What we need instead of advice (warning: mushy post ahead)

This Father’s Day weekend, I’ve noticed my husband with our kids—reading books to our grade-school child, rocking our baby to soothe little tears. He is a gift of a human and I’m frequently reminded how great it is to build a life with him.

Because we’re almost ten years into this marriage thing, I can easily think of this arrangement as inevitable. But it wasn’t.

In the years before I met this man who would become my husband, I talked regularly with my dad about the guys I met and dated. If I temporarily landed back at my parents’ house between apartments, these conversations would sometimes go late into the night. I agonized over decisions and relationships and future plans, oblivious to how tired my father must have been, or how early he had to get up for work the next morning. He gave me his advice, but mostly, he listened and asked me questions that helped me point myself in the direction of my own conclusions.

This kind of listening saved me from some life-altering errors.

Without this kind of listening, I could have arrived at the end of a different string of decisions, which makes me shiver a little bit.

Today, on Father’s Day, I’m grateful for the father who didn’t tell me what to do during those years of uncertainty, but listened long and encouraged me to trust myself. And I’m grateful for what that encouragement eventually led me to—a seemingly inevitable marriage to the best father I could imagine for my kids.