A Letter to a Young Bride

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on October 24, 2013

Moxie Wife: A Letter to a Young Bride

My friend Valerie is getting married in 16 days. At this moment she’s traveling across the country en route to her soon-to-be new home where she will unload her belongings and settle in a bit before returning to Charleston for the wedding.

I haven’t known Valerie long, but I just love her to pieces. She reminds me a lot of myself — only cuter, sweeter, smarter, and more holy. I miss her already.

It’s been such a joy to watch as she got engaged and now prepares for marriage. She has such respect for the sacrament and a deep, deep love for her fiance. We’ve talked a lot about marriage over the past few months and I’ve quietly wondered, “If I could share just one piece of advice with her, what would it be?”

There are, of course, so many things I’d like to share, so many things I wish I’d known prior to getting married. Every time I’d settle on that one thing I’d like her to know, though, it struck me that in order to know this thing I wanted to share with her — to truly know it deep down in her bones and on a soul level — she’s going to have to live it first.

You can read books about marriage, listen to all the advice in the world, and study other couples — and it’s good to do these things — but often, to be able to integrate a piece of marital advice, you have to experience the pain of conflict and the sweetness of reconciliation a few times before the a-ha! moment hits you.

After a few failed attempts to settle on that one thing that I want Valerie to know, I suddenly realized that the thing I was searching for was actually the one common thread that ran through every specific piece of advice I could come up with. It was this:

Be patient with yourself, sweet Valerie, and be patient with Nathan.

This whole sharing your life with someone thing has a way of bringing you face to face with your own limitations in short order. All of your vices will come out to play, and so will his, and (as shocking as this may be) they won’t always get along. But if you’re patient — and not just in a waiting for the time to pass way, but in a tolerant, compassionate, and merciful way — you’ll find that this love you share with Nathan will grow into something far more beautiful than you could have ever envisioned.

As for having to live through a thing to know it, here’s an example:

As a bit of a hot-blooded individual, I knew (very, very, very) well the importance of picking my battles long before I married Dan. There’s something about being a newlywed that makes everything feel so incredibly important, though. Talking through every last little thing? Important! Going to sleep at the same time every night? Important! Putting the milk on the third row, left-hand side of the refrigerator? So important!

This isn’t a bad thing. When a man and woman come together and endeavor to make a life together, they need to establish habits that will make their new life run smoothly. Some things simply have to be hashed out. But if I told you that it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things whether he backs his car into parking spaces, will that stop your blood from running a little hot?

Probably not. All the advice in the world wouldn’t have made any difference for newly-wedded me. I was right and Dan was wrong and the fact that he did not grasp this information was something that had to be remedied. It was as simple as that. I was willing to die on every last little hill.

But after a few years of ruined romantic evenings that found us stewing at opposite sides of the house instead of snuggling on the couch, those things that once felt so important to me suddenly started to feel a little less so. I just wanted to be with him. Life is hard enough without fighting unnecessary battles within the walls of your own home.

A Letter to a Young Bride

There are countless other examples, of course — getting used to the silence into which so many men retreat when they’re in problem-solving mode, learning how to endure the valleys, trusting God to fix things between you that you cannot — but if you extend to one another the same merciful patience that God extends to you each and every day, your marriage will flourish and be such a gift to this hurting world of ours.

Gosh, I hope this isn’t demoralizing. I don’t mean for it to be. My marriage is pretty much my most favorite thing in the whole world and I have no doubt that you and Nathan, too, will experience far, far more highs than lows in your own union.

But on those days when learning the art of marriage feels heavy on your shoulders, don’t let spiritual attack make you believe that any of these bumps in the road mean more than they do. None of these growing pains point to a lack of love or some profound deficiency in your union. It’s just a big change to go from two to one — one that every married couple has to wrestle with a little. And one that, you guessed it, takes a whole lot of patience.

The good news is that there are very few things in marriage that can’t be fixed with a few fervent prayers, a heartfelt apology, a touch of forgiveness, and a dose of sweet, sweet lovin’ (wink).

