At my 25-year-old friend’s wedding a few weeks ago, I marveled at not only how elated the couple looked, but also how the parents beamed. As a friend of the groom’s family, I was privy to how they really felt about their new daughter-in-law.
The couple met four years ago. The groom had been adrift, unsuccessful in college and spending the winter working at a ski slope and enjoying his ski bum lifestyle. That changed when they became a couple. She helped him articulate his dreams, set goals, and reenroll in community college, along with her. They got an apartment together and both got jobs. He raised his previously flunking grades to A’s, which allowed them to transfer to a university.
When they got engaged, his mother said to me, “She is the best thing that ever happened to him.”
I thought this when I watched the merry couple at the wedding. It reminded me of my now ex-brother-in-law telling me he’d scolded my ex (his brother) when told he’d left me. My brother-in-law (bless his heart) chastised my ex, telling him: “She’s the best thing that ever happened to you. You’d be an idiot to leave her.”
I realized my ex never told me I was the best thing that ever happened to him. I don’t think he believed that. In fact, I doubt now he’d consider me or our marriage in the top 20. It made me ponder how our relationship might have been different if we regularly said that to each other, assuming we believed it. I had bouts of believing he was the best thing to ever happen to me, but to be honest, it was rare.
At the post-wedding brunch, I pulled the newlyweds aside separately. I said, “Would you like one idea that will help you have a long, loving and successful marriage? Tell the other every day, ‘You are the best thing that ever happened to me.’ Not just ‘I love you’ — that is important — but also tell him/her how important s/he is to you. Every day.” They both agreed.
In dating, it’s hard to know if the person you’re getting to know will be the best thing that every happened to you or not. But if you find signs that he’s not even in the ball park of someone you think could make a major, positive influence on your life, then best to release him. Most long-term happily committed couples would put meeting and/or marrying their mates as one of the best things that ever happened to them, along with the birth of their children.
But some people think sharing something this important would put you in the lower power position, just like the person who utters “I love you” first. Others say “I love you” as cavalierly as “Pass the salt.” Both “I love you” and “You are the best thing that ever happened to me” are best saved for after you are in an exclusive, and ideally committed, relationship. Before then you can come off as needy saying either.
Hearing “You are the best thing that ever happened to me” — when backed up by congruent actions, of course — solidify bonds. I believe this can be as significant — or perhaps more so — than hearing “I love you,” which has a lot of ambiguity around it these days.
Have you had someone tell you, “You are the best thing that ever happened to me”? If so, how did you feel hearing this?
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