A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing my eldest daughter joined in Holy Matrimony. In that moment, I realized I was witnessing a miraculous event. So often in life, we want the best for our children, realizing we have little to no control in their actually obtaining it. The best we can do is have faith to believe they will acquire it. Most parents settle for their children doing better than themselves, not realizing, that once they begin settling, their children will never receive their best, because as parents, when we began to limit ourselves, we limit our children as well. Alas, I digress, another blog for another day. Today, I am making a toast to the newlyweds.
As the ceremony ended and the reception progressed, people began toasting the newlyweds. As mother of the bride, tradition suggests it’s my responsibility in the absence of the father, as was the case, to make a toast. Now, everyone knows that I am not the type to use flowery words. I tend to speak more truth than emotion. I am a rock, I encourage through prayers, guidance, and problem solving. If you have a need for any of the above, then I am your girl. But giving mushy speeches in front of people on command is just not my thing. I get that at certain times, we must leave our comfort zones, and do what is expected of us. So when prompted to speak and being shaken out of my reverie, I realized at that moment, I was expected to provide a relevant wisdom-filled word of advice, which truthfully shouldn’t have been that difficult. I mean, I have a doctorate in psychology, a successful life-coaching practice, find myself engaged in public speaking on the regular. So why was this so difficult for me because. That I cannot answer, but I can assure I feel as though I totally failed.
In fact, my failures that day had been mounting since my awakening. My first failure was simply in time management which resulted in the failure to practice applying the make-up look that I wanted. Since my desired make-up application failed, I was then forced into having to reapply hurriedly, and we all know how that ends up. This debacle was followed by a perfume stain on my dress, which was going to be overlooked, until the nylon zipper in the back of the dress just ripped apart. I have never in my life experienced such a major wardrobe malfunction, and of course, since your eldest daughter only gets married once in a lifetime, never on a day as important as this one. Given the wedding took place in the beginning of the fall season, and my being from the north, some of you may be familiar with the tradition of putting away the summer clothes to make way for the fall and winter, I had began this process. Needless to say, finding myself in this transitional state and the amount of stress I was enduring made it difficult to locate a suitable back-up outfit in such short notice. As it turned out, I ended up wearing of all things, a black sleeveless dress, with a killer sandal. If it were not for the shoe, I would have just crawled under a rock. Thank God, I had the forethought to paint my toenails the day before. And if that wasn’t enough, I was in the midst of trying to get a rambunctious 4 year old flower girl filled to the brim with anticipation to settle down so we could leave and go to the venue. In the meantime, the bride found that her flowers had begun wilting and so we were tasked with trying to locate white roses while in route to the venue.
So, here I am, dressed in black, toasting the newlyweds, and all I could bring myself to say was ” Marriage is hard, anyone can get married, but the work begins from this moment on” . What in the world? I feel like a buffoon even sharing this with you, so what I want is a redo. And while I know that I can’t go back in time, I would like to use the failure of that day to perhaps encourage the newlyweds of tomorrow. So, consider this a toast in advance.
Tip #1: Keep God first. This is so important. Many times, we forget who is truly responsible for our union. So much so, that we begin to take credit for it, and slowly but surely we begin to rely on Him less and less to maintain the union. Marriage, in the biblical sense, is a covenant with God, between a husband and wife. Now, I know that we, as a culture, have decided to define marriage in all sorts of non-traditional ways, and that is the user’s prerogative. But for those who practice the Christian religion and desire to adhere to more traditional, biblical perspectives of marriage, than this tip is for you. Keep God first, if your actions are pleasing to God, than they should be pleasing to your spouse. And when there are conflicts, refer to God to help you resolve them. God is the greatest marriage counselor that ever lived as it is He who created marriage in the first place. Why go to a resource, when you can go straight to the source.
Tip #2: Start speaking French. Oui. In the French language, this term means yes, but is pronounced we. No wonder French is known for being the language of love. Every time you say yes, you take the focus off yourself and place it on you and someone else. So practice saying oui to each other. This actually takes us to tip #3.
Tip #3: Use collective pronouns. You have been joined together and the two have now become one. Therefore, when you use terms such as I, me, or mine, you are separating what God has brought together. You are emphasizing yourself as an individual, who on the day you entered into Holy Matrimony, ceased to exist. On the other hand, when you refer to your spouse, using terms like he, she, or it (please never use this one), you are then looking to distance yourself from the one which you have been joined to. Think about it, we rarely compliment our spouse in conversation, therefore, if you are beginning a sentence with one of these pronouns, think about what words are following (i.e. He/she makes me happy, or he/she gets on my nerves) 9 times out of 10, it is the latter, so dismiss with the use of individual pronouns because it is hard to think negatively about the group you belong to.
