I asked my Grandma Carol: “What are Qualities to look for when thinking about Marriage?”

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Ask Grandma: What are the Keys to look for in Lasting Love?

12 Things to look for when considering Marriage.

I’m in Virginia, visiting my charming lovely Aunt Liz and her handsome husband David, and my grandma Carol, who’s moved to be close to them since her husband Ferd passed away last year.

Yesterday, Grandma Carol and I were talking, just filling the time waiting for Aunt Liz, who was in the vet’s office taking care of her cat Ginger. So, finding myself with time with my grandma, sitting on a bench to get some fresh air on a busy downtown street near Richmond, I asked her for some advice on an important subject.

She’s one of the few whose answer I care about and respect, and DJ of Hanuman Festival and the Global Glue Project had asked me to interview her re: longterm commitment and marriage and love and all that. After talking for a minute, I remembered to turn on my iPhone and record the conversation. Below is most of it…it went on and on and I’ve left out most of our random observations and silliness.


[our conversation picked up at a random point] Grandma Carol: …Well I’m assuming you wouldn’t fall in love with someone who wasn’t good-looking.

Waylon Lewis: So you’re saying “good-looking” is the most important quality to look for when thinking about marriage?

Grandma Carol: No!

Waylon Lewis: Really: that’s the only thing that matters….for marriage.

Grandma Carol: I didn’t say that! [Laughter]


Waylon Lewis: No, so, you said patience first. ‘Cause patience is important so they don’t get mad n’stuff. Is that what you mean?

Grandma Carol: Yah, ’cause you could get mad for almost any reason at any time.

Waylon Lewis: Dumb reasons.

Grandma Carol: This is a tough one, it’s easy to mess up.

Waylon Lewis: Yeah.


Grandma Carol: Kind.


Grandma Carol: Funny. Because life is so serious, you need some humor.

Waylon Lewis: To keep things fresh.

Grandma Carol: Yes.


Grandma Carol: Good looks.


Grandma Carol: A neat, clean house. I’ve been in a lot of houses and I’m shocked at how messy they are.

Waylon Lewis: What qualities are not important? Because a lot of people go for charm, good looks, love…

Grandma Carol: Love doesn’t last. Look for…




…And sex. Good sex.

Waylon Lewis: Friendship and sex. But what makes sex interesting long-term? ‘Cause short-term it’s just attraction.

Grandma Carol: Well, it’s a feeling that you enjoy one another tremendously.

Waylon Lewis: What did you love about Grandpa Ferd? What did you like about him at first? He had a pipe.

Grandma Carol: No, I don’t think that counted.


I liked the way he spoke…That was always important, the voice.

Waylon Lewis: How’s my voice?

Grandma Carol: You have a very masculine voice.

Waylon Lewis: Whew. Oh, good.

Grandma Carol: I haven’t thought about that before, but that’s one of the first things that comes to you.

Waylon Lewis: Like Edward R. Murrow, Winston Churchill…yeah, that’s interesting: good voice.


Grandma Carol: He should be interested in the world, in reading…well, somebody who would love The New York Times.

Waylon Lewis: [Grandpa Ferd] was an AP reporter.

Grandma Carol: So the question is, what do we look for in a man?

Waylon Lewis: Yeah, or a woman…just someone to stay with for our whole life.

Grandma Carol: Somebody interested in books.

Waylon Lewis: In learning. So curiosity, really.

Grandma Carol: Absolutely. And I used to like the theater.


Waylon Lewis: So romance. Dates n’things.

Grandma Carol: Of course. Of course. It’s important to be attracted to one another. Well that’s stupid: what else would I say?!

Waylon Lewis: What are the things you most enjoyed doing with Ferd? ‘Cause you just liked sitting around and doing nothing at night. You went to Greece. Acropolis and all that. Yeah, you looked really cool, he had a cool camera. He had a pipe, always. He was handsome.

Grandma Carol: I liked that. Yeah, he was a good looking guy. And I was a good looking woman.

