Today, your father and I have been married for 21 years. When I woke this morning, I thought back over all of those years spent with him, and then I thought of you.
One day, you will be contemplating marriage. You might have dreams of romance and passion. Of a fairy tale romance that will sweep you off your feet.
I hope you find that. Romance and passion are wonderful. They make our heart sing. But more than that, I hope you find friendship. Because while romance and passion are fleeting, friendship lasts.
Can I tell you a secret? I didn't marry your father because he swept me off my feet. I married him because he was my best friend (and still is). Because he made me laugh, and he understood that losing myself in a good book wasn't just a fun way for me to kill time, but a need.
Your father and I dated for six and a half years before we got married. In that time, we developed our own jokes and shorthand conversation. We planned our future (oh boy, does our reality look different from those early dreams!) and we shared our past.
Your father knows more about me than any other person on earth. And the beautiful thing is, he loves me anyway.
Girls, that isn't passion. It isn't romance. It's friendship. It's a deep, abiding respect for your partner. And that's something you can build a life on.
It's what I pray you find.
Too often, we allow our louder emotions, like passion, to dictate our decisions. But Dear Ones, those loud emotions (anger is another one) are unsustainable. Have you ever tried to stay mad at someone for an extended period of time? It's exhausting. Anger, passion, romance, all of these will ebb and flow. They are flighty. For a marriage that lasts, you need a deeper foundation.
Life can be devastatingly beautiful, but Dear Girls, it is also painful beyond belief. You need someone who won't run when life hurts. Who knows that sometimes the only thing that will mute the pain, is time. (Dark chocolate also helps.)
It's easy to get caught up in the image of a relationship we see in books or movies. It's fun watching a couple fall in love. We root for love to win, and of course, it does. And then the movie or the book ends. But that's only the beginning of a relationship. And it's the easy part.
The hard part of a relationship is staying together when Life Happens. When your parents (yes, I mean your father and I) die. When you find out something is wrong with one of your children. When you suffer financial setbacks. When you are diagnosed with a serious illness. When your body changes and you're no longer young and beautiful. During those times, you usually don't (though you might) need a lover, you need a friend.
Girls, as women, we too often get carried away in the first blush of love. But when deciding to spend your life with someone, you must look beyond that first rush of feelings, because if you build your life on only passion and romance, your marriage won't last. And I want more for you. I want a lifetime with someone who cherishes every bit of your life. Both the good times and the bad. I want someone who loves each new line that appears on your face. Someone who will kiss your scars and clean your wounds. I want someone who will hold you when you cry, and who knows just the right joke to tell you when you're down.
And that my dear girls, is a friend.