Of Shortcomings and Long Letters
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“Of Shortcomings and Long Letters,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, 15

Of Shortcomings and Long Letters

One evening I was frustrated with my husband and wanted to let him know how I felt. Not wanting to start an argument, I began writing down my feelings in a letter to him in the hope that he would understand and value what I had to say and begin working on his shortcomings.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. Putting my thoughts on paper made me feel better, so I closed my epistle with, “You really have many fine attributes that I value, but I kept this letter focused on what concerns me tonight.” At that moment, the thought came to me, Why don’t you write him a letter listing only his good qualities that you love so much?

I found myself thinking, That’s a good idea. So I temporarily set aside the first letter and began writing again. It was a very interesting experience for me. After I wrote many pages, my appreciation for him grew, and I was filled with love. So I threw away my first letter and gave him only the second, positive one.

What a blessing that letter has been for us both. My husband appreciated having his good points recognized, and his interest was kindled in doing even more things better. And I have been motivated to be less critical of him and more mindful of correcting my own shortcomings. I am forever grateful for the inspiration that taught me how to seek a loving alternative rather than to vent my frustration in a nonconstructive way.

Photography by Maren Mecham