When the first two of our sons got married this spring (three weeks apart), my husband embraced the father-of-the-groom’s job of making a toast at the rehearsal dinner. He put a lot of thought into it, as you should when making a speech in front of your soon-to-be daughter-in-law and her family, who will hopefully still want to merge with yours when you finish.
(We’ve all seen horrifically failed wedding toasts in movies, so I admit I was nervous when he began.)
It’s one thing to know your marriage works — and ours does: we celebrate 30 years this fall — but it’s another to analyze why and put it in words. It’s also interesting to hear why it works from your husband’s perspective.
When he raised his glass and toasted the happy couple at the first wedding, here are some of the things my husband said:
- Always treasure the love that you share now and keep trying to impress each other, like when you first sought to win each other’s affection. (As an aside: I’ve been known to say “You’re still supposed to try to impress me!” when my husband burps loudly or does something else you wouldn’t do in front of your future wife in the early stages of the relationship.)
- Never go to bed mad or angry with each other. I know this has been said before, and it isn’t always easy, but #3 should help . . .
- Son, odds are she’s right. Even if you’re not wrong, she’s still right. Even when you are right . . . she’s still right. Realize this. Accept this. Own this.
- Finally, always put each other first: each other’s needs, wants, and desires. Making your spouse happy will in turn make you happy. That’s what they call love, and I know you have it.
Wise words! Admittedly, I saw backs bristle over #3. People are instinctively selfish, and there are philosophies in this world that do not encourage a selfless, put-others-before-yourself attitude. Christianity doesn’t happen to be one of them.
Yes, there will be times when my daughter-in-law will be wrong, but I think my son got the message.
Philosophies don’t get married, people do, and successful marital relationships aren’t governed by political ideologies. If you’re accustomed to interacting with people through a framework of belief systems, it may be difficult to grasp my husband’s message: in marriage, harmony matters more than winning.
When we focus on getting our way or having the last word, harmony eludes us. Marriage is a team sport and we only win when we work together. Making your spouse happy should make you happy too (and vice versa).
Ideologies don’t make chicken soup when you’re sick, hold your hand, or grow old with you. People in loving, harmonious relationships do that. Trust, compromise, give and take when needed.
Following my husband’s simple advice — continue to woo one another; don’t hold onto anger; you don’t have to be right; make your husband’s happiness a priority — can feed a starved relationship and make your marriage flourish, the way you both intended the day you said “I do.”