What I Want to Tell my Best Friend on her Wedding Day

I'm writing this from a Best Western hotel room on the Eastern shore of Maryland. I didn't know I would be here until a few months ago, but as we now know, 2020 has become the year of loss, change, and rolling with the punches. And today, I'm sitting here having some much-needed introvert time as I prepare to help one of my best friends marry the love of her life tomorrow.

I've been wanting to come back to this space for so long. There is so much I want to catch up on and so much life and many blessings to be documented. But being a full-time working parent during the pandemic has been harder than I know how to articulate. It has required every ounce of my physical, emotional and mental energy just to survive this time, so blogging has once again...fallen by the wayside.

However, after a day or two spent child-free and left alone to my own devices, I've felt that creative buzz creep its way back into the recesses of my mind. I had ideas for things I wanted to do during my solo weekend- perhaps a drive along the bay, or some time with my nose in a book, but mostly I've just been listening to my body. So far, she's directed me to an early morning run, all the seafood I can consume, and of course, the first love of my life- writing.

I've had a lot of time to think about love and marriage. Before I departed on my 8 hour drive east, Chuck and I enjoyed a quick breakfast date at our favorite hometown coffee shop (if you ever find yourself in little podunk Wilmington, Ohio please be sure to stop into Kava Haus!) to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary (obligatory link to our throwback wedding photos). Every anniversary date, we try to be intentional about reflecting on what we learned in the last year of marriage. We talk about where we failed each other, how we can serve each other better in the coming year, and what our favorite moments of the last year were. Some people measure time beginning January 1. For us, time is measured year by year beginning September 2- the day we became a family. 

In our eighth year together, I can genuinely say this is the best love I've known. There was no way for 24-year old me to know how she and her partner would evolve and how they would grow together, but I wish I could tell her how little she truly knew what love was on that day. Not in a condescending way, but in an optimistic way that would leave her with the hope of better days to come in that sixth year after the birth of her second child- oof, it was a doozy. 

In our eighth year together, selfishness hasn't been completely abolished, but we do a really good job taking care of each other. Our life rambles on with a certain rhythm and cadence and we are constantly attuned to our partner's wants and needs. 

"Did you have a stressful day at work? Why don't I take the kids to the park so you can have a couple hours of down time?" 

"Are you missing your spiritual community? I'll make breakfast Sunday morning so you can relax in bed with your Zoom worship."

"Are you feeling grief over the memory of your lost parent? May I comfort you or do you want to cry alone?"

The best thing we've learned together is the simplest and hardest of things- to put each other's needs first. Because strangely and perhaps even counter-intuitively, we are at our best and our marriage is at its best when we stop thinking about what we need and begin thinking about what our partner needs. And when you trust that your partner is taking care of you, you can stop obsessing over taking care of yourself. There is peace to be found in that ebbing and flowing, and picking up, and putting down. It is the result of so many missteps, so much patience, so much humility, so much time, energy and intentionality. And it is one of the most beeautiful things in the world.

So as I think about my sweet college roomie marrying the man she has waited so long for. And as I think about the young couples in my life embarking upon this winding, trial-filled, and miraculous journey, the best advice I can give them is this- the only secret to a happy marriage is to take care of each other.

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