Writing by Celine Floyd // Photograph by Sara Lorusso
One of the best, most important lessons my parents taught me—maybe indirectly—was how to have a healthy, loving relationship with someone.
My parents have been together and happily in love since my mom was 18-going-on-19 and my dad was 23. Even now, as they stroll together hand-in-hand, my friends always point out to me, almost enviously, how cute and in love they still are. Their continuing love and support for each other has taught both my brother and me how to really love someone and how to treat them properly.
For one thing, my parents showed us how important it is to be able to rely on and support your significant other. Growing up, my family moved a lot, which meant completely uprooting our lives and going somewhere new where we didn’t know a soul. While I’m sure my parents would have been just as close had they not been obliged to rely on each other so much, they were always there for one another. For example, if one of them felt a little homesick, the other would listen and comfort the other the way he or she needed. This leads me to the next thing they taught us: people have different ways of being comforted. While some people may enjoy being cuddled, others just want to sit quietly, or to have someone to talk to. It’s really important to know your significant others needs. Otherwise, you might actually make them feel worse than they already do because now they’re worried about hurting your feelings for not being able to comfort them! I know from my parents’ relationship how necessary it is to feel like I can talk to the person I love and rely on him, and to make sure he knows he can do the same.
My parents’ relationship also taught me to respect the person I fell for. My parents almost never argue or raise their voices at each other, but when they do, they immediately take a step back, realize what they’re arguing about is frivolous and irrelevant to their relationship, and resume speaking to each other calmly and rationally. My brother and I learnt fighting aggressively with our significant others is useless and all issues can be resolved with a more level-headed conversation. Funnily enough, however, as kids, my brother and I hadn’t realized this yet and fought with each other incessantly.
My parents’ love for each other and relationship also taught me how to appreciate even the tiniest little details and to remind my significant other I love him and why. For example, my mom loves how quick and good with words my dad is—he can come up with a thousand puns in a split second—and my dad loves that my mom tends to describe things with sound effects (i.e. “the car went swoosh” instead of “swerved”)—both great qualities that I have inherited (modesty is also one of my many qualities).
I also learnt never to forget to make time for the one I love. My parents spend a lot of time together, even if sometimes it’s just sitting, cuddling, reading, or watching a show together. This is an incredibly important thing to remember because it is so, so easy to get caught up in whatever it is we’re doing and forget to actually be together and sharing your life with a person, which is the entire point of being in a relationship. Respecting my partner also means I try to always be honest with him, to trust, to support, and to listen to him—even when it might be about something I wouldn’t usually be interested in, because he cares about it and seeing as I care about him, I care about what he talks about.
Lastly, my parents’ relationship taught me to ignore gender roles, because a relationship is more like a two person team than a hierarchy, and society often imposes gender roles as a means of enforcing a hierarchy. For example, both of my parents are equally affectionate and in love with one another; they both cook and clean because they are equals in a loving relationship and not limited by pre-defined roles that society sets for them based on what their gender “should” do. This showed my brother and I that we didn’t have to feel weird or uncomfortable about doing something in our relationships—or in our everyday lives in general— that doesn’t fit our genders’ stereotypes: we can both bake a cake for our significant others just like we can both chop wood for a campfire to warm them up (in theory, anyway).
My parents’ relationship ultimately showed us both that while loving someone is already plenty, it is imperative that we know how to treat our special someones so they not only realize they’re loved, but they actually feel it, too.[share]