The clear, cool, crisp mountain air blows slightly as the backdrop of the Ozarks and Beaver Lake set the perfect scene for the occasion. Love is in the air. Several hundred friends and family have gathered from near and far to wish the newly weds well wishes. All are dressed to the nines; seeing, and being seen.
“To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse.”
“I do!” they both proclaim, with all their heart, soul, and conviction of a solid determination for a successful union.
Let the celebration begin! And it does, celebrating the joining of two bright young lovers who come from wonderful families. Food, drink, and music fill the air as we watch the bouquet and garter toss and dance the night away.
Couples start whispering words of wisdom and advice in their ears.
“Remember how happy you are on this day. Someday when you are fighting over something not important, always remember how happy you are today,” says one couple.
“Make momma happy,” another man says.
All wonderful advice.
I want to provide some advice of my own to this wonderful couple. Granted, my advice will have a male slant.
First, let me establish this hard-learned fact. I am no expert on marriage. I have made so many mistakes navigating this winding road. But I have figured a way over the past forty plus years to make it work. So, that gives me some street cred.
I barely remember reciting my wedding vows so many years ago, even though my wife reminds me periodically. Of course, I remember the biggies, such as “I” and “take thee,” and “I do.” I know I said those words. But all the others? Not so sure.
For certain, there are two words I know I do not remember saying.
This is a mistake most married couples make. They think about all the good things, but never expect the bad. And trust me, the bad WILL come! So, to be real, here is my best advice to the newlyweds, in no particular order.
-Marriage is challenging work. Your marriage will be as good as you want it to be, but it won’t be easy. You must work on it every day. It is worth the work. Just do it.
-Believe in God. He brought you together. He can keep you together. Go to Church. Go to Sunday School together. Hang around with these people. Learn from them. They are not perfect. But they are trying. Support them. Learn from them. Just do it.
-Put the toilet seat down. Yeah, I know, there is a wide gap between believing in God and putting the toilet seat down. And yeah, I know; it’s just as easy for the ladies to put the seat down than it is for you to raise it. Trust me on this one. Let her win this battle. Choose another battle to win. Just do it.
-You are no longer a sole proprietor. You have just entered a partnership. Never forget this! Always consult each other on major decisions. Just do it.
– Respect each other. If it would upset you, it will upset your spouse. Just do it.
-Hair and nails; they are important to her. Let her spend the money. Trust me on this. Let her do it. And compliment her on how good she looks every time she comes home from the stylist. NEVER, and I mean NEVER, complain about how much she spent.
– Put the toilet seat down. Just do it.
-Tell her you love her. Yeah, I know. You’ve lost the thump-thump you once experienced when you saw her. You are not sure you really love her. Yes, you do! Just tell her you love her, you idiot. You know you do!
-Get her a maid. Yeah, I know. You want to spend that money on a toy for yourself. Get her a maid. It will pay for itself many times over. Trust me on this. Just do it!
– Let her win. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter what you are fighting about. Swallow your pride and let her win. Trust me on this. You will win, overall. Let her win! Just do it.
– Tell her how beautiful she is. Yeah, I know. After a few kids and many years, those wrinkles accumulate. Overlook them. They don’t matter. Tell her she is beautiful. Do it over and over and over. Make her believe she is beautiful. Trust me. Just do it!
-Do not hurt the one you love the most. Just don’t do it!
-Put the toilet seat down.
-Compliment her cooking. Even if its not as good as your mom’s. Understand, I’m just offering advise here and not making a statement about MY wife’s cooking. Always find something to compliment. Just do it.
–Never, And I mean NEVER, go to bed mad. ALWAYS, solve your problems before you go to sleep. Then crawl in bed, tell her you love her, kiss her, and say goodnight. Bury that issue and never bring it up the next day.
– Pool your money. It is no longer your money and her money. It is yall’s money. Remember, this is a partnership. You decide together where and when you make major purchases.
-Fighting. Yes, you will fight. Learn to fight with respect. Try to look at her point of view objectively. Yes, sometimes she is right. No, she is not always right. Ask your self if this will be a major issue a year from now. If not, do you really care who wins? Let her win. You will win eventually
Statistics show over fifty percent of marriages fail. Some of the statistics are controversial, but still, the numbers are high. Clearly, the first years are the toughest.
Divorce is the second highest emotional event, behind the death of a spouse or child. Millions of Americans pay child support, for those poor, innocent kids, who pay for the mistakes of their parents. Don’t fall into this category.
Looking back over my marriage, I distinctly remember holding my wife’s hand, sitting in the doctor’s office, anxiously awaiting the results of a possible life threating discovery. I remember asking God to take me instead of her. That is what for worse means. The doctor says it is benign. We literally jump for joy in that doctor’s office, tears of relieve streaming down both our faces. That is for better or worse. At that point in time, I did not remember one single, stupid fight we ever had. I was simply so overjoyed she was healthy and would stay alive and my wife forever.
I remember the indescribable miracle of God when he blessed us with the birth of two beautiful boys, who would grow up and make our marriage so complete, words simply cannot describe. At that point in time, I did not remember any petty fight we ever had.
Our marriage has produced far more blessings than we ever deserved. Looking back, I really could not care about the THINGS we have accumulated over the years. What means the most to me, by far, are the experiences we have had. Experiences like doing a picnic with tuna sandwiches on the levees of the Mississippi River when we did not have enough money to go on a real date. Or the financial sacrifices we made when my wife gave up her dream job, so she could spend quality time raising our boys, the way we wanted.
Forty years from now, will you remember all the words of your vows? Well, I don’t. But I know this much. If I had it to do all over again, those two words I would say over and over and over again are…
“I DO! I DO! I DO!!!!!
Here’s to a beautiful marriage, Mike, and Katherine. It can be as beautiful as YOU want it to be!
And remember to put the toilet seat down.