Well son, soon you’ll be married. Just seeing those words on the page fills me with a mix of emotions that surpasses my ability to sort them all out. Where do I begin to express everything I want to say? All I want you to know about life, about marriage? About loving someone for the rest of your life? So, what do I say to my son on his wedding day?
Of course, I realize that my best opportunity to convey all these things has already passed. I had my chance to teach you by example. All those years as you grew up, there were days, weeks, and months where I could demonstrate in real life how to be a good spouse; a good parent. And I did. I did my best. Not every day was a success, obviously. Okay, some days were total disasters.
But here we are now. And I just feel like there are some things that still need to be said from a parent to a child; well, from me to you, specifically. So, here goes. (Forgive me if you’ve heard some of these things before. Surely by now you’re used to me repeating myself.)
Think More of Her, and Less of Yourself
When confrontations occur, and they will, big egos can spell disaster for a marriage. This is something I’ve learned from personal experience. If you let your ego take over, it will eat away at your marriage from the inside out. Big egos make the owner of the ego push their side of an issue during an argument when, in fact, they should just let go. A big ego can make one ignore the signs that really hurt their partner. Big egos make people do really stupid things like deny that they made a mistake, or deny them the ability to say they’re sorry. This isn’t to say you need to think less of yourself. Not at all. But humility is a fine attribute that will give you the opportunity to build a stronger marriage.
Little Things Really Matter
Small, loving gestures are meaningful to your partner. And, so are small, irritating habits. It’s important not to overlook the little things in a marriage. Things like not drinking out of the milk jug if it really bugs your wife. Things like bringing home a bouquet of flowers “just because.” Things like putting the car keys in the same place every night, and turning the lights off in the room when you leave. The small, loving gestures are a gentle reminder to your wife that you truly love her. But the small, irritating habits can also make her think you really don’t care. The truth is, they both have meaning, and they both matter.
The Laundry Can Wait
As your marriage grows, try not to get bogged down in the day-to-day routine of life. It’s easy to get caught up in domestic chores and daily tasks that rob you both of the joys of marriage. Yes, the garbage has to be taken out, the laundry has to be done and dishes have to be washed. But, if you’re not careful, these chores can take over your whole lives. This is especially hard when you own a home. Now you have this big “thing” you have to take care of. Leaves to rake, garden hoses to untangle, a new furnace install. Let me tell you something. As much as you might enjoy being a homeowner, over the years these things get boring with a capital B. And, if you’re not careful, you can project that boredom onto your spouse. You grow to mistakenly think she’s the one who’s boring. In reality, she’s probably just as bored as you are.
I don’t know what the answer is to this one. The answer won’t be the same for everyone. Maybe you won’t want to even own a house. Lots of people these days prefer to live in a condo just so they can avoid yard work. Or maybe you’ll be able to afford to pay someone else to take care of some things. Who knows what life will bring you? All I know is, you shouldn’t let domestic chores rob you of the real joys in life. The laundry can wait.
What Do I Say To My Son – Be Consistent
Please do your best to keep your promises. If you tell your wife you’ll pick her up at 2:15, be there at 2:10. Being true to your word is so important in a marriage. It builds trust. It instills a sense of security in the marriage. Imagine if you have a marriage when if you don’t show up, your wife knows without a doubt that something is wrong. People might say to her, “Oh, he probably forgot. You know how men are.” But your wife will say, “Not my husband. If he says he’ll do something he does it. Something must have happened.” Be that guy. Be true to your word. Be dependable. Show up. Be on time. And, show her you care, about her.
Realize Your Own Vulnerabilities
Lots of people will disagree with what I’m about to say. I don’t care. (This is something else you’ll learn when you get older. You care less and less what others think.) You have to realize your own vulnerabilities. Be honest with yourself. You’re a man. Other women will be attracted to you, married or not. You’ll still be attracted to women, even after you get married. (Surprise! You’re human and you’re not yet dead.)
Don’t put yourself in situations where your natural vulnerabilities may cause you to do something stupid. So, here’s what I suggest. Don’t have women friends outside your marriage. It just doesn’t work. Maybe it does work in a small number of cases. But is it worth the risk? Is it worth hurting your spouse when it makes her uncomfortable that you have a standing tennis date with your woman “friend”? Trust me when I say you’re just putting yourself in a tempting situation when you engage in a friendship with a woman outside of your marriage. Maybe it doesn’t seem fair, or maybe you’ll say that your spouse shouldn’t be so jealous. Nevertheless, it’s not good for your marriage.
Say Something. Anything.
You don’t need to be a chatterbox to be a good husband. But engaging in conversation and small talk, anything, just a little something helps tremendously, even when you just don’t feel like talking. In fact, if you cannot engage, then just say, “I don’t feel like talking right now.” That works. But the worst thing you can do, especially in an argument, is to clam up. THAT is infuriating. Try to say something that will give you a little time to think, at least for now. Anything will work. “Can we please talk about this later? I need some quiet time to think.” Or, “I’m busy right now but this is important to me. Can we talk over dinner?” And really, talking later is often better. It allows both of you to calm down, take a break. It prevents you both from saying something you’ll regret later. But, say something; just don’t say nothing.
Stop. You know what I mean. Just a little pat on the shoulder as you’re walking by. A touch to her hair. Holding hands on the couch. These tiny little gestures of physical affection are very meaningful and important to your wife. They’re like an unspoken, “I love you.”
Ask for Help
This might be the piece of advice that will be hardest for you to swallow. Things won’t always be rosy. There will be times when you need help. Don’t be shy about asking for it. You don’t have to be the big, strong, tough guy. You have lots of supportive people who love you and want to help. When things get overwhelming, ask for help. If you hit a rocky patch in your marriage, ask about counseling. Ask your wife to help you understand the problems. When you ask for help, miracles can happen. People are there for you. I’m there for you, too.
What Do I Say To My Son
Honest, it is difficult to know what I should say to my son on his wedding day. Today you will live through a life altering event and there are no right or wrong words for me to say. What do I say to my son? In guess, the last pearl of wisdom I want to bestow on you son is – be humble. Be yourself but be gentle. Like most men, you’re a strong man with strong opinions and strong attitudes. And, in gentleness there is strength. In dealing with your wife, gentleness will reap its own rewards in love and understanding. And you will be the recipient of those rewards if you just treat your wife with love and respect.
God Bless you and may you shower your wife with the love that’s deep in your heart on this momentous day.