“Do I need to check on you?” my husband asked yesterday.
He paused to look right at me with mild concern on his face.
This is a question we added to our “marriage toolbox” only after experiencing some significant valleys together. If it was in the pre-marital handbook, we weren’t ready for it. Sometimes, it’s trial by fire.
For example, when I discovered I was on the verge of depression in 2015, we were both totally caught off guard and didn’t know how to talk about it. That was until I reached a breaking point and we just . . . did. We pushed that door open—the one Satan wants to keep locked and bolted so you feel “safe” when you hide your pain. It was WAY uncomfortable to expose what I thought were my failures and shortcomings as a wife and mother, but thank goodness I did.
That “conversation” door swings more freely now, which means Dontae has every right to approach me at any time and ask, “Are you alright? Do I need to check on you?” without me getting defensive or shooting him down. And vice versa.
At its root, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, it’s an act of love.
I really don’t know how we stumbled upon this technique. But, for my heart, it has been HUGE.
Psalm 40:1-2 says: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
Yes and amen.
Dontae’s concern yesterday kicked in after I jokingly described getting nauseated after eating a slice of birthday cake. We just finished a 21-day partial fast that included no sugar, so the dessert felt like overkill. I’d told him how I’d eaten a bag of steamed edamame for dinner to balance things back out.
That’s when he paused. That’s when he met my eye. That’s when he opened that door.
“Do I need to check on you?”
The line caught me off guard at first, my mind racing to connect the dots. It came together. He thinks I’m punishing myself . . . I quickly explained how everything was fine and I chose edamame because it was such a healthy protein I absolutely loved to eat (and as you know, mom life is busy, so if there’s something I can literally steam in the microwave that’s still delicious, filling, and healthy, then I’m on cloud nine).
But if it had been a different answer, if food was indeed my struggle, my silence would have ended. I would have someone looking out for me. Someone who would embrace my imperfections, who would walk with me through this.
The takeaway from this isn’t whether or not you should eat a bag of steamed edamame for dinner. It’s not whether you should eat cake. (I’m a pretty huge advocate for both.) It’s the overwhelming love and support I felt when someone in my life took a moment to pause, open that emotional door, and check on me.
And the way that started, years earlier, was when I asked for it. When I sought it out.
For you that might be your spouse. It could be your sister, your parent, your best friend, or someone in your small group. All I know is that I’ve been down the path of silent suffering and it isolates, it’s full of lies, and it brings continual pain. Reaching out to my Heavenly Father when I felt at my worst was the best first step I could have ever taken toward healing. Then, following the Spirit’s prompting to admit my discouragement to my husband changed my life.
Now, five years later, I still navigate hills and valleys but I know I’m not doing any of it alone.
And neither are you.
What a difference that has made to me.
Prop that door open.
Start the conversation.
This post originally appeared on Laura Harris, Writer
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