"Don't just get married - do something with your life!"
I think these are among the saddest words I have ever heard! It amazes me to discover how many of our young people (and I mean homeschooled, orthodox Catholic young people) regard marriage as the end of all fun. Marriage, if you talk to them, is a trap; and once you are trapped, that is it. You never enjoy yourselves again.
I wish they knew the truth. I wish they understood the wonderful liberation that marriage brings. To have someone who cherishes you above all others; who seeks your company before any other's; who supports you, is interested in you, talks to you, loves you... How magical that is! Yet so many young people talk of making sure you have fun before you get married, because (the implication is) you won't afterward. How has this sorry state of affairs come about?
Half in jest I told my children I'll write them a Guide to Marriage. I'll write for our sons, Shaun can write for our daughters. My part will be something like this:
Don't worry if your wife cries a lot. That's normal. But try to understand why; and when she feels insecure and unsure of your affection, it is genuine, so be re-assuring.
Tell your wife you love her. Every time you see her is probably often enough. And think it too, because the way you think and speak becomes the way you are.
Realise what it is like for her to be at home all day with only babies or toddlers for company. Be sympathetic and be punctual. If you say you'll be there at six, don't be surprised if she is an emotional mess if you arrive home at ten past six instead.
Ring her every day.
Pray together. Share your anxieties and concerns as well as your joys.
Be considerate. She's exhausted and sleep-deprived; whenever you can, in the precious spare time you have from working all day to provide for her, take the children. Do the washing up. Do the shopping. Hang the washing for her at the weekends. Help with the children and the housework. Cosset her; she's hanging on by a thread, so offer a lifeline.
Let her talk. It's something women do. Let her tell you every detail of every event. try to reciprocate, even if it's an alien idea. Try to add something about how you feel, not just a mechanical account of what you did.
Remember, your children are not your rivals. If it seems your wife always has her arms full of babies and never of husband, it is not permanent. Your children are a living embodiment of your love for your wife. Be patient and be tolerant. Be loving. Even if she's so tired that she can scarcely keep her eyes open, she does still love you.
Have fun. Go out together as a family. BUT ALSO GO OUT TOGETHER AS A COUPLE, even if it means shanghai-ing a reluctant (but of course reliable) friend or relative as a babysitter. THIS IS VITAL. Children are wonderful, a great gift, but they will grow up and move away and develop lives of their own. Your wife is there till death do you part. Don't forget it is she whom you married. (And grandmothers can put up with babies screaming for a couple of hours if needs be. When it's not your own baby it's not half as stressful.)
Money, pleasant as it is, is not everything, and God ALWAYS provides. I promise this is true, hard as it is to believe; I speak from experience. So, don't say you can't afford another child. You can never, ever afford ANY children. But children give you so much, so much precious love and joy that you will never receive in any other way. Children are a marvellous, wonderful gift. Be grateful and joyous. If you need a breather, sure, space them a bit; God never said married couples had to have as many children in the shortest space of time available; indeed, He may not even give you any. But never reject them.
Remember that as spouses, through the sacrament of marriage, instituted by God to give grace, you each work to the sanctification of the other. What a wise and unexpected gift that is.
Love your wife, love your children, be kind and generous. Make her laugh. Have fun. God bless you.
Perhaps they'll read it; but at least it is an attempt to share with them the truth about marriage! How could anyone do MORE than 'just get married'?!!
Photo: Wedding by Tom Clare/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net