My mom and dad have been married for 40 years. I know, it's crazy.
Instead of having a wedding, they got married in a courthouse and then eloped for a cruise to the Bahamas. The first time my dad met my mom's parents, he fell asleep at the dinner table because he had been up working late the night before.
Great first impression, right?
My mom and dad met because they were co-workers. My parents had huge crushes on one another and were also socially awkward — a trait I seemed to have inherited from them.
One day, my mom went to deliver a stack of papers to my father in his office, and instead of leaving through the door, she accidentally walked into the closet and locked herself in.
When she finally got out, my dad was so charmed and confused by the debacle that he decided to ask her out. Three kids and 40 years later, I've 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. A Thoughtful Partner
It's all about the small things. And they add up quickly.
My dad is retired now, but when he goes out to run errands for the day, he always comes back to the house with a coffee for my mom — a venti iced latte.
He'll record shows on television that he thinks my mom will like or find recipes of my mom's favorite foods and cook them for her for dinner.
She's not an expensive jewelry or vacations type of woman, so it's small gestures — a coffee, a meal, or a television show — that let my mom know she is always on my father's mind.
When I'm in a relationship, I also look for this kind of behavior in a potential partner (and try to exhibit these behaviors as well.)
2. A Relationship Founded On Humor
One time, my dad — a lawyer — was interviewing secretaries for a position. My mom went to a costume shop and bought an old lady costume, as well as prosthetics.
She disguised herself as an 80-year-old woman and applied for the position. She went in, said she could hardly type, and fully pulled a prank on my dad.
Granted, this took a lot of energy, and both my parents are complete weirdos, but they still find time to laugh with one another every day. It's the foundation of their relationship — teasing, joking, and eventually turning any fights and pain into funny situations.
Relationships are work, but at the end of the day, you want to be able to be light and fun with your partner. They are on your team.
So of course, while I want to be able to get emotionally deep with whomever I'm with for the long term, it's important to have fun with them as well. Otherwise, your relationship just becomes too heavy.
3. Fights That Fade Quickly
All relationships involve fighting. If you say you don't fight, you are absolutely lying to me, or you and your partner spend no time together.
What matters, though, is how you get over your disagreements. If my parents annoy one another or get in a fight in the morning, they are over it by lunch time or even five minutes later sometimes.
You have to pick your battles. Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?
4. A Routine
Almost every morning, my parents go for a walk on the beach. It's their special time together.
Additionally, my parents have shows that they watch together, and shows that they like to watch alone. My dad likes crime dramas; my mom does not. My mom likes ghost-hunting shows; my dad thinks it's insane to believe in ghosts, so clearly, my mom watches those shows alone.
My mom hates grocery shopping and cooking, so my dad has taken over that role in the relationship.
My point is, they've developed a routine. They stick to it, they don't judge, and they respect the other's likes, dislikes, and interests.
One thing I've learned from my parents is acceptance. In relationships, it's important to accept your partner and not try to change them.
What relationship behaviors have you learned from your parents? Let me know in the comments.