Many of our friends are reaching 25-30 years of marriage. These milestones present a time for reflection, and in many cases, the decision to celebrate by renewing marriage vows. We’re also beginning to witness and celebrate the love and marriage vows of those “little ones” we raised or had the privilege to watch grow from toddlers to young adults – now in love. A few weeks ago, our family attended our first wedding of a young girl we watched grow up into a beautiful young woman.
Not only was this wedding our first of the “kids” but also the first of watching dear friends prepare to walk their daughter down the isle and welcome a son into their family.
Leading up to the wedding, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion on a few occasions. I couldn’t help but eventually ask myself, why am I feeling this way? Was it the passing of time and the loss of “what once was” – young children and young families spending numerous hours together, creating traditions and watching our babies grow, or was it the joy of seeing the bride as a beautiful young woman who had found love and happiness with her soon to be husband and the new journey they were embarking on? I concluded it was a bit of both. Either way, the emotion was good. It goes back to thoughts we often catch ourselves in during this life stage, that contemplate where has the time gone and how did we get here so fast? Witnessing change and transition means life is moving ahead, and it can be an emotional celebration of what was, of what is, and of what is about to be.
Michael and I married in August 1988, and when we reached 25 years together in 2013, we chose to celebrate by taking a family vacation to Italy and renew our wedding vows while in Positano on the Amalfi Coast with our children (Paige and Joshua) at our side. As I prepared for the day, I really had to think about what I wanted to say to Michael. What did “25 years later of marriage” vows mean? They certainly looked different from when we were 22. We were giving each other the opportunity to speak with knowledge of highs and lows that we came to know as marriage for us, as well as a continued dedication to one another. These words now described times that had been, the family we had built, and our hopes, dreams, and promises for times still to come. It was a healthy process and opportunity to visit together – something we may not always think to give air time to.
Looking back, what advice would we give to ourselves (hindsight being 20/20!) as new brides and newlyweds? Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it! How do we translate that advice to young adults in our lives, that we are now wishing the best to in their marital journey?
While I am no marriage expert, I have the following five thoughts I “have come to know” that I would share with young couples starting out on their own journey:
- Never stop dating: Date nights can be simple, an evening of cooking together, watching a movie with a glass of wine or a dinner and movie out. Just the two of you. This is especially important when little ones enter your life and time seems to fly by. Take time to hold hands – and remember this used to create butterflies and smiles in the early days. It especially warms my heart to see an elderly couple doing so.
- Keep the conversation going: It’s not always rosy, and frankly, it shouldn’t be. It’s a relationship and things aren’t always perfect, but keep talking. Difficult conversations will be needed and both parties need the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings and “try” to not go to bed angry. It makes for an awful night’s sleep.
- Don’t lose your identity: Maintain a level of independence, and continue to focus on what you both need as individuals (obviously within reason). Keep interests, sports, and hobbies of your own but also find some you can take part in together. And – don’t forget about your sisterhood. Nurture those relationships as they are your lifeline.
- Maintain friend and family connections: Having “couple friendships” are important. Hold these close as you may find yourself raising kids at the same time, eventually traveling together, and even becoming empty nesters in the same timeframe. More importantly, don’t lose sight of your individual families that got you to the day you said I do. They are your blood. Keep those connections because they are special.
- Say I love you: Don’t let a day pass without saying it. And at some point as the years pass, consider renewing your vows.
Beginning the journey of marriage can be a stressful time. As middle aged women, we have insight (or wisdom) to offer based on our experience, and if given the opportunity, we can likely share what we would have done differently and what we would not change. This is where we can provide some guidance and advice to those new brides and grooms (who want it) by sharing our thoughts and experiences.
Why ? Because it’s a privilege to build a marriage and partnership of our own, while encouraging those starting to write a new love story.
I dedicate this post to “Jesse’s Girl”, whose wedding day took me back in time to reflect and smile at the past, gave me joy in celebrating the present and the gift of love and marriage, and to toast their future as husband and wife. Love you L xo
2013 Positano, Italy
D by denise Journal is published bi-weekly. To subscribe and receive directly to your inbox click here.