Part of growing up is learning to see your parents beyond their roles as mom or dad. As a kid, you tend to have little interest in hearing about their love lives prior to you: who broke your mom’s heart before your dad came along, or how your dad had been *this* close to marrying his college sweetheart.
But as you get older, you’re eager to hear these stories and learn from the mistakes and positive moves they made on their way to finding each other. Below, we ask women and men to share the best relationship advice they’ve received from their parents.
Never stop courting.
“My dad not only gave me this advice once, he’s also truly lead by example. It boils down to ‘never stop courting.’ He told me before my wedding day to make sure you’re always doing special things for your wife to show her you love her. This not only means leaving little love notes and surprising her with small gifts, but it also means pulling your weight: cooking meals, doing dishes and taking out the garbages. Do anything you can do to help her never forget how completely devoted you are to her. My dad turns 94 in March, celebrating 42 years of marriage, and he still does all of that and more as a husband.” ― Jonas Seaman, photographer.
Listen to what your partner is saying and what they are really saying.
“The best piece of relationship advice I ever received was from my dad who told me to not just listen to my partner but to truly hear what they are saying and where it’s coming from. ‘There’s what they are saying,’ he told me. ‘But also what they are saying.’ That advice has served me very well. My wife is in a very high-powered, high-pressure job. Sometimes, she’ll be stressed out and it will bleed into our home life. If I can really hear her when she talks, I can parse what’s real and what’s the stress talking and avoid unnecessary arguments and additional stress. I can do the same to her, of course, and she has come to heed my father’s sage advice as well. He’s one smart guy.” ― Jenny Block, author of “Be That Unicorn: Find your Magic. Live your Truth. Share your Shine.”
There’s a price to pay for marrying for money.
“One thing my mom always said growing up that stuck with me was, ‘If you marry for money, you earn every penny.’ I love that as a morality lesson for more than just money, but other superficial things. I think it can be applied outside of romantic relationships as well ― in jobs or friendship. It helped me learn how to do things for the right reasons.” ― Lisa Chanoux, a comedian in Los Angeles.
Family has to come first.
“The best relationship advice I got from my parents was to always be a team and to focus on your family first, above all else. My parents have been married for 55 years and like most marriages, they’ve endured some tough times (the loss of a child, for one), but they remained loyal, loving and trustworthy through it all. As devoted Catholics, they have always remained true to their vows and love for one another. I respect them so much for providing me with such loving parenting and relationship advice along the way.” ― Stacey Sainato, owner of Peony Events in Morristown, New Jersey.
Get comfortable being wrong.
“My mom once told me: It’s never essential to be 100% right. In order for a relationship to work, both parties have to be willing to be wrong on a disagreement, to see their part, and to meet halfway.” ― Kristin Addis, CEO of Be My Travel Muse.
The right one will make you feel light and bounce-y.
“My mom told me, ‘You’ll know when you meet Mr. Right because your heart will bounce.’ I never understood this piece of advice until I met my husband. Mom was right. My heart bounced all over the place even though he wasn’t my usual type. And, after 20 happy years of marriage, I now appreciate mom’s advice because my heart knew he was Mr. Right before my head did.” ― Sunny Rodgers, a sexologist in Los Angeles.
Words can do irreparable damage.
“Mine is actually from my father-in-law. He told me a parable once: Your spouse is like a plank of wood, and saying something mean is like hammering a nail into that plank of wood. You can apologize and remove that nail, but the hole in the plank is still there. And if you do that enough times, the plank will eventually break. Coming from a father-in-law, I took it as a warning to think before I speak to his daughter! Later, I drew a comic of that advice.” ― Jonathan Jui, asset manager and creator of the popular Instagram comic page @jonajooey.
Keep your arguments private.
“Umm, relationship advice from my parents? I have only one thing I can think of: I never saw my parents fight. I never saw them yell at each other or treat each other disrespectfully. As I got older, I saw my share of couples fighting and finally realized that it was strange that I had never seen my parents rip into each other at least once. When I was starting to have relationships of my own, my parents’ lack of arguing really started to get me curious and I finally asked my dad about it.
‘How come you and mom never fight?’ I asked.
‘We do, we just do it in private,’ my dad answered.
‘How come you never yell at each other?’ I wondered.
‘Because we’re f*cking grownups,’ my dad answered smiling.
Don’t assume everyone wants a relationship.
“The best relationship advice my mom ever gave me was not to assume everyone wants a serious relationship. There’s nothing wrong with casual dating as long as both people are on the same page. Unfortunately, since society tells us dating should always lead to marriage, many folks say they’re looking for something long-term when they really just want some action. She told me to have the ‘what are your intentions’ conversation upfront and to objectively assess their motivation to avoid headaches and dishonesty.” ― Sunny Megatron, sex educator and host of American Sex Podcast.
Spend time with their mom or dad. They’ll be like them some day.
“My dad said to me, ‘If you want to know what a woman will be like, make sure you are wonderful to her mom and get to know her well. The daughter will most likely be a lot like the mom.’ It turned out to be true for both of my marriages.” ― Matt Sweetwood, a business consultant and speaker.
Don’t worry about what others think of your relationship.
“My parents told me: It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Your relationship is your relationship. It might be unconventional, it might seem different or even weird, but if you’re happy, if it is healthy, if your priorities are being served and your needs are being met, that’s all that matters. No one else but you has to live in your relationship. No one else but you has to be OK with your relationship. No one else but you has to understand your relationship. The key is that you can’t feel pressured, insecure, or question your relationship because of what other people feel or believe about it. You can’t invite or listen to other people’s advice as to what ‘should’ make you happy. It’s not about what they say. It’s about what you experience. Relationships aren’t what they ‘should’ be. Relationships are completely personal based on each individual and the unified couple, and therefore they are only about what you want them to be.
This advice has been essential for me. I used to be afraid of what other people thought of me. I would destroy my relationships because of the opinions of other people. Once I finally understood what my mom was saying, I was able to find true happiness because I no longer cared, listened or cared to listen to the judgment of others. I did what aligned with my life priorities, my needs and what made me happy.” ― Laurel House, a dating and relationship coach and host of Man Whisperer podcast.
People reveal how they’ll treat you early on.
“‘The issue you have on the third date you’ll have forever’ was one of the best pieces of advice I received from my mom. I’ve not only used this advice personally, but professionally to advise my audience. It’s a helpful reminder that a lot of the information we need to decide if someone is a good match is literally presented to us right away. We then get to choose if we’re ready to pay attention to the warning signs. It’s a similar intention to one of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou, ‘When people show you who they are, believe them.’” ― Emily Morse, s a sex and relationship expert and host of the SiriusXM Radio show and podcast, Sex With Emily.