Creating Safety in Relationships
In a world that can feel overwhelming and unsafe, we all long for safe havens in our relationships. But how do we create that safety?
On this episode of the podcast, Rachael Clinton Chen chats with Dan and Becky Allender about their journey to intimacy and understanding in their marriage. Dan and Becky have been married for decades, but they both say that the real transformation in their relationship has happened only in recent years.
They credit much of this breakthrough to doing story work and understanding their own family of origin stories, as well as each other’s. But they also point out that creating awareness alone is just the beginning. Deciding to enter into their relationship with kindness and curiosity has helped them build trust and safety with each other.
Rachael points out: “The more we honor one another’s need for safety and meet each other there and rebuild a different kind of trust that we’re capable of, that it’s actually the more risks we can take in our relationship and we can take together. Because there’s a trust “
If you’re seeking ways to build trust and closeness in your most important relationships, we hope you’ll find this conversation thought-provoking and insightful.
And if you and your partner would like to discover more about your stories, grow in kindness and care, and find courage in conflict, we invite you to join us for the Marriage Conference this October 13-14, 2023, in beautiful Park City, Utah. Learn more at theallendercenter.org/marriage
Rachael: Well, today on the podcast, we’re going to attempt to make possible what sometimes feels like the impossible by talking about the issue of safety in our relationships, especially more intimate relationships like marriage or core friendships or familial relationships. Because like any of us know, especially in a world right now, where we’re all just a little activated, it’s a necessity in order to actually honor each other. And so I am joined by my co-host and colleague and friend, Dr. Dan Allender and his beloved, also my colleague and friend, Becky Allender, who are going to bravely and generously join me in a conversation talking about how they have learned to establish safety in the midst of their marriage. It’s no big deal, no high bar that you have to meet in this conversation. But thank you for…
Dan: That’s hilarious.
Rachael: Thank you for joining me.
Dan: How we’ve developed it or how we’d long to be able to develop. It’s just a, it’s…
Rachael: Well. Yeah. I also do think our listeners are very privileged to hear from you because I do actually think this is something you have put a lot of labor into.
Dan: Well, I would say probably in the last, I don’t know, five years? 10 years? Way more.
Becky: I think 11. I think, because actually our lives really started to change more while I was listening to you and other people in the Allender Center teach. And that was a big turning point for my life when actually I was getting in touch with more of my family of origin and my story, and therefore traveled to Michigan to do my very first group work and fell in love with that. With what group was that?
Dan: Open Hearts.
Becky: Open Hearts Ministry. Yeah. I’ll be forever thankful for them. Yeah.
Dan: So I would’ve said it a little bit less, but a decade or more, I think we have been somewhat, and again, I think…
Rachael: That’s, see we’re already, we’re starting, right? Because how do we find safety when there’s conflict even of, oh my, how many years we’ve been…
Becky: Oh, it’s hilarious that I said that. Yeah, no, no.
Dan: That’s such a long term experience of I’ll give a figure. And…
Becky: Normally I don’t do that. Let’s just move forward. I’ve learned that that’s not a safe thing to do to my husband, but there you get to see…
Rachael: But that’s exactly…
Becky: …up and down.
Rachael: But I think that’s really the ground that in today, is that we can find safety when we’re in the places where we’re enjoying each other, where we have common ground. It’s really the places of conflict or tension or disruption in our relationships when both of us or all of us, if it’s not just a dyad, get a little bit thrown off of our solid ground. And so often, I think in conflict, especially in marriages, it feels like the end goal is kind of winning the argument or coming to a resolution or even coming to the same solid ground with each other, and that that’s the ultimate goal of the work. But I think what we’re going to say in this conversation today is it’s actually more about honor and dignity and curiosity of the other to understand what is the ground they’re on and how did they get thrown and how did you participate in that and what does it look like to get to move back toward a sense of safety, even if finding common agreement may not be the end goal, but a capacity to deeply respect each other and to get to know each other more and to grow in intimacy might even be the deeper goal. So I just want to say, I feel really privileged to hear from both of you because I do think that you have both a playfulness and a really generous honesty and how you talk about these places in your own life. So, thank you.
