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A LETTER TO THE BRIDE AND GROOM
Larry Compter, Executive Director – Compass Marriage & Relationship Services

The following is adapted from a letter my wife and I wrote to our nephew and his bride-to-be. (Their names have been changed for privacy.) But it is a message that is important for all engaged couples.

David & Nadine,
You must be very excited about your upcoming wedding, and we are looking forward to being there to celebrate with you! As we thought about what to give you for a wedding present, we found that what we really wanted to give you could not be purchased. Because what we want most for you is to enjoy a healthy, happy, lifelong marriage together – one that is filled with joy, intimacy, true friendship and ever-growing love. Unfortunately, that is something that no amount of money can buy.

Nor can anyone – including us – guarantee that future for you. Every couple has problems, as you probably know. But what many couples don’t realize is that it isn’t the problems you face, but how you face the problems that will make the difference in your marriage.

Bottom line: you have to handle the bad stuff well in order to enjoy the good stuff. We don’t mean that to sound pessimistic – it really isn’t. But in my work as a marriage educator and even among our friends, we have seen it far too often – the love that is so fresh and wonderful at the wedding soon gets covered up and eroded away by the daily “stuff” of life: bills, babies, bad moods and bum breaks.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. With conscious effort and a firm commitment to make it work (from both of you), you can learn to do marriage right, and have a lot of fun at it. We have, and so have many others. To help you do that, there are many resources available, including books, videos, and online materials. But nothing is better than a good, accurate assessment tool like PREPARE-ENRICHTM or FOCCUSTM and at least a few sessions with a trained marriage mentor couple. So we would like to pay for your premarital preparation as a wedding gift. These are just tools to help you get a realistic appraisal of your relationship, its strengths and weaknesses, and to help you work through the inevitable tough times that every couple experiences. Think of it as “marriage insurance.”

Not a very exciting gift, you may be thinking, but it is one which we hope will have more more lasting value for your marriage than another toaster oven or set of wine glasses. Just going through the process can be a lot of fun, and will undoubtedly create some interesting conversations! At the very least, you will learn some critical skills and concepts for healthy communication, conflict management (yes, you will have some conflict) and tips for handling common problems.

Just remember that this is more like preventive medicine than a first aid kit. Take advantage of it and practice the skills early on, and you will avoid a lot of mistakes that young couples often make (ourselves included – we wish we had had this when we got married!). Then, take a “refresher course” at least once a year by attending a good marriage enrichment seminar or retreat, or reading a good marriage book together. (For more resources, go to www.betterlove.org.)

God bless you both in your life together. Live, love, laugh… and remember to always put each other first. Before you know it, you’ll be blowing out the candles on your 50th anniversary cake!

Our love to you both – Uncle Larry & Aunt Barbara

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