Lessons in Marriage After 30 Years.

Sometimes I wonder if marriage should be harder than it is. Seriously. John and I have a great relationship.

Of course, we fight - sometimes about important things, but often times about stupid things. I bicker and nag at him more than I would like to admit. He tinkers in the garage for hours to avoid me at times.

Nonetheless, we have made it through quite a bit of adversity in our 7 years together, and shared many, many happy times, too. Granted, we don't have kids to complicate matters, but I'll say it again, friends: Our marriage is easy.

I think a lot of support for our marriage comes from John's sisters and my parents. Isn't that what family is for? To support us in our love for each other? I think so, even when things don't appear so easy.

With that being said, tomorrow is a big day, people. My parents will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
Thirty years. That's huge.

That's 30 years of working it out, even when it doesn't feel easy.

That's 30 years of soakin' in the sunshine, especially when it is easy.

That's 28 years of raising kids, which is anything but easy.

My parents, two people who have made marriage seem natural for three decades, have some wisdom we can glean. So lets hear a little bit about their marriage, and see how it can fit into our own relationships, shall we?

...

How did dad ask you to marry him?
Mom: I think I asked him.

Dad: Your Gramma Jan did the asking. 

Mom: No she didn't! 

Dad: No, no, I'm kidding. We'd been dating for about 5 years, so we thought we should get married. It was just time. 

Mom: Well, jeeze, it wasn't a shot gun wedding or anything. There just wasn't a formal proposal.


Tell me about your wedding. 
Mom: We had a band, and it was at a golf course on a lake. We cooked a buffalo...

Dad: Oh yeah, a buffalo!

Mom... and had pork from your grandparents. I had my sisters, my cousin Annette, and a friend as my bridesmaids, and about four ushers. 

Dad: It was a pretty average size for back then, a big church wedding. Maybe 200-300 people.

Mom: We rode in an Amish horse and buggy from the church to the reception. That was alright, it was different. A hell of a lot better than going away in the manure spreader. 


Someone you knew left their church wedding in a manure spreader? 
Mom: Yeah, someone from town. I don't remember who. 

Dad: Hahahahahahaha! That's right!

Mom: It was new, right from the implement. Not messy or anything. 

Dad: Hahahahaha!


Moving on. How did you make it to 30 years? 
Mom: Patience. There are some times when you just bite your tounge and pick your battles. But marriage is not always about that. Being married for 30 years, you eventually know the other person really well.

Dad: Yeah, you eventually have to suck it up and get along when times get tough. I think we made it 30 years because I grew up in a household where my parents and most of my family are all married still. I didn't know anything different. When you get married, you stay married to that person, no matter what. 



Who, or which couple, do you model your marriage after? 
Mom: I don't know that we model it after anybody, just other people that we knew that we liked and thought were doing it right. 

Dad: Well, everyone around us, some of our friends, actually got divorced. But, Kelli, I think you have to be best friends with each other when you are married. Instead of just being in love, you have to be best friends, too. 

Mom: We do everything together. I mean, when we first got married he would go out sometimes alone with his buddies and I would stay home with you kids when you were little. That stopped happening when you were older and we could get a babysitter. When you kids were older and in school we did things with other parents and you kids. That was always the most fun. 

Dad: You have to be really good friends with your mate - not just be married. For example, we go fishing together every year. Sometimes I go fishing in Canada with the guys, but I like it when she goes along because I like spending time with her.

Mom: There was no one we modeled after per say, but we saw other peoples' marriages that went bad and knew what we didn't want to do in our marriage. 


What's the hardest thing about marriage, in general? 
Mom: I don't think there's anything hard about it. But I do remember a time when all you kids were in school, and especially with you, we didn't communicate about how to raise you best when you were a teenager. You were the oldest and we hadn't done this before. We weren't on the same page sometimes, especially with this being our first time. We needed to be a team and talk to each other more and figure this parenting thing out. 

Dad: Yep. 

(Side note: I was a terribly mouthy teenager, and frequently pitted my parents against each other for 'important' things, like extended curfews and going on dates with older boys.) 



What advice do you have for couples who are going through a tough spot in their marriage? 
Dad: Well, I would first ask why they are going through a tough spot? I don't understand what can cause someone so much grief that they want to be divorced? If they have a major issue that pisses you off, work through it. 

