It’s finally here. The weekend we’ve been planning for months. The weekend you’ve been dreaming of your whole life. You found each other. You’ve plotted and planned and delegated and … delegated again, and it’s upon us. This weekend, you become Mrs. Derek Goebel. Not just my little sister. Not just the Baby of the Moss Family. But someone’s wife.
Pardon me if it takes me a while to get used to the idea. During the past 23 years, I’ve been The Big Sister, a role I’ve taken very seriously. Fierce Protector. Counselor. Guide. Second Mother. Sister … with all the good and bad that the job entails.
And as my final act as Self-Appointed Primary Protector of Mendy, I pass along the lessons that I have learned over the past three years: My Marriage Advice.
This list is a compilation of Lessons Learned By Rita The Hard Way and also the wise advice of some respected persons. I hope this helps you.
- Learn to say, “I’m sorry.” I list this one first, not by random, but because of its importance. I know this is a point of contention for you because you’re my sister and we are very alike. Pig-headed, because it’s in our blood. We want to be right. We are easily persuaded, during heated discussions, that the person we’re talking to is “against” us.
Overcome that belief, remember that you’re really working together, sincerely apologize … and you will have learned the most important lesson of your marriage: You’re on the same team! And marriage works so much better with that in mind.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. They say the first year is hardest. Near the end of the first year, you begin to hear that the second is hardest. And, as I enter my fourth, The Experts are promising that the hard years stop coming after five … or maybe seven.
Honestly, we haven’t had “a hard year”. We have difficult weeks, bad days, tough spells. But we talk it out, work it out together, and are better for the communication it takes to work those issues out.
And, to be truthful, if “the hard years stop coming” means that you learn to tolerate one another while you each do your own thing and merely coexist, personally I’d rather have bad times.
- Respect. You’re about to enter a crash course in The Opposite Sex. One thing I’ve learned that’s helped me a lot is this: A man needs to know he’s respected to feel loved. Biblically, a woman is never told to love her husband. “And this [picture of Christ and the church] provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33) I don’t believe those words are written by coincidence. In as much as you need to know you’re loved in this relationship, Derek needs to know he’s respected. As the head of the family. As your husband. In whatever he decides to do. Respect him. Even when he makes mistakes.
I also kept this list of stuff from a sermon that Pastor Hal preached in May 2005. At that point, I hadn’t been married yet a year, but it already meant a lot to hear at that point. I remember that the Sunday this sermon was preached, we had a group of single friends visiting from out of town. After church, they were all, “Duh! Those are so easy!” and Kyle and I just looked at each other and knew we had appreciated the reminder.
I hope it will mean as much to you as it has to me.
20 Principles and Practices
That Will Build A Stronger Marriage:
- Grow Spiritually
- Love Completely
- Work Continuously
- Play Often
- Share Equally
- Serve Cheerfully
- Give Selflessly
- Laugh Heartily
- Talk Honestly
- Praise Frequently
- Criticize Gently
- Spend Wisely
- Protect Fiercely
- Parent Jointly
- Celebrate Happily
- Forgive Easily
- Believe Stubbornly
- Pray Daily
- Sacrifice Gratefully and
- Grow Old Joyfully
Spend the rest of your life being a student of your husband. Learn his interests and encourage him. Learn his love language and become fluent. Learn his communication style and speak it.
Spend the rest of your life making it what you always dreamed. You hold the keys.
And know that I will always love you. And I will always be here for you.
Your Big Sister