don’t think I ever grew to expect to be anywhere other than my own kitchen. Let’s be honest, though; no matter how good my attitude is, I’ve never shined a single day in the kitchen unless we’re talking biscuits or cornbread, but that also isn’t very special where I come from.

When we were younger, you would read my poetry, but it never crossed my mind that my art could be a contrast to the world, that my voice wasn’t it’s own blend of the noise. I never would have thought to put my work up against real poets to get into a good program. You were the one that said I could, and so then I did.

You’ve always prefaced your words with “I’m not usually charismatic, but [insert charismatic statement here.]”  I’ve known for a long time that the Spirit speaks very clearly to you and through you. I believe the greatest part of co-laboring is how ones sees into the unseen, like how you’ve prayed and seen a kingdom fit for me, the intentions of a good God. We are reclaiming the word “prophecy” together. I look at you and see every shade of good, not depraved, not jackass, not man who forgets chicken broth in the garage. You look at me and see poet, lover, thinker, not woman who leans exhausted at the counter, not woman whose ideas carry less weight. This is the energy behind how we work together.

I always thought that only one of us would get to pursue what we love, the words and the travelling, the music and the campfire communion. What I expected was that you would pursue what you love, and that I would let go of my passions to back you up. You’ve been to Africa three times without me, but something happened in me as you dove deeper into your passions. I believed you. I closed my eyes and saw it. I accept the shifting in you as my own shifting. It wasn’t my dying and your coming alive. When one follows into something, it gives life to the both of us.

Unity is an enmeshing. This is how the Spirit of God works. When I reported back to you from Haiti, you took what I was hearing and seeing, and a vision formed in you as well. We are always two perspectives colliding. We are always a paradox at work, a mystery working itself out. When I was there, I only saw more and more how we fit together. How Mike says you come alive on the ground, I was coming alive, too.

Clouds seem to be gathering hard and strong for us. We are shifting, and if one shifts, the other has to shift as well. This isn’t a one-legged race. Two sets of eyes provide two ways to see the world. We are one. We are each a leg holding up a body. We lean in, shift, balance, and somehow move forward. Into what, I don’t think we know yet. Co-laboring is submission, sure, but not that one can stand and the other can fall. This is the kind of submission that brings life.

You don’t have to walk with me the way you do. It’s our culture to drag and hobble along. Sometimes we even run.

Right now I think our heart rate is up a bit, don’t you?




Okay, folks, join us and write a letter to your spouse even if your spouse isn’t able to play along. This stuff has been good for us. Today write about “How We Co-labor,” and on the first Monday of next month, June 2nd, our topic will be “On Comparison.” Take it how you will: about comparing your marriage to other marriages or comparing yourself to your spouse or how comparison has been a struggle. This month watch for it, and write in June what you saw.



[inlinkz_linkup id=402042 mode=1]

About me


Marriage Letters: On New Seasons
April 06, 2015
Absence Makes the Heart Grow: A Marriage Letter
March 02, 2015
Marriage Letters: What You Call Holy
February 02, 2015
On Healing and Wholeness: a Resolution and a Marriage Letter
January 26, 2015
A Fifteen Year Anniversary: a story of my body
November 13, 2014
Marriage Letters: Once Upon a Time
February 03, 2014
How and Where to Undo the Chains
October 18, 2012
Marriage Letters: On Outside Influences
April 29, 2012
Marriage Letters: I trust you because …
April 15, 2012


Reply May 5, 2014

Amber, I want to cuss in your blog comments I loved that so much! :) But I won't. I'm so glad that you've been able to grow beyond what you ever thought possible for yourself (and that Seth has been a part of that), because reading the words you put on paper is magic to me, girl. For real. xoxo

    Reply May 5, 2014

    Hannah, this means a lot coming from you, friend. Also, your site looks amazing.

      Reply May 7, 2014

      Thanks, girl! This starting a business thing... and putting yourself "out there" thing... it's something else, huh?! You seem to be doing it beautifully. :)

Reply May 5, 2014

Oh man........This resonated with me so deeply. I feel like my husband and I are on the cusp of something like this and you captured the tension and uncertainty and beauty of it so perfectly. Thank you, Amber.

Reply May 5, 2014

Your excitement is all over this. I read it and experienced your breathlessness.

Rachel Quednau
Reply May 5, 2014

I love this so much. Thank you for sharing.

Reply May 5, 2014

The jar doesn't have chicken stock. It's full of Lemonade. You should taste some.

I'm not charismatic, but I like you.

Reply May 6, 2014

"you took what I was hearing and seeing, and a vision formed in you as well." Oh yes. Beautifully said and one of the wonderful surprises of being married long enough to grow into each other. Lovely.

Reply January 12, 2015

Hi, there. I linked to this post awhile back when I discovered the co-laboring conversation you so brilliantly started. It's a wonderful thing, and I was delighted to add my voice (albeit late). I'm wondering, though, why my link never showed up here. Thoughts?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *