Dear Matt and Simona, Last week I wrote these words:
“Your giving of yourselves to each other before God is unleashing changes in the fundamental essence of who you are… how you live… what you do… and what you don’t do.”
I reminded you that “Paul called it a “profound mystery”, this loving and leading, this two becoming one, this dance to the sometimes discordant music of romance and real life.”
And then I paused… because our house feels so empty without you.
Our Christmas tree is too perfect. Not one discordant peep of your crazy Santa ornament collection to offset all that shiny and silver.
Did I really dream about this day-of-the-perfect-tree?
Because I am learning now that just as sometimes the steps to this dance are confusing for the two of you, it can be confusing to those who love you too.
This idea of your not-the-same-as-you-were-ness is unsettling…
to the parents who taught you to walk…
to the sisters and brothers who ran and played and prayed and poured into you…
to the friends who learned to lean on you before you became we.
The writer of Hebrews wrote that “Marriage should be honored by all…” but in real life the mystery of how can lead to mistakes.
No one has this figured out perfectly.
So… since I am writing these letters to help the two of you live wisely and well in this new thing called marriage, I am asking myself some questions. Because… it’s one thing to believe all these truths about oneness in theory… and quite another to know it in the space that is left empty by reality.
How do the two-of-you-who-are-now-one handle all the people who love you and want the two of you to remain two… and the same?
How does this new entity that is MatthewSimonaComer (MSC) open the Front Door and welcome all these people into the entryway of your home? And how can you do this welcoming without allowing anyone to hinder you from what you are becoming?
And I’ve mulled and I’ve pondered and I’ve made a list lest I mess this one up by inserting myself into the equation. Because I am one of those people; missing those Santas on my tree, knowing those years are over… and not yet fully seeing what will be.
Ways to Be Wisely Welcoming:
1. Establish the new you.
You are a new family, just the two of you, a whole new line of generations. When your family tree is drawn you will sit at the top, linked to each other. You will be connected to your families with a broken line.
Be that. Be MatthewSimonaComer. Don’t apologize or pretend about this new reality. Be together. Talk together. Sit together. Establish in every one’s minds this new entity.
2. Chart a new way.
Now is the time to start some of your own traditions. Some will involve family and some won’t. That is for the two of you to decide together. You get this chance to forge your own new ways of doing things. Have fun with it!
3. Teach and train.
One of the wisest relational bits of advice I have ever heard came from your son-in-law, Steve. He puts it this way:
You teach people how to treat you.
In other words, you dare not be a passive pushover. It is your job to lovingly teach and train your family to see you as this newly defined entity.
4. Be patient with the process.
To resist change is an instinctual human defense mechanism. It may take time for some of your people to adapt themselves to this new you. They didn’t expect it. They just thought you were adding someone to their fun. They had no clue that everything changed the day you said, “I do”.
5. Tell them why.
Otherwise you run the risk of deeply hurting and inadvertently alienating people who love you.
Explain that you’re still figuring it out, that you love them, that they are important to you, that you need time to readjust your rhythm while you learn to walk as one.
Make sure they know—and that you know they know— that you are not rejecting your heritage. Instead, you are building on the foundation your family painstakingly laid for you.
6. Reach out.
In order to make all this easier to swallow, you’ll need to be the ones to initiate relationship with family. It is up to you to reach out.
The people who have loved you the longest are waiting for permission to step into your new lives as MSC. This oneness can be uncomfortable for those who don’t know their place.
And one last thing to remember…
Family Is Forever
Many, if not most, of your friends will eventually fade out of your everyday life. They’ll move or you will. Their values won’t fit well with yours. You’ll slowly grow apart. You’ll change jobs, move, go to different churches, develop new interests.
But your family… they are in your life right up until they go to be with Jesus. They are the ones who will be there for you when the chips are down, when you make mistakes. They are not only your past… they are your future.
Remember that, Matt and Simo. As uncomfortable as the growing up is, as hard as you may have to struggle to get them to see you as no longer two but one, as much as they might drive you nutty— these are the ones who will love you no matter what.
Merry Christmas dear ones.
From my heart,
P.S. To those who are reading:
Can you tell us how you’ve learned to welcome family into your marriage without losing your new identity as two-become-one? What does that look like?
Disclaimer: I know that there are families that become so toxic that being close can threaten the health of your marriage. That’s not what I am talking about here. If that is our reality, I urge you to seek godly counsel as to your best course of action. Don’t wait until your family’s dysfunction destroys your love.
(image by Hillary Kupish)