We live in a world where swiping an app on your phone if you think someone is attractive is considered dating; where people look for love on national television competing with upwards of thirty other people (sometimes naked!) and emojis have taken the place of calling someone to say, "I love you." Granted, I bank off stories of app dating and reality television, so I'm not totally complaining. I just wish love hadn't become so lazy.
That being said, my parents may be at fault for my romanticizing of love. Last week, they celebrated their 32nd anniversary. Because sadly, that is much different than the modern love story of today, I asked them how they've made it work this long.
From my mom:
Contribute. The more you give, the more you get. If that's not what's happening, it's not going to work.
Trust. When you say, "For better for worse, in sickness or in health," you have to mean it. It means that you build each other up when bad things happen -- and bad things do happen. You stay strong when your partner is struggling.
Parents die, children misbehave, jobs are lost, money is tight -- you work it out -- and not by going to the bar or sleeping with a stranger when you're sad. You stay home, make some popcorn, pour a glass of wine, rent a stupid movie and hold your spouse.
Laugh. Life is a joyous ride despite the hardships that occur. I think a lot of marriages give up too soon. The first years are the hardest. Then, after a while, you don't know how you could survive without that person sleeping next to you.
My parents were married 66 years before my mom died. I hope to break that record.
"Sharing a life together is sharing steps in time. The music is different for each of us, but how beautiful the dance." This was the quote on our 1983 wedding invitations. This dance continues.
From my dad:
Unconditional love. This is easier the longer you are together. Conversely, it can be tough during the early years when you are learning about one another and yourself. You learn what is important to the other person, what is important to you, and how to communicate this together. When you are truly in love, you will find great joy in the joy of your spouse.
Truly knowing your partner. A marriage is unselfish which means you need to invest the time and energy to listen and learn all that there is that makes up a person. This knowledge is power; the power to find joy in one another and to like one another. My wife is my best friend. I confide in her everyday about everything. She doesn't judge unless it's needed. We know one another and trust one another completely.
Having fun. Laughter provides great energy to any relationship. This begins by not taking yourself too seriously. I am very fortunate to be married to an angel that takes care of patients with cancer. As a result of her experiences at work, she promotes enjoying every day to its fullest. We travel, we go on dates every week, we give to people we love, and all of this is great fun for us. We have hundreds of great experiences as a result of this approach to living.
There is so much more that makes a great thirty-two year old marriage including effort, consideration, great family and friends that are supportive, good decision making, commitment to being married, the ability to be intimate, being forgiving, being understanding, and, most importantly, sharing our faith in God.
We know we are blessed to have found one another and we are so excited about what the future has in store for us.