A Marriage of Worth

Baby RebeccaDear Daughter,
Congratulations on your engagement! It’s hard to believe that the day has come when I am writing these words. So often, I still think of you as my little girl, my first-born. Has it really been over twenty-three years since you came into our lives? It seems like yesterday that I first looked into those wide eyes, so full of curiosity and hunger for knowledge, and thought, “She’s mine.” Nothing has changed since that moment. You are still full of curiosity and have an insatiable desire for knowledge, and you are still mine. No matter how old you get, no matter where you live, no matter your choices in life, no matter whose heart or lead you follow, first and foremost, you will always be mine. That doesn’t mean I won’t allow you to live your life, make your own decisions, and become your own brand of wife and mother.

What it means is…

I will always have your back. I will always be there to catch you when you fall. I will always pick up the phone, race to your side, cheer your success, hold you when you fail, and pray for you every day. I will continue to marvel at the things you do and sometimes cringe at the things you say. I will never stop trying to teach you, but I will always listen to your thoughts and opinions. In return, I hope you will continue to listen to me. In case you don’t, or I’m not here in your times of need, never forget…

You have always been fiercely independent, and that shouldn’t end, but it will need to change. Jesus reminds us that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). In becoming one, you will no longer live for yourself but for each other. While this sounds romantic, it’s not. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. You have to think of what is best for the two of you, at all times, rather than what is best for yourself. You will disagree. You will fight. You will be angry with each other. But just as a cut to your own skin wounds you, a cut in the flesh you share wounds you both. You need to remember that to each other, you are “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). What hurts one will ultimately hurt the other.

Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal, in the iconic movie, Love Story, popularized the saying, ‘Love means never having to say you’re sorry.’ This line has been misinterpreted often, and that’s so detrimental to a relationship. You see, you will have to say you’re sorry, perhaps over and over again, because you will make mistakes, and you will need to apologize, but what love actually means is that the person who has been hurt accepts that you’re sorry, forgives you, and moves on. Saying sorry is important, but forgiving is tantamount to loving. You must love each other so much that you are willing to forgive time and time again without regret and without repercussions. You know before you say the words that love has already brought about forgiveness. That’s what it means to not have to say you’re sorry.

For several years now, you have been the arbiter of your destiny. You have made all of your own decisions and chosen the path that is best for you. From now on, you will make decisions together for the best of your family. Some of those decisions will come easily to you both, but others will cause turmoil and dissension. Those are the most important decisions for those will create the moments in which you place your unfaltering trust in one another. There will be times when you will need to go against your better judgement, and he against his, but these will be times that will both test and strengthen your marriage. Accept them, and accept the chance to bend, for these moments can, at times, far outweigh the easier times when you agree on everything. These moments will be when you’re most angry, most lost, and most afraid, yet they may, in the end, be the most rewarding as they foster trust and growth. 

IMG_2758.JPGNever stop talking to each other. About everything. Tell each other your hopes and dreams, your fears and sorrows. Share the highs and lows of each day. Ask each other how you feel, what you desire, and how your day was. Talk of the lowliest and the mightiest things. But more importantly, listen to each other. Listen to what each says and does not say. Be attentive to what is asked for and what is not asked for but is desperately needed. Strive to know each other inside and out. Be in tune with the songs of each other’s hearts and the harmonies of your bodies. 

Don’t let your wedding Mass be the only time you invite God into your relationship. He enters into it from the start and desires to stay with you always. Remember that “Those who trust in him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love” (Wisdom 3:9). Just as I will never abandon you, neither will God. Allow Him to be the rock upon which you build your marriage. When you build, make God the cornerstone. When you seek, allow Him to show you the way. When you wonder, be open to His wisdom. When you hurt, plead for His mercy. When you transgress, ask for His forgiveness. And do this together. Pray together, fast together, go to Mass together, seek Him together. It truly is the only way your marriage will survive and prosper.

Finally, be a woman of worth, for “far beyond jewels is her value” (Proverbs 31:10). I have strived, throughout your life, to teach you how to do this through the grace of God. And so, I leave you with His words and not mine. May He bless your love and your marriage, lead you to prosperity and joy, and grant you a life filled with happily-ever-afters.

I love you,
Mom

Who can find a woman of worth?
Far beyond jewels is her value.

Her husband trusts her judgment;
he does not lack income.

She brings him profit, not loss,
all the days of her life…

She girds herself with strength;
she exerts her arms with vigor…

She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.

She is not concerned for her household when it snows—
all her charges are doubly clothed…

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and laughs at the days to come.

She opens her mouth in wisdom;
kindly instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband, too, praises her:..

Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Proverbs 31

(And there’s this just in case Anthony needs a reminder of my words of wisdom to him.)

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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Returning to the Island.

Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is a finalist for the RWA Golden Quill Contest and the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction.

Amy’s latest book, The Devil’s Fortune, is now available! Order your copy today.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).

