Last month we celebrated my parents’ 50th marriage anniversary.
With family and close friends in attendance and truckloads of emotions flowing freely at the dinner party.
50 years is a long time by any benchmark. So there were lots of stories to be told, and we decided to make that the centerpiece of the event. Uncles and aunties and family members sharing anecdotes and feelings about ma and papa.
By and by the party turned into a sentimental journey down memory lane – what we had always wanted.
This occasion also gave us – my brother and me – to do something we had never done before. Thank our parents for all they had done. And not done.
Not done because they preferred to sacrifice the many fun things so that we were well cared for. All the while instilling right values into us and ensuring we were happy.
What came out of other peoples’ sentiments underlined my own impressions and also added new dimensions to it.
Today I am going to share with you what I have learnt from them and their togetherness.
Be a Role Model to People around You
Ma and papa have been my role models as a couple. It should be the case with every son or daughter.
And I feel proud that they are a role model for many people around them – family members, colleagues, neighbours and even chance acquaintances.
I am grateful to them for teaching me so much about having great relationships, as partner, mother, father, friend, leader and an ordinary human being who is part of society at large.
Out of all these relationships, what they share with each other is the one I would like to emulate the most!!
I always knew, since my high school days, when you start understanding things a bit, that what my parents shared was special. I saw other parents – yes, that’s the perspective at that age – talking to each other rudely, fighting, snubbing, or ignoring each other and was thankful my own were so much in sync!!
Yes, that’s the only word, or words, that comes to mind.
I observed their relationship keenly after my own marriage. When I needed to understand my own relationship, and decide what type of relation I want with my husband.
Mind you, they are not perfect individuals. They are as imperfect as God makes them, but together they complement each other so beautifully.
Respect Each Other
Respecting each other is the most important pillar of any relationship, especially a marriage. And it cannot be mere lip service.
When you respect your partner you must respect their views, have complete faith in them, stand by their decisions and give them enough space to do what they want. Even if you don’t agree with them always.
In these five decades ma-papa took many short term and long term decisions, mostly by mutual consent but at times unilaterally too.
When the unilateral decision turned out to be correct, I never saw one feel superior to the other. Similarly, if the decision failed and brought on problems, one never ridiculed the other; they faced the problems together cheerfully.
Understand. Understand. And Understand Some More.
My mother can count the number of times that she has held my father’s hand till now!!
I never believed my mother. Until she recounted those instances. And guess what, they were all to feel confident in a fearful situation rather than for any display of affection.
She says, “We (she means her entire generation) never needed to hold hands to display our affection, like you people.”
She is correct about us, today’s generation. Subtlety is not the way things are done now. Even marriage and relationship counsellors advocate open display of affection.
I cannot even dream of sharing the same rapport with my own husband!!
And I am no different from other around me. For us, we are two different people, who have their own thought processes, beliefs, choices and ways of life.
So what’s the mantra? What is it they are doing correctly?
Well, they really understand each other rather than merely telling they understand.
And it takes lots of effort, time and dedication to understand someone else. If you are willing to do that, you will be rewarded with a blissful relationship.
Money Is Not Everything
Money was something we never talked as a family.
At least till we were ready to go to college.
I am sure ma and papa must have discussed money because that is what runs a family and life, but it never reached us.
They had a budget to follow and they did.
I remember clearly, many times my brother and I got new school dresses for our birthdays.
Or, we only had two pair of shoes – black and white school shoes – which we wore even for going out.
It was only when I was a teenager that my mother felt I needed footwear for casual occasions. And then also they were just a sensible pair of bellies, no fancy stuff.
But I never gave all this a thought. Because they made it look so routine and mundane.
That was until I bought dress, shoes, and accessories for my daughter’s first birthday. It was then I realized the pinch my parents must have felt when they made do with school dress for our birthdays.
But I am sure they must never have thought twice about it. Always doing what was right, emphasizing on the necessities rather than the luxuries.
And I am thankful to them for this correct upbringing.
It enables me to concentrate on the core rather than the frills.
And appreciate the fact that money just oils the wheels of life, life itself is shaped by other more important things.
So every time I have to tell my daughter that such and such thing can be done or purchased at a later date due to financial constraints, I cringe. But I am happy that I am being truthful to her and teaching her perseverance at the same time.
Be Good Friends and Rest Will Follow
One thing that my parents’ friends have always said is that they talk a lot. They love each other’s company and can talk for hours on end.
At last there is something that I can proudly say that I have emulated in my own life.
I can vouch that good friendship strengthens marriage. When you have lots of things to talk about, the thorny issues tend to take backseat.
And trust me, most of the issues that crop up between partners follows this rule:
Out of sight out of mind.
Say you had a particularly acerbic argument with your partner in the morning. Both of you went to your offices after that.
In the evening try talking about everyday things rather than the one issue uppermost in your minds. Soon, the pain of the tiff will go away and you will be able to focus on real problem.
I want to share some of the things ma-papa often say to us, especially when we have felt down and out:
- Life is like that – unjust – but we must learn to cope with it cheerfully.
- If you do well unto others, it is bound to come back to you. Ditto with wrong deeds.
- Don’t bother about how others are performing; give your 100% percent and you are bound to succeed.
Golden words that help me come on top of all problems in life.
What is one life changing lesson you have learnt from your parents? Or anyone else you look up to. Do share in the comments below.