June 26, 2021
It’s only fitting that my first blog post be about the marriage that inspired it all: my parents’.
They both grew up in the Guangdong Province of China in the 1950s, during a time when people were separated from their families to work in the fields with no option to continue school. It seems cliché that the story progresses to them meeting while they’re away, but that’s just not how it goes.
After spending two years away from home, they finally reunited with their families. During that time, there were no colleges to attend until years later, which was discouraging since they were both stellar in their studies. They restarted their lives by working: my mom in a toy factory, my dad in a petroleum factory.
My mom had gone on a few dates, one which I vividly remember her telling me about. Her date took her to a park for a picnic and played the violin for her. “I was sooo bored,” she recalled.
My dad had many admirers, as most women and friends alike were drawn by his kind nature and humor. “This woman was nice… she fancied me,” he would say proudly as he pointed out a few friends from a photo album with yellowed pages.
Their lives converged through an introduction by mutual friends. Back in the day, that was the most common way to meet. With no internet, cell phones, or any technology for that matter, I curiously asked how they kept in touch since they didn’t live close by.
They mailed each other handwritten letters and went on dates every TWO months. That’s really hard to fathom in a now technologically-advanced society. I recall the slow progression and transformation of technology. As a child, we had Windows 98, AOL dial-up, and that pinball machine game that only select versions of Microsoft had.
Fast forward to 1988, they got married with a small ceremony and decent-sized reception. In China, the reception was a bigger deal than the ceremony. Soon after, my mom came to America to pave the way for a better life.
In 1990, my dad joined my mom a month after she gave birth to my brother. With a few hundred dollars in his luggage, he went to work in a restaurant across the street from their apartment two days after arriving. My dad was a very family-oriented, hardworking man that loved my mom and us very much.
The majority of their marriage was rooted in responsibility and family, which oftentimes took away from opportunities for them to connect deeply to one another, thus created barriers that prevented one to love the other well. There were many, many valleys, and we became their source of joy.
I wish I have a better ending to their story, but as previously mentioned, marriage is not just butterflies and sunny days. It’s what couples do during those storms that truly reveal where their heart is and what their marriage is rooted in.
From my parents’ marriage, I learned not only how important communication is, but listening, empathizing, and making sacrifices are also pertinent to loving my spouse well.