It’s a rare thing in life to be blessed with a true, life giving friendship. I’ve been extremely blessed by several and one of those is with you. I guess that’s why I have a twinge in my heart this week as I’m miles away on the week that you’re about to say, “I do” to the love of your life.
I wish I could be there to see you walk down the isle in a room decorated with burlap and lace. I wish I could help you set up tables, iron dresses, and arrange flowers, but, since it’s not always possible to be where you want to be, please know that my thoughts are with you both as you begin this journey together.
You were one of the first people I met when I moved onto the 10th floor of Houghton Hall. One of my first memories with you is getting kicked out of Lincoln Park for rollerblading on the premises. I should have known right then that being friends with you would be adventurous. There was that time you convinced me to chop my hair off, Redbox movie nights, senior retreat, basketball games, two road trips to Georgia, getting our ears pierced on a whim, combined birthdays (my favorite being our trip to San Francisco). I’ll always remember the random Cubs game we went to, Junior/Senoir banquets, graduation, Chicago reunions, the time you stopped to see me on your way to Texas, phone calls, breakfast together on the morning of my big day, and having you standing there with me just eight months ago when I said, “I do.”
Now it’s your turn pretty lady, and (in regard to our college floor The Ten North Nuns) you’ve become the latest deserter of the abbey. I cherish all the memories, but what I probably appreciate the most are all the “little” things like the time I had intended to make brownies for the newspaper staff but in the midst of a crazy week ran out of time. I hurried back from my internship with just enough time to make it to the all night newspaper paste up to find that you had made the brownie for me. Now that’s a true friend. I won’t forget all those early mornings when we were roommates and you had to be at work super early, but you’d get ready so quietly that I barely even noticed. I won’t forget that time I had meant to apply for what I thought would be a dream job, but in the midst of the busyness of everything didn’t apply before the job was given to someone else. You told me to have a good cry and then move on. I needed to hear that.
Thanks for steaming the wrinkles out of my wedding dress and making sure I got some sleep the night before. I needed that too. I wish I could be there to do the same thing for you, but since I’m not able to be there, here are some pearls of wisdom about marriage that I’ve actually found to be useful not just nice sayings to put on the wall. As I was entering an intercultural marriage, I made a point to collect advice from intercultural couples, but I find their answers to be universally helpful so here goes:
Don’t always expect the other person to change, be willing to change yourself- Easy to say, but hard to do. Really though, this piece of advice really stuck with me. It’s so easy to assume that things should be done the way your family does it, or the way you’ve been doing it as a single person, but those single days are over. You’re a new family, so be willing to let go of cultural preferences and family traditions in order to build a new unique life together.
If you want to start a habit, such as reading devotions together or a regular date night, do it early on- Start forming those daily habits early even during the honeymoon because that’s a time when people give you some slack to take the time you need. Life gets crazy, and it’s easy to let things slide if you don’t start early. So, use those early days intentionally.
People (especially those church ladies) can be opinionated and often critical when it comes to issues like when to have kids. Decide what works best for you as a couple and then stand by your decision– Don’t let people imposing their views on you (it will happen and happen often) upset you. With many issues it’s not so much a case of right or wrong, but what works for both of you. At the end of the day you are the ones who have to live with the decisions you make, so focus on what works for you as a couple not on what will please people.
Don’t sweat the small stuff- It’s called small stuff for a reason. Are toothpaste tubes and toilet paper rolls really worth even arguing over? Just let it go. There are bigger things in life to focus on, and if you find that you just can’t stand the whole toothpaste tube squeezed or rolled get your own tube. Find solutions to things not things to nag about. 1st Corinthians 13 says, “love bears all things.” Part of marriage involves getting over yourself and bearing the imperfections of another person. Remember, your spouse is bearing your imperfections too. A little understanding and patience can go along way and help keep everyone sane.
Find the positive side of a negative- Most negatives have a positive it just takes some time and thought to find it. For example, there are times when my husband runs late. I like to be on time and not waste time, so it is easy to see this as a negative trait and be frustrated. But, usually the reason he is running late is because he has stopped to help someone or to talk to someone who needed a kind word. This people oriented heart is one of the traits that I admire most in him. When I stop and realize the reason for the lateness it’s much easier to let go of my feelings of annoyance and appreciate his people oriented instead of time oriented ways.
Communicate- Just about everyone I talked to said this first. No one is a mind reader, so talk about what is on your mind. Marriage involves a lot of adjustments, highs, lows, and everything in between. Talk it out, but also talk during a time when you’re not tired or stressed. Sometimes it’s OK to sleep on it so that the issue can actually be discussed without emotions getting the upper hand.
And finally my own personal pet peeve…
The first year doesn’t have to be the hardest– Maybe it is for some people. I’m sure it can be quite a challenge/adjustment especially for those who marry young, but the idea of, “just survive the first year and then things get better after that,” really bothers me. Enjoy each year don’t be waiting for some inevitable dark cloud to roll in over your honeymoon happiness. Sure, life will change as the months pass, but they are still good times. The first year can be full of such happy memories and adventure as you start building a future together. Don’t loose that by adopting a survival mentality. Take each new day, week, and year as it comes. Most of all enjoy life with your best friend. Wishing you the very best my friend. Enjoy your day and know that I am thinking about you and celebrating with you from miles away.