For many years, perhaps most of my life, I was absolutely convinced that love is something that ends early, with all that entails – the compromises, disappointments, and betrayals. Until I met…them.
The man was already 83 and his wife 73. They sat side by side on the sofa, and everything in the way they spoke or behaved gave me a sense of calm and kindness. He caressed her hand every now and then, and she listened carefully to everything he said, looking him in the eyes and answering him with a smile. In all his replies, “she” was there – how beautiful, how capable, how smart. In each of her replies a sweet, warm “my” next to his name, a squeeze to his hand… I felt strange, “is it possible” I thought, “at this age?”
Leaving I asked their son, “is that always the case?”
“Yes,” he replied. “It’s been that way since I can remember.”
“They definitely got married out of crazy love,” I added.
“They had no relationship before they got married,” he replied.
What makes a relationship not just stand the test of time but evolve into an environment of love and romance? Is it just a matter of choosing the right partner? But then, how can two people who knew little about each other before getting married live harmoniously? Is it all luck or fate, or is there something else?
It seems that in order for a relationship to be creative and survive over the years, there must be three harmonious components in abundant quantities, as Demian Bucay mentions in his book Guide to Romantic Relationships.
The first is, as one would expect, love.
Of course, such a concept cannot be easily defined, because it is perceived in many different ways. Everyone has their own way of perceiving and expressing their love and it is important that the way they do it is compatible with that of their partner. For me the meaning of love has in it the feeling of joy and peace, when I think that someone exists are part of my life. It may be something else for you.
The second is erotic passion – that very strong feeling that pushes us towards one another. It is what usually dominates us at the beginning of a relationship and very often we confuse it with love. But love takes its time, while passion can be instantaneous and even temporary. And yet, as Bucay states in his book, there is hope that passion will be kept alive over time. As long as there is lovemaking, admiration, and humor. And not necessarily all three together. If there all of them are strong, that is the best, but only one of them is enough. An active sex life can keep a couple together, but a similar passion is created by admiring each other, or even humor that can be particularly effective in maintaining a relationship.
The third component is the common plan, i.e. the couple has the desire to have a common path in life, their life plans, their expectations, and their basic principles and values match those of the other. If one does not want a family and children and his partner’s dream is exactly that, then no matter how much love there is, no matter how passionate their relationship is, the problems will not be long in coming.
Perhaps these three ingredients have kept the elderly couple’s life so beautiful for 57 years now. Not just those, but with a lot of work. They had the materials, but they worked them well all these years. Because no relationship, no matter how beautiful it starts, no matter how successful it is, is going to last if the couple does not invest time and effort in it, if they do not discuss, if they do not solve difficult problems, if they do not fight daily for the one they love. Even the hardest rock can break, and the beginning of the end can be a very small – almost imperceptible at first – crack.