March 13, 2010

A Dad's Advice, Good or Bad, Part 1

My Children and my Children soon-to-be, this is my gift to you. I pray it blesses you as much as it has me in writing it.

In the past 12 months, all four of you (both couples) have made significant decisions and gotten engaged to wonderful partners. As a dad/dad-inlaw-to-be, I offer you the benefit of some of my experience. Sorta words of wisdom that, if you follow, will enrich your marital lives. Given your independent spirits, however, I figure you probably won't, but that's all right. Everyone must make his/her own mistakes. I'm confident you'll overcome yours.

Passing to you what I've learned serves two purposes for me. It's the chance to examine exactly what I really have learned, if anything, in the 35 years YourMotherMyLove and I have been married. Additionally, it makes me feel I've maybe added to your future happiness. Some of these things, I've practiced; some, I haven't as much as I should have.

YourMotherMyLove may have other views on some of this, and some of it you may already know. But that doesn't make it less valid. I do wish someone had offered me similar advice when I was young. As I counseled you, Son and Daughter, numerous times through the years, take the good parts of this advice and use them, and throw away the rest. Keep in mind, too, that "anything free is worth exactly what you pay for it." That goes for advice. So, here goes. Indulge me.

In no particular order, these are 20 things I want to tell you before you recite your vows:

1. If you have doubts or misgivings re your upcoming nuptials, now is the time to sort 'em out with your soon-to-be-lifelong partners. It's okay to be nervous. But if you're terrified, something may not be right. Remember, until the "I do," the "I'm not sure" is okay.

2. Marriage is forever. If you think, "Well, if it doesn't work, I can always get a divorce," You will be the main reason for your ultimate heartache and misery.

3. Unless you're living in a cardboard box on skid row, money is not a valid reason to put off starting a family. For such a life-altering decision, certainly you need to use the good sense God gave you. Unless you discover a way to make unlimited energy from toejam and bellybutton lint, however, odds are against you ever being rich. So, if you want children, have them. If you wait for the perfect time moneywise, kids never will happen.

4. Speaking of money.... It's true that the buck is the main cause of many, many husband/wife fights. I suggest you and your intended begin talking yesterday about how you handle the family finances. No single approach is the best. YourMotherMyLove and I share a single checkbook; all our accounts are joint; we have no secrets. However, every couple is different. You all must find what works for you.

5. Daughters, no matter how close you and your husbands-to-be are, emotions are usually not one of a man's strengths. Telling him "You should have known" is not really fair. The majority of men lack that talent; we can only guess at what you're thinking. "You should have known" from your lips becomes "You should have read my mind" in his ears. Daughters, be specific with your man -- and be assured that, no matter what, he loves you more than anything.

6. Sons, your wives-to-be are beautiful, intelligent and loving. Cherish them for those virtues. Like most women, they think/act from their hearts first. Detached logic generally is not a consideration. So, be patient when what you think is common-sense reason doesn't take, and you don't understand why. Value your wife for her differences. Give her time, and know that she loves you with her whole being, no matter what.

7. Talk about things. I realize not each of you is comfortable sitting down and discussing problems or concerns. However, good communication is a vital aspect of any relationship. So, all of you, work at it; don't be afraid to talk to your spouses at any time about anything, both positive and negative. The temporary discomfort a discussion may cause you is infinitely better than what no discussion may cause. And, believe me, it'll get easier the more you talk.

8. Do not leave feelings unexpressed and suppressed. They can blow up like a hand grenade and cause just as much pain. If any one of you screws up, neither you nor your spouse can be forgiven, or forgive, when you don't know what you've done.

9. Jealousy, true jealousy, the green-eyed monster kind, is an insidious emotion. It may start out as cute, endearing and a bit charming, maybe even seen as manifestation of your spouse's intense and "true" love. It quickly can go south, though, and become suspicious and destructive. One partner's unjustified insecurity in the other's love can morph into possessiveness, mistrust and hatefulness. Don't fall into this trap.  If either you or your future mates lean toward jealous, you might want to start talking about it.
To be continued...

1 comment:

Adam said...

This is probably the best piece of advice and best written content coming from the heart I've ever seen you do.
Mel and I will take it to heart. You and Mom are an inspiration for how to not only maintain, but nurture and grow an intimate relationship, I've ever witnessed.
Thank you.