Today, August 12, 2012, is my parent’s 45th wedding anniversary. It was legal to wed when you were five years old back then. That is why they’re so young.
45 years with another person. As I flippantly said to them on their 30th wedding anniversary, “Wow. 30 years together. That’s longer than I’ve been alive.” One obvious result of their marriage is a brilliant daughter. My sister, of course. But I am serious when I say that I’m so glad they got together. Because even though I use to think I would have just been born to some other random parents, I know better now – my parents were my only shot at life.
Seriously, it is hard for me to imagine sharing daily life with another person for 45 years. I’m not married but I know lots of married people and marriage is work. A lot of dying to self and not getting your way. Which makes me wonder why marriage is so popular in the first place. Maybe it is because a lot of people don’t know about the hard work part when they start the adventure. It’s all sunshine and roses and sex. But then you come back from the honeymoon, you are met by clouds and thorns and no sex. Okay, maybe not all the time but on occasion.
In our world today, it would be easy to be a pessimist about marriage. There are plenty of examples around that scare a lot of us singles to death.
But then you have marriages like my parent’s marriage. Marriages that actually work. Marriages that make you think this is exactly how it was suppose to be because you can’t imagine it any other way. Marriages that tempt you to jump in with both feet because you want in on this awesome adventure.
In honor of their 45th wedding anniversary, here are 45 things that I’ve learned from my parents about love and marriage:
- Priorities: God first. Spouse second. Kids third.
- Respect your spouse and honor him or her ALWAYS.
- If you aren’t building up your marriage, you are tearing it down.
- You’ll never met all of your spouse’s needs. Don’t expect he or she to meet all of yours.
- Laugh. Often.
- Don’t let the kids come between you or play you. Communicate and be united.
- Define your roles in marriage based on skills and interest, not gender.
- Don’t argue with God. He knows what he is doing.
- Gross the kids out with physical displays of affection. They secretly love it.
- If one of you wins, then you both lose.
- The phrase “I’m sorry” has magical powers.
- If you aren’t complete as a single person, you aren’t ready to be married.
- It isn’t your spouse’s job to make you happy.
- Don’t center your life around your kids. One day they will be gone and will be just the two of you again.
- Give each other space to grow and change. It will happen whether you want it to or not. Most likely, the things that you truly love about the other person are not the things that are changing.
- Just be present with one another. Even if it means pushing a cart while the other shops.
- Be grateful and express your gratitude often. Especially for the little things.
- When you mess up, make amends. Quickly.
- Do little things with big thought; not big things with little thought.
- You are two independent people that compliment each other. Don’t be so dependent that you can’t be yourself.
- Some days you have to take turns being the strong one.
- Don’t make any huge life decisions without unity in that decision. (Not necessarily agreement but definitely unity.)
- Flowers and love notes never get old.
- Let go of unrealistic expectations. Hollywood, love songs and romance novels often get it wrong.
- Have a common approach in dealing with in-laws (and various other relatives).
- Good marriages just don’t happen.
- Not everyone needs to know everything about your marriage. Choose few and choose wise who you confide in about your marriage.
- Forgiveness is as vital to marriage as fuel is to an airplane. Without it, you will crash and burn.
- True forgiveness means that you don’t hold grudges. If you hold on to a grudge, you can’t hold on to your love.
- Let your kids see you fight well. It is a part of marriage and life.
- Have a common approach in parenting.
- Have separate banking accounts (for birthday and anniversary surprises!) Nothing ruins a fun surprise like a messed up checkbook.
- Sometimes you have to walk away. But don’t walk too far or too long.
- You are in this together.
- Never talk bad about your spouse to anyone – including your children. (See #2.)
- Don’t go overboard on Valentine’s Day. Instead, spread the romance out throughout the rest of the year. A good soaking is better than a big splash.
- Some wedding gifts can and should be regifted.
- Say, “I love you.” Don’t assume that it is known.
- Surprise each other. Hide cards in your husband’s luggage before he leaves on a trip. Make little gifts leading up to your wife’s birthday. Save your quarters and put airline tickets in a spouse’s Christmas stocking.
- Don’t compare your spouse to others. (See #2.)
- Be your spouse’s BFF.
- Take care of your relationship with God. Tending to that relationship first will make you a better spouse.
- Don’t keep secrets. (Unless you are planning a super awesome surprise that you know your spouse will love.)
- Learn how your spouse feels loved and love he or she that way – not the way that you feel loved.
- Remind yourself each day of what a blessing your spouse is to you and to others. Express gratitude each day even when you might not feel it. Gratitude changes your attitude.