My parents have a fairytale relationship, one that you're going to think I'm making up with my wild imagination. They are both amazing people inside and out, and they deserve each other wholeheartedly.
My mother is the kind of woman I aspire to be. My father is the kind of man I want to marry. I can only hope and dream that I have a marriage half as wonderful as theirs. The best part about it is, they've risen from the bottom and started out with nothing.
Everything they did, they did it together. They got by with love, support and respect for one another. I've grown up living with and seeing true love firsthand, so I know it exists. These are the things I've learned:
1. Twenty-five years doesn't have to feel like a quarter of a century when you find your soulmate.
My parents act like they're best friends. They make fun of each other and laugh. They've gone through the lowest of lows and the highest of highs together.
I don't think either would have made it through without the other. They don't act lovey-dovey because the honeymoon ended a long time ago, but you can still see how happy they are when they're with each other. It's beautiful.
2. Fights aren't really fights when you fight with someone you love.
I have never seen my parents scream at each other. I've never heard either of them call the other awful names out of spite. At times, both will have different views, but they voice them respectfully.
It's not a hard concept. Don't ever say something you can't take back just because you're mad about something that can be resolved in less than five seconds.
3. Take chances.
I love the story of how my parents met. My dad fell for my mom, but she wasn't having it. She was skeptical, and she kept her distance.
My dad was even seeing someone at the time. But when he met my mom, he broke up with the girl and pursued a long-distance relationship with my mom.
Isn't that nuts? I can't imagine that working in today's world. But, they should be your example to follow your gut instinct about someone.
4. Give and take.
Don't take until he breaks. Don't give too much to someone who doesn't deserve it. Give and take equally.
My mom moved to South Carolina for my dad after they got married. Then, they moved back to Massachusetts because it felt like the right thing to do.
They both tried and did what was best for their relationship and family. Uprooting is a big deal, and it involves a lot of give and take. They both trusted each other, and that's why they're still in love today.
5. Don't be too stubborn.
Don't ever change who you are for someone. Don't ever act like someone else just to be what your SO wants. Don't be a pushover, and don't back down.
Always be strong. Rely on yourself, and do what's best for you. Voice your needs and wants, and be smart enough about what you think is worth going through the trouble for. Your actions affect more than just yourself in a relationship.
6. Always laugh.
There will always be bills to pay, stupid people to deal with and 80-hour work weeks to get through. But, you'd never know what my parents have to deal with on a daily basis, thanks to their friendly faces.
They are genuinely good people. They make each other happy, and they laugh when times suck. I can't wait to have that.
7. Accept the whole package, not just your favorite parts.
Marrying someone comes with a whole lot more than just the person. You get his or her baggage, family, debt and history. You don't get to pick and choose the parts you can deal with.
You can't ignore the parts that will test your patience and love. Both of my parents come from crazy Greek families, and they both were accepting of everything. They both knew what they were getting into, and they miraculously still chose each other.
8. You know when you find it.
My parents were so young when they met each other and got married. My mom likes to joke that she didn't even know my dad when she moved to South Carolina, and it was the scariest time of her life.
But my mom is a smart, strong woman. She knew exactly what she had found when she met my dad. You will, too.
9. Work together.
I mean this both literally and metaphorically. My parents have worked together since before I was born. They were in the same restaurant, side by side. I don't think too many couples could do that and still like each other.
My parents complement each other, and they balance each other out. They know all of each other's strengths and weaknesses, and they have become an unstoppable team.
Work and home is the same to them. You can't leave your problems at the door at the end of a tough day.
10. Be supportive.
Times get tough. Life throws curveballs constantly.
Usually, they're 90-mph-plus curveballs to the face. But, you have to be strong not only for yourself, but also for your partner. The reliability can't always be one-sided.
The guy can't always be tough and fix things, and the girl can't always sit back and look pretty. People reach their breaking points. You need to have a solid support system to back you up on the days where you just need a break.
11. Don't rush.
Always take your time. Rushing has been the downfall of most of my relationships. Just because things are fine and dandy in the beginning, that doesn't mean they can always remain like that.
If it's meant to be, it will be. You'll know it.
So, don't force anything, and just enjoy each other. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
12. Have a good person, good spouse, good life.
You want a good person. You want someone who will be nice to strangers, and someone who will treat you like a princess and not play games with your mind, even though this person knows you're wrapped around his or her finger.
You want someone who knows the potential you have and pushes you hard without breaking your spirits. You want someone who can be a good parent to your children, and someone who will love you unconditionally on both good days and bad days.
All the pointers I've learned from my parents' relationship should be considered common knowledge. But if you put in all of that effort for someone who isn't willing to do the same, the end will be tragic for you.
This person will be fine. You'll be listening to Adele and eating Ben & Jerry's for the next three weekends. It doesn't matter if you met on Tinder or you're Beyoncé and Jay Z.
True love exists, and it's the one thing worth fighting for. I can't say my parents never taught me anything.