What do I say to my son on his wedding day? In the past few months, both of my sons have gotten engaged. I am happy and sad about this.
I have been a marriage therapist for many years. It gives me a first hand look at what goes wrong in marriages.
Early last year I wrote an open letter to my future daughter-in-law. So much has changed in my sons’ lives. Both of them have proposed. One is in graduate school and the other has changed jobs.
As they have made this commitment to the women they will marry I feel like I’ve gained two daughters. Though I talk to my sons regularly and we are still close they have taken a step away from me as they are becoming one with their betrothed and now have another family they are becoming a part of.
I’ve been thinking about what to say to them. What blessing can I give their soon to be union? Here is my current wedding message to my sons:
Tomorrow you will be married. You are making one of the most important decisions of your life. Few things will affect your happiness at the level of the wife you choose. When the union is supportive you will feel there is nothing you can not withstand. The two of you together will be unbeatable.
When your partner is not in your corner all of life is more difficult and almost too much to bear.
There is much you can do to keep your marriage strong. Life is full of joy and sweetness, but it is also full of pain, struggle, and challenges. Turn towards each other when the hard times come. This sounds like easy common sense today. However, when the challenges come as they will it is much harder than it seems.
Prioritize Time Together
Always take time for each other. Take time daily to touch base about your day. Make weekly dates a priority, especially when you are busy. Take time at least once a year to get away for a vacation from the work of day to day life. These things nourish your friendship. They make you remember why you wanted to spend your life with each other. When you are your busiest is when these rituals are the most important.
I know you work hard at communicating and solving problems together. Keep this up. The two of you think differently and have different priorities. A monthly check-in about the state of your union what’s working and what needs work is a good ritual to have.
You are planning to be together for a lifetime and what works in your 20s may not work in your 40’s. Too often couples forget that though things change little from day to day over decades many things will change.
If it seems you are getting no where in a problem area try this “What I hear you saying is________________________.” So often when couples are having a disagreement what one person is saying is different than what the other is hearing. This simple technique can make a world of difference.
The more difficult the subject is to talk about the more important it is for you to talk about it. Don’t assume that just because it seems best and is working for you that it is working for her.
Marriage is not 50-50
This is such a ridiculous thought. For marriage to work you both need to give 100% of yourselves. In working things out you must each give 80% because if you are both only giving 50% you will barely meet in the middle and it is very human to overestimate what we give and underestimate what the other person gives.
Just like I told you when you were a wee child on my lap, I will love you forever. Now I will also love your bride forever because she is officially a part of our family.
Women Need Security
Women need security. Yes, they need financial security. I am proud that you understand this and make an emergency fund a priority.
Women also need emotional security. Your wife needs to know that she is a priority and that you have her back emotionally.
Sex in Marriage
As a marriage therapist, I’ve heard many husbands complain that their wife lost interest in sex. There could be many reasons for this, but there are two that are the most common.
First, if she has young children she is probably exhausted and tired of having a little person attached to her almost constantly. I know you know it is important to do your share. Remember that when and if the babies come. You are not helping, you are one of the adult leaders of your family.
The second reason women tend to lose interest in sex is that they don’t feel loved. If you are striving to make your wife feel loved and cherished and you don’t know what she is wanting and needing…………..ask her.
Men and women generally have different arousal patterns. Women are like an oven slow to heat up and slow too cool off. If she is cool towards you she is probably not feeling loved and supported. Ask her what would make her feel this way.
If you are fighting or there is tension between the two of you make it a priority to resolve it.
Women need different things in a physical relationship. Make sure her needs are being met and don’t assume. You are a good decision maker, a good communicator, and a kind, caring man. Together you’ve got this.
Give to her without expecting anything in return. Most women will naturally want to give when they feel secure, loved, and supported.
Ask for What you Want and Need
If you are not getting what you need from the relationship talk about it and let her know in a kind and gentle way. Though this may be a hard conversation it is far easier than living with resentment.
A Community of Support
Just like she needs her women friends you need men friends. You need men who are family-oriented. I will do all I can to support your marriage. I’ve been praying for the two of you for years and will continue to pray for you.
My hope for you is that your union brings you more joy than you can imagine.
So Much Love,
Related: What I Learned Raising Teenage Sons
Hi, I’m Tamara the creator of Empowered Single Moms, a single mom, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and the author of Thriving a Single Mom’s Guide to a Happy, Positive Life and Thriving a Single Mom Journal. I have a solo private psychotherapy practice where I treat anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.
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