Listing for Love

Ken and Amy's Wedding33-001I am a list maker.  I’ve been a list maker since I first learned to write and realized the magic that accompanies crossing off things accomplished.  Sometimes, the more I cross off, the more I add to my list. I’ve had a list on my desk for about a month now that lays out all that I want to accomplish this fall.  My Katie laughs when she reads it because one item is “Write a book.”

“You’re always writing a book, Mom, but that’s so cute.”

Yes, I’m always writing a book, but to see it on a list makes it real, makes it something that must be done and must be crossed off.  It’s a means to an end.

When I graduated from college, my best friend and I sat down and wrote lists.  They weren’t lists about what we wanted to accomplish in life or what our goals were for our twenties or beyond.  We had those lists already, and they were getting longer and longer by the day.  No, just for fun, we wrote lists of what we were seeking in the perfect guy.  It began as a joke, a way of blowing off a steam about the fact that we were now four years older, four years more experienced and worldly, four years wiser, and still single.  But as we compiled the list, we grew more serious, each of us reading each other’s lists and critiquing, improving, and offering further suggestions.  After all, who knows you better than your best friend?

Within a year, I was engaged, and within a couple of years after that, so was she.  I still credit that list with helping me focus on whom and what I wanted because, miraculously, when I met Ken, I was able to cross off all 25 things on the list, not 20 or 24, but all 25.  Not everything on the list is as important to me today as it was then.  Half of the things probably wouldn’t even make it if I had to write it all over again.  One of the things was that I needed a man who would change with me as I grew older, who could adapt to any situation.  That was near the bottom of the list, but well over twenty years later, I see that it should have been at the top.

So if I were telling my daughters to write their own lists (and no, I’m not doing that because this list is not a game – it’s a serious, what I want for the rest of my life list), but if I were telling them to write their lists, here are the things I would recommend they put at the top:

  1. He must be adaptable to any situation with the realization that life isn’t a long, superhighway.  It’s a twisting, turning, up and down hills and mountains, country road with surprises around every bend.  Be ready to change course and handle the wrecks along the way.
  2. He must share some of your interests but must also have interests of his own.  While you should share the most exciting adventures together, it’s okay to do things apart; in fact, it’s a must.
  3. He should not say “I love you,” within a month or even two, and when he says it, he needs to look you in the eye and say it from the heart.  Those three words should be the most important words he ever says to you.  They need to have true meaning and depth.  They are not a way to get you in bed or make you feel special.  They are the three words that he should tattoo on your heart and his and be willing to put them into action every day for the rest of your lives.
  4. He needs to dance.  He doesn’t have to like or be good at it, but he needs to be willing to do it.  You should not be that one person who, at every wedding (and by the time you write this list, there will be wedding, after wedding, after wedding) or at every family party, dances with friends to every fast song and then sits by his side and watches everyone else dance the slow songs.  It’s during the slow songs that your bodies communicate, and it’s during the fast songs that you let loose and have fun.  Do it together. Even if he looks like he’s the star in a Steve Martin movie.
  5. Watch him carefully when he is with his mother.  The old saying is so very true, how he treats his mother is how he will treat his wife.  Is he kind to her?  Respectful?  Helpful?  It’s okay if he complains about her a little.  In fact, that lets you know that he’s not still hanging onto the apron strings.
  6. Never make him choose between you and his mother unless you are certain that he will choose you.  If he won’t, then stop here.  You don’t need to look at anything else on the list.  BUT be careful about what you are asking him to choose because his mother will become your mother.  Treat her as such.  You will find that you will need her someday when there’s no better ally than her to have on your side.
  7. He must pay for that first date, and the second, and even the third.  If he’s worth a fourth, then maybe you can treat, but don’t insist or overdo it.  A true gentleman expects to pay.  It’s a matter of respect.  If he doesn’t want to impress you, then what’s the point?
  8. He must care about how he looks.  This isn’t about vanity.  It’s about respect.  If he doesn’t have respect for himself and the way he appears to others, then he won’t have respect for you.  Of course, if his phone is full of selfies, or he can’t stop glancing in the rearview mirror to check his hair, then ask him to stop the car and let you out.  Walk away, and never look back.
  9. Your family must be as important as his.  Do not let him or his family make every decision concerning your social calendar.  If he won’t spend time with your little sisters (even when they’re being bratty), then he will never be a good brother-in-law or father.  If he dates you, he dates everyone in your family and must be willing to accept and spend time with them.
  10. Most importantly, he must be kind.  To you, to your family, to his family, to your friends and his, to his colleagues.  He shouldn’t be a pushover or passive aggressive, but genuinely kind.  He must always think about others, especially you.  “A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” St. Basil

So there’s your start.  Your list will be longer and will include trivial things like “Must listen to _______ music,” and “Doesn’t eat all of the popcorn,” and that’s okay.  You will have to live with this person for the rest of your life.  Have fun, but think it through, and when you’re finally able to cross everything off, you will feel more than accomplishment.  You will feel completion.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores and online.  Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores, at Amazon, and at Barnes & Noble.  Both novels are also available for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.  Amy’s children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.