When my kids were really small, I had journals in which I would write letters to them regularly. I recorded funny things they were saying and doing, and how I felt getting to be their mom. As they grew, and my free time lessened, I haven’t kept it up as I wish I had.
I’ve recently had a spate of friends who are ill and facing saying goodbye to young children too soon, as well as friends who’ve lost parents in an untimely fashion. It got me thinking about what I’d want my kiddos to know – and this was one of the first things I’d want to tell my kids down the road if I’m not here to say it in person.
Dear Sweet Pea & Future Beau-
So you guys have been dating a while – and you each think you’ve found ‘the one’ eh? He certainly seems to be considerate and kind (yes – I’m making assumptions here – if he doesn’t seem to be considerate and kind at least to my face I hope we’re not having this conversation.) And I’m fairly disposed to give you my blessing.
I’d just like to give you just a few things to chew on, while we squee and happy dance and get ready to break my bank account for as much of your dream wedding as I can give you. Check in on these things regularly – they matter – a lot.
- Make sure you’ve seen one another at your worst.
Have you seen him lose his temper? Or be really depressed? Over the course of years, hopefully you have more good times than bad. But the hard times will come, rest assured, and you’d rather find out sooner than later how you each handle those situations.
- Be open – about everything.
You have to be able to talk about everything. Maybe you choose not to sometimes, but don’t marry someone that you feel you have ‘restricted’ topics with. That’s bad news. The more honest you can be with each other about all things, small and big, the better off you’ll be.
Take the time to make sure the other person knows that you’re hearing them when they’re talking to you. Think about what they’re’s saying, and try to understand, whether it’s his golf game, her horrific haircut, work or family concerns, they’re communicating to you because it matters to them. Take it in.
- Don’t poor mouth one another.
No matter how mad you are at him, try to only take it up with him. If it’s a safety concern – different ball of wax – call me and I’ll come kick him in the pants, hard. But if you’re arguing over money or intimacy or any of these other things, for heaven’s sake, don’t go run your mouth to all of your friends about him. If we’re really lucky in this life, we get one or two friends we can vent to who won’t judge on the back end, who support us no matter what. But if you’re not 1000% certain you’re speaking with that person, shut your piehole – bringing others into your marital problems is a recipe for disaster.
- Choose one another every day.
This one is the hardest of all. It takes so much work. Choose one another every day. And I mean every day. Choose one another when you’d rather scream at than kiss them. Take their needs into consideration with every single choice. If you’ll each look out for one another first, you’ll never need to look after your own needs. The very best marriages I’ve seen start and continue in this manner. When you feel like you hate them, stop, breathe, DON’T open your mouth, and force yourself to remember 5 reasons why you love them. Then speak.
I love you, sweet pea, with all of my soul, and can’t wait to see what this amazing life has in store for you!