Lessons From a Long Marriage

Today, July 5, 2016, my parents celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary. Through the years I have written several posts about each of them individually, but I have never written about them together. I have spent 44 years watching them live, work and share together as a couple. Through those years I have learned some big lessons about love, service and sacrifice. I have also learned several smaller pieces of information that are useful to know.

1. Do the small things for one another.
Through the years I have watched my mom pay attention to all of my dad’s little peculiarities. She makes sandwiches just the way he likes them. At the same time, my dad is always on the lookout for some small piece of jewelry that mom might like. Not every choice has been great, but he has also done some really nice things. I have watched each one pay special attention to the other and respond accordingly.

2. Never give up.
I have seen my parents disagree. I have seen my parents fight. I know their marriage has had some difficult seasons. But to my knowledge I have never heard the word “divorce” ever mentioned in their relationship. I have never had a doubt that my parents would stay together. Leaving each other was never an option.

3. Hold your tongue.
I know there have been times when my mom wanted to explode. I have sat in a boat and listened to my dad voice his concerns just to get it off his chest. Both of them had the same frustrations all of us feel in a marriage. I have never seen them vocalize their total anger at one another. Usually they have chosen to hold their tongue rather than say something that would destroy the other person.

4. Know your role.
While people often mock men and women having traditional roles in marriage today, my parents proved that some traditions work. Mom would have dinner on the table by 5:00 pm when dad got home. Then dad would go and work in the garden for hours. If we went fishing we would come home and dad would clean the fish while mom got supper ready. One of them would zig while the other would zag. Working together as a team is a thing of beauty.

5. Show true concern.
Over the last several years I have watched mom and dad try to take care of each other. They traveled to the doctor together. They sat in waiting rooms filled with fear. They have served each other to the best of their ability. Recently, mom had worked hard to take care of her man. I have watched in silence as my mom handles the deep struggles of dad’s stroke with love and compassion. I know her heart is breaking but she continues to hang tough.

My parents are not perfect. I would never pretend otherwise. They are two people with a deep faith in Jesus who love one another. Through the years they have stayed together to leave a legacy of love for my sister, brother and I to follow. I hope they have a great day and I thank them for all they have taught me.

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