Waylon Lewis: And he loved you.

Grandma Carol: Yes.

Waylon Lewis: He was very tender sometimes. He was a big grouch: rararararar. Not in a bad way. Grumpy: then he’d be tender. Macho tough guy…then you’d hug him and embarrass him and he’d love it.

Grandma Carol: You remember that?

Waylon Lewis: Mmm-hmmm.

Grandma Carol: That’s nice to hear.

Waylon Lewis: Oh yeah, he loved you.

Grandma Carol: Well I always gave a lot of love.

Waylon Lewis: Mmm-hmmm, you did.

Grandma Carol: Oh gosh, it’s too warm, I could use just a few degrees less.

Waylon Lewis: Should I tell God? Turn down the world temperature.

Grandma Carol: Yeah, go ahead.

Waylon Lewis: God!? He won’t listen to me, I’m Buddhist.

You’re Jewish, you’ve got an in with god. Yahweh!

I think the whole marriage thing is confusing. I don’t get it. Everyone’s so jealous…everyone wants to have affairs, everyone wants to have sex, everyone wants to have fun. People aren’t really good at working with the hard parts.

Grandma Carol: That’s not true. In order to succeed, you have to work with the hard parts.

Waylon Lewis: Right! But people don’t try that hard.

Grandma Carol: Well that’s their problem.

[Dad walks by with child, holding him up so he can practice walking]

Grandma Carol: In the last number of years more men have taken care of their children than they used to.

Waylon Lewis: I like it. It’s good for dads. Helllo! [talking to the child].

Grandma Carol: Oh, he likes you.

Waylon Lewis: He’s wearing a big tee-shirt.

Yup, I remember like 10 years ago I talked to you…I was briefly in love with some girl. I didn’t think I would marry her or anything but it made me feel like marrying her, so I asked your advice: I said: “Obviously this isn’t enough, feeling like marrying someone…that’s just love, just having a crush. What is it you look for, for someone that you can be with through good times and bad times and longterm, and actually have a good time, overall.”

Grandma Carol: So what did I say?

Waylon Lewis: I dunno. I forgot everything.

0. [most fundamental or important, it underlies all the others, we’re making this number zero]

Grandma Carol: Has to have a good character.

Waylon Lewis: That’s good.


Grandma Carol: He has to have a good family background.

Waylon Lewis: Yah, I don’t know if I qualify. My mom was amazing! My dad…wasn’t around. My mom was good. And the Buddhist community was very strong and good. And you were good. Look at the little kid going up the stairs…

Grandma Carol: Oh!

Waylon Lewis: …that’s good, those are big stairs, like four stairs in one, he’s gonna be wiped out.

Yah for me what’s important is friendship, I think, number one. And attraction.

Grandma Carol: But you don’t have to think about all of that, you just…

Waylon Lewis: …but I want to think about it…because when you first meet someone it’s easy to love them. It’s easy not to think about anything. Oh, I love you, it’s all great. But when things get hard, there has to be more: character, humor, and patience become more important than love. And by love I mean that infatuation. So I think friendship, number one, just liking each other and enjoying one another’s company and being relaxed and feeling like yourself. You like talking about this, or is it boring?

Grandma Carol: No..! Why would it be boring? It’s one of the essential parts of life! Why would I be bored?

Waylon Lewis: Well I don’t want to bore you. I’m just interested, it’s something I need advice on. And then number two, I do think attraction, really being in love with them longterm…not just physical attraction, but like you were saying you’re curious you enjoy each other.


Grandma Carol: I always like it when a couple…the way they speak to one another—if they’re genuinely interested when they’re talking to each another.

Waylon Lewis: Yah, I tend to be kind of… …Well, whatever.

Grandma Carol: I wish it were five degrees cooler, would help.

Waylon Lewis: Oh it’s alright, sweating’s good for you.

Grandma Carol: I’m not sweating, I’m just uncomfortable.

Waylon Lewis: Look how long my arms are.

