I talk about my fiancé, Grant, behind his back. Sometimes I say good things about Grant; other times I say less-than-good things about Grant. And despite popular belief that this is a big no-no in relationships and marriages, I’d like to give you four reasons for why I feel the need to talk about my fiancé behind his back and why I believe our relationship has been better for it. Maybe by the end, you’ll start wanting to talk about your significant other behind their backs, too.
Four Reasons I Talk About My Fiancé Behind His Back
Talking about Grant with my therapist has enabled me to become a better partner to Grant.
When I first began weekly therapy sessions with my professional therapist back in October, I was nervous. I was afraid that if I told Tonya everything that was going on in my life, including the nitty-gritty details of my relationship with Grant, I would be judged or labeled as “the troubled one.” I already knew I had control issues prior to seeking counseling; I didn’t need someone blatantly pointing out all of my perfectionist tendencies and anger management problems.
But once I began talking about Grant with Tonya, I quickly realized that this was something I should have done many months earlier. This is because no matter how hard I try, I cannot solve my issues on my own. Healing isn’t something I can force in my own bedroom. I need someone to help me pick through some of the rubble in order to salvage the good and make something beautiful. And despite how helpful Grant tries to be, there are simply some things that I need to hear from another woman. And from someone who, frankly, just knows what they’re talking about.
Because I have shared my insecurities about my relationship with my therapist, I have been able to better understand where those insecurities originated from. When I describe the way Grant and I communicate and handle conflict, she coaches me on how to be someone who fights fair. I have even brought Grant with me to see Tonya more than once so he and I could work through our anxieties, arguments, and miscommunications together. And the fact that she shares our faith and values makes her counsel even more relatable and impactful.
Having a professional give their opinion on your relationship might sound intrusive, but I truly believe it’s one of the best things I could be doing for Grant and I, especially considering the season we are in. There’s no way Grant and I would be this mature and better prepared for marriage (notice how I didn’t just say prepared because, let’s face it, we’re still not ready) if I didn’t start seeking guidance and counsel from someone as wise, understanding, and experienced as my therapist. By the way, I’m also an advocate of seeking mentorship from other couples within your church, Bible studies, family, or your community.
The point is that it’s not bad to talk to a professional about your significant other and your relationship with them. It’s actually the opposite of bad; it’s tremendously helpful and healthy. And the best part, in my opinion, is that you don’t have to feel guilty about talking about your SO behind their back (because how could they possibly get mad at you for seeking help on both of your behalves)?
I talk about Grant behind his back so I can be a better partner to him. And honestly, I should be getting brownie points for working this hard. Therapy is some exhausting, hardcore stuff — like kickboxing, only you have to use your words.
Talking about Grant with family and friends helps me appreciate the role he plays in my life.
I love when people ask me how Grant and I first started dating because it gives me a chance to brag on this man’s faithfulness to me. I friend-zoned him, completely rejected him from the get-go, but he persisted. And a year later, when my eyes were finally opened to see the nerdy stud that he was, the fact that he was still smitten with me and willing to pursue me gave me a glimpse of just how special this man really was. And it doesn’t stop there.
Every time my friends and family talk to me about Grant, I’m given another opportunity to brag on how good he is to me. But no matter how much I have to brag about, I also feel the need to be honest and share our weaknesses and struggles, too. Like the fact he gets on my nerves. A lot. That’s something I probably shouldn’t hide; otherwise, people would ask why my eyes sometimes seem to be permanently glued to the top of my head and my mouth looks more like a scowl than a smile. I also like to tell people that Grant is a passive arguer, but that just does me more harm than good because they then realize I’m the true culprit of probably ninety percent of our arguments and conflict.
The more I give people little insights into our relationship, the more appreciative of Grant I become. Because at the end of the day, I am able to say that he is still one of the hardest working, most faithful men I know. No matter how berating and stubborn I can be, he is still always willing to hold my hand and wipe my tears. No matter how hopeless things sometimes seem when I feel the weight of my sin nature within the context of our relationship, he is still encouraging us to keep praying and pressing on. Being able to share these things with people not only helps them see the role he plays in my life, but it helps me see it, too.
