What I learnt from my grandparent’s marriage

My grandparents have had an incredible impact on me, and I was very fortunate to have 23 years with all four of them and I still have three with me who continue to impact the way I look at life. They have a ‘make do and mend’ outlook on life and I love it! It’s not all about the fancy clothes and flash holidays, it’s making the most of every situation and holding your loved ones closer in the tough times.

After losing my nan last year, I experienced a whole new depth of sadness that I never really felt before, but it also allowed me to become closer to my family, both immediate and extended and most importantly my relationship with my grandad has grown stronger. He has opened up to me with conversations that we never really had before. A few weeks ago he started reflecting back on his marriage and life with my nan and he had some really profound moments that I wanted to share with you.

Fred says:

Marry your best friend.

As chiche as it sounds, marry your best friend.

From the day you say I do to 60+ years later you want to still able to laugh together and laughter is what makes life great right!?

Express your love through food.

My Nan was known in our family for her cooking/baking, Nan and Granddad used to grow vegetables in their garden, particularly runner beans that they would pick together and cook. She had signature meals that we all came to expect – and took for granted – that were always so good! But they would both be involved in the cooking process, be it Granddad helping her with mashing potatoes or lending a hand with mixing cake batter.

Any family gathering always involved food, lots of food, so much food you would always go home with a goody bag for a late-night snack or lunch the next day!

Some of their signature meals were mash potatoes, it was something truly special. Sausage and chips in newspaper, this was a sat round the fire bonfire night tradition. Twice bake jacket potatoes with cheese, coleslaw, homemade chips, ginger biscuits, scones, cake…. one second, just popping to the kitchen for a snack…

Choose to love and never forget to remind each other how much you love them.

Life has a way of knocking you down and taking away your happiness but reminding someone you love them can make you both feel better, even if just for a little while. The days when your partner seems most helpless, lost, angry or confused are the days when they need love the most, even in just a small way.

Little gesture can be mean everything.

One evening for dinner, while peeling potatoes my Grandad came a across one that was a heart shape and instead of peeling it, he saved it for her, left it on the side with a note.  It’s such a simple gesture, but one that’s so sweet and left an impact on me after a number of years. She was so important to him, as he was to her, that throughout their 60+ years of marriage, their love and commitment shone through in quiet and subtle ways every day. It’s through the little, everyday things we do that we show someone else how important they are to us.

You’re a team.

In their younger days when they would alternate from night shifts and looking after their children to looking after us grandchildren later in life, they worked together to make it work. Granddad has said many times that they were such a good team and they used that team work to help others. They have always looked out for people around them, whether it’s a relative, friend, or neighbour. They would help anyone who needed it in big and small ways. Granddad would help with plumbing and home DIY, Nan would change bedding and do washing loads or cook meals. Whatever they could do.

So in the words of my Granddad Fred, choose to love and show that love in whatever way you can, eat good food and don’t hang up the phone until you’ve told the other person how much you love them!