My mom and dad have been married for 40 years.
I know, it’s crazy.
Instead of having a party, they were married in a courtroom and then eloped on a cruise to the Bahamas.
The first time my father met my mother’s parents, he slept at the dinner table because he was up late the night before.
Great first impression, huh?
My mom and dad met because they were co-workers.
My parents had huge crushes on each other and were also socially awkward – a trait I seemed to have inherited from them.
One day, my mom was delivering a stack of papers to my dad in his office, and instead of walking out the door, she accidentally went into the closet and locked herself.
When she finally left, my father was so delighted and confused by the disaster that he decided to ask her out.
Three kids and 40 years later, I learned a lot of relationship skills based on how my dad treats my mom (and how they treat each other).
Here are four things I want in a relationship that I learned from my parents:
1. An Attentive Partner
It’s all about the little things.
And they add up quickly.
My dad is retired now, but when he goes shopping during the day, he always comes home with a coffee for my mom – a latte.
He records television shows that he thinks my mother likes or finds recipes for my mother’s favorite foods and cooks them for her for dinner.
She’s not an expensive woman for jewelry or vacations, so it’s small gestures—a coffee, a meal, or a television show—that show my mom that she’s always on my dad’s mind.
When I’m in a relationship, I also look for this type of behavior in a potential partner (and I try to display these behaviors as well).
2. A Relationship Based On Humor
Once, my father – a lawyer – was interviewing secretaries for a position.
My mother went to a costume store and bought an old lady costume and prosthetics.
She disguised herself as an 80-year-old and applied for the position.
She came in, said she could barely type, and played a prank on my dad.
It’s true that it took a lot of energy, and my parents are complete weirdos, but they still find time to laugh with each other every day.
It’s the foundation of their relationship – teasing, joking, and eventually turning fights and pain into funny situations.
Relationships take work, but at the end of the day, you want to be light and fun with your partner.
He’s on your team.
So of course, while I want to be emotionally deep with whoever I’m with for the long haul, it’s important to have fun with them as well.
Otherwise, your relationship will become very heavy.
3. Fights That Quickly Disappear
All relationships involve fights.
If you say you don’t fight, you’re absolutely lying to me, or you and your partner don’t spend time together.
What matters, though, is how you overcome your differences.
If my parents get upset or fight in the morning, they break up by lunchtime or even five minutes later sometimes.
You have to choose your battles.
Do you prefer to be right or do you prefer to be happy?
4. A Routine
Most mornings, my parents go for a walk on the beach.
It’s their special time together.
Also, my parents have shown that they watch together and they show that they like to watch alone.
My father likes crime dramas; not my mother.
My mother likes ghost hunting shows; my father finds it insane to believe in ghosts, so clearly, my mother attends these shows alone.
My mom hates grocery shopping and cooking, so my dad took that role in the relationship.
What I mean is that they developed a routine.
They cling to it, don’t judge, and respect each other’s likes, dislikes, and interests.
One thing I learned from my parents is acceptance.
In relationships, it’s important to accept your partner and not try to change them.
What relationship behaviors did you learn from your parents?