Tip #4: Learn each other’s love language. Knowing not only your partner’s but your own love language is important and takes the guesswork out of keeping the relationship strong. We often make the blanket statement that women are from Venus, and men are from Mars, but in all honesty, what we are really saying is that we speak different languages. And one area we can start speaking the other’s language is in knowing their love language. A brief summary of the 5 love languages are: quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Not to say that any one person cannot have several love languages, but omitting to speak your lover’s primary love language can be problematic. For example, you may have a husband that works himself to the bone trying to express the language of gifts, when his wife really just wants to spend time with him. This gets confusing and frustrating for the both of them, because we become so busy expressing our love language on others till we don’t hear theirs. Think about how frustrating having a conversation with someone who over talks you becomes. Sad to say, it’s pretty much the same effect with speaking love languages, you keep telling the person what you need, and they just aren’t hearing you, because they are expressing their own love language and expecting it to be yours as well. Have candid, open and frequent discussions about your different languages, so as to never lose sight of the love you have one to the other.
Tip #5: Use affirmations. These affirmations are different from the ones used in love languages which are the use of words and compliments to express your love. The affirmations I am referring to in this tip are words you use to strengthen your marriage. For example, everyday, you can say, my marriage is the best marriage I have ever seen. That is an affirmation, and soon the universe responds by giving you the best marriage that you have ever seen. This is especially powerful when things aren’t perfect, because you will find that in time the tide turns and the marriage becomes whatever you affirm it to be. So be bold, be creative, be phenomenal. Remember, your marriage is in covenant with God and He looks forward to doing great things in His greatest creation.
Tip #6: Focus on the positives. That’s right. You married this person for a reason. You love them, and you believe in them. They showed you something valuable, and probably made you feel valuable as well. So remember this when the toothpaste isn’t being squoze right or the toilet seat never finds itself in the right position. Frankly, we all have habits that are frustrating to those around us. But rather than focus on those negative, frustrating characteristics, we can look at the joy this person brings to our life. We can look at what they do right, and focus on those things. If you are finding this difficult to do, consider revisiting using collective pronouns and affirmations. For example, we will do better, simple as that.
Tip #7: Create a daily ritual. This ritual can be as small or as grandiose as you like. Create something that you can do daily, for example, a morning or evening prayer, sharing a cup of coffee, something that you can do together, that you both enjoy, that grounds and binds you before you both go your separate ways for the day, or that reconnects you at the end. Often times you hear the term work husband/wife because that person by default is doing something daily with your spouse and getting paid for it. Don’t let that term become a part of your marriage. Nurture your relationship, grow with your spouse. Always make yourself relevant in each other’s life.
Tip #8: Practice appreciation. Displaying gratitude and thankfulness never gets old. How many relationships have ended because the other felt valued and appreciated. Not one that I have ever heard of, but how many have taken the downward spiral because one person feels unappreciated? Too many to count. So let’s not find ourselves in this number when it is so easy not to. Thank you, please, and your welcome, some of the most powerful, underused words in the English language. How hard is it to say thank you? Thank you for going to work today, and putting food on the table. Granted all these blessings come from God, but this is the person that He has permitted to do this for you, so give thanks to them both. I guarantee you that you can never say thank you too much, but rest assured you can definitely not say it enough. And who can resist acquiescing to a request made by their lover that begins with please, please have dinner with me, please watch a movie with me, please make time for us. Did you notice how the tone changed in the first two requests as opposed to the last? I tell you those collective pronouns really work?
This last tip seems self-explanatory, but you would be surprised by how many people get caught up because they failed to adhere.
Tip #9: Don’t do something you in their absence, that you wouldn’t do in their presence. Thing is, now that you two have become one, you should always be in each other’s presence via the heart, mind, or soul. So, when you are being flirty, thinking they don’t know, what could it possibly hurt, think about if they had that same thought pattern and how it would make you feel? Exactly. So be careful, be respectful, and be mindful at all times of the decision and promise you made to each other. There are tricksters out there. Remember, the grass isn’t ever greener on the other side, it just looks that way from where your standing. And while you’re busy looking at someone else’s lawn, you leave the door open for someone to tend to yours.
If I would have had on my teal, off the shoulder taffeta dress, with the slamming shoes to match and my make-up had been flawless, I might have had the presence of mind to say all these things to the newlyweds, or even saying just one would have been better than what I said. But I didn’t, however I thank God that all things work together for our good, and while I am disappointed that I didn’t give my newlyweds the toast I feel they deserve in public, God knows that I have sent many prayers His way on their behalf. And at the end of the day, who really remembers the wedding toast. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it for you.