I have never been asked to be the one who gives the little talk during a bridal shower. Maybe it’s because of my tendency to say things that border on slightly inappropriate when stressed or because I can be a wee bit too honest about the hard times in marriage. For whatever reason, no one has asked for my wisdom on the subject. But I’m not waiting for an invitation anymore. I’m just going to give this speech. So put on your favorite sundress, grab one of those little cucumber sandwiches you are legally required to eat at bridal showers and let’s do this. Bride-to-Be, I’m ready to tell you what it is I think you need to hear.
My friend Sarah has my favorite Most Embarrassing Moment story. It’s so good, I’ve started telling it at random times without her even being present. It’s my happy thought when I’m at the dentist and feeling stressed. It isn’t about marriage, but I’ve found that it does seem to apply.
When Sarah was in high school she was in the Future Business Leaders of America club. I don’t know how exactly she ended up in this position of honor, but it was her job to deliver a speech at the statewide meeting of FBLA leaders from across Nebraska. Sarah had a carefully planned speech and she was going to start it with a famous quote. So she walked confidently across the stage (I think she was wearing some kind of pantsuit. . . at least that’s how it happened in my mind) and started her speech by saying, “Woody Allen has said that 80% of success is just showing up.” Except that isn’t what she ended up saying. She walked confidently across that stage and opened her speech by fumbling over her words and saying, “Woody Allen has said that 80% of sex is just showing up.” Because Sarah is a class act, she just kept on rolling like she didn’t just say the most embarrassing thing possible in front of a bunch of teenagers. I love her. And I will never stop laughing at this story.
But I love this story for one other big reason. I think her version of that quote is one of the most important things I would want a new bride to know. So much of having the kind of intimacy that will grow your relationship is just about showing up. Showing up when maybe you’d rather be absent—physically or emotionally. Showing up with energy to expend and forgiveness for however the day has gone wrong. Showing up with compassion for your tired body and your husband’s lack of charm by this point in the evening (and this point in your life. . . someday you’ll know what I mean). Just show up with expectations low, feeling free to be yourself and let the moment happen. Show up ready to laugh and love and accept your husband for who he is.
But contrary to what Sarah might have implied (accidentally), this showing up thing isn’t just about sex. It’s a great way to think about marriage in general.
Show up to his work with lunch sometimes. Surprise him with cupcakes and embarrass him in front of his coworkers. Show up and cheer at his pick-up soccer game. Show up to his favorite superhero movies even when then the plots are all the same and you can’t remember which are the good guys and which are the villains.