10 Things I learned about marriage from my parents

This is a guest post, written by my beautiful mama. She has her own blog that she updates every so often (read: every four months or so) and she talks about faith, her diagnosis and good books she has read! She wrote a beautiful tribute to my grandparents for their 68th wedding anniversary. Take it away, mom:

To my parents: the greatest example of a successful marriage I’ve ever seen. Happy Anniversary!

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I cannot even enumerate all of the ways your marriage has positively impacted me, my family and everyone who has known you. Since childhood I’ve received comments congratulating me on the blessing of being born into such a family. How well I know this; I’ve seen this marriage from the inside. I hope and pray that my marriage will also produce a positive impact on others; if it does, it is a heritage from you. Here are just a few of the things I learned from you about marriage.

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder. My parents were high school sweethearts who were separated by WWII. In 1945, Dad was commissioned in the Navy; they were engaged and Dad shipped out. They weren’t able to marry until 1947 and their source of communication was by letter. They might have found that “out of sight is out of mind”, but they made the choice to grow fonder of one another. Too many people believe that love is a feeling that comes out of nowhere and seizes you. It is impossible to resist, they say, and just as impossible to hold on to. My parents disagreed and they considered love a choice to be made and an action to take. They still choose to love and it is a beautiful thing to see.

It’s better to share very little with much love than have everything in the world without it. The early days of their marriage were hardscrabble. They lived in a tiny garage apartment with no sub floor, so you could look through the cracks and see the garage. My mom tells of tearing paper napkins in pieces to make them last longer. They learned so many great life lessons including how to trust in God for everything. It was a beginning that would see them through the best of times and the worst of times.

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Don’t latch the screen door when the cougar needs shootin’. In other words, work together and don’t put obstacles in your spouse’s path. It might seem like latching the screen door would keep the cat out, but it is a lot more likely that your spouse’s loaded .45 caliber might provide more safety, if he can get out the door to use it.

Don’t go to bed angry. It’s a proven fact that my parents have gotten mad at each other; more than once. I know it is hard to believe but you will have to take my word for it. There were some tough conflicts that would have caused a weaker marriage to crack. But, instead of holding on to their anger and pride, my parents would release it and end the argument with one of them saying, “I love you anyway.” Then they would set to work and figure out a solution.

Never underestimate the power of your woman (or your man). Mom may be a small woman but she is a powerhouse of determination. She may not have an MBA but some of her ideas have saved the day. Dad has encountered incredible obstacles in his life and overcome them with integrity. This is a marriage that has learned to respect not only the innate strengths of each but also the periodic flashes of insight and incredible perseverance that come only from God.

Your husband needs respect more than he needs love. My parents’ love is well known. Everyone knows that a marriage needs love to flourish. What some people don’t realize that men typically prize respect over love. My mom was a splendid example of how to respect your husband and that training was much to my benefit. To their credit, we are both blessed with husbands who are worthy of respect. My mom certainly has a mind of her own but she chooses to let my dad lead.

Prayer will hold you together. From my earliest memories, my parents prayed together. They still do. I cannot discount that in the darkest of times, when all seemed futile and hope elusive, prayer is what held them together, individually and as a couple. Illness, death of loved ones, business disaster: they overcame it all. For some people, prayer is what you do when all else fails. To my parents, prayer is what you do first.

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You will meet the enemy and he is us. My parents understand that their spouse is not the enemy, but a gift from God. The problem of marriage is that it always a case of one broken, selfish sinner married to (what a surprise!) another broken, selfish sinner. No one who knows my parents would ever think of them that way, but that is what we all are. My parents figured out early on the key to marriage is not to change the other person, but to change yourself into the person God wants you to be.

Together you are way more than twice of either of you. Although this sounds a lot like Bilbo Baggins’ farewell speech, it is a valid truth. The most important thing to agree upon is your faith. This will contribute mightily to unity in all things. A cord of three strands is not easily broken and when one of the strands is God, it is almost impossible to break. My parents are each a wonderful person in their own right, but together they are a juggernaut.

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Old age is not for sissies, but it sure is wonderful. My parents are entering their 90th year and marveling over the family of some 30 people and counting. They are beloved and admired by everyone who knows them, especially the aforementioned 30. In their 68th year of marriage they continue to bless not only each other but the world around them.

 

10 things I learned about marriage