My baby brother is getting married in a little over a week. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was looking forward to my own wedding. I was much older than he is now and I thought I knew so much. I thought I knew what to expect and what life would be like. I had no idea. I do realize that no one can ever prepare you for something like marriage and real life, but I want to try.
To Eric and Kelley (and anyone else who needs it),
Making the decision to love someone isn’t always easy. But that’s what it takes. Loving them no matter what. Even if they leave empty Mt. Dew cans in the living room. Even if they say they will fold the laundry and it’s still sitting, two days later. Even if their snoring keeps you awake at night. Even if they say something that isn’t nice. Even if they don’t act like they love you. Even if you don’t want to. It’s hard and sometimes it’s messy. But, to make a marriage last, it’s necessary.
Working on your marriage should start before you need to work on your marriage. If you wait until there is a problem, things get much harder. Make date nights a priority. Make learning new things about each other a priority. Have those late night conversations like you did when you were dating. Continue to try to do little things that make each other happy. Let her pick the date activity. Go watch that superhero movie he’s looking forward to. Surprise each other with little tokens of your love. Don’t find yourselves, years down the road, realizing you know nothing about the other person and no one cares enough to make an effort anymore. Don’t even let it start.
Love is an action word. Gary Chapman writes a fantastic series called “The 5 Love Languages”. It’s a great resource on making sure that you are showing your spouse love in a way they can receive. Don’t just do things ‘your way’. Make sure you are doing things that are specifically acted out for the sole purpose of making the other person feel loved. The things they enjoy. The things they need. Sacrifice is an imperative part of making a marriage work. Just because you don’t particularly like holding hands doesn’t mean he doesn’t need it. You may find it silly to know that she needs to hear that she’s beautiful and the extent to which you love her everyday; do it anyway.
Have fun! Enjoy this time alone! Kids are great! They add so much to life that is incomparable. But, they take a lot as well. They take a lot of attention and love. They require stability and don’t allow for much alone time. They certainly change things drastically. I love both of my children! I do frequently wish, though, that my husband and I had been able to enjoy some time together, just us, before we added that component to our family. That wasn’t life’s path for us, but it is for you. Live each stage of life to its fullest!
Pray together. Make sure that God is in the center of your marriage, your home, your life, and eventually your parenting strategies. Continue to grow in your relationship with Him separately. Continue to support each other, challenge each other, and push each other to be better. He has all of the answers and strength that you need to make this marriage everything He designed it to be.
Fight fair. No name calling. Forgive past hurts and move beyond them. Bitterness is a dangerous trap to fall into. Be vulnerable and honest. Love unconditionally. Ask for help! There is no shame in seeking help from trustworthy sources that have your marriage’s best interest in mind. Don’t betray trust or confidentiality. Make sure no one else can be a threat to your marriage. (Friends and family included.) Make sure that giving up and walking away is never an option. Don’t even mention it. And never, ever forget that love, true love, conquers all.
I love you both and I wish you all of the happiness and joy that love and life can possibly bring!