I am a verbal processor, and this has been one of the most challenging changes to adapt to in single life. My closest friends have been fantastic to listen to my stuff and help me connect the dots from my heart to my head, but it’s not the same as having someone who is living in the very fabric of your days, hearing your thoughts and dreams come out raw and ragged and unedited. Steve was the most gracious man I’ve ever known. He cared about people and their feelings – he cared about me most of all. And he understood that my head is filled with words and those words need to get out somehow. In the beginning, he tried to offer solutions or work arounds to any problem, and that used to bug me a little. I mostly wanted to be heard and acknowledged. But he figured it out. He got pretty good and knowing when I just needed unwavering support and when I needed someone to offer pushback or correction. He gave my thoughts and feelings a soft place to land.
The question in my life now becomes: how do I function as a words-girl in this new world where I have no live-in listener? The only answer I really have is: be willing to talk to people who aren’t Steve. I committed in the beginning of this sojourn through singleness that I would try to connect with three friends each week and that I would determine to share something of my life with them (because I can pretty easily dodge and weave gut-level honesty if I let myself). I am still committed to this and it has been really good for me. I have a counselor who listens, a mentor who listens and a handful of dear friends + my daughters who I know are always available and I use that open door quite regularly. I also journal relentlessly and, yep, talk to myself quite often. My people are such a blessing to me and so willing and wonderful and I’m grateful and trying to learn not to worry so much about over-burdening them with the words of my life.
I know this post isn’t filled with helpful tips for single people, because I don’t really have many. But I do have a tip for married people, especially husbands, and it’s this: Your willingness to stop, listen and let your wife feel heard is beyond beautiful. Even if you have no brilliant strategies to offer. Even if you don’t feel like the best conversationalist. Even if you would rather be watching ESPN (especially if you would rather be watching ESPN.) In the end, I think your availability as the one who makes space for her words to live and breathe is what sets you apart from every other man in her life (and I really did consider all the other things that set you apart before choosing this one and I stand by my story.) Keep up the good work, men-with-ears. You are worth your weight in silver, gold and words.