The Best Advice I Never Took

My Dad doing what he does best. Making apple butter from our family’s heirloom apples.

It’s been nearly 21 years since I walked down the aisle, drove two states away, and started life with my husband at 18 years of age. Honestly, my Dad was not entirely thrilled that I married when I did, but he consented and held his tongue. There were hopes of my attending college and being the first from our family to earn a degree. I’m afraid I dashed those hopes as I had absolutely no desire to attend college, married life suited me fine.

After a month had passed my Dad wrote me a long letter, this was in the age before we readily had email and all of our out-of-area calls were long-distance costing a fortune. I sat down to read the very loving letter from my Dad that was packed with wisdom from years of marriage. I smiled a very naive smile and tucked the letter into the case of my Bible. I thought that life was so absolutely wonderful and my husband and I would never disagree and have to have those “hard conversations” because I was blissfully wed, right?

Seven years later our marriage had endured separations due to military orders, the adjustment after returning, births of children, loss of a home, the death of a son, marital miscommunication, and a new beginning in another location. While packing away books for an impending move, I picked up the Bible case and decided to give it a wash before moving. Out fell the nine-page letter my Dad had written in July of 1997, on a Wednesday. And I cried as I reread the whole letter with different eyes than before. Off fell the rose tinted glasses and I saw the letter for what it was. He knew when he wrote it that I was happy, yet he had lived long enough to know the reality of happiness. It fades and can be replaced with many different feelings, feelings that take you a long way away from where you began. The advice he offered, had I taken it, would’ve saved my husband and me many struggles. I had learned these truths, yet I learned them the hard way. All I had to do was look inside the pocket of my Bible cover and there they were, just waiting.

I suppose it is much the same as God’s letter to us. We can struggle and make frustrated efforts at pleasing others, ourselves, and think we are pleasing God all at the same time, yet we are not. Our Father doesn’t want us learning the hard way. Have you heard the expression that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? God gives us wonderful “advice” and words of encouragement from His word, we only need to open His letter and read.

So what did my Dad write that July nearly 21 years ago? I will tell you in a nutshell.

Dad’s Seven Steps to a Successful Marriage

  • Watch my spending and don’t get into debt, debt is hard on a marriage.
  • Talk to your spouse when you are down or troubled, they are your friend.
  • Never go to bed mad, we are not promised tomorrow.
  • Take time to do something the other likes, share interests with your spouse.
  • Be careful in choosing friends, choose wisely.
  • Life is more than what you are and how much money you obtain. Riches are in your family.
  • Trust God always.

I am extremely thankful that my Dad didn’t say “I told you so”every time I failed, cause I would’ve heard it often. But make no mistake, since that day in 2004 when I reread that letter, when my Dad offers advice, I lean in a little closer.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Love, Jess