Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Here Comes the Bride!

Our big party is here! My youngest daughter Brittany said “I do” March 1. It’s a party a year and a half in the making! So as this letter is being printed, I am likely in sunny Florida seeing my little girl and her husband (gasp) off on their adventurous honeymoon to Norway to see the Northern Lights.

Dateline February 29:  I know it will be a beautiful wedding, fantastic party and just the right send off for an adorable couple. It’s March, which brings us the luck of the Irish. I wish I could take you all with me to 1. Enjoy the weather (sorry to rub it in) and 2. So you smart, experienced spouses/parents could give my young couple the advice and good luck they will need to navigate this new phase of their lives.

 As a mom about to marry off her youngest, I’ll take a moment to share my advice to you who still have young kids under foot. First, enjoy. I know the days can drag on forever, but the years fly by. I remember my babies becoming toddlers (mostly due to home property damage), but then I swear the next thing I knew I had a house full of sullen, argumentative teenagers who ate more food than your average rhino herd.

So now that my “baby” is getting married, it’s her turn to start figuring out what her family will mean to her. She assures me there will be at least two years before we get any baby news. We’ll see – between her excitement and the “encouragement” they’re sure to get from extended family…well, good things come to those who wait. Impatiently.

Brittany and Randy’s family history has become a featured element of their wedding reception. We’ve worked hard to put together a Heritage Table to hold beautifully framed portraits of grandparents, great-grandparents and even a few great-great-grandparents. They wanted to include their heritage of long lasting marriages in their own ceremony of commitment. As I helped collect the portraits over the past year and a half, I was so impressed with the longevity of our shared families. We have several sixty and sixty-five year anniversary photos included in this group of portraits.

So in the spirit of the long marriages of our ancestors, it made me wonder what advice we could share with our kids about creating a marriage that stands the test of time. The problem for me is that I’m too “in the moment” right now with wedding jitters and the emotion of it all. As I reach for a tissue, I turn to Google.

Type in “marriage advice” – shocker: thousands of pages came up. As someone in a long (happy!) marriage, I feel quite qualified to sum up the advice. Shared below are a few of my favorites.

· Don't sweat the small stuff – leading with this little nugget since it’s also one of the top pieces of advice our readers say they would give parents of a new baby.

· Don't fight over money because there is never enough to go around anyway.

· Do not expect your husband (wife, in-laws, etc.) to change after marriage.

· Never date anyone you wouldn't marry – ooh, good thing Brittany didn’t need this advice! A bit late for us…but true nonetheless.

· Marriage is forever. You have to stick it out no matter how miserable you are. Insert smile emoticon – yes, forever, but it’s up to you to wring the miserable out of it!

· Never go to bed angry, even if you are not happy with the conditions.

· When having issues with your spouse, never ever talk about him/her with your friends or parents. Whenever possible, solve problems WITH the marriage withIN the marriage.

· Marriage should not be so much about looking at each other but looking in the same direction together.

· Fight fair. Really – you know what this means.

· Have a shared hobby.

· Be your spouse’s best friend, number one confidant, and romantic lover.

· Put your spouse first. If all goes to plan, you’ll be married long after the kids leave home.

· Show your children marriage is a positive commitment and make it your highest priority.

· Have a date night every week – before, during, and after kids. Doug and I have “dated” throughout our entire marriage, and I highly recommend it.

So now that I have my bearings amidst all that great advice, the one tip I didn’t find online but personally swear by is that marriage is not always 50/50. Some days you might have to give 90% and other days you may only be able to muster 25%. If you care about someone, you won’t keep score. Grown-ups know that it all balances out over time.

So Cheers to Brittany and Randy, let’s all raise our box drinks in honor of the new family. And in anticipation of a wedding party to end all parties, my last piece of advice (that hangs on my refrigerator which makes it official):  

Life is short, dance often.

‘Til April and our Birthday issue – Happy Parenting!