Dan: Thank you. Yeah. It has not come, shall we say, without our own scars. One of the lines that Becky uses with regard to most of the activities that we’ve been involved in is…
Becky: I get us into something and then you take it to such an extreme, it’s not really safe or fun.
Dan: It’s really a very decent description of motorcycling, sailing,
Becky: Sailing, skiing, mountain biking,
Dan: Fly fishing, it literally everything I think we have ever as just played together, gotten into, Becky is the one who generated the interest, the intrigue, and actually got us in.
Becky: But then I ended up in a stream twice that was not, because I don’t weigh as much as Dan, I went barreling down with my, what are those called?
Becky: Waders on down mountain streams with rocks. So I’m kind of used to this because we’ve been on black diamond slopes that I never thought we were going to go on because I don’t read the map. So.
Dan: I think just even the beginning to say that our sense of what safety is, is pretty radically different. And I want safety, but usually it’s on the edge of a cliff.
Becky: Honey, you’ve always liked danger, so I think you really want safety. I’m having trouble with that. Come on.
Dan: Oh no. Safety at a point. But indeed, you would be six feet from the edge of the cliff and I would be within inches…
Rachael: Although I do have to say there was that one episode with the bear at Rocky Mountain National Park where Becky was closer to the bear than you were Dan. So I do feel like there are places where you both have…
Becky: He’s afraid of bears more than I am, and actually I dream about it bear last night. I haven’t told you about it, but yeah, there is. No, there’s one. There we go. Good job.
Dan: Well, honestly, if you take that one example, I’ve had encounters with bears and they’re terrifying. But Becky is the one who’s going to take her camera and make sure she’s got the best shot of this bear that literally could be assaulting a large group of… yeah it’s a story of our lives. But we were privileged to be with, let’s just say that you were looking to drive away in the car, and I did threaten to drive away in the car.
Becky: You did. I think it’s actually your actions that kind of spurred me on to be so opposite.
Rachael: Cause I was so afraid you were like, I will not give into fear. Well, maybe that’s a good starting place to hear from both of you, obviously. How would we define, what does it mean to have safety in the midst of a marriage? What does that even look like?
Becky: Well, we talked about that a little bit, thinking about this, because my family of origin was a volatile one. Both parents hollered all the time loudly. And I really didn’t have any agency to change that conversation or have any will to say, no, that wasn’t me that did that. So I would freeze. And for the first 25 years, 30 years of our marriage, you would call that stonewalling because I was a pretty tough kid being raised by parents who were more or less orphans during the Great Depression. So hearing those stories, you learn to be tough because, well, that’s the bar that’s been set. So I think you would holler and get angry and be throw things sometimes. And to me it was like, well, this is living on planet earth. And then we’d come back together and by then we, we’d be, because we really like each other, we’d always come back together at some point. And we’d never really, really talked things through.
Dan: No, it was almost too dangerous to return to the burnt earth. It was just easier in some sense. Keep moving west, you know, burned this soil that just go a couple miles west and there’s a whole new opportunity to start over. And that seemed like forgiveness and some sense of the word it was. But it was, I think, a great terror for both of us to return to what are these patterns doing? And it’s only recently, I mean, honestly, and maybe the last six months that we both have named, she wasn’t stonewalling. She was just literally freezing inside. But I’ll also say Becky has a way of being defiant. Just as that one story of watching you go to the car, she’s going to go to the bear. And so what I would experience is far more the defiance, kind of the angry shutdown. You will get nowhere near me. And again, that felt so unsafe for me. I can be in a long, hard, painful argument, just don’t cut me off. But it’s only recently that we’ve both been able to say, you developed, meaning Becky, you developed a long history of freezing in the context of craziness in the context of her family that played out with us. So she wasn’t even there any more than I was there, even though it would appear to be when I’m angry. And being, again, not just angry, but verbose. I do have a capacity to talk. And that verbiage, intense, angry, was a barrage that really was…
Becky: Very familiar to me.
Dan: Right. But it also just sort of kept us in our own fundamental isolation. And then I could blame her for shutting down, for not staying in it. Whereas she was of course blaming me for being volatile and apparently out of control.So all that to say, the patterns seemed to work to dissolve, but then coming back there was sufficient care, love and forgiveness to be able to just start over again. But those patterns never got disrupted. They were eruptions thankfully that were not happening daily, but happening enough that we just felt like we didn’t have, at least I didn’t have the courage or the integrity to step into what is this like for you? How are you? And again, not just attunement, though, that would’ve been fabulous. Further the ability to say what in the name of all that is good and true and beautiful is going on in you, Dan, reacting in this way.
