My parents got married at 19.
Today they celebrate anniversary #37.
This means they’ve spent 2/3 of their life together. That’s a huge commitment. I’d argue that it’s really hard/impossible for them to remember what life is like without each other. When you get married at 19, there are a lot of years ahead of you, and you haven’t had many years to figure out who you are as an adult, separate of your parents. I think people change a lot from their teens to 30. You face situations that change you and force you to grow into your own person.
I think one of the best lessons they’ve passed along to us over the years ties to that. That although they got married to each other at 19, they’ve remained married into their 50s. To do that, you have to be willing to give your mate the freedom to grow and change. They aren’t the same person they were standing at the end of that aisle.
So often, the reason listed for a divorce is “irreconcilable differences” – which basically means, we were once compatible but one or both of us has changed to the point where we are no longer a fit.
My parents have worked through a lot of differences over the years. However, they’ve made the choice to make them reconcilable differences. My mom’s had to loosen her expectations on punctuality and organization. And my dad’s had to tighten his priorities in these areas. They’ve had to find a tender balance between kids/grandkids, marriage, work and fun.
They’ve also had to give each other grace and room to grow as individuals at age 20, 30, 40 and 50. Allowing their spouse room to change. When you wait to get married until you are 30 or 35 – you’ve had the opportunity to discover for yourself who you want to be without having to worry about how this might impact your marriage and your spouse. Instead this discovery was something they had to do together.
I’m proud of the way my parents have made their marriage work, by accepting (and even appreciating, at times) the way their partner is changing and evolving. It’s a lesson to me for how I need to treat my own marriage – giving room for Dean to change and not expecting him to be the same Dean I met when I was 20 years old or who I married when I was 27 years old. Giving him grace for the gaps in our expectations of each other. And supporting him as he grows into the person he’s becoming.
So cheers to you mom and dad! I hope Dean and I can rock it at our #37 the way you have!