How did you know your parents loved each other?
April 4, 2019 10:09 PM   Subscribe

If you, as a kid (or even now as an adult), felt that your parents loved each other, were happy to be married, etc: what behaviors, rituals, ways of speaking etc that you observed between them made you feel that way?

(Sort of inspired by stillmoving's question)
posted by Cozybee to Human Relations (25 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
They would randomly touch/kiss each other for no apparent reason.
posted by aramaic at 10:21 PM on April 4 [5 favorites]

My dad makes my mom her coffee every morning without fail. They also laugh wildly together sometimes at stupid crap and always have.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:33 PM on April 4 [7 favorites]

My dad has always been able to make my mom giggle like a junior high school girl with a huge crush. They'll also randomly hold hands at sweet times.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 10:56 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]

When I was about 15, my cousin pointed out that my parents held hands all the time. It's a small thing and had been so much part of the background noise that I hadn't picked it up until then. Now I notice it all the time.

Not a perfect marriage by any stretch, but they always played every part of life like they were a team.
posted by arha at 11:49 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]

My parents are and have always been mushy. They are always saying “I love you” and kissing and hugging. I used to find it a little embarrassing but now I think it’s sweet.

They also do little nice things for one another all day long.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:30 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]

Every day when my father got home from work, his first stop was to check in on my mom (she was usually in the kitchen getting dinner ready), kiss her, and chat for a couple minutes. Then he went to get out of his work clothes, etc. He did this every single day. It was very affirming to me as a child. "Yup, they're good."
posted by eleslie at 5:45 AM on April 5 [11 favorites]

My parents were not big on PDA, but I've had several occasions where I snuck up on them and found them kissing or cuddling.

They did hold hands a lot too.
posted by peacheater at 5:55 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]

My dad and step-mum have been very happily married for over 30 years. I knew they adored each other as a child and I really notice it now as an adult. It's there in the way they talk about each other and they way they actively praise and thank each other, everyday, for the most routine and mundane things.

They have a very traditional marriage really: she cooks and keeps the house, he works outside the home. But every meal is punctuated with thanks and admiration -- even if it's just something really simple like pasta, my dad shows and verbalizes a lot of appreciation. (Like, 'this is delicious! thank you! wow look at that! It's wonderful darling, thank you.' over every part of the meal. And it's genuine.) Likewise when she's not there, he's always talking about how great she is at X Y Z, and how much he appreciates her. My step-mum shows her love by actively fussing over my dad, singing his praises, worrying about him. To the point you have to be kinda careful never to criticize him... She is fiercely protective! They are also always holding hands and hugging, giving each other a kiss and calling each other cute names. Plus giving each other honest compliments.

Ok, so it would drive many people mad to be in a relationship like this...! But the thing that really struck me about their relationship is the way they are explicit in their appreciation of each other. And for things that might otherwise be taken for granted. "Thank you for washing up." "Thank you for driving me to the store." It made me rethink how I conceptualize 'traditional' gendered marriages as always exploitative -- how, in the right circumstances (i.e., when accompanied by a hella lot of respect and appreciate) it can work for people who want those roles.

They say 'thank you' as much as they say 'i love you'. I have taken that into my own marriage, and found its really, really important.
posted by EllaEm at 6:30 AM on April 5 [31 favorites]

My parents have been together so long that they are truly part of each other's families. They have the strongest marriage I know about. As a kid, it never seriously occurred to me to doubt that they loved each other or that they loved me.

What comes to mind when you ask is the way that they both fuss over dogs. They both adore them, as do I, and speak to dogs in a private dog language. I didn't have any brothers or sisters, and when I was little, seeing my parents totally melt together over a dog always made me feel incredibly safe and at home in a way that I couldn't have explained at the time.

Another thing they always did was to respect each other's time. I never understood the sitcom jokes about the man always wanting to get out of the house and the woman always wanting him to stay. My parents generally wanted to stay -- they both worked a lot, they were tired -- but when one of them wanted to go somewhere, they were welcome to it. My mother even lived apart from my dad for a while so she could go back to school, and if he was ever threatened by it, I couldn't see it in the least.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:09 AM on April 5 [4 favorites]

When I was in grade school, I was over at a friend's house for dinner. Her dad came home from work, dropped his lunch box on the counter, said "Hey." to her mom and went into the living room and took off his shoes. Her mom said "Hey." back and continued to prep dinner in the kitchen.

I was freaked out. I was convinced we were in the middle of a marital breakdown and any minute now screaming would start. But nothing happened. We ate dinner, her folks made chitchat with us and each other. After the meal, her dad cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher, while her mom went to deal with the laundry.

After we were safely ensconced in my friend's room, I asked her if her folks were fighting. She was completely taken aback. When I explained that nobody gave or offered kisses, her dad didn't thank her mom for cooking or tell her it was good, and her mom didn't thank her dad for clearing the table so it looked like they were fighting.

