This Saturday, my daughter, Stephanie, will marry a wonderful young man named Tony. She will take his last name, become his wife and enjoin our families. Stefie may always be “Daddy’s Girl,” but this is a giant step beyond the force field of her family of origin into her own life, future and family. Having raised girls, I know what it’s like to talk heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul with a daughter. Stefie and I have talked extensively (as opposed to having “the talk”) about what it means to be a loving partner over the years. In addition to teaching me at least as much as I’ve taught her, she and Tony are wise souls, light years ahead of where I was at their age.
Earlier today, when I heard Tony was having a Bachelor Party, I thought about what I would say to, and do with, my son before his wedding. Would I sit him down and have a long talk about what it meant to be a loving husband? Convene a gathering of men to bare our souls regarding “lessons learned” about marriage? Make what has become a traditional pilgrimage to a local strip bar to drink tequila shots off a pair of large salted breasts? Give him some kind of private father-to-son blessing? Perform a “circle of trust” ritual (Robert De Niro style in Meet The Fockers) to solidify his commitment to my daughter and sanctify the sacredness of their marriage? Or something else altogether?
After some deliberation about exactly what is my place in my new son-in-law’s life, I’ve decided, more than anything, to be a loving presence. This means ASKING HIM what HE wants of me. LISTENING TO HIM TELL ME what would be most relevant and meaningful for FOR HIM. Giving him a menu of choices, such as the ones stated above (minus the strip bar), and sharing what I’ve learned about intimacy, integrity, trust, humility, commitment, respect and taking “the high road” in relationships. And so, I will ask Tony what he would like me to do or say, if anything, as he prepares to marry my daughter. I will listen humbly, do what he asks to the best of my ability, get to know him better and better and love him as a son — not just during wedding week, but over the course of a lifetime.
Taking a deep breath now, I have every confidence that Stefie and Tony will say and do all that matters in their marriage vows — something they already do in their daily lives. I stand ready to support both of them, individually and together, in creating the best of all possible futures. And pray for their every happiness. Their marriage has brought newfound joy into my life that I’m going to just sit back and enjoy for the moment. And forever. I’m also going to dance up a storm at their wedding.