I have several friends who have just gotten hitched, and some that are busy planning their upcoming weddings. Weddings are a tough thing for me. The year after Kevin passed, 2009, I attended 8 weddings. I basically went to everyone to which I was invited, not being able to say no or use my widow card, however badly I wanted. They were a mix of painful and happy reminders of new love. The thing that always killed me, were the traditional vows of “death do us part”. I bawled everytime those words were spoken, praying that their parting would be much later than mine was with Kev.
While weddings are no longer nearly as painful as they once were, they still feel obligatory to myself, and not exactly a fun event for me to attend. I attend out of respect for my friends and family, and to show my support that they have a great future together.
Last night, as a friend shared concerns of her wedding planning on Twitter, I thought back to all the things I wish I had known when I was first married. Then I flashed to all the lessons I learned after Kevin died and how, through death, I learned much more about love and marriage than I ever expected.
Every relationship is different, unique to its core, and all advice does not work for every couple. That’s the beauty of marriage and relationships – they are all different! I do, however, believe that in marriage there are many similarities and values that couples do and should embrace. There are so many lessons that we discover in marriage that, until this joining of two people, we never would have understood. That is why, in many cases, our single friends fail to understand our married friends.
One of the best things I can tell a newly married couple is that you are your own family. Yes, two people can make a family! While you bring with you your parents, siblings, and a handful of other mostly well-meaning souls, you and your husband/wife are the core of your family. The decisions you make are the ones where you take the brunt, the load, carry the burden. Every choice you make as an individual, affects you as the new family.
The one you love is not the one you criticize. For whatever reason, when we first start dating, we are careful about every word we say, in order to not push away or offend the person we want to impress. We monitor our sarcasm, compliment their beauty, appreciate their dreams. This should not diminish, but should increase! The one you have chosen to marry, is the one whom you have chosen to “dismiss” their faults. In marriage, you have chosen to see their good over their bad, to help them along when they struggle, not to push them into the mud when they falter. Help them up, carry their load, ease their burdens. To love is to accept, and our words, actions, and heart all go into how we treat our spouse.
It ain’t easy. It is going to be tough. There will be times where you question whether you married the “right” person. I believe people are put in a place for the right reason. You can question, and questioning is good, but when you choose to commit to someone for life, you should have already done the guesswork of deciding if they would be a fit for you! When times get tough, don’t walk away, walk out, or shut down. Communicate. If you don’t know how, learn, talk it out until you’re blue in the face, seek counseling. Look for the red flags, but don’t seek them out so much that you destroy trust.
You are one together, but one alone. You must let your partner do “their thing” even if you don’t like it. No, this doesn’t mean letting them self destruct, but each of us have hobbies and quirks that are probably part of the reason you fell in love with them in the first place! Maybe now they annoy you, but you need to figure out a way to deal, otherwise, resentment will enter the marriage. Make a way for you to be one another, while still maintaining the family.
Stick through it. Something big is going to happen that’s going to alter everything! A death, baby, friend’s divorce, career change, loss of job. There are so many scenarios that hit families, and you are bound to experience, one, two, or all of these. While there is no way to prepare, one of the biggest questions you can ask yourself before marrying someone, is if you’re willing to stick through all these things with the one you plan to marry. Be tough enough to stick it out, because tough times are going to come, and when they do, everything changes quickly.
There are so many tidbits of advice, but this is mine to you my friends. Cheers to your new marriages, your engagements and planning. It’s your life to live ahead, no one elses. Embrace your new family!