To the editor: Many girls begin thinking about their wedding day as early as 5 or 6 years old. When the big day arrives, many individuals still don't understand what it means to be part of a "marriage."

I had the privilege of growing up in a family where my parents loved and adored each other. They both worked very hard to make ends meet, rarely argued, were concerned about paying their bills and encouraged my brother and me to continue our education. I recall they had their favorite songs, they did things together, they slept together and they kissed each other good night.

Marriage is a hard job. It's more than a lavish celebration; more than a couple of rings. It's about loving someone in a totally selfless way, to the point of sacrificing who you are now so you can grow together and become two totally different people for the sake of the family. Although that's not always easy, it is vital to the survival and success of marriage.

In a marriage there are two people from the opposite sex, from different families having different perspectives, experiences, advice and views. They see hard times, good times, stressful times and joyful times. But, when the rubber hits the road, they walk with their fingers laced along every step of the journey, lovingly teaching their children that marriage is worth fighting for - that the family is worth fighting for.

Reflecting on my parents' marriage and its effect on me, and also on my own marriages (the Lord called two of my beautiful, loving spouses, Roxanne and Pauline, to his reward) and the effect on my sons, I can say that, throughout our lives, we all need both male and female wisdom, information and nurturing. I've learned many things from my mom and my sons learned much from their mother. My mom and my wife never knew what it's like to be a man and my dad and I never knew what it's like to be a woman. That being said, I'm glad, because a family needs both.

Science has proved that you need a man and a woman to make a baby, and only a woman's body is equipped to grow a baby. Obviously, God's plans was that both a man and a woman be part of a child's life, but marriage is more than that. It is the visible sign to the whole world that your are committed to this other person for life, better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health. It's resilient, yet fragile.

And, defining marriage between one man and one woman does not make me "anti-gay." I don't discriminate or judge anyone for their choices and their beliefs. It's just that I believe the definition of marriage should remain what it is - between a man and a woman.

One thing I learned from my parents, and hopefully instilled into my sons, is a respect of differences, respect of beliefs, respect of lifestyles. We are human beings, and that's how I see you, as a human being - a creation of God, put here on this earth the same as I was.

And one day, when I die, when Patricia gives me back to God, she can say, "Here you go, Father. I hope he's a better man than he was on the day you gave him to me."

Kenn Splitt