Monday, October 1, 2012

The efforts (and rewards) to making marriage work.

I grew up with parents that were (and are) completely, insanely infatuated with one another.  I could provide endless stories which would leave you shaking your head in disbelief, but I'll save the novel for another time and begin here: when I asked my Dad which marriage literature he recommended, he responded, "...I don't know, your mom and I have always just gotten along."  Like, ya know, no biggie.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Then he added, "but when it comes to you kids...we have lots of parenting books to recommend!"  Awesome.  Thanks for that, Dad (and you're welcome for the parental education I cultivated). 

Needless to say, I had somewhat unrealistic expectations of marriage.  In all my relationships I expected fluidity; when anything became messy I'd throw in my "emotional towel," believing the relationship was obviously not working since it required so much effort...whereas my parents never had a problem with that.  Even now, I catch myself becoming frustrated with marital "situations" because I play the comparison game with my parent's marriage.  

But here's the thing...

I've realized my parent's marriage isn't "effortless," or seemingly "ideal" naturally.  My parents would do anything for one another because they love the other more than themselves.  How many of us can honestly say we are that selfless with our spouse?  That the love for them trumps all - even our desires?  

It only works with balance - equally, each in their own unique way, caring and loving the other more than themselves.  My parents respect one another, refuse negativity or criticism, maintain an intimate love life (a dramatic understatement), and individually value undeviating, consistant spiritual beliefs, enabling a family founded on a stable religion and positive culture.

I'm sure there were the typical newlywed struggles to understand personality differences, but for my parents, it wasn't just about becoming acclimated to the post-marriage life.  They wanted to learn to respect, embrace, and cherish their spouse continuously.  They filtered out worldly, cultural and societal norms so their loyalty is never , even subconsciously, questioned.  While they do get along better than the majority of couples, they also put a great amount of effort into maintaining sentimental romance, and rejecting the discolored distractions and seemingly harmless suggestions our society openly endorses.

Although being married has been the best experience in my life, it does require effort to keep unity through harmonious strength.  And luckily, I am learning my parent's marriage is an example, rather than an expectation, of marriage quality.  Who knows, maybe we won't need as many books on parenting as they did (ha)!  Every relationship has strengths and weaknesses, but comparison only robs you of the happiness to enjoy your own relationship's unique, exceptional features.

A few articles I've found helpful, entertaining and supportive to marriage improvement are:  Twenty Ways to Make a Good Marriage Great,
15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years (and hopefully more), and my favorite is
What Happily Married Couples Do (the author, Douglas Brinley, is a marriage counseling rockstar who has written many equally amazing books, as well).  If anything in life is worth the effort, marriage tops the list.  The payoff is more than marital satisfaction: it permeates so many other portions of life, from better parenting, increased confidence and self worth, to a balanced, stable connection with your best friend.

And that makes it worth the effort.


  1. You're coming up on two years, right? Happy Anniversary and many more to come. Marriage is work, but anything worthwhile is. I don't have a perfect example of love, but I do of always saying sorry and continuing to try and I think that is important in my own too. I love that first picture of your parents.

  2. Yea, unfortunately in today's society, your parents marriage is not the norm. The second we had Noah things got harder. Marriage is a lot more work then you ever think it will be. I grew up opposite you, I saw my parents marriage and did not want to emulate them so that makes me motivated to work on mine. Good luck and God bless.

  3. Jen,
    Both Dad and I are more than humbled when we read this. I'm glad you see that ours isn't to compare to...that wouldn't be fair. We've been at this for 31 years and we're still working on things, and so it goes! You know how gentle Dad is, so to be truly honest I must give him credit for his patience. But you are right in so many points of marriage. It is hard but it is worth the effort. Funny thing is, there is a place and time in your marriage down the road where there comes a subtle realization that it isn't me or him, it is more "he is me". We've grown up so much together that he is literally part of who I am, who I've become. And it is the beginning process of that right now with you and Tyson. You both are wonderful and we love you to pieces! Thank you for the lovely compliments.

  4. Jen-
    I love it! You are an amazing writer. I love reading your fun stories! Your parents are super rad and I have always admired them. I think you're great and a fantastic mother! Congrats on Year 2! I am so glad you found your forever with Tyson!