My parents celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary this week. On Saturday, we got together for a BBQ and toasted their anniversary (as well as father’s day).
I knew that I wanted to interview my parents for my blog, but I wasn’t sure they’d be willing. Mid-point during lunch, I asked if they would mind answering a few questions about marriage and relationships. My mom wanted to know what I was going to do with their answers. I told her I’d like to write a blog post. My mom replied, “Oh, that’s a good idea. But wait. Who would care about our marriage? It’s so boring. I don’t want to bore your readers.”
I told my mom that she needn’t worry about being boring. I said that that in a world where the top-grossing films involve robots, vampires, and explosives, some good, old-fashioned dialog would be a breath of fresh air!
Part One: I interview my mom about her marriage with my dad.
Why did you marry dad?
I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I didn’t want to have to say goodbye any more. It upset me a lot when, after our dates, he’d go his way and I’d go mine. I wanted to be with him forever.
Growing up, my home life was unsettling. I have always felt safe with your dad. From 1963 to present, I’ve felt protected and cared for. I didn’t feel this way in my home with my parents.
What qualities drew you to dad?
He laughed more than anyone I’d ever met. My family didn’t laugh at all. We were uptight and rigid. Your dad had all of these noises and voices that he used to make me laugh. He was very animated. He had a sense of humor that I was not used to, and I really liked it.
What qualities do you like about him today?
He’s my number one fan.
What have you learned from Dad?
He taught me the difference between passive and aggressive behavior. Your dad is always concerned about the underdog. He has a lot of compassion.
What is something that you don’t like about dad’s character?
He can’t say “No” to strangers. He always gives money to the homeless people. He lends his most precious items to his friends without hesitation.
In addition, he’s a procrastinator. This quality is the worst. All these years when I’ve asked him to do something and he said “yes,” I knew he’d do it. But I’ve had to learn that he works on his own time schedule.
I’m a type A and your dad is whatever the opposite of that is.
Your dad is a “dreamer.” When we first got married, we used to fight all the time about his daydreams and fantasies. I’ve learned to just listen to him as he verbalizes or articulates his daydream. And then by the next day, he’s moved on to a different dream. My job is to let him fantasize out loud and listen. I can count the number of his dreams that have come true on one hand. He’s a big dreamer.
Your dad’s more patient than I am. He’s also more open. If someone knocks on the door, I don’t answer it. But your dad will answer the door, offer the person something to drink, and chat with them for several hours. I have so little down or alone time that I value and spend it wisely.
How do you handle problems?
We still don’t have a good solution. He thinks that by raising his voice, this will make me pay attention. But when he raises his voice, I walk away. We tend to go into separate rooms and cool off. We don’t argue very much, in general. But when we do, It’s a doozie.
Have you ever thought about getting a divorce?
Yes. I was envious of your life when you moved to Washington, DC . I wanted to come along. I wondered what it would be like to be educated, young and making my own money and making my own choices. But then I realized that was not my life; it was your life. And then I no longer wanted a divorce.
How do you and dad have a good time?
There are multiple ways. We love to go to church and see our friends. We both feel safe and comfortable there. We love road trips. We love to stay home, BBQ, and watch an old Western together. Our favorites are: The Stalking Moon, Pale Rider, Rough Rider.
What’s the most romantic thing dad has done for you?
He’s not a romantic person. I guess some of the cards he’s given me over the years were romantic. Your dad is very thoughtful and he’s always on the lookout for little gifts for me. He’s surprised me on multiple occasions with pieces of jewelry. Probably the most romantic thing he did for me was propose to me on my birthday. He got down on one knee. I was hopeful that this would happen, and it did!
What’s the secret of staying together so long?
Respect, faithfulness, and honesty. You don’t always get all three of these at the same time. You have to work hard to have all three at once. It’s important to validate one another. Your dad says to me, you look sexy tonight; you were the most intelligent woman in that group; you did a great job the other day, and so on. He encourages me. I feel incredibly safe with him. He takes good care of me.
What’s your sex life like when you’ve been married 44 years?
Well, it didn’t go away! When you’re first married, you are young and healthy and full of energy. When you get older, it helps if both partners remain healthy. To me, your dad is the sexiest man I know. I’m amazed that he still thinks I’m sexy. Sometimes, we sit and reminisce about the time we went to a special place on a certain day and had a very sexy time. We like to recall and talk about our secrets. No one else on earth knows these details, except me and your dad, and this is special and fun!
How has it been having me as a daughter?
[My mom bursts into laughter. And then I do, too]
Part Two: I interview my dad about his marriage to my mom
Why did you marry mom?
[Long pause] I thought she was a great gal. She was attractive, intelligent, and a real babe. She seemed to think I was something special.
Why were you attracted to mom?
[Very long pause] I thought she was good looking and I wanted to meet her and get to know her. Your mom filled all the squares for me.
What qualities do you like in mom?
She has a good head on her shoulders. She makes the best chocolate cake. She smells good.
What qualities about mom bug you?
I don’t know. Honey, I don’t want to go into that.
What do you and mom do for fun?
We enjoy interior and exterior home improvements and design. We enjoy taking road trips to pretty towns and staying overnight. We travel to Colorado a lot. It’s about one of our favorite destinations. We love Denver. For a long time, we chose our travel destinations based on the number of antique shops the town had, and how interesting and charming of a place it was.
What’s the most romantic thing mom ever did for you?
Romantic? Honey, I don’t know.
What was your mom’s answer?
The most romantic thing? I’ll have to come back to that. I don’t know.
Have you ever wanted to get a divorce?
I can’t imagine being married to anyone other than your mom. She’s the right one for me.
What’s the secret to a long marriage?
Well, we make a strong effort to enjoy the journey. We just try to enjoy as much as possible. Also, we waited awhile before having children. Couples need to get to know each other well before the kids come along. I think it’s important to be generous to your spouse. Be generous with everything.
When you fight, how do you get over it?
Gosh, I don’t know what to say about that.
I try not to over-react. And I do my best not to do or say foolish things that will upset your mom.
How’s your sex life?
What did your mother say about that?
[Long pause followed by him scratching his head] Hmm. Well, I have some troubles now. It was wonderful for years. But I have some health issues. It’s possibly going to get better. We still carry on a little bit.
What’s it been like having me as a daughter?
I couldn’t ask for anything better. 😉