My parents are celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary today. Amazing. I asked them to tell me their secrets to a happy marriage while celebrating their milestone the other night. Here is what they said!
My folks are pretty darned sweet together. In fact, I would venture to say that they are more in love now than they ever have been. Total goals. Their relationship isn’t perfect (that doesn’t exist in my opinion), but it’s really one of the best relationships I have seen. I feel fortunate that they are my role models now that I have a family of my own.
Before I go any further, I think it’s important to acknowledge that marriage isn’t easy. At least that’s been my experience (and I know my parents have had their moments too)! I’m not trying to sound negative, but hey, it takes WORK. I subscribed to the Cinderella fairytale when I was younger, and that “happily ever after” only (kinda) exists if both parties are willing to put in the effort – and it’s far messier than those stinking fairy tales make it look for the record.
Charles and I have a really great marriage, but it hasn’t been without hard times. There have been tears with the laughter, nights where I’m lying in bed pouting and crying (while he snores like a freight train with ear plugs in for the record… like, how?), squabbles over parenting and more than a couple sessions with a counsellor. I wish people talked more openly about marriage counselling, it’s such a healthy thing to do but carries such a stigma!
While marriage isn’t easy, we love each other and are deeply committed to our family and US. Having kids has been the most rewarding, but also the most challenging, thing we have done (and probably ever will do) together. I think my parents would agree with that for their own marriage. Even without kids, relationships are damned hard work.
Keys to a Happy Marriage
My parents remind me of the couple from the move The Notebook. I love that movie. And since my dad has Alzheimer’s disease it really makes it even more emotional and relevant for me. The point is, they are 45 years in to this marriage thing after having two kids, one failed business, years of working together (hard on its own) to build a successful business and weathering life’s other random hurdles. I asked them what has kept them together and so in love after all of these years. They really are so cute together, it’s so inspiring. Here is their advice:
This was my dad’s advice (he’s always joking, such a funny guy), but actually, this has some merit to it when I started thinking about it. In a nutshell, my dad picks his battles and understands what is important to him and worth fighting for. The small stuff just doesn’t matter to him, and he knows how happy it makes my mom (ie: a paint colour), so he lets those things go. Oh gee, I could use a lesson from him come to think of it! Note to self.
Don’t Give Up Easily
Spoiler Alert: you’re probably going to go through a hard time in marriage. Even if your marriage is awesome, life will throw you curve balls that will inevitably test your relationship. While walking away may be an option (especially if it isn’t a healthy relationship), if there’s love still there, fight for it. My parents went through a hard time when us kids were younger and I’m so happy they worked through that rough patch.
Remember what attracted you to the other person in the first place
Do you remember those early days of love? I do. What a rush! While I wish that puppy love never went away, I also know that I would be living in a tent by now because I would get NOTHING done! But actually, I think this piece of advice is my mom’s favourite. And I love it, because what brought you together in the first place is likely what will keep you together in the long run.
Assume the other person’s intentions are good
This one didn’t come from my parents, but I heard it the other day and it stuck with me. I’ll admit that I get my back up against the wall on some things, and am a bit too quick to jump to conclusions or get a bit defensive. When I observe my parents, I can see that they have this quiet and gentle understanding between them that they have each others’ best interests at heart. There’s such a grace to their relationship. They are constantly building each other up and I know that each independently feels, and acts, like they’ve won the lottery by having each other in their lives.
Family is the most important thing
My dad got a bit sentimental the other night, echoing how important family is to him. It’s nothing new, but in this crazy world we live in, remembering that family is the most important thing is paramount. I know that when I look back on my life I’m not going to wish I worked more. On that note, I’m off to go cuddle my boys while they will still let me. Time, you can slow down please and thank you!
