During the decades that Exeter Events and Tents have spent in the wedding supply business we truly have seen it all when it comes to couples and their weddings, families and traditions. So when we saw this list relationship lessons we knew we had to share it with our fans. TV shows are interesting because you never know what to expect, right? Now I am sure there are more TV couples than the ones we listed here, and I am hoping everyone reading this will add their own couples to this list. We look forward to hearing from you.
Discover what you can learn about love when watching prime time’s famous duos
We know you watch your favorite television shows for all sorts of reasons—light entertainment, heart-tugging drama, a good belly laugh or just to have something to talk about at work the next day. But here’s another way to view some TV fare: as marital therapy! For decades we’ve watched fictional couples navigate some of the same relationship issues we cope with in real life. So what can you learn from thesesmall-screen marriages? We chose just a few of our favorite must-see-TV couples—past and present—and asked relationship experts to weigh in on what you can take away from their ups and downs.
Eric & Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights
The Taylors’ marriage has been called one of the best examples of a solid marriage ever portrayed on television. Why? They’re steadfastly supportive of one another, in a world where Tami’s outspoken nature might easily get the highly visible football coach in trouble. Plus, they’re so darned affectionate! They don’t hide their problems from each other (at least not for too long), and always present a united front as parents.
What you can learn: Teamwork is key. “So often relationships begin with that ‘teamwork’ attitude, but over time it evolves into ‘I want this for me,’” says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, psychologist and author of A Happy You. When both partners make their separate ambitions a mutual project, and support each other’s goals, they both win.
Photo: courtesy of NBC
Jim Halpert & Pam Beesly from The Office
Jim gets major points for persistence in this long-running, super-sweet relationship. Jim and Pam’s office romance was both suspenseful and adorable to watch unfold because we knew they should be together, and we could see the reasons why: These two are not just attracted to each other, they’re best friends. They take great delight in having fun together (even if it’s at Dwight’s expense sometimes)!
What you can learn: Never underestimate the power of pure fun to keep your relationship lively. “This couple’s private jokes and love of practical jokes keep them fresh,” says Dr. Lombardo. Plus, it shows how much they understand each other—and not just when it comes to pranks. Remember how Jim waited patiently while Pam pursued her art-school dream in New York City?
Photo: courtesy of NBC
Don & Betty Draper from Mad Men
Spoiler alert for those viewers who are a few seasons behind on this show: The Drapers are no longer together. And it’s no wonder, since their marriage was marred by serial infidelity and fundamental dishonesty. Don’s life is based on a gigantic lie and, up until their breaking point, Betty had no idea who her husband really was. Of course, Betty’s caught in her own delusions, living as she does in the pre-women’s-liberation era, knowing she wants more from her life, but still dependent on men (her father, then Don, then Henry Francis, her second husband).
What you can learn: Be yourself. And strive to not be financially dependent, or at least not financially in the dark, says cyber-romance coach Kathryn Lord. “She’s financially vulnerable, which is partly how Don gets away with all he gets away with. She has no other choice.”
Photo: courtesy of AMC
Tony & Carmela Soprano from The Sopranos
Infidelity is just the tip of the unhealthy-relationship iceberg in this mob marriage. Tony and Carmela’s whole life is a façade. Sure, it’s nice that the family gets together for Sunday dinners in their opulent suburban mini-mansion, but in between bites of baked ziti, Tony’s ordering hits on other mobsters. “Under the Sopranos’ veneer—the nice house, the two kids—is just murk,” says Lord. Carmela may be conscious of what supports her lifestyle, but she’s still unwilling to let it go.
What you can learn: Marriage is not commerce; if you base your decision of whom to marry (or whom to stay married to) on houses, cars, jewelry and vacations, you end up selling out yourself.
Photo: courtesy of HBO
Derek Shepherd & Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy
What a way to start a relationship! Meredith and Derek met at a bar and went home together—it wasn’t until Meredith showed up for her first day as a resident at Seattle Grace Hospital that she realized she’d slept with her new boss…who was married. Through seasons of ups and downs, they at long last got married (rather unconventionally, exchanging vows via sticky notes). But that long road of miscommunication, break-ups and make-ups, and even major secrets can harm them in the long run, says Dr. Lombardo.
What you can learn: Intense physical attraction only gets you so far. Though keeping secrets is never a great idea, Meredith has finally learned to open up to Derek—or at the very least, not take quite as long to share her thoughts, feelings and negative experiences. Dr. Lombardo adds, “They do seem to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and in the end, when they finally make the commitment to get married, they vow to put each other first.”
Photo: courtesy of ABC
Phil & Claire Dunphy from Modern Family
Who would want to be married to a doofus like Phil Dunphy? Hang on before you answer! Phil may be clueless and hapless sometimes, and his wife and family may laugh at him more than with him, but one thing you can’t fault him for: He loves his wife, his kids and his life. And even as Claire rolls her eyes at the camera, you can see she loves him, too—and appreciates him for exactly who he is, and nothing more.
What you can learn: Mutual respect is the bedrock of a healthy, lasting relationship, says Dr. Lombardo. If Claire were to complain to her friends that her husband is no help with the kids, or that he embarrasses her at parties, that would show a lack of respect—and Claire is always firmly on his side. Which is not only sweet, but crucial to a happy marriage.
Photo: courtesy of ABC
Dan & Roseanne Conner from Roseanne
This classic blue-collar couple broke all the rules regarding television families when the show aired during the 1980s and ’90s. They were overweight and unkempt, their house was far from Hollywood-perfect, they ate food that was bad for them and they yelled at their kids. But there was one thing you couldn’t help but take away from the show: Roseanne and Dan were in love with each other no matter how messy their lives.
What you can learn: Outside forces—the economy, bad bosses, family issues—are just that: outside. “Dan and Roseanne always stuck together through hard times, rather than letting circumstances pull them apart,” says Dr. Lombardo.
Photo: courtesy of Getty Images
Ray & Debra Romano from Everybody Loves Raymond
Sportswriter Ray and wife Debra could have had a normal-ish suburban life if not for the meddling of his parents, who live right across the street. It’s one thing to keep a marriage strong with three young kids underfoot; it’s quite another to stay close when your mother-in-law barges through the kitchen door on a daily basis!
What you can learn: Marriage should be priority number one, with families-of-origin occupying an important, but secondary, rung on the ladder. “If there’s a parent who can’t let go and see his or her child as an adult, and an adult child who doesn’t feel there’s anything wrong with that, the marriage will suffer,” says Lord.
Photo: courtesy of CBS