You need to communicate. Figure out what the problem is and deal with it. Get back to why you married the person in the first place. 

Quit pissing and moaning. 


What do couples needs to think about before they get married?
Dad: We dated each other for 5 years, so we knew each other really well. That's pretty important for any couple. 

Mom: Your Gramma Jan gave me this advice: When you are dating a person and find you don't like something about them or what they are doing, don't think you can change them. They might grow up and grow out of that habit or trait, but they might not. You can never change a person. 

That was pretty good advice, but personally, I think you have to have a lot in common with your mate.

Dad: Yeah, nothing changes once you get married, they remain the same person you were dating. It all comes back to this: You have to marry your best friend; someone you want to be around more than anyone else.


Did you always want children? 
Mom: Oh yeah. I actually wanted one more child, but I wanted to have all my kids by the time I was 25, and it just didnt happen.

Dad: We planned all of our kids. No tavern babies.

(Side note: Well, that's reassuring.)




How did you manage to stay a 'married couple', instead of two individuals who are parenting the same children? 
Dad: We did it all together. When you kids were growing up you were actually the glue that held us together. Your activies pulled our family together; all the school events were perfect and family friendly. I can't believe it, but those 16 years of school functions held us up.

Mom: When you kids started middle school sports and activities especially, you became our entertainment. We became friends with your friends' parents. 

But you have to have a strong marriage when you get to that 'empty nest' stage. When you all graduated it was hard, so if you don't have a plan for your marriage after that stage in life, it will be harder. 




What do you want your children to remember about your marriage and parenting? 
Dad: We want you to remember the experiences around our family time together. Those were some fun times. Even now we enjoy talking about those family gatherings and vacations, so we hope you still like remembering them when we're gone.

Mom: I want you guys to remember all of our vacations where we forced you to get along, even if they were just to Canada fishing. I know that you guys wanted to go somewhere else, more kid-friendly, but we want you to remember those moments together as a family, because we worked hard for it.  


 

What are some things you and dad want to do in your future years together?
Dad: There's nothing I want to do here back home, I am totally content. We didn't always have a lot of money when we were young parents, and I realize now that I have a little more money, you aren't aways happier. Even so, I want to see things and go places.

Mom: I would like to travel more and not be tied down; come and go as I please. And be grandparents before I'm 80.

(Side note: We'll get right on that.)

...

What say you? Whether you've been married for a month or 50 years, share your own marriage advice in the comments below. Let's get this party started. 


12 comments:

  1. One of my secrets for guys to have a happy marriage? PEE SITTING DOWN! I know most think it's not "manly" but trust me, it will save a LOT of fighting!

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  2. Neat interview! Your parents rock- "quit pissing and moaning"- so true, so true.
    I would say- communication is so important. Even if what you have to say to the other person is awkward or uncomfortable, if you have an issue with something important in you relationship you need to address it before it spirals out of control. That being said, you need to pick your battles- don't pick your spouse apart for every little thing that annoys you. And be silly sometimes! Love your blog.

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  3. Replies
    1. It's safe to say that there were a half dozen moments where my dad said, "Wait, you probably shouldn't phrase it like that..."

      Oh, Dave.

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  4. bwahahaha! Quit pissing and moaning. So true. My parents celebrated 41 years of marriage this year and they married after only dating for 3 months. 3. And they didn't know each other before those 3 months. ;-) Awesome post. Love it. Congrats to your parents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you ever talked with them about how they made it work? I am pretty sure couples today who only dated/knew each other for three months would NOT survive for 41 years. They clearly have something special goin' on. Congrats to them!

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  5. Great advice Dave and JoLynne! Prole have asked how Kevin and I make it work and I tell them that we not only love each other, we really like each other. We team parent and we take interest in what the other likes to do. Married 32 almost 33 years. (P.S. I went to school with your parents, graduated with your mom)

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  6. Excellent advice and thank you very much for your narrated family story and marriage in general. I agree with most of the points given by you. The only thing I can say that in our time do not necessarily to be in a relationship with a man or woman about 5 years to get to know him or her well. I have met my wife at http://nikolaev-marriage-agency.com/ and after 6 month we have got married.

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