I talk about Grant behind his back because when our relationship sometimes feels routine and things get hard, it’s nice to be reminded that he is my faithful partner who’s stuck with me through thick and thin. And the best part is that he actually wants to keep at it for the rest of his life. That’s impressive. No other man besides my daddy can boast of having such a love for me. And it’s that kind of love I am willing to talk about with anyone who will listen.
Talking about Grant through my writing encourages others in their relationships.
The first time I wrote a post about Grant, I expected to be tagged as mouthy and over-sharing. My mom tells me that the more I talk about Grant on my blog, the more ammo I give other women who may want to try to get between us. And she has a point. Grant just gets more handsome by the day (I’m in love and dead serious so don’t laugh). But I don’t want to live in fear of what my writing could do to our relationship because I enjoy seeing what it’s doing for other people in their relationships.
I love that I was able to have a Skype call today with a woman I met over Instagram who, like me, is engaged. After reading my blog post on my fears concerning marriage, she related to it so much so that she actually wanted to talk to my boring, weird self and offer me some much-needed encouragement. I had no idea that this stranger would somehow become my friend and speak into my life after being spoken to through my blog. Once again, I was reminded that our writing can transcend our expectations if we let it.
I love that people seem to be more willing to talk about the hard things now, too. I feel like I see so many married couples who stray away from confessing struggles or issues that they have because they fear the negative affect it could have on their marriage. What I believe is that honesty can be harmful if you’re not careful, but it’s important nonetheless. Take risks, but risk wisely. If you know that someone could grow and benefit from hearing your experiences, I think it does more harm than good to remain in silence and hide away. In case you haven’t realized, I’ve quit hiding (for the most part). I want people to see the real me so they can love me and support me and maybe even relate to me. And they have. For the same reasons, I want people to see Grant and I for the real “us.” I don’t want to endanger my relationship with Grant in any way, and it’s for that reason precisely that I sometimes open my big, fat mouth and blab away. I trust that God is giving me discernment and also protecting us along the way. And don’t worry — I do have limits.
I also love that when I wrote about the things no one tells you about being engaged, I saw many people jumping out of their seats, saying, “ME TOO.” Like holy cow. If more people had just told me that they were also experiencing these things and that my feelings are completely normal, I PROBABLY WOULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH MORE PREPARED FOR THIS. Thanks a lot, guys. This is why we need more people talking about their fiancés behind their back.
I talk about Grant behind his back so others can be encouraged and built up. This world needs more authenticity when it comes to the realities of relationships and marriages. I praise God for the books on marriage sitting on my bookshelf because they were written by authentic authors. Their willingness to share their experiences and hardships have enabled me to better prepare for marriage and grow into the partner I sometimes fear I can’t be. My hope is that through my writing, I am having even just a fraction of that impact on somebody out there who feels afraid and alone at times, just like me.
Talking about Grant with God does more good for our relationship than all of my feeble efforts combined.
Some of my most honest, heartfelt prayers have been prayers concerning Grant and I. And I’m not talking about the “Lord, please protect my fiancé because I love him so much” prayers. I’m talking about the “Lord, I’m at my wit’s end. I freaking hate everything that is happening. I honestly don’t understand why you created men. If you could just help me understand, then maybe Grant and I could have a chance. But I’m losing it! Can’t you tell I’m losing it? Lord, how many times do I have to scream and cry for you to do something? I can’t do this. I’m going to quit. I have no idea of what I’m doing. I don’t know how to love. I don’t know how to be loved. This sucks and I just don’t know if I can keep doing it” prayers.
What happens when I pray these prayers is that I learn to see God for who he is just a little bit more than I did before. And the reason this happens is because I am also seeing myself for who I am just a little bit more. And here is who I am when I am on my knees, crying out to God: a woman desperate for something more beautiful than what she could make with her own hands and free will, a woman so lost and confused that she knows she’s going to have to lean wholeheartedly on God, a woman so fed up that she’s finally willing to die to self and surrender all.
