Things I've Learned from Watching My Parents 34 Year Marriage

Friday, June 6, 2014

Yall this month marks my parents' 34th wedding anniversary! 34 years! Who does that anymore?? They got married so long ago that they had a WEDDING SINGER and it was COOL. So it was interesting to spend so much time with them during the home reno process because I was looking at things through a totally different lens- this was the lens of engaged Lindsay who would also like to be married 34 years from now. I felt like somewhat of a scientist, trying to pick everything apart and figure out how in the world they've done this. These are some of the things I have figured out from watching them, and I'm sure the list goes on and on and on and is different for different people:

1. They're a Team- He has the vision, she brings the labor. In the house project he had lots of cool ideas that they put into action. However if my mom had not been there I think my dad may have talked about the projects for weeks before actually doing things. My mom: less talking more action. My dad: more talk less action. It works though.

2. They keep it real with each other: They say exactly what they're thinking ("that's not a good idea" "that looks terrible" "no way I'm not even going to consider that"). No sugar coating here! They don't even fake laugh at each other's jokes. I realized that I put a lot of fluffiness around things I try to say to Harrison when really all I need to say is "nope this isn't ok". Things would be a lot easier if I just got straight to the point like they do.

3. They know their limits:  When we were working together they would hit a point where one would say "ok I'm done for the day" so they would help each other clean up, pop open some Bud Lights, eat some dinner, and hang out for the rest of the night. I usually get so wrapped up in projects that we WILL get it done no MATTER WHAT. This makes me have zero patience and snap on everyone. They don't even let it get to that point.

4. Work hard and play hard together: These two are workhorses. I've never seen anything like it. During the house project they would work for 15 straight hours, practically building a house, then drink a case of beer together over pizza. They also live in a super social neighborhood and are really socially active, so they have a lot of fun sometimes together and sometimes separately.

5. They have each other's backs: Sometimes I'm convinced one of them has totally lost it or is crazy (or in the case of high school, convinced one of them was always trying to ruin my life), but no matter what they've never talked about each other to the kids. They keep it real about things being tough sometimes, but those are situations or issues, they never say anything bad about the actual person.

6. They are unwavering in their shared values: God and family are the top for both of them. They always go to church together, weekly couples Bible study, and pray together. They would both do anything for our family, and I think when those are the top two things in life decisions are pretty easy to make.

7. They talk all the time about everything: During the home reno stuff, my dad would come up by himself during the week and stay with us. He called my mom every night (and sometimes a few times during the day) and told her every little detail of his day. At one point I was like there is no way my mom is still listening to this, I'm pretty sure my dad was explaining how many steps he took on the sidewalk. But she was actively listening and asking questions! So besides talking, they also both listen. Usually.

8. They laugh. A lot. My dad is a universally funny, Daily Show kinda guy but somehow he finds my mom's preschool teacher sense of humor hilarious, and her preschool teacher sense of humor finds his Daily Show sense of humor hilarious. When I was little I thought they were SO annoying because their laughing would wake me up at night, and sometimes sitting in church one of them would whisper something to the other that would set them into a giggle fit (talk about humiliating/totally gross for a teenager to sit next to).

9. Not being together is NOT an option: I have never once in my life heard either of my parents threaten to leave or threaten the D word. They've had some hard times but they got through them, which has shown me that relationships aren't all glitter and rainbows. I remember one time trying to explain my theory on this to Harrison and it went like this (keep in mind, I can articulate in writing, speaking really isn't my thing):
Me: I mean things get hard, relationships are like a roller coaster. You have to go up that long hill really slowly before you get to the drop and the upside down part. If you just jumped off when it got boring or wasn't what you wanted to be doing you would literally die. Plus you would miss a lot of the fun stuff
Harrison: So you're saying if we broke up you believe I would actually die?
10. They forgive: For some reason this one memory is engrained in my head- I was probably 10 years old and I was sitting in the kitchen eating Froot Loops (isn't it crazy the things that stick with us?) and my parents got into a really heated argument with both of them raising their voices and then storming off. They never raise their voices so I was scared, plus when my mom is angry it is top 5 scariest things in the world. Before I took my last bite of cereal (granted I am an incredibly slow eater), my mom returned to the kitchen to do something at the sink. My dad came in behind her, hugged her, they kissed (sick) and he said he was sorry and she said it's ok and they had an incredibly civilized conversation about why they were frustrated. Even at the age of 10 I was completely baffled. But I guess when you go by #9, there really isn't a point in staying mad at each other.

