14 In Women Now

It’s Wedding Season: Sharing Marriage Advice from Mom and Dad

Wedding preparations on BrendaKinsel.com

These shoes will walk down the aisle on Saturday


On July 1st, Mom and Dad would have been married 66 years. They nearly got to 64 years before Mother’s life was suddenly cut short by an unfortunate fall.

Other clients of mine will be celebrating their anniversary on July 1st as well.

And now, this July 1st, I’ll be attending a wedding of another client. It’s been a joy getting her dressed in white and accessorized with a sparkly belt at the waist of her glamorous gown, hair clips for her undo and great shoes that say wedding, wedding, wedding! We just had the final fitting on Monday. She’s going to look breathtaking!

We’ve also been getting more family members ready for the wedding: her husband-to-be, her brother, mother, and aunt. Russ and I will be taking the photographs on Saturday.

Want another fun fact? Her grandma and grandpa’s wedding anniversary is July 1st, too! (Are you going to leave me a comment and tell me that’s your anniversary as well?)

My client’s great grandmother came from the same small corner of North Dakota as my parents did. She was from Litchville, North Dakota which is the nearest town to Hastings, a town of 75 people. Mom and Dad lived about a quarter mile from each other.


Wedding gown on BrendaKinsel.com

Mother on her wedding day, July 1, 1951


Dad was 6-1/2 years older than Mom. They first noticed each other in the train station when Dad was in his Navy uniform heading off to serve in the Korean War. He was waiting for his train to come as Mom and her friend were horsing around at the station. When he got out of the service four years later, they started dating (and horsing around!). They were married on July 1st, 1951. Mother was just shy of being 20-years-old. A year later, they’d have twins; me and Brent with two more boys coming after that.

We threw a party for them on their 50th wedding anniversary and when their 60th was in sight, we started making plans for another one. I designed the invitations. The whole family pitched in to plan the food and decorations. That party was held at Mom and Dad’s lake home.

I wanted the guests to go home with something that would make them think of Mom and Dad and their love for each other.

I decided I’d interview the two of them about marriage. I’d edit the interview, then type it up and print it on pretty paper, roll it up and tie a ribbon around each one. Their shared words would be in baskets so we could hand them out to the guests at the end of the party.


Mom and Dad conversing on BrendaKinsel.com

Mom and Dad’s blue recliners, where lots of conversations happened.


Interviewing my parents on the subject of love and longevity in marriage

I met them in the living room as they took their places in their blue recliners, Dad on the left, Mom on the right, coffee cups in hand. I sat on the floor in front of them with my notebook and pen and interviewed my parents. Here’s how it went: Don and Alma on 60 years of marriage, July 2011.

What qualities are necessary to be married 60 years?

Don: Have a positive attitude. Humor goes along with that.

Alma: We had the ability to laugh at ourselves.

Don: Take a day at a time. If you have a down day, wait 48 hours. The sun will shine again.

Why did you marry Don?

I just knew he’d make these real cute babies.

Why did you marry Alma?

She had a wonderful smile, a wonderful disposition and was fun to be with. I was looking forward to a mate and togetherness.

Why it works

Alma: We’re each other’s best friends. We can trust each other and bare our souls.

Don: And have an honest discussion.

Alma: There’s always someone there to help you whether it’s physical or emotional.

Don and Alma: We’ve been lucky and we’ve been blessed. We’ve had lots of good friends all our life and good family to back us up.

Don: We’re always concerned about each other.

Alma: We worry about each other. That’s the sad part that happens now and then.

Best tools for getting through tough times

Don: Communication.

Alma: We’re more optimists than pessimists. If one gets down, the other one pulls us up.

Don appreciates Alma for …

She finds the clothes for me to wear so I depend on that and her cleanliness in our home.

Alma appreciates Don for …

I’m real content going with him in a car because I think he’s a very good driver.


Don and Alma: We always have something to talk about. We love staying up until one in the morning with the lights out and music on and just visiting. When we reminisce, it’s about the good things, not the bad. We omit the bad things that have happened and remember the good times.


