I got a text message this afternoon: “How important would you say the example of your parent’s marriage is to your marriage?”
Isn’t that a great question? And I have a great answer: Profound.
Lizard and I parents who have been married to the same people for 30+ years. We have seen our parents walk through struggles, joys, disappointments and triumphs together. It’s a gift to see their example.
If we had never seen these things we would be starting from a disadvantage. We might not even know what marriage could look like. We might be crippled emotionally.
Why? Because the marriages of our parents are the starting blocks of our own unions.
But does that leave the people who are products of divorce a hopeless case, doomed to repeat the failures of their parents?
Well, perhaps. But perhaps not.
For those who are looking at marriage and wondering how to have the stuff of fairy tales there are a few things to acknowledge.
1. Have courage. Our relationships with others can be exhilarating or debilitating. When you’ve seen your parents hurting because of what they’ve done to each other it’s easy to swear off the whole concept. But… if you do that, you’ll miss out on one of the greatest joys life has to offer. Be courageous. Be the change you wish to see. Don’t live your life out of fear.
2. Be humble. Whether you are coming from a background of health or dysfunction I’ve discovered humility is one of the most important ingredients to marriage. You don’t have all the answers – and you’re going to be wrong as much as you’re right. Be humble in your own style and love your spouse as completely as you can today with your goal being to love them more tomorrow.
3. Choose role models. So maybe your parents are the nuts in the fruitcake. Maybe all the marriages in your family are full of adultery, abuse, and dysfunction. So be it. Look around and find couples who are making it work and get to know them. Learn from them. If you don’t know anyone who kind of has it together start looking elsewhere. Heck – go to the coffee shop on Saturday morning and look for the couple reading newspapers side by side. If they’re playing toesies under the table, strike up a conversation and see where it goes.
4. Realize no marriage is perfect. The greatest disservice movies have done for us is give us the impression that happily ever after is… well… always happy. I hate to burst the bubble but every healthy marriage has times of deep distress along with times of glee. If you experience sadness in marriage that’s ok… that’s normal. Remember the vow? “In sickness and health, for better for worse, for richer for poorer…” Well, you can’t have health, better or richer without sickness, worse and poor existing.
For the record, having parents with a solid marriage doesn’t set you up for perfection in the marriage department either. In fact, I’m thinking I’ll talk about some strategies for marriage from that perspective tomorrow.
Can’t wait, can you?!
Did you know I blog over at Mommy Sorority, too, these days? It’s a great little place where moms from all different backgrounds write about their pieces of the mom pie. “Like” the page on facebook… read it… and if you have your own contributions, let them know!