Dear starry-eyed bride,
There are days in my marriage when I have wanted to travel back in time to May 14, 1988 and tell the starry-eyed bride I was then, STOP! Don’t do this!
Would I be the ghost of marriage, year eight, and tell her about the secret bank. Not the monetary kind, but one where resentments build with compound interest and low percentage-rate forgiveness that would make the next decade and beyond a tough slog?
Would I be the ghost of marriage, year seventeen, and tell her how her father’s death and career change and self-limiting beliefs would cause a two month separation?
Would I tell her there would be temptation from other women and men, struggling in their own lives, that hint at an alternative?
Would I tell her she’d gain a lot of weight with food addictions and become unattractive, while he had set out to conquer his alcohol addictions?
Would I tell her that financial challenges and personal disappointments would make us feel trapped?
Or that I might make enemies with his friends and he with mine?
Or that one of us might behave badly in public and make the other squirm?
Do I tell my younger bride about children, and sleepless nights and teen-agers and drugs and worry?
Do I tell my younger bride that, often, she will feel more like an unpaid maid and nanny, and that romance was just for books and movies?
I could also time-travel back to December 28, 1986 and remember the night I knew I was going to marry him, even though we didn’t start dating for another three months.
He said a girl he recently dated was too perfect. He wished she’d spill or trip. Anything. In retrospect, he got way more than he wished for. I’m not exactly spill-proof and trip over unseen objects.
I could relive the kismet as we discovered a massive list of shared interests. The conversation was easy and our senses of humour played off each other—something that has sustained us for over thirty years.
I could compare him to previous dates I found stuffy or boring, or relive that epic second kiss we’ve recreated so many times.
I can still see the pipe band marching across his face when I told him I was born in Wales and loved Britain as much as he did.
Or I could tell her how five years before I met him, an English teacher read aloud the poetry of a former student. I was so impressed. I recall the political metaphor poem about the Beaver getting screwed by the Eagle (a Canada-USA relationship poem, obviously). I fell in love with his writing even before I fell in love with him.
By year twenty-four, this aging bride remembered the writing and coffee dates at University. The pair of them found expensive words they loved. They used them in papers, whether they fit or not.
She’s still easy prey for handsome men with big…vocabularies.
Today, I’d tell my younger bride, start writing your book in year one. Don’t wait until year twenty-four.
My year-twenty-four bride definitely didn’t want or expect to rediscover all those kismet-ty things that brought them together. But she valued his editing help and fell in love with him all over again.
I’d tell her to keep finding British shows to watch together. Make him playlists and new music, while also d.j.-ing road trips with all the classics. I’d tell her to travel to places you both love and go to concerts—like Coldplay at Wembley Stadium or U2 in Seattle.
Today, she sits proudly on her bridal perch of thirty years. She’s thankful that this starry-eyed bride expected the tough times.
They wrote their vows from the book of Ruth, “may God deal with me be it ever so severely if anything but death separates you and I.” Harsh words. But it would seem they meant them. They agreed before they married that they’d prioritize marriage counselling if necessary.
Wise foresight. It’s been necessary. Several times. And I would tell that bride today, and every bride and groom, go for counselling.
Just go. And keep finding things you love to do together. Most of all, trust in the power of redemption.
Today, I’d tell that bride. Do it again. He’s worth it.