She responded, "No. My folks don't do all that."
"But mine do that every night, and there are hugs and stuff."
She gave me a slightly sad look and said, "Yeah, your folks are weird. Normal grownups don't hug each other and all that."

Her parents divorced in our teens. Mine were together until Dad passed. They didn't have a flawless relationship, but they always thanked each other for daily niceties and made physical contact. Luckily, my husband and I are the same way.
posted by teleri025 at 7:32 AM on April 5 [20 favorites]

Many many smooches, lots of thank-yous, occasional light groping when they think no one is around, and my dad is fond of saying things like "Isn't your mother the most amazing, brilliant, fantastic person you can imagine??"
posted by Ausamor at 8:24 AM on April 5 [4 favorites]

My parents are the bickering sort, but they have always been open with kisses and hugs and general affection for each other. I thought it was super gross as a kid, but I'm thankful now that that was modeled for me.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:35 AM on April 5

They do a ton of things together but also support each other's individuality in hobbies/activities.

That said, they rarely spend time apart. My dad (now retired) traveled frequently for work and nearly always took the opportunity to fly home at 11pm rather than spend another night away from my mom.

They check in with each other (if dad's over here helping me with a house project, he'll call my mom to let her know when he'll be home and ask if he should pick up anything from the store on the way).

Both had challenging childhoods to different degrees and they seem to have a good understanding of each other's backstory and how best to be supportive.

Frequent but appropriate PDA.

They'll be married 49 years next week and they still try hard to make each other laugh.
posted by Twicketface at 9:04 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]

Fights were resolved in non-violent ways. There could be raised voices but one or the other would often step away to cool down before returning to the conversation. They always made a genuine effort to find a resolution to the problem that would satisfy both of them, and once a commitment to a change was made it was carried through. If they decided that going forward the bathrooms would be cleaned Saturday morning, say, then those bathrooms got cleaned every Saturday morning for the next twenty years.

They often touched affectionately - Dad would pat Mom on the butt, to the intense disgust of us kids, or they would dance together for half a song when tidying the kitchen.

They supported each other creatively. My Dad often wrote essays to submit to local radio programs, or short plays. Mom would proudly record them whenever they came on the radio. Mom loved to make photo albums and scrapbooks and Dad would look through them and exclaim and reminisce with her. They made time for each other to have hobbies.

They spent a lot of time apart in a non-judgmental and trusting way. My mom would join her (many!) sisters every summer for a month-long women-only visit at a vacation rental. Dad would travel to see his parents in another country for several-week long visits a couple of times per year. They never seemed to worry that not seeing each other during that time would change anything or put a strain on them. They were always happy to see each other when they reunited.

They were able to demonstrate a united front to us kids throughout the time we lived at home, which I think was showing another form of love for each other. As an adult I have realized that they did not always fully approve of each other's choices in regards to child-rearing but once a decision was presented to us the other parent backed them to the hilt.

I speak of them as a couple in past tense now because my Dad has passed but they were happily, even joyfully, married until the end.
posted by DSime at 9:20 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]

My parents are about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They started dating in their teens and got married very young, so they basically grew up together, around each other's extended families (my dad met my mom because he took my mom's sister on a couple dates first). They laugh together and have in-jokes that are half-a-century old by this point.

My dad is kind of a singular personality and tough to deal with sometimes, but deep down he knows this and he puts in the effort to make it clear to my mom that she's far too good for him and he's grateful every minute of every day that she puts up with his nonsense. (He probably would not put it this way at all, but I have known these people for 44 years and I know what I'm seeing.) Every morning while my mom was working he'd bring her a glass of OJ and a multivitamin while she was putting on her make-up. Mom is not great at self-care and he steps in to make sure that she is doing what she needs to do for herself. He takes her on romantic vacations on the regs. Mom for her part has supported my dad through an academic career, as a trailing spouse and a faculty wife. Academics of MeFi know the kind of devotion this takes. She's a serious introvert and also lacks even an undergraduate education, so playing that role is difficult for her, but she does it for him. (He's a wild extrovert. I take after my mom. My son takes after my dad. Help.)

Growing up we always lived in fairly small homes so every evening we'd all just pile on to one sofa. Physical closeness is just something I took for granted growing up, but one of the first guys I dated in college told me how in his family his mom has A Chair and his dad has A Chair and they never share space. Apparently that is not objectively weird, but it was super weird to me. I was like, but then how does your dad give your mom a foot rub?! o__0
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:21 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]

My grandparents are this for me, and they make each other laugh, all the time, every day, even when life is unpleasant (as it can be when you are 90.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:50 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]

My grandparents definitely loved each other and expressed it in all sorts of ways, even when he was occasionally the hen-pecked husband and she was sort of the matriarch.

