My Parents Flirt (by Cynthia Jeub)

Chris and Wendy in 1991

Fighting between spouses baffles me. When I visit my friends, I sometimes see their parents, whom I know love each other and are dedicated to each other, bickering over petty things. One mom explained to me that she doesn’t like fighting with her husband, but that she does it because making up afterward is sweet.

A friend that I’ve known for over ten years recently told me that she couldn’t comment on my parents because she hadn’t really seen much of their relationship with each other. I asked her if she meant that they never fight, and she said yes. “My parents aren’t on their best behavior around you,” I explained. “They really don’t argue.”

Whenever I try to find a reason for this unique dynamic to the way my parents love each other, all I can find is that they are both totally self-sacrificing for one another. In other homes, a miscommunication about the food being eaten or the vehicle being driven will bring tension between a husband and wife. I’m more likely to hear, “I’m sorry, honey, I’ll do it the way you want,” than, “No, you said it this way earlier” in the discourse between my parents.

There are a couple of things to note here. One is that my parents don’t take advantage of each other. The above statement about being self-sacrificing can be used to hurt your spouse if one parent controls the other because of the submission from the first. The second point is that my parents aren’t merely civil with each other. They really like each other, and often play off of each other in clever banter.

Here’s a generalization that I see all too often: married couples don’t flirt. The way I see it, if I love someone deeply and I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with him, we’ll play around, I’ll let him know that I think he’s special. After joking with a friend, I’ll often add, “You know, I think you’re pretty cool. We should be friends.” It’s the same with my parents. They’re married already, but that doesn’t mean that the adventure of getting to know one another is over, much less the enjoyment of each other’s company. They constantly work to make the other person feel special, a habit that never gets monotonous.

My mom tells me this:

Giving in to the other person isn’t always easy. It’s a mutual decision to look for the positive outcome, and choose to avoid unnecessary conflict.

When this simple tip is put into practice, the list of necessary conflict grows incredibly short.

  • James444

    Nice essay, but I think Cynthia is a bit too young to understand the dynamics of an adult relationship. Things are way more complicated than a teenager can understand!

    It’s good she is so proud of her parents, though. But she should remember than adult relationships are out of her experience and dynamic, and not something she can realize analyze comprehensively.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UBFYRNZ3RB4S5AFUKMMMXGCDUQ V

      I don’t know exactly where Cynthia falls in the age range for the Jeubs, but children are often very good judges of the dynamic between their parents.  Even if the parents are tense and trying to hide it, kids can pick up on what’s going on.

      I thought it was very insightful of her, and also very sweet, to comment on her parents’ relationship.  Loving parents are a reassurance to their kids.  Yay for Chris and Wendy, and all the other parents making the good (if sometimes hard) choices to make their marriages work!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472230673 Jennifer Mull

      James, I understand what you are saying, however, as I read what Cynthia wrote, I didn’t take it as “advice” per se to a married couple, but rather as her observation of a good marriage…. which happens to be her parents, so she is up close and personal and seeing this on a daily basis. She is pointing out something good that she sees working in her own parents’ relationship. If you want to take it as advice, it isn’t bad advice to be best friends with your spouse. I don’t think the message was that people shouldn’t disagree or should never argue… I think the message was that couples who work to be friends don’t need to argue as much….

    • mr glasses


      From where do you derive the idea that teenagers are unable to understand the complexities of inter-personal relationships? Please substantiate your assertion. What mode of proof did you base it on? Science? Reason? Experience?

  • James444

    I know, but giving advice to married couples? Telling them to flirt? Implying that conflicts between couples (which are often quite healthy) should not occur?

    What do you think about a teen who gives marital advice? Is she addressing herself to middle-aged couples with three kids? Does she really think she knows enough to give them advice?

    I think she is parroting the words of her parents, whom she obviously admires, but she herself is ill-equipted to give advice on a subject she has no experience in. Her friendships with other teens are  not comparable to an adult marital relationship, and the fact she thinks it is comparable just shows her inexperience.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=727780392 Sonya Lillis

      I think that teens are smarter than we often give them credit for. They see the relationships of the people around them and will often learn from the mistakes of others. Just because she hasn’t been married herself dosen’t mean she can’t have a good idea of what a healthy marriage looks like, and I’m certain she’s seen examples of what an unhealthy marriage looks like.

