Justin Ricklefs


Try Again. A Little Less Needy This Time.

A couple weeks ago, we had some clients and business friends to our office for a happy hour. The evening we got together happened to be a special day for one of our clients.

It was her 31st wedding anniversary.

We got her a bottle of good wine and a handwritten note. It was a small crowd, but we presented her with this small gift.

Then I asked her, “what’s the secret…you know…to staying married for 31 years?”

Through a big laugh, she said, “Lots of forgiveness.”

Brooke and I are over halfway to 31 years, and lots of forgiveness seems about right. I’m not sure it would be possible without it.

The crazy thing is the further down the road we walk, the more it seems like forgiveness is necessary.

We found ourselves on the couch again last week, you know the one. The counselor’s couch.

Forgiveness doesn’t come as naturally to me as defensiveness does. Or anger. Or pretend it’s going to be fine. Or fix it mode.

Those things seem to be near the surface, easily accessible.

So when a paid professional was helping me get out of my head, below the surface and into the connectedness of the heart, it was hard work.

We got to a spot in the session when he was asking me to connect to the deep, articulate desire and hold space for pain and unknown.

Basically the exact opposite of what I’m good at and comes naturally to me.

But I tried it. I stumbled into it. And I mostly butchered it.

Full of grace, he smiled, and said, “Let’s try again. A little less needy this time.”

“But I’m so damn needy,” I smiled back.


I had to laugh. Brooke did too.

So I tried again. A little less needy the next time.

The needs aren’t bad, it’s just unfair to dump those needs on someone else in hopes they’ll make it all better.

And if I’m only OK when someone else can meet my neediness, well…I need more time on the couch.

Brooke received my second attempt in love. And graciously forgave my needy first swing.

And if we have a shot at making it to 31 years, maybe that’s the secret sauce.

Lots of forgiveness.

Go ahead, try again. A little less needy this time.

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