Thanks to everyone who left comments about my parents' anniversary. I'm going to copy and print them and send them along to my folks, so if you want to leave one, be sure to do so ASAP, and I'll send it to them on Monday. They'll get such a kick out of that! When I told him people had been leaving comments, Dad said, "LOL!" Well, not really...he just, you know, laughed out loud.
I talked to them both today to wish them a happy day, and they'd spent the morning cleaning the yard and grounds of their little church. They got rained on a little bit, so Mom's plan for tonight was to "wash her head" and set her hair, and she is making deviled eggs and macaroni and cheese for a potluck dinner at their church tomorrow. They just tickle me to no end.
Aren't these little critters--sea otters--adorable?! They're holding hands! Even after 61 years, my parents still hold hands sometimes, and it's pretty sweet.
I mentioned to Dad that a couple of people wondered what their secret is. I told him that I recall him telling me years ago that people should put God first, their spouses second, and their kids next. He said, "I think I said something about country in there, too." I think he's right, now that I think about it.
Putting your spouse before your kids seems like a strange thing, especially considering how "kid-centric" we've become in this country. Dad explained to me all those years ago that while he and Mom loved us girls (and still do) without a doubt, for Dad, Mom's needs, wishes, and feelings always came first. He said that a couple needs to be a united front when it comes to the kids, that you can never let the kids come between you, and that it just can't be any other way. (At 61 years and counting, I'd say it worked pretty well for them.) It makes sense to me, because the kids are going to leave the nest one day, leaving you with your spouse for the rest of your lives. How many people have you known who, when their kids leave home, look at each other and say, "Who the hell are you?"
In my own family, I'm the youngest, and except for summers between my college years (and a brief stay after a breakup several years ago, but that's a story for another day), I've been out of Mom and Dad's house for over 25 years. That's a long time to spend with someone who you have ignored while tending to the kids. I'm not making any judgements here, and everyone should do what they need to do, but this was what Dad told me. Use it as you wish. I know that I always felt loved by my parents, I never felt neglected in any way, shape, or form, but I also knew that I could never play one of them off of the other. If I was mad about something Mom had done, I knew better than to beg for sympathy from Dad, because he would back her up 100% of the time, and vice versa. I suspect that there were times when one of them didn't agree with the other about what had been done, but I never once heard anything but "Your Dad/Mom is right" from either of them. United front, indeed.
Another thing that Dad told me today was something that HIS Dad told him and his brothers. "Make a commitment and stick with it." I guess my Grandpa told him that if you decide you want to marry a girl, you'd better be sure she's the one, because she's gonna be with you for the long haul. I thought that was really interesting, and I think it's typical of their generation: divorce was rarely an option. Things have really changed, and so many people have that idea in the back of their mind, a little voice that whispers, "If it doesn't work out, we can always get a divorce." Again, no judgements--I've been divorced once, as has Ken. (But we found each other, so I suppose that sometimes things really DO happen for a reason.) I think it's a mindset thing. Today, there's always the possibility to opt out, but when Mom and Dad were a young couple starting out, it was virtually unthinkable to go that route. As for the question of abusive relationships, Dad said something to the effect of a "true man doesn't do that," and feels that divorce is justified in such cases, but seemed to think that an even better option might be changing the abuser from, as Dolly Parton put it, "a rooster to a hen." I think my Dad is a feminist! Well, he certainly always taught me that I could do whatever I wanted as long as I put my mind to it. So yeah, I'd say he has always been pretty enlightened!
So there you have it. Tips from Ezra and Lexie for a long-lived relationship. Hard to argue with 61 years.