Earlier this week on twitter, one of my followers askedwhat did you learn from your parents about marriage. Thankfully my parents are alive and well and continue to teach me so much about marriage. God willing my mom will be 77 next month and my dad will be 80 in May 2012. Below are a few key things they have taught me about marriage:
Commitment. My parents took vows almost 50 years ago to love, honor and obey…in sickness and in health, for better or worse, richer or poorer, forsaking all others till death do them part and they are doing it every day by the grace of God. They are committed to keeping their commitment. Its not up for discussion and there’s nothing optional about it. They wake up daily ready to do the things necessary to keep their marriage moving forward.
The importance of sharing bedrock values. When my parents came into marriage, they were already in 100% agreement about family – they both wanted children. They were in agreement about how they would raise and discipline their children. They were in agreement about how they would make money, spend money and save money. They were in agreement about debt; there would be none. They were in agreement about making sure their kids got an education. They were in agreement about who their friends were and would be. They were in agreement about how they would live their lives daily. They were in agreement about their faith and how they would live their faith. They were in agreement on what foundation their marriage would be built. They were even in agreement about what they would watch on TV and listen to on the radio. Get my drift? Two people cannot walk together unless they’re walking in the same direction headed to the same destination.
Its okay to be different. My mother is a social butterfly. She loves people, loves meeting people, loves going places and loves talking to any and everybody about anything. My dad…not so much. While my mother would prefer to explore the world without a map, my dad would prefer to relax in the comfort of his home. As he gets older, he really has no desire to leave home and leaves when he has to…to do very specific things. My mother could come up with a million and one reasons to leave the house and get involved in something…anything…it doesn’t matter to her as long as there are people involved, talking and lots of laughter. I am my mothers child for real. Anyway, in spite of this difference, they have learned a lot from each other and they balance each other out quite well. Differences don’t have to divide.
How a husband should love his wife. My dad takes his mandate to love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave himself for it very seriously. I continue to see my dad give and give and give some more to my mother. He protects her, looks out for her and defends her honor. No one is going to talk sideways to my mother in his presence. After God, she is his first priority. He makes every decision in his life with my mother and his family in mind. If it doesn’t benefit the family, its not happening and there is nothing you can do to sway him. God, wife, family and everything else in that order is how my dad does it and my mother can sleep easy at night because her life is in the hands of a loving and responsible leader.
How a wife should respect and honor her husband. Men need to be respected and my mother knows it. My mother defers to my dad and submits to him daily. She gives him room and allows him to be the head of his household. He doesn’t have to compete for this role and he doesn’t have to share it. She looks forward to him leading his family and because of this he gladly steps up to the plate. Roles are very important in marriage and giving each other space to walk out those roles is even more important.
Reality of Love. Unfortunately, we live in a world of Hallmark movies, Harlequin romances and sappy romantic comedies that somehow always have a happy ending giving couples a false hope about marriage that makes them throw in the towel and walk away the minute things get rough and tough. My parents have taught me that things will get rough and tough in marriage yet in those moments that’s when real love; the intentional actions of love show up. Love is an action. Love is proactive. Love does. Love gives. While I’ve never seen my parents strolling arm and arm along the beach or sitting under the stars making googly eyes at each other…you know, all that cutesy stuff we see at the movies, I see them live love daily through their actions of supporting and encouraging each other through the good, the bad and the ugly of life.
You can’t live by your feelings in marriage. Feelings change like the weather. Feelings come and feelings go. You can’t let your emotions rule you. I’m sure my parents like many other couples have felt like throwing in the towel and walking away. Instead, they find ways to adapt to each other and adapt to the circumstances of life. Maturity makes you rise above your feelings and adapt.
While the above picture is definitely a beautiful thing, my parents get on each others nerves like anyone else but you know what, my parents will be married till death do them part because they’ve decided it to be so. Watching my parents has made me want to be married. They’ve taught me the beauty of having Gods selection by your side to get through this challenging thing called life. They continue to be my best example of God’s plan and design for marriage; to make us more like him…holy not happy.
So, what did your parents teach you about marriage?
Something to think about…
Yvonne Chase is a Dating & Relationship Coach to Singles and Pre-Committed Couples. Visit her website http://www.yvonnechase.com to learn more.