Three Ways to Bless Newlyweds… from a not so newly wed.
This Christmas my husband and I will celebrate 17 years of marriage. We are on the uphill climb to turning 40 and celebrating 20 years together all at the same time. You could say that because we married young we have had the opportunity to grow up together. I have had the privilege of witnessing his becoming as a man, as he has watched my unraveling and rebuilding becoming as a woman.
I can remember my own wedding day vividly – the chaos, the mayhem, the never ending opinions, the love, seeing his face in the foyer after the ceremony and being able to touch him, hold him, and kiss him as mine for the very first time. I was no longer simply my parents’ daughter; he was no longer only his parents’ son. We were now something deeper and fuller, hope-filled, optimistic, excited and intentioned as husband and wife. We belonged to one another.
I have often said I believe our early married life would NOT have been as difficult if we had been given the opportunity for separateness as a couple.
Boundaries – respectful separateness can be difficult for some parents and families to extend to their adult children… but a necessity to their becoming and the whole family’s long-term health.
In their desperate need to be able to shape their lives and futures together on their own terms young couples will long for their privacy and developing boundaries to be respected. They will need to be heard. Young couples require less assumptions and more active listening.
Some families – read this as parents – make it super difficult for their grown children to move forward into adulthood. They cling too tightly. They overwhelm. They dig for what is not theirs to know. They speak when they should listen and be still. It is a painful separation, but essential ingredient to a healthy family – the blessing of a young couple’s life together.
Perhaps our early married years would have been different. But it was what it was I cannot change it. All I can do is help others to understand how much better it is to be a blessing instead of a curse in the lives of the newlyweds we are fortunate enough to encounter. We bless them when we offer to them: comfort, peace, and HOPE.
Three Ways to Bless Newlyweds
- Be For Them. Be a source of comfort in a hostile, pessimistic world. Young people have plenty of critics. They don’t need another one. You make a choose about HOW you are going to approach them. You can choose to be a voice of support in the sea of cynicism or you can continue to be a lifesucker. You can help to fill up their marriage well or you can drain them dry.
Since more than 40% of marriages end in divorce – newlyweds know the statistics. They know the odds are not stacked in their favor.
Young people know all the reasons why this might not work out in the end. What they need is you in their corner… no matter what… anyways.
- If you cannot be FOR them – then sit down and shut up or better yet – stay home. If you cannot be 100% present and for a newly married couple with joy, then you should be silent. Seriously. Don’t talk. Keep your opinions and your “encouragement” to yourself.
Be known as a person who offers peace into young relationships. We need more genuine peacemakers in our lives. You will know that a young couple respects and values you as a peacemaker when they trust you with their real, when they come to you in their joy and their pain.
Early marriage is the time when they desperately need voices that are overflowing with peace, but too often we find the opposite: judgment, condemnation, ridicule, whispered critiques, loudmouthed opinions….all actions that lead towards relationship fractures and defeat.
Newly married couples will have plenty of voices telling them how they do not measure up.
There will be a whole host of people who will offer their opinions about:
- how hard it is going to be
- how they should have waited
- saved more money
- finished their education
- gotten a better job
- gotten pregnant after the vows
- should wait to have children and not too many children, you do know how that happens, right?… and (my favorite) get a vasectomy already!
But rarely – very rarely – will they have consistent voices speaking into their choices with respect, love, boundaries, affirmation, kindness, active listening, and PEACE.
When you can’t find peace – you make it for yourself. Young people who cannot find peace will find it in their own way and on their own terms.
Don’t be the voices that a young couple have to get over to be OK in their marriage. Be a voice overflowing with peace.
- Offer HOPE. Unfortunately many young people are never taught how to HOPE for themselves. They glide into the next phase of life having never learned how to live a life of HOPE. Their futures feel disjointed. Parents help to instill hope. Our families of origin provide the basis for a foundation of hope.
Sometimes we never learn how to HOPE for ourselves…
Young people without a firm hope can often bring this lack of grounding into their marriage. The last thing a new couple needs is doubt, ridicule, and despair fueled by our lack of HOPE for them.
They need to witness our hope. Hope is an essential ingredient to a family’s becoming.
You offer a new couple – a young person – hope by demonstrating hope. We demonstrate this hope by HOW we speak about them and to them. We offer hope along the way – as we walk with our children on the path we teach them how to grow with hope so that they bring hope into every part of their future. We offer hope by HOW we are present with them. Our motives matter. Our actions speak volumes.
We offer life-giving words of hope or desolate words leading to despair and hopelessness.
The hope or hopelessness we offer into the world clings to those we encounter along the way.
We offer hope by being HOPE-FILLED about ourselves, about others. What overflows from our hearts and lives and mouths… flows right into the hearts and lives of the people we encounter.
Our overflow matters.
If you speak one thing to their face, but then whisper words of ridicule and doubt behind their back…. that is not about them that is about you.
Your doubts and negativity and judgments about their marriage always says more about you than about them and the future of their life together.
When hope is sucked from a life or relationship – love is lost and relationships fracture and die.
Where hope is given the chance to bloom, when it is fed with offerings of hope, comfort and peace – Life thrives.
What about you?
How do you wish you had been treated during your early marriage or relationship or youth? Were you celebrated? Was someone FOR you? Did they offer you comfort, peace, and hope?
Check back Wednesday for Ways to Bless a Graduate…