Most of us go to our closest friends for relationship advice, and we tend to ignore the suggestions given to us by people older than we are who may not have experienced our current dating culture. However, sometimes, old-fashioned wisdom holds true, and
relationship advice from grandma on how to make things last may be the best advice you can get. She might reference dates at the local diner or use lingo like "going steady," but embedded in these outdated dating terms are some nuggets of relationship advice you might actually want to consider.
"Time-honored advice holds true because, while fashions, fads and technology change, the basic skills of human communication, cooperation and commitment don’t,"
couples psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, LMFT, Ph.D. tells Bustle. "A healthy, happy, lasting relationship needs the same abilities to share thoughts and feelings with each other, to work through problems with the intent of reaching a solution rather than just browbeating each other about who’s right or wrong, and to hang in there, through good times and bad."
It's tempting to brush off the suggestions of someone who grew up in a different era, but it's time to think twice about ignoring what they have to say. Here are nine tips from your grandma on how to have a successful, long-lasting relationship experts say you should actually listen to.
"You’ll Catch More Flies With Honey Than Vinegar"
Grandma is right: The way we speak to each other matters. "The tone and content of our conversations determine the level of intimacy that we can create,"
relationship therapist Shadeen Francis, MFT tells Bustle. "The Gottman Institute talks about four predictors of divorce that can arise in the way partners communicate with one another: contempt, stonewalling, resentment, and blaming. These dynamics are really easy to enter when we are upset or hurt by one another, and they only make matters worse. Although effortful, it is worth putting in the extra effort to watch our tone and to speak to each other with kindness and respect."
Being polite will never go out of style, and
showing gratitude to your partner can help you feel more connected and attentive — and even give you a more positive outlook on life. "Expressions of gratitude in our relationships helps us feel seen and loved by our partners," says Francis. "It is as easy as saying thank you for the little things and making requests rather than demands."
"Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry"
With all this technology, it's harder to keep things private these days, but just like your grandma did back when there was no Facebook, keep aspects of your relationship to yourself. Once you've shared your arguments or your partner's mistakes on social media, you can't take it back says Francis.
"Keep Your Family Traditions"
Grandma is all about her family traditions, and you might want to take note. "Yes, variety is an important part of keeping our relationships feeling exciting, but there is benefit to having built meaningful rituals that you and your partner share and hold sacred," says Francis. "The family traditions that stick invariably emphasize shared values and quality time. These rituals often serve as special symbols of your love for each other."
"Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They’ve Hatched"
It's easy to get excited by a relationship, but it is important to not only manage your expectations, but make sure you don't take your relationship for granted. "Our expectations and hopes can lead to disappointment in our relationships if we don’t talk through our desires, make concrete plans, and follow through," says Francis. "Allow yourselves the time to build a foundation, and trust that you need to make realistic judgments about your relationship."
"What's Their Family Like?"
Grandma wants to know about your partner's family, and she has good reason to inquire. "Observing the way your [partner's] family interacts will show you what good and bad relating habits your [partner] learned from the cradle," says Tessina. Once you see your partner with their family, Tessina says you can use this info to help overcome potentially bad habits and understand your partner more fundamentally.
"Be Honest With Yourself"
It's simple, but your grandma knew best when she told you to dig deep and figure out how you're really feeling. "Owning your feelings and expressing them without self-judgment is hard to do, especially in matters of the heart," therapist Shira Myrow, curriculum co-director at
Evenflow, tells Bustle. "Repressing or denying your feelings only complicates getting to the truth about how you actually feel. Even if someone doesn’t always reciprocate your feelings, practicing being direct and authentic will always serve you in your relationship life."
“Never Let The Sun Go Down On An Argument”
"I see so many couples who have long-standing resentment from arguments they haven’t resolved for months or years," says Tessina. "Although it can be useful to take a break and give both of you time to calm down so you can reach an agreement, it is not helpful to avoid talking about things that are upsetting to one or both of you. Resolve things as timely as you can. Learn negotiation skills so you can solve problems together."
“Don’t Give Up. Fix Whatever Is Broken"
Grandma wouldn't want you to give up over a little bump in the road, and she is right. "The seemingly easy availability of other people to date through apps makes it seem simple to just let go and [find] someone else," says Tessina. "But no relationship is perfect, and most issues can be fixed. By working on whatever is not going well in your current relationship, you will learn critical skills, and if it doesn’t work out in the end, you’ll have a much better understanding of what you need for the next relationship."
Grandma may not know what it's like to date in today's world, but she sure has some timeless advice that's worth heeding.