      Try to think back to when you were young, before you were married and had children. I am sure you had ideas about what you thought marriage, family and other adult things should be like.

      Granted, she dosen’t have enough experience to have advice for every situation but neither do most married couples. :) many of the counclers I’ve known who give advice to patents on a variation of issues haven’t been in the situations themselves…

      We can all learn from other people’s mistakes or good habits. I think that Cynthia has a good head on her shoulders and what ever obstacles are in her life as she grows older she will have a firm foundation to come back to.

      • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

        “I think that teens are smarter than we often give them credit for.”

        Here, here! This is something Wendy and I have learned over the years.

        BTW, Cynthia is 19. Here last year of being a teenager. Maybe next year her advice will be heeded by some?

    • Kurt & Lisa Gish

      To me, flirting means that you show someone you like or love them in a playful way.  I sure think that if there is anyone it would be ok to flirt with, it would be one’s own spouse!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UBFYRNZ3RB4S5AFUKMMMXGCDUQ V

    Wow, I guess I touched a nerve.  I would just say, in my opinion (and everyone is entitled to one of their own), that the author’s age is irrelevant – the advice is sound.  I myself have been married for 15 years, through good times and bad, and I feel she is quite right in thinking that a sense of humor, a willingness to sacrifice for each other, and friendship between spouses are all helpful in making a peaceful, happy, Christ-honoring message.

    Maybe I should have refrained from commenting before.  It just irritates me to see well-spoken (or -written) teens, presenting an opinion in a thoughtful way, and being treated like they have no standing to speak to the issue because of their age.

    My apologies if I’m being too forward.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UBFYRNZ3RB4S5AFUKMMMXGCDUQ V

      I should add:  I think she is free to give advice as she chooses.  In this case, she has spent her whole life in the midst of an example of how to make marriage work well, so I’d say she has plenty of observations to draw on in forming conclusions.

      Teenage friendships are not the same as marriage.  However, many people treat their friends much better than their spouses.  It would be helpful to a marriage if their spouses got the best treatment, I think.

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

      You’re not out of line at all, V. I thought the exact same thing.

      On a technical note: James’ response is an Appeal to Authority. Since Cynthia doesn’t have authority (she’s 19, she’s not married, she’s just parroting her parents, etc.), she must not have anything to say worth listening to. It’s avoiding the substance and replacing it with insult.

      Other examples of substantial thinkers attacked with Appeal to Authority: St. Peter, Socrates, Herman Cain, and Jesus Christ.

      Thanks for sticking up for my daughter! =)

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UBFYRNZ3RB4S5AFUKMMMXGCDUQ V

        You’re welcome, Chris!  Thanks for pointing out the specific fallacy.  I’m co-teaching a logic class for our local co-op group.  The example will come in handy!

        • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

          Cool! Is this a homeschool group? I would like to send you a box of my book, “Jeub’s Guide to Homeschool Speech and Debate” for your class. Email info@monumentpublishing.com with numbers and mailing address.

  • Crystal

    I recently gave birth and my doctor has no children of her own.  I guess she shouldn’t be delivering babies if what some of the commenter’s are saying is true.  Experience can be lived through the lives of others.  I’ve never been divorced, but I knew as a child that I never wanted to go through that because I saw my parents do it.  The Bible says, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech,
    conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who
    believe.” 1Tim 4:12 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=727780392 Sonya Lillis

    i think it’s wonderful. good job Cynthia. good job parents for showing your children what a loving marriage looks like. :) you’ve set a great foundation for her.

    • Ace

      I guess that  “foundation” didn’t work for Alicia.

  • Thesoundbetween

    i would hate to be  a teen of james. to say that a teen is clueless and has no experience or place to give advice is quite sad. if my five year old gives me sound advice i will take it. children are often more in tune with things and less clouded by things that adults are, they  often give wonderful advice and have wonderful insight. they simply see things, that us adults, do not.
    i think cynthia did a really good job with this blog post. She is definitely right, we should try to treat our spouses like we would our friends. good post :)

  • Tammie E.

