A Letter to My Little Sister on Her Big Wedding Day


A Letter to My Little Sister on Her Big Wedding DayDear Jenn,

I am so proud of everything you have accomplished in your life so far, and I have loved watching you grow from my sweet baby sister who could get me to stop everything and play with her just by saying, “Peeassseee Bethy?” into a smart, independent, and beautiful adult. You have accomplished so many great things, and I am so excited that you have found someone to share the rest of your life with that makes you happy and hopeful for everything the future holds.


As you approach your big day this weekend, I thought that this would be a good time to impart some big sister wisdom. As I sit down to write this, I realize that I am over seven years, three cities, four moves, and three children into my marriage, and I’m not sure I have any profound things to share — we are kind of just winging it and trying to enjoy the ride!

There are so many things you just don’t think about having to worry about until you are in the thick of it: how you’re going to raise your kids, how you’ll spend and save your money, where you’ll spend holidays, how you’re going to organize your closet (seriously!!). From little tiny things to really big things, a LOT of discussions and decision-making happen those first few years. You are thrown into it all without a rulebook, and you are coming from different places and have to learn to make a life together. It’s a big deal. And it can be so much fun, but if I have learned anything, it’s that some days that fun comes really easily and other days you work at it, but it is always worth it.  

So here are my big sister “words of wisdom” (that I try to follow myself and definitely do not have figured out):

Never stop going on adventures together.

We were lucky enough to have our parents as a great example for this. Whether it was going camping at Chester Frost Park for the weekend, or making a pit stop to eat at some hole in the wall restaurant, or weeklong road trips with no reservations to Florida, or a big vacation somewhere we had never been, we were (and still are) always going and going and going. Trips are so great because you get the best version of everyone. No work, stress, plans — just enjoying the journey. Go on trips with Chase, turn off the phones, see new things, revisit old things, and when you have kids make the effort (because it is a LOT of effort sometime) to take them with you too. We know from growing up that so many of our best and funniest memories were made on trips. Continue this tradition in your lives together.

Learn to laugh when you’re stuck on the side of the road.

This is another thing that mom and dad (especially mom) are so good at. Things will not go as planned. Like, all the time. Every day. You will go on a family trip to Mardi Gras and your car will get stolen while you are at a parade dressed in clown costumes and you’ll be sitting on the side of the road where your car was formerly parked not sure what to do. You will buy a new refrigerator because your ice machine wasn’t working only to realize as you are installing the new one, that no one ever turned the knob to turn the water on to the refrigerator, and the last one probably worked just fine. This is where you laugh. If there is nothing you can do to improve the situation, don’t take it too seriously and try to find the laughter. This is what turns what could be bad days where you are miserable and arguing with each other, into something hilarious that you tell your kids stories about one day.

Learn to “have a discussion.”

Mom and dad didn’t fight too much growing up, but when they did mom would say, “We’re not fighting, we’re just having a discussion.” I hate (and I know you do too) any kind of conflict. I would rather not bring things up (or Brian would tell you I like to silently brood about things) than have an argument. That’s ok when you’re fighting with your sister. It’s not ok when you are trying to make a life with your husband. You are going to have to make a ton of really big decisions together in the first few years of marriage, and you will also discover while living together and making these decisions, that there are a ton of little things that annoy you about each other. That’s ok. You need to pick your battles, but when it comes to something important you have to learn to “have a discussion” about it.

I think the hardest part for me in the beginning of marriage (and still now) was learning how to talk to each other about things. I may or may not like to express my discontent in the form of an email. I don’t think this is Brian’s preferred method of communication, but hey I didn’t say we had this all figured out yet either! My point is: you have to find a way to talk with each other and fight about the big things if you need to fight, because you have to be able to communicate and the earlier you can figure out how, the better. Even though you hate confrontations, you have to be able to “have a discussion” every once in a while over the big stuff. You also have to learn to let the small stuff go. But don’t be afraid to fight — be afraid when you don’t have something worth fighting for.

This is especially true when you have kids. When we were new parents, about two weeks in with Cooper, Brian came home from work a couple evenings and said, “I’m going for a run.” I have never wanted to break someone’s legs more than I did at that moment. OK, not really, but my reaction was pure, silent, unspoken, hormonal, post-baby delivery fury. After I stepped back and realized I was being a little bit of a psycho, I thought about it and understood he just had no idea. He didn’t know I was exhausted, confused, still had my pajamas on — breast milk and baby puke covered, hadn’t taken a shower or done anything for myself all day, and all I wanted was for him to hold Cooper and give me a break. Once I told him, he was totally on board to help and I just realized I needed to ask. And I realized I needed to nicely explain what would help, not just get angry and not say anything and silently shoot daggers at him with my eyes while he laced up his running shoes. And this is a nice segue into my final thought…

Be a team.

Those first few years of marriage are a lot of figuring things out. Approach everything as a team and you will be happy together. You are both coming from different upbringings and different families and you have different personalities and life experiences, and you are coming from these different places to make a family for yourselves. If you start going down a path where you aren’t thinking as a team, I think this is where things unravel. When you make decisions about things, think about how this will affect you and how it’ll affect him. Talk about it together so you know where each person is coming from. There have been so many times that I have been thinking one way and so sure that I was right, then I talk about it with Brian and he gives me his perspective, and I just hadn’t thought about it that way at all.

With kids, this becomes even more important. Somehow it is very easy to fall into a routine where you feel like you are the only one who knows how to dress the kids or feed them or how to do all the things, and that he JUST.Doesn’t.Get.It. If you start to feel this way, stop. Really, just stop. Talk about how you are going to raise them together. It is so much easier for both of you to share responsibilities, and it is so much more fun to do it as a team. And the kids respond a lot better when they know you two are in cahoots. And there are so many things to just marvel at, laugh it, and get frustrated at together. It is so much better that way than on your own.

Soooo, in closing to this long message…

We are lucky to have a great example of a long and happy marriage in our parents. A lot of the things I always fall back on are things that we learned watching mom and dad. They still have fun and enjoy just being together. They also each have a life and interests independent of each other. They have stayed adventurous and love doing big, new things. At the same time they are always so good at enjoying the small day-to-day things and just making things fun. I try to model so many of the things I do in my own life and marriage and as a parent after mom and dad and the example they set for us.

Before I got married, dad sent an email that had a lot of insight for a man of few sentimental words. Since he couldn’t get his toast out at my wedding without getting choked up (true story!), I saved and treasure this message. He talked about enjoying the journey and being happy at each point along the way, and he closed it saying:

My only advice to you and Brian is to remember that life is a journey not a destination. Don’t think life is going to be better when I get out of school or achieve some other goal, but instead enjoy each day for what it is…You know your mom and I have had our moments, and you and Brian will too, but I know every day that there is no one else I could ever imagine spending the rest of my life with.

So in what I said in a big long message, dad said in a few sentences. Love each other and be in it for the long haul; weather the rough patches and laugh along the way; enjoy each other’s company and work as a team; and know you will have so much love and support from your family and friends along the way. You are awesome and you deserve awesome. I love you so much, and I’m so excited for you!

Love, Beth


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