by Maria Schulz
Recently, my beautiful niece got married to her long-time boyfriend, and our family gathered to celebrate. The bride and groom wrote their own vows and promised to always be there for each other.
It reminded me of an article I read in The New York Times entitled “The Wedding Toast I’ll Never Give.” The author talked about how young couples set out hoping to never let each other down, only to discover that marriage is full of mistakes, pettiness, anger, and many dark nights of the soul. And yet…like life, marriage can be better than you ever imagined when you were that starry-eyed newlywed.
Even though my wedding day was decades ago, I remember reading my vows “with shaking hands” and promising to never let my husband down. So how did that work out for us? Well…
Here’s the thing about being married. It looks easy in Hollywood movies and to people who have never done it, but it is hard work. There are lots of things you need to remember throughout your life as a married person if you want to hit the vaunted “til death do us part” point of it all.
Things Married Couples Should Remember
- There will be days when you look at that person and you know you made the right choice. You love this person like he/she is a part of you, and always will.
- There will also be days when you think: I could run away, and he/she will never find me
- Don’t express every thought that enters your head. You may not even remember what you were mad about a week from now.
- You don’t have to do everything together. Go play softball, sing karaoke, or ride your bike. Then come home and tell your spouse what a great time you had—and ask them about their great time too.
- Eat dinner together on most nights. That’s your time together…make it sacred.
- Once in awhile, have dinner with friends while he or she stays home and eats Cheerios (you hate cereal for dinner) or watches a horror movie (the kind you never want to watch)
- Never underestimate the power of a good relationship with your in-laws. There is no greater ally than a beloved mother-in-law and/or father-in-law.
- A good relationship with your spouse’s siblings will help you understand your partner in so many ways…and it will always make your partner happy when he/she sees all of you laughing together.
- If your spouse is quiet and your family is over-the-top, loud, and quirky, you can’t expect him or her to be leading the festivities at your family’s annual Christmas karaoke night.
- Likewise, when your over the top, loud, and quirky spouse shows up at your family’s annual Thanksgiving party and manages to get your boring family to play a Kennedy-esque football game on the front lawn, just go with it.
- When children arrive, you will not have time for each other, let alone yourself. Like marriage, parenthood is the kind of thing that non-parents think is easy. Just remind yourselves that this little baby will grow up fast. Plan to be there together once the dust settles and that infant is off at college.
- As your kids get older, you will discover that they know exactly how to play you against each other. Don’t fall for it! Be like the Allies in World War II—present a unified front and never, never, NEVER give up.
- Once you’ve made it to the 15-year mark of your marriage, congratulate yourselves. And don’t let your teenagers turn you against each other.
- At about 20 years, you will start to see lots of your peers ending their marriages. Don’t judge; nobody knows the real reasons behind anything except for that couple. Does that mean you need to do the same? As my parents used to say, if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?
- Along the way, you may meet someone that reignites a spark inside of you. This feeling is probably just boredom or gas. Let it pass. The real issue here is not your spouse or that other person…it’s you.
- Sometimes you will feel so grateful that your spouse chose you. Don’t let that feeling go, even when you find his underwear on the floor for the millionth time or she invites her mother over for dinner again
- The hardest moments in your life can be endured as long as you face them together. The death of parents, loss of a job, and pain of broken dreams all become a little easier to bear with this person by your side.
Remember: the vows say: in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, for better or for worse, til death do us part. The vows do NOT say: we will always be happy. We will never fight. For better or for even better! Til I get tired of you and get a newer model.
Barring abuse, infidelity, or extreme incompatibility, remember: love is a choice. Today you two might be ready to storm out the door and never look back. But if you stay, tomorrow you may see that young girl/boy who first caught your eye, and realize…this is where you wanted to be all along.
Includes skirt steak with a velvety sauce, jasmine rice pilaf, and Wedding Chicken.
So Hungry Lifers: what would you say if you gave a wedding toast? Please leave a comment and let us all know. And one more thing: Happy Anniversary to my husband, who is still the best choice I ever made.