10 Things I’ve Learned from My Parents’ Sixty-Year Marriage
By Daniel Hoover
1- You don’t HAVE to date for years before you get married.
Obviously, I’m not encouraging couples to rush into a marriage. However, my parents met in September and got married in January. I’ll never forget after meeting Bonnie, I asked my dad how long it took before he knew she was the one. He said, “one week.” I smiled because I had just met Bonnie 5 days earlier and knew this was it!
2- You don’t have to have a lot of money when you get married.
Mom was church secretary, and dad was an instructor on the Air Force Base. They lived in base housing and even a small single-wide trailer for many years before purchasing their first home. They made it work.
3- God builds your family…not your family planning.
My parents had my oldest brother nine months after they married. They endured the heartache of 3 miscarriages; they struggled to get pregnant with my middle two brothers. We have to surrender our plans to the Lords. His are always better.
4- “The best thing I can do for you boys is to love your Dad!”
This is a phrase I heard my mom say countless times. As a kid, I didn’t understand it. As a parent, I get it. A strong, healthy marriage is the greatest foundation and gift you can give your kids.
5- “If your mom said no, then so do I!”
I hated this one as a kid. Many times if we were told “NO” by one parent, then we’d go ask the other one hoping for a different outcome. However, it never worked. They were a team.
6- Raising teenagers is all about trusting God and being a team.
This was only true when it came to my brothers…not me…(cough, cough). Mom and dad stayed in our business. They stuck to their guns and gave us clear boundaries when we were teenagers. I was not too fond of it then, but I am so thankful for it today. Because of that, my teenage regrets are minimal.
7- God first, spouse second, kids third.
This isn’t popular in today’s culture, but it works! As kids, we knew that we weren’t the most important people in the house.
8- Marriage is about putting aside your comfort and doing what’s right.
When my grandmother slipped into Alzheimer’s disease, my mom struggled with finding care for her. Since she was a nurse and a daughter, it wasn’t easy to find anyone better than her to care for my grandma. My dad looked at her and said, “Jennie, why don’t you quit your job and bring your mother home to live with us. That way, you can care for her here.” This wasn’t the way they dreamed of spending their retired years, but they knew it was what God was calling them to do.
9- You can have fights and move through them to forgiveness.
Over 60 years, mom and dad had many arguments, fights, and even “Knock-down, drag-outs,” as we’d call them. But guess what? They resolved them and loved each other deeper. As married couples, we can’t harbor bitterness and resentment. We must forgive.
10- The gift of a life-long marriage doesn’t have to end in heartbreak.
In the words of my mom, “These golden years aren’t very golden!” They are filled with ailments, doctors appointments, losing parents, friends, and even one day each other. As I watch my parents endure these challenging days, there’s an incredible sweetness and understanding. This is something that you only achieve when you’ve lived your entire life dying to yourself and living for someone else. It’s what we all hope to have one day when we stand at an altar and “forsake all others.”
11- You can still hold hands and be affectionate after 60 years.
Not too long ago, I noticed something about my parents. They still hold hands. They still call each other darling or honey. Guess what! When they lie in bed, they still spoon. They even kiss. There is something that happens when you live for someone else for a lifetime, when you choose not to hold on to bitterness and anger, and when you allow Christ to reign in your home. You can remain in love. Tenderness and affection don’t have to die.