Lasting Love

We recently led a couple’s retreat at Rowe Conference Center in Massachusetts. One of the couples there, Anne and Harry, from Maine, had been married 41 years and were absolutely adorable together. They kept referring to each other with so much tenderness that the rest of us just had to smile. There were many wonderful things that happened during that retreat, and one of the most outstanding was witnessing two people so devoted to one another after so many years of marriage. At the end of the retreat they shared with the group that they appreciated being honored as elders.

 

Getting on the plane to return home to California we witnessed yet another amazing couple, who had been together for over 60 years. (We just had to ask.) They had just purchased two lunch meals from the flight attendant. Barry and I sat across the aisle from them and, as the plane was waiting for take off, we couldn’t help but hear their rather loud New York accented conversation. “Maude, I want you to have my cookies. I like them, but I know you like them a little bit more.” “Ralph, I really want you to have my crackers. These are your favorite kind.” And on and on it went until the entire two lunches were divided, not by argument, but by devotion to the other. From time to time throughout the flight we would look over at them, and sure enough they were fussing over each other making sure the other was comfortable and happy. We watched as they walked off the plane and down the terminal. You guessed it, they were holding hands.

 

Couples like these two are precious and wonderful to be around. Being in their presence brings a refreshing hope to the word “marriage”. It’s true there aren’t enough couples like this in the world, but they’re out there if we just look. Being in their presence is uplifting. I would encourage everyone to find and then get to know an elderly couple who has been married a significant time and still love each other. Just sitting in their presence and observing a lasting love will help your own relationship, and certainly inspire you on the merits of long term relationships.

 

My own parents were married for 60 years before my father passed on. My mother told me that the best years were the last 20. My parents’ bodies aged and went through health challenges, yet their devotion to one another grew day by day. I was fortunate enough to have them living right next door for the last 7 years of my father’s life. Due to a close brush with death four years before my father died, my parents developed the habit of saying “good-by” to each other each night before they went to sleep because they didn’t know if they would both wake up alive the next morning. Each night they thanked one another for a great life together. In the morning when they found they were both still alive, they felt so happy and thankful to have one more day together. My parents’ love for one another was so contagious that when we did couples workshops at our home, couples would spend lengthy times just visiting with my parents during the workshop free time.

 

These special elderly couples are a treasure. Make a habit of looking for them wherever you go. When you find an elderly couple married for a long time that still loves one another, then you have found true teachers of relationship. Observe them, learn from them and absorb the magic.

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