    I think the article that Cynthia has taken the time to write is splendid ! Not only does she know her parents better than anyone else who would not have the opportunity to live with them, but she has the opportunity to LEARN from them. Most parents today don’t want to, or take the time to spend time with thier children and vise/versa .. but that is totally not what I have ever taken away from knowing the Jeub family. I see a family unit that works together, spends time together and generally enjoys eachothers company. As parents, people do make mistakes and aren’t always right, but it is few and far between that you find a set of parents as decicated, as the Jeubs are to thier family. The life lessons that Cynthia, as well as her siblings have picked up as a result of her parents, are far better than what most children recieve today and I cannot praise that fact enough ! I think any child has a far better realization of a relationship before entering one if the parents set forth good examples. As adults we should all realize this because it is what WE do that will effect our future generations, whether we see it that way or not. I know from my own experiences growing up, with family and in my own marriage that on the opposite token NOT setting a good example to those who do watch you, has the same effect, just in a negative manner. I commend the Jeub’s for being honest and forthcoming parents, who, like us all, have learned as they go and done better each time.

  • jenny

    Being a teenager is a great time to observe people and your parents! 

    Great article!
    p.s.  I hope my daughter can one day write and article like that!

  • BJ

    Wonderful article, Cynthia!  Thank you for giving us insight into such a sweet aspect of your parents’ marriage.  My husband and I flirt, too!  It’s kept things fun for 16 years, and I suspect will make the rest of our lives together much more delightful!

  • James444

    As Christians, we must guard against pride. A youngster giving advice (“When this simple tip is put into practice, the list of necessary
    conflict grows incredibly short.”) to her elders about marriage is prideful.

    Cynthia sees what is on the surface of her parents marriage. She can’t possibly know about their level of intimacy, or personal agreements or disagreements. If she does, that is inappropriate. If Chris or Wendy posted about their marriage, that would be a different story.

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub


      From Appeal to Authority to Ad Hominem. Now you’re calling Cynthia “prideful.” For what? The advice for married couples to flirt?

      James, you’re not thinking right. I wonder, why are you insisting that Cynthia isn’t credible? Do you fight with your spouse? Worse, do you think such fighting is justified because, well, YOU are so much older and experienced?

      Talking about THAT would be thinking right. It would be on topic and, perhaps, productive. You have to stop with the insults, James; they’re unhelpful and logically flawed.

      • Jessie


        Why do you say James is not thinking right ? Is it because he calls Cynthia prideful ? I do not agree that she is being prideful, but if she presumes she knows enough to give advice on marriage when she is only 19, has not been in a relationship and does not I assume the intimate workings of your marriage which she has seen all her life, how is she qualified to give advice  ? Some families have traditions of older children watching homebirths. I do not know if yours does, are they qualified to give advice about that too. ?

        It is like me presuming to give advice to your son or Lydia who have actually shot a deer while I have not because my family is a family of hunters, but I have not actually shot anything. Have I watched people hunt, yes. But have I participated, no. So I am in no way qualified to presume to give advice on hunting.

        Your children have expertise in hunting,gun safety, homeschooling, debating, how it is to grow in a house with lots of siblings, why they don’t date . Their experiences are theirs and it in no way diminishes because of their age. I would gladly take their advice and experiences, especially in hunting as I am very interested in that from a youngsters pov. But marriage and child rearing advice is better and yes, credible. Not from Cynthia on these two topics and she is not credible as she is an observer, not a particpant.

        • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

          You’re incorrect, and you’re missing a key point, Jessie.

          Credibility is important, sure. Credibility builds a case, makes a point more punctual. But that’s not what you (or James) are saying. You’re arguing that because someone hasn’t had personal experience in a matter, they may not offer their opinion.

          Do you realize you nullify every pastor in the world with such a generalization? Every statesman? Every teacher? Nonsense.

          Besides, I’m not so sure Cynthia was actually “giving advice,” rather opining on her observations. And she has plenty of input there.

          • Jessie

            Well Mr Jeub  since Cynthia concludes her article with

            My mom says

            “Giving in to the other person isn’t always easy. It’s a mutual decision to look for the positive outcome, and choose to avoid unnecessary conflict.”
            When this simple tip is put into practice, the list of necessary conflict grows incredibly short.

            I took it as giving advice instead of an observation. How am I being incorrect in that ?

            Anyone can offer opinions and observations.  Does not make it credible. What makes it credible despite age  is education or expertise. With that credibility comes  trust. That  is why my observation of hunting is less credible that of your children even if they are younger than me and are still children while I am an adult.

