10 Things I Learned About Marriage From My Parents
My parents have been married for almost 30 years, 28 of which I've been around for. As a spectator, active participant, and result of their union, I have noticed a few things that have stood out in my mind. It's changed my opinion of marriage, sometimes for the better, but at times for the worse. Regardless, like anything else in life, I've learned that marriage needs to be taken day by day. And if my parents' marriage has demonstrated anything at all, it's that above all else it gives me hope that maybe two people who really love each other can make it in the end.
1. Free spirit and responsible adult. Every person on the planet falls into one of these two categories. So inevitably, every marriage has one or two of these types of people. It's always best when there's only one of each because they balance each other out. If you have two free spirits, nothing will ever get done because no one is responsible enough to see it through. Lucky for my parents, my mom's the responsible adult and my dad's the free spirit. That seems to work in their case because they balance each other when needed.
2. The prankster and the serious one. It might sound like a fun time, but if two pranksters marry each other, I'm not sure what kind of life they would have with all that fun going on. And two serious people together sounds like a very boring marriage. Again one of each is always ideal. When it comes to my parents, my dad is the prankster and my mom is the serious one. That's not to say that she doesn't have a good sense of humor because she definitely does. She just knows when it's appropriate to use it and when it's not. Dad, on the other hand, not so much. My dad has one of those sense of humors that you need to get used to. Having grown up with him, I already expect that something random and most likely hilarious is going to come out of his mouth at any given time. Other people are not so ready for his special brand of humor at a moment's notice. That's where mom comes in. She lets him know when it's okay to say things in public and when it's better to just keep it to himself until he gets home. Everyday is a chance for a new and hilarious joke from dad.
3. The spender and the saver. My mom is the saver and my dad is the spender. They need each other, otherwise we'd have no money because two spenders would spend every last dime, but two savers would spend as little as possible and that's no fun either. The saver is usually the one who balances the checkbook in the household and pays all the bills on time so it's a big responsibility. My mom is the one who does this and secretly I think she kind of enjoys it. Instinctively, my dad knows this is the right decision for their marriage because she's been doing it for 30 years and she's never made a mistake. When it comes to big money decisions, like buying a new car or a house, they always talk about it together and decide what makes sense for both of them. In some marriages, the person who balances the checkbook is the one who makes all the money decisions themselves which I don't think is very right or fair to the other person. There has to be a balance in a marriage, especially when it comes to finances because that's where a lot of problems start.
4. A way to a man's heart is through his stomach. From observing my parent's marriage, I definitely found this one to be true. Sometimes dad's not in a good mood, but after he gets something sweet like some ice cream or cheesecake, he's happy again. A nice steak after a long day does the trick as well. There's nothing complicated about the fact that a man who is well fed is a happy man. Men are pretty simple in this regard. If you want him to be happy, just give him a snack or something sweet to chew on.
5. Men need nurture and care. For most women, it's in their nature to care about others whether that's a dog, a child, or a husband. My mom definitely upholds to that idea. She takes care of dad. She makes him dinner. She washes his clothes (I'm not sure he knows how to operate the washer and dryer to be honest). She also provides him with a clean home. That's her way of showing him that she cares about him. Mom is basically the heart and soul of our home. She's got the best advice, the answer's to all of life's questions, and basically knows everything about everything. I think a lot of men look forward to this part of marriage because that way they can focus on their jobs which is their way of caring for their family. They just need someone to take care of the day to day household while they're off making the bacon.
6. Compromise. Dr. Phil always says this phrase on his show: "do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?" This applies to the very core of marriage. Sometimes it's not worth it to spend time arguing even if you know you're right. Compromise is important to every marriage and sometimes someone's got to give in. My parents have had to make compromises in their marriage, otherwise they wouldn't have lasted 30 years together. At the end of the day, you just have to decide what's worth compromising for and what's not.
7. Everyone has bad days. If two people spend 30 years together, it's inevitable there's going to be some bad days too. People get moody, cranky, sick, tired, and various other things can take their toll. It's important to take that into consideration when you're married. No one's promising you a lifetime of happy days, just a majority of them if you're with the right person. Humor helps when those bad days do arrive. It's nice to laugh sometimes when things go so wrong you have no idea how they'll ever be right again. It's also good to not take anything too seriously, especially when you know that it's just a bad day and not a bad life. In a good marriage, just having each other is enough to make any dark day just a little brighter.
8. Men are like kids. My mom basically has two kids; me and my dad. Yes, he's technically a grownup. He has a job and a wife, but really he's just a kid at heart. He needs someone to take care of him and tell him that everything's going to be all right. I think many women forget this because physically men are a lot bigger than us. We think just because they're big and strong they don't need someone taking care of them, but they do, they really do. Men take care of women physically by being the strong species (usually) and working to provide for their families. They can also carry heavy things and fix things around the house (hopefully). But men need someone to take care of them emotionally. At the end of the day, they need someone to give them a hug(and maybe more) to let them know they're loved and cared for. The fact that girls are more mature never really changes. A 30 year old woman and a 30 year old man will be worlds apart on an emotional and maturity level. They may tower over us at 6'1, but that little boy inside them never really goes away. And he wants to play. RIGHT NOW.
9. Doing things each one likes. I don't think my mom has ever enjoyed going to a home improvement store. She really, really hasn't. But she does it anyways because that's where my dad seems to have a really good time. He, on the other hand, thinks spending time at the mall is a cruel and unusual punishment on a Saturday afternoon, but he goes because he knows it makes her happy. Moral of the story, in order to have a happy marriage you have to do things you might not always enjoy to make your partner happy, and in turn they'll do the same for you.
10. Marriage is forever. I think that's a concept that this generation has forgotten. With the divorce rate being 50%, it's like people don't really take marriage seriously anymore. It is serious though. You're supposed to choose a partner for the rest of your life. Not just for a couple of years until someone better comes along. Or until you can't stand them anymore. It's supposed to be forever. I understand that certain circumstances can come up and cause divorce, but that's supposed to be the exception, not the rule. It's supposed to be rare. As rare as a rainbow. Not 50% of the time. That makes me sad because that means that half of my friends that got married will get divorced. So what was the point of the big wedding and the fancy dress if it's only going to last a few years?
I think that's where my parents got it right. They were both in their 30's when they got married. It wasn't some out of high school romance; they were both college educated adults who had careers and knew they wanted a mature, adult relationship that led to marriage. My parents actually dated for three years before they got married. That's sounds like a long time, but it's really not. It takes some time to really get to know someone and decide that's who you want to spend the rest of your life with.
When I was younger, I used to be embarrassed because my parents were a lot older than my friends' parents. Most people had kids in their early to mid twenties, while my parents had me when they were in their mid thirties, so they were at least ten years older than other parents. Now, though, I'm proud of that fact. I'm glad they knew what they wanted before they brought me into this world. I'd rather have older parents who are wise and mature, than young ones who would force me to become a child of divorce.
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