Monday, August 23, 2010

What my parents taught me...

Shelle Edit:  Glamazon has an incredible talent.  She has 4 kids, the last 3 are all within 2 and 1/2 years of each other... which brings for great blogging material and incredibly witty and sarcastic posts. You have to go read her!  Well after you read this post. :)

Once, long ago, I was an 18-year-old who knew it all. I remember sitting outside on the front porch with my parents one summer evening and telling them, "My marriage will be nothing like yours." The words weren't spoken out of anger, it was simply a fact. I had fallen for the fairy tale stories hook, line, and sinker. My parents never held hands. They weren't affectionate. When I asked my mom how she knew my dad was the one, she answered, "I'm not sure I ever did. I just made a decision and it worked out for us." What? No moment of certainty gazing into each other's eyes? No fireworks? In my mind marriage was a journey with a best friend, someone you couldn't get enough of, basically fifty years of one endless perfect date.

The husband and I will celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary this December, and I am much older and wiser about the subject of marriage. Although I adore my hubby most days, we both have days where we don't like each other much. It's hard to hold hands when they are full of babies, and that endless perfect date has turned into sleepless nights, diapers, and trying to build toward a common goal. My parents were right-marriage is a lot of day-to-day work, practicality, and basically just getting through it. There are magical moments that make it all worth it, but they can be few and far between.

My parents relationship taught me lessons I never thought I would need: how to work hard, stay together, and just do your best. It might sound harsh, but sometimes reality is a well-needed lesson.

When the kids are in bed, we watch TV together and hold hands. I'm still a bit of a romantic, but now, twelve years later, I would tell my parents, "I'd be pretty lucky if my marriage turns out like yours."

Is there anything in your parents relationship that you learned... good or bad?


Hair Bows & Guitar Picks said...

Great post!

So very true in so many ways.

Anonymous said...

"The words weren't spoken out of anger, it was simply a fact. I had fallen for the fairy tale stories hook, line, and sinker."

The fairy tale is the very reason the divorce rate is what it is.

Good post!

Elaina said...

My parents' marriage was toxic. They fought all the time. He was emotionally abusive, and she was a coward. She went back to college when I was 10, and then worked a full time job in the evenings, leaving us with him. My little brother was my sole responsibility from the time he was born; I was 11. My dad once brought him to me late at night, and when I said that I had a final the next morning and needed to sleep, he made me get out of bed so he could yell at me about what a worthless sister/daughter/human being I was. Bear in mind I was 11 or 12 when this happened, and that this baby was his own SON, and definitely should not have been my responsibility. My mother knew that this was happening, and did nothing.

When I started dating my husband, I watched him carefully. Was he kind and patient, even when he was angry? Was he gentle with his nieces and nephews? Could he argue fairly? Did he let his anger get the better of him? I was determined to break the cycle of abuse, because I knew that, statistically speaking, I was so much more likely to marry someone like my dad.

So far, these things haven't been an issue in my marriage, and I credit that to my own self-awareness when choosing a mate. My father made my adolescence hell, and I was determined to marry someone who would not do that to me, OR to our future children (we have 2 now...and we aren't having any more!).

We are not deliriously happy, like the fairy tales also led me to believe we would be, but we're solid. We have our issues, something I'm not really willing to get into right now, but 90% of the time, we're very happy. And, he's a great father, something that I definitely wanted for my kids, something that I myself didn't have.

Big Fat Gini said...

My husband and I both come from broken homes. I don't think either one of us had good examples of what a marriage should be, though I think my parents tried the best they could to make it work.

I fell for the fair tale too. And when reality hit, it hit hard. The kids, the finances, the stress of keeping up with both, the in-laws, the things you think you knew about each other but really didn't. It's hard.

After eleven years, I love him more than I did the first day I met him. But, we don't always like each other. And I think that's just the way it is for everyone. The goal is to find ways to express that love, take time out for each other and to be a real example of how a marriage works for our children.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Well I easily learned that as long as two people are willing to work at staying together, that even the things that seem the worst one can get through and stay together.

I also learned how NOT to argue.

We are horrible at communicating when we argue... but who isn't... I just know there are some ways that are less productive than others :)

I have a good marriage... my marriage started out fairytale like, just like the ones in the book and where they end... it started out happy and ignorant.

