I Asked 6 Couples To Give Real-World Relationship Advice From The Heart
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I Asked 6 Couples To Give Real-World Relationship Advice From The Heart

It's true—honesty does make the best policy... even with relationships.

I Asked 6 Couples To Give Real-World Relationship Advice From The Heart
Debuxio Photography

I guess it depends on the couple, but now a days, you hardly ever see things like high school sweethearts. You rarely see people really lasting past a few months. And more often than not, when the going gets tough, more and more often we're witnessing people bail on each other.

My faith in things like love got shaken for a little bit, until I remembered that I knew a whole heap ton of happy couples. And so I decided to compile this little interview from couples all over, of different ages and all different variations, who seem to have it put together well enough to be considered "OTPs," or for those of you not savy to internet jargon, "One True Pairings" as their friends seem to think.

And without further ado, here are six couples and their 10 pieces of advice for a successful relationship:

Couple 1: DJ & Tara

Couple 2: Mark & Cheryl

Couple 3: Chris & Meagan

Couple 4: Brianne & Courtney

Couple 5: Jimmy & Krisztina

Couple 6: Ronnie & Bria

Couple 7: Justin & Lauren

1. How did you two meet?

DJ: "OkCupid, and then met face to face at a local diner."

Mark: "We met at a private club, through mutual friends."

Meagan: "Through a friend, he was her roommate."

Courtney: "We worked an EMS shift together. Although we had briefly met years earlier while I was working a shift with her best friend."

Krisztina: "One of his best friends was my roommate, and he brought over hot chocolate one night."

Ronnie: "We met on OkCupid!"

Justin: “We originally met in our freshman year of high school. We were both in our high school band. I also may have cheated off Lauren’s work in French class (je suis desole). We actually started talking to each other in the summer after our sophomore year at Relay For Life.”

2. Who approached who?

DJ: "I messaged Tara first because she mentioned a band I like in her profile. At the diner I ran up to her car like a maniac."

Cheryl: "He approached me."

Meagan: "He approached me. He was drunk and very talkative, haha."

Brianne: "There was no approaching, we were working!"

Krisztina: "He approached me, but not right away."

Bria: "I messaged him first!"

Lauren: “Definitely Justin, I’m too shy.”

3. Was it love/like at first sight?

Tara: "Definitely love at first sight."

DJ: "For sure."

Cheryl: "For me, yes."

Mark: "No."

Meagan: "I thought he was cute for sure. It was at least like at first/second sight."

Chris: "Like."

Courtney: "I liked her right away."

Brianne: "It was lust for me. Definitely thought it could go somewhere, but I wasn't sure."

Krisztina: "Absolutely!"

Jimmy: "Absolutely."

Bria: "When we met 7 months later it literally felt like everything froze and it was it was him and I at that moment."

Ronnie: "Well not at first encounter, meeting online makes things a little different than in person. But there was certainly something special there. I was ignoring most messages I was getting from women as I had just started to get over a woman who wronged me. Something made me check what Bria had said and it being a quote from my favorite movie lead us to talk. Later when we finally did get to meet in person, we had been waiting so long for that moment that it felt like love at first sight."

Justin: “I wish I could say I believe in love at first sight - that’s the fairytale - but I can say this: There’s no one that I’ve ever cared for as much as I do Lauren. Even after we both went through some rough patches and tough breakups, we were actually always there for each other. It just speaks to the trust we have always had, and have, in one another.”

Lauren: “No, but as we started getting to know each other more, I definitely fell for him. Quickly. He’s definitely a charmer, haha. However, before we started dating again in the summer of 2016, I realized how serious our relationship would be if we got back together. I knew I was going to marry him.”

4. First date?

Tara: "Our first official date didn’t happen until we were officially together. It started with mini golf and Italian ice, then swimming, followed with dinner at Red Robin and a movie."

Cheryl: "Seaside Boardwalk."

Chris: "We went on a 16-hour first date. We got coffee and went go-karting. Then we got hibachi, we went mini golfing, we got ice cream, and then we watched a movie. After, I dropped her back off at home."

Meagan: "Date started at 12 p.m. and ended around 2 a.m., sealed with a kiss."

Courtney: "We went to a pub. I had buffalo chicken strips and a beer, and she had a Malibu and cranberry. We chatted non-stop the whole time, but I thought she wasn't interested at the end of the date because she rushed off. Awkward!"

