Lessons from My Parents: Marriage is Worth the Work

Since I'm boarding a plane and flying to Georgia to visit my mom and dad tomorrow, I thought I'd take a few days to share some of the wonderful lessons my parents have taught me over the years. Jerry and Louise Winton have been the most precious parents a gal could ask for. They are sweet Christians who have been faithful to their family, friends, church, and co-workers through the years, with loving sacrifice and commitment. They have truly shown me how to live. I'd love the opportunity to share with you a few of the lessons they taught me individually and as a couple.

Both of my parents, Jerry and Louise Winton, with my son Daniel
at his recent graduation from the University of Arizona.
Marriage is Worth the Work
In a day when many people don't even seem to realize that marriage requires work, my parents are living testimonies to the fruit of their labor.

My brother and I would both attest to having a blessed childhood and home. We grew up in stability and an atmosphere of love.

But my parents were not perfect, nor did they live in a fairy tale. They had their differences. They had their moments. They had their arguments.

But they worked through them.

I don't remember ever wondering if I would come home to two parents or just one. I don't remember them ever discussing divorce or separation. (They may have mind you, in the privacy of their bedroom, but the conversation certainly never went very far!)

Maybe it's just their generation, but I don't think so. I believe my parents valued their relationship and the stability that relationship offered their two children. I think they honored the commitment they had made to one another and to the Lord. And I think they knew the importance of sticking it out.

It's been interesting to go through the seasons of my own marriage and reflect on how my parents navigated those same seasons. For instance, during the childrearing years, when my husband and I struggled with time, money, house and car upkeep, energy to contribute to our children, and disciplinary issues, it did me good to think back on my parents during those same years. It was tempting to compare mine and my husband's marriage to the marriage and lives Mom and Dad were living right then, but it made more sense to compare our struggles to the ones they faced during the same season, years ago.

As I looked back, I realized they also struggled to keep the house and cars in shape, to have time for family, to stay on the same page as far as parenting and discipline, to have the money to pay for all the extracurriculars of childhood, etc. It was difficult for them to keep their marriage fresh and fun and healthy during those childrearing years, just as it was for me and James.

It was comforting to realize that my parents had faced the very same struggles James and I were facing at the time, but to also see how well they'd come through the crucible of the parenting years. It gave me hope, as well as resolve.

Today my parents share sweet companionship. Oh sure, they still disagree and get on each other's last nerve occasionally, but they are happy to be together all the same. They enjoy traveling together, playing golf, going for long walks, working on their home and serving in their community. Each morning they work a crossword puzzle together and each evening they sit down for dinner together.

I remember a few years ago I heard Beth Moore share that all the marriage struggles she and her husband had endured together were worth the joy of sitting side by side at her daughters' weddings, instead of in separate pews like so many divorced couples must do. I can echo Beth's sentiments from the other side of that equation. It is good for me, their grown daughter, that my parents are able to visit their grandchildren, go to church, reunite with old friends, and host me in their home...together, still married and still happy after more than 50 years.

Marriage takes work. But, as I fly out to visit both parents in one home tomorrow, I know it's worth it--worth the sacrifice and dedication and commitment and work.

What do you find to be the hardest about keeping a marriage healthy and whole? Who has inspired you to keep on going?

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