When I resurface from these prayers, I usually run straight to Grant, wanting to make things right (because odds are that I was responsible for something gone wrong). I also am somehow willing to forgive again despite being hurt by the same thing for the hundredth time and there not being a single solution in sight.
The thing about prayer is that it isn’t designed to change God; it’s designed to change us. And it has changed me. It’s made me into a fighter, a warrior. It’s opened my eyes to the work of God.
I talk about Grant behind his back because we need someone bigger than us fighting for us. The enemy has tried so many times to divide Grant and I. And there have been days where he probably thought he was successful. But the fact we are still standing and still moving forward proves that there is a higher power working on our behalf. The lies of the enemy are no match against the truth of God. And every time I cry out to God in prayer, I’m allowing myself to believe in that truth once again. When I pray, I am reminded that I can do nothing without God. He is my everything. He is our everything. He is the Rock on which Grant and I stand.
And if that’s not enough reason to start talking about your man behind his back, then I don’t know what is.
When all of your flaws and all of my flaws
are laid out one by one
The wonderful part of the mess that we made
We pick ourselves undone
“Flaws” — Bastille
There’s something about vulnerability (okay, A LOT of things) that I still don’t understand. Like why it’s so dang hard.
Today I was asked why I want to get married, and instead of giving the shorthand answer, “we feel like it’s the next step” or the hyper-spiritual answer, “because God says it’s not good for man to be alone, etc,” I gave the real one.
I want to get married because I know I can’t do as much on my own as I can with Grant. He brings the best out of me (and sometimes the worst) and I bring the best out of him (and sometimes his worst). We are compatible — not because we are the same and we perfectly relate, but because he and I are amazed at how many ways we are able to complement each other.
But for some reason, despite the truth of this statement, there’s still so much holding me back in my relationship. I can see the fruit that comes from being vulnerable. I have experienced the warmth of his support and encouragement in times of honest communication. Yet there are some topics I deem “off-limits,” some things I veer away from.
I was discussing how difficult it can be for me to be vulnerable with Grant with my counselor today, and she pointed out that I don’t usually feel this way with my girlfriends. I love sharing all things with my friends; I can be messy and explicit and wear my heart on my sleeve with those people.
With Grant it’s a different story. And it’s a different story because romantic relationships and marriages seem so much more risky to me. They’re risky and frightening because they’re supposed to be permanent, but sometimes they aren’t. Like the time I was dumped by my ex-boyfriend when I thought we would soon be getting engaged. They’re scary because you want them to last, but there are some things out of your control. Like the times I thought Grant and I could instantly resolve arguments and we could both wake up as new people who would stop hurting each other.
I’ve always had the philosophy, “friends come and go, but relationships are forever.” And I know that that’s counterintuitive to those who preach “bros before hoes” and “chicks before… well you know.” But that’s just the way this hopeless romantic has always felt. I’ve always put romantic relationships above friendships. I somehow understood the sacred nature of marriage long before I really knew God’s intent for it.
And here I am — about to get married, about to really put those philosophies into action, about to commit myself to what I deem permanent.
And I’m kinda, sorta terrified.
Because yes… this is for forever.
And what if that thing Grant says he loves about me he no longer loves tomorrow?
What if the stuff I tell him today he uses against me next week?
What if the issues I have now that he says he will support me through will one day end up destroying what we have?
What if the things I ask him to fix for us he never ends up fixing?
But here’s what I’m needing to be reminded of: I will never be able to see my vision for marriage — that beautiful union where each partner learns to bring the best out of the other — if I do not let Grant see ALL OF ME.
How can we grow together in our walk with Christ if I remove him from all things pertaining to my walk with Christ?
How can he encourage me to become my best self when I’m only showing him the parts I think he’ll like or the parts that mistakenly slip out?
If I’m really going to benefit from this union, if I’m really going to have the best marriage I could possibly imagine, I’m going to have to make a choice day after day.
I’m going to have to choose to be seen.
My friends, I know that there are so many secrets we are still holding onto, so many fears we’re still afraid of sharing. We’re embarrassed to admit our weaknesses and we cling tightly to our flaws instead of bare them in front of the ones we say we love.
