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What ‘Modern Family’ Has Taught Us About Love

Modern Family does more than just make us laugh every week. The quick-witted comedy is a reflection of our own relationships, functional and dysfunctional alike.

Here’s what Modern Family has taught us about love:

Love isn’t one-size-fits-all.

Love (on TV) has come a long way since the days of Leave it to Beaver. Whether you married your high-school sweetheart or found a second chance at love with someone decades your junior, Modern Family is representing you, the redefined American family. Other “modern” family issues on Modern Family include: first loves, remarriage, cohabitation, sperm donation, adoption, unrequited crushes, homophobia, and cultural differences.

Love lesson learned: Love doesn’t have a predetermined template. Be with the person who brings out the best in you.

There are always second chances.

While the sitcom doesn’t sugarcoat conflict and heartache in relationships, it also stresses that everyone is eligible for a second chance at love. Phil once considered breaking up with Claire; she’s now his wife and mother of his three children. Jay married Gloria following a nasty divorce later in life. Characters apologize and characters forgive. It tells viewers that forgiveness goes a long way, and that no one is doomed following heartache.

Love lesson learned: Always forgive. And never give up on love.

Marriages take work.

Modern Family revolves around three long-term relationships, two marriages and a civil partnership. None of the unions are perfect — they’re often far from it — but all of them are working.

Marriages take work. And in each of the sitcom’s couples, the characters are constantly clarifying miscommunication, learning to empathize, and trying to redeem mistakes made.

Love lesson learned: Put in the work. Communicate, listen, and apologize.

Hug it out.

Modern Family brought back that end-of-episode moral, as last seen on Home Improvement and Full House. There’s no guessing what we’re supposed to walk away with, and it’s usually connected to conflict resolution.

Creator Steve Levitan summarized Modern Family’s philosophy to the New York Times: “Don’t be afraid of a hug, but make sure you earn it.”

Love lesson learned: A hug goes a long way in reconciling conflict. Also, learn your lesson.

Family of origin is very influential in how you approach relationships.

You can’t escape the family you come from. Those who’ve gone through any sort of premarital course will know that talking about your respective backgrounds can provide a lot of insight into your relationship expectations and baggage. Even if your father and his new wife don’t live down the street, you’re likely to default to family-of-origin settings when under stress.

Love lesson learned: Talk about where you come from. Get to know one another’s family. And decide to work together to establish a dynamic that reflects your personal values, not just your parents’.

The most important parenting advice: Be present.

In one of the show’s many poignant-but-still-hilarious confessions-to-camera, Jay says, “Ninety percent of the time, being a good dad means just showing up.” Parents on the show make mistakes. At times, they’re flying blind. Yet they’re all integrally involved in their children’s lives — and their kids love them for it.

Love lesson learned: Show up.

Keep the spark alive.

Phil and Claire, parents of three busy (and often patience-testing) children, are still crazy about each other, even indulging in a little fantasy role play on Valentine’s. Their sex life is a frequent topic of conversation in the show, much to their kids’ embarrassment and to our encouragement. Frazzled, stressed-out couples that have been together for decades can still have healthy, active sex lives.

Love lesson learned: Make out with your spouse. Frequently.

Perfection doesn’t exist.

If the families on Modern Family were perfect, we wouldn’t tune in. Instead, we see characters much like ourselves: impatient, misunderstood, impulsive and emotional. Kids disobey. Parents screw up. Spouses disappoint each other.

No relationship is flawless. Commitment to sticking out the bad days and celebrating the good days is key — both for our favorite TV families and our own relationships.

Love lesson learned: Embrace imperfection and choose to love unconditionally.


Modern Family returns to ABC September 26th.

Images courtesy: ABC