My oldest son recently got married. It was a fun ceremony, completely representative of both my son and his new bride, filled with swords and medieval costumes and swords and Star Wars. I loved it, and so did most of the attendees.
But now, it has been over two weeks. They have had a honeymoon, opened presents, and begun the process of caring for one another. They are currently living with us while they find a house to move into, so we are more than a little involved in this first phase of their lives. And, because they are here and so are we, I have naturally been thinking about all the things that I would like to tell him about now that he is a husband. But of course, I can’t really do that without being invited. That would be borderline meddling.
But I can write a blog post!
What follows, then, is the advice that I feel is the most important advice that I would like to pass on to my son, and to other husbands around the world. I doubt any of this will be particularly revolutionary; much of it has been tried and tested throughout hundreds of years and thousands of strong, resilient, happy marriages. And that is, I think, why I feel so strong about passing it on.
Put the marriage first. In the first few months of marriage, it is fun to be thinking about your spouse, wondering what she is doing, thinking about all the things you would like to be doing with her. It is absolutely likely that you have gone out of your way to find things and adopt activities that keep you together as much as possible. However, as months go by, you may find yourself starting to think of what you miss. Times going out with the guys, all night movie marathons over pizza, road trips, perhaps even career goals that are ambitious and demanding. All of that is fine and healthy until they begin to take a primary focus in your life, away from the love, care and support of your wife. Many husbands have learned, and some of them too late, that the marriage relationship is fragile. If not treated with constant care, if not placed first in your priorities, you will likely find that it doesn’t matter what you replaced it with.
Combine and cleave. This goes along with the first, but in my mind specifically deals with finances. Finances are one of the primary things that spouses tend to quarrel over. Sometimes the quarreling becomes so intense that it chases all of the joy out of the relationship. The surest way I have found to head that off at the pass is to ensure that finances are combined early on. farther you can get your minds and hearts away from the yours/mine perspective, the more fully you can see that the intertwining of your lives is what brings true joy. In this way, you cleave to one another, you are intertwined. In my experience, couples who did not combine finances as part of the conversation did not enjoy the same feeling of solidness and commitment in their marrriage as those who did. It isn’t a promise of peace, but it is one of three critical issues.
Appreciate the little things as big as you can. You’re just starting out, so you aren’t going to have a lot of resources. But that doesn’t mean that little expressions of love and support don’t deserve the biggest expressions of appreciation that you can manage. Make every day together a day to be celebrated. Pull out the best dishes for a beautiful meal. Hug her extra tight and long on a day that she does something unexpected. Don’t let you circumstances determine the enthusiasm of your heart.
If and when you fight, fight fair. Right now, I’m sure you can’t imagine that you and your lovely bride will fight. Believe me when I say that it is not only likely, it is probably inevitable. You are different people, with different ideas, histories and approaches to life. There will be conflict along the way. That is okay. fighting isn’t evidence of a weak relationship, it is evidence of strong people prioritizing a relationship. Just remember that, during the heated discussions over little things, keep the little things little. I have learned through my own life that when I try to bring up old issues previously resolved or if I ever questioned my wife’s commitment to me and to our marriage, I regretted it. Fight over things, but fight from a perspective of finding the best way for the two of you to move forward. Never question motives or bring up the past; that just isn’t fair.
Never stop trying. Never stop trying to demonstrate your love and adoration of your lovely bride. Never stop finding new and imaginative ways to express your feelings. Never stop working on your own self, striving to be the best you can, because that is the greatest gift you can give her. Becoming a better man, a man of solid substance with a style all your own will make you more able to support her during the difficult times that will certainly come to you. If you never stop trying to be the best you can be, you will be ready for those times.
Well, there it is! The advice that I think every young husband should get. Do you have anything to add? Put it in the comments below!