That’s what my son said as his father was bidding me good-bye before he was leaving for a late night meeting, last week.
Nino and I haven’t exactly been seeing eye to eye lately. But I have been trying really hard to understand him. As part of that night’s routine kiss good-bye, I also closed my eyes and rested my forehead upon his. With a deep breath and that 5 second pause, I let Nino know that I love him even if I haven’t been so happy lately.
I know all my relationships ebb and flow.
This is something I have learned throughout my 20 year relationship with Nino.
I also know that neither of us are perfect.
But I didn’t marry Nino thinking he was perfect. I married him knowing he loved all of me and that despite his flaws, I loved him too.
When I asked Miguel what he meant (after his father left) by his statement, he explained it to me this way.
“Mom, there are a lot of my friends who don’t live in loving homes. Their parents fight. Some of their parents don’t even live together. Some of my friends don’t even have a dad anymore because he passed away. Or a mom. But I’m so lucky, because I see what love is with you and Dad. I know that the two of you love each other. And that’s a gift…because I have parents who really love each other and aren’t afraid to show it every day.”
There are many things Nino and I like to do to nurture our relationship, but one thing that is important is in this endeavor is to go out together without the kids.
We make it a point to have time alone, at least once a week.
Recently, we were taking a drive up to Tagaytay to have brunch at one of our favorite places, and we got to talking about how our relationship sets the standard for our kids. We are the first and most influential people in their lives, after all.
FLASHBACK: When we first moved here, we attended a seminar to enrich our relationship. I must admit, I wasn’t gung ho to attend at first, because I had the preconceived notion that couples with really heavy problems usually attend these types of retreats. Thankfully, after attending the Marriage Encounter Weekend Seminar, (aka MEWS by All For Jesus) I realized that anyone who would like to continue to be reminded why they got married in the first place, might benefit from such a thought provoking weekend.
The MEWS weekend devoid of kids, phones, tv, and anything else that may provide distraction when trying to connect with your partner. It was quite refreshing to put everything else aside and just focus on each other.
If Coach Pia says, we have to remove the distractions in our lives to understand our CORE, then removing the distractions from the most important relationship I will have in my adult life, makes sense, too. I just didn’t know it back then!
This is what we also like to do when we go out on our mini dates. We shift the focus to each other. That doesn’t mean we don’t talk about work, or the kids, or all of our other responsibilities. In fact, most of the time, we actually do. But we can do all this catching up and focusing on each other without interruption and that is key to maintaining the connection and the intimacy a husband and wife need to survive marriage.
So, during our last drive up to Tagatay, I started asking Nino a bunch of questions as to what he thought was important for our children to see exemplified in our relationship. If our relationship is the barometer or our children’s future relationships with their own partners, then it is our responsibility to be the best example we can be, RIGHT?
I want my children to find partners who love and respect them for who they are. I want my children to find partners who are nurturing and trustworthy. I want my children to partner with someone who knows that having children is both a blessing and a responsibility, but that that responsibility comes with the first promise they make to each other in marriage…to be committed….
So if I want my kids to know and value all of these things in a relationship, Nino and I should model these same characteristics and traits…
During our conversation, I was taking notes on my phone.
Here are the five important characteristics that we know we want our kids to see in our relationship:
- We want our kids to see us disagree. There is no marriage out there where spouses agree on everything ALL the time. I want my kids to see that Nino and I can agree to disagree. We don’t have to have the same viewpoints on politics or current events. What is important here, is that I want my kids to see that even if Nino and I disagree or argue, we do it with respect. In other words, it’s not a knock down drag out fight to the end. We are on the same team. Even if we do fight, I want my kids to see that our words are spoken with respect, even when we disagree…
- We want our kids to see us make up. Ok…so if we agree that every marriage will have disagreements, or fights, or times when we don’t subscribe to the same ideals, we want them to see that after the disagreement or fight that we can forgive. Forgiving someone after they have hurt you, or after they made a mistake is Godly. If Jesus can forgive. So can I.
- We want our kids to see that we make time for each other. This is why our dates are so important. When Nino and I go out for dates in the evening, I try to dress up every now and then. I fix myself up. I dress up for myself because it makes me feel good. If you look good, then you feel good. It’s not a production all the time, but once in awhile, I enjoy making the every day just a little more special. When our kids see that we are investing time in our relationship, they see and understand the commitment that Nino and I made to each other. They see this in a real and concrete way, because we go out of our way to just be together.
- We want our kids to see us KISS. I am a very affectionate person. It’s important to me. Even when Nino and I first met, I know that was one of the characteristics that struck a chord in him when we dating. In our love letters, he referred to me as cariñosa. Words of affirmation are also my love language, but I feel Nino’s love for me even more when he holds my hand, brushes the hair from my face, or rubs my back. Of course, I love to kiss my husband. Small kisses, long kisses, and slow kisses… The last of these kisses is most probably not in front of my kids, but in the case that they do see this act of love, they see it and understand that physical affection is a healthy aspect of their parents’ relationship.
- We want our kids to see us LAUGH. Ahhh…this was something, I wanted to convince Nino of when we were younger and just starting out. He was so serious while he was courting me. I told him we should be friends before we were lovers. I asked for him to be my friend. I told him that I wanted to get to know him and for him to be my friend before we could move forward into a serious relationship. When we met, we both knew that we were looking for “the one,” that it was time “that time” to find our life partner. But initially, Nino’s seriousness and steadfastness….had me questioning myself a bit. He didn’t smile. He made it clear that it was his intention to marry me and that had me a bit worried. How could I marry someone whom I couldn’t have a good time with? It took him months to crack a joke and for us to belly laugh together. I think we were able to truly laugh together, when he knew I had made the commitment to him…that was when I said YES.
So if I take what my fourteen year old son said to heart, when his dad was leaving the house, I think that we may be doing it right. I think he may actually see what Nino and I have nurtured in our relationship as husband and wife all these years. We showed him these 5 things without even trying that hard. I would dare say, that we are doing something right by our kids because we love each other the way we do.