To Brady on his wedding day~
There's something very special about witnessing the kids you watched grow up, marry.
Today, our very dear friends, are celebrating the first wedding of their three boys. Their middle son, Braden, will marry his long time girlfriend, Hannah. And they couldn't be more excited.
They're darling. Exactly what you hope a young couple will be. Starry eyed, innocent, optimistic. They both live at home with their parents, and after today, will move into their first place together. They will, as the saying goes, "Begin a life together."
And this is what has become so rare, and in my opinion, is still so special. To begin together.
We did it, our parents did it, and our own girls did it. We began life the day we married. None of us owned homes, or even condos. We didn't have our careers all settled; Braden is still a student, Hannah a dental hygienist. Our furniture was bought, during our engagement, during weekly, very exciting trips to Ikea, because that was what we could afford. And any pieces that hadn't originated in Sweden were hand-me-downs from our parents. Every stitch of cook wear, every dish, cookie sheet, knives, forks, everything - had been given to us at bridal showers along the way. And the day we arrived home from our honeymoon, we went straight to my parents' house to open our wedding gifts so we would have sheets to sleep on that night, hoping someone had filled that registry request.
I often talk to 23 years olds, who are madly in love, who tell me that they're waiting to, "get things settled" before they marry. I'm here to tell you, and trust me on this one - life is NEVER settled! I've been married 27 years, and life still isn't settled. Materially, financially - you will always need or lack something! Situations change; homes get bigger, babies arrive, yards need mowers, kids need hockey gear - you will NEVER get to the point where you can say, "Great! Got everything we need, let's sit back and just be in love for the next 50 years."
If you're in love, don't wait until it's stale. Don't take the magic out of it, waiting years and year to finally settle down. Here are the things to worry over, to get settled before you say I do:
Do you have a shared, common belief system - are you from the same faith back ground? This is a big one! This can cause a lot of problems down the line. Not only between the two of you, but between your families and how future children are raised. How will this look in your everyday life? Will you attend church, temple, mosque together? Will you take your children? Talk about this now. Seriously, I know you're madly in love and it will just "work out," but it won't. You need to articulate your expectations around this topic. In my opinion, this is a deal breaker.
Do your families and closest friends, approve of him/her. If you're parents don't like your beloved, there's probably a good reason for that. Actually listen and consider what they have to say.
Have you discussed what you want your future to look like? Do you want children? When? Will you work after they're born? If no, are you willing to make financial sacrifices to make that happen? Will you stay in the town you're living in now? Move? Talk about this stuff, don't assume you're on the same page. Just because that's how your parents did it, that doesn't mean that's how everyone expects things to go.
How do you expect to spend your leisure time? Do you spend your down time together now? Or do you head out with the girls and he meets up with the boys? Once you have kids, whose going to be the one staying home Saturday afternoon, while the other heads out to "relax"?
This is just my opinion, and the opposite might work just fine for you, but I find couples are happiest when they enjoy spending their leisure time together. I've known lots of women who become very resentful of husbands who are taking off to "spend time with the boys," every chance they get. Golfing, playing in ball leagues, having a beer with the boys, while she's the one left running kids to lessons and games, alone.
Do you have common activities you do together that you can continue to do once you're a family? One night a close friend of ours nailed the key to my husband's and my relationship on the head, so incredibly accurately, that I was shocked. My husband is an introvert, I'm an extrovert, so we've always thought of ourselves as the proverbial "opposites attract". That was until our friend said, "Ya, you're opposites with common interests. You both love spending time with your family, you both love to watch movies in bed, and you both love to get dressed up and go for dinner." Boom! That was it! Those three simple things completely summed up how we'd been spending our leisure time for the past 30 years! And it works. Introvert or extrovert, it doesn't matter, these are the things we love to do, and we've always done them together
Be sure you enjoy doing things together, before you commit to being together for the rest of your life. If you don't you'll end up feeling like you're both just separately contributing to the business of a family.
And finally, do you know how to resolve conflict with each other? Do you know how to work through a disagreement in a healthy, respectful way? This one is tricky. With us being opposites, we come at disagreements completely differently. We've had to learn over the years to simply give the other time to cool off, and then in plain, simple language, with dredging up past history, explain why we were upset. Sometimes owning that it was just because of a bad day or hormones. Not every disagreement is a commentary on the state of your marital relationship, sometimes there's just too much traffic on the way home, and it's fine to just leave it at that.
This is where pre-martial counselling with a pastor, priest or counsellor can be so helpful. They can equip you with tools you'll need in the future. Teach you non explosive, non exacerbatory language for arguing. "When you do that, it makes me feel…" "I felt angry when you…" "I was hurt when you didn't…" Not - "You always…" "You never…" "You think…" They can also teach you not to bottle things up. To learn how to communicate, and that it's okay to express anger or disappointment. We've found one of the most important parts of avoiding conflict is simply letting the other person know our expectations, to avoid, "But I thought were going to…" "But you never said that!" "Isn't it obvious?! We always…"
Learning how to argue fairly, and also learning when to simply leave the other person alone, is a big part of a harmonious marriage. This comes about over time, as you learn each other, but starting out well equipped is always a good idea. If this is not part of your pre-marital counselling, ask that it be added, you'll be glad you did.
That's it! Well, it's not, there are thousands of little things, but these are some of the big ones, the things you need to settle before you say I do. Not two cars, a starter home not more than 30 minutes from the core and two weeks in Hawaii every Spring. Building a life together might be an old fashion notion, but I can tell you from experience it's lovely. A LOT of hard work!!! Don't get me wrong! But the year we went on our first fly-away vacation, (5 years after we got married), bought our second car, (when I was expecting our second child), and bought our first, incredibly crappy, run down, out in the boonies, but oh so exciting first house, (the Summer after our second daughter was born), were some of the most exciting times in our marriage. And those financially poor, early years, were some of our sweetest. Yes, there were tears, but they were over a young couple learning what the other needed and how to give that to each other, and what the other wasn't capable of giving, the things that friends and family were better at providing. These were the biggest challenges we faced, and they wouldn't have been any different inside a beautiful, mortgage free home with two Audi's in the garage
If you're in love, make sure you're ready, ask for your parents' blessing and advice, and then jump in! Financially things will come together over time, that's honestly the least of your concerns. Marry well, marry seriously and soberly, marry with the intension of marrying for life, and you'll be just fine.