Advice from My Mother

marriageMy parents recently celebrated their 40th anniversary. Can you imagine being with someone for 40 years? I certainly can’t. But I know I’d like to celebrate a 40th anniversary some day. Being married for so long, my parents typically celebrate their marriage a few days after the actual event. I guess when you’ve been together that long, it doesn’t matter when you celebrate. What matters is the celebration of life and love.

Predictably, I asked my mom what the secret to such a long marriage is. Most people give generic answers that look great as a Facebook status or a tweet. But my mom is known for giving thoughtful answers to the questions people ask. She said that the secret to her marriage is space. That surprised me at first. Who says the secret to marriage is space? It seems counterintuitive. But that’s the beauty of it.

Mom told me that you simply can’t be around someone all the time for 40 years. If you think about it, that makes perfect sense. Mom said that she and dad certainly have some things they enjoy doing together, such as seeing movies, driving through peaceful countryside, and eating good food. But they also have hobbies they enjoy without each other; my dad likes to hunt and fish, and my mom likes to cross-stitch and play the piano.

Wedding_ringsIn order for my parents to be able to successfully transition between togetherness and separateness, that sure takes a lot of trust. They must trust one another to remain faithful during the separateness – remain faithful to one another, to their collective finances, to my sister and I, and to each other’s families. During their togetherness, they must trust one another to be respectful, kind, and loving. I am certain that either of them would tell you that that trust has been carefully cultivated over all 40 years. They would also tell you that sometimes the trust is hard to find. Sometimes the love is hard to find. But it is all always there. Somewhere.

My parents definitely don’t have a perfect marriage. Who does? But I look up to them for the hard work they have done in loving one another. Their 40 years illustrate just how much of a verb love is. One day, I hope to experience a marriage like theirs.

Note: Today is my mom’s birthday! She is 63 years old. Happy birthday, mom! You’re my best friend, and I want to be just like you when I grow up.

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