I’m having a little fun today on my 4th anniversary by writing what I’d like to say to myself back when I was engaged. Don’t worry, I don’t spoil anything 😉
St. Joseph, pray for us!
Yea, it’s me – you 5 years from now, writing to you on our 4th wedding anniversary.
I see you dancing with excitement cause HOT DANG, the boy finally proposed! And did he do a good job on that ring or what! You’re actually getting married, and planning a wedding. It’s going to be the time of your life!
You’re no dummy. You’re planning a wedding, but you got your sights set on what really matters – the marriage. All the pomp and circumstance of a wedding is just a day. What you’re focused on is all the days that come after that.
Which is why I’m writing to you today as you prepare. Don’t worry – this won’t have any spoilers. Things will get crazy and wonderful and beautiful, and you’ll come through it all a much better version of yourself.
You are a planner, and doggonit if you ever walked into a situation as serious as this blind. You’re gobbling up everything you can about marriage, and your heart is about to explode with excitement for what is in store.
But here’s the deal – you aren’t getting married by yourself. Your heart is in the right place trying to plan and prepare. Your motivations are spot on. But on your wedding day you will be picking up a yoke and cross – that you are meant to carry WITH your husband.
So I say this from a place of deep love – take a breath and calm down.
Relationships are fun for you. You thrive on learning the personality types and what they reveal about how we interact with others. You’re giddy discovering the differences between men’s and women’s brains like you just unlocked the next level on life. You gobble up all the information about marriage, the sacrament, and are so looking forward to seeing how all those graces unfold once you say I do. It’s so much fantastic information you’re gleaning from lots of amazing sources.
You cannot make the mistake of thinking that your darling future husband is interested in learning the same things as you, at the same rate as you, with the same intensity as you. He’s not you. Which is great because you didn’t fall in love with you, you fell in love with him.
On a certain level, he really doesn’t care about some of this stuff (he told me so one day). It doesn’t mean he’s bad or that these things in fact don’t matter. It just means that you don’t start out marriage being in sync, even if you had dated for 46 years. You get married, and then you start the real business of learning each other.
I can tell you right now you picked the right guy (though there will be a period around year one where you’ll doubt it). You are equally yoked, but woah buddy, are you two different! Those differences are precisely what make you equals, and so, so perfect for each other. When you learn to see those differences as assets rather than hindrances, you will thrive. And I feel it important to mention here, continue to be yourself. Just as you fell in love with him, he fell in love with you.
So take a minute and take a breath. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Don’t try to figure out marriage before you’re married. Prepare for marriage, but do so together, not on your own.
I said you were equally yoked – now think about what that actually means. You work and move and grow in unison. If one of you is tired or lagging or wants to go in a different direction, the other has to slow down, or else risk hurting their partner. Have patience with him and yourself, and learn to love the way you both grow. You’ll lose so much peace if you don’t.
Marriage is a learning process best done together, and it’s so much more fulfilling that way. You’re going to suck at it at first, but so does everyone. No one goes into marriage knowing how to be married, and I don’t care how many books they read or prayers they offer or people they talk to. There’s no way to plan for everything, so just leave room for surprises. If you don’t, you’ll not only make yourself crazy, you’ll miss out on all the fun. And you love fun!
Marriage is ancient, but your marriage is brand-spanking new. He’s never been married to you and you’ve never been married to him. The way you communicate will be unique. The reasons you do or don’t buy a house will be unique. The reasons you do or don’t have a baby will be unique. How you manage finances will look different. It’s not that the rules of marriage don’t apply to you – they absolutely do! – it’s just that the way you apply the rules will look different from your friends, parents, grandparents – every other marriage that has ever been. Your marriage and all its idiosyncrasies doesn’t exist in any of the books you’ve read. You’ll start writing chapter 1 together on your wedding day.
Before I go, I want to share one more thing I’ve learned these past four years, something that will save you a lot of tears.
Marriage is simultaneously great pain and great joy. It’s painful because it’s specially designed to crush your ego. It’s a joy because if you let it, it will succeed in crushing your ego. You are two selfish sinners who have promised to love each other with a divine love. Something big has to happen in order for that equation to make sense, and that something big is what we call the cross. Understand that when marriage gets tough, that is when the sacrament is working precisely as it was meant to, by giving you a cross so your ego can die a little and that divine love can begin to bloom. Yea, it hurts, but no one ever resurrected without a crucifixion.
You’re going to fail at marriage at times. You’re also going to succeed. Take both with a grain of salt. Get to confession often, and shoot, find a therapist if you need help. Life is about ups and downs, ebbs and flows, and only together do they weave a tapestry of beauty beyond description.
So calm down, girl. Take a breath. Marriage is a beautiful adventure, best begun and traversed with your spouse.
Your slightly-older, slightly-wiser, slightly-more-chill Self