She’s beautiful. The kind of beautiful that lights up a room with laughter and the smell of cookies. I honestly don’t know how her fiancee stands to live fifteen hours away from her. And I say all of this knowing full well her many faults because she is my little sister. I’m very proud of her.
I watched her yesterday, surrounded by friends and loved ones as she opened gift after gift at one of her wedding showers. We’d been asked to write down marital advice for the bride-to-be and I found my slip of paper to be too small to capture the words I wanted to say. In an effort to be poetic I merely wrote, “The early years fly by so fast. Write down the best parts and be patient through the worst.” I felt so sage.
No one tells you what marriage will be like. The good, the bad and the ugly. Most people just stick to the good stuff. And maybe it’s different for everyone. Maybe it’s just hard to put it into words. But every fairy tale seems to end with the magic words, “and they lived happily ever after.” Only as far as I know, nobody lives in the happily ever after.
I wanted to write something more substantial on the card, something that would help her know what to expect in the foggy future of marriage. I wanted to tell her that the new towels she was unwrapping will one day have muddy stains on them. The everyday china that she finds enthralling at the moment will one day be chipped and dirty in a sink full of dishes. The man that seems to hang on her every word now will one day pretend to listen while his brain jogs down more interesting paths.
Of course, I didn’t share these predictions with her. It was neither the time nor the place to be offering that point of view. And more importantly, I was afraid she wouldn’t understand my meaning. It sounds rather dismal at first glance.
You see, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in marriage it’s this – things change. It’s normal. You get a dog. The dog gets muddy. The towels get stained.
You have a baby. The baby spits up all over you at the table and in an effort to clean you up, your husband knocks your plate to the floor. It chips. Then it goes in a pile of dishes in the sink while you head off to take a shower. He takes the baby and cleans her up for you.
That topic that you find mesmerizing – the one you talk about non-stop everyday – it makes you feel alive. Well, he loves you to death, but he finds that topic beyond dull. He’d never tell you. So he pretends to listen because it makes you happy. He’s really thinking about the way your mouth curves when you smile.
Hands down, the best part of her wedding shower was at the end of the newlywed game. The groom had answered a bunch of questions on a tape recorder and my sister had to guess the answers before we heard his versions. She did a great job of predicting his responses. At the very end he had recorded a message just for her. During part of that he said, “Our wedding still seems kind of far away, but I can’t wait for it to arrive. You’re my best friend and I love you.”
What I really wanted to tell my little sister on the advice card that we were given was this: “The towels will get stained. The dishes will get chipped and dirty. There will be days when you feel like you don’t recognize the people you’ve both become. Cling to this. Never forget this. Y’all are best friends. You love each other. As long as those things don’t change everything else is an adventure.”