This year, my parents had their 48th wedding anniversary. Forty eight. Can you believe that? Sometimes I look around at our family and it really hits me that we’re all here, including our kids and my niece and nephew, because of my parents’ relationship. And seeing them over the years truly has shaped my own marriage.
When Ryan and I got married, we had the wedding photos of all of our parents and grandparents framed and displayed around our wedding cake. I loved the idea of those relationships being part of our story, and I felt like there was a little bit of each of them in us. So when Helzberg Diamonds told us recently that for their 103rd anniversary, they’re celebrating the lasting love of couples who have been together for decades (and all of the wisdom that they’ve gained over that time) I knew I wanted to write about it and share their advice with the world. We’re surrounded by couples who, whether they know it or not, teach us about life, love, and marriage. I started thinking about the things that I’ve learned from my parents, and I sat down with my mom to chat about it.
When I look at my parents, I see years and years of hard work. My dad is a farmer, on top of which both of my parents had full-time jobs until retirement age. I remember my dad working during the day, driving the tractor at night, and my mom coming home from her teaching job in time to pick us up from school and make everyone dinner. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were showing us the value of hard work in a family, and how it’s crucial that each member contribute.
Funny enough, that was one of the main points that my mom made when we were talking about what she hoped to teach us about marriage. Her exact words were: “Stick to it. Marriage is hard work, but work isn’t a bad thing. It’s just work. And work is hugely rewarding.” She said that one of the things she and my dad have most in common is that they’re both tough, and that neither of them is a stranger to hard work, both in life and in relationships. And I get it. She says, “Marriage is what you make it. It needs to be tended and looked after and during some seasons, you just put your head down and work on it. And you come out the other end into a different season, stronger and better for the work that you’ve done.”
Looking back, I also see the countless times that my parents showed up for each other, especially and particularly during tough times. My mom says that “marriage is easy during the sunny days,” but I think perhaps it’s during challenges that a marriage is really tested. And during family tragedy, or job changes, or bad news, I saw my parents be there for each other, no questions asked. My mom specifically remembered when my grandfather (my dad’s dad) unexpectedly passed away, shortly before what was supposed to be their wedding day. She talked about my parents’ decision to delay their wedding, in order to let the family grieve and take some time. She also remembered when they bought their first house, and how hard they had to work to afford everything. But, as she said, they stuck it out and showed up for each other, and always came out the other side together.
But I think if I had to put my parents’ marriage in a nutshell, it would coincide with what my mom said was the number one thing she had hoped we learned from their marriage: “Family first, always.” She said that she and my dad always put family at the forefront of everything they did, and wanted to instill those values in my sister and me. And when I told her that was my main lesson learned from their marriage, I could see happiness wash over her face. Our family has shifted and grown and shrunk over the years, as all families do, with generations coming and going. But it has always been my constant. It has been a steady source of comfort and happiness and a soft place to land. And I have my parents to thank for that. That’s them in the photo below, last Christmas. And these kind of times, with family just being together and laughing and enjoying each other’s company, are my favorite times.
Do you have any couples in your life who have been together for decades? I’d love to know what you’ve learned from them! And if you have a marriage milestone coming up (or just something special to celebrate), visit Helzberg.com or any Helzberg Diamonds store from September 21 -23, for a special discount. Three cheers for love, and for the people who teach us how to do it! Xoxo
This post is sponsored by Helzberg Diamonds. All ideas and opinions are mine. Thank you for being supportive of the partners who help keep Lovely Indeed rocking!