“Oh really? What's his name?”
“Ramón,” she said, pronouncing the name “Wah-mone.”
“Can I meet him?” I asked.
She looked away for a moment, then looked back at me and said, “He’s using the bathroom.”
“I see,” and thus began my relationship with my imaginary son-in-law. In the week after he married my daughter, he mowed the backyard, took a job “writing papers,” cared for my imaginary grandkids, and got sick with an “ear confection” (those ear confections are the worst!).
My daughter is now 8 and, assuming she gets married, Ramón is likely out there somewhere. When he finally shows up, there are some things I'd like to say to him. I'll go ahead and start with this:
So you’re the one -- the man who’s going to marry my daughter. Wow. I never thought this day would come.
Don’t get me wrong: I wanted it to come; it’s just that her mom and I have spent so many years loving her, praying for her and getting to know her. Now she’s yours “to have and to hold" and I want you to do that well. That's why you need to understand that loving my daughter will require you to care for her in many of the ways she needed back when she pretend-married you at age 3. That's going to start with playing together.
My daughter would play all day if she could, and she’s still going to need playtime with you when she grows up. You can’t maintain a good friendship with someone you can’t have fun with, and if you don’t have a good friendship, things like intimacy and deep conversation will eventually become a relic of days gone by. So remember to have fun with her, Ramón -- it’s one of the most effective ways you can keep things fresh in your relationship.
Another thing: Please don’t ever stop adoring her. Man, you have no idea how many times a week she comes into the living room and says, “Watch me, Daddy!” Then she does a dance, a new gymnastics move, or shows me her pretty outfit. At the heart of her request for attention is the same desire: She wants me to stop and behold her. So I do. I tell her that she’s beautiful, smart and strong; and it means everything to her. One day, it will mean everything to her when you do the beholding -- don’t forget to do that, Ramón.
One last thing: I hope you’ll pray with her frequently. I know a lot of men who find it awkward to pray with their wives -- it's going to be a lot easier for you. My daughter and her sister pray with me every night and it sparks some profound conversations about who God is, how He answers prayers and what He's trying to tell us through Scripture. She’s still going to need that kind of spiritual engagement when she’s your wife. Don’t be weird about it -- just do it. You’ll be drawing closer to her and Jesus, and nothing can make your marriage stronger than that.
I could give you some more advice but I don’t want to overwhelm you. I just want you to remember that although you’re marrying a grown woman, being a good husband will require you to love her even more than I do now -- and that's saying a lot.
Your future father-in-law