Becky: Yeah. Because we hadn’t heard of story work, even though you had been teaching on story for a while, but we had never had that attunement to our own stories. Yeah.
Dan: Again, it’s such a sad sentence that you can offer others what you don’t want to take yourself. But I think that was sort sort of fundamentally true.
Becky: Now we began to be curious,
Rachael: Yeah. And I think that was what I was going to ask is to, I mean, because I’ll just say as someone who got married after doing a lot of story work to someone who was doing a lot of story work, we do have a common language, but it doesn’t necessarily make us any more safe to each other. We have better awareness. And if anything, maybe what we can do is disrupt some of those cycles. Because for Michael and I, I’m a fighter when I feel threatened, so I get verbose and angry and I say fighter, and he asked me when we got married, how many people have you actually fought? In his perspective, the way I talked, it was like I just got in all these physical altercations and I was like, I’ve never physically touched another human being. It’s all running my mouth. But you can feel the anger. And because of his story, he’s very similar to you, Becky, he goes into a protective, get really quiet, and then I feel like engage me. And then he is like, I’m really scared of you. And I think to be in those moments when what you need is connection to actually get the soothing, but you’re so triggered by each other, you can’t offer it. So yeah, what began to happen. Can you talk people through a little bit of the process?
Becky: Well, so I do see that it’s more difficult for you and Michael right now, but for us, we had 35 years of this pattern of different lives and raising children in the seventies and the eighties is very different than now. I mean, our lives were so different. You were so busy with students grading, writing papers, traveling for eight days at a time many times a year. And I was up easily 15 times in the evening with three children not sleeping well, and you had to get your sleep. And so this is how it was. So I really think that in some ways it’s almost made it easier for us now that so much has been opened up about our stories and our curiosity. Plus now that we’re doing marriage conferences and retreats and intensives, we’ve got all this active writing going down for our teaching that actually is doing the work in process more than we ever could have imagined if we weren’t having to be public about how bad it was before and how Jesus has given us a new way.
Dan: Oh, I’ve often said it, but I’m hearing it again for myself. The privilege we have that a lot of people don’t to actually be engaged in attempting to articulate on behalf of others. I think there was seasons truly where I’m offering something I’m just not willing to take myself. Nonetheless. I think over time, the deep discrepancy between teaching but not living, I think haunted both of us. But I think when Becky stepped in much more to the reality of her own story and the impact of what it was like to be with intense, conflictual shaming parents, it began to resonate. That’s a lot like what it’s like to live with you. Now, my own sense of grief that I am replicating so much of the experience my wife endured, and I saw the effects of her parents’ life on her and really felt both grief, but also anger for the harm they brought. And then I can’t tell you the date or the moment, but that awareness of you are doing the same thing maybe in certain ways because of the nature of our care for one another, I’m actually doing more harm then the harm that was done. I think that was so heartbreaking and haunting and the ability, at one point, I remember actually one fight about seven or eight years ago where at one level she just named this is what it was like to be with my mother when she was humiliating me. And that, I think, was almost like hitting a brick wall, like, oh my God, of course. And to be able to see the intersection between what she endured and what I’m asking her to endure now was just horrifying. And I don’t know a better word for, it’s just the goodness of the Spirit to make known the impact that we’re having is so contradictory to the desire we have on behalf of the other.
Becky: And I would say too, with my upbringing and yours, I was like a ninja as far as just shutting down anything, any need or any understanding of what my body was going through and not attuned. And so you’re just like a robot, you know, do incredible things and you have always worked so hard. And we began in the church ministry. So we had pastor’s hearts and pastors wife’s hearts. And then actually, I thought of this morning you’ve had, you’ve had 40 years of counseling graduates, and they started out as members of our families, their spouses and children. I mean, it’s been a lot of care and heart for others that bottled us up to not really think about us because we were on this trajectory of serving Jesus. We thought we needed to and realized we were actually not needing to do that much. So hard.