But when reality hit, it wasn't horrible... just different. As long as I could find something to laugh about and not stay in the rut of being negative about what ever was so horrible at the time...I was fine... reality isn't so bad :)

kyooty said...

Wednesday will be my 15yr wedding anniversary. I saw the reality of marriage with my parents marriage. I was the oldest and I was there for almost all of the first 23yrs. I Left at 22 for my own marriage. Yep you can all start plugging that into the calculators... :)
I remember sitting in mass while I was still dating my husband and the priest (who you know had never been married... so what did he know) saying that getting married before you were 25 and had "been" through life was a mistake. That you had to know yourself and that love and marriage isn't all fairy tales and flowers and romantic dates, it's a decision. I thought the man was crazy, what did he really know. I realized when I was dating my husband for 5months that it was a decision we were in a long distance relationship. I could have very easily let it all go and kept looking for someone else, but that feeling that he would find someone else? That's what put me over the edge. I wanted to know him forever and live and learn with him forever. I have learned as Big Fat Gini said above, I've learned more being in my marriage and relationship then I thought I knew in the 3yrs we dated. It's give and take and it's fun and not so fun.
Aint Love Grand? :)

wendy said...

My mom is NOT an affectionate person. She never showed affection towards my dad. DAD is VERY affectionate. Mom always verbally belittled my dad in front of people and I Hated that. I swore I would never do that. And that is something I have never done. However mom and dad have been married 60 years now.
Something kept them together. Mom had a brain tumor about 20 years ago and my dad has "nursed" her through alot. And she still belittled him...........however, just over the last couple of years she has softened.

We can learn lots from how our parents treat each other I think....good and bad.

Melissa said...

Thanks everyone for the comments! This was an interesting post to write. I have enjoyed reading everyone's stories about their own parents, and how that has affected their lives.

Shelle-I thought it was funny-when I got married I had to learn how TO fight. My parents never argued, and if I can't hold my own in an argument, things don't go so well with us.



Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Glamazon-HA! That is so true. I found that out also. If I couldn't hold my own the it didn't bode well for either of us.

I can argue like nobody's business... but I had to find a way to argue effectively... so the argument was finished the first time we dealt with it.

That is what is funny... is you have to re-learn how to argue with each relationship you have.

Lourie said...

My parents marriage has baffled me for many years. It still does. But I guess it boils down to, you spend a lifetime with someone warts and all and you can't imagine life without them. As my marriage, we like each other...most of the time. He drives me crazy good and bad. We are a lot alike and we make each other laugh. It's a good blend. But indeed we must work at it. Marriage is a work in progress. Great post, Glam!

Welcome to the Garden of Egan said...

Very cute post.
Ya, mine was going to always be fireworks and rockets too.
32 years is most of the time, except when he really ticks me off.

mintifresh said...

I used to watch romantic comedies just knowing that's how it was gonna be and while our courtship and first few years of marriage we're that way, I realized those movies get us girls all confused thinking that's how it will be our whole marriage and it isn't. Now I watch romantic comedies and I kinda want to kick the girl in the teeth most the time! Flowers, candlelight dinners, 'mood music' is no where near as romantic as ElRey doing the dishes or taking the kids out to give me a break! Now, that's hot! ;)

heelsnstocking said...

my parents taught me to love me children and dont copy their mistakes, make my own.

Emmy said...

Yes it is the best and most worthwhile hard work you will ever do in life

Cheeseboy said...

Well, my parents were a little more romantic than yours. I think the thing they taught me that I always appreciated is that they NEVER fought in front of us. I look back and they had to have fought, but it was never in front of us.

I give my wife foot rubs at night time while we watch tv. That is kinda our thing.

Jaymi said...

Marraige effen blows, but I love it that much more.

Amy said...

My dear husband rubs my feet at night too!! But if I try to have a meaningful, emotional conversation with him, I get a deer in the headlights look. It is just not his thing. I learned how passive my mom is from their relationship. She works hard trying to make her ideas seem like my dad's ideas so he will go along with it. It drives me crazy. I say exactly what I want, even if I know my husband is going to shoot it down. He has given me wings to fly. I just wish we could connect emotionally more!