Emma received a marriage proposal on Christmas Eve. Actually on the stroke of midnight, exactly between the “Eve” and Christmas Day. That is what they told us and there is a Facebook photo with a clock on the wall to prove it. The light is dim in the picture but somehow there is a brightness in their eyes and smiling mouths. Well past exhaustion, I finally had all the Christmas presents wrapped and beautified, stockings filled, preparations for Mrs. Clauses’ Christmas breakfast readied, gone over and over the distribution of gifts to assure myself that no child would feel their allotment was unfair. I was in Deep Zombie Mother state. Nothing unusual — Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc., the holidays that cause me to perform feats that feel superhuman. Nevertheless, when said daughter came rushing in the house breathless and giddy and laughing, I was instantly, miraculously alert. There were butterflies swarming my stomach. Had it really happened? The most noble, handsome, sure-to-be-successful boy had asked the question! Four years of friendship plus chemistry had blossomed and now we would welcome another family member.
My husband and I received and returned her hugs and marveled at her palpable euphoria. We three gazed in wonder and awe at the sparkly band on her finger. It was an incredible moment to share. The rest of the family had long since headed off to sleep (she tried to wake them up too, eventually.) At that moment my husband got a brilliant idea. Scrambling to find and at last succeeding, we held his super laser pointer, the one he uses each year at girl’s camp to teach stories of the constellations in the summer sky. We turned out the lights and he directed the laser beam on the engagement ring. The room became filled with green explosions of flashing and swirling stars shooting every which way, similar to firework fountains or a gigantic disco ball throwing patterns of light upon every surface. Laughing and crying happy tears we held on to that marvelous moment as long as possible.
Since then I have been monumentally thrilled by this singular event. Our first child to be married. Happiness to exceed all. I am the lady telling every store clerk and minor acquaintance that my daughter is getting married. It is said that becoming a parent/raising a child gives one the opportunity to see everything through the eyes of a child — a second childhood. This seems like a good thing. Now I can see with perspective and can enjoy moments without all the annoying drama. I find myself zoning out randomly just to think about what a beautiful couple they are, and wonder where they will find a place to live, and how will we hang the miles of ceiling tulle to properly disguise the cultural hall? One minute I am having the happiest of daydreams and then the next a lethal panic thinking of what must be passed on to them so their days can be better, less rocky, more sweet and joyful. Here are six statements that support and answer what my daughter must understand completely.
The days after the wedding are where the journey begins.
A poem by Orson Scott Card expresses this beautifully:
Well paired Team
You don’t arrive at marriage, lonely hearts.
The wedding’s where the lifelong journey starts,
Forced to travel with a clumsy fool
Or trot along behind a receding dream
(You had to stop and help me when I tripped,
While you would never stick to my passionate script),
Using one another like an ill-made tool,
Like ox and antelope yoked in a single team.
And yet…somehow, together, we managed to pull
An empty cart straight uphill;
And look-the creaking, rickety thing is full
Of crockery, old rags, a child or two.
At the start, knowing nothing, we said “I will,”
And now look at all the things I made with you,
All our baggage, all our breakage, art
By unskilled artisans, yet beautiful,
Yours and mine, no matter how peculiar;
New and Strange, no matter how familiar.
Some passages were merely dutiful.
Who could know, on our ignorant starting day
That, pulling such a long and weary way,
The man, the woman, strangers side by side,
Would end the trek inside each other’s heart,
Trading forgiveness and repentances,
Finishing each other’s sentences,
Only to be stranded,
The team — for now at least — disbanded.
Now we see how all the road maps lied;
Our destination was the yoke we shared,
Badly at first, but by the end well paired.
And only when you died did I leave my home
And pointlessly, empty-carted, roam.
You don’t arrive at marriage, lonely hearts.
The wedding’s where the lifelong journey starts.
Romantic love is so good.
Boyd K. Packer has said “Romantic love …is not only a part of life but literally a dominating influence of it. It is deeply and significantly religious. There is no abundant life without it. It is not only good it is pure, precious, even sacred and holy. No experience can be more beautiful, no power more compelling, more exquisite. Or, if misused no suffering is more excruciating than that connected with love.
It takes a conscious effort to keep love alive.
Romance is about the little things. “It’s much more about the small gestures—the little ways of making daily life with your love a bit more special—than it is about the extravagant, expensive gestures.” ~Gregory J P Godek.
“Be a true, genuine, committed, word and deed disciple of Christ.” (Jeffrey R. Holland)
Elder Holland goes on to say, “Christlike staying power in romance and marriage requires more than we naturally have. It requires an endowment from heaven. Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does. You want capability and safety in married life and beyond? Be a true disciple of Jesus.
Place the others happiness before your own.
Here is how Harold B. Lee counseled us: “If young people would resolve from the moment of their marriage that from that time forth they [would] do everything in their power to please each other in things that are right, even to the sacrifice of their own pleasures, their own appetites, their own desires, the problem of adjustment in married life would take care of itself and their home would indeed be a happy home! Great love is built on great sacrifice, and that home where the principle of sacrifice for the welfare of each other is daily expressed is that home where there abides a great love.”
Learn the art of offering a sincere apology.
Many, many books, websites, and other resources are out there for couples preparing to be married. What are some of your favorites? What advice have you given or hope to give your children as they prepare for the creation of a new family? What advice were you given?
Here is a random list of books we plan to share with our daughter and her fiancé:
- The Boy on the Porch, by Sharon Creech, HarperCollins, 2013. Jane Austen observed, “There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.” This tender story demonstrates that we can love and nurture with real capacity, even if we are not blessed with our own children. A young couple wake to find there is a young boy sleeping on their porch. A note beside him reads “Plees taik kair of Jacob. He is a good boy. Wil be bak wen we can.” The boy cannot speak. “What kind of people would leave their child with strangers?” All John and Marta know is that they have been chosen to care for this boy. “As their connection to him grows, they embrace his exuberant spirit and talents.”
- Books by Dave Ramsey to inspire this couple who truly wish to be good stewards of their (future) money.
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver, because as stated in the movie The Princess Bride, “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.”
- What We Wish We’d Have Known When We Were Newlyweds, by John & Kimberly Bytheway
- Things I Wish I’d known before We Got Married, by Gary D. Chapman
- The Five Love Languages, by Gary D. Chapman
- Real Intimacy, by Thomas G. Harrison
- And They Were Not Ashamed, by Laura Brotherson
- The Act of Marriage, by Tim LaHaye
- The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts, by Judith S. Wallerstein & Sandra Blakeslee