Today marks forty-one years of marriage for us.
As I write that, I am so thankful and also so tenderly aware of others for whom this kind of longevity is not possible. It is a gift not to be taken lightly.
Some have met their match later in life and the numbers are not in favor for certain milestone anniversaries. Others have lost their partner too soon, in our opinion, and the anniversary date is a time of remembering and grieving. Still others have encountered heartache as the relationship was broken through separation and divorce.
I understand that I don’t know anything but the marriage we have lived and I do not in any way take for granted or boast in celebrating forty-one years. As I pondered what to share, I thought of some little lessons God has taught us through the years.
So we have ourselves a series this week on five takeaways that have brought a measure of peace to our home and marriage.
We will kick this off with a lesson Russ taught me about our family and how perspective and attitude make a difference in approaching parenting.
Around the time Rachel would have been in 6th grade, several of my mom friends would talk about their children in a knowing and loving way. Rather than try to use fake names, I will just use our own for example. So they would be talking about the likes/dislikes or habits of the child by saying : “My Rachel….”
I liked the sound of it. I liked the ownership feel of hearing them claim that child and I liked claiming knowing my own as well as they did theirs.
Until Russ corrected me.
She’s not YOUR Rachel…she’s OUR Rachel. They aren’t YOUR children…they are OUR children.
I kind of resented not getting to participate in this mom language that I was liking so much. I tried to explain to him how it seemed awkward to say “our” when talking to someone.
To me it felt like I was including the hearer in with me as being the parent of the child or children. But he insisted that whether either one of us is present or not, that child is OURS…and the absent parent is still the parent with the one who is talking.
I knew I was not going to “win” this one and I had to make some major adjustments in my heart and mind.
It took work. And sometimes I still catch myself correcting my statement….and I force myself to do it audibly. Our daughter, our son, our son-in-law, our grandchildren.
Because I only have one “my” in this family that Russ and I have made. And it is “my husband.” Together we have “our” children and with another couple we share “our grandchildren.”
It may seem like simply semantics (for lack of a better term), but it is a heart issue in our marriage. By forcing myself to say “ours” instead of “my”, I have made the shift in my heart from ownership to team relationship.
That is what a family is.
Family is a team and family is a relationship.
And family relationships take work and adaptation and communication and correction and respect for what the other person is saying.
I am thankful he spoke up about what troubled him. I am thankful something in me didn’t ignore it but took it heart. I am thankful when I have spoken up about something, he has listened and he has made the effort to change.