Growing up, my first television memories were those of I Love Lucy, Leave It To Beaver, and Father Knows Best. I remember thinking that the parents always looked so happy, but, of course, that could have just been the acting. Aside from all that pesky sexism, I wondered if the couples of an era gone by actually know the secret ingredient to a successful relationship. When it comes to lessons in love, there are old-fashioned ways couples strengthened their connection that we should bring back. Because, as it turns out, your grandparents might just know a thing or two.
Sometimes, going back to the basics is the best way to move forward. Whether you and your current partner have hit a rough patch and are trying to find your way back to each other or you just want to build on an already solid foundation, there are quite a few things we can learn from previous generations when it comes to fortifying that bond. So throw on your favorite lounging robe, grab a bottle of pop, put a record on, and check out these old-fashioned ways couples used to strengthen their connection that we should bring back.
1. Commit To Companionship
Back in the day, couples knew just how important it was to treat your partner like your best friend. As relationship expert Sam Owen told Self Growth, old-fashioned relationships relied on acting as a unit. Companionship was, and still is, integral to nurturing the connection you have with your significant other.
2. Find The Silver Lining
My grandparents grew up during the great depression and lived through World War II. So they made the most out of whatever life had given them. That quality — being optimistic even when times are hard — is key to strengthening any relationship, as licensed psychotherapist Richard Zwolinski told Psych Central. Seeing the glass half-full might be worth a try.
3. Try And Try Again
There are times, of course, when you have to leave a relationship. But it's interesting to note that, according to data from the Pew Research Center (PRC), divorce rates were at their lowest between the 1950s and '60s. One of the theories behind the numbers is that the Silent Generation — people born between the mid 1920s and early 1940s according to the PRC — put consistent effort into making their relationship work before calling it quits. Perhaps a retro way to bolster your connection is to fix small challenges to prevent them from turning into an irreparable situation.
4. Say It
My mom's dad passed away when she was just 9 years old, leaving behind my grandmother, and her six children. Soon after, a wonderful man fell in love with her and their house expanded to nine children. They were married for nearly 50 years when she passed after a long battle with vascular dementia. No matter what challenges came their way, my grandparents believed it was important to verbalize and show their love in equal measure. If there is one thing their relationship taught me, it was to say, "I love you," say it often, and mean it.
5. Truly Connect
Is living in such an advanced age good for relationships? As psychology professor Azadeh Aalai told Psychology Today, technology can interfere with romance — a problem that is decidedly modern. So the next time you see your significant other, make a deal to disconnect from the tech world and connect each other.
6. Be Lawyers
One thing that hasn't changed much in the past several decades is that most people care about their reputation. As Owen told Self Growth, an old-fashioned principle in relationships was that you were each other's lawyer. Let your SO know that you would go to bat for them and they'll know your bond is unshakable.
7. Get On The Same Page
Whether or not you believe in the institution of marriage, making sure you and your partner talk about major life issues is a significant way to reinforce your connection. Traditionally, couples would attend pre-marriage counseling (religious or otherwise) before entering into such a serious commitment, as Zwolinski explained to Psych Central. This was a way to find out where each individual stood on certain topics and revealed any strengths or deficits in the relationship. Frequent check-ins to ensure you're both on the same page is one old-fashioned habit that's bound for a comeback.
8. Share The Burden
Recent data contradicts the misogynistic stereotype most people have about couples from the Baby Boomer era. The Boomer generation was born between the mid '40s and early '60s, according to the PRC. What might surprise you is that 59 percent of Boomers made equality a cornerstone in a relationship, as research from PRC showed. Sharing responsibilities with your SO means you'll share in the payoff equally, too.
9. Pen A Poem
If your idea of a sweet note is, "I <3 u," you may find this interesting. In a survey published on the official website for BBC News, 62 percent of respondents had never written a love letter. So pick up a pen and let the literary legends of old inspire you to compose a heartfelt message to your lover.
10. Set Priorities
If you and your SO have children, they may have taken the spotlight when it comes to setting your schedules. According to a study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information's official site, in post-World War II family dynamics, couples invested in their relationship more than in their children because they believed a strong partnership would benefit the whole family. In that same study, modern couples put their children's needs ahead of their own. Perhaps remembering that you were partners before you were parents will help you strengthen that connection.
11. Motivate More
Everyone appreciates having their own personal cheerleader, right? According to Reader's Digest, an old-fashioned practice is to cheer your partner on in life and love. It's an easy way to boost your bond and it always feels good to know you and your SO have each other's support.
12. Make A Soundtrack
Back in the day, couples made each mix tapes as a sign of affection and a way to communicate their love through the words in a song. As it turns out, they were on to something. According to a study published in the Scientific Reports medical journal, "listening to a favorite song affects functional connectivity in regions involved in self-referential thought and memory encoding." Basically, when you hear a special song that reminds you of your lover, it quite literally strengthens your feelings and memories about them.
13. Put A Stamp On It
Regardless of whether or not you and SO live together, you can implement this old-fashioned way couples used to fortify their connection. My grandparents used to send telegrams and letters to each other while apart. My grandmother used to tell me how much she looked forward to getting a piece of mail because it meant my grandfather took the time to let her know he was thinking of her. There's just something special about opening a piece of post from your lover.
14. Admit And Apologize
Blame it on social media or worshiping fame, but taking ownership of a bad situation seems to be an antiquated idea. As licensed therapist Beverly Engel told Psychology Today, "when we receive an apology, a person who has been harmed feels emotional healing when [they are] acknowledged by the wrongdoer." No matter how big or small the infraction, apologizing to your partner validates the strength of your relationship.