Saturday, December 31, 2011

To have and to hold

Today is my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary, and I cannot think of two people so different, yet so made for one another. 
Out of sheer curiosity one night last month, I called home to ask my parents how old they were when they first met. As the child of two very traditional parents, I expected to hear a retelling of the typical four years of courtship followed by the standard one-year engagement preceding the marriage. But no, they’d met at 26 years old and were engaged and married within a year. Shocked and perplexed, I inquired how, after only a year, my dad knew my mom was ‘the one.’ Clearly, if they are still together 30 years later, they must’ve known that they had something special. He replied with the amorphous and unsatisfactory, “when you know, you know” answer — not exactly the succinct formula I was looking for.

Even after three decades of matrimony, my mom and dad still share giggles. They habitually seek one another’s company and take comfort in winding down from their busy work days by spending quality time together — whether it’s by cooking and eating dinner together or by watching American Idol. They relish in the little things, like grocery shopping and exploring the merchandise at the local Sears.

Certainly, not every day has been marked by peace and sunshine, but (as my mentor once said) it is by successfully navigating through the tough times that relationships grow. After all, nobody gets anywhere if two people talk only about pleasant things. A marriage is made stronger when the two parties stand united during tough times; after all, who else do you expect to stand with you when you are emotionally shattered than with your spouse, with whom you’ve promised to weather through the best of times and the worst of times?

So maybe there isn’t a secret to maintaining a long and successful marriage. Maybe all it takes is for two compatible people who have an unwavering devotion and the right intentions for each other and the family they built together. Hopefully one day I’ll have that, too.
My parents on their 10th wedding anniversary at a Chinese restaurant in Arlington, VA, with my older sister and me. (My brother Tony had not been born yet)

(Originally posted Oct. 3, 2011)

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