I believe that one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was a healthy marriage. My brothers and I grew up in a home with parents who worked hard to keep their marriage strong. The rule “never let the sun go down on your anger” applied in our house. They agreed from the beginning that they would never sleep in separate beds because of a quarrel, and in forty years of marriage, they never have. (Though my mom would be quick to confess, there were nights they slept back to back!). They talked things out – in private – and never pitted any of us kids against one another. And because of their commitment to loving one another through thick and thin, our family tree grew strong in the rich soil of forgiveness, grace, mercy, kindness, and love that filled our home.
Together, my parents prioritized our family life. My dad gave up climbing the corporate ladder in the big city where we lived in order to move to a small town that was known to be a great place to raise a family. My mother, a teacher, took a nearly twenty-year hiatus in order to be a “stay at home mom,” and while most of my friends enjoyed the freedoms associated with being “latch-key kids” in the ‘80’s, my mom was always there (which of course I despised at the time!)
My parents made all decisions together, whether it was how to spend money, how to discipline my brothers and me, where to spend holidays, or what to do on a Friday night. There was no “his and hers” in our house. As one flesh, they shared everything, and considered one another above all else.
The sense of stability and security I felt knowing that my parents loved each other so deeply has given me self-confidence into adulthood and faith that a whole, healthy, lifelong marriage is possible. My friends who come from “broken homes” often struggle with intense fear and confusion as they try to have healthy marriages, having no idea of what a healthy marriage is supposed to look like. I’m grateful that I learned that, in marriage, you’re your spouse’s number one fan. I’m grateful that I learned what a healthy marriage looks like by watching my parents work through tough decisions and disagreements. I’m grateful that after forty years of marriage, my parents still hold hands, go out on dates, and consider themselves best friends. I believe their love for one another is one of the greatest gifts they could have given me.
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