Dan: Maybe what we needed to offer to others, what we needed to receive for ourselves. So I think that that framing of both of us bearing grief on behalf of the other, and in one sense clarifying further and further and further, if you’d asked me 40 years ago, do you want to honor your wife? The answer’s been absolutely. But I think over years being able to get clarity that honoring her as simple as sentence, she has a different need for safety than I do.
Rachael: There you go. Yeah.
Dan: And that it’s good. And that I shouldn’t be asking her to have the same capacity for danger I have. So the paternal, narcissistic, and in many ways, misogynistic demand being able to see how that’s playing out in terms of the difference was not honored. It was assumed to be her fault. She needed to actually be more courageous.
Becky: Will you remember this next winter when we start skiing for the first time in 25 years?
Rachael: Maybe you guys need to get it printed out on something. You can hang on your wall.
Becky: Like if I want to be on a green…
Dan: Okay. Okay.
Rachael: I’m a witness. You can call me in. You can call me in, Becky.
Dan: Again, we’re laughing, but as soon as she brings that up, I’m like, you can do, I mean, she’s a beautiful skier, far better than I am. Elegant so good. And so she can be running blues and black so much better than I. Now do you hear the energy? Yeah. It sounds like I’m honoring her gifting, but actually…
Becky: I’m a fearful person. I’m a fearful person.
Dan: But somehow you need to conquer the fear.
Rachael: Yeah, yeah. Cause who cares if she could ski beautifully on blues and blacks? What if she wants to stroll peacefully on the green because that feels better. But I think I love what you’re highlighting because I think this is key differences at every level have to be engaged and honored. And I think sometimes we actually paradoxically feel like our spouses or our friend’s different need for safety actually feels like a threat to us. Especially the more intimacy we have, the more we feel like, well what does that mean for me? If Becky needs to ski on greens because that feels better for her, does that mean I have to ski on the greens forever? And it’s like, well, we can have differentiation and we can still have intimacy and ski on a blue together in the middle of the day. Just once. I’m making light of the fact that I know for myself sometimes when there is a different need or a different story or a different frame, it’s like that can almost feel threatening at times. And disrupting that, like you said, with that curiosity of understanding, how did this come to be? And I don’t want to replicate that harm in your life. I want to get to be the person who helps create new neural pathways for you in your body. Who honors the sense of safety that you need. And I think it, it’s so fascinating to me because I know for Michael and I, when we find a way to do that, it’s like then we actually do want to enter more complexity and maybe even more danger so that we want to take bigger risks together. We want to dream bigger because there’s a deeper level of trust. So it really does have that paradoxical reality that the more we honor one another’s need for safety and meet each other there and rebuild a different kind of trust that we’re capable of, that it’s actually the more risks we can take in our relationship and we can take together. Because there’s a trust that… Dan, in our notes, you have this language of safety is the, it’s the tree that we come back to in the game. It’s like the grounding. It’s like we have established a felt, known, shared sense of grounding that we can come back to. And I think so often, yeah, that’s really the work of creating safety is like what’s the common ground we come to that is big enough for both of us?
Dan: I often think conflict narrows, it condenses. And that safety at least begins with a sense of, can we open up the space. Again, the image of spending a day on green slopes, the first thing that came literally my body was…
Becky: Do you want me to answer for you? Yeah, you go ahead. Oh my gosh, that’s the last thing I’m going to pay money for. Am I right?
Dan: Almost word for word.
Rachael: Oh My God.
Dan: But if you summarized it
Becky: And I want to get the money’s worth too. So I would like, okay honey, let’s do the black.
Dan: But the real issue here is I’m more terrified of boredom.
Becky: That’s totally right.
Dan: So that the idea of physical threat is not an issue. The idea of being in a place where I’m going to have to actually take in the trees and just the beauty of the landscape and enjoy my wife’s movement as she’s going ahead of me there, there’s something in me that “needs” to heighten the intensity if I’m going to stay present. So right there is, right, again, it looks like she’s the one that’s bound to a need for safety. All I’m saying is that we all have safety needs, right? But they are going to show themselves in really radical ways. So the idea of curiosity, and this has happened actually a number of times where she’ll say it, we’ll be in a conversation and she’ll say, you’re bored. I’m like, no I’m not. No I’m not. You’re bored. And she can read that and then in that moment be able to say, and you’re not engaged. You’re not with me. What is keeping you from being with me now? I think that’s been…
Becky: And what is? What was? Did you answer that before? I see you walk around the house often and you don’t see me on the stairway and you almost knock into me and I scare you to death when you notice I’m in bed. And that’s a normal thing to do as a couple, but you’re like frightened. I’m like, you have so much going on in this head, Dr. Allender, and I’m trying to do some mindfulness training with you. Sorry, that was a tangent. I guess.
