By the time you read this, my youngest sister, Kamrin, and her fiancé, Kyle will have tied the knot. You see, Kamrin and Kyle got married on Friday, Sept. 16 in Sanger. I’m sure the ceremony was lovely and I’m sure there were plenty of sniffles from the audience because weddings — although joyous occasions — never fail to start the waterworks no matter how jaded you are about the whole process.
It’s hard for me to process that my baby sister is going to be someone’s wife. I remember when my parents brought her home from the hospital. We’re 14 years apart and I remember being so excited about having another younger sister. I’m the oldest of four, so I’d been around the big sister block a few times but this time felt particularly special. Maybe it was just the age I was when she was born — caught between being a kid and being a teenager — but from the moment I saw her little face I knew I’d met someone who would become very special in my life.
I wasn’t wrong.
Kamrin and I have always been close. I used to pack her around when she was small; she was always my shadow. When I was a worldly 17-year-old who knew everything (which meant I actually knew close to nothing) she would hang out with me and my girlfriends. I taught her to count to 10 in French before she could say the alphabet. I spoke to her in French (as much as I knew) in the hopes that someday she would be fluent in the language.
When I moved out, I cried because I knew Kamrin wouldn’t understand where her sister had gone. I worried she’d forget about me.
But as it turned out, she and I remained close. I was the cool older sister (well, I like to think I was cool) who loved to buy her presents and spoiled her whenever I could. As she got to high school, I tried to be the calm voice of reason whenever high school squabbles would get her down and later, when I learned she loved reading as much as me, we would spend hours discussing the merits of certain books over others. Then, as I became a writer, she read countless (endless, really) versions of manuscripts as I tried and tried to become published. She never complained and always jumped into each version with the enthusiasm of a true fan. I valued her opinion as a reader and a sister. When I had my daughter, she came and lived with us to become our nanny. I didn’t trust anyone but her to watch my baby girl and I never regretted that decision. As a result she and my daughter share a special bond that nothing will ever replace.
I know that she will make a wonderful wife because she’s an overall amazing person.
But because I’m the oldest sister and I’ve been married for almost 20 years I feel it’s my duty to share some hard-earned advice with her and here it is.
What I’ve learned is that it’s important to pay attention to what your partner is saying and that seems simple logic but you’d be surprised how much you miss when you think you’re listening. The key is to employ active listening to your partner.
Don’t stop kissing. Again, a simple bit of logic but when life gets in the way and your schedule starts to resemble a scary thing, the little things, like kisses, get forgotten. Did you know that the act of kissing actually chemically bonds you? Now to clarify, I’m not talking about those friendly, grandmotherly pecks on the cheek. I’m talking about getting a little personal. You know what I mean.
I think the single most important bit of advice is something I learned the hard way. Marriage is difficult. Love isn’t always enough. There will be times that you don’t like your partner and even looking at his face for longer than it would take to slap it, is an effort. However, those times are tempered by the moments when you’re so full of love and respect for your partner that you wonder how you ever made it through life without them. You have to trust that when you’re having a bad moment, that this too shall pass. And then you work toward getting back to those feel-good moments. I once asked my grandmother what the secret was to a lasting marriage. My grandfather is a man with a bit of a growling bite and I wondered how my grandmother — who is the sweetest woman on the planet — could put up with him. I figured there must be some magic formula because if she could stick it out, anyone could.
You know what her answer was?
She told me, “Well, your grandfather is a beautiful dancer.”
After I’d picked my jaw up from the floor I realized what she hadn’t said.
The secret to a lasting marriage is focusing on the good and wonderful parts of your partner and discarding the rest because at the end of the day, that’s all that matters anyway.
So to my sister and my future brother-in-law: may your marriage be filled with happy times, love and warmth and remember — never stop kissing.
Kim Van Meter is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.