Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you enjoyed my post last week about the observations I made at my friend’s wedding, and on what I think makes a successful relationship. Since that post, I’ve had love on the brain, and I started wondering: Who are my biggest influences when it comes to relationships?
I’m so lucky that I have so many great couples around me. Before I began my own relationship, I was often a third wheel — hanging out with my friends and their boyfriends. It always felt easy, though, and I attributed that feeling of comfort around them to how compatible those couples were. But the relationship I always seem to refer back to is the one of my own parents. I know them best, I know their ups and their downs, and I know all their stories from when they first got together. And the secret of their partnership, as they have always said, was that they had a strong foundation of friendship.
My mom met my dad in a college residence — she would often visit a friend of hers there. My mom remembers the first time she laid eyes on my dad. It was in the morning after a party, and he hadn’t gone to bed. He’d also gotten a perm on a dare and looked dishevelled overall. Needless to say, it wasn’t a winning first impression.
But my mom started seeing him around more and more, and noticed this guy seemed to be very well liked by everyone. One of his ex-girlfriends was even pointed out, and my mom’s first thought was: How did that guy manage to land such a beautiful girl?
They started hanging out in the same group, and my mom noticed his kind eyes and welcoming smile — she always spoke about observing him one day in his car’s rear view mirror. They danced together, although it wasn’t romantic at all— rather a theatrical interpretation of Journey’s “Open Arms”. (Which, funny enough, ended up being their wedding song.)
But then my mom started to like him. Not wanting to scare him off she just started showing up everywhere she knew he’d be. And my dad, well, he wasn’t necessarily looking for anything serious, and was completely oblivious to the fact that my mom’s feelings for him had changed. He did eventually ask her out, though — a friend of his bet him a case of beer that he could buy a girl meal before he did. And in a moment of serendipity, he heard my mom say she was hungry. (Serendipity — or maybe Mom was getting really good at the “just showing up where Dad would be” thing?) So he took the opportunity to ask her if he could buy her lunch.
When my dad finally decided to ask my mom to be his girlfriend, he told her they should try dating as an experiment. Mom always said she must have been really smitten with him — because she actually agreed to this very unromantic proposal. But of course, they fell in love. Slowly, maybe in the way we all should. And when the moment finally came, when they celebrated their first anniversary, my dad wrote in his card: “Experiment a success — I love you!”
I’ve heard this story many times throughout the years. As I get older, new details are added in. Throughout the course of their marriage, from a daughter’s perspective, I’ve seen them overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I’ve seen them argue and make up, I’ve seen them admit when they’re wrong, and I’ve seen them look back and laugh at how much each of them has grown.
But even though they formed a great partnership, no one would have ever thought they’d be together: My mom — with her big 80s hair and a full face of makeup. And my dad — sporty, fun and laid back. But they had time to get to know each other, to find common ground that went beyond the superficial. Ultimately it was their shared dreams that bonded them — dreams of family and adventure. And they built their perfect life — a family of four, two kids, a boy and a girl. They lived in different parts of Canada, travelled the world and helped make each other’s dreams come true. It just goes to show that you never know who will be the right partner for you. Getting to know someone takes time. Compatibility is based on more than what you would tell someone on a first date.
So my lesson learned was always — have a friend first. Don’t assume you know somebody. Relationships aren’t about finding a perfect match, but someone you can grow with. I feel lucky to have witnessed this kind of relationship, to have it as a reference as I try to build one of my own. Who are your biggest relationship influences? Your friends, your parents, people in your neighbourhood? Let me know in the comments below!
Also, if you liked the story, don’t forget to pin it for later!