“Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate.” Barnett R. Brickner
Joining hands and intertwining hearts on that sticky August day in 1970, two people made a lifetime of commitments to one another. As a wife and mother now, their daughter has looked back several times on the life they shared, the struggles they endured and their unwavering love for each other with deep admiration and appreciation.
Married just shy of 36 years at the time of my father’s premature passing, their marriage was one of the greatest gifts that two people have ever collectively given me. Sweeter than an physical or monetary offering, the love they carried for one another until the bitter end, served as a guideline, and a genuine example of what it means to be fully committed to another person.
A marriage is a precious union, and one, I have come to realize, is never fully understood except for the two individuals who reside inside the arms of that sacred partnership. My parent’s relationship, though transparent to us at times, certainly had layers of which I will never know. Hardships I was sheltered from and joys that were experienced only within the realm of their lifetime of memories that they created together. What I was privy to as a child and then as an adult was a love and a mutual respect. A partnership that endured the tough days, the sleepless nights, the worry, the laughter, the change of direction and the multiple relocations. It was a gentle kiss hello, the holding of hands, and a shared laugh in the kitchen over a meal cooked together. It was the quiet conversations I gently leaned into desperate to know what was transpiring in their world, but their world was at times just that, their own.
I wasn’t aware at a young age the gift my parent’s marriage meant to me, until I reached my middle years. The very years when friend’s parents were splitting and the children, caught in the middle were clenched in a yo-yo of emotions, a pinball bouncing back and forth between homes, suitcases never unpacked and tears that never dried. As I saw the anguish play out in front of my eyes, I would retreat back home, grateful for the ease of it all, the stability my home provided and my parent’s union.
As the years continued to pass, I would speak to the fact that my parents were still married, now, almost the only few of friends who still had the same parents residing under one roof and I stopped to realize how fortunate I was. Thanking my family for riding the waves, for sharing the burdens and for loving each other during the most difficult of times.
Now that I have a family of my own, I reflect on the coupling of my parents and once again, I have nothing but sheer regard for a love that endured the test of time. I have come to realize that a partnership can at times become overwhelmingly challenging, that often our own burdens weigh us down and that the harshness of life can often push us away from those we love the most.
I often wonder how my parents managed to weather the storms that life often threw in their way? I am certain that if asked today, they wouldn’t contribute their lasting marriage to a secret formula, they might just smile and credit commitment, love and/or grit as their reasons for staying married in a world that made it all too easy to walk away. My mother might also say, as I have heard her mention before, “Treat each other special.” Simple, yet powerful advice she too received from her own mother.
Whatever their reasoning, as a daughter, a wife and now a mother, I will forever be grateful for the genuine love my parents had for one another. Oh my, what a treasure and what an honor.
And on this day I want to thank my own husband. The very man who walked into my life some 20 years ago and has made each day of my life all the sweeter. I have said this before, but I feel compelled to say it again. Marriage is a choice and I am ever so grateful that I chose to marry Robert all those years ago. For you are a true life partner, a loving and supportive husband, the father to our two beautiful children and a genuinely good man. I will love you each day of this journey!