It's shocking that my oldest son is now the age I was when I married his dad -- 23. Shocking because it's beyond me that, 1) he could already be that age, and 2) that I would marry so young knowing what I know now.
My two younger sons aren't far behind in age -- I'm gratuitously proud I had three kids in under four years, as if it's an unprecedented Herculean feat -- so it follows that, in short order, they'll all be looking toward finding their life partners. If the years continue to fly by as they've had a habit of doing lately, all three boys should be married by what will seem like tomorrow morning.
And that scares the living daylights out of me.
My ex and I had a long-term marriage of simmering unhappiness. We didn't scream and throw things. We didn't drink ourselves into the bottom of any bottles. We held on as long as we could until we couldn't anymore. In all of the big sadnesses of divorce, my biggest is that my kids have divorced parents. The second biggest is that I spent a lot of my life mired in sadness and confusion. And that's something I don't want for my boys. In any way, shape or form.
My sons were, more or less, blindsided by our split. They didn't see it coming because there wasn't a ton of overt hostility. There wasn't a lot our teenage boys could point to and say, "Hey, looks like things aren't working out for our folks." At the time, I thought that was a good thing. Turns out, I was wrong.
Because that leaves our relationship -- and their prototype for marriage -- shrouded in mystery. And that's less than optimal for them when they go about choosing their own spouses. Because a lot of what wasn't right in my marriage was evident from the very beginning, I've already vowed I will speak up if I see them headed into a lifetime contract that appears fraught with emotional danger. I know the risk I'll take in doing that, but I'll take my chances if I fear they're joining the countless ranks of the unhappily married.
So, I've written an open letter to my sons because it's time for me to pull back that curtain of mystery. All parents have big dreams for their kids, but my biggest is that they will forge happy, sustainable marriages.
1) Marry someone you love with your whole heart. Someone who excites you emotionally, intellectually and sexually. Someone who "gets" you and isn't out to change you. Nothing good will ever come of not being true to yourself.
2) Marry your best friend. Find a woman you want to share things with -- from the smallest detail of your day to the biggest plans for your life. Marry a woman you want to be with at the end of each day and until the end of your days.
3) Never get married because you think it's time; get married because you've found the right person -- no matter how much time that takes.
4) Find a woman who shares your dreams, but also has dreams of her own. Respect and support her dreams in earnest. Be prepared to make compromises, but don't let your dreams get lost in the process.
5) Does she think you're funny? Does she make you laugh? Life can be chaotic -- and relationships can be trying -- but a little humor can go a long way in a long life.
6) Marry a woman with a beautiful soul. A woman who isn't afraid to show love or be loved. An independent woman who will accompany you on life's journey in equal parts as your wingman and guide.
7) Find the woman who encourages you to be your best self. When you do, be good to her. Express your gratitude and love daily to this woman who is giving you the precious gift of sharing her life with you.
8) Strive every day to be a husband and father you can be proud of being. Remember, your children will be watching.
I'm your mom and you will always be my little boys. I've always said the women you marry will be the luckiest women in the world. Don't go and make a liar out of me.
I love you all to the moon and back.
Mom, Momma, Ma (respectively)