Wedding experts say that the three-month stretch between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day is prime time for proposals. With the sparkle of Christmas and the promise of the new year lending an air of romance, nearly forty percent of couples choose this time to get engaged. To my delight, this year, my son and his fiancée are among them.
While the coming months will be taken up with writing guest lists and weighing the pros and cons of a winter wedding (with its possibility of ice storms) or a wedding in June (with its guarantee of mosquitoes) I’m keeping in mind the many years that will follow.
Millions of couples marry each year. Like my son and his fiancée, and my husband and I, they’ll step into marriage bright-eyed, optimistic, ready to give it their all. The good news: despite all the challenges that marriage can bring, a vast majority of them will succeed.
To my son, my lovely future daughter-in-law, and all of you who are newly-engaged, here are my hopes, wishes and words of advice:
1. Some problems are easy to resolve, while others will require patience, effort, and creativity. Though there will be things about which you disagree, never consider a problem to have been solved when one person wins and the other loses.
2. A good marriage requires that we act like grown-ups without forgetting the importance of being thoroughly silly. Please don’t let life’s challenges keep you from laughing at yourselves and feeling delight at making snow angels in the year’s first snow storm. (Or even the second.)
3. None of us comes into marriage with all we need for success. We learn “on the job” — benefiting as much from our failures as our successes. When the going gets rough it’s most often a sign that we need some new skills, not a sign that we need a new spouse.
4. Though all of us who love you wish for the wind to always be at your backs, there will be times that the winds of life blast you right in the face. In whatever hard times that come, may you have each other to turn to. Please remember that you’re on the same team. Even when things are hard. Even when you don’t see eye-to-eye.
5. We learn a lot more from listening than we do from talking.
6. Marriage is a long, ongoing negotiation about how two people are going to run things. Money. Intimacy. Parenting. Chores. As your needs change, so will your agreements. You can dig in your heels, or you can collaborate. Collaboration is a lot more rewarding.
7. As you move through the years, you will see your friends divorcing. Don’t panic. Divorce isn’t contagious. Though there’s no guaranteed way to “divorce-proof” your marriage, your best shot at a loving and lasting marriage is to be a husband or wife your spouse would be foolish to leave.
8. Don’t believe anyone who says that marriage doesn’t take work. Marriage, like anything else worth doing, takes focus, commitment, and willingness to go outside of your comfort zone. For some people, work is another word for drudgery. I think that work, in the context of marriage, is another word for love.
9. It’s always a good idea to be kind.
10. All that stuff about better or worse, good times and bad — it’s totally true. Forget about wedded bliss and living happily ever after. The best of marriages are a combination of difficulty and delight, surprise and predictability, aloneness and intimacy. A good marriage is about loving, despite disappointments. Regardless of differences. It’s about knowing and accepting each other, opening your heart come what may — creating a life that allows your love to grow deeper and more generous with time.
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Congratulations to your son!
Thanks. We couldn’t be more pleased. 🙂
Thank you for the ever-relevent tips/reminders, Winifred.
Allow me just to point out that four months constitute 33% of the year’s twelve months. Therefore, that “nearly thirty percent of couples choose this time to get engaged” means that couples actually prefer the other eight months to do so. Then again, Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day is actually a three-months-and-change stretch, not four, so it is in fact an average rather than sub-par engagement season.
I’ll have to think about how to better represent those stats. 30-40% of engagements happen on the actual holidays: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
Wedding planners call it engagement season.
My heartfelt congratulations to your son, his fiance, and your entire family. How lucky for them to have a wise and skilled relationship coach in the family!
Congratulations and Enjoy. May it last and if they follow your wise words on marriage, it surely will.
Thanks, Sherry. They’re already pretty wise themselves after being together many years. It’s a pleasure to see.
Another wonderful blog, Winifred! And Mazel tov on your son’t engagement!!
The one thing I’d add is to recommit to being a loving spouse every day!
Going one step farther, sometimes we need to make a minute-by-minute recommitment to change course and come from our best. 🙂
Wonderful news, great sharing, how very cool for you all!.. and I guess the wedding is back east with those snow and mosquito considerations ❤
Thanks. Yes, east coast. No ice storms here in CA. 🙂
Congratulations to your son and his future wife and to their parents. Your little thoughtful list is very sweet. Much happiness to all of you.
Thanks, Evelyne. We’re all very happy about it.
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beautiful beautiful list… marriage is a marathon, not a sprint
Thank you. Yes, it is!
“Though we had our troubles, we had them in a true perspective. The universe, as we could see any night, is unimaginably large, and mostly empty, and mostly dark. We knew we needed to be together more than we needed to be apart.” –Wendell Berry
Thank you for this.
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