Dan: Not at all. It’s just again, that creating space and then being able to go, we always are shaping one another to the end, ultimately of glory or not. And that consciousness I think has become more a part of our conversation. How are you in this conversation? Are you present? Where are you? And literally the question of are you feeling safe? Can we proceed with entering into more conflict based on we’re on solid ground, can we move towards shakier ground? And I think that’s the sense that safety isn’t the final goal, right? Because life is dangerous, but we need to enter with kindness, with wisdom, with curiosity. But all of those are for the sake of entering into more of the confusion and ambiguity that holds virtually every element of our lives.
Rachael: Becky, I saw you. I wanted to see… what were you wanting to add? Cause I saw you.
Becky: Well, I was just thinking it’s got to be hard for you, Dan, given the fact that you counsel people and you teach people and you have intensives with groups or couples. You’re in this place of such, honor your words and then to be out of that realm, I just want to give you some grace because you’re doing work all the time. Then you’re with someone normal that’s not paying for your advice. So it’s different.
Dan: Do you remember at times or especially early on in the development of this so-called life and career, she’d say, I’m not your client and I’m not going to pay you. And it’d be like…
Rachael: That’s fair. That’s fair.
Dan: Yeah. You sure you don’t want to pay?
Becky: Yeah, we’d only been married a year.
Rachael: But I think one of the things I love as I listen to you is it is clear to me how much you love each other because it’s clear how much you’ve labored to see each other well. So what’s funny to me is often in this conversation it feels like Becky is more the counselor who’s seeing the things about your idiosyncrasies and your story Dan, and calling you forward. And I think that’s something that’s really sweet to have witnessed both of you so generously longing to offer that to each other and having, finding a common language together. And I think I want us to move. I want to hear from you both. I want everyone to hear, again, some we’ve talking about them, we’re implying them. But what are some of those steps to grow safety? But I think what I’m seeing and what I’ve seen from you and what gives me a lot of hope is that this is not a process that you ever just arrive at or that, okay, because we learned this one story about each other, then this is always our need for safety. It always looks like this, that in some ways there’s a constant engagement and leaning in and knowing and getting to know. Because even if you maybe know this one piece, maybe as you’re healing and growing, it’s shifting and it’s changing. And what you long for is growing and changing. And so I just want to say I am someone who really benefits from hearing you and listening to you and watching you. And I’m just really grateful.
Dan: Thank you. Thank you. It it’s a great question. I remember years ago,
Becky: What does that mean?
Dan: Oh, like decades. We were looking at a photo album my mother had put in front of us and there was a picture of me as a two-year-old boy. And I’m literally physically tied to the garage door. No, we’re not talking about just a one little strand.
Becky: Not a little leather thing that they use in Europe to keep children nearby. No, it was like a rope. Oh, around your waist. And then around the handle of the garage.
Dan: And around my shoulders and hands. It was like I’m literally bound to the garage door. And remember, this is so long ago yet it was so amazing where Becky is horrified. She is infuriated and horrified. And I’m like, what’s the big deal? And certainly later on, one of the questions she asked was to my mom, why did you need to tie him? And she responded by saying, my mother responded by saying, because he’d run away at age two and disappear for hours and we couldn’t find him. And it, it’s not an answer it, it’s something of an answer. But there was that context where she was then able to say, you knew at age two that you needed to escape in one sense, a web spider web that was even more dangerous than literally being tied to a garage door. And I remember in that conversation decades and decades ago, like, no, no, no, that’s crazy. That’s overstatement. That’s just weird. My mother was weird and that’s no big deal. But I think in that long sense of coming to know one another, that her ability to name my family, my mother, the impact on her and on me, probably even with lots of good counseling, supervision and interaction, I don’t think anyone’s been a better reader of my life and certainly the impact of my life, than Becky has been. So I could totally concur with that phrase of will you let your spouse read you? And again, know that what are the patterns? I mean, I can be defensive and intense or just cut off and go into my brain elsewhere. So I think knowing the patterns for how we create a lack of safety when things get named, I think it’s just been crucial for us to be able to say, this is happening generally, then this happens. And now that ends up being a result we don’t want. Can we stop the pattern? Cause you can’t stop what you’ve not named.
