YA Corner: Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Marriage

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

Websites:

About Becca Hyde

Becca Hyde began a career as children's librarian right after graduating college. She was also a grade school teacher for a couple of years simultaneously. After many years of choosing to stay home with her children, she is back working at Marshall Public Library as the Early childhood Librarian. Which is a delight! Becca also continues to be choir accompanist at Pocatello High School. She lives on a hillside with her husband, Joe, children and several wandering herds of deer and a moose or two.
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4 Responses to YA Corner: Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Marriage

  1. Jonathan Langford says:

    One of the things I like about Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series in particular is the way he shows marriage as a partnership. All too often, the stories we read and see either treat marriage as the destination or don’t show much of the real dynamics of being inside a marriage — or don’t have anything to say about marriage at all.

  2. Harlow says:

    Interesting bibliography. I was just telling a niece about the Wallerstein & Blakeslee book the other day. I read a review of it where the reviewer said one of the things they’ve found in looking at good marriages is that both partners think the other is a good person. I came across their work in Seattle in the mid 80s. I had read about a 10-year study of children of divorce somewhere and asked a librarian (King County or Seattle Public). She went to a database and looked for lateral studies of divorce and found their book, Second Chances. I checked it out and read several chapters (I just came across my own copy the other day–something I forgot I had found at D.I. or on the library’s sale shelf.) They’ve done 15 and 20 year follow-ups, and maybe 25 and 30 years by now.

    My second mission president was a man named Marvin Curtis. He was my aunt’s brother-in-law, though her sister had died of cancer a few years earlier, and he was now married to former nun. After I finished my MFA the ward boundaries were realigned and the Capitol Hill neighborhood became part of the Seattle 5th Ward, where I ended up serving in an EQ presidency with a med student whose mission president was an MD, Lindsey R. Curtis–Marvin’s brother. Somehow I came across a book he had written, And They Shall Be One Flesh: A Sensible Sex Guide for the Bride and Groom. The passage that has stuck with me for over 20 years is this: “It is well to remember that nearly all variations attempted by the average couple have been tried before . . . By nearly every other couple. This applies to varieties of positions, types of caresses, and any other innovations” (53, ellipses his).

    My mother gave my fiance some money to buy me a wedding suit, since the only one I had was from my mission 10 years earlier. She said I wouldn’t think a new suit necessary, but buy it anyway. (I am still wearing the jacket, as I write this, more than 25 years later.) She took it to a woman in her ward, a tailor, who fitted the suit and a nice peach shirt, and gave us a book for our wedding, One Flesh, One Heart: Putting Celestial Love into Your Temple Marriage, by Carlfred Broderick.

    I had heard him speak a few years earlier at BYU, a therapist and stake president from Southern California. He told a story about counseling a woman in his stake whose husband was terribly abusive, and thinking smugly, “Why doesn’t she leave him. She can’t make any progress until she does.” Then he learned–either through giving her a blessing, or when she told him about receiving a blessing–that she had known before she was born that she would marry an abuser, had volunteered to marry him and end the chain of abuse that had lasted for generations in his family. Hardly the kind of thing he would have expected to find as a therapist.

    One Flesh, One Heart has other stories where he’s brought up short. One involves giving a blessing to his daughter during one of “her bouts of real depression,” where he heard himself saying, “‘The Lord has blessed you with at least one parent who understands your suffering and can be a comfort and support to you in times of despair.’ I knew that I was not that parent” (46-7).

    He has a chapter on depression later in the book, discussing depression in people like Saul, Solomon (Koheleth), Nephi, Paul, Joseph Smith, and Spencer W. Kimball. I found it an encouraging and comforting book, and it remains the only thing I’ve seen in a Deseret Book book associating the words melancholia or depression and prophet, so I was quite moved to hear Elder Holland talk about the same thing, and his own brush with clinical depression, during October Conference.

  3. Jonathan Langford says:

    A title for my own list: Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, by John Gottman. I’m probably biased since my sister-in-law worked with Gottman as a graduate students, but I particularly like this book since unlike most “how-to” books about marriage, it’s based on actual quantitative longitudinal research. And it’s filled with interesting, surprising facts, like the fact that men physiologically show greater stress (higher pulse, respiration, blood pressure) when asked to talk about areas of conflict in their marriages.

    • Becca Hyde says:

      Thanks for sharing this title. I am off to Amazon to look inside. There is a fair amount out there on this topic to wade through and sift through to find the worthwhile.

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