What Does a Ham Have to Do With Marriage?

At the beginning of every year, we look at things we can do to make the new year better. But when it comes to marriage, what you do now will not only effect the new year, but generations to come.

There’s a story about a young wife who always cut off the end of the ham before she baked it. When her husband asked why she did this, she responded, “I don’t know. My mom always did it.” This made the husband curious, so he went to his mother-in-law and asked her why she cut off the end of a ham before baking it. His mother-in-law replied, “I don’t know. It’s something my mother always did when baking a ham.” The mystery went unresolved for some time, until one day the young couple were visiting the wife’s grandmother. The husband asked the grandmother why she cut off the end of the ham before baking it, and the grandmother’s reply ended the mystery. She said, “I had to cut off the end of the ham because I never had a pan big enough to hold the whole thing!”

This funny little story carries a serious truth. What we do in marriage…good or bad, big or small…will be handed down to our children and our grandchildren. It’s inescapable. You can act like it won’t happen, but it will. Your marriage will have a positive or a negative impact on both your kids’ marriages and their kids’ marriages.

But before you start having horrific visions of your children in therapists’ offices or police line-ups, take a deep, calming breath and let me try to ease your fears.

It is normal and natural for your kids to pick up things from you; both good and bad. You can’t live with people year after year without rubbing off on them in some way. You may not want to hear this, but we all become our parents in some way, and the same will be true of our kids.

If that didn’t bring you much comfort, hopefully this will. There is something you can do to improve your future impact on your kids and the generations that follow. It’s a simple thing, but if done consistently it will maximize the good impact and minimize the bad impact. Here it is…

In the midst of every situation and interaction, ask yourself this question: “How do I want them to tell this story when I’m gone?” This simple little question can radically change not only your impact, but your legacy.

Remember, your current reactions and interactions will become the stories people will tell about you after your gone. Asking how you want the story to be told after your gone causes you to be more thoughtful and intentional in your interactions.

What does all of this have to do with marriage? Your kids have only one example of how marriage should work…yours! That means, like it or not, they will eventually incorporate what they see in your marriage into their own marriage. This will then get handed down to their kids, and this will continue through the generations.

So when your kids tell stories about your marriage, what stories do you want them to tell? If that thought makes you shudder, it might be time to start writing better stories.

Think about what you learned about marriage from watching your parents. What parts were helpful? What parts were not so helpful? What do you think your kids are learning about marriage from your marriage? (Be brutally honest!) What’s one thing you need to change to leave your kids with a better story?

Copyright © 2017 Bret Legg

2 thoughts on “What Does a Ham Have to Do With Marriage?”

  1. I have been giving this a lot of thought since I read it. My parents’ marriages were not the best examples with a history of giving up and not going the distance. With the exception of one sister, my other siblings and I have had at least one failed marriage. I am now in a normal marriage with kids. There are so many things I want our children to see in our marriage. I really think the biggest thing I want to them to see is a normal marriage. A marriage with ups and downs and still full of love. Persistence and an unwillingness to give up.

    • “A normal marriage with ups and downs yet still full of love, persistence, and an unwillingness to give up.” I think this is an excellent target to shoot for and an excellent legacy to leave. This is exactly why I titled my blog “Normal Marriage.” May we all have such a marriage.


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