It would be little things like bringing in flowers from the garden or remembering to help with something; reading a passage aloud from something or telling a cheesy joke from Reader's Digest. They just sort of shared everything with each other.

I miss them.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:56 AM on April 5 [4 favorites]

My parents were not very physically or verbally affectionate, but most nights I would hear them laughing and chatting in bed. They still crack each other up. They always express appreciation for each other for doing stuff too--making a meal, cleaning up a mess, etc. They leave each other notes when they go out, and my dad's are often in code (because it amuses them both) and they all end with "L, B" (L being "love.")

Now as an adult, I can see their affection for each other when they're out and about--they'll notice stuff and share it with each other and lean in to hear one another better. Since my dad has retired, he has taken on a bunch of housework that previously my mom did. (She was mostly a SAHM and my dad worked a hard physically tolling job, so a "traditional" gender division was how our house ran.) It's clearly love as an act of service. He has even said to me recently, I couldn't possibly clean enough toilets to make up for all the years that P cleaned them.
posted by purple_bird at 10:54 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]

My mom and stepdad married when I was 11, and it was a rocky several years of blending our families. In my late teens, I remember sitting at the kitchen counter while my stepdad made their lunches (they both worked the night shift at the hospital). He made the sandwiches totally different, even though they were both pb&j. One had everything spread to within an inch inside of the sandwich, and the other one went all the way to the edge of the crust. He commented that he didn't like getting stuff on his hands, but he knew that Mom liked her spreads to go all the way to the crust so he always made them for her that way.

I think about that comment almost every day. It really defined mature love for me - noticing the tiniest thing and doing it that way for the person you love, even if in your mind that is the "wrong" way to do it.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:53 AM on April 5 [20 favorites]

For me, as a kid it was gross, but as I got to be older I appreciated it: they were pretty inappropriate by most standards. I remember my mom flashing my dad from across the room, him grabbing her butt while she did dishes, things like that. They were playful and fun, and still are. They have been together for 40 years.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 1:25 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]

My dad used to buy my mom inappropriate greeting cards and he'd write naughty little messages in them. Unfortunately, I'd find them lying around all the time and get thoroughly squicked out--but I guess it was nice to know they had a healthy thing going on?

Pretty sure this is still taking place. They're in their late 60s/early 70s now. God willing, if they make it to their 80s I bet this will still be happening.
posted by duffell at 5:50 PM on April 5

When I was like four, my family went to the beach. My dad put sunscreen on me. Then, he poured out some more sunscreen and did something different. He rubbed the sunscreen in his palms for a few moments to warm it before carefully applying it to my mom’s face.

Even then, even as tiny as I was, that moment made me hushed.
posted by estlin at 7:14 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]

When I was in high school, there was a book sale and my mom donated some books. Later I was talking to a friend about my parents and she said WAIT A MINUTE, is your mom’s name [mom’s name]? Is your dad’s name [dad’s name]? Yes??

In one of the books from my mother was a birthday card to my father talking about how she loves that they still have that spark and he gives her that look and that they still find time together after the kids get on the bus and such. I got the card back and gave it to my mom. But yeah, that was embarrassing but sweet.
posted by kat518 at 7:48 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]

Mom and dad were always at ease with each other. Mom always worked, not because she had to, and dad was always supportive. In fact, he always put her first, and thereby taught me how to show love and respect to a woman. They were always joking as well, and never, ever hesitated to hug and kiss each other in front of my sister and me.

I really don't remember a lot of details. But I remember never, ever feeling insecure about their marriage or their love for us and each other.
posted by lhauser at 4:09 PM on April 6

My parents:
-make each other laugh
-kiss each other randomly
-kiss before leaving the house
-say "I love you" when ending a call, always
-still go on dates (and call them dates); post occasional selfies to FB while on said dates
-give each other cards for special occasions and write sappy messages inside that I now know to avoid reading
-write (wrote..) each other post-it notes letting the other know if the dog/s had been fed or taken out, when their schedules were wonky
-trade off on household chores, though Dad still mows the grass and clears the driveway of snow 98% of the time
-trade off on grocery duty depending on schedules

They are both entirely smitten with the other, and putting it into words has made me appreciate how much of their love shows in being aware of each others' needs. They're thoughtful; they keep each other apprised of things to know to make the household run smoothly. They go on trips together and genuinely enjoy each other's company, even if Dad does 100% of the driving (motorcycle or car). Mom tries to be a good conversationalist in return before napping.

As I've gotten older, I've started to realize how precious this is in a relationship, and honestly I'm really grateful to have grown up with their model of a relationship. I know it'll help put into perspective any future ones of mine.
posted by lesser weasel at 12:05 AM on April 8

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