As a total aside, I was scrolling through the web and stumbled on this podcast by Tim Ferriss interviewing Brené Brown. BIG love for that lady (so much brilliance in one human being). This excerpt really moved me, so I thought I would share it with you:
“We chase extraordinary moments instead of being grateful for ordinary moments until hard shit happens. And then in the face of really hard stuff — illness, death, loss — the only thing we’re begging for is a normal moment.”
Thank you Stephanie Lucile Photography (my cousin!) for capturing such precious images of my parents!
Absolutely love this!! Brings reality to the surface instead of the fairytale that many people think marriage is. Someone as myself that’s in my first year of marriage and it’s been a real struggle to say the least – with the pandemic, my husband being laid off for the first time ever and losing his grandfather who he thought the world of (all being outside influences). It’s easy to get frustrated with each other than it is to face the hard times like being vulnerable with emotions head on! I can say I’m so grateful that my husband and I have faced them head on, but don’t get me wrong it hasn’t come without a little bit of re-directing from thinking each other is the true problem. It’s a breath of fresh air to read and know my marriage is no different than someone else’s who’s been in it a lot longer your marriage and your parents marriage has just brought you a lot more wisdom so far than mine, so it’s very refreshing to me! Thank you for sharing xox!
Shannon Menon says
What an amazing and beautiful blog. Thank you so much for writing your parents and your thoughts. I just got married and love reading and listening to other couple’s stories about their relationship.
I loved this Tori…thank you for the reality check. We need that every once in a while. XO
Tori Wesszer says
Thank you Joanie – that means a lot! xo Tori
I love you and your family… you are such a great example of living kindly, humbly and always leading with love. Your parents are such an amazing example of how to navigate a relationship over time, and you and Charles are clearly doing the same. You are a lovely human being and I know I’m being cheesy but you have the most sweet family, your kids are so well-adjusted and Charlie somehow has sympathy and empathy at *such* a young age, which he gets from you. Thank you for sharing so much of you and your life with all of us… I’m sure it has it’s challenges, but it’s lovely to be able to learn from you!
Tori Wesszer says
Meghan, those are such kind thoughtful words. Thank you for taking the precious time out of your day to write them to me, it truly means a lot. While our family is far from perfect there is a lot of love! Warmest wishes to you and your family, Tori
I agree with you entirely about the stigma surrounding couples therapy.
My husband and I have gone to therapy on a regular basis for years now, it is a wonderful way to dedicate time to your relationship and get knowledgeable advice with whatever stage of life you are in.
I believe we should take care of our minds like we take care of our bodies…
I am always happy to tell others to help lessen the stigma when they say I have “a perfect relationship”. Unfortunately I think the cost can be a barrier, sometimes you have to prioritize what’s truly important.
I adore you and your family, thanks for sharing ❤️
Tori Wesszer says
Hi Jenny, those are some wise words. Yes I agree about the stigma AND the cost – it’s not inexpensive! Thank you for taking the time to comment and I’m happy to hear that you share my perspective on this! Have a wonderful weekend, Tori xx
Tamara Corry says
Thanks for sharing Tori.. Love the stories of your family and that you would share them with us 💕
Life is short and we all need that reality check especially now..
The quote you shared sums it up perfectly.
Thank you for taking the time to do your blogs and recipes and everything else you do.. We appreciate you😘
Olga Pekalska says
I’ve just reread this post for the zillionth time. Absolutely love it. I’ve shared it with my sister and some friends. Your honesty and real life in it is a breath of fresh air. Sure fairytales are nice, but they’re not real life, no part of them are, so how can we live real life and expect fairy tale endings. That’s at least how I interpreted it. Brené’s quote at the end is definitely what I needed this morning again as a reminder. I am writing it out and hanging it up in my apartment to look at often now. Thank you thank you thank you.
Judy Fraser says
You and your family are all so beautiful…..inside and out!
Bless you all in this crazy world we’re all trying to maneuver through with some grace and patience!
Tori Wesszer says
Thank you Judy that is so kind of you! Blessings back to you! Tori