To my dearest...

To my dearest...

A young couple was in the midst of a fierce fight, when the sobbing wife brought out a bag full of letters her lover – now husband – had once written to her. She left it beside her screaming spouse and made a beeline for the door. The man picked out one of the letters from the bag and started reading it; in no time tears trickled down as he ran towards this wife and hugged her.

Well, that’s the magic of the written word. But love letters are for the young. They are for those living far apart. Why should a couple living under the same roof write love letters to each other, right? Because letters can eloquently express one’s deepest thoughts and feelings. Things we hesitate to say in person can be penned down in a note. Letters can help us communicate sour or bitter feelings with a tinge of love and care.

Naturally, the self-effacing love letter continues to play a vital role in today’s electronic age, in newer formats. It is believed that in Ancient Egypt, the earliest love letter was written by a royal widow Ankhesenamun to the king of the Hittites, Egypt’s old enemy, begging him to send one of his sons to Egypt to marry her. Then, the global war in the first half of the twentieth century saw the epoch of love letters, as it was among the few ways for couples and lovers to remain in touch, particularly during wartime. These letters spoke of commitment and yearning, of passion and sensual love.

On the rocky marital road
Dr John Gray, a marriage counsellor and author of the bestseller Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, says that the ‘love letter technique’ can be used to communicate difficult feelings in a marriage. It is true that feelings of despair, frustrations, adult tantrums and anger are very difficult to express lovingly. Most of us tend to speak about negative emotions with a lot of unconstructiveness and blame, which in turn breeds bitterness and hatred. This can forever end an otherwise trusting and caring relationship.

There are times in every marriage when the couple’s thoughts and dreams are not in sync. In her book Seven Secrets of a Happy Marriage, Margery D Rosen reiterates the need to take a pen and jot down your dreams and the important goals in life when loving partners
become polarised in conflicting positions. Once you have done this, place this message in a corner where your spouse can have access. Then, wait for a time when your spouse is ready to discuss this with you. It would perhaps surprise you to know that both your dreams and visions are in sync, but the odds may be that your ways to fulfill the same are different. This revelation gives both of you a reality check. The new awareness gives you the security and confidence to work through your differences.

Most couples today have little time for themselves. They are so caught up in the
rigmarole of life that the relationship works on auto-pilot. So, when things get difficult, they are not ready to work on it as a team. In such a situation, it’s a good idea to write a love note to your spouse listing out a few things you both could do differently as a couple – it will give a new flavour to your relationship. You become a team again, by choice.

Note to self
All of us have a right to feel. But what we feel makes us what we are – happy or sad. As much as we all like to feel good and experience loving feelings, it is equally important to endure all those depressing feelings. We cannot shut ourselves away from the low and negative feelings and pretend to feel positive all the time. We need to deal with the uncomfortable feelings. One of the ways to do this is to write letters which express all your anger; it’s like a confession and acknowledgement of your fears. I feel cheated, I feel let-down. I feel frustrated as I see myself being unloved and uncared for. Write down all your feelings of sadness, disappointment, fear and regret, hurt and deprivation and then, read them out to yourself. Do your miseries sound exaggerated? Is it really that bad? Is there a silver lining you seem to be missing?

Dealing with negative emotions is an extremely daunting task. Aim for a tiny break when feelings of sadness, disappointment and anger overwhelm you; resist the urge to speak in a strong vindictive tone, triggering blame and accusations. It is perhaps better to take time out to write down your feelings. Write all that you feel like saying – I hate my husband/wife. How uncaring and selfish s/he can be…After a while, read what you have written. How does it sound? Is that how you want to say it? In time, you will learn of better ways to express your feelings. Many a times after reading your letter, you may not feel the need to talk about the issue to your spouse anymore.

You can also write a response to your own letter. Here, you can begin to express what you want to hear from your spouse. You can begin the letter acknowledging your feelings and extend to understand your spouse’s point of view. Now draw up a response to what you actually want to hear from your spouse. Read this aloud to yourself. If you feel like it, you can take this response to your spouse and read it out for him/her. For a moment, put yourself in your partner’s shoes and introspect your feelings in a more objective manner.
Being empathetic can help a great deal. Couples tend to have great expectations from each other and most often, one partner may feel like the victim. See how you can best address the issue and feelings associated with it.

Everyday acts of kindness, happy times of intimacy, small surprises, thoughtfulness and concern. List them all out as and when they happen. These memories will offer comfort when you feel lonely and less loved. Another way to look at this is counting your blessings and feeling grateful for all the happiness and fun times. It is a treasure to recount all the joyful memories of the past. This will help you sail through all the upheavals and disappointments inevitable in every relationship. Because as the wise philosopher and mystic poet Jalal al-Din Rumi puts it, “Love makes bitter things sweet; love converts base copper to gold. By love dregs become clear; by love pains become healing. By love the dead are brought to life; by love a king is made a slave.”  

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