To a Young Bride

Big events make me “wax nostalgic” as they say.  And the 25th Anniversary of my wedding day is no exception!  I spent a few moments today looking at my wedding photos.  I was only 20 and hubby was just 4 days past his 21st birthday – we look like kids!  And we had NO CLUE what we were signing on for when we said “I do”.   If there are any “regrets” from the past 25 years they all revolve around lessons I wish I had learned sooner, things I wish I gotten better at more quickly.  And I can’t help but think about what I wish I knew back then.  So I started thinking – if I could write a letter to who I was back then based on what I know now, what would I say?  What things do I wish I had learned faster? So here goes . . .

To a bride on her wedding day –

After a 23 month engagement, I KNOW you are excited that this day is finally here! In your dress handmade by your grandpa’s cousin with an overdress lovingly hand crocheted by your grandmother, the flowers and veil made by family friends as well as the satin muffs your bridesmaids carry. . . . this day you are SURROUNDED by the love of your biological family, your “church family” from back home and the “church family” you have become a part of while at college.  You are one blessed chica, do you know that?!

Today begins the biggest adventure of your life!  In just over seven years from this moment, you will have lived at three different addresses – two of them married campus housing – and you will have four children!  Over the course of your first quarter century of marriage you will live in three different states, hubby will go full-time with UPS then leave without another job in place and eventually head back into ministry (that’s a story for another time!).  His ministry-related jobs will move you all to Pennsylvania and then to Iowa but you will ALWAYS feel like Michigan is “home”.

A few tips to make things a little easier on your adventure –

1.  Your hubby is a good man with a loving heart.  He LOVES to be your hero!  He will, later in your relationship, find a love of wood-working that will fill your home with handmade pieces that he painstakingly designs and makes – or re-makes if he isn’t happy with his first design! Don’t begrudge him the time he spends on Youtube watching “how to” videos.  He is doing ALL of it for you.  You are the first person to whom he wants to show off his new creations and he will even agree to paint his pieces at your request even though he would rather stain them.  But be careful – your “I wish I had . . . “is a powerful statement that will send him into his shop quicker than anything.  In that area, your wish truly is his command!  Make sure you use your power for good!

2.  He loves you more than anyone in the world but he is human.  Just like you are. He will occasionally be thoughtless – just like you – and sometimes that thoughtlessness will hurt.  Alot. Before you judge him too harshly, remember that you have been thoughtless and hurt him. Maybe even alot. Never expect him to read your mind. He prefers direct, blunt communication – state a direct request and then zip it! Let him meet your need in his way. It might even be better than your way!

3. He is not a girl so expecting him to behave like your best girlfriend is just crazy. You are a stereotypical girl with all the sub texted conversation that goes with the territory – your girlfriends know how to pick up that unvoiced subtext but I promise, your man does not! Don’t set him up to fail. It isn’t fair to either of you.

4. He is not the enemy. You are stubborn and will stand your ground on really stupid things from time to time. If you can learn to knock that off and stop fighting battles that should never happen you will be much more at peace.

5. Be VERY aware of what is in your eyes when you approach him. He won’t tell you until you are a couple decades in to your relationship but when you approach him to start a conversation, he looks at your eyes to know whether or not his guard should be up. When your look is “seasoned with grace” (his words) you avoid conflict and he feels respected.

5. That respect thing? It’s a VERY BIG DEAL to your love. He cannot feel loved if he doesn’t feel that you respect him. Like many women who are mothers AND wives, you will get busy and find yourself talking to him like he’s one of the kids. Don’t do that!!! He is an intelligent, capable, clever man and he desperately needs to know that he has your respect. Your opinion matters more to him than what anyone else thinks. Make it your job to laugh with him and protect his dignity. No one can touch his heart like you.

Relationships are hard and you haven’t always had the best examples to learn from. Neither has he. But that doesn’t give either one of you an excuse. God has given you the lifelong job of loving and respecting that man. You aren’t called to find flaws and fix them. Love him. Respect him. Choose to see in him all the amazing traits that drew you to love him in the first place. He truly is the greatest gift you have EVER been given. See him as that – and nothing else – and you will know more joy than you thought possible!

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