Marriage In Corsica
I recently received an email from a woman I didn’t know from the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea. This woman, Megan Gruber, has been married for about eighteen months and wants to compile a book with a collection of advice about marriage from other women. She stated:
“Whilst marriage used to be a sacred bond where women (and men) would hand down advice and cultural roles to the next generation, now days it seems to have become merely a social event and party without much focus on what happens afterwards - building a successful, loving and committed relationship. My interest in marriage and love has become an obsession. I am currently seeking and searching the globe for women to hand down their honest advice on marriage, their experiences, their expectations, their successes, their failures, with the hope to produce a series of letters to publish as a book and hand down the sacred messages of marriage to the new generation.”
Megan requested that I write a “letter” for her upcoming book, which I gladly did. My letter reads as follows:
The Night Before Your Marriage
As you go to sleep tonight and dream about your marriage that will be happening tomorrow morning, I would like you to reflect on your inner strength and commitment to the vows you will be making with your husband.
The promises you make to your husband, and he makes to you, are not just for when everything is going well and you feel united and content with each other. Your promises are for a much greater cause than just enjoying those happy times, as important as they are. Your promises to each other are going to be needed even more when trials and adversity hit you in the face and knock you both down. That is when the two of you are going to need to grasp each other’s hands, gaze into each other’s eyes, and say, “I will love you forever. We can make it through these problems together.”
Yes, focus on “forever”—and always keep an eternal perspective. Remember the scripture in the Bible:
Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman,
neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
―1 Corinthians 11:11
You have great inner strength—greater than you think you have. Use it when times get tough. Reach deep into your soul and ask God for help when you feel weak. Everything you learned from your past life before you were married is still with you. You are that same person, but you are different. The rights and responsibilities of marriage have now given you and your husband another kind of strength—the strength to not only carry your own burdens, but the strength to carry your spouse’s burdens during difficult times. Always be there to lift each other up when it is necessary. You are strong.
You Have a Choice
Every day when you wake up, you will have a choice to make. You can choose to be a happy, loving wife, or you can choose to be cold and complaining towards your husband. Regardless of how your husband is feeling each morning, you can choose happiness in your own life and share your happiness with your husband. God sends the sunshine on everyone each morning regardless of how they are acting. You can do the same. Be the sunshine in your home and the gloomy emotional skies of others around you will more quickly fade away.
When children come along, love them, cuddle them, serve them. But remember that you are also a woman and a wife, not just a mother. Give your mothering responsibilities your best efforts, but balance this role with respecting your own personal needs and the needs of your husband. While it’s not easy to balance these three roles, through prayer, persistence, and patience you will learn how to do it.
The bond between you and your husband will grow deeper each year if you are kind and honest with each other. You and your husband will not be able to read each other’s minds, so set aside plenty of time when you can seriously talk and communicate with each other. Never assume that your husband knows what you are thinking and feeling. Express all your thoughts and feelings in words. Do it often. Do it kindly. Do it clearly. Pretty soon, it will become normal.
Some differences between you and your husband will not be resolved in one day, but make a decision to be kind to each other anyway. You can “agree to disagree” and still feel happy and in love. Pray together before you go to bed each night and ask God to bless your marriage with His love. God’s love will help increase and solidify your love for each other.
What makes marriage exciting is that every day you are both changing, so there is always something new to learn about each other. This is why a life-long marriage can be so mutually satisfying and enjoyable. You are with the same person, but you are both growing, changing, and becoming your best selves over time. Never get discouraged when either of you hits a plateau and feel that things are never going to get better. Rest on the plateau for a while. Then, with faith in God and faith in yourselves, get up, join hands, and get going again.
Help Each Other Heal
You are different from your husband, and he is different from you. While you knew many things about each other before you got married, you didn’t know everything. Keep learning about each other and support each other in your personal struggles. Sometimes past memories will pop up that will bring deep sorrow and despair about the past. Learn to listen patiently to each other as old wounds begin to heal through the healing balm of your marriage. You will learn that this is one of the most important purposes of marriage—to help each other heal from the past. The more you both help each other heal, the deeper the bond between you will grow until it becomes unbreakable. You will be one.
I know this is a lot to think about on the eve of your marriage, so just tuck these thoughts away in your mind. When circumstances happen that cause you concern, remember this letter and read it again. Marriage can be tough, but marriage is supposed to last forever. Don’t complain. Don’t look back. Don’t quit.
You can build a beautiful, unique marriage as you and your husband value each other as individuals, give each other space to grow as two strong trees, and let your branches intertwine as they bear sweet fruit that you both can enjoy together.