I have a few (okay, more than just a few) things I need to let you know before we get married. Hopefully you can understand why as you read.
I have a great many fears and concerns about marriage. Fears like not having the physical affection or sexual satisfaction I need. Fear that frustration and anger may breach the foundation stones of our relationships -our desire to fulfill each others' needs and an unshakable respect for one another. Fear that you may not be as obsessed with our children and dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make sure they grow up in a positive, nurturing, loving environment that helps them learn all the most important things about life, especially things like responsibility, that our actions have consequences and how to handle frustration and disappointment. Fears that we will lose touch with each other in those years we dedicate to our children. Fears that we may forget how to reconnect when -God Willing -they've grown up. Fear that I cannot give you everything you need and everything you want. Fear that not being able to do so will make me a failure, or perhaps not worthy or lovable in your eyes. I know these fears are all crazy. I'll get over them, probably the day I meet (or rather, met) you. But these are the things I think about, and I want to make sure we will do them well together.
I cannot be your everything, and so I beg of you, please don't ask me to be. I will not simply be your best friend, I will be your husband. I will learn everything I can to be the best husband and lover to you, and the best daddy to our children. I started on that path when I was much younger, and I've been working on it ever since. But I won't be your total emotional support, your only friend and I can't make you feel fulfilled in everything. I just can't. I don't have the power. Please, please don't ask me to or expect that of me, for I will fail miserably and it will hurt us both beyond comprehension. Go, have friends, time to yourself, a relationship with your parents, personal passions, hobbies, a career, and whatever else you may need to feel fulfilled. I don't have to be involved in all of it, but I will cherish whatever we do share.
Marriage is a choice made to give for the rest of my life. So I will give you of everything I have and everything I am. Sometimes, because I'm human, I'll need some help or to be taken care of before I can do that. I'll work on letting you know and being clear and I really hope you do the same. I'll give you every ounce of genuineness and honesty I can, and I'll work on undoing the tactlessness I inherited along with my "Y" chromosome.
I am flawed. Hopefully you know and love those things about me. But mostly, I hope you realize that it makes me human, and so when I screw up what I really need isn't to be yelled at or berated, but given the opportunity to take responsibility, apologize correctly and make amends. Just give me the space and time to come to terms with it, and you'll see a world of difference.
I have a purpose in my life, a mission. Family is tremendously important to me, but if I fail at my mission I will feel like a failure in my life -it is, perhaps, a flaw in my construction as a Man. Personally, I don't think so, though; it is the source of my ambition, my drive to achieve and my guarantee to succeed . Setbacks won't stop me and I believe that brick walls and glass ceilings are only opportunities to show my determination, but I can't get there without your support.
God Willing, when we have children, I want -more than anything else -to be there for you and them. They are our legacy and my family is my world. If you need it, I will come home from work, drop my briefcase and get to cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, feeding the kids or playing with them. Actually, I'll play with them anyways, but for the rest... until I know what you need, I don't know how to give to you.
Please, please realize that when I come home from work I'm all stressed, exhausted an drained from the day (and believe me, I know it's the same exhaustion for you after your long days too). I need to be nurtured or let alone so that I can regroup, recoup and draw my strength to have my full attention and presence. If I'm bombarded with a million things when I get home, I will quickly get burnt out. But I know that when little kids are in the mix, that's pretty much the way it goes.
On that note, I will be clear about my needs and how you can give to me. And I will listen to yours. I know we each have different needs, that we approach them differently and that it's not always natural to give another person the way they need. But I will learn your language, I will enter your world and I will give the way you need. To do so, all I need is for you to let me in. I know sometimes that will be really hard, but there's no other way for me to know.
I am not a mind-reader, nor am I a mind-reader's son. If you'd like me to do something, let me know. Say, "I'd really appreciate it if..." or ask respectfully. Demanding and/or complaining inspires resistance, and I know that's a two way street. But since I'm not a woman there's absolutely no way I can know your needs or what's going on in your mind. I know you'd really like me to... and so often I just wish I could reach in there and just pluck out your thoughts, hopes and expectations. But I can't and so I don't know what you are thinking, hoping or expecting of me.