Grandma Carol: Ha!

Waylon Lewis: You got long arms, too.

Grandma Carol: What’d she go to the veterinary for?

Waylon Lewis: For her cat. ‘Cause she’s concerned about her cat. The cat was throwing up last night. If I were I would have taken her husband in because he was snoring so loudly. Take him to the doctor and get his snoring thing worked on. He’s an impressive snorer.


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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


20 Responses to “I asked my Grandma Carol: “What are Qualities to look for when thinking about Marriage?””

  1. Deven says:

    did the dialogue get mixed up? or did grandma carol fall in love with a girl and ask for waylon's advice? and then waylon started telling his grandma what love was all about…

  2. I loved this!! My favorite is number 8. One of the first things I notice in someone is their voice. My boyfriend has the most spectacular speaking voice – he's a journalist, but i tell him he needs to be in broadcast journalism so the whole world can hear him speak!!


  3. […] Here’s 10 tips from my Grandma, who actually knows something about real love. […]

  4. […] her 90th birthday on Friday. She asked her grandmother if she had any pearls of wisdom and her grandmother said, “I have no advice. I learned to not give people advice.” The instructor then said, […]

  5. Sharon Marie says:

    what a sweet and loving conversation. patience is a virtue.

  6. […] were times when they would just give up and my grandmother would come to the rescue. She was often the only one that I would listen to and we had a very […]

  7. […] rest of my family, other than my grandma…not so much, at least not yet. People change. But up ’til now, they’ve never […]

  8. Suz says:

    I love your Grandma’s advice. I wish I could ask her, “When do you give up? When do you throw in the towel and admit you’ve made an awful mistake?” Marriage is nothing like we think it will be. To practice love and patience, if this world is the training ground for the soul, there is no better yoga than marriage. But when do you know when enough is enough? When do you know when do go, Grandma Carol?

  9. lou says:

    I love the wisdom of the older generation and thank you for sharing this , this post shows that you appreciate it as well. It is a complex world we live in and knowing when we have found true love is confusing but probably it is what many of us are looking for.

  10. Karyn says:

    haha, made me giggle, thank you grandma!

  11. lisab says:

    "Waylon Lewis: Friendship and sex. But what makes sex interesting long-term? ‘Cause short-term it’s just attraction"

    I might have agreed with this when I had a much more cynical outlook on love. Once upon a time, I was way bitter. But now I wonder if people actually realized that our beliefs shape our thoughts and emotions, that they'd figure it's best to believe in long term love instead of novel sex. One will help us achieve long term happiness while the other just gives us a quick happy. 'Cause, despite what everything around us wants us to think, novel sex is not best. It's actually highly overrated. The best sex usually comes with long term commitment. (I know I read that somewhere.) But in order for those things to happen we have to be willing to give and receive without expectations and conditions.

    So I would say, don't believe the hype. You want to stay attracted to someone, then do. There is not some mystical boogly force ready to sweep in and out of your life. There is only you and your choices. You're in control. So spend a few minutes a day thinking about your lover, remember how they smell, feel, taste, sound… bask in the memories and be grateful for love. Watch your lover eat, drive, brushing their teeth, walking down the street, etc. Notice the way they move, their specific way of doing things, their little quirks. Let yourself feel those warm fuzzies again, relive a particularly nice moment, recall the time you first met.

    Be conscious. Above all, take the time to focus on your love and affection for this person. Continually pay attention to the fire, tend to it and don't let it smolder over time. Make the effort. Every. Single. Day.

  12. Alexandra Mesich says:

    Love all of the articles you post but why is there a monthly charge to view all articles? Never heard of that from a website…

  13. Fucking hysterical and hauntingly true all in one.

  14. KAC says:

    Also, make sure you have the same qualities you are looking for in a mate. You can't be looking for someone kind, generous, and funny, if you are a selfish jerk 😉

  15. Weezie says:

    Ahhhhh, the dialogue…. amazing!

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