What have I learned from watching my parents? I could lie and say it was something like “true love conquers all” or “ain’t no mountain high enough”, or even “it takes two”. And that’s all true. But that’s not the take away message for me. In a society where most people take the easy way out (my opinion), my parents have toughed it out. I don’t believe that most marriages that end in divorce are that much worse than the ones that survive. It’s an issue of determination, willingness to “stick”, to fight for one’s family. Of course there are always extreme cases when the only safe thing to do is call it quits, but that is not how the majority of divorces come about.
They have not had the easiest of roads. When I was little, we moved almost every 2 years until I was 11 years old- and no, it was not a military thing, although they went through that too. My dad’s company transferred their employees frequently. Then when we finally settled in New Jersey, and my parents had my little sister, who is 12 years younger than me, they were transferred to California. That was really rough. There has been much sacrifice on both sides, and there continues to be. This is not a fairy tale- this is real life- a reflection of two people trying their hardest.
I think it is so important for parents to teach their children a realistic view of what life is. I have had friends who say my parents never fought, they were always happy, yada yada. Unfortunately, that’s crap. No one is happy all the time. Hiding reality behind closed doors is not helping anyone. I remember two years ago, I was upset and crying (believe me, I had reason) and a family member (not immediate) exclaimed that I should not be crying in front of my children. It took all I had to keep my jaw from dropping. What an unrealistic thing to say! And frankly, if children don’t learn from their parents that it’s ok to be sad, and ok to cry, who are they going to learn it from? I think that presenting the world as a continuously rosy happy place to one’s child is not only artificial, but it is setting them up to feel like a failure later on in life. I saw both of my parents cry when something was really sad or upsetting- I think it molded my sense of empathy for others, and I think it helped to make me the nurse, wife, and mother I am today
Circumstances in marriage will come and go- people and situations will try to break up one’s marriage over and over again. It happens to everyone, don’t kid yourself. Life gets in the way; stress causes tension, bad things happen. To all of us. What makes my parents stand out from the rest is that they have been able to maintain the perspective that so many of us lack. They are able to recognize the bad times for what they are, a storm they have to weather, not the end.
It seems that our society applies the same rules to marriage as it does to fast food- we want it how we want it, we want it at little cost, and we want it NOW. And it just doesn’t work that way. I do not know if my marriage would have survived if did not have my parents’ example right in front of me.
The longevity of their marriage allowed me to reflect upon the strains in my own marriage in a different way. I was able to remember dark times in my family of origin- and the work that had to be done to get past these times. WORK. Good relationships and marriages are not things that are handed to us; they are things to be worked for. How easy it would have been for me and John to cry uncle two years ago. I mean, the statistics basically told us to!! It’s what everyone expected at that point, and it’s what some wanted sadly, because that is what they were used to. I think that the fact that we stuck it out, and came out MUCH better on the other side shocks many. When I think about it, it doesn’t shock me. Because I watched my parents do the same. What an amazing gift they gave to their children.
“In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by its scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced.”
― Robert Sexton
― Robert Sexton
Love you both