Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Letter to My Future Son-in-Law

Here's the final part of our non-series on counsel and relationships.  Dwight Clough, having two daughters, addresses some of the things he'd like to see a future son-in-law bring to the marriage, connecting with both wife and God.  Though it's unspoken, there's an underlying understanding that none of us attain sinless perfection.

We began, last Saturday, with Todd Parsons' meditation on counsel.  Then, on Monday, we hit the Good Housekeeping interview with Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard.  They highlighted the benefits of getting counsel, even when we don't think we need it.  Now, let's see what Dwight says to a future son-in-law.

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Edmund Garman, Flickr, Creative Commons License

If you marry my daughter, you are being commissioned by God for the most important assignment you will ever receive. Part of my role as her father is to ask you point blank if you’re ready.

I need to know that my daughter will always be safe with you—physically safe—emotionally safe—safe to be who she really is—financially safe—spiritually safe. We all need to know that any children who come into your family will likewise always be completely safe with you.

There are drives and desires inside you—just as there are inside all of us—that could destroy marriage. I need to know that you have mastered them—that they no longer control you.

Your wife needs to know that she has no competition, that you have eyes only for her, that your heart belongs to her. We live in a culture where we are surrounded by women who are crying out for attention in the way they dress and the way they present themselves. Your task is to redirect that attention to the woman you have chosen. It is the privilege and responsibility of a husband to discover and explore, celebrate and affirm his wife’s hidden beauty. Let your wife’s beauty captivate you to your dying day. Guard your heart. Make no provision for the flesh. None.

Marriage is a relationship of trust; show yourself to be trustworthy.

There will be days when your wife drives you up a wall. In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath. Be a man of mercy. Take the high road. Bring your hurt and anger to God, and bring His peace back into your family.

Remember that your words have the power of life and death; your words have the power to harm and to heal. Speak words of life and healing over your family always.

Learn your wife’s Love Language and speak it fluently.

Respect the woman you marry. Treat her as she is: God’s daughter, holy and precious to Him, fragile yet eternal, your partner through life. Learn from her. God has deliberately made you dense in areas where she is insightful. He did this so you would humble yourself, listen to her, and learn.

There are people and forces outside marriage that would rob you, your wife and your family of all that is sacred and holy—everything of value. Yes, God is our Defender. But you are your wife’s defender, and a man will lay down his life if necessary to protect and defend his wife and his children.

Will you ever completely understand your wife? No. But you will understand her better each passing day if you make the effort. Make the effort. She’s worth it.

Not that many years ago, I was a young man in love. I know that feeling well. I also know that marriage isn’t for cowards. It’s for men who have the courage and perseverance to go the distance.

It is the way of things that I will get weaker, and you will get stronger. My body will fall; yours will remain. So the baton goes to you. Are you ready?

Dwight Clough

PS. Since I have two daughters, this letter is addressed to two potential future sons-in-law, but it’s easier to write in the singular.

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