I’ve been married for a long time. I won’t tell you how long because Radiant’s readers are young, and I’m afraid you’ll think I have nothing to offer. But maybe you’ll humor me and consider what I have to say. You may think my musings are old-fashioned, and you may be right. Then again, maybe there will be something you can carry with you into your marriage.
For the sake of this letter, let’s assume you’re married to Prince Charming.
First of all, I would say, Find the joy in each day. I so often hear young women compete with one another in their daily litany of complaints. It makes me cringe knowing that this bad habit needs to be stopped in the beginning. It will strip your life of joy.
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In the earlier days, I used to bombard my husband with all the ways the children misbehaved that day, as soon as he came through the door. I soon realized that while he’d been looking forward to coming home, the first thing he had to do was discipline the kids. I didn’t allow him the, “Daddy’s home” moment.
Focus instead on your blessings. When I was a child, my mother always woke me up with, “Rise and shine. Count your blessings.” Once you develop the habit of taking a moment to consider your blessings, it will be easier to remember to thank God for his amazing love. Yes, you’ll get tired and discouraged, but it’s the natural result of a day well-spent.
Focus on your spouse’s good points, the reasons you fell in love with him. Don’t build on the times that he irritates and annoys you until divorce seems to be the only option. It’s amazing how easily people talk themselves into divorce these days.
I don’t mean that you should stay if there’s abuse, or some other terrible problem that can’t be resolved. If you have a good relationship, treasure the good times. He’ll be the only one who can share all the memories of a life fully lived.
Develop a good sense of humor, if you don’t already have one. You’ll need it. Some of our fights in the early years seemed to be marriage-ending, but he could always make me laugh, and the anger would dissipate. To have someone you can laugh through life with is truly a gift.
Forgive and forget. Forgetting is the hard part, isn’t it? Let it go. Don’t harbor grudges against your spouse until he feels unworthy to breathe the same air as you. Grudges only eat you up inside and rob you of joy.
Practice your faith. This, more than anything, can carry you through the trials and tribulations of marriage. It’s not easy, no matter how much in love you are. Children’s problems, in-laws, illnesses, disagreements, disappointment, money troubles, these are all a part of your married life. But so is incredible joy, if you open your heart to it with gratitude.
I’ve said the Rosary daily for about four years now. My biggest regret is that when I worked as a Child Support Officer, and had a long commute home, I didn’t use that time for the Rosary. I believe I would have arrived home less frazzled, not to mention all that the Rosary is capable of accomplishing.
A wonderful devotion is the Seven Sorrows of the Mother of God. If we pray the Seven Sorrows daily, Mary’s first promise is, “I will grant peace to their families.” What an incredible promise in these troubling times.
Appreciate the little things. This is so important. If you expect grand gestures all the time, you’ll miss the precious little moments that will make your life together golden. To me, romance is when my husband keeps my water bottle filled, or when he agrees to have a grandchild over, even when he’s tired, just because it will make me happy.
Pick your battles. Is it really important to you that he picks up his socks when it starts your day off wrong by complaining? Can you try a little harder with his mother, who thinks there’s no one on earth good enough for her son? Yes, I’ve had experience with this one.
Pick the battle that means something. Don’t nag and nit-pick. As women, we have the gift of making a man feel less than a man. Is it wise to use that power?
My husband and I made a pact to treat one another with kindness, respect and patience as we would a stranger. No, it isn’t always easy, and it takes daily prayer. The results have been amazing.
Back to my first piece of advice. Find the joy in each day. Look into your spouse’s loving gaze and thank God. When those children come along, enjoy every moment because they grow up fast, too fast. The very characteristics that will drive you crazy are the things your child will need to follow his/her path in this life.
At the end, you’ll be with someone who’s seen you at your worst and still thinks you’re beautiful, someone who knows all your secrets and would never betray you. You’ll have someone who shares all your memories as you reminisce together and smile.
My heart and prayers go out to all the young brides who are beginning this perilous, yet wonderful journey. Embrace it with your whole being. Have courage, and most of all, have faith.
Your friend in Christ,
(An Old Bride)