Well Bugs, here it is, the BIG day.
I wish I could be there to tell you in person all of the things I want to say. I had hoped to laugh with you, cry with you, and embarrass you with a Maid of Honor speech that you would never forget. I wish I could be by your side, all hot and sweaty in a dress I’d likely never wear again, whispering in your ear “Why did we have to wear jean jackets!”. Secretly praying for the ceremony to come to completion so I could take off the cowboy boots you made me wear and discreetly put on my trusty flip-flops.
I wish I could watch our father read to you your vows. I would tear up and my mascara would run, but then, so would yours. I had hoped that our babies, only six months apart, would look more adorable than we could ever possibly imagine, dancing together, laughing together. The joy we would get watching them together on this big day would be memorialized in our minds, and when we were older and they were grown, we would talk of this time, “Remember at your wedding when…”
I know me not being there hurts you. I know me not being there lets you agree with your already formed opinion that you don’t matter enough to me (even though you would be wrong on this). I know that you have held this opinion for many years. Twelve to be exact. The thing is, I didn’t know it would be like this when I signed up for this life a dozen years ago. I didn’t think about the consequences to my family when I joined the military. I just wanted to get away, to live life and be free. I didn’t dwell on the idea of missed holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or yes, even weddings. And though I am no longer active, I am a military spouse, and a military spouse suffers these same consequences, except, I don’t have a choice in this matter. I just want you to know, if I could be there, I would be. I love you and wish I could be there to support you for all of your milestones.
But disappointment of my absence set aside; here is what I would say to you if I were there. Please imagine me standing, slightly red-faced, stumbling on some words but laughing at myself after, holding a glass of champagne, and likely, with a few tears in my eyes:
Amanda, I would love to pass on to you the wisdom I have learned in the last 11 years of marriage. But, the truth is, I think you already know it. You have seen our ups and our downs, our blessings and our shortcomings. My marriage has been a living testimony to you that when two people love each other, they can overcome anything.
So, if there is one piece of advice I can share with you on your big day it is this: never give up. Loving each other is not over; it is not done, when you say, “I do”. In fact, I would say that maybe you don’t really know what true love is until after you say, “I do”. I believe that in a lifetime of marriage, you will fall in love with your spouse multiple times. As we age together, grow together, have babies together, so too does our love evolve.
It’s not all roses, and if you let it, the fire won’t just burn out, it will extinguish itself. It takes work to be with the same person every day for the rest of your life. Not only must you love them, but also you must appreciate them, respect them, and more importantly, they must know this. It is not enough to merely think to yourself “I really love this person, I appreciate everything they do for me”, what good are those thoughts if the one you are thinking of does not know this? You can never, ever, say “Thank You” enough. Love is a flame, but marriage is a fire, always keep feeding the fire.
Set aside your pride and learn to be humble. Take it from someone who has been there, it’s not always important to be right. Many nights of fighting, crying, and more fighting were because I let pride take over my heart instead of grace. Be humble, even if you are right. Trust me. When you are wrong (it’s rare, I know), be humble and ask for forgiveness. An apology goes a long way…
Don’t ever, and I mean EVER, bring up the D word unless you mean it. Divorce is NOT a joke, and once you say those words, “Well then why don’t you just divorce me then!”, even in the heat of an argument you can never take it back. Those hurtful moments can haunt a relationship; it can haunt a husband or a wife and lead them to doubt each other and their future. So, make a promise to each other now that no matter how hard it gets, how angry you are, you won’t say the D word unless you plan on actually doing it.
Listen to each other. Talk “to” each other, not “at” each other. Say “I love you” often, preferably everyday. Never forget why you chose each other in the first place. Lastly, be the kind of relationship you hope your son will have one day. Show him what a healthy marriage is. Be the wife you hope he will have one day, the guiding light he needs when it is his turn to go fishing in the sea of love.
I wish you both many, many years of love, joy, and happiness. This journey is the beginning of a whole new chapter of life. Own it!
Love You Always,
Your Big Sis
P.S. Have some champagne for me, will you!