47 years ago today, my parents were married. That is a mind-boggling number for me to contemplate, considering my husband and I haven’t even been married 47 months.
My parents met briefly for the first time when they were eight years old, an encounter my mother remembers and my father has no memory of. My grandmothers had met when they were in college together at Goshen, so Gen (my mom’s mom) took a trip to visit her friend Miriam (my dad’s mom) that summer. My parents next met when they were both 17-year-old freshmen at Goshen College in 1961, which eventually paved the way to their wedding in August after they graduated from college.
I have always admired my parents’ marriage. As an adult, it’s easy to see all the things they did right, both as parents and people. And that’s the key to it, I think – they always made sure to see each other as people first; they didn’t define themselves by their familial roles. They never called each other “mom” or “daddy” instead of their names, and they were always mature and grown-up in front of my brother and me. I have no memory of ever seeing or hearing them fighting, not once, though I’m sure they must have had the occasional disagreement. I honestly thought that was how all parents were, that being mature and responsible just magically came with the territory.
My parents showed me that it was important to have a solid common foundation with the person I would choose to spend my life with. Personalities don’t have to match, but they do have to mesh and be willing to grow in the same direction. They enjoy many things together, and also spend a healthy amount of time pursuing their individual interests.
“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry