A Single Sister's Marriage Advice
Updated: Dec 30, 2019
This one's a bit of a departure from my usual creative exploits, but crafty nonetheless. This time, I got imaginative with words to put together a bit of a speech for my sister's wedding. Just in pertinent part, here's an excerpt I wanted to share with you, because I feel like these 3 things are something that everyone needs to hear:
Marci and I always had an interesting dynamic growing up: one where the younger sister taught her how to talk to boys and do her makeup. I gave her advice on a lot of things.
So before I entrust her to you, Joey, I’ve got three last pieces of advice for her, and I’d like you to hear them too. And when it comes to relationship advice, clearly the wisest thing to do is to take marriage advice from someone who's never been married.
No... but in all seriousness, I’ve come to believe that heartbreak teaches us the hardest things about love. In the last year alone I’ve realized more about love than in all my 25 years before. And I learned it the hard way so that you won’t have to.
My first piece of advice is a simple one: cherish every moment.
The world we live in can be a despairing place. There are lots of horrible things going on: but I think one thing takes the cake. It’s the single saddest thing I know. Are you ready? Love doesn’t last. And no, I’m not saying that in the way you think I am. What I’m saying is this: you’ve spent your entire lives looking for each other. And finally, after all these years and all of this struggle and uncertainty, you’ve finally found each other. But you don’t get to keep each other. You’ll never own one another. You are the steward of this other person’s heart; the keeper of their soul, until they’re gone. Sometimes we can have this beautiful responsibility for decades upon decades; sometimes we are only afforded years. Tomorrow isn’t promised- so don’t take today for granted. The only thing that is promised is your whole hearts to each other for your whole loves. “Till death do us part”. No pressure.
On the day that you lose her; on the day that you lose him; you’re probably not going to think of the day you got married. As you breathe your last, you’re not going to be thinking of the day he proposed or when she walked down the aisle toward you. You’re not going to think of the expensive vacations you took together or the awesome social media photos you posted together.
Or, if we take the less dramatic route: one day, ten years from now, you’re going to say “I love you”, and it’s going to feel routine. It will roll off of your tongue instinctively- and those goodbye kisses will just be customary. I hope you won’t let a single silly moment go by without taking it all in. I pray more than anything that your life together is more beautiful than any single day or event could encapsulate.
I pray that you come to know what it feels like to stay up way too late laughing together in a foreign country.
I pray that you come to know what it's like to roll over in the middle of a sleepless night at home and look at the sweet, closed eyes of the greatest gift that God ever gave you.
I pray that you come to know what it feels like to be in each others arms, smiling with the kind of joy that only comes from an overflowing heart, knowing that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
I pray that you come to know what it is like to have your best friend sitting in the passenger seat next to you singing and laughing on the way to some random dentist appointment.
I pray that you come to know the experience of dancing barefoot in the kitchen, with no music on, just because you can.
I pray that you come to know the experience of sitting on the bathroom counter while the love of your life does something like put soap on a loofah, the most mundane, stupid thing, but getting the privilege of doing them together.
That leads me to my second piece of advice: get ready, because this is just the beginning.
Love is the single most beautiful thing on Earth; it’s the number one thing that makes life worth living. Love is God’s ultimate presence in our lives and in this world: so you better believe me when I say that every evil on Earth will come for it. The goal of this world is to destroy love. But it won’t just come from bills that sidetrack you or late work hours that keep you apart. Sure- those outside influences are going to try to tear you apart; but destruction will also come from the parts of your souls that you like to pretend don’t exist. Don’t let fear hide those dark parts of yourselves from one another. The more you know each other, the harder it is to tear you apart. You’re going to fight and at some point think you are each other's worst enemies. Just keep in mind that if one of you is “winning”, you’re both losing. The old adage goes: “never go to bed angry”; but it’s true. Never let a problem become so big that it distracts you from realizing that you’re on the same team. It’s not you v. her or him v. you: it’s the two of you against the world. You’ve got a worthy opponent; and it’s coming for you: but you’ve also got your greatest ally by your side; so get ready.
My last piece of advice is pretty simple: trust your love and practice it daily.
You’ve heard it said that love is a choice- and how true that is. But I heard it once said that love is not an emotion- love is an ability. It’s the ability to see past a person’s faults or temporary moments of fleeting happiness to look deep into who that person is and love them for every fiber of their being. It’s not easy. You don’t just wake up one day knowing how to love correctly- it takes a lot of trial and error: and I should know, because I’m the queen of the trial and error. Emphasis on the “error” part.
Love as an ability, like the ability to talk or walk or run, takes practice, and just like when you were a kid and you were told to practice something, ultimately it’s your choice. Love is your choice. It’s the one thing you’ve got to decide to do every single day- no exceptions. This is the single biggest commitment you will ever make, and the hardest choice you will ever have to stick with. And you’re still going to doubt it.
You’re going to overthink it. Just like every other decision you’ve ever had to stick with, you’re going to wonder if you got it wrong. You’re going to think you can’t go on. You’re going to feel like you’ve lost everything. This person beside you, looking at you with such adoration, is probably going to break your heart at some point- I’m sorry to say. I hope to God I’m wrong, and you never experience that. But the truth is that that’s also when real love can shine through. That’s when you find out what the two of you are made of. True love is when someone breaks your heart, but you still choose to love them with all the shattered pieces and trust them to help you put it back together again.
There you have it- you’ve got everything you need. There are my three pieces of advice, and with that, my work is done. Now, Marci, you enter into uncharted territory. I can’t help you all that well with this one. The student has surpassed the teacher.
Perhaps at a later date I'll share more of that moment- but for now, I'd love to hear your opinions. What's the best marriage advice you've ever received? What would you tell your newlywed self?
And perhaps my greatest question: am I spot on or have I got it all wrong?