On Marriage: Father to Son

Dear Nick,

I always enjoy sharing thoughts with you about almost everything so today I wanted to talk about marriage. The time is right for a couple of reasons. First, you are actively seeking a meaningful relationship that might lead to marriage and, having been married for some time seems like there may be something you could use.

As your grandad used to say: “Time is on your side.” This is especially true in relationships.

In some ways you are beyond me here. You have learned what many times I didn’t.  You know that love is an action word. You know how to treat a woman, how to have fun and what’s really important in life. You are not needy.

You know your value without having to fill yourself up with talk about yourself to make up for what you think you lack. There is much that I admire in you and, everyday,  I thank God that you are really my son.

Hopefully, you can still learn a few things from me without them all being things you shouldn’t do so here we go.

Some people say that you can love anyone with hard work. Sorry, I don’t buy it. Yes, it’s the hardest work there is. That’s why you need all the positive support you can muster. But there is a certain chemistry. Loving a woman, especially in the beginning, for the right reasons, deals with the question of risk. “Am I willing to risk marrying this person knowing all that I know about her so far without knowing everything to minimize my risk?” If there are more than just a few things you love about her- she’s basically honest and does not suffer from addictions or is too much of a looney tune- then you are on the right path.  Let’s dig deeper.

There’s the issue of intelligence, inquisitiveness and common sense. Someone can be very bright and not read The New York Times every day. Does she have a sense of emotional intelligence? Does she have a sense of humor? Can she laugh at herself? Does she tell you like it is about yourself, about your blind spots (and we all have them). Does she connect with your brain as well as your heart?

Here’s the bottom line. Does she love you? When she looks at you does she see the eternal ‘you,’even the  good parts of you that you don’t see. Is she kind and warm? Does she have an ease of being herself (comfortable in her own skin as some people say)?  Is she generous of spirit? Does she accept you-warts and all?

Do you feel proud to love such a woman? And prouder that she loves you? You will begin to understand exactly what I mean by this in the following way. You will think her beauty is all-encompassing, not just her looks.

You have heard the phrase, “love is blind?” You will see her as beautiful in a myriad of ways. You won’t care what anyone else thinks about her, and you will never feel the need to “explain her” to anyone. You absolutely will not care.  And any other women you see who are attracted to you will pale compared to her. No matter how beautiful or kind or giving other women may be, you will just see what they lack compared to the unique attributes possessed by that one woman you love. No one can take you from her. She will “own” your heart, and she will cause your soul to soar with the pride of knowing she loves just you. And you will love the fact that she ” owns” you without having taken anything from you, but by having given you herself.  You will have a sense of complete satisfaction when you are with her. And you will have the feeling that your relationship with her is as great a love story as any told- from Romeo and Juliet to Dr. Zhivago. You will know in your heart what it feels like finally to come home.

Does she see the “best you” or does she berate and pick away at every fault? If she does the latter, don’t walk, RUN in the opposite direction because there is something missing in her soul and she will not be able to fill it up with yours or anyone else’s love.  The missing piece is love of herself. The reason I tell you this is because most of the primary problems in relationships have this one issue at the heart of it.

Does she have that difficult-to-find combination of love and sex-the whole package? Both are important

Do you love her for just who she is now? Just the pure and eternal “her?” Not for her accomplishments or her aspirations. Remember you don’t want her autograph and you don’t love someone for her resume.  Martha Stewart has many qualities, but it doesn’t mean you should love her. It’s the qualities you consider important-no matter what they are. You are not out to be a “good boy.” You have to live with the choice.  Don’t marry someone for “your own good.” Marry someone who is good for you.

Finally, with what you know, are you willing to risk the rest of your life to do whatever it takes to love her forever? If the answer from your gut is “yes” then do it.  If you receive any other answer (I mean any other answer) the real answer is “no.” Keep looking. Why? Time is on your side – always.

Love,

Dad

Photo: Nathan Cowley / Pexels