Becky: And then naming is so important. I think too, we really did find safety in one another, even though we were volatile off and on. But I, as a child, from age 10 to 24, I took medication that was very basically speed and it said to take it every night before bed. So from 10 until I married Dan, I wasn’t sleeping. I could have taken it in the morning and now it’s actually been outlawed in our country. I looked that up last week, but I was able to give that medication up. Little did I know that I should have never been doing that at night. But I think just our bodies, our love for one another, we knew that I was safe and I got over asthma with you. So I think that we’ve had so many profound pictures of how God has given us as a gift to one another that propels us to keep going forward.
Dan: So it’s a strange paradox of sufficient safety to begin to name the lack of safety and then being able to hold that at least over time without faulting one another. I mean, they’re just, one of the things that historically has been the case that has felt very unsafe for me is that Becky, when she’s got something she wants to deal with, oftentimes takes a lot of energy. So things build up and there might be, instead of one thing to address, she’s got eight and she in some degree of anxiety will bring the eight quickly and often without context. So I’m in a position like, well, I’m just getting a barrage of things that are troubling her and I don’t even understand fully what each of those is because they’re so said with brevity and I know what it feels like immediately when that begins. And that is, oh, we are about to enter into a dark tunnel. And so just being able to name the patterns that we each bring and then be able to go, oh, a lot’s build up. And again, it may sound unkind to say this, but I’ve said I can’t hear eight, not now, but can I just ask, can you tend to your body, let your body come to a point of calm? And then let’s start the process of looking at what you want to most deal with now. And so we have to create space for us to come back to ourselves. And for me that often I think you have more than a few times said, go take a walk and see if God is with you. And just literally a five minute walk is just often enough for me. I mean, from where we are to our mailbox about five minutes, just literally going the mailbox and back, even if I know there’s no mail, gives me a chance to come back and be able to say, this is what I want. I want kindness. I want care and curiosity, not resolve and not agreement. So those reorientations, because when you’re in the middle of some sense, fragmentation, which oftentimes all conflict creates at least a degree of fragmentation to be able to reorient, to collect, instead of being dispersed to re-collect, recollect what you really want. That’s been an important skill that I think Becky has literally been the author of saying to me, you need space, you need time. I don’t want to deal with this until… and I think that as well for you.
Becky: And I do think a lot of that also came about after Covid. During Covid, because you weren’t traveling for five weekends in a row and doing everything else that you do. And I think I learned how to not let things I would know in the past years back, I’m going to wait until April, and this is December. I’m saying that until he’s got capacity in time and that’s a crazy way to live a life and a marriage. But that was our path. Yeah.
Dan: Busyness became and can be my great shield against having to deal with things in me or in our relationship. And it’s also served the organization that I’ve been part of. But when we begin to actually have way more time, that’s become I think just a frame for us to be so much more articulate as to are you safe? Do you feel well with what we’ve accomplished? And if not, what do we need to do to back up and to correct, to honor, to repent? And I think that framework of we’re not going to go forward, we’re not going to try and go forward if what we have left is something of scorched earth. So we can stay there until, and sometimes it’s just come about like, no, we’re both too tired. We can’t do it today.
Rachael: I think that is such an important point because how many of us have been told, don’t let the sun go down on your anger. It’s like you can feel like we got to, you’re an hour into something that feels like we are not getting anywhere. And if anything, we are increasing the lack of safety for both of us and what it looks like. So what I hear you saying is that it is good and well at times to offer containment to each other, to have a sense of, okay, let’s pause, let’s take a break. Maybe we each have to go to our own solid ground and then maybe tomorrow morning, maybe a couple days from now when you’re back from traveling or whatever, that designated, but that sense of we will return to this. So what are some of the things you do in the waiting? Because I hear maybe going for a walk. Are there other things that are helpful when you’re in a moment like this?
