I have been a part of many weddings as a musician and I always see happy couples dressed for the big day with high hopes for the future. I have heard many people give advice for the new couples. I was reading not long ago about a divorced man who had some things that he had learned after his marriage that he wished he would have known when he was married. They were nice words, and most of the words contained the word “love” and it got me thinking…..

What would be my thoughts and advice? Here goes……

Marriage is an important thing. To pledge a bond with someone for life is sacred. We do our best to prepare for the bad times but often when the bad times hit we are unprepared because in the beginning we were SO in love that we could not envision a time when love would leave the room.

My first piece of realism and advice for a young couple is the fact that the day will come when love WILL leave the room. It will happen. Just like with parents, especially young parents, there are some days when having a child is not “the joy of parenthood”. It is just a grind. Some of those days are not about affection for your young one, it is about survival,,,just making it to the next moment when you can get back to loving your baby again. At those times with your child, it switches from flowery love for your baby to duty because that child is yours. You know you still love that baby sooooomewhere deep down underneath all of that need for sleep and quiet.

It is the same with a relationship or marriage. The thing that every couple should be prepared for is that when love leaves the room, RESPECT must replace it. Let me say that again. When love leaves the room, respect must replace it. If respect does not replace love at those moments, then the depth of your former love will fuel the depth of your disdain of the person you “used to love”. What could be a respectful journey through a rough patch of your relationship or a respectful parting of ways, without respect becomes “war of the roses”. Your former love, without respect, becomes disdain… resentment… anger….all fueled by the depth of your former affection.

A marriage is a pledge, a vow, a contract. Let’s take a look at that. We don’t need a contract for the things that are NOT vulnerable. I do not need a contract saying that I vow to remain male, or I pledge to always love music, or a contract to love my mother. These things are a given. We sign contracts for the things that are vulnerable. An athlete signs a contract with a team because the league knows there are LOTS of teams that could take a good athlete’s talent. You sign a record contract because there are a LOT of good record companies. We enter into pledges and contracts because the nature of our relationship is fallible. The same goes with marriage. If you realize that your marriage is potentially fallible then you take the time to have some things in place for when the fragility arrives.

Respect is as important as love in a relationship because of the reality that you will not on everyday feel warm and fuzzy for each other. The challenges of a new baby, financial woes, stress on the job, etc, all can be obstacles for loving affection. Respect for the other gives a fractured marriage a chance to repair. Respect gives a marriage in trouble time to clear the air. Respect for the other gives two people time to walk away from each other knowing that the other person will not do anything disrespectful while apart. Respect for the other is either the vehicle for rekindling the love or the way in which you go on your separate ways in dignity.

Don’t just pledge love love and more love. Pledge also respect on the days when love is a challenge or non existent. If you can do that, if you can just do that, then on the day that the unthinkable happens, IF the unthinkable happens… and it is time to part ways…IF that happens…then your knowing each other, your loving each other for how ever long it lasted with be a good blessed thing, and both of your lives will continue to benefit because of the other…whether or not you remain together.

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