Tonawanda News

May 30, 2013

Thoughts on a marriage

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — It’s difficult to wrap my brain around.

My little brother, my only sibling — the kid who bit me when he was a toddler, threw a shoe at me when he was about 8 (and blamed me for the broken window when I ducked), drove me nuts when I was babysitting him, confounded me as a teenager — is not only a grown-up, responsible member of society these days, he’s tying the knot soon with a wonderful woman.

While it makes this big sis feel sort of old, I’m happy for them, too. And sort of introspective about the whole thing. I used to swear we were about as different as siblings could probably be, but the older I get, the more I realize we’re more alike than I ever thought possible. (Sorry, bro.) And I feel like I want to offer a little something that’s more than just a card and a check and a dance at the wedding.

Paper is supposed to be the traditional gift for the first anniversary, but I’m going to jump the gun a little. Here’s a bit of paper for the upcoming nuptials. Take it for the newsprint it’s printed upon, and the sincerity behind the words.

• People will tell you never to go to bed angry with your spouse. And I suppose it’s good advice not to let things fester, etc.

But you will.

There will be days you’ll go to bed absolutely furious. Maybe even broken-hearted. You will. It’s going to happen. People are fallible (yes, even you). You’ll both say things that hurt at some point.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe going to bed angry is not always a bad thing. It gives you time to think about why you feel the way you do. Why your spouse feels the way she does. What’s behind the anger and the hurt. And by the time the next day rolls around, maybe you’ll have a little more perspective than you did before, and a better way to communicate it.

Maybe better advice is: Don’t go to bed angry twice.

• Marriage is work. Anyone can tell you that. It’s not always easy.

But what “they” don’t always tell you is that it’s also fun. 

No, really. If you can’t have fun with a person, why marry them? They say “for better or worse,” after all. And it’s not all “worse.”

The great thing about being married is always having that one person next to you with whom you can not only commiserate and cry and vent, but eat ice cream, watch stupid movies, walk on the beach and laugh so hard you cry at the sheer ridiculousness of daily life.

We all know people who look at their marriages as a ball-and-chain, something to endure. Don’t be those people. 

(Look at our parents, after all. They still know how to have fun. I don’t know if we appreciated that as kids, but I do now.)

• That said, there will be times when you look at your spouse and think, “WHY did I marry this person?” 

When those moments come, take those words literally. Think about why you did. Think about the reasons you bought that engagement ring.

I won’t condescend to say that love never goes away, but sometimes it just gets buried. 

• I don’t know if kids are on the horizon or not. That’s up to you two. (And that’s another bit of advice: That’s up to you two.)

If they are ... well, they change everything. And yet they don’t. 

Parenthood will make you even more frazzled and exhausted and distracted, but never lose sight of the fact that they’re in this as a team. It’s a realization and reminder even during the most stressful of times. It still is for us.

(And you know your younger nephew? The one who never wants to sit still, never stops talking and is constantly coming up with new and more inventive ways to get into trouble.? He’s just like you as a kid. And I hope you get a few just like him.) 

And, so little brother, take these words with a massive grain (or two) of salt from someone who’s a whopping 10 1/2 years into this thing called marriage. I don’t know what they’re worth, but they’re the best I have.

I hope your wedding day is wonderful. I hope you live happily ever after. 

And congratulations from your big sister.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at