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What is it like to be raised by parents who are in love?
It is an enormous gift and one for which I’m enormously grateful. I don’t take it for granted and am aware that many of my friends are not so privileged.
I’m constantly reminded that many things that come relatively naturally to me don’t come so easily to others.
My parents have always been very secure in each other’s love, and never shown jealousy. Consequently, I’ve never been a jealous person, and I find it a rather foreign emotion. This is a positive thing in my own relationship, and I feel very secure in my husband’s love. It can be a negative thing sometimes in trying to help others deal with their relationship issues because I can lack empathy; I don’t fully understand jealousy and insecurity, other than at a cognitive level.
My parents never argued. They disagreed — bickered, if you like — over logistical issues or trivial things, but always respectfully, and I was never aware of them having real clashes of values, or disagreeing over very significant issues. This was a positive thing in that they modeled only respectful communication, and it was definitely imprinted on me that I deserve to be treated with respect; I would never accept being treated by my husband with anything less than the utmost respect at any time. Great lesson! But there is a moderate downside in that I never learned how to tackle really tough issues — never having seen any play out — and I’ve discovered that I’m very conflict-averse and suck at communicating on really tough issues. I’m working on it (and there are far worse problems to have).
Compared to what I hear from my friends, our extended family gatherings are extraordinarily low-drama; we just don’t do drama. All the in-laws genuinely love visiting my parents’ home. If there’s an issue, we get it out there, we deal with it, we move on. We don’t gossip behind closed doors, we don’t have elephants in the room, we don’t leave people out. We have a laugh, we pour another drink, and we get on with having fun. Life’s way too short for drama.
They show us what it is to be loved and respected, and enable us to go out in the world and show love and respect to others.
And virtually no topics are off-limits. Other people seem to have these large “no-go areas” — landmines in their midst that just don’t get discussed, whether they’re politics, religion, sex, extended family, or whatever — that differ by family. In my family, pretty much nothing is sacred or off-limits. We tease each other relentlessly, but good-naturedly. We have a really robust sense of humor and we revel in it. Family get-togethers are enormous fun, with lots and lots of laughter, a few drinks, a bit of ribald humor, usually a bit of over-sharing, and more laughter. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company. My parents have created an atmosphere where everybody genuinely cares about each other, and that’s the primary issue. Everything else is secondary. Everybody feels loved and included.
My parents’ love is the base that embraces everybody who comes into their home. It’s the security blanket that envelops us all, and makes us all — their kids, kids-in-law, grandkids, and all our friends — feel safe and loved in their presence. They show us what it is to be loved and respected, and enable us to go out in the world and show love and respect to others. It is an invaluable gift.
My parents were given this gift by my paternal grandparents, who were married for 71 years before passing away in the early 2010s both aged 94, only 8 months apart. My mother’s parents didn’t have quite the same dynamic, but my Mom married when she was only 19, and my Dad’s parents really influenced them enormously. Now they’re influencing my husband and me, and I hope we can pass on their wonderful culture of a loving family unit to our own sons and their future partners.
Right now, my parents are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary cruising Southeast Asia. Happy Anniversary, Mum and Dad. Thank you for the gift of your incredible love.
Tracey Bryan’s writing has been published in the Huffington Post. Read more from Quora below:
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