What My Parents’ Marriage Taught Me About Love

Photo credit:Anne Edgar

“Love is patient. Love is kind.”

A couple days ago, my parents celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. With it being such a big date, I began to get excited to help them celebrate. Two decades is a long time, and I wanted it to be special just as much as they did. Between making a cake for them and writing cards, I began to think about all they’ve taught me about love and relationships over the years. It’s been wonderful to be in the position of their daughter, watching them care for each other through good times and bad. A late Happy Anniversary, Chris & Kel! Here’s what you’ve taught me:

True Love Doesn’t Mean a Perfect Relationship–Only a Good One

Little girls are raised on Disney princess love stories. And however beautiful and cinematography-worthy those perfect princesses and their perfect princes are with happy endings and wedding bells, it’s just not reality. I’ve seen my parents and their relationship survive all the stress, sorrow, fear, anger, and disappointments life brings. One rather silly example is our family vacation in Ireland: My Dad driving the stick shift on the wrong side of the road, way too close to a cliff-side and my mom trying to navigate and not freak out.

They’ve survived all of life’s little moments like this together, admitting long ago to each other that they are not perfect–just wonderful and human, and always willing to love each other for it.  Forgiveness and dialogue are a constant part of their relationship. They can be angry and disappointed with each other in tough moments, but they will always come back together in a calm conversation of forgiveness and understanding. And that is what love is.

True Love Is Being With the One Who Makes You Laugh

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve walked into the kitchen or sat down at the dinner table to find my parents laughing at something from their day or telling an old story. Love is being with someone who makes life lighter; laughter is the best way to lighten up someone’s whole world.

True Love Is the Person You Travel With

Before I was even in the picture, my parents took countless trips around the world together. They saw different countries and states, visited the mountains, beaches, and even the Scottish Isle of Skye on their honeymoon. Traveling sometimes means delayed flights, mixed up plans, and wrong directions. It also means being able to deal with such things with the person you’re with. My parents have amazing stories from their trips together, and I am very grateful I’ve been apart of their travels in the years after.

True Love Doesn’t Mean Losing Yourself

My parents have taught me that a real relationship isn’t about giving up who you are at the core to become a “half” of a person to match your significant other’s “half.” Even if society preaches soulmate ideology with halves and wholes, that is not what love is about. True love is about two unique, interesting, and wonderful individuals coming together to form a marriage that celebrates them as both a couple and individual people. You don’t have to give up your individual interests, hide your silly quirks, or live as if you’re the exact same as your significant other to show your love.

True Love Is Respect

If my parents have taught me anything about relationships, it is this: the one you love respects you. They are committed to who you are as a human being. They want to grow with you. They respect who you are and the special qualities you have to offer this world. Each person in the relationship has their desires, thoughts, and needs, which are to be honored and respected. I want to thank my parents for teaching me the value of respect and how it applies to every relationship.

Thank you for all you’ve taught me, Mom and Dad.


Mary Claire is a 17 year old student and writer who loves politics, campfire smores, traveling, classic movies, and new music.

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