What is Love?
Have you ever heard the phrase “dying of a broken heart?” It actually has a scientific name, Broken Heart Syndrome, and doctors find many people who suffer from it are mourning the loss of a loved one. The condition is caused by the way a body reacts to severe stress, so they think. How many incredibly romantic stories have we read about where one spouse dies within hours of the other? While it may seem sad to you, I find it to be a fitting end to a wonderful life and love story.
Facebook and YouTube are filled with stories about couples that have been married for more than 60 years, talking about what makes a happy marriage. Recently, I decided to spend a few hours listening to some of these stories and I found so many insights in them. I came to one conclusion after hearing about the love and devotion that these couples have for each other: they are healthier, together. I could also see the other dying of a broken heart if they were ever separated by death.
One of the most touching stories was of a couple who had been married for 60 years when the wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Her husband cared for her meticulously at home for as long as he was able. He bathed her, cooked for her, brushed her hair, and took her out in her wheelchair every day for walks. He even had a special bike made with a wheelchair attachment so that he could take her for rides along the water (her favorite). He read to her daily and went through their photo albums to gently remind her of who she was and how much she was loved, all in hope of keeping those memories of their life together alive. This is what the definition of true love is, for better or for worse, in sickness, and in health.
These couples lived in a different time. Some suffered through The Holocaust, The Depression, some the loss of a child, some suffered terrible illnesses that now have cures. Yet, in their stories, they spoke about how all of this brought them closer together – instead of tearing them apart.
Here are few more insights that I got from listening to their stories:
Every couple remembered how they met and specific details of their first date. Some even mentioned how they could recall these details, but not where they left their keys or even where they parked their car recently! Every couple lovingly held hands as they were being interviewed and, at times, gazed at each other and smiled recalling such tender moments. Many of the couples met when they were in high school and married very young, when the roles of men and women were so very different. Yet, there are so many things we can learn from their wisdom, as so much of their advice still applies to us as couples today.
Here is some advice the couples offered that helped them remain in a happy marriage:
- Make each other laugh (this was consistent with all the couples)
- Be content with what you have, nothing’s perfect (anywhere else)
- Hold hands
- Respect each other
- Don’t bail on the first sign of trouble
- Be grateful for one another
- Never take the other for granted
- Marriage is not easy; there are a lot of ups and downs
- Be tolerant of each other
- Get over things, forgive
- Find common interests
- Be friends because romantic love does change over time
- Talk to one another and listen, really listen, to each other
- Cherish every moment because you don’t know how long you have on this earth
- Intimacy changes, what remains is a deeper love for another
- Always find each other as beautiful as the day you met
- Always kiss goodnight and say “I Love You” everyday
- Create the life you have – together
- Be faithful
- Be there for each other in good and in bad times
- Be attentive
- Be a TEAM
- Compromise when you have to
- Forgive, Trust, Listen and Support
- Accept each other – warts and all
These things still stand true today! No one said marriage was easy – just ask me. I have been with my husband for 27 years and we’ll be married for 25 years this year. I love him as much today as I did when we were first married. We start every day with a kiss and “I love you” and end the night with the same. Things have not always been perfect and there have been disagreements, but one thing I know for sure, he has my back and I will always have his.
As Valentine’s Day approaches we should take stock in all the love we have in our lives, not only for our spouses but for those around us that make our lives so special. We do not live in a vacuum; we need people, we need love, and we need support from so many. These things nurture our hearts and feed our souls. To those who are not in a good place with parents, siblings or close friends, take note – one day they will be gone and you will wish you could have just one more day with them, believe me. Don’t waste what little time you have in this precious life by being angry. You have the ability to forgive and love.
Happy Love Day to all!