A few weeks ago, my siblings and I had the honor of surprising our parents with a wonderful night on the town in honor of their 25th wedding anniversary. We all got dressed up, showed up at their house in a limo, and took them to a private room at one of the most fabulous steak restaurants in Houston.
I’ve always said that their love story is my second favorite of all time! In completely separate, unrelated incidents, they both found themselves unexpectedly widowed while in their mid-thirties. Sammie had two young boys when her husband, Tom, died in an accident. My dad, Steve, was left with me and my brother and sister when our mom, Linda, died from an undiagnosed disease. Suddenly, they were the only two single people in their couples Sunday school class at church, so their opportunistic friends practiced some holy meddling and “prayed them together.” They began seeing each other in September of 1987, and were married just four months later.
As a child, you can learn a lot about love and marriage by watching your parents, and I’ve learned a lot by watching mine for the past 25 years. Here are just a few of the things they taught me:
1. There is no “right” amount of time to date before you get married.
Sometimes, couples need to date for years before they decide to get married. Other times, a shorter courtship will do. There is no right answer.
2. Never use the “D” word.
Divorce is not an option, so if you want to make sure it never becomes an option, don’t even use the word “divorce” in your conversations or disagreements.
3. Love is a choice.
Sometimes we think we could love our spouse better if only he/she were different. I was able to observe my father married to two very different women, and each time, the marriage worked because he chose to love.
4. Marriage is not 50/50.
My parents always taught us that you must be willing to give 100% to your marriage 100% of the time. If you’re only willing to give 50%, your marriage will be lacking.
5. Be willing to clean the mirror.
Early in their marriage, my parents had a “state of the union” discussion. He requested that she turn off the water while she brushed her teeth to conserve water. She requested that he not flick his toothbrush to dry it because it left water spots on the mirror. After that, she told me later, every morning she turned off the water while she brushed her teeth, then walked over and wiped off his side of the mirror. The lesson: be willing to change even if your spouse doesn’t.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the influence that my parents have had on my own marriage. I am so thankful that God brought them together. Their love story is a wonderful example of God bringing beauty from ashes. Romans 8:28 says that God works all things together for good, and He certainly did so in this case.
Q: What did you learn about love from watching your own parents’ marriage?