Last week Jordan’s parents celebrated 38 years of marriage. And anyone who knows them can tell you they’re not just faithfully married, but happily married.
My sister-in-law (Jordan’s brother’s wife) and I often talk about how we benefit in our marriages because of the awesome example Jordan’s parents have set. This week I got to sit down with them and really ask what has made their marriage so great. Not only was this little “interview” helpful and encouraging, it was also pretty hilarious. Like, truly podcast worthy, if I had only had a recording device. My in-laws are so joined at the hip, they’re kind of like a two-man “act” where they play off one another, and during this interview, I got the best of it.
Hopefully you’ll get some of their great senses of humor and devotion to each other in this recap below.
On ‘the secret’ to staying together…
Pops: “Happy wife, happy life. I have no control. Gail tells me everything to do.”
Ma: “All joking aside, we pray and read the Bible together regularly. In marriage, you need a common denominator, and God is absolutely the glue.”
On nurturing a friendship…
Ma: “We spend a lot of time laughing together. On Sundays, we’ll put on old Motown music and dance together in the living room.”
Pops: “I limp, but I can still dance.”
Ma: “Sometimes we surprise each other with gifts just because, not for a particular occasion. All of my nicest clothes are items he surprised me with. And when I go to the store, I seldom come back home without something small for him.”
Pops: “Yesterday, she bought me a banana split, because we had enjoyed one last week while we were away for our anniversary.”
Ma: “It’s the little things that mean a lot. We know each other’s likes. I take care of him. He takes care of me.”
Pops: “We’re very silly. Gail, what’s that last bad joke I told you?” [And Ma is laughing before he even retells it.]
Ma: “People often say ‘marriage is hard work,’ but I’ve found it to be pretty easy, because we’re such good friends. Sometimes we’re just like two teenaged kids away at summer camp, up late talking and laughing. We have inside jokes and hand and eye signals. We can talk to each other about everything, and we can have a whole conversation without actually saying a word. And when times have gotten tough, we’ve cried together.”
Pops: “I never cry, I’m too tough.”
Ma: “Yeah right. We hug and cry together.”
Pops: “I don’t hug.”
Ma: “I still kind of have a crush on him. He pretends to be annoyed, but he really loves it.”
On getting past disagreements…
Pops: “We don’t argue much, except over directions and the remote control. And even in those rare times when we disagree, I typically come to Gail and ask her, ‘Will you be my girlfriend again? Wanna go steady?'”
Ma: “It’s true, we don’t argue much. But one thing I can say about Roger is that he always apologizes, no matter what the disagreement is.”
On gender roles…
Pops: “In my marriage, I wear the pants — very short pants!” [Side note that this is one of Pops’ classic one-liners].
Ma: “For the most part, though we were both working professionals [they started a law firm together], we maintained typical gender roles at home. I do most of the cooking and cleaning, while Pops takes care of the yard. I’ve never taken the trash out, he puts gas in my car, and always drives. He was the disciplinarian and focused on athletics with the boys, while I focused more on their academics. But at the same time, Roger changed just as many diapers as I did. Falling into our different roles has always just flowed naturally.
On working together…
Ma: “People would always ask us how we could spend all day working together and then go home and be around each other all the time. But we loved it. It was amazing to have a business partner that I trusted totally, and each of our individual successes went into one shared pot.”
Pops: “That’s right. Sometimes we’d stay up until 3 a.m. discussing cases, and it was great to have that kind of partnership.”
On raising children…
Pops: “When you’re raising kids, you have to be a team. You need to be a united front, because kids can easily separate you. But kids–and now our grandkids–are also part of the glue that keeps us together. A day doesn’t go by where we don’t talk about all of you.”
Ma: “Pops and I love spending time together, and we focused on spending time with the kids too. Friday nights were “family nights,” and the kids had to stay in, but they could eat all the junk food they wanted, and we’d play games together. Was it usually parents against the kids?”
Pops: “Yeah, us against them, because we didn’t like them.”
On the benefits of 38 years of marriage…
Pops: “Someone once asked me if marriage was restrictive? To me, marriage is far more freeing, because you should have trust and the security of a lifelong commitment. It also helps to really like hanging with each other.”
Ma: “We’ve spent many more years married than anything else in life. Seeing our legacy in our kids and grandkids is amazing. And we get to enjoy it all together. We don’t have separate memories. Our memories — big and small — are all together. We’re one.”