Often when things aren’t going as planned in our love lives, we seek out help from people we trust – mainly our friends.
There’s nothing wrong with confiding in those closest to you, but more often than not their experience with new and difficult situations can be as limited as our own.
As much as some of us would hate to admit it, we all have access to a source that’s pretty much seen it all when it comes to dating, love, and relationships…our parents.
True, we’ve ignored their advice once or twice (ok…probably more than that…), but if we’re looking to solve problems we have no experience with, it might be a go idea to use the knowledge of the people that love you the most to help guide you in your future.
So here it is: the relationship advice from our parents’ generation.
“Always be true to yourself, in all aspects of the relationship. Dating is a time to learn what qualities you are looking for in a partner. It also gives you a chance to learn about yourself. What did you learn about yourself from each dating experience? What do you need to work on? Don’t burn bridges, and always be respectful. Someone that may not be right for you now may come back into your life when the timing is different and if you burned bridges at the end, it may not be an option. Timing means a lot.” Carie (Daughter 17, Son 20)
“Don’t date with an eye toward just finding your ‘perfect mate.’ Date to find out what/who you like and don’t, and to just have fun!” Fred (Daughters 21, 26)
On Becoming Exclusive
“Decide to be exclusive based on the experiences you have had together. What have you enjoyed? What are your goals and the other person’s goals? Are they the same?” – Heidi (Daughters 21, 26)
“If you choose to be exclusive, BE EXCLUSIVE! Cheating leaves a mark.” Carie
“In my world, if you are going out on dates with someone you should not be going out on dates with anyone else.” Lynell (Daughter 20, Sons 17, 23)
“There will be obstacles and low moments, but only by working on the relationship will it survive.” Anonymous Father (Sons 16, 19, 22)
“Long-term relationships should be with someone you can picture yourself marrying some day. Don’t waste your time and energy otherwise. Do you have common goals, interests, and passions? What is the person’s relationship with his/her family like? You can tell a lot about a person by meeting their family and seeing how they interact. Do you think the person would be a good mother or father? Who were their role models? And don’t ever go into a long-term relationship thinking or hoping you can change someone or fix them because you can’t and you will eventually be disappointed.” Lynell
“Long-term relationships teach you a lot and require work. Spend time working on a relationship that is worthy of the work. However, a relationship that is only work isn’t right. Move on!” Carie
Moving In Together
“Back in my day, this was controversial. Now days I think it might be a good idea. You can’t hide bad habits and neither can your significant other.” Heidi
“In most cases, I would advise my children not to do it without a serious commitment, like a ring and a date.” Lynell
“This is becoming more an extended part of dating, as far as ‘trying out’ a potential partner. I think it’s a good idea, after you’ve known each other more than just casually for a while.” Fred
On Getting Engaged
“If you propose correctly, she will retell the story 1,000 times. If you propose incorrectly she will retell it 10,000 times! Put some effort into it…it’s SHOW TIME!” Anonymous Father (Sons 16, 19, 22)
“I believe most often, you know when the time is right. Hopefully not too soon, before a relationship has been tested.” Carie
“You don’t need to spend a lot of money! I repeat: You. Do. Not. Need. To. Spend. A lot. Of. Money. Make a house down payment or go on a wonderful trip instead. Be smart about it: 20 years from now nobody will care how much you spent on the dress/tux/location.” Anonymous (Daughters, 16 and 19)
“Once the proposal happens, often the plans begin and the relationship loses priority. Don’t forget about each other.” Carie
“The day is hers, the night is his. She has dreamed about this day for years…he still hasn’t given a second thought. Take great interest, and love her ideas!” Anonymous Father
“Communication, communication, communication. Marriage takes work – it’s not a fairytale. It’s wonderful, but you need to work for it. Don’t expect perfection all the time because it doesn’t exist. If you want something or need something then open your mouth and ask for it or say it!” Anonymous
“It’s not always possible but try to never go to bed angry. Better to talk about it at the moment and fall asleep afterward than to stew on is as you fall asleep.” Tammy (Daughters 21, 19)
“It’s hard, but so worth it. There is a reason that it’s a legally binding contract because it’s challenging at times and if it wasn’t legally binding people would walk away all too often. Make sure that you keep the friendship part of your marriage working because that is what will sustain your relationship into the ‘golden years.’” Carie
Having Kids and Raising a Family
“You will never have enough money or be totally prepared, so don’t sweat it. The most important thing is how functional emotionally you and your partner are. The little ones will watch you and rely on you to show them the way, and if you are a mess they will see that and will copy that. Also after you’ve had kids, it is not your time to go sow your wild oats. Once you are a parent step up.” Anonymous
“This is probably the hardest part of a marriage, but also the most rewarding part as well. Make sure that your marriage is strong before you bring children into the world. Working as a team in parenting is so important, but a lot harder than it sounds. Each parent was raised differently and that’s the only experience they have to fall back on. Having children together is so bonding and powerful. Be present because time goes by so quickly. You don’t get to see your hard work pay off until they are older, so be patient and persistent and stick to teaching them what is right, even though they’ll fight you on a daily basis.” Carie
“Enjoy the craziness because you will look back on it as some of the most special and amazing years of your life. Most importantly though, don’t forget to maintain your relationship with your spouse along the way so that you still have each other when the nest is finally empty.” Lynell
Parting Thoughts: What Our Generation Should Know
“Learn your partners love language. Not everyone needs the same things out of a relationship. Sometimes you could be doing things for your partner that you wish would be done for you and it’s really not what they want or even need. Communicate!” Tammy
“Be true to yourself and trust your gut. Enjoy the process of dating because it teaches you a lot. It’s an emotional roller coaster, but enjoy the ride and keep perspective.” Carie
“Relationships are wonderful. They aren’t like the drama on tv. At the end of the day, it’s not about the looks or the career or whatever. It’s about this: is this person my friend? Are they kind to me? Am I attracted to them? Do I love them? Do they love me? Can I see myself spending the rest of my life WORKING on a relationship with this person?” Anonymous