We just celebrated my parents’ 61st wedding anniversary. I say “we” because it was more than their celebration – it was our celebration of the example of love and commitment that they set for us. They give us all hope.
They make it look easy, but I know that they have had to face their fair share of challenges and trials. After all, life is like that. I grew up in their home, and I remember times when things seemed tough. Like most of us, financial concerns created stress for them, but they faced those issues together rather than letting them tear them apart.
Over the years, I’ve asked them for their secret, and each time I’ve gotten a different answer. It wasn’t until recently that I realized their answers were meant to help me deal with my issues rather than explaining the secret of their successful marriage – and yet, perhaps each answer is a part of the whole.
Once Dad told me, “When you get married, you have to make that person the most important person in the world to you. Your friendships may still be important to you, but not as important as the person you marry. In fact, you should marry your best friend, and if you don’t, you should make her your best friend. If you’ve picked the right person, she will do the same. If she doesn’t, be patient and set the example.”
The example he set was more important than the advice he gave. There was never any doubt in my mind that Mom was the most important person in Dad’s life. I’m not saying that they never fought, but I noticed that when they did fight, they never attacked each other. It was always, “I don’t like what you did” and never “You are a terrible person.”
And while their affection for one another was personal and private, they didn’t hide it from the world. When I was living in Oregon, they came for a visit. I only turned my back on them for a second, and when I looked up, they were walking along the beach holding hands! At that time, they had only been married for 40 years, but it still took me by surprise.
In fact, just yesterday I caught them flirting with each other.
When asked for her advice on staying together, Mom said, “You find the person you love and just keep working on it.”
Neither of them said, “When you meet the right person, everything just falls into place and becomes easy.” It’s not easy – it’s just worth it.