Nearly two years ago, I published an open letter to newlyweds. Since Miss O’Hara, an outspoken proponent of marriage even when she was single, recently tied the knot, I thought I would reprint that letter as a reminder for everyone who may be taking the plunge this Spring season. I find, though, that I’ve learned quite a bit since then, so I’m reprinting the letter and adding a few nuggets that some may find useful.
Dear newly married person,
Iâ€™d give you some sage words of advice, but I know from experience that unsolicited advice has no effect. Iâ€™ll just try to offer some encouragement instead. Marriage is a gift of God, and as is the case with all Godly gifts, this world we live in is overtly hostile to the idea, institution, and practice. Sometimes your new life will bring you nothing short of absolute bliss. Sometimes your heart will swell with such joy that you fear it may burst. Sometimes your heart will ache with the pain you cause and with the pain caused to you. Sometimes you will find sweet fellowship with others who cherish marriage, though sometimes you may feel that youâ€™re the only one(s) trying to honor your commitments. Just know that youâ€™re not alone, that others love marriage as much as you do and that marriage can be better than you ever imagined when you were single. Youâ€™ll cry tears of disappointment, anger, fear, happiness, affection, and gratefulness, just as we all do. Remember that in spite of numerous declarations youâ€™ll hear to the contrary, marriage can be enriching, empowering, and full of love.
Hereâ€™s a bit of unsolicited advice after all. Never take your marriage or your spouse for granted. Revel in the bliss, grow through the heartache, laugh through everything, and always keep your focus on God.
Here are a few things I’ve learned:
- Before I got married, people told me that the first year is the hardest. That was not the case in our marriage—our first year was a fairy tale. Our second year was an idealized version of real life. Our third year brought a few difficulties that made our life pretty complex. What I’ve learned since is that problems don’t hurt your relationship as much as they reveal it.
- I used to interpret the Biblical admonition “let not the sun go down upon your wrath” to mean “never go to bed until all arguments have been resolved.” I don’t think that anymore. Some things can’t be worked out in a few hours. When you’ve argued/discussed to the point of exhaustion, it’s better just to release any anger and go to sleep. Morning will provide a fresh perspective and a better environment for working out differences.
- A husband needs both love and respect from his wife in order to be a good husband, but mainly he needs respect.
- A wife needs both love and respect from her husband in order to be a good wife, but mainly she needs love.
- Trust may be the most important part of a marriage. Without it, everything falls apart.
- A sense of humor may be the most important part of a marriage. Without it, everything falls apart.
- A shared faith may be the most important part of a marriage. Without it, everything falls apart.
- Chance may bring two people together, but their own choices determine whether they stay together. Society does not determine whether a couple can honor a lifelong commitment. Statistics paint a bleak picture for the institution of marriage, but in matters of human will, statistics are irrelevant.
Mrs. Happy and I will celebrate our eighth anniversary next Tuesday. We’re still learning, and loving the process.