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Road Map for Success

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I grew up in the Midwest with two brothers and two sisters. It was back when we knew our neighbors and the children all played together. I was blessed with the best parents on the block. Growing up I never heard my parents say an unkind word about the other. If they ever had a disagreement, we never knew it. On Sundays, Mom and Dad would pack us up in the car and take us to church. That was an exciting day because we always stopped and got donuts on the way home. It was also hot breakfast day, unlike the normal bowl of Cheerios. What really made it special was Dad did the cooking. It was Mom’s day off. A day when she could sit down at the table and just relax. I didn’t realize it at the time but they were providing a road map to a successful marriage.

Looking back, I can see the importance of all the things they did for one another. Each of them went well beyond their share of what’s considered 50/50. Sometimes Dad would be tired from a long days work and Mom would pick up the slack. It was obvious dad was worn out and mom wouldn’t say a word. She would just go the extra mile and make dads life a little easier. There were times that us kids had mom completely stressed at the end of the day. When dad got home from work, mom would let him know she needs a break and dad would take over. I can’t ever remember a day when they both put in equal effort. I also can’t remember a year that they didn’t.

While growing up, Mom and Dad taught us children many lessons and values to live by. Some of us learned them better than others. One lesson was that there is nothing more difficult than marriage, but there’s also nothing more rewarding. They stressed the importance of having God in the center of the marriage. In order to succeed, it must be a three-way relationship. Put God first, your partner second, and yourself last. Now this didn’t make a bit of sense to me at the time. Why would you put yourself anywhere but in the front of the line? Why should you resolve yourself to the leftovers. They weren’t doing that.

I only saw the end result. Dad got the most at dinner time. We didn’t pray until mom sat down because we couldn’t have dinner without her. They obviously took care of themselves first. In reality, mom saw to it dad got served first. Dad insisted we never move forward without mom. We didn’t eat until we prayed because God was first. They lived by exactly what they taught. This is just a small example of how they treated one another.

About two years ago, Mom and Dad had their fiftieth wedding anniversary. I missed the first wedding for obvious reasons. They renewed their vows and I was blessed to be a part of it. While the priest was reading their vows, I went up on the altar to take a picture for their photo album. When he asked Dad if he would take Mom all over again, his eyes widened and with a bold tone, said “you bet I will.” Mom’s face lit up like a schoolgirl being asked to the senior prom. At that moment I understood what a great marriage looked like. Like a bolt of lightning, the lessons they taught were learned. To succeed with true love, put God first, your spouse second, and yourself last.

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