This I Believe

Courtney - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on February 7, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: love

This I Believe: I Believe in Forever.

When two people get married, their wedding rings are supposed to represent a never-ending love, symbolized by the circular shape of the rings. However, today, we hear about failed marriages more than we hear about successful ones. Almost half of all marriages fail, most within the first fifteen years. Despite current divorce rates, I believe that true love really does exist, and that with hard work, selflessness, and patience, a relationship can not only work, but last.

Teenage relationships tend to be very short-lived, but not in the case of my parents. They met when my father was fifteen and my mother was sixteen. Many circumstances worked against them – they were young, they lived on opposite ends of the city (my mother was a Southsider, and my father grew up a block away from Wrigley Field), they both came from unstable households, and they both had to hold steady jobs in order to pay for their college tuition. Somehow, though, with the help of public transportation and the common interest of swimming, they made their relationship work.

Immediately after graduating from high school, my parents moved in together and have lived together ever since. Their parents were not very supportive of this, so my parents did not receive any financial help from them. My parents were in and out of several apartments, some not so great, throughout their late teens and early twenties. They had to give up their swimming careers in order to work numerous jobs just to pay the rent. It was tough, but they never gave up. Eventually, they both received college degrees and became teachers.

After they had become settled in their careers, they finally decided to tie the knot. It was no surprise to anyone – they had been together twelve years before they were married, so it was almost as if nothing had changed other than my mother’s last name. They were then able to buy a house, the one we live in now. They later had two kids – my sister and me – and have been married for eighteen years now.

Coming from households of divorce and violence, it seems to me that my parents could have done one of two things – be negatively influenced by their parents’ relationships and let the cycle of failed marriage and fighting continue, or learn from their parents’ mistakes and work hard at making their relationship a successful one. Obviously, they chose the second option and have managed to make a good life for my sister and me in an environment where we feel safe and loved. I admire my parents for their strength more than I admire anyone else. Every time I think about their relationship, I wonder how they did it, how they made it work. I know that without that effort on the part of my parents, I wouldn’t be here today. So, while many people will say that nothing lasts forever, I believe that true love can last for a lifetime.