During our 1-hour live stream, Growing in Transparency & Intimacy in Your Marriage, guests Ryan and Selena Frederick from Fierce Marriage and authors of See Through Marriage, shared a personal story of how they practice transparency in their marriage.
Their story starts at 7:42, the transcript is listed below.
Ryan: There is a quote by Richard Needham: “You don’t marry one person, you marry three. The person you think they are, the person they actually are and the person they’re going to become as a result of being married to you”.
I find that convicting and elucidating at the same time. As a husband, the woman that my wife becomes is the result of the husband that I am. God is gracious; he uses even my sin and my brokenness to somehow glorify himself in the life of our wives. But that’s a sobering reminder: that a lot of the person that my wife becomes is a result of the type of man that I am – in the way that I’m loving her and leading her.
As a husband, the woman that my wife becomes is the result of the husband that I am.
Selena: Transparency can be very nebulous and hard to nail down, but transparency in marriage is “being known” – fully known with one another, without hiding or any obstruction. We get a lot of questions about: Should we talk about things from past relationships – all the sins of the past?
The answer to that is that you need to listen to the Holy Spirit. You need to pray about that.
We’ll share one of our stories where the Lord brought to Ryan that he needed to share from the past. It’s not about airing out your dirty laundry. There’s a purpose. This is a path with a purpose and a promise.
Ryan: What you need to remember is that as you’re standing in this trailhead, you’re not just doing it for its own sake. There is an end in mind – a joyful, intimate, and good end – and that is, closeness and sanctification and unity and a deeper understanding of God’s love.
Sometimes it’s hard to see. I’ll just share a story from our recent past:
We had been going about our business, probably two years ago. I had been watching some sermons throughout the week, and one of the things that was said is that “someone who’s only 99% known will never feel 100% loved.” As long as you’re holding back that 1 percent, when you hear your wife or your husband say to you, “I love you…I care for you,” you’re always going to be doubting that because you’re always thinking: if you just knew this last bit, then you wouldn’t love me.
That hit me like a ton of bricks because I was thinking – we’ve lived transparently, but there’s something in my past that I wasn’t proud of. I was very ashamed of it, and it was from when I was probably 10. Really young – you could even say before the age of accountability. I don’t think I knew I was a sinning person in that moment. I just felt ashamed.
I felt that kind of come up in my guts and thought, “That’s ridiculous. I don’t need to share that – that’s too far back.” And this is why Selena was saying, you’ve got to listen to the Holy Spirit. You can’t just chronologue your whole life. You do have to be sensitive to what God is leading you to do.
And so, I just kind of pushed it down, kept going about my week. In my prayer time, I’d keep having this kind of recurring kind of conviction and prompting.
Until one Sunday morning, I remember so distinctly. We had gone to church. We got the kids there – it was chaos – and we went through the service. Now, our church does communion every week. So, we were in the back of the church doing communion, standing there praying together, and I just felt the Holy Spirit – just this warm, really heavy time saying, “You have to do this. If you don’t, you’re disobeying.” And I had this sweet sense of resignation like, well, I guess here we go. I’m taking a step off this cliff. I’m going to talk to Selena about this thing that I’ve just tried to basically suppress for the last two weeks.
And so during communion, I just looked over and said to Selena, “Hey, there’s something I need to talk to you about. It’s really serious – not right now – but today, we need to talk”.
And Selena was like, “What does that mean?”
Selena: My heart kind of drops down – like, huh?
Ryan: By the way, that’s always a really good tactic, if you have something to talk about. Just mention that you want to talk about something, give it some space, and set aside the time.
And so we did that. We had packed up and left church…
Selena: …and a miraculous thing happened. All three kids fell asleep in the car at the same time.
Ryan: It never happens! It happened this time. So we’re literally pulling into our street to get home, and then we just kept driving. I said, “Here’s the thing…” And I laid it all out.
I just remember so clearly: I’d never felt so exposed, so vulnerable. Every single one of the lies of obscurity were at play in that moment. And I just remembered so clearly the three ways that Selena responded to me. Do you remember those three ways?
Selena: Yes. They were:
- “Thank you for sharing with me” – because it’s always hard to share something shameful or that you’re afraid it’s just going to break trust.
- “I still love you.” – because I did, and I do, and I always will. I made that covenant.
- And then, “It’s funny you share something like that because I’ve been feeling the prompting as well to be transparent about something that happened in my past, and I want to bring some reconciliation to this.”
Ryan: I just can’t express how intensely and differently I felt the love of Christ in that moment, more than any other time previous in our marriage. I’m not trying to be hyperbolic in that – it’s true. I felt like it was all out there. I was just hanging out there, and you could have done whatever.
Selena: Because of the Holy Spirit, I was able to take the right step there. Many times I have not. I’ve said: “What? Why haven’t you shared this?” or “How dare you?” where feelings of anger want to creep in.
But I felt like the Holy Spirit was saying, “Have grace. Have grace. Slow down, let the emotions just sit inside of you. Do not respond. Respond in grace. Respond in love.” The Holy Spirit is prompting Ryan to share this and me to respond in grace and not pour on more shame and weightiness.
So in that moment, we both experienced what it means to give grace, to receive grace, to love each other truly and to be fully known and transparent in those moments that the Lord is leading us in.
Ryan: Everybody wants, so badly, to be fully known and fully loved. Our greatest fear as humans is to be fully exposed and fully known and then rejected in that. That fear of being exposed and rejected is not invalid; it’s a legitimate fear.
Everybody wants, so badly, to be fully known and fully loved. Our greatest fear as humans is to be fully exposed and fully known and then rejected in that.
The problem is that it’s not rooted in the gospel; it’s rooted in something other than scripture. It’s rooted in something other than God’s truths about marriage, about the nature of love.
Our heart is to encourage you to listen to those promptings from the Holy Spirit, to identify those dark hidden places, and then step forward confidently.
As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commission from qualifying purchases on Amazon.ca. Learn more.