Ok now just look at these cuties, and that tux! Oh that tux!

Tell me- what do YOU think makes relationships last? What do you hope to take into your relationships? 


  1. I abosolutely LOVE this!! My parents will be coming up on their 32nd anniversary this year (I think) and I'm just in awe of how they do it. Give us your secrets lol!!

    Happy Friday :)

  2. This post made me smile!
    Klay and I are building our relationship like this.. we want Emry to see us grow old together based on these values.

    Laughter and Trust... are the two things I think make a relationship last.

    Hey - Thanks again for jumping on the link up yesterday! I can't wait to see how it grows and how much positivity we can spread!!!

    Have a beautiful weekend my friend!

  3. I found your blog while looking for some new recipes and I am so glad I did.

    This post resonates with me as my parents just celebrated 37 years in April. You nail it on the works because THEY work at it! It is just how they live.

    I think I am still single because nothing I have ever found has come close. It's a high standard that I will hold even if it means being single in my 30's.

  4. I just found your blog and I totally relate with this post! My parents have been married for 37 years for all the same reasons! It is a standard I hold for myself when looking for a life long relationship and I refuse to lower it, even if means being single in my 30's.

  5. Sorry for the double post. My first one said it didn't go through so I quickly posted again just in case :)

  6. What a wonderful piece! A lot of very nice lessons that make great couples/marriages! I can definitely see it as well in my parents who have been married 25 years. Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Well, I was married to my first/second husband (same man) 24 years, then 6 years, before we split for good. I've been married to #3 for now 10.5 years.

    I don't have the answer. At times, I think it's more luck than anything. 20 years into my first marriage, things seemed fine still. I just don't know. Sorry to rain on your parade. :(

  8. Happiest of anniversaries to your parents!! Taking some of these tips you shared since I'm on year one hehe!

  9. Aww your parents are so cute! What a great example to look back on!

  10. Awe, this is so sweet! May we all strive to have a long happy marriage!

  11. There are so many things I love about this.
    Super giant congratulations and a huge happy anniversary to your parents! That is incredible!
    I would do just about anything to go back and have a wedding singer at my wedding. I'm totally not even kidding. I think for our 10 year vow renewal I will have a Pinterest wedding with an 80's flare.
    I love your roller coaster story!! Have you ever seen Parenthood the movie with Steve Martin?? One of my very favorite moments in the whole movie is a conversation about roller coasters.
    I love that they still laugh together. A lot of times I think we all just get so involved in every other aspect of our lives, be it kids or careers, that we forget to be friends with the ones we love and that is so important.
    What a great example to have for your own marriage!

  12. This is wonderful, look how happy they are, and a great example for you! In February, my parents celebrated their 44th anniversary. Sounds like forever to me.
    I love all of these things are great, but I think it's important to remember to also have some alone time, it's ok to have separate interests, nights out with the guys or girls, etc..

  13. So sweet my parents have been married for 41 years (and they look very young). I love everything about this post!

  14. what a great post and so great that you recognize the strength in your parents marriage and the role model they are for you.

  15. I love this post. My parents just celebrated their 36th anniversary in March.

  16. i loved this post so much! isnt it crazy and sad how people don't stay together anymore? my parents never married and split up before i was 2, and i love that you have such a great example right in front of you, and all of these tips are so true. i find communicating & being honest are the most important things, even though i have only been married a year lol. here's to the next 33 haha.

  17. I aspire for this! A long lasting is so hard but reading this just puts everything to perspective

  18. I just loved this post so much. I feel this relates to me too. My parents are my inspiration. They are together since last 30 years. On their next anniversary I am thinking to host surprise vow renewal party for them.


Love to hear your thoughts and opinions, let's chat!