Giving birth changes you in ways expected and in ways never imagined.

Cliches from your own childhood–words you swore to yourself you’d never say–echo for a season in the hollows of memory, eventually finding voice as they pass through your own lips and give your children reason to roll their eyes or alternately bask in their glow.  “Because I said so” becomes reason enough, and “You’re growing like a weed” is painfully true.

Now that I have two teens and a tween, I’m acutely aware that my position of influence in their lives will ebb and flow over the coming years.  When they were younger, they took every word we uttered as gospel; as their legs of independence gain strength, I know they’ll test or resist or challenge much of what we say, eventually (hopefully) returning to the conclusion (perhaps in their 20s?) that we knew what we were talking about after all.

Prompted by Chrysalis’s “Marriage Monday” Carnival, I’ve been thinking through this week’s topicMarriagemonday2_2, “Three Things My Daughter Must Know About Her Marital Needs”.  My daughter is one of those rare creatures who, at 15, has yet to give dating serious thought.  I realize fully well this is an aberration that has protected us–and her–from a weight of teenage drama and angst, and for this, I am thankful.

The past six months I’ve watched her age a decade…she looks like a young woman and I realize one day in the not-too-distance future, she’ll share the name of another.  These are the things I want to tell her, the things I hope…pray…she remembers when it’s “time”.

Choosing your mate is the single-most life-affecting decision you will ever make. Choose wisely.

This is a seed I’ve already planted in all of our children.  They know I believe it’s more important than college, career, where they choose to live…anything!   I’ve cautioned them that this decision will affect every other decision for the rest of their lives, bearing consequence not just in their own lives, but in the lives of their children, in-laws, family and friends.

I’ve already begun additional seeding–“coaching” her with regard to what to “look for” in a husband (a shared faith, mutual respect, kindness, manners-for-goodness-sakes…!).  Again, I realize she’s just a freshman in high school, but my hope is to embed reasoned thinking in the recesses of her mind…so when she falls madly, passionately in love with her prince charming, she can look 15…20…30 years down the road and still want to say…choose to say…”yes” to him when his hair is thinning, his stomach is not, and he still doesn’t realize she needs the toilet seat DOWN when she “goes”.

As much as her husband will be her best friend, he can never be her girlfriend.

Women need other women…period.

There was a season in my own life I didn’t understand this; I was extremely self-reliant and almost prided myself in not “needing” anyone.  That was foolish and naive.  Now, I’m so thankful for the strong women in my life.  The girlfriends I can just “BE” with, the women I can confide in, cry with, pray with, those with whom I can share laughter and life.  We encourage each other as mothers, as wives, as friends; we don’t just tell each other what we want to hear but what we need to hear.  Because they’re cloaked in a veil of love, even the difficult things are receivable.  Girlfriends will challenge you to speak “love” in the way your husband best hears it.

I hope Rachel will find other older women who can mentor her; who can confirm the things I’ve taught her, but who can also explain and encourage my own relationship with her…other women who can assure her that God didn’t create men to read their bride’s minds, and it’s her responsibility to share her heart when she wants him just to know it….

Laughter is crucial.

Because marriage is a marathon, not a sprint, there will be bumps along the road.  Sometimes, it might even look like leaving is the best option.  That’s when I want her to understand that those times are normal and should be expected.

Laughing together is as important to me as a good physical relationship and good communication.   Life is hard…demands of raising children, providing for a family, dealing with familial and friend relationships?  Excruciating at times.  If she and her husband can find reasons to laugh in the midst of trial and difficult circumstance, I believe they can weather life’s storms.

I’m sure I’ll think of a dozen other “three things” I want my daughter to know about her marital needs as soon as I hit “publish”…some of those thoughts are already swirling.

I’d love to know your thoughts, too…what would you (have you) advised your own daughters?  What was helpful advice given to you?  Did you listen?

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