Yesterday, I watched a tennis clinic given by a friend of mine. Well, actually, I did not watch it. I was playing on the court next door and "experienced it," mainly by picking up tennis balls that came on our court. The clinic had a dozen or so young women. They all seemed to be bright young women who really, really, wanted to learn to play tennis. This was, I think, their fifth clinic or so. They were all highly motivated and pleasant (no thrown racquets). The coach was energetic and they had a great relationship. But these tennis balls kept coming onto our court. They were trying their best, he was teaching his best, and tennis is really not that hard (at least at our level of play). But they could not keep the balls on their court at all. Why?

Because motive is not enough. It is not enough to "want to be" a good tennis player, you have to actually learn the game and hit the shots. In the same way, it is not enough to "want to be" a good wife. You have to actually learn how to a good wife. It is nice when someone tries to do something they are not yet good at doing, but that is only nice for a little while. Sooner or later, you have to be able to hit the shots.

Being a wife is far more complex than hitting a tennis ball. You have to deal with people and issues and deadlines and money problems and a husband who shares these problems. You may try your best (as the ladies next to us did last night), but still hit the ball all over the place. Your best attempt may have the worst result.

But you keep trying and you keep learning and you get better. You think about what happened (as opposed to just forgetting it or fixating on it). You talk to friends. You seek advice from older women. You gradually learn both little things (how much pepper in the potatoes) and big things (how to talk with your husband about money). 

Some of you are young wives who never really had a clinic at all. You find yourself married and confused, not knowing the rules or how to play the game. Your shots go everywhere. Don't panic and don't give up. Keep learning, keep trying, and keep loving your husband the best that you can, every day.

Some of you are older wives who have missed a lot of shots over the years, but you have learned a lot as well. You should help the younger women to learn what they need to make the game a success.

Remember, in tennis the scoring begins with "love," which is kind of cute. In marriage, you also begin with love. But you learn more and try more and fail more and, eventually, succeed more. Love is "zero" in tennis, but is a constant and a joy in marriage. 

If you really learn how to love.

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