There have been more articles and blog posts written about marriage in the past 48 hours then have probably been written in the past 100 years. While I'm not going to touch on the marriage issues that are swirling around in our country right now (there are plenty of others who have done a much better job than I could!), I wanted to share with you some things that I learned from my parents' marriage.
1. They placed more importance on each other than anything else. When I was a mouthy, disrespectful teenager, I made a comment to my mother one afternoon. I don't remember what I said. Hopefully, she doesn't remember what I said. But I do remember what happened after I said it. My mom started to cry. I was aghast. I don't know if she'd had a bad day at work. I don't know if she'd had all she could stand from me. But I had never, NEVER seen my mother cry because of something I had said or did. I went to my bedroom without her even telling me to because I felt so awful. When my dad got home from work later that day, he had me come into the den for a chat. He calmly set me down and said, "I just want you to know that you will never talk to my wife that way again. She is my wife, and she will stay in this house with me. You will be sent to live somewhere else if you cannot be respectful of my wife." He was dead serious. I had no doubts that my father would do exactly what he said. But what impressed me the most was that he valued and loved my mother more than anything else. I have never forgotten that moment.
2. They balance each other. When people say that girls grow up to marry their fathers, I just laugh. I am a lot like my father, so I grew up and married my mom or at least a guy very similar to my mom. But it works because my parents balance each other. My dad is very easy-going, loves to have a good time, and is quite a sanguine fellow. My mom is usually stressed, can't/won't sit still, and has to be in control of the situation. Their marriage works because my dad helps mom to relax and have a good time, sometimes by force! My mom helps my dad focus on what needs to be done and inspires him to get that Honey Do list completed. I've learned that a marriage needs two people who can balance each other's strengths and weaknesses. It is a true blessing to watch two people sharpen each other into better people.
3. They loved and argued in front of us. It wasn't unusual to walk into a room and find my dad with his arms around my mom giving her a hug or a kiss. My parents weren't and aren't shy about showing affection in front of their family. While my sister and I might groan about it, it was nice to see our parents still in love with each other when we had friends whose parents were getting a divorce. But my parents also weren't afraid to argue in front of us either. They didn't have any knock down drag outs, but you could definitely tell if they were not happy with each other. The house took on a frosty quality and you knew to step lightly and be on your best behavior! Usually overnight things were worked out and went back to normal. Now having been married for almost ten years, I realize how helpful it was to know that disagreements in marriage are normal. Acting like a fool, separating, or divorcing because of them was not.
4. They made our family fun. My parents' loving marriage made our home a happy one. I was a strange teenager because I would rather have been at home with my parents on a Friday and Saturday night than be anywhere else. They (usually my dad) were always coming up with something crazy to do. We would have contests over stupid things like seeing who could look like they were walking into an imaginary basement behind the kitchen bar, lip sync to Elvis songs, or sit around the table and reminisce. They showed me that when you have a great marriage it flows out and touches others, especially your children.
5. They made it seem so easy. Since I have a decade under my belt in the marriage department, I can honestly say that My Man and I are just now getting all of the above things right on a consistent basis. When I think back to my childhood, my parents just seemed to get it right naturally, but I know now that it took work. It took dedication. It took determination. It took a reliance on God. But watching and participating in a marriage that works is the greatest blessing on earth and a force that can change the world.
Working on my marriage to make my marriage work in the treehouse,