Why is it so easy for relationships to become fractured?
Small misunderstandings, left unresolved, can fester and expand and in no time, significant relational breakage can occur. It’s tragic and so hard to undo. And it can happen at any age.
Recently, I was privileged to stand on the sidelines and watch the opposite happen. A fractured relationship was healed, thanks to the powerful impact of a simple, loving letter and a devoted husband.
This successful business owner had heard about Leave Nothing Unsaid from a colleague. And a lightbulb went off. He was burdened because his wife had become estranged from her own mother after the mother had been moved into an assisted living facility several years before.
While the family’s desire was for the elderly mother’s safety and well-being, the mother didn’t see it that way. She saw the move as a sign she was unloved and unwanted by her family. A splinter of discontent grew into major relational breakage.
The daughter was heartbroken because she had enjoyed a close relationship with her mother throughout her life. And her husband felt helpless to improve the situation.
That is, until the idea of a letter inspired him. He reviewed the Leave Nothing Unsaid workbook and I provided a few suggestions. The next day, he drove several hundred miles to see his mother-in-law and offered to help her write a letter to her daughter, expressing her love.
He asked his mother-in-law to tell him the things she loved about her daughter and to share special memories. Then, using the elderly woman’s own words, he constructed a letter on behalf of his mother-in-law. He read the letter back to her, ensuring it expressed her sentiments accurately.
The letter was attached to a framed picture of the mother and daughter and wrapped up for Christmas morning. The husband was so excited about the impact he knew this letter would make that it became hard to wait for Christmas.
And oh, the impact. Deeper and sweeter than he hoped or imagined. And an answer to countless prayers.
In the husband’s own words:
“My wife and her mom really came together and it caused them to have the very best Christmas together. I presented it to my wife with the help of my daughter and then she took it to the home to visit her mom and read it to her. They had an awesome conversation and visit about it.
My wife has thanked me multiple times about how much she needed to hear that from her mom. It really helped them to come back together on a very personal, loving level.”
There are so many threads of gold in this story:
- First, that a busy husband would love his wife so much that he would be the agent of healing for this relationship. He was proactive and intentional.
- Secondly, that at this season of life, an elderly mother would be able to create a lasting expression of love and appreciation for her daughter. This letter is a priceless gift that will be read and re-read in the years to come. Both the mother and her daughter have received healing and joy from this letter.
- And what a rich example for the couple’s teenage daughter. She witnessed how deeply her father loves her mother. She saw the beauty of relational healing. And she experienced, firsthand, the lasting impact that a loving letter can have.
Is there an estranged relationship in your world? Consider writing a letter. Fill it with sincere words of affirmation and encouragement. Don’t use it as a platform to apologize, justify or criticize. Just tell the recipient the things you value about them. Keep it completely positive. Then, give it or send it with “open hands,” not expecting a response.
You, too, might experience the joy and beauty of relational healing.
That’s my hope and prayer.