An Open Letter to Young Wives
In today’s ridiculous environment of instant gratification and Play-Doh stocked safe spaces—neither of which prepares young people for the real world, by the way—too many new couples think marriage is disposable, and they’re ready to cut and run at the first sign of trouble. I’ve lately come into contact with a number of young wives jumping into matrimonial waters with no clue what real marriage truly entails. So . . .
Get over yourselves, girls, and understand these hard, Naked Truths:
It is not your husband’s job to make you happy. It is his job to love you, cherish you, and want the best for you. Being happy? That’s up to you.
It is not your husband’s job to agree with you when he thinks you’re wrong or to support you when you pull out your crazy. It is his job to love you, cherish you, and want the best for you in spite of his opinion of your behavior. And guess what? He can love you, cherish you, and want the best for you and still think you’re wrong, all at the same time.
It is not your husband’s job to throw his family under the bus just because you’ve decided they annoy you. They’re family, which means they probably annoy him, too. But when you put him in a position of having to choose between you, you are not doing your job, which is to love him, cherish him, and want the best for him. Suck it up, buttercup, and play nice. Do it because you love him even if you don’t love them.
It is not your husband’s job to cater to your every whim. It is his job to love you, cherish you, and want the best for you while maintaining his self-respect and appreciating you as an equal partner.
Now, to all of the above, switch it from husband to wife, because those truths cut both ways. What is true for one of you is true for both of you. Or as my mama used to say, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
A few years ago a young soon-to-be wife told me she hoped her marriage would be like mine: long, loving, and happy. I smiled and said, “There’s no reason it can’t be.” What I didn’t tell her was the rest of the sentence:
There’s no reason it can’t be, as long as you’re prepared to work hard for it through every moment of its existence.
Supporting one’s marriage is sometimes one of the most impossible things to do, because throwing it away at the first sign of trouble is the path of least resistance. Young people are conditioned to believe they should leave a situation if it doesn’t make them happy. Got news for you, buttercup—happiness isn’t a guarantee of marriage, it’s a byproduct. A long, loving, happy marriage comes at a steep, steep price, requiring that you offer generous amounts of the following on a daily basis:
Sacrifice, when you think you have nothing left to give.
Compromise, when you think you’re right and he’s wrong.
Cooperation, when you think you’d rather go it alone.
Communication, when you think there’s nothing left to say.
Compassion, when you think it is undeserved.
Forgiveness, when you think it hasn’t been earned.
Apology, when you think you have nothing to be sorry for.
Tenacity, when your grip is slippery and it would be easy to let go.
That’s the short list. The whole list is longer than that, pages and pages longer, but those are the biggies.
Nothing worth having comes without cost, and no one achieves a long, loving, happy marriage without developing scar tissue along the way—deep, thick, and copious scar tissue. The good news is that for every disaster you weather together, your bond will strengthen. And the more you do it, the better you become at it. Life and love are messy, but the longer you’re together, the easier it is to adjust the sails and stay the course.
So, it isn’t the easy days and good times that build the bonds to support your marriage. Nope. The happy times are a blessing and a byproduct. What strengthens your marriage the most are the disasters and the messes, the insurmountable circumstances you prove are not insurmountable as long as you scale them together.
That’s what makes a long, loving, and happy marriage.
Don’t end it without putting up a fight to keep it strong, and that means Sacrifice, Compromise, Cooperation, Communication, Compassion, Forgiveness, Apology, Tenacity, and hundreds of other things that don’t come easy and might make you bleed. If you can’t offer those things with a loving heart, then don’t expect to reap the benefits.
The hard, Naked Truth:
If walking away from your marriage is easy to do, then you never deserved it in the first place.
****AN IMPORTANT CAVEAT: Abusive situations are a different animal. If your partner is abusive, get the hell out NOW. Don’t wait, and don’t look back. Abuse is never okay and should not be tolerated.
Thanks for following my rant. Do you agree? Disagree? What’s YOUR Naked Truth? Please leave a comment.
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