I’ve been sitting on my Mom’s guest post for a few days now, trying to think of what kind of words I could say to introduce her to my readers. I came up with nothing, because there just isn’t enough space for me to tell you how deeply I appreciate her. She gave birth to me, which, having just experienced how hard that is, I am in awe that she did it three times. I am always thankful for her friendship, her sound wisdom, and her constant love for me and her grandchildren. Her marriage is one of the reasons why I know that you can make your marriage last a lifetime. Many of my friends growing up had divorced parents; I was not the norm. And what I took for granted then, I am extremely thankful for now. My parents have shown me how to love when it is hard, how to laugh when words fail, and how to mend hurt feelings, even when it seems impossible. I look forward to celebrating their marriage in another 30 years.
Approaching 50 years old means I have been alive for five decades, hard to believe really. In recent days I have noticed a tendency to be nostalgic, listening to music of the eighties and trying to recall my youth. For thirty of my years, going on 31, I have been married to a remarkable man who, as the bachelorette lady says, “gets me”. As the saying goes, “old age isn’t for sissies” and neither is marriage.
Telling a younger person that the most important thing in picking a perfect mate is choosing someone who is your best friend sometimes falls on deaf ears. Many think that when they meet their future spouse fireworks are going to go off or some other life altering sign will occur, thank you Hollywood for that unrealistic expectation. When I first met my husband I wasn’t looking for a mate; in fact, I was just biding my time until I went away to college to really begin my life. When Bob first asked me out on a date, I was so not looking or thinking of dating that I tried to tell him my mom would go instead. My mom was happily married at the time so don’t let your mind go there. The date included listening to a lecture on the finding of the Shroud of Turin. Okay, I admit, Bob’s choice of where to go did not make his intentions real evident.
We did go to that event and then to coffee afterwards; this friendship progressed to more coffee dates, lunch dates, me teaching him how to ride a horse, and many hikes. Our time together was filled with conversations about all topics, so many conversations. I remember how nice it was to be heard, to really be listened to like I had something worthwhile to say. Our relationship is still like that; we talk about many different things and more importantly, we listen to one another. I think all people love to be listened to; it validates their existence; it appeals to their humanness; it creates an undeniable connection.
Raising a family together is really hard. I have said more than once that parenting truly is the hardest task in life. However, it is also the most rewarding experience in life. Our kids bring us more joy than we ever imagined, and our grandkids even more than that. Only a spouse can truly share the overwhelming joy felt with each milestone and accomplishment of our children. Likewise, only a spouse can truly understand the total despair felt when the love of a parent can’t fix things like it used to with younger children. My hat goes off to single parents; I could not do it alone. I am forever thankful for my life partner-we make a good team.
In addition to marrying your best friend who listens to you and values your opinions, remember to laugh with one another, sometimes at yourself when necessary. Teasing is a main stay in our house! You have to learn to take and give it. As you grow older there are more things to laugh at, at least that is how we look at it. Life gets so much funnier with age because we do incredibly stupid stuff! Either more than we did when we were younger, or just because now we are over ourselves and just find humor the best medicine.
All the arguments over stupid little things become less important as you grow old together. You realize the ground you gain in winning an argument doesn’t really make you feel better; it just creates a divide that takes time to overcome. Life is too short to waste time feeling angry. I used to tell the kids, crying only gives you a headache. Fighting to get our way is equally useless!
Marriage goes through many seasons of change, the honeymoon stage, the young family stage, the busy full of activities stage, and then the empty nest stage. All have their merits as well as their disappointments, but the stabling force, the glue that keeps it all together is the friendship nurtured and tended to throughout it all.