Advice for the well-meaning elders.

When David and I were married 6 years, we were a part of a “grown up” conversation, elders who had been married three times as long as we had. A reference was made to us being babies. “Oh, y’all are just babies,” she said. “Wait till you’re together 20 years and then we’ll talk. It’ll wear off.” I’ve ruminated on this many times- in both the really good and the really bad. It never seems to come to mind in the mundane, when in reality, it should never have to come up at all. You see, my eyes have been opened, but I don’t regret a minute.

I spent many years waiting on when “it” would happen- things would gowrong, one of us wouldn’t love the other anymore…and we’d be miserable just like those other people. Well, it came and the warnings had me no more prepared than if it was a squall, rising up out of nowhere. The anticipation of misery tainted my joy.

I’ve grown and loved and hated and fought my husband and yet, he still gives me a catch in my breath, makes me laugh involuntarily, makes me roll my eyes and giggle at the same time. He is a good man, a good husband, and a good father. I see so many women my age, a ripe old 30, already heartbroken and marriages ripped apart by seeds planted disguised as “sage” advice. I’ve been advised multiple times to leave, and I’ve advised women in my past situation to leave.

Oh, to know what I know now.

And it didn’t come from a person- it came from Jesus because He was the ONLY one who could fix that mess. What grieves my heart the most is that these young couples don’t stand a chance against the tide of other people’s pasts. So, as we come up on 12 years, I want to give some advice to the elders.

*****

Let them have the stars in their eyes. Let them believe in that bright future of dreams from childhood. Let them be the exception to the rule. Don’t cast doubt and plant seeds of fear and suspicion where nothing needed to be. They will need freedom to run to each other and that poison that was cast forward with good intentions leaves just the tiniest bit of a wedge through no fault of their own.

Let them talk to each other. There are no rules here based on what a real man does or what you would not tolerate. Let them fumble a bit and give them room. They are forging something great here. You’ve had your turn- and you still can if you want it. Let them lean on each other, turn them back in that direction when things get shaky. Let them remember why they loved each other without slapping menacing labels on strong values.

Let them learn. Don’t steal their twinkle. Dont be the person who causes them to question the motives of their spouse or waver in their confidence of their future. That confidence is the strength they will require when the world seems so big and all they have to hold onto is each other. Be the friend that encourages, that offers wisdom, that prays for them and let’s them know. Don’t steal the shine.

Let them have their moments, their puppy love, their reconciliation without feeling that loyalty to one means discounting the partner. Those arms are needed to hold tight and buffer the storm. Let them love and learn and makeup without tossing the ashes of your own personal history on their brand new adventure. Don’t muddy the water.

Let their misunderstandings be misunderstandings, with no ulterior motive, painting with a broad brush. Let their children be brilliant and their husbands be their princes, and their wives be all they’ve ever dreamed of. Let the stars they have for each other hang long enough to be direction in times of trial- those stars are meant to lead back to each other, a guide in the times of darkness. Don’t cloud their way.

Let your past be yours and their now be their future. They know that trials come- no need to remind. Let them be lovers. Let them be loyal to each other and don’t make them choose between you. Let them grab onto their dreams with both hands, showing no fear as long as they have each other. Let them know that you are here, but their place is there. And most of all, let them be.

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