To my sweet boy,
One month from tomorrow is your wedding day, and my heart is already brimming with emotion. I think maybe parents of grown-up children all share a strange ability: when they look at their child, they see not only the current, full-grown person that child has become but also every single version of that child—from baby to toddler to child to teen to young adult. My mind is flooded with memories of the boy you were and visions of the husband you are about to become. Because I can’t get you out of my mind, I thought I’d take this opportunity to offer you some advice on marriage. I’m not sure you really need advice from me—but when has that ever stopped me?!
1. I remember a hot summer day when you were helping me in the yard by hauling weeds to the compost pile as I was gardening. You disappeared into the house for a while, and when you returned, you had two Tupperware cups filled with lemonade. You smiled and said, “I thought this might hit the spot.” So my first piece of advice is this: Take lemonade to Emma. Surprise her with your thoughtfulness. Show her in unexpected ways that you are thinking about her and noticing what she needs.
2. Another memory from much later on: you, Em, and I went sledding late at night on hill behind Eagle Street school. We were having a lot of fun until I bounced off my saucer and hit my head hard on the packed snow. You were beside me in seconds, helping me up, retrieving my sled, walking me home, and checking my pupils. So that’s my second bit of advice: Always watch out for Emma’s safety and well-being. Take care of her. Protect her. Cherish her.
3. I still have several of the notes you left me over the years of your childhood tucked away in my dresser drawer, and I know from a snap or two Emma has sent, that you’ve carried on your note-leaving tradition with her. Keep it up! Keep leaving her sweet notes.
4. Recently you were telling me about putting together the hammock you got as a shower gift. You were saying how much you love it, how nice it is, how you plan to take care of it and bring it in when it rains. Then you said, “At least for the first year. After that, it’ll probably be like everything else; we’ll forget and it’ll get rained on.” While that is so true for things like hammocks and so many other possessions, don’t let it be true for your marriage. Protect it like the treasure it is. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t ever stop taking care of it.
5. This is getting long, and I know you are no fan of lengthy posts, so the rest I will put in short bullets:
· On snowy mornings, clean off her car windows.
· When she looks nice, notice. Then tell her.
· Keep making her laugh.
· Make sure she knows that you will always take her side and be in her corner.
· When she’s having a bad day, find a way to make it better.
· Be as cheerful as possible as often as possible.
· When you mess up, admit it and apologize.
· In the long run, the little moments in a marriage matter as much or more than the big ones. So value the everydayness of your life together.
· Be careful in arguments not to say things you can’t take back, things that will hurt—even if they are true (and especially if they are not true).
· Working hard is important and having money makes life easier, but making a life is more important than making a living.
· Never, ever, ever give up on the relationship even if the going gets tough (and it will). Hang in there and fight for your happy ending.
· Hold her hand, touch her shoulder—stay connected in big and small ways.
· Treasure her: make sure she knows you value her, admire her, and appreciate her.
· Tell her you love her—often.
I’m sure there are other things I could or should add. But as I said before, I think you already know how to be a good husband—just keep being the kind, loving, funny, thoughtful, protective person you’ve always been. And if you ever need advice (or anything at all), you know where to find me . . .