My parents celebrated twenty-five years in May, so this is really a pretty special year. Being not much a relationship expert myself, I've actually been watching my parents' relationship pretty closely for the last month or so, just wondering what has made them the dependable, cooperative team capable of raising four children, running a household, working three jobs between the two of them, and spearheading an incredible outreach to the teens in our church and schools. Here's a lot of what I've noticed, not only recently but throughout most of my life.
They never do anything important alone. Simple decisions--"mom, can I go over to a friend's house Friday night?"--can be handled by whichever parent is present. But important things--"mom, my French class is going to Europe next summer, can I go?"--definitely a two-parent problem. Seriously, they are always talking to each other, agreeing on scheduling, chauffeuring, who's doing what where and when and their relationship has certainly benefited from it. Achieving some vague semblance of organisation is hard enough in my own life; I can't imaging trying to do it with allowances for five other people.
They truly know each other. My dad is leaving again soon after this trip ends so he can go to Montana for his grandmother's funeral, and my mom, while she's staying here to work and run the house, is going to be supporting him before he goes, praying for him while he's there, and waiting for him when he comes back. She knows this is going to be hard for him, and she knows him well enough to know what he needs in the middle of it. They got to know each other before they were married but they didn't let it stop there. They've been continuing to learn about each other for the past twenty-five years.
They know when and how to lighten up without lightening their wallets. Our family has never been wealthy but we make ends meet and still manage to have fun thanks to a lot of creativity on my parents part. Rather than fight over money, they discuss how to save and where, but they also know when it's worth it to spend a little. My dad just walked in with a bunch of roses for my mom, which was probably a touch expensive but it was also a sweet and heartfelt gesture that reminded her how much he loves her.
They like to be together. They take time to go on walks together and talk. They treasure the time they have together, because they know how important that time is. And they want to spend that time together, instead of being out doing "fun" things with friends.
I can't say as much about my grandparents' relationship; I see them about two times a year, compared to the two times a day I see my parents. But obviously there must be something incredibly special because the commitment it takes to make fifty years is mind-blowing. Here's to hoping that, someday, I'll be able to say the same (but not for a very long time yet).
What does it take to make a relationship like that work? If you have an idea, leave it in the comments section below. I'd love to hear from you!