Relationships between parents have been on my mind a lot this week. I’ve been asked by a mom’s group to come and talk about how to keep them fresh and strong with young children, careers, busy lives and other demands vying for time and attention.
I did some preliminary research by gathering some books, articles and checking sites on line. The more I read, however, the more I realized basically it was the same information repeated over and over again.
Healthy vibrant relationships between parents require Appreciation, Respect, Acceptance, Humor, Trust, Support and Validation of one another, Shared Commitment to Parenting, Cooperation, Balance, Politeness, Self-care, Empathy, Listening, Loving each other and Keeping the “flame” burning.
Wow – quite a list. I made up my mind to do some veritable observations of my own.
Why not check out my marriage of 42 years (in May) with the same special guy, against this list. We did very well. But have we ever had some off-days? Should we continue working harder on a few of those things? Of course, yet our very strong commitment to love and family and our appreciation of each other always trumps.
I’ve had a young couple in my heart and mind this past week whose young 8-year-old daughter died. At the Thanksgiving celebration service for “Princess” Mia as she was called, I greeted them and experienced the strength of their togetherness. I can only imagine the struggle and pain they have gone through over the years Mia was sick. Yet I heard from everyone I spoke with how their commitment to family, their ability to share their grief, their sense of joy, their frustrations, their playfulness and their hope and belief , while parenting two other children younger than Mia, kept them steady and provided an empowering example for everyone who knew them.
On Saturday night, I got to see more couples in action at Family Resources Blue Ribbon Ball, celebrating Family Resources 20th anniversary. I loved seeing participants there, who I know best in the role of dedicated parents, enhancing their relationship scores by “looking good” and keeping the ‘flame” burning on an adult evening out sans children.
I like what Erma Bombeck says about choosing a marriage partner that is both witty and wise. She compares it to buying a bathing suit. Choose one that you feel comfortable wearing and where there’s room to grow.
Author Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families shares a story of a husband coming to him and saying he no longer is in love with his wife. They have three young children and he doesn’t know what to do.
Stephen Covey tells him to go home and love his wife. The frustrated man repeats again and again that he doesn’t love his wife anymore. Covey repeats as well, “go home and love your wife”.
He tells him “love is a verb. Love, the feeling, is a fruit of love the verb. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her.”
My conclusions exactly – even more obvious to me this past week in my own personal life, in the sorrow felt yet thanksgiving shared for a young child’s life and her parents’ courage, in the beautiful young couples and strong parents that I witness, and in the celebration of Family Resources’ 20 years of supporting and validating families – love is most definitely a verb.
Pass it on.