Death comes to us all I know. My mom is still here with me so it never crosses my mind that one day I won't be able to call her up and ask "is that regular flour or self-rising flour in this recipe?" I know so many women younger than me that have been given the death sentence via cancer. Most of them have very young children/daughters. All too often lately, I've been driving kids to school or wherever.. and all I can think is... what if that was me? What would I do? What would I tell my kids? What would I wish I could tell them that I haven't? If I died today, what would I wish I told them? Mostly things they wouldn't understand yet. So I'll put them here just in case.
Mati Claire, my 8 year old, tends to ask me the most serious questions and coming-of-age questions on the way to school. 7:15 in the morning and we're discussing birth control (yes! at age 8!) and such things. When you have 3 younger siblings, its difficult to hide the breastfeeding, the C-section scars, periods, etc. I didn't necessarily tell her up front about any of it, but I also won't lie to her when she happens across these situations. I'd rather her hear the information from me instead of some random kid at school. We haven't had the "birds and the bees" conversation yet, but I know its soon. I remember being in the 6th grade for my first sex ed class. If my mom told me about it first, I don't remember. But I do remember that class. Mat Claire will be in 4th grade next year, so again, my time is limited before she starts hearing things from her friends.
Yesterday's question in the car was "mom, how do you know you are marrying the right person?" (after the topic of divorce came on the radio). I'm given about a 15 minute window before she has to get out in car rider line. 15 minutes to answer what I would call life questions each day. My mind is blown because I'll be in the middle of discussing tampons and she gets out, slams the car door, and says "bye mom! love you!" And I'm left wondering if I said it right. Did I get the message across to her? Did that conversation go the way I wanted it to go? Did she understand? Parenting is tough.
So to answer this question, Mati Claire. How do you know you are marrying the right person?
Well, I would say to her:
1. Listen to your inner voice. I like to think of it as the Holy Spirit guiding you. Not your conscious. What does it tell you?
2. Does this man love Jesus more than you? He better. Is he a Christian? I hope so. If you put God first, its amazing how everything comes together in God's timing and in God's way. It doesn't get any better than that. And you'll be so glad you waited for the right person (even if it takes longer than you wish).
3. Look beyond the looks... is he a good person? Is he superficial? Looks can only take a person so far. Looks go downhill with age... and some of the "best looking kids" in high school didn't age so well and some of the "nerds" in high school turned out to be really hot later in life! :)
4. Don't get me wrong... you'll have to look at this person for the rest of your life... as long as he's handsome to you that's all that matters.
5. What do you not like about him? Can you live with that forever? And don't say there's nothing wrong with him, because no one is perfect. As long as he's perfect for you. If you can overlook the pet-peeves, then go for it. If something he does drives you crazy in the beginning... it will probably only get worse in time.
6. Is he a gentleman? Does he have manners? If not, move on. No excuses. If he doesn't put you first, then he isn't worth your time. If he doesn't make you feel like a princess, move on.
7. Does he put forth any effort into grand gestures of love? Any man who cares what other people think is superficial. If he truly cares about you, he won't care if everyone around him knows it. I would need to see a grand gesture of some kind before agreeing to marry him. Just ask your Daddy about the contacts in the ketchup and then allowing my mom to go with us on our first date!
8. Does he love his mom?
9. Are his parents still married? I would definitely look at this and this should probably be closer to the top of the list. If so, he has a good example of what marriage should be. He has seen that it takes work (even if he doesn't realize it). If his parents are divorced, I'd say he's perhaps more likely to give up as well because he turned out ok, right? ;) Or maybe he's seen divorce and knows what not to do. My motherly advice would be to go with the still-married parents.
10. Does he make you laugh? Like touch-your-soul make you laugh? He better. And not in the mean-make-fun-of-you-put-you-down-funny. That's not funny. But life is too short to spend a lifetime with someone who doesn't laugh with you. Your Daddy makes me laugh when I take things too seriously (which is often). Laughter can take you far in life.
11. Don't be afraid to be yourself. If he tries to change something about you, then he is not the right person for you. No matter what it is (clothes, hair, who your friends are, what you eat, etc).
12. Does he have goals? Ambition? I won't lie --- if he doesn't have some kind of plan for his life as far as a job goes -- how does he plan to support you? No goals = bum. And you are better than that. You deserve someone who can support you in the way that you want. Marry for love, but also be realistic and practical. If he hops from job to job faster than you can blink, that doesn't look like a good foundation to me. If you are happy with whatever income he makes, then that is great! Your Gigi always asked me, "If your husband dies, can you support yourself if you had to?" So my goal for you is to have the job that will give you the income you desire. You can not always depend on your husband for money. Can you support yourself? God forbid, what if something terrible happens to him and he is disabled? Both of you need some kind of plan in the beginning. Because marriage is hard and money usually makes it harder.
So that is my Top 12 answers for that question, Mati Claire. I could go on and on but I'll stop there. I would go into lust vs. love, but the question was about marriage...so I'm assuming its past lust already and hopefully in love. Don't even get me started on lust...that's a whole different post in itself!
I love you, Mati Claire and Merritt. I'll have to do a different post for the boys later. I do hope you find the right person you are meant to marry. And its ok if you don't. If he hurts you, you better believe I will haunt him for the rest of his life! ;) Now that we've been married almost 12 years, I can honestly say its not about the wedding... its about the marriage. Big wedding, small wedding, elope... it doesn't matter... do whatever makes you happy.
My love is your love!
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