In a few hours the months of planning will come to fruition. You’ll be married. But this is only the beginning, beloved. Yes, yes. I’m aware that you realize this and you “know” what you’re getting into. On some level, you’re correct- everyone who has been in any sort of relationship knows how difficult they can be.
But this relationship, the one that will be solidified tomorrow as you commit yourselves to one another, is unlike any relationship you have had. So while you may cognitively “know” what marriage will be like, you don’t really know yet. Nothing will bring you more joy, cause more frustration and make you more vulnerable than this.
As a woman who now really “knows,” let me give you a few pieces of advice on the eve of your wedding.
Marriage is never 50-50… Divorce is. So if you’re looking for a relationship in which everything is balanced and “fair,” find yourself a lawyer. The reality is there will be times when it’s mostly you and other times when it’s mostly him.
More often than not, it will feel like it’s mostly you because you are the primary caretaker of the kids and the home, in addition to bringing home a piece of the bread on the table.
But remember this: Never underestimate the part he plays. What you don’t see is that while you are at the park or Girls Night Out sharing your struggles to maintain your identity and find 5 minutes to shower alone; he’s performing his own juggling act as a man, provider, husband and father. He simply has fewer opportunities to talk about it. There aren’t a lot of book clubs for men. But his burdens are just as heavy, even when it seems as though you’re carrying the majority of the load.
Love, honor, respect and serve him. The world will judge you for this. They’ll try to tell you those words are synonymous with things like “weak, disrespectful, less than.” But let me tell you something: you’re marrying this man because you love him and he loves you just as much, and possibly more. Why wouldn’t you honor, respect and serve him? Those are ways you show love. Don’t let anyone else’s feelings on the matter tell you otherwise.
Let him take care of you. Again, the world will turn its nose up at this because you don’t need someone to take care of you when you’re perfectly capable of taking care of yourself. But what you don’t know is that every time you tell him you can “handle it” you’re training him to stop asking. Not because you’ve wounded his ego, but because he’s reminded over and over what a powerful, capable and strong woman he married so there’s really no reason to ask.
But you fail to realize is that his taking care of you isn’t a sign of your weakness, it’s a measure of his love. And in a few years you’ll be handling everyone’s “it.” The kids, the home, yourself, him, a job. You will juggle more “its” than you ever dreamed of and you will need someone to take care of you and your “it” once in a while. But you won’t know how to ask because you’ve always “handled it.” And he won’t know to offer for the same reason. So get in the habit of taking care of one another. On the days you don’t have the strength to hand “it” all, you’ll be especially glad you did. o
Not every problem has a solution. More importantly, not every problem needs to be given a voice. I know this goes against 24 years of “use your words” but there will be times you feel something and it’s nothing more than that- a feeling. Let it rest a bit. Don’t be so quick to “lay it on the table.” Don’t worry, you’ll know when it’s more than a feeling and really an issue. Brace yourself, though, there might not always be an answer to the problem. He’ll be just as right as you are. You’ll be just as certain as he is. You’ll reach an impasse. Sometimes letting it go will be the only solution. Other times one of you will have to relent and defer to the other. That doesn’t make you weak- it makes you humble.
Have sex. Regularly and often. It won’t always be passionate and mind blowing- free yourselves of that pressure. In fact, some if it will be quite practical and quick. It’s late, you’re tired, he’s got to get up early. There will be a hundred reasons why neither of you feel like it. Do it anyway. Those are usually the best nights (and mornings) filled with giggles and awkward moments as you rush around before the kids wake up or it gets too late. Sex is an excellent barometer of your marriage. If you’re not having it and you’re not talking about it, something’s going on. Admit it, talk about it, work through it.
Lastly, he’ll never hang up his wet towels, or put the soda cans in the recycling bin or keep his dresser clean. But he will always dance with you in the kitchen, make you laugh even when you’re on the verge of losing your mind, hold you when you’re pretty sure you’ve already lost it. His voice will remain loud but his laughter will be louder and it will fill your home and your kids. And he will always make you feel like the best decision he’s ever made.
You’ll be ok, lovely. Even when you’re juggling a thousand “it’s” and it’s 70-30 and you’re soul-weary and bone-tired, it’s all going to be ok. Because you married a man who loves, honors, respects, serves and frustrates you just as much if not more than you think he will on this night, the eve of your wedding.