But how can people love us if they don’t know who we are?
How can people support us if they don’t know where we are weak?
How can people lift us up when they don’t know that we have fallen?
Vulnerability does not come easy for most of us, but it IS possible.
I have to believe that it’s possible; otherwise, why am I getting married? It would all be for nothing. Because no glory can come to God through two people promising partnership when there is no actual partnership. No Christ-like love can be shown through a marriage that is still comprised of two people hiding behind defense mechanisms.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… (Ephesians 5:25).
I am making the commitment to submit myself to Grant. This does not mean I am a servant to be stepped on. This does not mean I will no longer be seen. It’s the exact opposite, actually. I submit myself to Grant by allowing myself to be seen, by making myself vulnerable and trusting that he will not harm me.
And if Grant will hold up his end of the bargain (which I believe he will), he will love me with the same unconditional, all-knowing, grace-saturated love that Christ loves me with.
This is what I want our marriage to be founded on — this idea that we can love and serve each other boldly and with vulnerability.
But I have to start making the choice to do so now.
Will you please pray with me as I venture into the unknown, as I lay down my pride and fears and allow my partner to see me as I am?
And today, will you please allow yourself to be seen? Will you let yourself believe that you have things to offer this world, and the world has things to offer to you?
Because life without love, or rather life without vulnerability, is no life at all.
And I want you to live. I want you to live with all you have, with all the gusto you can muster. Love boldly. Love unashamedly. Love wisely. And let yourself be loved in return.
It’s taken me a very long time to get to this point of openness and honesty, and it’s still a work in progress. Ask my best friends, my boyfriend, or my parents: I have been a mystery, fighting off inquiries for a very long time, and I’m just now learning what it means to be intimate and known.
I feel like you’ve been able to see this journey for yourself, as well. I began this blog in 2010 as a new believer, fresh out of sophomore year of high school. My writing was light. A lot of surface-level stuff. I talked about God, about what I thought He might be teaching me. I advised and encouraged. I told stories and created metaphors.
But it was only in this past year that I finally talked about me. I finally showed the world who Jessie Nyland was. And even then, it was just small glimpses, never a full story.
Right now that’s all I really have to offer: small glimpses of who I am.
I’m still discovering who I am for myself. The hardest thing is that I’m always changing, always maturing. How am I supposed to know who I am if I’m different tomorrow than I am today?
But some things remain intact: my past, my hardships mostly.
And there’s something so concrete about myself that I find imperative for you to know:
I come from a line of strong women, but I have lost my own strength in another person and I’m just now getting that back.
This is why I write about women, about being confident and embracing imperfections. It’s because for years I haven’t been confident, at least not confident enough to maintain my integrity and dignity in the relationship I fought both for and against for three long years. Definitely not confident enough to have faith in myself and my worth.
I loved somebody and I ended up losing myself in the process. I don’t think I really knew who I was in the first place, anyway.
This relationship that I coveted and worked for wasn’t good. It had its good moments, but we didn’t really know how to treat each other right. We were both abused and abusers. I knew deep down I was worth more than the way I allowed myself to treated, but I exchanged my strength for cowardice and neediness. And he could say the exact same thing, only vice versa.
He made the move to end things before I had the sense to. It was good for things to end, but I found myself heartbroken and didn’t know what to do with that.
What do you do when the person you thought you were going to have around forever is suddenly choosing to walk away? And nothing you can do or say can make them turn around and come back.
There really isn’t much to do except try to heal.
Here’s what I’ve learned from that awful ordeal: strength is found in God alone.
I thought strength could come from this person. I thought he’d be the one to keep me safe so I relied on him more and more. When I was needing something, he’d be the one I expected to come through– attention, affection, affirmation, everything. But to have one person be your everything… it never ends well. No one can be another person’s everything. Flawed human beings can’t be perfect partners.
But you see, I didn’t understand that.
I thought he could save me. I thought he could do it all. And in my effort to make sure he was perfect, I grasped on to him even tighter, choking him in the process.
