ONE OF THE SECRETS FOR A GREAT MARRIAGE
The Best Gift I Ever Received
By Bob Burg
Somewhere before I've heard the saying, "The best gift parents
give to their children is to love each other." I've had the
witnessing the truth of this statement for over 40 years. From as
as I can remember my Mom and Dad were a team. A great partnership.
were more than just a partnership. It was as if they were one
could drive us kids crazy sometimes, because they were always
"against us." (Okay, so it just seemed like that.)
They were really just together in their love "for us", making
brood understood the difference between right and wrong and
foundational principles of honesty, trustworthiness, and respect.)
they argued (although, not that much), but there was never any
doubt in our
minds that any disagreements would be worked through and resolved.
my friends, unfortunately, didn't feel that same sense of security
their folks argued.
Mom and Dad began their married life poor, but they worked hard
the years, built a very successful business. They each had their
and weaknesses, but the way they worked together, you never saw
weaknesses, just the strengths. Dad was the outgoing, more public
with whom people met and right away fell in love. Everyone knew
when they got to meet Mom, they felt the exact same way about her
Mom, although not at all shy, was more comfortable being the person
the scenes. More detail oriented, she ran the books and, according
was the one who "really made the business work."
I remember one night at dinner asking Dad how much money he
every teenager want to know!) Dad simply replied, "I don't know,
handles all that." I looked at Mom and asked, "Is that true? Dad
doesn't know how much money he makes?" She replied, "Yes, he never
known, and he never asks." All three of us kids looked at Dad for
explanation. His approach was a simple one. "If we want to buy
and Mama says we can afford it, we can afford it."
For my mom and dad, marriage was never a 50/50 arrangement. It
- each totally devoted to the happiness of the other. And, because
they each received even more joy than they gave. Dad once told me
"true love is when you actually care more about the other person -
that person more - than you do yourself."
One of my greatest lessons from Mom was the time I told her, as
a boy in my
mid-teens, that even after I got married one day, she'd always be
favorite girl. Immediately - in a kind but definitely serious
manner - she
said, "No I won't be. When you get married your wife will be the
important person in your life, and that includes Daddy and me." The
lesson about love and marriage that my mom and dad taught us kids
how to talk "about" your spouse. Have you ever heard husbands and
when speaking to others, make unkind remarks about their spouses?
of those things people just seem to do. Sure, they're "only
maybe they are not. But words matter. And words teach, whether
You would never hear such a thing from my mom and dad. Dad
always speaks of
Mom in the most complimentary, glowing terms. As does she of him.
lesson made such an impression on me, I still remember when I was
twelve and we were getting carpet installed in our home. The crew
one of those stereotypical beer guzzling, hard-living guys, who
probably belonged to Ralph Kramden's Raccoon Lodge from the
Honeymooner's TV show. For lunch, my folks bought pizza for the
went to talk with the boss about the job. I was around the
The boss said, "This is an expensive job. Women will really
money, won't they?" Dad responded, "Well, I'll tell you, when they
right there with you before you had any money, it's a pleasure to
anything for them you possibly can." This wasn't the answer the
installer expected to hear. He was looking for negative banter
which, to him, was natural. He tried again: "But, gee, they'll
off that and spend all they can, won't they?" Dad replied, as I
would, "Hey, when they're the reason you're successful, you want
them to do
the things they enjoy. There's no greater pleasure." Strike two.
boss tried one more time, "And they'll take that as far as they
Dad responded, "She's the best thing that ever happened to me. I'd
anything to make her happy."
I was trying not to laugh. I knew he wanted Dad to give in just
bit and say, "Yeah, I guess that's true." But it wouldn't happen...
a million years! Finally, the installer gave up and went back to
probably shaking his head in bewilderment.
Witnessing my dad in that moment taught me more about loving and
your wife than anything he could ever have told me about the
and Dad are now retired and enjoying their life together, just
reading, and visiting their children and grandchildren. They
celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary. They still hold hands,
are more in love than ever. Throughout the years, whenever Mom
me that I should be looking to get married, I'd say, "Ma, I have
time." She'd jokingly reply that I don't have "that" much time. My
would then look at me in that wisdom-filled, city streets bred way
and say, "Hey, you take all the time you need. If you marry someone
half the woman your mother is, you'll have a great life."
I should only be so lucky.
Author and Speaker Bob Burg publishes the free weekly ezine,
Without Intimidation." To sample go to http://www.burg.com/newsletter.html.
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