My father has always been a quiet, introspective man. Though he says little, the things he says say a lot. His presence around the words he chooses to speak say even more.
However, my father is a lot more than just quiet and introspective. Heís generous. Heís kind. Heís hardworking and heís curious about the world. Ever a reader, my father, for as long as I can remember, spends his evenings after family dinner times in his study reading everything from†The New York Times†to†Sky and Telescope†to the latest psychiatry journal.
His curiosity about the world radiates inward to his relationships with us, his family, in how deeply he listens when a story is being told at the kitchen table or while preparing dinner. It seems to mediate the ever-flowing, fiery energy of my mother, who moves through her day expressing emotion and thought as easily as she breathes.
Their separate ways of being in the world seem to balance one another, just as much as they sometimes create strain. At this point, it seems like their marriage has lasted long enough (31 years) that itís an institution of sorts and that nothing can ever break it, no matter how loud their fight is or how many times theyíve had this same fight before.
In a few months, Iíll be walking down the aisle and saying "yes" to a man I love with all my heart. While any lifelong commitment is liable to make anyone nervous, I feel rather calm about the whole thing (marriage, not wedding planningówhich is not really my cup of tea). Iíve seen my father go through the worst with my mother and come out stronger on the other side. At this point, Iíve internalized the "If they can get through it, weíll be able to manage" mindset.
Real love has never been about "just sticking it out." Real love is some combination of quiet introspection on oneself, tenderness toward those one holds dear, patience and perseverance, small sacrifices to someone elseís happiness and the ability to listen for what the other person is really trying to say.
Reflecting on both the length of his fatherhood and my impending marriage, here are a few things Iíve learned about love from my father.
Love is patient.†My father is an incredibly patient man. Heís taught me the importance of being patient through life circumstances and relationships. His patience has communicated to me that everything turns out the way itís supposed to in due time. Even more simply, his patience has radiated through his ability to patiently listen to us (both his kids and his wife) and then respond with a well-crafted, perfectly-timed response that respects both what we want to hear and what we need to hear in any situation.
Love is kind.†My father is one of the kindest people Iíve ever met. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times Iíve heard him say anything remotely mean. Because heís so intuitive, he seems to know exactly when to say something and when he shouldnít. Honestly, the most touching thing about my fatherís kindness is how tender he is with my mother. Heís not a flowery romantic, but he can write a perfect card full of tender, meaningful romance and knows exactly when to give my mother a protective hug.
Love protects.†There is something heartening about going out into the world knowing you have a safe place to come back to. Itís also great being able to come back and know that your parents are safe haven for classified information. I always enjoyed the times I spent nestled in my fatherís lap or in the chair in his office. His quiet, non-judgmental way of listening made me feel safe and protected, always.
“There is something heartening about going out into the world knowing you have a safe place to come back to.”
Love is not boastful.†My father was never one to boast about his achievements or accomplishments. Whether it was about some accolade he got at work or about being right in an argument, my father taught me humility and the importance of recognizing oneís own achievements without having to be arrogant about them out in the world.
Love perseveres.†My father is one of the hardest working men I know. Whether itís in his career, with his family or with his marriage, heís always willing to put in the extra work to get through whatever the times ask him to do. Iíve seen him and my mother climb out of really dark places together in their marriage, proving that if you put enough energy into something you can get through pretty much anything life throws at you.
I feel blessed to have had him as a role model in my lifeófor marriage, for my relationship with my partner, and for how to carry myself with dignity and grace throughout my life.
My fatherís steadiness, humility, perseverance and kindness have proven to be a pinnacle of real, lasting love, and it is with those guiding principles that I approach my impending marriage with a man who, blessedly, holds many of those same qualities.
Anastasia Strgar is the Media Relations Manager at Good Clean Love, the organic intimacy products company founded by her mother, Wendy Strgar. As the oldest of four, she considers herself blessed to have grown up in a family that taught her so much about love and commitment. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's in Journalism and a Master's in Education. She currently writes on the†Good Clean Love blog†and on†Slutty Girl Problems as Sex Tips With A. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her fiance, being with her family and reading as much as she can.