It is so amazing to me how much people take talking for granted.
How much I used to take it for granted. I love to talk. I talk to people, with people, at people, and I have even been known to talk to myself. It never occurred to me that there would come a day that I would ache with such a powerful longing to talk to Ron and hear his voice. I couldn’t believe how big of void there was in my life when I couldn’t talk to him every day. The house seemed so hollow, empty, and quiet.
After Ron went to prison, it didn’t take long for me to figure out that talking to each other was a precious gift that we had taken for granted (read this story). I desperately missed being able to spontaneously share what was on my mind, talk through a decision I needed to make, or share a frustration whenever I wanted to. The loss of our daily conversation cut deeply. I felt so stifled! How was I ever going to manage holding all my thoughts inside my head until I saw or talked to Ron?
At first, we tried to squeeze as many words into our phone calls as we possibly could.
But we both felt disappointed every time we hung up, because we weren’t focused on connecting to each other during those few minutes we had to talk on the phone. The time went too fast, and words kept pouring out of us like water out of firehose. We couldn’t keep up with everything being said! It was like being at an auction, except we were both calling at the same time. Awful!
Saving everything we wanted to say for a visit proved to be just as bad as trying to cram it all into a phone call! Instead of really listening to each other, we were both just waiting to talk. I was getting so stressed out because I couldn’t share all that was going on with Ron. I wanted to hear about how he was doing and tell him everything that was happening with me, but there was never enough time.
It occurred to me early on that I could write a letter to him, but that thought was quickly dismissed. I was too impatient for that. If I wrote a letter, he wouldn’t even receive the letter for 3-5 days. By the time he answered with another letter, it could be 2-3 weeks before I got a response! That seemed like way too long of a process at the beginning. Before a month was over, it became my best option! Writing letters to each other became our primary way of communicating. It took the place of our late-night talks. We could share our ideas, dreams, and reflect on our daytime activities in our letters to each other. It was our uninterrupted time, time devoted just to each other.
As soon as I began to write letters to Ron, I began to feel closer and more connected to him.
The distance between us shrank to only the distance between my pen and the paper I was writing on. Holding and reading the letters he wrote to me felt so intimate. I imagined him bent over the blank paper, carefully choosing the words he would write to me. I could see the intent look he gets on his face when he is concentrating, almost hear the gentle scratch of the pen as he moved it back and forth across the paper. Those letters held all our hopes and dreams for our marriage, our sons, our future together as a family. Writing letters gave us the opportunity to really share with each other and to really listen to each other.
I know it is so hard to be unable to talk to each other whenever you want to, but letters give a part of that spontaneity back to you. You can write a letter whenever you have something on your heart that you really want to share. As you put it on paper and send it off, something magical begins to happen. You begin to grow closer together, and the time apart doesn’t seem as long.
If you are not sure how to get started, here are a few tips on writing letters that will strengthen your relationship:
- Greet him. Starting with “Dear (his name)” or “Hi Baby” or “Hey Super Hot Man of Mine” is important. Greeting him sets a tone of mutual respect and invites him into the conversation.
- Share some of your daily activities. Don’t shy away from sharing what you ate, where you went, or what you did. When you share the routine things, you are keeping him involved in your daily life
- Tell him how you are feeling. I am not just talking about how you feel about him (although that is a great place to start), but also tell him if you are excited about an opportunity, happy about an accomplishment, sad, or lonely. Whatever you are feeling, it is ok to share. Getting into this habit builds intimacy and trust and will help keep you close when he returns home.
- Ask about him. Whether it is about his case, his classes, or his job inside, asking about his life is an important part of staying connected and communicating how much you care.
- Include a “see you next time.” Tell him when you will see, talk to, or write to him again. This builds anticipation in your relationship.
- Close with encouraging words. No matter how tough it is out here, we have to remember that they are going through a really hard time there. When you close your letter with encouraging words, it keeps you both focused on a better future!
Take the time to write letters. The letters don’t have to be long or eloquent. They just have to be from you to make a difference.
Staying in touch and making time for each other is a habit that will go a long way to keep you connected while he is away, and it will develop a habit that will keep you close when he comes home.
Don’t give up! It is worth the effort!