Leaving the Nest: A Mother’s Advice on the Eve of Her Son’s Marriage


Dear Mitchell,

Time is such a strange thing.  I believe it was only about five years ago that I received a letter from my dad a few days before my wedding.  

In it he thanked me, told me he loved me, gave me some practical advice, and then prayed that our marriage would be blessed. I keep it next to my patriarchal blessing in my scriptures, because it was personal revelation and a roadmap to a happy life from someone I admired very much.

In just under two weeks you will marry Meagan.  I am thrilled for both of you and truly believe you are both “marrying up.”  There couldn’t be a better feeling than that of knowing you are not only getting someone special, who you are completely in love with, but feeling like you are being blessed way above what you deserve in a spouse.

Dad and I are so proud of you.  You have been a joy to us since the moment we found out we were expecting you.  Thank you for leading out in our home amongst your siblings. They love you and are blessed to have had you as a protector, friend, and example.  You have made parenting an easier job for the other four.

Now to the practical advice for a happy life.  I am almost 50, and have been married for 28 years on the morning of your wedding reception, so I believe I qualify as expert enough.

Continue to welcome people into your home and friendship.  You both have been gifted verbally, with energy, and with deep compassion.  So many people need that in this difficult stage of their existence. Continue to give it freely and Heavenly Father will continue to send people who need your love, your fun, your example.

Stay out of financial debt.  You have a way to do very well financially, but that will tempt you to live beyond your means.  We and the Lord want you to have all that is possible, but you will need to rein in your desires for the high life or it can suck you in and down very quickly.  

Set up early how you two will conduct your daily lives in relation to your Heavenly Father and Savior.  Decide how you will feed your spirits daily, weekly, monthly. These are the Sunday School answers, but if you don’t have scriptures, prayer, church attendance, temple attendance, ministering, missionary work, fasting, and tithing on that list, you need to take another look.  Those simply cannot be left out.

Decide how you are going to care for your bodies and watch out for one another in how they care for theirs.  What will you cut out (processed foods, late nights, imbalanced work life, too much sitting, etc.) and what you will add in (simple and live foods, regular exercise, start and stop times to work, plenty of sleep and so on)?

Here are a few other tidbits that I’ve harped on your whole life, but that I want to get down on paper so that I can be sure you’ve actually “heard” them.

  1. Keep your home, car, desk, clothes and yard neat and clean.  It says much about you and the state of your mind and life.

  2. Dress simply, but in quality, and when in doubt on what to wear, take it up a notch and you will never go wrong. You’d rather be in a tux in a room full of suits, than a swimming suit in a room full of jeans and t-shirts.

  3. Keep your hair, beard, nails trimmed, and teeth brushed and flossed.  Everyone likes a clean smelling man.

  4. Remember that you are a steward over everything you’ve been blessed with, not an owner.  

  5. Work hard when it’s time, and then feel absolutely fine to take a break to enjoy life.

  6. Take time for your wife every week for a date night.  Get out of the house and do something. Take another couple along for fun.  You need to learn from and help others and this practice will build lifelong friendships.

  7. Learn how your spouse and children see the love you feel for them.  Just as they have different learning styles, they have different languages of love.

  8. Apologize quickly and forgive completely.  If you find yourself recounting your abuses, realize that is a victim mentality and there is only one being who promotes that as a way to feel better.  Don’t buy into that lie.

  9. Make your first priority your wife’s happiness, so when you are struggling with the natural man, you will set aside selfishness and what the world tells you is your right, and instead pray for inspiration on how to bless her.

  10. Set up systems, i.e. making your bed when you get out of it, Mondays you water plants and do laundry, open mail the day it comes in to sort it and take care of it, Saturdays are for cleaning the car or whatever.  It’s nice to have a tickler set by days of the week to keep you from getting overwhelmed. Make the decision once, then work on autopilot.

  11. Some items are worth having the best in the market, but some things don’t qualify and good enough is truly, good enough.

  12. When in doubt, keep it to yourself.  Share less of a story, or what you’ve heard, etc., rather than more and you won’t regret maintaining a little reserve or confidentiality.

  13. Pick up after yourself.  It’s a sign of respect for everyone else you live with.

  14. Keep the Sabbath Day holy and it will bless you in ways you won’t recognize at first, but as you keep it sacred for family and gospel study and ministering service, you will feel a greater energy and focus for your work and relationships the remainder of the week.  You will be blessed in your studies and your career if you give that day to God.

  15. Find a motto like “Thaynes, Built on a Rock” that keeps your family pointed to returning together to your Heavenly Father.  Build traditions around it.

I could go on, but this is getting mighty long.

I love and delight in you Mitchell.  I hope you know that you can always come to me with any concern, question, or need and I will be eager to help.  I hope you will always feel peace and acceptance in our home. Most of all, I hope you know of my rock solid testimony of our Savior’s atonement and our Heavenly Father’s plan.  It is a plan for our eternal happiness. Follow it and bank on it.

I love you more than words can say.