I’ve learned a lot about marriage by fishing. As I watched my two elementary-age daughters fishing in our neighborhood pond yesterday, it reminded me of how my dad passed on his love of fishing to me at an early age, just as his father had passed it on to him. We hand important skills down from generation to generation: how to carry a rod properly, baiting a hook, casting in the right spot, and the pinnacle of all childhood fishing skills—handling the fish and taking it off the hook. (And if you’re in my family, the tradition is to kiss your first fish!)

I proudly watched as my 8-year-old carefully removed her (fourth or fifth) bluegill from her lure. I also watched my 11-year-old practice casting with a fly rod (a much different art than with a traditional rod and reel). Proud daddy moments, for sure.

We also pass marriage skills on to our kids through our example. Children watch their parents carefully. They quickly catch on to how we handle our relationship with our spouse: how we manage disagreements or stress, how we show love and respect, and the way we share family tasks.

Marriage skills aren’t as much taught as they are caught by our children (please pardon the fishing pun). And kids catch both the good and the bad.

I’m proud to say I’ve inherited (and still use) some old rods and reels from both my grandfather and my father. And I plan to pass them on to my daughters and their children. But more importantly, I hope they will inherit from me good relationship skills they can use to strengthen their own future marriages.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.*** 

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