This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s summer intern
Olivia Charlson. Find her on Instagram at @olivialee2000. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My friends are all in different places in their love lives. Some have just started dating, some are getting married and I’ve been in a relationship since I was in high school. Zillennials are just starting out, even if some of us have had our fair share of loves and losses. We can’t possibly know all there is to know about forming the perfect bonds. It can help to try and listen to advice from older generations. I asked some people who are Generation X or Baby Boomers to fill in for our mentors today and share their responses to our relationship advice questions.
Married in 1965
Q: What is your definition of a loving marriage?
A: Compassion, understanding and being supportive of each other.
Q: What is it like growing and changing as a person while you are in a relationship?
A: It can be challenging. Sometimes the partner might feel threatened with you going in a new or different direction in the relationship and may be unsupportive.
Q: How did you adapt to changes in your relationship?
A: Mostly communication. It is important to discuss how you are feeling about the relationship. It keeps the barriers from breaking down.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants a long-term relationship?
A: Embrace it and go in knowing relationships are a give-and-take scenario. So I’d be making sure this person is on the same page about life with me. Values and whether that person is a good person are what matter.
Married in 1966
Q: What do you value when it comes to marriage?
A: This first one is easy: fidelity, commitment and partnership.
Q: How have your beliefs changed from when you first began dating to where you are now?
A: As the relationship matures, I began to appreciated the companionship and partnership aspects of a relationship more that the all other a factors.
Q: What is a healthy way to have a partner and have a sense of individuality?
A: Understand what your partner wants to accomplish and support them in achieving it.
Q: What advice would you offer to your grandkids about relationships?
A: Focus on friendship and understanding as the key to sustaining a healthy long term relationship.
Married in 2018
Q: How would you compare your views on relationships when you just started dating vs now?
A: I have always taken relationships seriously and felt they were an important part of my life. However, I was the kind of person who was never going to get married. Not for me!! Both my sisters are divorced and I never wanted kids, so I didn’t see the point. It wasn’t until I went through the remodel of my house with my then boyfriend that I knew I wanted to commit to a long-term relationship as husband and wife. Woody, the boyfriend, made a very stressful situation fun and exciting. He knew if he didn’t keep a positive attitude, it would be a difficult time in our lives. The heat, all the decision-making, all the chaos of sub-contractors, etc. added to our communication challenges. Woody made it fun. I knew I wanted to make a big change in our relationship as well as the house.
Q: What should someone know before they start showing signs of commitment (like moving in or sharing responsibilities)?
A: To me, there needs to be a level of trust. That you feel you know what the other person’s baseline is. Sharing responsibilities with someone or moving in together is not a good time for surprises.
Q: What have you learned about marriage so far?
A: I have learned that marriage made my relationship stronger. I feel so much more committed to “us.” I love making long-term plans and figuring out how we navigate things like sharing everything and retirement. There is a sense of security that wasn’t here before the marriage.
Q: What advice would you give someone who is looking for a partner?
A: Stop looking. Live your life, work on your health, your career, and your friends. A happy, healthy person will naturally be attractive to other people. Yoga is my happy place and I have met all my best friends, including Woody, in that space!
Baby Boomer/Generation X Cusper
Married in 1999
Q: If you could go back and give your younger self-relationship advice what would it be?
A: I would tell myself that as hard as it might be to do, be as much yourself as soon as possible and encourage your partner to do the same. In the beginning of a relationship, people tend to be on their best behavior, giving of themselves or accepting another perhaps in a way that is not sustainable. Certainly it is natural to want to “make a good impression” in the beginning — but be honest with yourself and your partner sooner than later.
Q: What is one of the most important things to know about marriage?
A: Listen to (ask questions, be interested in all that they do) and genuinely empathize with your partner — and ask that they do the same for you. Combine that with ensuring you both share the same goals as a couple.
Q: How have you learned to communicate with your partner over the years?
A: I learned (and continue to learn) to do this over time, a lot of it by trial and error. It is definitely helpful when my partner shares with me when I miss the mark, even if I keep missing it.
Q: What advice would you give someone who is balancing their life and love life?
A: Communicate your “life” needs as early in the relationship as you can. If you are the kind of person who needs solo time or needs “friend” time to keep you going in life, share that and make sure your partner understands what that actually means. If you want your life to completely revolve around your partner, share that too. And if you need to adjust over time, share that sooner than later.
Do you have any relationship advice quotes that a mentor shared with you? Do you have any other relationship advice questions we should answer? Let us know in the comments!