He left because I didn’t know how to let him breathe.
I couldn’t let him breathe because I thought he was my life source, my strength, my everything. I was stealing his own chance to live.
If I could go back in time, I would let go of the hold I had over him. I would stop expecting, stop complaining, stop tearing down. I would let him be happy and not make him make ME happy.
And no, I wouldn’t want to fix the relationship; it was broken from the beginning. Unbeknownst to me, our relationship was built on lies. Then there was the manipulation and controlling behavior on both ends that I only recognized in hindsight. We were toxic to each other.
There’s no way I could’ve fixed that. The only thing I could’ve done was left (but I was never really good at leaving). He had to call it quits for both of our sakes. I loathed him for that, but I also secretly envied him after a while. He got to be the strong, cold-hearted dumper and I was left as the pathetic, sobbing dumpee. It felt like I lost my dignity that day. Surely following someone around, begging and bargaining, after they repeatedly tell you to get lost is a sign of a loss of something. Sanity, maybe?
When he did leave and I saw he wasn’t coming back, I then thought strength could come from myself. I thought I could pick myself up from my boot straps and move on with my life. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Sleep was all I could bear to do, and even then I stained my pillows with tears for many nights. Food didn’t seem appetizing, friends didn’t seem encouraging, and everything just seemed to lose meaning.
After three years of having someone around to take care of me, I kind of forgot what it was like to take care of myself.
Time stopped for a few months. I call that time my grieving period.
But after realizing that 1) strength can’t come from him, and 2) strength can’t come from myself, I finally looked for strength in God.
A lot of my efforts to find strength in God looked like me yelling at the sky with tears streaming down my face. Why didn’t you warn me? Why did you let this happen? What can I do to make things better?
And a lot of his efforts to give me strength looked like nothing.
I was still heartbroken and confused. I was still vulnerable and an emotional wreck. I was like a little child throwing a tantrum for four straight months, and it felt like God was a detached Parent watching me from afar, just waiting for me to quit.
But all along, He was doing something. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but he was showing me a better way.
He showed me what a relief it was to be out of that damaging relationship. He showed me the things I so badly needed to escape from, the things that were ignored, excused, or left unidentified for years.
He showed me what love is in the form of pursuit– pursuit by Him and pursuit by the ones who love me most. My parents came and cuddled with me in bed when I couldn’t stop crying. My Grammie bought me a “boo-boo” teddy bear. My friends gave me the typical “you were too good for him” lines. And then when the time was right, that pursuit came in the form of another man, one who’s treated me so well and has been so understanding as I continue to heal from what’s been done and said.
I needed all of that, all of that relentless pursuit. I needed that love from them, the love that I know comes from a strength of their own.
Everyone’s been hurt, but there are those who find their strength again. Again, I come from a line of strong women, and I know it’s because I also come from a line of women who have endured much.
God gave me beautiful people to see me through that brutal time.
He is my strength, I discovered.
Strength is found in God because that’s where true love is found, too. His love gave me strength to move on. His love gave me strength to keep loving. And that very same love is still doing so much in my life, more than I can even see right now.
I’m still on the road to healing. Ask my best friend or my boyfriend and they’ll be able to tell you that I have some things to work through– some insecurities from long ago, some fears I can’t seem to shake off. When you’re in real deep with someone and then that person leaves, sometimes they take pieces of you with them.
But I am fighting for those pieces back. One by one.
I come from a long line of strong women, and I see how they have handled hurt and betrayal, rejection and heartbreak. They made it through, as can I.
I am learning how to hold on to peace from the God-fearing people around me. I am figuring out what love is when I see it played out before my eyes in marriages, friendships, and in the church.
They are my guiding stars, gently urging me back to wholeness (which I know now is really just another word for God’s loving arms).
This is me. Not the whole me, but a pretty large chunk. I’m handing this piece of me over to you now, trusting that it’ll be taken care of and not abused. I’m laying down my pride and shame to share these things because I find healing in letting myself be known.
I’m letting myself be known by you, whoever you are, because I feel free.