What My Parents Have Taught Me About Marriage

As my parents celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary today, I was thinking about the significance of this event. Fifty-eight-years. That means they’ve been married for 73% of their lives so far. (Can you believe I just did math?)

Honestly, that sounds like a long time to wake up and look at the same person each day, but my parents have met this milestone with grace, love and gratitude. I believe they’ll be in this marathon until the finish line, and I couldn’t feel more honored to witness this relationship.

Anniversaries that reach double digits, let alone almost six decades worth, are incredibly rare these days. Not all marriages are created equally, and I’ve wondered what contributed to my parent’s years of success?

I imagine they’ve had many rough spots along the way, although they’d never let us see it. And when I say “us” I’m referring to my two brothers and two sisters. Yes, my parents have not only managed a strong marriage all these years, but also raised five kids through it all. They’re certifiable saints.

They’re also fairly private with their feelings. They never sat me down and gave detailed instructions on how to be in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything from them. It’s quite the opposite. I’ve been a keen observer and quiet witness to their patience, humor, frustration, forgiveness and unending love for at least 43 years of their marriage.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my parents from when I was younger. (Look at the cute bow in my mom's hair!)

I’ve always liked this picture of my parents. Look at the cute bow in my mom’s hair. <3

As I thought about how to celebrate them today, I decided to shine a light on a few things I’ve secretly learned from them so far. I know there are many more, but these were top of mind.

{Know your strengths}

There was a period of time when my mom was busy raising us kids while my dad was serving our country in the war. I have a feeling this was a time of tension and worry for everyone. I was just a baby during this stage in their marriage, but I think the lessons remained forever. My mom realized she had more endurance than she thought, and my dad grew in his appreciation for life back home. They each had to be strong on their own – and in turn, they became a stronger couple.

This is something deep and real for me to think about. Having a solid marriage doesn’t mean Brandon and I always have to be side-by-side wearing the same team colors. Now, I say this lightly, as “quality time” is my major love language. I make the entire family go with me to Walmart for groceries, for pete’s sake. But sometimes, when life throws us a curve…a tough job, an illness, a friend in need…where we can’t always be together 24/7, maybe one of the best gifts I can give my husband is to stand strong. Let him know not to worry. I can be okay on my own, and I believe he can, too.

{Pray together}

Prayer is something my parents have held dear to their hearts for many years. They raised us as a good Catholic family and showed us how to start each morning, begin each meal, and close each day with a prayer of gratitude. (I’m sure my parents had all kinds of other prayers in between, but that’s between them and God.)

All I know is that I learned prayer is a sacred and special part of the day that you can share with others – especially your family. I also learned prayer keeps us humble and kind. And I don’t know about you, but those are two qualities I could love in a person for 58+ years.

{Have your own hobbies}

My mom is a Master Gardener who loves digging in the dirt, sewing, and keeping the cookie jar full, while my dad loves volunteering and playing golf with his buddies. They share the love of the outdoors, but I believe having their own distinct passions – and being supportive of each other’s time away doing them – has helped them remain strong as a couple.

This is a very good thing for me to remind Brandon as I slowly take over the garage with my craft supplies and spend evenings (like right now) writing entries in my blog. He’s allowing me to follow my passion for creative living. Thank you, honey. 😉

Actually, he’s probably watching a Jason Bourne movie or checking Husker football pre-season stats at the moment. It’s all good. See?

{When in doubt, laugh it out}

My dad is a complete pro at this. Anytime things get stressful, he’s quick with a joke, pun or some other twist of language that makes you laugh out loud. He knows how to keep things in perspective, and I think he has taught my mom to do the same. Maybe she has always been this way, too? She just allows my dad to tell his classic dad jokes? All I know is that I love to watch her laugh at him.

{Be financially responsible}

This may be one thing my parents sat down and explained. We may not have talked about the birds and the bees (as I was provided books for that kind of thing), but we did discuss the importance of being smart with money. And this tip alone can be enough to save a marriage.

It was explained to me that marriage is about having three types of relationships with a person: You’re friends, lovebirds and also business partners. Many people don’t realize this third role, but it’s important to realize you’re the president and CEO of the household. You have to talk about money, never hide things from each other (including those shoe purchases you stashed in the trunk), and have annual meetings where you map out your family finances and dreams. It doesn’t matter how much money you do (or don’t) have in your account, you still have to talk about it – and be a team. Lesson noted.

{Serve others}

If you combined my parents’ hearts into one, it would be the size of Texas. They have a fondness for helping the poor and have been involved with countless organizations over the years that have provided food, clothing, Christmas gifts, counseling, and even shelter for those in need. I truly admire their dedication to humankind.

We haven’t specifically talked about their “why”, but I imagine it has a little something to do with being grateful for the many blessings in their own lives. And I have to believe the fact they volunteer and do this hard work together (both physically and emotionally) has to be another ingredient to their lasting marriage.

{Never give up}

Through the years, my parents have shown fierce dedication to each other. It has never crossed my mind that they would ever give up. Again, I’m sure they’ve had rough patches and will continue to have bad days. After all, they’re people, like you and me. The one thing that’s special about them is they know how to keep a promise. A promise they made before family, friends, God and each other 58 years ago today. One that included holding each other from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health.

And you know who wants to thank them for being the best role models and parents a girl could have? I do.

This is a picture of my parents dancing at my wedding.

This is a picture of my parents dancing at my wedding. They’re showing us how it’s done 😉

As Brandon and I celebrate our sweet 16 this year, I promise to cherish each of these lessons and carry them with me for many years to come. Happy anniversary, mom and dad. Here’s to many more years of love, laughter and lessons ahead.

Love you the world full,

Kate

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2 comments on “What My Parents Have Taught Me About Marriage

  1. Yes, Dear Kate~
    I couldn’t have said it better! You have a beautiful way with words. Here’s to 58 years to Mom and Dad!🍾💕
    Love you

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