12/16/2015 11:17 EST | Updated 12/16/2016 05:12 EST

What I Learned From My Parents' Marriage

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Today would have been our parents' 40th wedding anniversary. Forty years is a long time to be married. My mom was a seventeen-year-old girl when they met, that is outrageous. Since our dad's passing six years ago, we usually do something with her on this day.

Our parents were inconsistent with how they celebrated; one year it may go unnoticed, the next, our dad would have a getaway planned or a ridiculous gift. By ridiculous I mean, anything my mom did not want, like a crystal perfume decanter or a ring; luckily she had no issue with taking the items back. This year we are taking our mom out on a "date".

From time to time we ask about the way our parents met, and what the early days of their relationship looked like. Our dad was the best at regaling us with very entertaining stories, mainly because he was a character and a bit of a renegade. The idea of the two of them rocking out in the seventies is enjoyable to imagine.

Despite all the shenanigans we are now aware of, I speak for my siblings when I say we were lucky to bear witness to such a rich relationship. I have only been married for eight years, while I would like to admit that I am crushing it, my strengths as a wife are strongly influenced by what I learned from my parent's marriage:

1. Agree to disagree - Our parents could throw it down, over large or small issues. Their strongest showings were over chicken. Our dad cooked the shit out of poultry, our mom liked it juicy. We give them bonus points for cooking together. They were comfortable with not always coming to an agreement and realized that on some issues they never would.

2. Communicate - They had no issue with sharing how they felt. If something was bothering them or not sitting right, they would let it be known.

3. Be a team - Perhaps one of the more frustrating qualities of their marriage as a teenager. I cannot recall a time when they did not parent us as a team. They presented a united front and we knew they could not be divided. What one said or did the other one backed up, at least in our presence. Now as a mother and wife, this point is particularly important to me.

4. Be friends - I think they had more fun together than with anyone else. They truly enjoyed each other, were friends and laughed a lot.

5. Respect - They were each others equal; they both valued and admired one another.

6. Put one another first- This sounds super cheesy, but it wasn't overt. It was a quiet knowing, which all of us were aware of, my parents loved one another and that came before anything else. They were an island, we had to swim to them.

If my dad were alive today, it is highly likely we would be celebrating together. I tip my cap to them for showing us the way.

To love and marriage!


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