Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

One Summer, Two Weddings

May 20, 2002

We have two weddings in our family this summer. Two weddings. Twice the happiness. Twice the relief.

One wedding in May is for our daughter Tally and her groom-to-be Eric. The second will be in August for our son Tyler and his bride-to-be April. We are happy for them and their new lives together. Nothing could make us happier than to see them have happy, loving lives together and to be good parents to their future children.

That will make six out of seven children married and with their own households. Hopefully it will be several years before I write a newlywed column for our seventh child who currently is in the ninth grade. It might take that long to recuperate from this summer.

Advice for the newlyweds.

- Love and cleave to one another with all your heart. Center your love in a belief in God and obedience to His plan of happiness. That plan includes having, loving and rearing children if you are so blessed. The best parenting advice is for you to be an example of parents who love, honor and respect each other. Show your children how marriage and family life can bring happiness.

-Love takes work. Not hard work. Fun work. But it does take time and energy. It takes a commitment to each other’s happiness and an eager heart to make that happen. Please each other. Put each other first. The love you give will come back to you. If you meet your own needs first, you’ll dry up the fountain of love that would otherwise flow easily to you.

- Give each other a listening ear and understanding heart. You and your spouse can be different and that is a blessing to you. Each of your lives and perspectives will enrich each other. Two heads are better than one. Learn from each other. Help each other feel safe and accepted despite a few flaws and idiosyncrasies.

- Sidestep or minimize conflict. On some things, you will have to disagree without being disagreeable. The way you talk to each other about differences will determine how you feel about each other. Confront hard issues when you need to. Use your best manners and courtesy in bringing up criticism and complaints. Tell each other hard truths when you have to but do it with a compassionate heart. Negotiate. Compromise. Give in sometimes for the sake of the relationship.

- Control your anger. Anger needs a listening ear. If you can’t do that for each other, disengage and try another time when both of you have regained your composure and can really listen to what is being said. The worst thing you can do if your mate is angry is get angry back, give your own opinion, argue or dispute their points. Listening doesn’t mean agreement. It means showing you understand their point. Don’t turn your disengagement into an angry, silent treatment that takes its own destructive toll on marriage. That can be as bad as mean and ill-considered words said in anger.

- Be quick to apologize. Your apology has to be based on a full appreciation of the harm and hurt you have caused. You’ll also need to try make amends and then commit to not offending again in the same manner. Live up to any commitments you make. Otherwise your words will come to words only and not a trust that things can and will be different. Don’t apologize lightly.

- Be quick to forgive. If forgiveness is asked for, give it. To forgive doesn’t mean you trust, at least not yet. Trust will have to be earned by different behavior over time. If an event is in the past and lessons have been learned, then holding on to pain, grudges, resentments and anger only hurts you and your marriage. Too many people live with unresolved problems because the apologies and forgiveness haven’t been clearly stated and given.

- Make wonderful memories. Spend enjoyable time together. Be best friends. Be emotional confidantes and soul mates. Share your heart. Have regular talks. Know the details of each other’s lives. Laugh, tease and be playful. You need common goals, adventures and dreams you can create together. Live life with joy and excitement. Make your greetings and farewells a sign of your fondness for each other.

- Share your affection. Affectionate words, affectionate touch, and regular physical intimacy keep marriage alive and vital. Be romantic. Kindle the flame of your attraction with unexpected gestures of love, kindness, appreciation and compliments. Don’t take each other for granted. Celebrate holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and accomplishments with verve and imagination. Create your own private language and rituals to honor the specialness of your life together.

- Share the work in the home. Have a willing heart when it comes to sharing work and burdens in the home. You may have different roles and commitments but your willingness to help each other should always be there. Find fulfillment in each other’s lives as well as your own. Make a good fit between home life and work life. A home should be a refuge and a sanctuary of love. Manage your stress so that problems aren’t scapegoated onto family members. Do your part, both physically and emotionally, to have a home environment that builds each other up.

- Honor your vows. Your spouse depends on your promise to be faithful. Don’t let anyone or anything come between you. Get counsel instead of living with unresolved problems, anger and resentments.

We are delighted you have found each other. Now go make a wonderful and fulfilling marriage.