Becky: Absolutely. Sometimes, it’s in the evening. So you just go to bed, we just need that at our age, sleep.
Rachael: That’s what we’ve done too.
Becky: And many throughout all marriage, you need that at different times. So I think that’s one. And also if we’re just too exhausted, let’s just wait.
Dan: Yeah, I find that a lot of my prayers, I write a lot of, I’m not a good journaler in the sense of what did the day hold and then do that. But after a significant struggle, I need to be able to put words to what’s going on. A lot of times I don’t save it. It’s not like a document I’m keeping, but being able to come to where are we right now? Yeah, what do I know need? I need to come back to.. actually is maybe just because I’m aging, I need to have a reminder of what’s going on and what we’re actually experiencing. So I think that’s one of the things that we used to do, which is postpone and then just get better. Versus now, I think what we’ve been able to do is to say, when can we come back to this with and how much time can we allot, not because of a mere busy schedule, but more like what can you emotionally invest in and have it be profitable? So to not feel like we’ve got to have a problem resolved, but we need to have that problem engaged. And I think that’s what Becky has done brilliantly again and again, inviting me not to resolve, but just stay in this long enough. And if you need to have a break 20 minutes in, just tell me when we’re going to come back to it. Versus just sort of like, well, we’ll come back to it.
Becky: And also, since we don’t have family living with us, we can write it a note and leave it on the island in the kitchen and actually say what we need to come back to. We need to continue to talk this through and write what that is and just have it there. Because seriously it could be lost in the life. Oh yeah.
Rachael: Or maybe you have a few more that come too.
Becky: I know and if you need to write number two and three, it’s there written out on the island.
Dan: But I think as much as it will sound rather facile it, it’s like intentionality. I want her to know safety. And I want us to have a foundation to step into even harder discussions. I mean, one of the ones that we have been in for quite a while, we, we’ve had, we started counting, we’ve had six or seven people dear to us die in the last month and a half.
Rachael: Oh goodness.
Becky: And one entering hospice two days ago.
Rachael: So sorry to hear that.
Dan: So we are in our seventies, and may it be that we both have a longer healthy and productive kingdom life. But the reality is beginning to talk about death, not just what you want at your so-called memorial, but talking about what you can’t prepare for and yet need to begin to language. What will it be like when one of us is no longer with the other? And in that, I’m finding that I’d rather have a hundred fold more conflict than actually the invitation together into grief. So right now give me conflict. I love danger, grief, not so fond of and not so good at. And that framing of, I would say the last time we walked, we needed to talk about each person who’s died. And even in that process, I could feel that this is too much. I, let’s just have a good walk. And I think you’re naming calling me in that moment to say, can we continue? And if not, I’m okay. But can we continue the simple opportunity to choose giving one another choice as to can we, and if not when can we? I think is again one of the things that Becky’s just done brilliantly
Rachael: Well. And I think one of the things I hear you saying is that, and we know this is true in our work with trauma and with story and attachment and that language of new neural pathways, that it’s not so much like our capacity to always get it right, that builds those, that trust and builds those attachments. It’s what happens when we are able to find a way back to each other to repair to, and not, like you said, not just move on and kind of leave that thing in the past, but it’s really still there because we haven’t engaged it. But to actually change and rebuild trust, that’s that capacity to repair is really what grows trust and what grows safety. And that’s what I’m hearing from you. And so just any final words you would have for people that maybe find themselves being really provoked to long for deeper safety in this seasons of their lives? Any encouraging words you’d leave them with?
Becky: I do want to say, I think God’s grace is tremendous and we entered a new sort of kindness to one another just in the last decade. And so there’s so much hope. And I just want to say too is being married longer, it’s really the best of the best than something I didn’t see in my parents’ marriage. And so it really calls forth just abiding with Jesus more and one another. So it’s a time of hope. The hard work is worth it.
Dan: And I’m smart enough to add nothing more.
Rachael: Well, thank you so much. What a sweet privilege to get this glimpse into your world and to hear from your wisdom and yet your humility and your playfulness. Deeply grateful for you both.
Becky: Thanks Rachael. It’s an honor to be here.