Happy Anniversary Love Birds

Today my parents celebrate their 46 wedding anniversary. This duo have been sweethearts for the majority of their lives. They started dating when she was 14 years old and he was 17 years old. People change as they do life. Experiences you have through life shape and define who you are. Starting out together in your teens and remaining a pair in your 60s no doubt takes a lot of embracing change and flexibility while remaining true to each other. It takes a stroke of luck and an extraordinary mixture of love, dedication, hard work, trust, and faith to make life work together over the years.

These two celebrated high school experiences and went to prom together. They have supported each other through college. They packed up from their small Kentucky hometown and experienced the big city of Atlanta as my Dad attended pharmacy school and my Mom worked to be the breadwinner at a bank in downtown Atlanta. Together they have opened, grew, and sold a business. They have traveled together, with kids, and with family. They have enjoyed H&L trips (named after their first name initials) across the USA and beyond where they have stayed in T-pees, tree houses, caves, cruise ships, and jails (they were not booked for an offense-the jail was a hotel).

They have built a house and made a home together. They have sold most everything they have owned and downsized. They have moved their children (nearly 20 times) to dorms, apartments, and houses. They have live through family pets such as cats, dogs, and rabbits. The agreed to crazy things like ant farms and aquariums. They planned and videoed every second of family vacations to the great west, beaches, and Disney. They have owned land and sold land. They have spent most of their life looking for something that someone in the family wanted – a special antique, Cabbage Patch kid, Teddy Ruxpin, a He-man toy, a perfect outfit, a cactus plant, or furniture. You name it, they looked and always brought back the prize.

They have supported each other through raising kids and aging parents. They have raised two kids and now have two grandsons. They have attended football, basketball, and tee ball games. They have suffered through dance recitals and pageants. They did not kill their children during the years of temper tantrums, teenage dating, or college fun. They have weathered the disappointments in life together and celebrated life’s joys together. They have made friends and lost friends. They have won at life more than they have lost.

They have shared good fashion and bad fashion trends. The have weathered good hairstyles, bad hairstyles, wigs, and no hair. They have rode thousands of miles together in a Mustang, minivan, and convertible…just to name a few (who can forget the Isuzu Trooper and Big Bertha).  They have had sunny days, rainy days, stormy days, snow days. They have survived floods, blizzards, and ice storms. Most recently, they have weathered cancer together as my Mom has battled breast cancer.

Many things have changed in life, yet their relationship has not. They have talked on landlines, bag phones, and now the iPhone. They once wrote letters but now text. They have moved from records, to 8 tracks, to cassettes and CDS, to iTunes. They have moved from a giant camcorder to selfies. They have moved from plotting vacations on a highlighted map book to using an app.

When I reflect on what might be the secret to their successful marriage, a couple of things come to mind.

  1. They live life together as one. I cannot recall a time that were not one on life and decisions. Family, friends, jobs, life, etc. whatever they face, they face as one.
  2. They are faithful. To each other and to a higher power.
  3. They are each other’s best friend and confidant. You can guarantee if you say, “don’t tell Mom” about something good, bad or a surprise…that she knows within five minutes or less. And this works the same with “don’t tell Dad.”
  4. They keep it real. Which means stating what is on your mind, not holding a grudge, laughing a lot, and occasionally offering a deserved harsh word.
  5. They are always up for an adventure. Whether it is a hole-in-the-wall diner, a Sunday drive, or a grand vacation-they enjoy it just the same.

On the soundtrack Hope Floats (one of my favorite movies and soundtracks), there is a song by Deana Carter titled “That’s How You Know It’s Love.” In the song there is a line which states, “when the span of forever just never seems long enough, that’s how you know it’s love.” When I reflect on my parents love and devotion to each other as they celebrate their anniversary, it is clear that span of forever just doesn’t seem like long enough for the two love birds that I call Mom and Dad. Thank you for giving me a home with a healthy marriage and instilling in me the values I build my marriage and home upon each day. Happy Anniversary H&L!

Today my spoon is full of a grateful heart for my parents and their love for each other. I am grateful during the blizzard of 1977, the Stork dropped me off at your house so I can share this ride with you.

I did not want to save this post for a milestone anniversary like #50 because truthfully, each year deserves to be celebrated.  I know they will kill me for all of these pictures. However, they are a testament to the fun ride they share… and the many adventures yet to come.

