We have just come through the Christmas season, and one of my favorite Christmas traditions is to watch the movie, A Christmas Carol. There is something compelling about watching Ebenezer Scrooge being made to face his past mistakes and the potential doom of his future. (Perhaps it is because there is a little bit of Ebenezer in each of us). Though it would be frightening to have ghosts appear at my bedside, part of me envies Ebenezer’s experience. Who wouldn’t want to receive the gift of foresight, to find out where they have gone wrong so they could fix it while they still had time?
Of course, life doesn’t give us that chance. We must make our decisions as best we can, not knowing where the road will lead. This is something that frustrates me as a person who aims to live an intentional life. I want the knowledge in advance, so I can make the best decisions now and achieve the best outcomes later. But I Corinthians 13:12 reminds us that, for now, we can only see imperfectly.
I have been married to the same man for nearly 22 years. Marrying him is hands-down the best decision I have ever made, the best investment of my life. Our journey together has not been all sunshine and lollipops, but I honestly couldn’t imagine having done it with anyone else. As I sit this morning and reflect on our married life so far, I imagine… If I could travel back in time, what would I tell a younger version of myself about marriage, knowing what I know now? Here’s what I think would be on the agenda.
- You made the right decision! Time and again you will see that you married a very good man, the right man for you.
- Trust him. He really is as sweet and trustworthy as you think he is! No matter how others have broken your trust, you can trust this man with all your heart.
- Relax about your pet peeves. Believe me, you have more than enough of your own flaws to work on! Regardless of everyday irritations, your husband is going to continue to surprise you by his capacity for love and gentleness, and the depth of his character. When you feel unlovable, act regrettably, or are feeling hopeless, you will find him sitting beside you, giving you quiet reassurance. This will far outweigh his minor shortcomings.
- Don’t put too much stock in romantic bells and whistles. These things are nice, but over time you will be far more taken with the love and respect you see in his eyes.
- You know how he is your best friend? Yeah, you got that right. You are not going to lose the happiness you feel seeing him come home every day. You are going to look forward to growing old together.
- You know your five-year plans? Chuck them. Life is not going to turn out anywhere near the way you imagined. And that’s okay.
- You know how you want to focus on a big career and wait a few years to have a family? You will regret that decision, as you’re going to find that you have no control over either thing. Yes, work is important, but your career will not fulfill you as much as being a mom will. Follow your heart over your ambition.
- You know how you look forward to having kids together some day? You will have to fight harder than you can imagine to see that dream come true. But when it does finally happen, you will be so glad you did it with him.
- The biggest thing I want you to know? This marriage journey is less about what you are accomplishing together and more about who you are becoming together. Yes, you will enjoy achieving your dreams and slaying dragons together. But achievements come and go, and ultimately your life will be more about how well you served others and how you sacrificed for each other. Let your reward be the love you see when you look into each other’s eyes, and when you look at the circle of people around you. Don’t focus on the fading symbols of success.
What would you say to a younger version of yourself with respect to marriage?