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Martha October 24, 2013 at 7:54 am

Love the advice, so true (17 years and 7 kids here) that you can try, but absolutely cannot articulate marriage until it is experienced. Valerie will benefit from the advice of a friend like you as time goes on, I’m sure!

Love the parking space thing. Mine used blinkers everywhere. And I mean every where. In our own farmyard. On a one directional curve. Leaving our driveway with no one in sight. But you know, just like Dan’s timely getaway idea, it’s always with a protective vibe in mind, which is really very romantic, isn’t it?

Mrs. K October 24, 2013 at 8:05 am

Beautiful. Lots of laughing and just go to sleep and it will be all better in the morning!
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Sam October 24, 2013 at 8:59 am

LOL. My new husband and I literally just had a disagreement about how to organize the refrigerator. I really needed this. Thank you, Hallie!

Anna October 24, 2013 at 9:07 am

Well this is timely–I also am getting married in 16 days! The stress caught up with me yesterday (after I was just marveling a few days ago at how I wasn’t stressed at all… ha) and I needed some encouragement this morning, so thank you for this. There are changes and challenges ahead, I’m sure, but there’s a lot of grace and joy ahead too. Now to work on being patient, beginning with myself today.

Monica October 24, 2013 at 9:15 am

I got married just shy of six weeks ago and loved every bit of this. It felt like you were talking to me!

This closing paragraph – “The good news is that there are very few things in marriage that can’t be fixed with a few fervent prayers, a heartfelt apology, a touch of forgiveness, and a dose of sweet, sweet lovin’ (wink).” – is something we have already found to be sooo true! Pray about it, humble yourself and say you’re sorry, or humble yourself and let go of the hurt to forgive the other person, and then ‘reconnect’ at the next opportunity … definitely a good recipe!

I am blessed with a wonderful husband who is such a great example of these things. He actually established the habit of asking for forgiveness and giving it between ourselves when we had only been dating a couple of months. That exercise was a very difficult one at first, but the habit has made the transition into married life so much smoother than it otherwise might have been!

Thank you for your kind, realistic, encouraging words!!

Jenny Parish October 24, 2013 at 9:41 am

What a great post! I have followed your blog for several years now, but never commented. I love how you give realistic advice about struggles while still maintaining a positive and joyful attitude toward marriage. Before I was married (nearly 6 years ago), it seemed like everyone was saying something along the lines of “just wait til the honeymoon’s over!” implying that all our happiness was about to come crashing down. I hated those comments. I have since learned of course, that marriage is not easy, but I still don’t like heaping doom on brides to be when marriage had also been such a source of joy and blessing. Every time you write, I think, yes! That is the way to speak of marriage! Thank you for being so encouraging.

Colleen Martin October 24, 2013 at 10:26 am

Oh my gosh, the backwards parking thing…same with Phil!

When I got married young, my mom came up to me one day right before the wedding and said “I just want you to know that men are …uh…amorous. You’ll see”! Hahaha, I laughed then and I still laugh when I think about her trying to warn me of what my husband’s favorite pasttime would be. She was so right!
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Kris October 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Great post! Almost 20 years and 5 kids over here. I laughed over the milk thing, but some of my favorites are how to keep the toilet seat, which way the toilet paper goes, and how to properly fold t-shirts and socks. It made me laugh to think over those things that were SO important and see where I’ve given and where he has given over the years. The one thing that is still my ‘go to” strategy for myself is to pray for God to make an opening if I’m supposed to initiate a “conversation” about something that is bothering me with my husband. I tend to overplay things in my own head when sometimes it really IS just me and I need to let whatever it is go, and just get over myself. If I really pray that God will make a natural conversation happen with my husband if I’m supposed to talk about it and then let Him take over, it either happens and it ends well, or I just end up letting it go – all for the better.

bobbi @ revolution of love October 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I love, love , love this. After nearly 14 years of marriage I am still learning. My biggest helps (besides God’s grace) are to give my hubby the benefit of the doubt (no, he’s not purposely trying to drive me crazy) and to keep my sense of humor. A good laugh always brings me back into his arms. ;-)
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Anna October 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm

My husband and I are still going to bed at the same time, almost always, twelve years later.
This is perfect advice. It sums up so many of those little issues that turn into giant monsters. Blessings to the young couple.

