I just had an encounter with the framed copy of our wedding invitation. As with most things important enough to me to hang on the wall, I don’t look at it all that often.
(When I do I’m immediately appalled at the amount of dust hiding in the corners of the frame. That, my friend, is why there are 20-some feet of dirt covering the Forum in Rome. Poor housekeeping. I see a long tradition of hatred of dusting here.)
I looked at that happy couple bearing remarkable similarity to Lizard and myself, minus the wrinkles, gray hair and extra pounds, and remembered the things I worried about in the weeks leading up to our marriage.
Knowing how the last decade has panned out, what advice would I give that innocent, excited gal regarding her concerns?
1. You Won’t Be a Good Wife. You can’t be. The people who define “good” also mostly go by the name “They” and “They” don’t live in your skin or know your story. You can be the wife you were created to be and consciously choose to honor your husband repeatedly every day. (It’s ok for that choice to be hard. Do it anyway.)
2. He Really Does Care How You Look. Not so much about your lumpy tummy or hairstyle, which me may or may not take three weeks to notice you’ve changed, but the way your eyes light up when he enters the room, the way they go cold and lifeless when you’re disappointed in him. He cares how your mouth tightens in a frown or lifts in laughter. He will turn himself inside out to make you happy… and simply give up if you spend too much time criticizing his efforts.
3. Your Life Will NOT Turn Out Like You Hope. There’s no way for you to accurately predict your combined life in the future or create a five-year, ten-year, or 20-year plan. This is OK, you hyper-planner, outcome-directed, control freak! Learn to breathe through the days and let the years take care of themselves – they will whether you plan them or not!
4. What You Bring To the Marriage Is NOT Good Enough. You’re walking into the union with all these expectations and hopes and dreams and a solid sense of what you bring to the table. It’s not good enough – and never will be. What you saw your parents do will fail you. You must learn to eagerly negotiate a new family culture with your husband for your family. That can have flavors of what you knew growing up but should – must – be distinctly your own. That’s what “leave and cleave” means. If you can’t healthily choose your husband over your family, you have no business marrying him.
5. What Should You Be Doing? Pray for him, all day long – set a timer in the phone if needed. Keep the lights on in the bedroom and get some lingerie. Always spend less than you earn and try to live off one income from the get-go. Create memories. Don’t worry about the gray hairs or flabby stomach. Write love notes and hide them in his things. Surprise him. Do things both of you love and discover new shared interests. Sincerely compliment him publicly and privately. Give yourself grace. Fight – fight fairly but get conflicts settled so they don’t poison your future. RELAX.
What would you tell your pre-marriage self?