I was tempted to make this essay about how my father stressed the importance of family. I’m grateful for it and hope to pass similar family values to my children should I become a mother. Then I considered making the post about how culturally aware I am as a result of my father. The art, literature and even music he exposed me to at an early age was key in making me the woman I am today. I thought about focusing this piece on the way my father treated my mother and the message it sent to me. I knew early on that romantic love did not mean physical or verbal abuse and I have my father to thank for that.
But I decided against them all. Why?
I still have much to learn (and that I want to learn) about being a wife. I don’t know if my father could have prepared me to be the type of wife I ultimately strive to be or that my husband needs and desires. My marriage, like most, is a work in progress. This work is fulfilling and my marriage is a journey I cannot imagine myself taking with anyone else. There are days when I feel like I’m doing my best at this here wife-life thing and days that I, well…do not.
Here’s where my dad comes in, folks. My father did an excellent job of teaching me how to at least try to be the best Bridgette I can be. He didn’t raise followers. Of course I have my moments — I’m human — but learning to listen to and trust that inner voice? I got that from my parents. I am not the prettiest, or the smartest, or the richest or the sexiest but I’m me. And as early as I can remember, I have always felt loved and supported just by being me. I’m an original. I grew up in a home that celebrated authenticity.
You might be wondering what this has to do with marriage. A lot. There’s so much pressure for married folks, especially in the age of social media, to display a constant sense of bliss. In our heart of hearts, we know that no one is happy all of the time. Even people who are madly in love will disagree. Furthermore, what makes me happy might not make Jane happy and vice versa. For me, an amethyst engagement ring set in white gold might make my heart melt when receiving a proposal yet for Jane, a large diamond and platinum sparkler is what’s needed to pop the question. Yet the appeal to attach #relationshipgoals to another’s apparent lifestyle can be a slippery slope — particularly for a newlywed. I observe it regularly on Instagram and Facebook. But differences are what makes the world go ’round. I largely have my father to thank for enforcing a strong sense of discernment in me.
One of my father’s favorite mantras was:
“There are three ways to do anything in life. The right way, the wrong way and the Bartlett way.”
I now try to apply this philosophy in my marriage. While I am inspired by other couples, I have no desire to live anyone else’s relationship but my own. So whether my last name is Bartlett or Royall, I can always hear my father’s voice cheering me on when I figure out how to face a challenge without compromising who I am. And this is especially helpful to being the type of wife I strive to be.
Read last week’s Father’s Day Special Essay here!