Krisztina: "We had known each other a while, and he asked me out to dinner. I remember being super impressed that he had made reservations. I wouldn't let him take care of the check, so he bought ice cream for us after."

Ronnie: "Our first date was just hanging out together, taking a walk through the mall. I was expecting a nice romantic dinner for us but when I asked what she had wanted she only wanted McDonald's, haha. I wasn’t thrilled, but I like McDonald's too so I accepted it haha.

Lauren: “High School? Panera. Summer of 2016? It’s debatable, we got drinks a few times to catch up. And they could definitely be considered dates now, but I didn’t consider them at the time. But that first time we got drinks to catch up that summer, it was at the Brew works.”

5. How long have you two been together?

Tara: "Started dating July 2014. Been married since Halloween of 2015. You do the math!"

DJ: "Four years not married, three years married."

Mark: "Fourteen years."

Cheryl: "Fifteen in June!"

Meagan: "In July we will have been together for seven years. September we'll be married for one!"

Courtney: "Just shy of four years..."

Brianne: "3 years, 8 months."

Krisztina: "Almost 2.5 years!"

Bria: "3 years in May!"

Justin: “About a year and a half.”

Lauren: “1.5 years in high school, and 1.5 years (6 months engaged) now.”

6. Do you guys have any tips for younger couples? Any advice to help them navigate and make a long-lasting relationship?

DJ: "When you know, you know—it's not a lie."

Tara: "Never go to bed angry. Always tell the truth, even if it’ll hurt them. If you can’t tell the truth to your partner, why are you even with them?"

Cheryl: "Communication and compromise are key. When you're mad, say your piece, but listen to theirs as well. Don't dismiss each other's feelings. If there is no compromise, agreeing to disagree is very important. Also, always be sure to take time for yourself... go out to dinner or a movie with your friends. Have a girls night. TRUST each other."

Mark: "Talk. Trust and be there for each other and avoid social media."

Meagan: "Be with someone who is your best friend and makes you laugh. There are days that will test you and make you wonder if you’ll make it. But as long as you talk about everything, don’t hold things in, don’t let thing stew and get worse, it will help you both be confident in your relationship. Communication is seriously key. Like, you want someone who knows your Chik-Fil-A orde,r but also knows that you’re not upset and crying over frozen vegetables, that’s it’s really an anxiety attack and just pulls you into a hug until you can breathe again. It’s important to know each other...and the only way to know what you don’t is by talking and putting in the work."

Chris: "Don't rush into things."

Courtney: "Listen to each other. Make time for each other. Don't be an asshole?"

Brianne: "Make sure that you talk things out. Always come to a solution or compromise that will make everyone happy."

Krisztina: "Be yourself from the beginning. Communication is everything. You need to be able to talk to each other about anything. Always remember you love each other, but don't expect to always like each other. There might be arguments, but at the end of the day, you shouldn't go to bed mad. (That might be unavoidable sometimes, like when you've just finished a 10-hour car ride back from Boston and were arguing about something stupid but are too tired to discuss it further. Regardless, we ended up cuddling in our sleep and woke up not even remembering what the argument was about)."

Jimmy: "Learn to laugh a lot and not hold a grudge. Don't keep score because you don't know everything the other one does. Also, say I love you at some point during the day. Be yourself and be a couple."

Bria: "Be patient, make sure to communicate how your feeling it will go a long way, and don’t give up so easily when times get just a little tough."

Ronnie: "My advice for younger couples would be to take the time to get to know yourself first. We have seen friends’ relationships come and go, and yet they insist on rushing into it when they do what they hate their partner doing or they create rules for the other or themselves that are just silly. If you take some time to see who you are and what you want then you will at least have a place to start. It'll help you determine if who you are with is compatible and if they want the same thing/are heading in the same direction."

Lauren: “Communicate. Don’t let problems simmer, and always have an open and honest conversation about how you’re feeling things. Also, don’t take the other person for granted. Let them know every single day how much they mean to you.”

Justin: “Go on a lot of awkward dates to find out what you do/don’t like. Be selective and be patient. If trust doesn’t exist, don’t bother being in a relationship. I’m not a firm believer in the whole “relationships are hard work.” To me, it’s not a good sign if you have to work through a relationship from the start. Especially prior to all the challenges that life after school brings (not that school isn’t tough!) That’s not to say you need to find the perfect relationship where you agree about everything (except sports teams, thank goodness Lauren roots for Michigan, and the eagles), because that doesn’t exist. However when you have differences, be sure to talk through them. One of the strengths Lauren and I have is that we call each other out on our BS. That resolves so many issues before they become serious. Just communicate. Having a bad day? Communicate it.”