Alma: I thought after two weeks of marriage we wouldn’t have anything to talk about.

Don: That’s a good one! That is absolutely precious!

Their advice to others

Don: Enjoy life!

Alma: We’re thankful for every day and look forward to many more. We’ll never get enough.


Reitens on 60th

Mom and Dad on their 60th wedding anniversary


And soon, another marriage on July 1st

I’ll be sharing Mom and Dad’s advice with my clients and wishing them the same devotion my parents had for each other. I’m totally confident that they’re going to have a similar lasting love. When I pull out one of Mother’s handkerchieves on Saturday to wipe away tears of joy, I’ll be thinking about my parents who nailed this thing called marriage.

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  • Reply
    June 28, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    My parents didn’t have nearly as long together as yours did, but all the advice and sentiments are similar and what I looked for in a relationship. I’m glad we both had wonderful loving and compassionate role models! Happy anniversary Don and Alma!

    xo ~ Mare

    • Reply
      July 3, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      I was sitting with the bride to be as she was getting her hair and makeup done. I shared Mom and Dad’s advice with her and her sister-in-law and then ended up sharing more stories about my parents. There were tears shed by everyone including the makeup artist! But it was wonderful telling those stories on July 1st especially with the bride getting married on July 1st. I’m glad we had good role models too, Mare!

  • Reply
    June 29, 2017 at 5:43 am

    I’m going to show this to my husband, because it’s just so lovely and what we aspire to.

    • Reply
      July 3, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      That makes my heart sing!

  • Reply
    Bess Nathan Rice
    June 29, 2017 at 8:56 am

    So beautiful BK! Thank you for sharing that wonderful advice. I love that they stayed up with the lights out, and music on just visiting with each other! They were like teenagers in love!
    By the way, those wedding shoes are stunning!

    • Reply
      July 3, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      They really were teenagers in love. SO TRUE!!!

  • Reply
    Katherine Cramer
    June 29, 2017 at 10:20 am

    What a loving tribute to your parents and all married folks! Being together with someone really helps smooth the Life Path rough spots. Here’s some advice I received from a Santa Clara University Counselor Couple during a weekend prep course for getting married (over 25 years ago).
    “It’s the differences that cement a relationship.”
    I have pondered that wisdom for years and have discovered truth in the sentiment.

  • Reply
    cindy hattersley
    June 29, 2017 at 10:38 am

    What a touching post and wonderful tribute to your parents. I hope you post pictures of the wedding you are spearheading! Have a great weekend!

  • Reply
    elena daciuk
    June 29, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    so so beautiful! your parents remind me a lot of my own sweet mamacita & papacito…they just celebrated 57 years together…on june 19th…the one beautiful thing that always strikes me…and makes me smile…is when i go to visit them…i have the key to their home…so i just let myself in…and as i walk through the living room, then dining room…to get to the kitchen…where they realize i am there…that walk…every time…all i hear is them talking to each other…laughing with one another…it is the most amazing thing to witness…that after 57 years…they truly love spending time together…even in the little things…oh that all could have an incredible love story like that…

  • Reply
    June 29, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Love those shoes!!! Great pair to wear as you begin a new adventure! Weddings and christening hold such promise and possibility! Good luck to your client on her special day.
    True love is rare and very beautiful. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your parents.

  • Reply
    Marsha Galloway
    June 30, 2017 at 11:28 am

    And nail it they did. So good of you to post those words of wisdom for the rest of us to aspire to. They were the sweetest couple ever! And you know what, you look just like your beautiful mom in that photo of her. What a gorgeous lady!

    • Reply
      July 3, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      I love hearing from you and listening to your memory of her. It warms my heart so much. And yes, their partnership would be nearly impossible to emulate but we can all give it our best! Love you, Marsha!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

    OMG! I just saw this. It’s so, so sweet!

    How fortunate you were to be born to and raised by these two people.

    Thank you for sharing. And yes, those shoes are killer!

    • Reply
      July 17, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      So glad you enjoyed that! Yes, I am truly blessed.

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