            As for observations and opinions by pastors, I use that credibility yardstick. Especially with respect to pastors. That is how I  differentiate between the Harold Campings of the world from the Billy Grahams as both are considered men of God by different groups of people.

            Just to clarify, I am in no means comparing to Cynthia or this column to Harold Camping. To do so would be insulting to her.  But I cannot take her observations seriously. Most responsible parents do not fight or even argue in front of their children. My husband and I resolve our conflicts in private, but we have not been married as long as you. So if you or Mrs.Jeub have any advice about conflict resolution in a marriage, I am listening.

            • James444


              Of course, Cynthia can offer her opinion. It’s just that I didn’t think much of it.

              Of course, she was offering advice. What was the point of the post, otherwise? That Chris and Wendy get along great? Why would that be of interest to anyone except the Jeub family?

              I took her point as, “My parents get along great, and so can you, if you put aside those pesky, unimportant disagreements and flirt some.”

              Cynthia, you said the list of “necessary conflict” was “incredibly short.”  Well, off the top of my head, here are some things that cause conflict:



              Drug addiction


              Financial problems

              Housing problems

              Infertility treatments


              In-law problems

              Care of senior members of the family

              Job decisions

              Child sexual abuse

              Child physical abuse

              Domestic violence

              Neglect of children

              Emotional abuse

              Hardly a short list. These things may not have touched your world, but they still exist. And they are not all caused by women emasculating men. Despite what you  may have learned, submission does not solve all marital problems.

              • mr glasses

                I will not dispute your argument that (presumably unilateral) submission does not solve all marital problems. However, the argument is fallacious and can be categorized as the “straw man” fallacy. 

                Cynthia did not argue that submission solves all marital problems, and neither did Mr. Jeub. So, by saying, “Despite what you  may have learned, submission does not solve all marital problems. “, you have taken their words, twisted them, and attacked your altered version  instead of addressing what they really said. Since you refuted something that they themselves did not advocate, their position still stands.

                In addition, I do not think that Cynthia was speaking about major conflicts. She put her own position best, “When I visit my friends, I sometimes see their parents, whom I know love each other and are dedicated to each other, bickering over petty things.” Clearly, Cynthia is addressing the mountains out of molehill fights rather than the serious grievances that you listed. So, Cynthia is advocating a position that is not invalidated by your argument.

                P.S. I hope that I didn’t come across as an arrogant know-it-all. If I did, than please forgive me. That was not my intent.

      • James444

        It is also prideful to tell people that they are thinking “right” or “wrong.”

        My marriage is 23 years old and quite happy and solid. Since I have been married longer than Cynthia has been alive, I think I may be qualified to talk about the relationship with one’s spouse.

        I do think age and experience matters in this case. I wouldn’t take a youngster’s advice on marriage, whether they were 9 or 19. Such advice is going to be immature, naive and inexperienced, by nature of their youth.

        I would suggest that resolving marital conflict not as simple or easy as young Cynthia seems to suggest. It takes work, insight, maturity, compromise and growth to create the joyful intimacy of a happy marriage. I hope she finds this out one day, but it is not something she could understand now.

  • Kayla

    James: First of all, its only advice if you take it as so. Cynthia never said this was advice. Nor did she imply it. This short blog entry was merely an observation. Also, do you know Cynthia personally? Do you know of all the things she has been through in her life? How then can you assume she does not have any “adult relationships”?  Or that she is “parroting her parents”? 

    Children observe their parents. From the age of infancy, kids watch how their parents interact with each other. They see the nonverbal communication as well as the verbal. Its a fact. Not an opinion.The quote that Cynthia included was not specifically about marriage, but relationships in general. Whether it is between a child and parent, wife and husband, adult and adult, child and child. It is applicable to every type of relationship regardless of age or maturity.   

  • Kurt & Lisa Gish

    I want to say that Cynthia’s post was a huge encouragement to me to make sure I keep the playfulness and love in my own marriage.  I detected not a hint of pridefulness.  She came across as a young person who has grown up in a secure, loving home.  She has watched her parents relate in a very godly, happy way.  She is only passing on her own observations and encouraging words!  I say, Good on you, Cynthia, and thank you for a word spoken in due season, how good is it!!  God  bless you.

  • samantha

    Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.  ~  1 Timothy 4:12

    Good job Cynthia!!