An open letter to you before you get married

I got married at the ripe age of 19. That is young. That is really young. The divorce rate on those who marry at 19 is fairly high! Luckily for us, Mr. Schroeder and I have chosen to beat the odds. It's extremely common to get married young here in Utah, especially among those who are members of the church. Though I don't (and won't) ever regret my decision to marry young, there are some things I've reminisced about these last five years that I feel are beneficial to type out. It's my experience. But it's also others experience. As I've talked with other friends of mine, there is a common factor. And I think it's worth sharing.

Know who you are. Love yourself.
For the longest time, I thought if you didn't know who you were when you got married, you were toast. I've changed my mind. I don't think I will ever be the same person who I am right this second. We screw up. We learn. We realize what we want. We go after it. We stumble along the way. Life gives us things we didn't expect. We're constantly thrown into change. Nothing is ever expected or planned. You never really know who you are. You can have your standards, and live up to them, but there is a line. That's where I would change it to "Love yourself."

I learned this the hard way. I was totally set in high school. I had my head on straight. But I let a few instances and situations in college destroy me and my self esteem. I got married when I did not have a self esteem. I wasn't confident with who I was. I relied on Trevor's love to make me feel okay. Oh my goodness golly gee. Y'all. Don't do that. Please do not do that. Learn how to love yourself. Learn what kind of person you want to be, and go after her/him. If you don't have a strong sense of the individual you are, and if you ever say or do hurtful things to yourself, your marriage will suffer. I can promise you that. I truly believe the first year of my marriage was the hardest because I was searching and searching and trying to figure out how the hell to love myself. It's crucial. Trust me.

• Realize that life is no longer about you.
Ha! Everybody warned me about this one. You have your entire single life to be selfish. Not in a ridiculous way, but in a true way. Everything you do is about you. You go away to college, for your education. You work at a certain place because it is where you want to work. You move away for the summer because you want to. You are sure to never cook dinner with onions in it because you hate onions. Mr. Schroeder and I have quite a bit in common. But we still found countless differences. We moved out of the state because of his job. I had to take a break from schooling because of his situation. He was supporting our family, and I am incredibly grateful for that. And sometimes, marriage takes sacrifice, but mostly selflessness. If you just remember to forget yourself in the service of your husband, and husbands forget themselves in the service of their wives, the difference is astonishing. He also likes onions. So I do my best to cook with onions sometimes, too ;)

• Don't get mad at the whole..toilet paper being backwards thing
The first year of our marriage I would get so frustrated over the tiniest little things. Looking back, I'm definitely giggling over them. The toilet paper was constantly backwards. His socks were left everywhere. "The dryer steals them!" he'd always yell. I'd always respond with "Maybe try looking in the couch creases." They were always there. These are silly examples. But I promise you that there will be quirks come up that make you think..."What the crap are you doing/thinking?" Remember to just take five breaths and get over yourself. Everything is totally fine.

• This is the biggest one. So listen, up. You getting about your marriage.
Wait, what? Duh. Okay, but for real. So many people get way too caught up in wedding stuff. My wedding was the best day of my life. No doubt. I swear once a girl gets engaged, all she can think about is planning the wedding, finding the prettiest and yummiest cake, the honeymoon, all the pictures she's going to post, and the way she can't stop thinking about the wedding wedding wedding. I think we all get caught up in it, honestly, at least to an extent. Because we want it to be perfect and we want what we want, which is completely acceptable. But please. Don't get so caught up in planning the wedding that you forget what comes after. I remember coming home from touring a few reception centers and I was telling my dad about them. He said, very calmly, "Amanda. The wedding is one day. Please know that." Yes. It was the best day of my life. But I have had multiple friends who live their entire lives dreaming about the perfect wedding. It comes, and goes, and then they're like, "Shoot. What? It's over. What the crap am I going to do now?" Perhaps this is part of getting married young, immaturity, and the stigma attached to marriage. People. Please. Stop putting 100% of your focus into the wedding, and put it into the kind of husband or wife you are going to be.

Lastly, I do want you to know that marriage is amazing. It is a sacred union that is incredibly important to your happiness. Selflessness is required. Forgiveness is mandatory. You are no longer your own person, you are two. And hard times will come. But if you stand together, pray together, and be there for one another, you can face anything.
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