7. Is there anything that you guys do to keep the romance alive? Keep the fire burning? Things you two do specifically to make the other know you're still in love?

DJ: "Random acts of intimacy. I kiss Tara all the time, tell her I love her, stare at her while she’s sleeping (not in a creepy way)."

Tara: "Random acts of passion/affection. I’ll text DJ and tell him what he’s doing to me that night when he gets home from work. It definitely happens, if he initiates it, if he gets the kids to bed while I get a chance to relax."

Cheryl: "Say I love you a lot! Put a little note in his lunch or in his car. Send flowers....just because. Build each other up tell them they are pretty or handsome."

Mark: "Hold hands and kiss all the time."

Courtney: "Now that we have Avery, making time for each other is that much more important. We have a monthly lunch and massage date where we get a chance to catch up with each other. Bri also feels appreciated when I get something done around the house whether it's a meal, the dishes, or cleaning the floor. I guess you could say that's her love language."

Brianne: "We go for a monthly mommy day. We get massages and lunch while just spending the days with each other and talking about life."

Meagan: "I’m more of the romantic, so I’m a fan of leaving notes. They’re sweet and just something you get to keep with you whenever you need it. I mean, there’s a bunch of different things that cover all of the above *cliche moment* we say I love you every day, random appreciative texts, notes, snuggle, I’ll make his lunch, he’ll start laundry while I’m asleep on the weekends. The romance, the fire, the love...it’s all wrapped up in little extra everyday things. It’s not about big gestures for us, we barely do anything for Valentine’s Day. Maybe dinner and a card.:

Chris: "Little texts throughout the day, back and forth to each other too."

Krisztina: "We go on adventures as often as we can. We dance in the kitchen. We sign up for runs. We took up swing dancing. And we tell each other we love each other often. But sometimes it's as simple as realizing we both wanted hot wings for dinner because neither of us wanted to do the dishes anyway."

Jimmy: "Go out to runs, get dinner together, have a dog. Little things, big things."

Bria: "We make sure to go out on date nights. Ronnie loves to make sure he buys me little things here and there especially during that time of the month, and on anniversaries we always remind ourselves how lucky we are that this relationship turned out just how we wanted it."

Ronnie: "I'm big into making sure that the little things are still done and that we still have date nights. What I mean by little things is that I will surprise her with gestures and gifts. If I get out of work early and know that it's about to be that time of the month, I'll surprise her with a survival pack of meds, chocolate, and maybe a cute plush. And date nights for us don’t need to be spectacular or expensive. Sometimes it's a nice dinner and a movie or sometimes just window shopping at the mall. We just try to break up the routine from being boring."

Justin: “I tell Lauren how much she means to me every day, and she reciprocates. Even with our busy lives - and conflicting schedules - we try to at least have one date night to ourselves.”

Lauren: “Date nights! Our schedules are currently pretty opposite, so we try to spend as much time together when we can. We try to go out, just the two of us, at least once a week. We also both are very open with how we feel for each other and are appreciative of the things we do for one another. (One small example: S/O to Justin for being the best fiance and always shoveling out my car after all the snowstorms!) Also, the little things always mean the most. Little things add up to big things.”

8. What was the best advice anyone has ever given you about love? Was it true? Did it help you in your current relationship today?

Tara: "Let your partner know you love them by saying it or just by getting them a cheesy Hallmark card. It’ll show them that you’re thinking about them even if they know you love them. When I get random cards for DJ or leave him a scribbled note to see, he loves it. It definitely helps us out now since we get so caught up in the two kids and life in general."

DJ: "A happy wife is a happy life. 100% true. If Tara isn’t happy then I’m not happy."

Cheryl: "To listen to each other...yes, it is very true no one wants to feel like their significant other doesn't care. Yes, it helps Our relationship, just like many others, go through rough patches. But when you listen to each other, it is much easier to fix things."

Mark: "You gotta listen, and yes... It's very true."

Courtney: "I don't know that I've ever gotten any advice about love that I've taken to heart. I think it's important to look at a healthy relationship and see how they talk and resolve issues."

