I used to think my parents had an awful marriage. It’s been wrought with lies, regrets, disappointments and perpetual setbacks, namely my dad’s drug addiction, which literally almost tore our family apart.
I’ve watched my mom stand perplexed as to why my dad continued to choose drugs over our family.
I’ve watched my mom cry in shame to a landlord because we couldn’t pay the rent.
I’ve had to painfully listen as my mom explained that we didn’t have groceries because my dad wasted all of our family’s income on drugs.
I used to see all of this and think my parents needed a divorce. My mom would try to explain to me that she loved my dad and leaving him wasn’t an option. She would always say, “It’s not right to kick a man while he’s down. Your dad needs me.”
I never understood that when I was younger, but I’m starting to now. I used to think that I would one day grow up, get married, and “get it right.” I would be Bill Cosby and my wife would be Phylicia Rashad. Love wouldn’t be difficult at all. It would just come naturally. I wouldn’t ever be selfish or dependent like my dad. And my wife would never argue or be mad at me, plus she’d prance around the house looking cute and doing chores while speaking Spanish on the side just because I like how it sounds.
I’ve since waken up from that fantasy to realize that the test of love is not how perfect it seems to be on the outside, but the hardships it has endured. It’s trials and pain and hardship that proves whether love is true and strong. I used to think my mom was dumb for staying with my dad… now I see that she wasn’t dumb at all. She just understood love more than I did. She understood real unconditional love.
My parents didn’t prepare me for perfection, but they did prepare me for the reality of true love, involving sacrifice and commitment. Any sinful selfish couple learning to love one another has hard work cut out for them, and I couldn’t have picked two parents better suited to teach me that than mine. My parents have taught me more about relationships, love, and marriage than any “picture perfect” parents could have. Now, I thank God they didn’t get a divorce, because they have proven that it is possible to be faithful in the face of uncertain and hard times, and through the darkest of moments.
Do my parents have a perfect marriage now? Absolutely not.
Are there plenty of marriages better off than theirs? More healthy? Absolutely there are.
But I don’t know any two people who have had to prove their love for one another through more challenging circumstances. And for that I respect what they have gone through together. My parents’ love is steadfast, faithful and unrelenting. I don’t think I’ll be in circumstances like my parents. But I still want the kind of love they share. A love as resilient as theirs’.
When I was younger my parent’s marriage disappointed me, now it gives me hope. I hope that my wife has the patience and resilience of my mother. And I can only pray that the gentle and compassionate heart of my father has rubbed off over the years. (I’ll blog about my dad’s love next… so come back.)
I’ve learned that life is not Hollywood.
I’m learning about real love.
I hope I’m ready.