Dear 22 year-old Self,
After knowing him for 15 years and being married to him for 14 of those years, I'd like to give you some advice and wisdom I've gathered.
First of all, NERDY IS GOOD!!! Remember the "cool" guys that flattered you with a glance or a short conversation during your high school and college years? Yeah, those guys, you know which ones. They flattered you because clearly they thought more of themselves than of others - namely you.Those guys are not the ones who will ask permission for a first kiss or bring you a rose as a public declaration of his pursuit of you.
You thought getting along with your parents was tough? You, my sweet young lady, are about to enter into the toughest relationship of your life. But being difficult does not mean it is without rewards.
It is also the most rewarding and fulfilling relationship you'll have with another human being.
First of all, when he proposes, just say YES! Don't stumble over your words and tell him to shut up. Sure, it makes a good story later, but give the guy a break.
Yup, there will be children. I'll get to that part, be patient.
The first couple of years of marriage are going to be a roller coaster. The poor guy did not have any sisters and thank God he never lived with any women but his mother. (No, falling asleep on your couch in college does not count. Even if he did wake up the next day.)
Take all the ups and downs less personally. Don't get upset during the first year when he wants his own space in your bed so that he can actually sleep. He was used to sleeping by himself, it's not personal.
Define some limits about what neither of you will ever say during arguments or within your marriage at all. It will cause less pain to decide that at the front end of the relationship rather than learning it the hard way. Learning the hard way sucked.
Prepare yourself to move around the country a bit. The man you're about to marry is wired for success. He gets bored when he masters one thing, so get ready to change and adapt. He might even decide to move your family across the country without discussing it with you first. He'll only do that once though, so go with it.
Those qualities make him a wonderful provider though and when it is your time to quit your paying job and raise those little ones, you can trust that he will take care of you all financially.
Never lose sight of taking care of him first and foremost.
I will let you in on a little secret. Your husband's love languages are "quality time" and "words of affirmation." Prioritize those and love him well.
You are NOT his Holy Spirit. Talk less. Pray more. Seek God. Wait on God. God will work on your husband.
When those promised children come along, you can study all the books and parenting programs that you want, but it is still a learn-as-you-go-with-each-individual-child process. Be flexible because kids are not a "one size fits all" rule. Even though they are all boys.
Yup, boys. All of them. When you least expect it, there might be a little estrogen in the mix. Just wait.
Regardless of the curve balls parenting will throw at you, you must keep your marriage as the top priority. When other women stand in disbelief at the number of days he spends hunting, you just kiss him good bye, tell him to bring home a lot of meat for the freezer, and remind him that there will be good reasons to come home. Wink wink.
Speaking of staying home, SERVE. Serve your family with a thankful heart. I'm sure I will be writing a letter to the 36 year-old Self in another 14 years that talks about cherishing the time you have before they all grow up and move out. So when you're 29 and in the thick of little ones needing you all.the.time. and a husband who (thank God) wants quality time with you, die to that selfish desire to get in your car and drive
to TJMaxx away for that coveted "me time."
During particularly stressful times, your man will convert his stress to conflict. Again, this isn't anything personal. He carries the weight of a large family and drive for success on his shoulders. Job change or financial stress can cause him to act like a jerk. I am writing to remind you that you are no gem when you're PMS-ing, sleep deprived, or in labor (to mention just a few of many examples), so give grace as you would like to receive grace.
When he acts like a jerk, don't EVER complain to or confide in anyone who doesn't already love him and think the best of him. It will be so important to have women in your life who will tell you that, "Yes, he is acting like a jerk. He is a wonderful man (and here is why), now go home and treat him well."
You will be shocked as marriages around you dissolve into divorce. You will be wise to have a very real conversation with that man of yours about protecting your relationship, because clearly, no one is safe from that danger.
And after 14 years of marriage, he will still:
- kiss you first (then the kids) when he walks in the door from work.
- kiss you randomly and with passion when he walks through a room you're in (to the point that your older kids will tell you to get a room).
- want to spend time with you and will weigh his attendance of social activities with missing out on hanging out with you.
- laugh at your jokes and sarcasm.
- be interested in your writing pursuits and read each one several times.
- compliment your outfits, even when you're feeling pretty ordinary.
- care about and invest in what you want out of life.
- periodically ask for feedback as to how he can be a better husband to you.
Because 14 years goes quickly. Your parents are right on that one and so am I.
Love, Your 36 year-old Self