After 18 months of parenthood, nearly three years of marriage, six years of partnership, nine years of friendship, and 11 years since our first (extremely awkward) meeting, I am pretty amazed by the way things have worked out! Based on our experience and a lifetime of Fr. Bill homilies, I have some thoughts about marriage:
Marry your best friend... and stay best friends!Know that the person you love is a person, who will only change because of a conscious personal choice, not because you want him to change (Ryan, I wouldn't change a thing about you, and I am trying to make that choice to put my clothes in the hamper).Put your dirty clothes in the hamper when you take them off. It is simple, and it will make Ryan... er, your husband or wife... very happy. And also clear your own dishes from the table.Remember 1 Corinthians 13, and remember the parts that aren't quite as easy as "Love is patient, kind," etc. "We see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully as I am fully known." This rocked my world when I heard it at a wedding after I got married (it was not a reading at our wedding, but I have grown up with this passage, and will never forget Aunt Char reading it at that wedding). How clear does this passage get in reflecting back upon the wedding day and the entrance into the sacrament?! This is one of my favorite lines about marriage and one that is challenging if you are imperfect like I am.Marry the person that will die for you. Marry the person that you would die for.See humor in each other and in yourselves... and laugh about it together. Embrace the wrinkles you will have later in life because of the laughter!Marry a good father or a good mother; see how the person treats his family and how his family treats each other. That family is going to be your family, and I could not be happier to have my family grow in such a wonderful way by marrying Ryan. He is also an amazing dad, and I saw that in him a long time ago!Date each other after you get married.Serve each other.Turn off the damned television and talk to each other! And then maybe enjoy some tv time together.... or just leave it off.Prepare for marriage with a sponsor couple. Skip the engaged encounter retreat, and find a sponsor couple. (Ok, I haven't been on the engaged encounter retreat, so maybe it is pretty cool.) I have worked with a sponsor couple in marriage preparation, and it was my favorite part of the weeks leading up to the wedding (more than trying on the dress, more than luncheons and parties, more than meeting with the caterer). Our sponsor couple meetings were a set date to talk about the rest of our lives with a couple who is living their life. We had a workbook (chuckle away) that raised interesting questions, we had amazing discussions, and we shared wonderful stories with people who know how it all works. It was intimate and refreshing, and it wasn't at all hokey or fluffy... it was real and it was about keeping it real.Get a life... your own life... and let your spouse have his own life as well. We often go out together, but it is equally important to have a guys night or ladies night.You have got to get one (or a few) of these! I cannot believe how my love increased when this guy came along.
I often reflect on the homily Father Bill offered at our wedding, and the readings we chose for our wedding mass. We chose Ephesians 5: 20-33; the one relating marriage to Christ and the Church. I am so glad to have a husband who makes that passage easy to live by; I remember thinking "you have got to be kidding me" when I heard the verse that says women should be subordinate to their husbands, but now it is a pretty simple task. He has to love me enough to die for me, and we have to live in mutual admiration and respect for each other. Check, double check! It is so easy to live that challenge with someone who loves you as much as you love him. Father Bill gave a beautiful reflection on Humility, saying "If you really want to love your husband, ask him, 'how can I be a better wife to you;' if you really want to love your wife ask her, 'how can I be a better husband to you,' chances are she will run to print a Word document." I could not feel stronger that this would solve so much of the marital strife we have in our society; it is so easy to focus on being wronged or being the winner, but it takes resolve to be humble... especially in those moments that I feel like I've been wronged.
And now a bit about the wedding: If you want someone phenomenal to say your wedding mass, may I recommend Father Bill? I had heard all kinds of stories that he "won't let the father of the bride escort the bride into the mass" or "he'll embarrass you in the homily," and all I can say to those claims is "HOGWASH!" He prepared us in the most amazing way I can imagine: he met with us, asked us challenging questions, set us up with a phenomenal sponsor couple, and gave us wonderful suggestions. The myth about not letting you walk down the aisle with your dad goes something like this, in Father Bill's words: "The gold standard is to walk into the wedding together, as a couple, because you are the ministers of the sacrament. (I had never thought of this before in my life) The silver standard is to walk into the wedding with both of your parents; they have shown you everything you know about marriage and we don't want to stuff mom into the pew to be lonely through the processions. (awesome, I love this!) The bronze standard is for the bride to walk in as the center of attention. It isn't a 'look at me' event; it is an us event." I'm pretty convinced by the gold standard, but because we both come from traditional families, we opted for the silver standard to honor our parents. There were never any negative feelings that we made that choice. As for the homily, I have never felt more edified and challenged in my life; it was personal, it was far-reaching, it was moving. The number one comment at the reception was, "AMAZING SERMON. And this risotto is delicious." THAT'S what I'm talkin' about! A healthy dose of truth at my wedding and about three quick bites of that tasty risotto
What makes marriage tick for you guys? Favorite date night ideas? Favorite date night ideas that do not involve leaving the sleeping toddler home alone? Any amazing pearls of wisdom from your own weddings or experiences together? Post it as a comment... on the blog... not on facebook...