Andrea October 24, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Ah, Valerie is the sweetest!! She has been a friend of mine since I was in her shoes–engaged and about to get married. Please send her love from Andrea and Luke. Great advice, too!

Agnes @ Restless Until I Rest in Thee October 24, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Love the advice! I’m freshly married (going on 3 months) and so far our new life together has been running very, very smoothly! We’ve known each other for a very long time (dated for 7 years prior to tying the knot) and we have definitely had some major and minor valleys. But those valleys are the times when I learned the most about my now-husband. That’s when I learned what to do and what not to do when he’s mad….what to bring up and what not to bring up when there is tension between us. SO yes, it did take a lot of experience and some big and small fights, but I feel like we know a lot more about each other through those…and can at least now know what to expect when we hit another valley…although I know that life likes to throw UNEXPECTED things at us….but still, it’s all about experience, as you said! And I think the most important thing is, and this may sound cliche, that Christ be at the center of your marriage and that you go to HIM in both JOYS and SUFFERINGS. He always, always offers his sweet, comforting embrace.
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Tess October 25, 2013 at 11:02 am

As a newlywed of just 5 months, I can’t thank you enough for writing this piece. Everything you describe, from facing your own limitations to learning to let the little things go, is what I’m living through right now. It is so encouraging and heartening to know that everyone else goes through these things too, and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with us or our marriage! Thanks, Hallie!
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ellen October 26, 2013 at 8:02 am

Yes! This is what I wanted to say! We’ve been married a grand total of three weeks today and already I can see this truth – of course it’s hard; this is a vocation that demands nothing less than everything. But there is so much joy and I just know that doesn’t have to fade after the honeymoon. During our engagement, we surrounded ourselves with our friends who were honest about the struggles but overall encouraging, in love l, and glad to show it. It helped insulate us from the naysayers. Thank you, Hallie, for your sweet sharing of the joy of marriage.

Julia November 1, 2013 at 8:43 am

Great post! (I’ve been a silent reader of your blog for a while.)

Two kids, and a cancer diagnosis/battle/remission later, and my husband and I are about to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. Needless to say, we’ve had our share of unexpected trials and triumphs, and we know enough now to expect the unexpected, good, bad, or otherwise, in the years to come. We married fairly young and my husband was diagnosed with an aggressive disease not three months after our wedding. As scary and awful as that was at the time, in the grand scheme we have gained so many lessons and blessings from the experience.

Patience, humility, hopefulness, faith, gratitude… and a strong dose of laughter are key ingredients to a strong marriage. Also, accepting that there will be days when you have to give a little more than you get trusting that when you are in need, your spouse will pick up the pieces for you, too. Marriage is a partnership that is not always in balance every moment of every day, but works out such in the long run of peaks and valleys.

As a wife and mother, I have learned that I gain most joy and fulfillment through acts of selflessness. I have experienced a depth of love — for God, my husband, and my children — that I could not have understood or fully appreciated on my wedding day.

May God bless your friend and her husband-to-be!

Amy Williams November 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Great piece! After 28 years (can it really be that long?) your advice is still applies…and good as gold. Yes, we do still disagree about *ahem* important things like the correct way to fold underwear, but we’ve learned quite a bit about what is, and what is NOT, truly important. Thanks!

Erin July 5, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Almost six years into this Happily Ever After gig and I needed to read this today…thanks and God bless you.:)

“But on those days when learning the art of marriage feels heavy on your shoulders, don’t let spiritual attack make you believe that any of these bumps in the road mean more than they do. None of these growing pains point to a lack of love or some profound deficiency in your union. It’s just a big change to go from two to one — one that every married couple has to wrestle with a little. And one that, you guessed it, takes a whole lot of patience.”
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