My mother has learned many lessons since his death, but the major one learned was about being the wife she wished she would have been. She didn't understand many things about him until he was gone. Her grief over that one aspect was almost unbearable. I asked her today to write a little of her memoirs in regards to her marriage. Her wisdom of 56 years of life, 35 years of marriage and 10 children is nothing to be ignored. I have an entire Rubbermaid container full of her letters and advice written to me. They are treasures. I have kept every single letter.
Below is her advice regarding marriage AFTER his death:
I WISH I HAD KNOWN…by Damaris Niewald
If I could rewind my mothering career, I would have put more energy and emphasis into being a better wife. Our primary vocation is to be a wife first and then a mother. Because of the exhausting demands of small children, most women lose focus on their marriage. Either they overlook their spouse and put him on the bottom of their “to-do” lists or they begin to treat him “as one of the children.” The bond of marriage is stronger than the bond of children because in marriage, “two become one flesh”—one flesh—you are no longer a single person after marriage you become absorbed into your husband.
I wish I had known how a man feels like a failure at work each day, and look to their wives to make them feel like a hero. If he comes home to a wretch, he feels like a failure at work and at home.
I wish I had known that a man is afraid that he can’t be a good provider, good husband, and good father, and that he doesn’t know what to do with his fear. I believe that anger is a sign of fear. I wish I had known that he wasn’t mad at me and that he was only afraid of NOT having the answers to life’s problems or quandaries.
I wish I had known that a man is afraid of NOT measuring up to other men, sometimes his own father and sometimes he’s afraid of NOT being able to measure up to the expectations of his wife. I wish I had known that God leads through the husband—not the wife. And even if the man’s decisions turn out to be disastrous, that a wife’s obedience will be blessed by God.
I wish I had known that the problems in raising children are the devil’s most powerful attacks on a marriage. The devil is after the marriage NOT the child. If he can destroy the marriage, he has captured the whole family in one swoop.
I wish I had appreciated the 1 million unseen, taken for granted acts of service. When they are gone there is a hole. My dear mother said “when you have a team each player has a role that is irreplaceable. When one member of the team is gone the entire team feels the loss.”
I wish I had been a better listener to his daily ups and downs instead of being focused on the woes and workings of my life.
I wish I had been more willing to fulfill his needs instead of trying to fulfill mine.
I wish I had been a better friend. As St. Francis said perfectly, “Master, grant that I may never seek to be consoled, as to consol. To be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.” I wish that I could have consoled him more, understood him more and loved him more than I expected of him.
Be an excellent wife, you never how long you will have him.