A Grandmother's Guide to Love and Relationships

With the recent celebration of Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but think as a single woman, “When am I going to meet my person”? Also, having never experienced a serious relationship, I have no idea how it truly feels to be in love or know you’ve found the right person—but I do know of someone who does. In order to get all the advice on what makes a stable, healthy relationship, I asked my 78-year-old grandmother, Louise MacNamara, who has been married to my grandfather for over 55 years, to offer her wisdom to single women, myself included, who are looking for love.

My grandparents met in their early 20s when my grandfather’s cousin, who taught school with my grandmother, introduced the two of them. Since then, they have had two kids, six grandkids, and tons of nieces and nephews, and have been inseparable since the day they met. Although they have moved on from their days of taking on their favorite pastimes like traveling and road trips, going to dances at their church, or getting dinner with friends, I still see the undying love they have for each other everytime I see them. 

According to my grandmother, she knew my grandfather was the one for her when she saw his “strong face,” the way he treated and loved his family, and his kindness and generosity. She jokingly added that one of the many things she loves about him is when he lets her watch the shows she wants to watch, which is a plus. However, not everyone notices these things at first, and the feeling you get when you find your soulmate is not the same for everybody. When I asked my grandmother how you know when you have found the right person, she said you always want to be around them, no matter what. 

When it comes to fights and conflicts, my grandmother says that the best way to fix things is to sit down and talk about it, instead of walking away, pouting, and ignoring the conflict. In any stable relationship, communication is key. It is important to hear the other person’s feelings and acknowledge them, rather than only thinking of your own.  Another key ingredient to a stable relationship, she added, is to never hold grudges. Holding grudges only adds tension to the relationship: it is better to forgive the other person and move on. 

Lastly, I asked my grandmother if she had any advice for single people like myself who are looking for a relationship. The first thing she said was to be yourself. If you pretend to be somebody else, you will be stuck with somebody who is a better fit for your fake personality, rather than your true, unique self, and you will be unhappy. Also, watch how they treat other people. If they treat others with respect, then they might just treat you right. This was why one of the things about my grandfather that caught her eye was the way he treated his family and other loved ones. He treated them with kindness and respect, just the way he has treated her the past 55+ years.

My grandparents’ marriage is truly one that I view as the template for an ideal relationship. Even in the toughest of times, they are always there to support and love each other. It is no surprise that they have lasted this long, and their relationship is only growing stronger day by day. I hope that all men and women can one day be in a relationship just like my grandparents.