Marriage as a Legacy
Updated: Mar 22, 2018
My parents share their secret to a successful marriage!
Starting this blog, I wanted to share the love story that I’ve been closest to and of which I’m a product. That’s the story of my mom and dad, Jackie and Kelvin. Although I’m familiar with how they met, I didn’t know a lot about their love story or how they’ve managed to stay married for 34 years. Turns out my parents have the secret sauce to what makes a successful marriage!
My mom and dad met in church. They sat in the same pews Sunday after Sunday and sang in the choir together, but they didn’t actually know each other. My mom stood in front of my dad in the choir and she doesn’t ever recall seeing him until he offered to take her to a church event. When my dad finally noticed my mom, he was initially attracted to the type of mother she was to my older sister, April. April was 3 years old at the time. Knowing that he wanted to have children someday, my dad liked the way my mom took care of April. It appeared she was a good mother. Shoutout to all the single moms out there taking care of our little ones!
My mom and dad only dated four months before they tied the knot. And,no, it wasn’t a shotgun wedding. They weren’t rushing to the altar to disguise a pregnancy. They made a choice to marry quickly. In such a short time, they hadn’t developed the deep love we’ve grown accustomed to seeing nowadays. They fell in love gradually. My mom first fell in love with my dad’s heart and his passion for God. He treated her differently than any other man she’d ever met and dated. He cherished her and accepted her daughter as his own without reservation. My dad fell in love with my mom when he slept with her. But not in the way you think. As my dad recalls, one night when they were hanging out, he remembers falling asleep in my mom’s arms. His quality of sleep was so peaceful and undisturbed that he knew he could be himself with her. He experienced the greatest level of comfort.
So why did my mom and dad choose each other? They believed God brought them together. My mom chose my dad because she believed he was the soulmate God had for her. Having had tumultuous and toxic relationships in the past, she recognized that she never chose the right kind of man. Her past was littered with “f*ck boys” who cheated and had babies by other women. So she entrusted the choice of her life partner to God. Let the saints say #amen! While she wasn’t deeply in love with my dad when they married, my mom had enough faith in God to believe that He had put the right man in front of her.
My dad prayed to know if my mom was the right woman for him. He chose my mom because he knew she had the qualities he wanted and the ability to love him unconditionally. She would be dedicated to the life they would build together.
Having only dated a short time, my mom and dad experienced some challenges early on in their marriage, particularly with my dad’s family. Initially, my grandparents weren’t as accepting of my mother as my dad would have hoped. It took him by surprise because his parents were usually very supportive. Nevertheless, my mom experienced everything from name calling to collages of family photos that displayed everyone except her. Early on, my parents had to determine how they would navigate these negative reactions as a couple. My dad resolved that his wife and the family they created together were most important. Eventually, his family came around.
My parents have beaten the odds. They’ve stayed together. But how have they gone from four months of dating to 34 years of marriage and counting? As my dad says, they wake up everyday and decide to keep going. That’s the secret sauce! While there have been times when they’ve both wanted out, they’ve committed to sticking together and it’s not a one-sided commitment. They’ve declined the “out” clause of divorce (albeit necessary for some people). They’ve committed to having a stick-with-it-ness, recognizing that there are days when one person will be a great person and other days when one person will be completely shitty. But, because they’ve committed to stick-with-it, they don’t have to wonder if they’ll wake up one morning only to find one toothbrush in the bathroom.
For them, marriage is a part of the legacy they want to leave to me and my siblings. Looking over their 34 years together, including their struggles and mistakes, their greatest joy is still wanting to grow old with one another. They’re still in love and still wanting to set an example for their children and grandchildren. My parents’ relationship is centered on their faith and they’ve taken the time to cultivate their relationship with God but also with each other. They continue to date each other because they know that just as seasons change so does the needs and desires of their partner. They’ve shown me what commitment really looks like, especially since you won’t feel the butterflies and fireworks all the time. It’s literally a choice you make one day at a time. If each person can hold to that commitment (waking up everyday to keep going), then marriage can be successful.