We are in our 25th year of married life. We are also in the midst of change. Suddenly, a lot of things look like potential “lasts.” This could be our last fall in the mountains, last fall in our house, and last chance to have Jo home for fall break. Then again, God may surprise us … The potential change made it sweeter to welcome JoHanna and 7 college friends home for fall break.
In between cooking for the crowd, Jeff and I enjoyed getting to know them. They represent 5 families spread coast to coast across the United States. Their academic interests range from mechanical engineering to health to art and design and education. Despite assumptions about their generation, they don’t all drink coffee, text during dinner, or only relate through Facebook. They share a unique quality that might, however, make them a minority today. They all have two parents.
And so I studied them. I’ve never met their parents. I didn’t ask them what makes their parents’ relationships endure. (darn it!) I’m sure they aren’t perfect and have their struggles. It would be great to have a video of students sharing what makes their parents’ marriage work … I thought of it too late! But I observed the 7 children of the 5 couples, and I saw 5 keys from 5 partners who are still married.
5 keys to healthy relationships
- They yield to others – Over the course of 4 days, there were a lot of decisions to make among a mixed gender group of 7. No one could have their way all the time. When several eyes lit up over the nearby art museum, others yielded to bless their friends. That isn’t human nature; that was taught.
- They enjoy each other – These students enjoy one another. Whether putting out a fire in the kitchen (Jo and I were to blame for that!), taking pictures in the Old City, or playing games by the fire, I could see that healthy couples have cultivated the ability to have fun.
- They work together – I bought paper plates to help manage meals, but we rarely used them. This crew had been taught that many hands make light work and initiative is part of relationship. When a married couple models serving, their kids are more likely to value the gift of helping.
- They cultivate appreciation – The world’s environment grows entitlement, but a holy home breeds gratitude. Without even meeting the 5 couples whose kids joined us for fall break, I heard the fruit of families who value appreciation. In a marriage, we know this translates to a climate of security, encouragement, and courage.
- They celebrate each other – Pumpkins were on sale, so we randomly chose teams, declared rules, and let them go to work. Each of the 3 teams put their hearts into it, whether it was an engineering heart, health heart, teaching heart, or art heart. But in the end, we declared one winner … and they all celebrated. The husbands and wives who are the moms and dads of these students have shown them how to celebrate one another.
When a couple practices love, it flows to and through their family. I hope our student will come home for fall break next year, but she might go to someone else’s home. I wonder what they’ll see in her that will point back to our marriage. What do your kids reveal about your relationship?