Given that February is the month of looooove, I felt inclined to do a post about it. I’m not going to rattle off why I love the people I love, nor am I going to give you a list of the perfect gift items. I think love is deeper than that. Instead, I looked to people I know who have a stable, loving, but not over-the-top-showy, relationship: my parents and both of their parents. And so, I posed this question to my mom, dad, sister, and myself:
How could you tell your parents were in love?
The four of us come from a similar, and extremely lucky, situation in this regard. All of us have parents with happy marriages. They stuck to “til death do us part” and meant it. Based off of the responses I received, it seems there may be a theme here. It’s not the big, huge, gestures of grandeur that make a difference. It’s promising to remember the little things and working together.
My dad on his parents, Marge and Sam:
“I was trying to think of something specific and I couldn’t. Dad would use terms of endearment such as ‘babe’ when talking to mom, but not all the time. I think a better measure of their feelings for each other manifested itself by the way they lived their lives. Mom would get up every morning and cook dad breakfast before he went to work. Dad worked two jobs (tailor and musician) and mom took care of the house and brought in extra money as a seamstress. They were a great team and almost everything they did revolved around taking care of us and each other. They didn’t need big gifts or fancy vacations to show their feelings for each other.”
My mom on her parents, Joe and Ging:
“Joe and Ging had different personalities, but complimented each other very well. Although Ging was clearly more vocal than Joe, he would manage to get his two cents in and they would smile at each other knowing they both got their points across in their own way. They also were very supportive of one another. Raising four kids, they were a “united front” on their decisions. This was important to both of them. They each had their roles in the family and respected each other’s positions. Music was a big attraction for them. They loved going places together to hear good music and had a great time together. Joe and Ging were not demonstrative in their love, but you knew there was a lot of admiration, respect, and love for one another. Simply put, they enjoyed each other’s company and had a great life together!”
My sister on our parents, Chris and Larry:
“I can tell with the little things they do for each other. For instance, I know it always makes mom smile when she sees dad out back watering the flowers because she knows it makes him happy and that he’s proud of the hard work both of them put into the backyard. The same goes for dad though, too; I always watch his face when mom’s being a goof ball (so, basically just being herself) and he has a look on his face like “DEAR GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?”, but then he joins in the silliness with her and they both can’t stop laughing. I think they bring out the best in each other because they have very similar, strong values. They always have each other’s back even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time – they always root for each other in the end.”
My mom isn’t overly affectionate, but it’s clear by the little things she goes out of her way to do that she loves my dad. She will stray away from certain foods he doesn’t like (even if they’re healthier for him than the ones he does like and even if she loves said food), and always puts her needs second to his. My mom frequently tells my sister and I that our dad is such a great dad. Of course, we know this already, but she says it with a feeling of pride. She’s not one to say things just to fill dead air, and this is something she’s said on countless occasions. But, most importantly, she always tries to get him to be his best self. Whether that’s a not-so-subtle reminder that this is his third cookie, talking through having a positive outlook on a slightly scary issue, or acting a fool to make him laugh, she does her best to make sure the two of them have fun in life. And they do.
My dad is a bit more outward with showing his love for my mom. He will get her flowers for no reason at all, and will DVR interviews with her favorite stars she may have otherwise missed. He watches more HGTV than most people in this world, and he never seems to complain when my mom suggests watching another episode of Fixer Upper. One of the biggest things that made me realize just how much my dad loved my mom happened when I asked him how they met. Years ago, my sister, dad, and I were driving home from church and happened to ask how he and my mom met. He explained the twists and turns and who was involved. Truly, it’s a wonder they met at all. At the end of the story, he paused and said he thinks it’s fate that they met. He wasn’t saying it in a cheesy, overly sentimental way. He truly believes it, and from the sounds of it, I think he’s right.