President Bill Clinton’s receiving Father of the Year award has raised some eyebrows. We all probably have different views of the propriety of the award.
Still, we can use it as a spark to discuss what we can learn from our parents. Sometimes we learn what to do along with what not to do.
I am fortunate to have two phenomenal parents. What I say below surely reflects my own experience, as much as it conveys wisdom and insight from Jewish tradition.
1. Affirm: Use language that honors and encourages. Our job is not change our spouse but love.
2. Admire: This maysound strange, since we usually admire a person older or more famous. But you can admire your spouse for what makes him or her unique or successful.
3. Share: Do stuff you love–movies, plays, walks in the park–together. It’s not what we accumulate that brings happiness. It’s the experience we remember.
4. Model a healthy relationship for kids: We teach by what we do, not just what we say. Show commitment through behavior.
5. Apologize when you do something wrong: Pride doesn’t win in marriage.
6. Realize that you can be right and still be wrong: Put differently, you can win an argument and still hurt the relationship.
7. Present a united front: Never undermine one another in front of your children. Disagree in private.
8. Remember what brought you together: The grind of daily life can make us forget the sparks of love. Recall and recount them.
9. Take time for each kid and for one another: If you have several children, make sure each one gets alone time with each parent.
10. Support and serve one another in everything you do: I often tell couples I marry that “the little things are the big things.” Successful relationships are not made in one day. They are sustained by the little actions–the phone calls, the kind words, the cup of coffee made without asking–that show much we care for one another.
By Evan Moffic