AKA my parents.
My parents have been together for over 20 years. They’ve known each other since they were born, grew up as neighbors, were best friends for a long time, didn’t start to date until their 20’s, had me in their late 20’s, had my brother in their early 30’s, got married in their early 40’s, and are still happily together to this day.
They have an average relationship dynamic. My mom talks a lot, my dad doesn’t say much, but together they just kind of complement each other.
Every week is the same routine. Dad picks mom up from work, they get home, mom makes dinner while dad watches TV in the kitchen and helps her if she asks, They clean the kitchen, go upstairs and take showers, talk for a while, and go to bed. On weekends, they watch TV until midnight or a little later while eating fish balls and drinking wine.
A little over a year ago my mom got a job that requires her to travel a few times a year. So far she’s gone 5 times. She’s gone now, and it always goes the same:
Dad gets home earlier than usual since he doesn’t have to pick up mom. Instead of hibernating in the kitchen, he checks on me and my brother. He asks us about our days and asks if we want to eat anything. Today he took me to Taco Bell for dinner. He doesn’t usually do these things because he knows our mom does, and he usually only talks to us if we’re in the room he’s in. He makes sure we’re fed, he talks to us, and he tells us to go to bed at night. Not exactly following in my mom’s footsteps, but he’s definitely more involved than he is when she’s home.
Of course I know my dad cares about us, but he’s just a man of few words. When my mom is out, he tries to take care of the house in his own way.
Even though she’s not there, he still stays in the kitchen. I think it’s probably out of habit. He doesn’t say anything but I know he misses her. When he plays on his iPad, I see him occasionally checking her Facebook, maybe hoping she posted a picture or updated what she’s doing. My dad usually goes to sleep around 9 PM, but for some reason he stays up an hour or two later whenever she’s gone. He usually sleeps at the time she sleeps when she’s home. For what reason, I don’t know. Whenever she’s gone, he sleeps with the lights on. For what reason, again, I don’t know.
My mom is more open about her missing us. She texts all day, she calls in her free time. She asks how my dad’s doing and what he’s doing and she tells me to tell him goodnight because she knows that he likes to leave his phone downstairs at night because he doesn’t like it bothering him at night. And she tells me to be aware of him at night, and to check on him because, even though it’s really rare, he’ll wake up screaming in the middle of the night sometimes. It happens probably less than 5 times a year, but she still tells me to make sure he’s okay.
As a psychology student, I’m very concerned as to why my father has occasional night terrors since they’re highly uncommon in adulthood, but that’s not my point. My point is that even though there’s such a small small small small small percent chance of something happening to my father, she still tells me to make sure he’s okay. And since my mom is gone, my dad sleeps with the lights on. Sometimes he even arranges the pillows on her side and hugs them. What this tells me is that my mom comforts him.
He barely talks to his own kids, but he talks to her. He has no reason to be in the kitchen sitting on those hard stools all evening purely besides keeping my mom company. He can’t sleep with the light off when she’s not there. When I was younger, I always took my father’s silence as apathy. My brother takes after him, so I took my brother as an apathetic person as well. But it’s not true. It took me a long time to realize that just because someone doesn’t show love in the same way as me doesn’t mean that the love isn’t there.
Love is shown in so many different ways.
They always say that people tend to fall in love with people similar to their parents. I do think I’m dating a guy a lot like my father.
My boyfriend is hardworking. He’s kind. He doesn’t say much, but he always listens, and he always remembers even when I don’t think he does. I always make grand gestures like baking him cookies or cupcakes or drawing him pictures or writing him letters, but that’s how I show my love. He shows his by sending me an occasional “Whacha up to?” in the middle of the day. He shows his love by sending me funny pictures he found on the internet that he thinks will make me laugh. He shows his love by texting me a good morning as soon as he wakes up and a good night right before bed. They’re all subtle things, but they all mean I love you.
Every relationship is different, but that doesn’t make them any less wonderful than the other.