Newlywed Love (#29)

Newlywed Love (#29)

February 6, 1970

Nate and I had been married for 70 days when we hit some “white water rapids” in our adjustment to being husband and wife. Much like the misunderstanding that occurred when he bought the Christmas tree without me, this episode was similar. It was a minor disagreement related to how our varied upbringings had taught us differently — neither was right or wrong, just not the same.

As with the Christmas tree, my response was not to ask rational questions or use logic but to burst into tears.

I wasn’t weeping to manipulate Nate or get my way. That hadn’t even occurred to me. The crying was completely involuntary, and as always, I made no attempt to hold it back.

What I hadn’t considered was how upsetting my tears were to Nate, just as they had been in December. He immediately blamed himself for causing me to cry, which he saw as a catastrophe. This compounded the issue at hand and tipped the blame heavily in his direction. And that wasn’t right.

After our clash, we had restored our relationship quickly with lots of hugging and affirmations of love. But the next morning, as I tried to teach school, I was still bothered by my irrational tears and the extra stress they added to Nate.

I kept picturing his grief-stricken face as he tried to comfort me enough to stop my crying, and I felt terrible about it.

During my lunch break, I decided to write him a letter.

The only paper I had was a sheet of newsprint from my students’ art bin, but it was good enough. I wanted to reassure Nate of my unshakable love and also thank him for putting up with my tears. And I wanted him to know that my weeping wasn’t “the end of the world” as he seemed to think it was.

Letter.

I knew I couldn’t ask Nate to just get used to it, and I didn’t want him to go to the other extreme, disregarding my tears as insignificant. I loved when he comforted me. But I hoped he could learn not to see it as a disaster but just as one of the foibles of his bride.

I wanted him to know, in writing, how grateful I was for his patient, caring response to me the day before, and in a way, I wanted to apologize for upsetting him so much.

By writing a letter, I hoped to build up my young husband and sympathize with him for his having to accept me “as is.” And rather than hand it to him that evening, I decided to mail it – from Champaign to Champaign.

Envelope

That way the message would have greater impact than if I just said it out loud. He could read and re-read it, hopefully being uplifted each time.

I thought back to our pre-marriage days when both Nate and I had prepared for marriage by reading books about it. All the authors agreed that difficult challenges were sure to come, and we had said, “Oh, not with us.”

Now we were beginning to see what they meant.

“After you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Newlywed Love (#24)

January 24-25, 1970

I had to hand it to Dad. Although he was born in 1899 and was two whole generations older than his children, he made every effort to understand them.

DadDad and I had a rocky relation- ship during my dating years, mostly about curfews and my choice of suitors. (It’s a wonder he didn’t kick me out of the house.) But beneath all that friction, I loved my father deeply and knew beyond all doubt he loved me, too. If I had a problem, I went to him first. Mom was always busy packing 48 hours of activity into 24, so slowing her down long enough for a serious talk wasn’t easy.

 

Dad, however, seemed to have time. If I presented a problem and asked his opinion, he didn’t shoot from the hip but gave careful thought to his answer. Even during the years when I was his problem child, he never brought up past skirmishes or held them against me.

And Dad never made sweeping judgments or labeled me – as “an irresponsible person” or “someone unable to make good decisions,” even when those things were true. And he never once pointed out the difficulty I was causing him. No matter what happened between us, he faithfully hoped for the best about me.

When Nate and I needed a second car (and need was the operative word), he wholeheartedly volunteered to help…. not just with the shopping but with finances, too.

A loving fatherHe believed in the value of education and was proud of his new son-in-law for pursuing a law degree, despite Nate’s temporary inability to provide financially for his wife. And Dad saw that facilitating a second car would be both an encouragement and a help.

After my Friday evaluation day at McKinley School, I packed a small bag, and Nate took me to the train station. Not satisfied with just waving goodbye, he came on the train with me, making sure I was seated in a safe place and then lifting my bag to the high rack. It was hard for both of us to say goodbye, but the delicious kisses helped.

The Illinois Central took me from Champaign to Chicago, and the subway from the Loop to the city’s northern border. From there I took the “L” train to Wilmette, where Dad was waiting at the end of the line. We walked into the house around 11:00 PM and found Mom happily preparing root beer floats to go with her cheerful welcome.

While enjoying our treat, Dad and I circled several used car ads in the Yellow Pages and mapped out a route for the next day. And when my head hit the pillow, my thoughts were of convertibles and four-on-the-floor.

The following morning Dad and I set off in a blizzard with high hopes. And sure enough, after slogging through heavy slush and brushing snow off scores of cars to see them better, we chose one:

Mustang.An all-black 1965 Mustang with red leather interior! (example, right)

 

 

It was 5 years old but had low miles, and both Dad and I were pleased. I knew Nate would like its classy good looks, and my driving buddies would be happy not to have any more carpool emergencies — like when it was my turn to drive but Nate needed his car.

I couldn’t wait to show my husband! It wasn’t a convertible like my first two cars, but it definitely had some “cool.”

“Seek [the Lord’s] will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:6)

Newlywed Love (#17)

January 2, 1970

Nate's familyNate’s parents had said goodbye to half of their children when Nate officially left home to marry me. I hadn’t given that much thought, since the Nymans had so readily embraced me, but it’s possible that was a difficult moment for their nuclear family. My family had already let Mary go, so when it was my turn, the transition was easier.

In the early days of January, a letter arrived from Aunt Joyce – who advised me wisely on that exact matter just as it was occurring to me. Surely that was God’s timing, since I hadn’t asked for her counsel on it.

She wrote:

I’m sure Nate’s folks must have a sort of “gone feeling” when the son takes unto himself a wife. Knowing you, I’m sure you will make it up to them 100-fold.

Aunt Joyce's letter.

I determined to write to my new mother-in-law often and include her in our plans whenever possible.

Aunt Joyce also wrote:

By the way, Nate gets a 100% vote of approval! We can hardly wait to know him better! We’re so happy for you.

She went on to say how much she enjoyed “every minute” of our wedding and then paid me a nice compliment. You behaved like a million dollars in some very tight situations. (She must have been referencing those pesky table skirt debates.)

Every line of her letter was filled with wisdom. She even hinted there might be times of friction in our future when she wrote:

Count on my prayers for you both as you enter this new and exciting chapter of your lives. I’m sure you will find more growth and meaning in your Lord and in your marriage as you find yourself insufficient, than in the times when you are on top, as it were.

Aunt Joyce's letter

Of course at that time, one month married, neither Nate nor I could figure out what she meant by insufficient, but we were glad she was praying for us and happy to know we’d be “on top” some of the time.

She ended her letter by saying:

Aunt Joyce and Uncle EdwardI’m so proud to be related to you! And we love you both. When are you coming to California?

We were thankful for Aunt Joyce for lots of reasons, and she gave us one more at our wedding. She and Uncle Edward bought us a color TV! Even Mom and Dad didn’t have one of those.

“Eat honey, for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste. In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future.” (Proverbs 24:13-14)