I need you to know that, as a Man, I am a physical being. That's how I relate to the world. I ask that you understand that, and if you learn to connect to me in those ways I will be eternally grateful. I do not demand that dinner be ready for me every night, but few things touch my heart as connections that reach me through physicality. Make no mistake, I know what it takes to shop, prepare, cook and set tables. I will honor and cherish that every time I see it, if you should ever choose to grace me with such splendor.
A quick note on sex -I won't ask, beg or demand. It is shared experience, and you can bet your engagement ring that I'm learning whatever I need to make sure you're having the time of your life. It's about exploring one another's bodies, minds, hearts, thoughts, feelings, fantasies and the most sacred way to know and bond with another person. It's not something to bet, barter, reward or punish with, because that's absolutely abusive. But it is a way to connect, to share, to be one. With that is the understanding that we'll each have needs and the desire to fulfill them in one another.
As a Man, there are a bunch of other quirks about me you should know. First, that I say what I mean. There's no "in between the lines," just read the transcript and take the words at their literal face value. If I "mean something," I'll say it. No, really. I will. Second, when I'm focused on something, absolutely nothing else sinks in. If there's something important, please make sure I've first let go of whatever I was focusing on before you tell me, or just put it in writing for me. Either way, please be gentle; being torn from my focus is actually painful to me. In the same vein, asking once doesn't mean I'll remember, or that something will get done; I know it can feel frustrating, but either asking again or putting it in writing will greatly help me. Third, if you know how to stroke my ego -make me feel good about myself and who I am -everything is much softer on me. Fourth, when I'm angry I don't always need to talk about it, I usually just need to sit on my own and process it. We men take more time to integrate that kind of thing. Please just give me the chance to do that. Trust that I will come to you when I need to talk, as long as you know how to listen. But the best thing you can do is lend me your physical presence. No speech, just silence (if I'm really agitated, it may require a soothing "shhhh" with your index finger touching your lips to show me it's not about the agitation/issue). Maybe also your head on my lap (or vice-versa), and perhaps your hair to play with. Believe it or not, those things really do help, they'll calm me right down. Fifth, my favorite activity is doing nothing. No, seriously. Because all day I burden myself with the million-and-one stresses like work, family, finances and a million other things, the way I de-stress is to literally space out and completely forget any of that exists. Call it floating in la-la land if you must, but that's just how I operate.
The heart is a wondrous entity; emotions tell us so much about what is going on. Pain is inevitable, as is hurt, frustration, anger, resentment... there will be storms. I will weather them. I will listen, I will do everything I can to be present, not to take them personally or try to "fix" everything, but to be with you, as an anchor, as a pillar, as your rock. I will be the calm, the eye of your storm, when you need me to be.
I ask that you never hold your emotions from me. I've worked so hard to be ready, to listen to them and to accept them, whatever they are. You have every right to feel however you do, and I want to hear and share in your joys and sorrows, for shared joy is double joy and shared pain is halved pain. More than anything I ask this because I know that when we do not keep our hearts open, our reactions to pain lead us to create shells with layers upon layers of thick hide and armor to try and protect our hearts. A healthy heart is one that can bear and live with pain, and a beautiful relationship is one where the two hearts are open and connected, so that they experience those emotions together, be that the wild excitement and pleasurable ecstasies or the deep wells of anguish, grief and loss. I am doing everything to prepare myself for the unpleasant truths, because if we can be honest and accept that it may hurt while keeping our hearts open and connected, we'll make it through anything together.
About my Mother and Father - I learned from them how to love and how to be a good parent. If nothing else, I need you to appreciate this fact. I want to live up to the amazing way they raised their children, and I count myself among the luckiest in the world to have them as parents. I know they'll welcome you as they did me when I entered the family, because you're just the natural extension of me. Or, in other words, if you're supporting me, helping to fulfill my needs and making me happy, they'll be thrilled. That and they're absolutely crazy about having grandchildren, but don't worry they won't rush it. They'd rather we had the means and foundation first.
I'm sure there's much more, but some things we'll just have to figure out together.
With an open heart,