I recently attended a wedding ceremony of a close family member, and I ended up giving a very short speech for the bride and groom. I did not plan to give a speech and did not have anything prepared before hand, but I thought about what advice I would like to give from my 13+ years of marriage and I came up with something on the fly. At the end of the reception the bride complimented me about my advice and so I thought that I would share it on my blog. Maybe it will help others as I hope it will help them.
Marriage is a strange thing. We enter into it thinking that we found the perfect person for us. We think of how compatible we both are and how attracted we are to each other. We think of happily ever after. However, I have learned one thing about marriage that no one ever told me, or explained to me. That one thing is that for my marriage to work I have to change. When I say that “I” have to change, I mean that both persons, husband and wife, must change his and her own self.
Marriage forces you to change yourself. You can no longer think of self. It is not just only you. What you want to say, the things you want to do, where you want to go, are all no longer only contingent on you alone. You can no longer really be selfish, or self-centered. We now have to incorporate the life, heart, feelings, health, mind and will of another person. If you don’t change yourself, your marriage won’t survive, because a marriage is not about one person, but about two.
You must be willing to change yourself! Only you can do it. Your spouse can’t change you. If they try to do that, your marriage, likewise, won’t survive. Be willing to change yourself.
Please learn to listen to each other. You have to be willing to listen to the other person. Give each other time and attention, even if you think you are right. It is more important to listen and to make the other person know that you heard them and understand them. Many marriages die because one or both spouses don’t listen to the other, and then a feeling of distance between each other slowly creeps in.
There is always someone on the outside of your marriage who is willing to lend an ear of “concern”. Don’t tell your feelings about your spouse to anyone outside your marriage. Tell your spouse, and listen. One person may be more talkative or be more expressive or concise in speaking, but we have to learn to be patient and give the other person enough time and sense of security to express themselves.
Be willing and ready to admit when you are wrong. This is by far the hardest thing for most people to do, because most people hate to admit, even to themselves, that they are ever wrong about anything. However, in a marriage, when you realize you were wrong, admit it. It doesn’t matter how long it took for you to realize. It could take a few minutes, hours, days, weeks or even longer, but the moment you realize your were wrong about something admit it.
Admitting when you are wrong is not a pride thing, but a truth thing. It tells your spouse that they have an honest person, who can be trusted. And the truth indeed sets us free. There is great emotional freedom in calling right “right” and wrong “wrong”. This applies to both husband and wife. Marriage is not one sided. “Happy wife, Happy life” is a bold face lie, because marriage is about both people being happy, and both can’t be happy if one person is always wrong.
Accept your spouse for who they are and accept that they are different from you. You are two different people from two different families, having different habits, different preferences and different expectations. Don’t expect the other person to think like you all the time or to want what you want all the time. The sooner you accept that you are different people the easier it will be to harmonize your differences. Compromise no longer becomes a chore, rather it can be done with the goal of harmony in mind.
One of the most important things we need to be willing to do in marriage is to forgive. You will have arguments. You will say and do things that will hurt the other persons feelings. So, when all is said and done, you must be willing to forgive your spouse for hurting you. You must be willing to let the negative go and move on.
In addition, you also need to be willing to forgive yourself. Sometimes, you will be surprised at the things you have said and done. after your spouse forgives you, if you don’t forgive yourself, you will end up withdrawing yourself from your partner.
L – A – A – F phonetically is “laugh”. When all is said and done, remember to laugh. Sometimes, laughing is just the best medicine to heal the fissure or subside the pain. Hold each other and laugh. Cry if you have to, but laugh it off. Life is too short to keep grudges with the person you have vowed to live your life with.
My hope is that these few words of advice will help others to have a happy and satisfying marriage. I added a little more than what I actually said at the wedding. Be blessed.