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So, today is my daughter’s wedding day. The whole family have gathered in Cyprus to watch our middle daughter marry a remarkable young man in the sunshine. As I write this, all around me people are buzzing about drying their hair, donning their suits and generally getting excited for the big day ahead.
I, however, have got to give a speech as tradition dictates as the father of the bride and I’ve never been more nervous. I’ve spoken in front of hundreds of people during my career and as long as I was prepared and had practiced what I wanted to say, there was never a problem, but this ... this is different.
There are two reasons why. The first is that speaking before family and friends is significantly more difficult than speaking to strangers because you just don’t want to let them down, particularly on such an important day. The second reason however is that I have to, again as tradition dictates, give some words of wisdom or even advice to the young couple as they start their married life together and it’s this that I’m really struggling with.
I could give them one of the old chestnuts such as don’t go to bed after an argument etc. but that wouldn’t feel right and to be honest I’ve gone to bed on a lot of arguments throughout my marriage and we’ve seemed to come through alright so, I’m stuck at this important point.
This is because, the way I see it, just like the two young people getting married today are unique and special, so is every marriage. Not all of them last, some of them have more challenges than good times and others seem to just plod along regardless, so there isn’t any real advice that I can give which I believe will help. Most people make up the rules of marriage as they go along just like most parents do as well when it comes to raising their children and so any platitudes that I can give will, in my opinion, seem empty.
What I can say though, is that through the years of raising our daughter and our other six children, is that generally it is the common sense approach that wins through every time and as parents, being a good example to your children is what will equip them to deal with life in the future.
We all make mistakes and our children see us do it. We all row and our children see us do it. We all go through good times and bad and our children see us do it. But no matter what our children see us do or hear us say, it is how we deal with the things that affect us in life that influence them the most as they grow into adults.
So, maybe that’s how I should finish my speech because when her mother and I see her taking her vows and taking those big steps forward in her life I think we can both be pretty happy that we’ve not done a bad job!