Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Relationship advice from mom and dad

I have this very distinct memory of being five years old and being punished.
My mom sat me down in a chair in the living room, far away from my twin sister, Joy.

We had gotten in trouble because we were playing an “outdoor” game “inside,” and one of us fell and hit our head (no damage…uh, I don’t think) on the wood floor.

“What did I tell you about playing that???” my mom yelled.

She was furious and for some reason put a Google Earth globe on my lap (yes GLOBE) and made me put one finger on New Orleans — where we lived — and one finger on Hawaii, where my dad was for a trade show that weekend.

“This is to show you how far away your father is,” my mom said.

And then she left the room and for the next 20 minutes I sat holding onto the globe, unsure of the lesson. But I never took my fingers off the dots.

I see now that she probably just missed my dad. He wouldn’t have approved of our game called “horse” either and we probably would have listened to him more if he had told us to knock it off.

(“Horse,” by the way, is a test of physical strength where one of us would get on the other’s back and the person on bottom would climb up the stairs on all fours, like a horse while the other one rode “horseback.”)

So, when Joy fell off my back and made a RUKUS and our mom split us up into different timeout corners, the first thing she thought of was our dad in Hawaii.
A whole arm-length away from New Orleans.

Fortunately for my mom, he came back.

My parents are one of the few sets of parents that I know of who aren’t divorced.
In fact, today is their 30th wedding anniversary, and I’m happy to say they still very much like each other. And they are very comfortable around one another. Always have been.

They are so comfortable in their relationship in fact that when Joy and I were terrors young, we asked them what would happen if they got divorced, and they genuinely laughed.

(We asked the question because our new best friend’s parents were divorced, and we were confused.)

“If we got divorced? I’d have the time of my life!” my dad joked. “I’d go out to eat at a new restaurant every night!”

Our eyes got big. That did sound good.

“Well," my mom said. "If he did that, I’d get you girls to find out what restaurant he’s eating at and we’d all go to the same restaurant and we would all sit at the table next to him and say, ‘DADDY DADDY’ really loudly.”

(This situation never came up, but I’m pretty sure it would have played out that exact same way.)

Growing up, Joy and I, and our brother, Franklin (FRANKLIN! YOUR BLOG IS COMING SOON!!!!) didn’t know much about my parents’ past lives.

Perhaps we were too self-absorbed, playing “horse” and putting our cat in the fridge to really appreciate what a great, loving relationship our parents had.

Because now that we’re older and, um, seasoned in the dating world, I know for certain that all three of us have all used our parents’ relationship as a model.

(Mostly to break up with people who don’t live up. Suckers.)

My parents have a comfortable relationship, one where no one is trying to outdo the other and both people accept each other for who they are.

(Unlike the time I dated someone and tried to hide my neurosis. I nearly had a heart attack pretending to be laid back. That would have never worked.)

My dad says that timing is everything when it comes to finding the one you’ll marry.
My mom says it’s about finding a good fit.

(She used to tell me and Joy to “Try people on” until we started making sexual jokes and she got mad and hung up the phone.)

Both my parents have followed their own sage advice. No one will argue that they are a good fit. They are each other’s best friend. (Which is good for when your wife says, “by the way, honey, we’re having twins!!”)

“Marriage a partnership!” my mom would say. “You don’t want to be with someone who isn’t a good partner!”

PARTNERSHIP: My dad cooks, my mom does laundry. My dad changes the oil in the cars; my mom schedules his doctor appointments.

Of course, you can’t let ALL your cards show when you’re first starting to date someone.

I found out very recently at dinner with my parents this week that my mom would invite my dad over to her French Quarter apartment only on Fridays because her housekeeper would come on Thursday.

“She didn’t want me to know just how sloppy and messy she really was,” my dad teased as my mom laughed. (Joking and laughing is also key in a relationship).

But, my dad wasn’t perfect either. He had an earring (LEFT EAR, PEOPLE) and my mom made him take it out.

But, superficial things don’t matter as much as personalities clicking.
My mom says personalities are much more important than looks when it comes to relationships, a theory we are all still testing. Ha

She made an analogy to Joy’s former Audi sedan that was SO CUTE on the outside but a piece of junk on the inside. It was leaking radiator fluid in the floor mats.

“You dread getting into your car, don’t you?” my mom asked.
“Yes, but I look so good driving it downtown!” Joy responded.

I kid.
We were listening, mom and dad.

I’m pretty sure Joy, Franklin and I are poised to make good relationship decisions. At least good long-term relationship decisions.

Because, once we get the 1.) timing right and 2.) "try someone on" and 3.) test out someone’s “partner”-like capabilities we’ll know it’s 4.) a good fit.

But, if for some reason our prince (or princess) charming turns out to be a dud, my dad has advice for that, too.

“Thank God you found out about (insert undesirable quality) NOW and not when you’re married and have three kids,” he would say.

“Believe me. I have three kids. I couldn’t do it without your mother.”

-Jenny

1 comment:

  1. Awwww... tell the 'rents that I say congratulations on the anniversary!!!

    ReplyDelete

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