They started off as teenage friends back in the day. My dad said she read a book on their first date [Her argument: “I didn’t read a book, I flipped through it. And it may have been a magazine.”], but today they’re celebrating 27 years of wedded bliss. In honor of their special day, I asked them the best advice they ever received about love and marriage.
“Whenever I used to visit my grandmother with your dad, she was always quick to tell me to get in that kitchen and make him a plate of food. So one time she cornered me and said, ‘Girl, you better take care of that man [laughter]. If you don’t do it, someone else will.’ That was advice I’ve always remembered. I may not have always applied it [laughter], but she always said you better take care of your man. You have to remember she came from a different generation. Back in her day, that’s how they operated. But with my generation, things were just beginning to change for young women. It became ‘I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan [laughter].’ Thinking about what my grandmother said, I think I thought, ‘Why does it have to be all about pleasing your man? What about me?’ And I think it just had to do with that era. What it comes down to is that a marriage takes two, it can’t be all about one person. It has to be about the wants and needs and desires of the other person as well. You have to try to make each other happy, instead of the focus being on one person. Because if the other person’s dreams aren’t met, they aren’t fulfilled in the relationship. So what it all comes down to is, make each other happy.” — Mom
“It is something I believed I told you some time ago about what a former boss said to me. He said you won’t always feel love for your wife. You may love her or be in love with her, but you won’t always feel love because there will be times of disagreement resulting in hurt feelings or anger. But it is those times that you must operate not on feelings, but commitment. You must remember that you made a commitment to that woman. That is the best advice I have ever received on marriage.” — Dad
Over the years I’ve been given plenty of advice on love from my parents, but what I learned came from from what I saw, not always what I heard.
Sometimes it’s the seemingly little things, like how they still hold each other’s hand as they ride in the car. Or how they enjoy an intense game of Scrabble together (both with their reading glasses on).
Or sometimes it’s the thoughtful things, like how my mom tolerates watching hours of Survivor because of how huge a fan my dad is.
Those things aside, what I learned most about love is the importance of selflessness. Living as a 20-something year old, I’m expected to be selfish. The world is my oyster and I am to conquer it solo. Though I am a believer that some journeys in life are meant to be taken alone (specifically those that teach self-love and self-confidence), I also learned that life is so much sweeter when you enjoy it with someone else.
They’re like a system of checks and balances. He’s the risk taker, and she’s the pensive one. When she worries, he calms her. And she calls herself “a sedative for him.”
Nowadays being in love seems to have sadly become a sign of weakness. Why? Because it requires vulnerability.
In a day and age when people even try to “win breakups” it can be hard to be totally giving of yourself. But from knowing my parents well, all my life, I’ve come to see that being selfless is not about losing yourself. When two people are equally pouring out into the other, one will never feel empty.
Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad.
— Tara Pook