What is the secret to marriage? I posed that question to Google, and it gave me approximately 152,000,000 results, and since I don’t have time for that nonsense; I decided to look a little closer to home. To answer this question, I really only had to look to one source: my parents. They recently celebrated 33 years of marriage so I figured that hey, maybe they know a little something that us young whippersnappers don’t seem to understand yet and won’t find on the interwebs of Google.
So…What is the “secret”?
I only had to reflect on my childhood to come up with the answer. Growing up, my parents were completely and utterly, GROSS! That’s right, I said gross!
Some of my earliest memories as a child are of my parents smooching after being reunited from a long day of work. In my kid voice, I can still hear myself exclaiming, “Ewww gross!” as I would turn away in horror, my eyes blinded by such a despicable act. How could they do such a thing in front of me??? They would briefly look at me, giggle, and then promptly go back to doing it. My parents never made PDA seem like something to be ashamed about, they proudly wore their love for each other on their sleeve, and #sorrynotsorry to anyone who dared to complain about it, including my sister and I.
I know now that my sister and I were one of the lucky ones to have parents married for so long. Many, if not most of our friends’ parents were divorced, separated, or otherwise. Though as I have aged, and am now creeping upon the beginning of my own second decade of marriage; it is not till now that I fully appreciate what it actually meant to grow up with parents who loved each other and stayed together for better or for worse.
TMI or just being honest?
It is 100% evident when you meet my parents that after thirty plus years of marriage, they’ve still got that spark in their eyes. I probably have the only parents in the world that have no shame when it comes to talking about sex with their kids either, but not in the way you would think. This one time (not at band camp), when I was sixteen, I was on the phone with my then boyfriend. I came out of my bedroom around the same time my parents were coincidentally coming out of theirs, and my mom had that smile on her face that she only gets when either A., There is a joke going on that you don’t yet know about, or B., her and my dad just “did it”. I knew right then that it was likely B and I made the mistake of asking, “What were you guys doing?” and my dear mother lifted her arm to show me bite marks. Yes, bite marks, from my father during sexy time. If you feel bad for me, imagine how bad I felt for my boyfriend who heard the whole conversation take place. I remember thinking, “Hey! Whose really the high school sweethearts here?”.
Following in their footsteps…
Now that I am an adult, when I really think on it, I don’t think my parents are as gross as I grew up thinking they were. None of it, not the PDA, not the fact that they are so open about their active sex life, not the googly eyes they make at each other when people are watching them. In fact, I don’t even think it really grossed me out as a kid either, because it secretly made me happy to see them like that. It made me feel secure and confident that my parents whom I loved so much (and still do), were that in love with each other that they could still act like high school sweethearts and not give a damn if anyone was looking.
Ok, so maybe this “secret” isn’t for everyone, but as I approach my eleventh year of marriage I think I could tear a page from my parents book. Raising a toddler is tiring and difficult, and totally takes a toll on a marriage, especially in the area of “sexy time”. Though me and my husband are still figuring out this thing called parenthood and finding out how to navigate the realms of marriage while also having a pint-sized tornado child sleeping between us at night; one thing I do plan on doing as she grows up is making sure that she knows just how much her mother and father love each other. I look forward to the first time I hear her say, “You two are sooooo gross!” because I will first giggle, then kiss her father again and secretly say, “Thanks Mom and Dad”.
Authors Note: Upon reading this to my parents, after they both wiped their eyes and regained their composure, my mother said to me, “The secret is to always keep dating!”. Yes, mom, I believe you are right.