Making Marriage Last a Lifetime: tips from my parents

What makes marriage last a lifetime? The culture and media show us an often distorted view of marriage. The nagging wife. The unhelpful husband. The kids that are always in the way. And the drama of the failure of your spouse to live up to your expectations. With all the focus on the negative, it’s no wonder people are skeptical about happy, lasting marriages.

Yet, young Americans remain committed to getting to marriage and making it last.

shea weddingI knew from an early age that I wanted to get married. And unlike many of my peers and the bad example of the media, I have been lucky enough to see my parents’ marriage last for 28 year (and still going strong).

My parents set the example for myself and each of my four siblings what it means to have a healthy and loving relationship.  It wasn’t always easy. There were hard times—deaths in the family, struggles with jobs, moving across the country several times and the strain of raising five kids. But growing up, I knew that I wanted a relationship of my own that gave me the same joy my parents gave one another.

What did I learn from them? These important values:

Put your marriage first. Each night when my dad came home from work, my parents sat in the living room and chatted. They would (and do) talk about their days, any family news and sat with one another. This time was off-limits to us kids – no homework help, no phone calls, and unless someone was throwing up, bleeding or fell out of a tree, we’d be fine until they were finished having their time together.

shea2Enjoy a hobby together. Both of my parents are huge golf players and fans. For as long as I can remember, they ‘ve had a weekly date of playing golf together (when the weather permits). Even though I’m not a golf fan, I do value the idea of having something that both Joseph and I can do together regularly.

Eat as a family. My parents valued having daily time with one another and their children together over a meal. We’re Italian, German, and Irish – everything revolves around food and drink! With kids in sports and clubs after school, this usually meant we were lucky if we were sitting down to eat at 7:00pm. And yet, these times are some of my happiest memories of growing up.

As I continue to learn what it means to be a spouse and a parent, these are lessons I carry with me, and I hope they might be helpful to you too. After all, we’re in this journey to lifelong love together!

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