 

 

Going to the Chapel

My husband and I went through a few years where our summers were filled with weddings. As newlyweds ourselves, they seemed like such hopeful and romantic events. Then we transitioned to attending baby showers…and this summer we are back to weddings. Not necessarily individuals that didn’t work out a few summers back. We’ve attended a charming small wedding, sent gifts to a wedding we couldn’t make, and attended a Vietnamese wedding which I couldn’t understand much (mostly spoken in Vietnamese)-but it was a pretty darn cool ceremony. Being nearly a 10-year seasoned veteran of marital bliss (okay most days), my perception of this summer of weddings is a little different than those I attended a few years back as a newlywed.

Some of my ramblings on marriage are based on personal experience and others on observations.  It appears when we attend a wedding we are more concerned about the gift, the wedding colors/deco/gown, what we are wearing, what is the food, is there an open bar…or for me…what flavor is the cake? I LOVE wedding cake-white cake with white icing. ”Nom nom” (yum yum) as my toddler says. However, in the midst of the entire wedding extravaganza I think as guests (and sometime as the new couple) we often miserably fail on two levels. Unknowingly, most of us fail to #1 Appreciate and support the individual (spouse) on this journey called life and marriage and #2 Support the union.  Often time an individual gets lost in the union, and the union gets lost in the individual.  It’s a delicate balance one must strike as a spouse and as a friend or family member supporting a couple.

It seems that the support needed for a successful marriage is lost with most traditional wedding ceremonies. This was more evident to me as I attended the Vietnamese ceremony recently. In this particular ceremony there was a strong sense of respect for each other; togetherness, yet individuality; and a very strong commitment to the joining of the two families (rather than just the two individuals trying to blend two families). In a traditional wedding-it often appears that rituals pretty much stack the deck for failure against the couples from the moment the wedding is being planned.

Cool pic borrowed from Pinterest.

It starts with whose family is paying for what. Then, it moves to the actual wedding where the groom’s family sits on one side and the bride’s family sits on the other side of the isle (what would it hurt to sit together?). These two lives may join as “one” but darn it-we will live out the Hatfield and McCoy mentality and remain separate as a family for the rest of your marriage.  Then you publicly vow to become one-which really is a lie. You have to be two and learn to work as one. Next is the honeymoon where you can ignore family, work, real life stuff which is not reality. Then after the honeymoon the conversations moves into who gets what holiday, etc. Where does the madness stop?

Now, I may be a bit of a bitter bride. Six months to the date of my wedding (already mostly planned and purchased)…a little guy by the name of President George Bush declared Operation Iraqi Freedom which sent my Marine Reservist (who had less than 30 days on his contract) packing to one of the world’s largest sandboxes. So we were forced to wed with the immediacy of a shotgun wedding (like opening the court house on Sunday for a marriage license-talk about small town gossip). No I didn’t get to wear my dress because it needed alterations. I did wear it later when we had a celebration recommitment ceremony upon his return (Does this mean I married the same man twice? Yes.). So I will be transparent and say I didn’t quite follow the traditional route. However, ten years of life, love, and devotion has provided me a different perspective on marriage. It is also changed how I support people at their marriage.

For me and my house, we are two people who change every day because of life, but constantly work to enrich what we love about each other and maintain the common ground as sacred ground. We remain individuals, yet committed to the same goals for each other and for our marriage. For family and friends, our life and events are open access-we don’t deal with drama of family sides, making everyone happy, etc-but family/friends are free to be as miserable as they desire on their own turf.

If I were to marry my husband again (well, actually for the third time), I believe our vows would be a little different knowing what I know now. I am certainly committed to making a healthy marriage where there aren’t sides, where individuality is appreciated, and a union is sacred-and not only for my marriage. I believe living my/our life with these vows as a foundation impacts my relationships with others, my son’s future relationships, and others in my family for generations to come.  I will extend the same respect and support my friends and their marriage rather than making obstacles and barriers. I will appreciate them as individuals and as a union.  And…the next time I attend a wedding-I might just toss a coin and decide which side I will sit on…or maybe I will just sit right in the middle.

Today…I wish my spoon was full of wedding cake…because it is indeed one of my top three favorite foods!