A colleague and I were discussing a student who struggled with significant life challenges. We admired how the student was able to sense the kind of support she needed on a given day. When she needed help planning and moving forward, she showed up at my colleague’s door, tough and ready to forge ahead. When she was feeling misunderstood, unloved, and overwhelmed, she showed up in the chair in my office, box of Kleenex on her lap and tears rolling off her cheeks. “Why do you think I always get the crying version of her and never see the more proactive version that you see?” I asked. “Chris,” my colleague said, “It’s because you’re a soft place to land. You have the chocolate. You have the comfortable chair. You have the Kleenex. And you always know just when someone needs a good hug. You’re a soft place to land.” She paused. “You have a landing pad. I have a launching pad.”
I’ve thought about that conversation a great deal. I am a soft place to land. One of the things I value most in relationship is understanding—that “Really? Me, too!” moment when you realize you have a new friend. The person who responds to the thoughts you didn’t say out loud but were thinking. Empathy.
I will always be a soft place to land. I want this blog to be a soft and safe place for women. For years, I wanted my husband to understand me, to love the me I knew I was inside, to show that he cared for my heart more than my body, to cherish me, to pay attention and know what I needed, to see my heart and accept it anyway, to help me through struggles, to nurture my soul. I wanted my husband to be my safe place. When I realized how much I was hurting, I didn’t feel like I had a safe place, a soft place to know that I was understood.
So, sisters in refusal and gate-keeping, I invite you to sit with me for a while. Share your hurt here. This can be your soft place to land. Sitting in the soft place for a while is a good first step. . It is healing to feel understood. Many of us can relate to how hard it is to wrestle with memories from the past, words or actions from our husbands that have hurt, walls that are so thick that taking them down brick by brick is hard.
You can’t stay in the soft place forever. Sit for a while. Know that you’re understood. But if all you ever do is sit here, nothing will get better. You won’t grow. Your marriage won’t improve. After a bit, you really won’t feel much different than you did when you landed here.
Whether you brought hurt into your marriage or you married into it, you can’t let that define your life or your marriage. Your life may be exhausting and stressful as you juggle the many roles you play—but you need to make a decision to make your marriage a higher priority than the juggling act. You can’t just stay in the hurt and tired place forever. It serves no one—not your husband, not your marriage, not your family, not God, and not you.
My hurt and stress manifested in a sad marriage bed. My husband felt miserable and unloved. I hurt him deeply. I pushed him so far away that then I felt unloved as well. When I began to make changes in my sexual interactions with my husband, I had no idea that it would lead where it did. It took time, but as he came to trust me with his sexual desire and have his sexual needs met, most of the tension in our marriage faded away. (Okay, to be honest, having lots more orgasms helped with the tension, too.) As I felt less tension, I felt more loved, and it was easier to be physically affectionate and loving to him. Over time, the downward vicious circle we’d been in reversed into an upward spiral of a growing marriage. Our spiral continues to rise.
I still have plenty of work to do on myself. As I’ve opened my heart to my husband, I’ve opened my heart to God as well. I’ve invited Him in, and He is showing me how much I have to learn. I am doing some hard work within myself. But I can do it now, because my marriage has become a safe place for me to rest as I dig deep and work through some hard things.
I’m glad you’ve landed here, in what I pray is a soft place. Use this soft place to gather your courage and focus and move forward. Take steps, even if they’re small and your progress is slow. Learn to set aside some of your own problems and help your husband with his. Life is not about staying put. It is about growing and learning and being in relationship.
This is a soft place, a landing pad. Just make sure it is a launching pad a well.
It might be hard. It might hurt. You can’t just sit and stay in the soft place forever. But you can always come back to visit and have some chocolate and a few hugs.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, ESV