Brianne: "Aunt Hun and Uncle Bub always told me to always kiss goodnight and never go to bed angry. it totally applies and totally makes things better!"

Meagan: "I don’t know if I ever got specific advice, but I watched my parents get a divorce, and I recognized many of the issues and promised to not allow them in my relationships. I’m pretty sure everyone’s has heard “don’t go to bed angry” and I value that statement. It’s rare that we’ve done it, but it’s really exhausting and takes its toll on us for the next day. We talk it out. Sorry. I sound like a therapist, but man, we talk. We pick our battles, own up to our bullshit, and remember why we got married, why we love each other and that this relationship deserves everything we have to get through the rough times."

Chris: "I don’t remember getting any advice about love..."

Krisztina: "It's okay to not like each other 100% of the time. Yes! It's the truth. If you expect to like each other all the time, you think every fight will be the end. You won't agree 100% of the time, and that's okay."

Jimmy: "No advice. Just remember this is between you and them, and it's your path to blaze together. Listen to advice on major things like buying a house, kids, and things that experience would help with. You're not your parents or theirs so take advice with a grain of salt."

Bria: "The best advice I ever got was that communication and trust are the foundations of the relationship and with that comes a love that is unbreakable because you have each other’s backs. It 100% helps with our relationship to this day especially with doing long distance for two years of it."

Ronnie: "I can't really think of too much advice I was given. Everyone has their own needs, expectations, and preferences. What has worked for friends hasn’t always worked for me. When it came to meeting and dating Bria, things came naturally. I didn’t have to change who I was or what I wanted to do to please her, and she didn’t have to change herself for me. At the risk of sounding cliche, we just clicked and everything was smooth sailing."

Justin: “Don’t force it, and when it comes, you’ll know. For me, this cliche actually came true. With Lauren, when we started seeing each other again, it didn’t take long for me to 100% know that she was going to be the woman I marry.”

Lauren: “Ahh… Drawing a blank on this one.”

9. What is the one thing you think hinders growth in relationships?

Tara: "Not being completely honest or hiding even little things from your partner."

DJ: "Lack of communication."

Cheryl: "Not communicating or compromising."

Mark: "Not listening, trusting, or talking."

Courtney: "Lack of communication."

Brianne: "Not talking about your feelings and holding back what really bothers you. You really need to make sure your feelings are expressed before they make you implode."

Meagan: "Pride and egos. UGH, PRIDE AND EGOS. I know you said one but these go hand in hand. We admit we’re wrong when we’re wrong, it’s not always easy but it’s a huge thing. He wasn’t big on communication when we started dating, no one ever made it out to be important. But we spent plenty of sleepless nights and tears pushing through and making it a staple in our relationship. Sometimes we still have those nights, but they’re few and far between because it’s just the norm to talk about everything now."

Chris: "Secrets."

Krisztina: "Being too attached to who you were as an individual. Parts of your life are going to change when you're part of a couple."

Jimmy: "Fear, itself. Just be yourself and be honest."

Bria: "Not being honest with your significant other. That means secrets are kept and you guys aren’t growing together, your growing separately and that can be hard for anyone honestly."

Ronnie: “Lack of honesty. Either to the partner or themselves. Lies will break a relationship up fast, and trust is like a piece of paper: once it's crinkled, it can never really be perfect again, and once someone's trust is broken even if they try to look past it, it’ll always be a "what if" in the back of their head. As for lying to themselves, it's like I said before, if you don't learn yourself and what you need then you won't be happy. If you find you constantly have to change yourself or want them to change how they are, then it's simply not meant to be.”

Justin: “Trust issues, lack of communication.”

Lauren: “I think relationship growth is hindered when people aren’t willing to grow together. Life can be really complicated, and change is unavoidable. I think a beautiful thing about relationships is when two people who are on different paths come together and figure out how their paths merge together and then navigate the rest of life together (Wow that sounds WAY cornier than I mean it to, haha, but hopefully you get what I’m trying to say…) Having the right partner beside you makes life so much less complicated, and SO much better.”

After interviewing these couples, I feel like there's a little more assurance in the world that real love is out there. Whether it's someone you've bumped into once or twice before and just missed, someone you meet by chance, or a long distance relationship, love is only defined by what you believe it to be.

It's out there waiting to teach you lessons, bring you blessings. Whether it happens today or in ten years, lasts a few moments or a lifetime, take it for everything it's worth. Embrace it.

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