Magic at Midlife: Your Relationship Roadmap for Romance After 40
Jennifer wrote a longer version of this article several years ago for the students in the college where she worked. It has been reprinted several times. This comes from her heart, and is dedicated to her own true love, Charles. Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart!
As Valentine’s Day approaches, true love is on our minds. Advertisements tell us that you have to give expensive gifts to show true love. Movies and television tell us that you have to jump into bed immediately to show true love. I believe that a real love story is as much about character as passion. Most of us want true love for a lifetime, and a lifetime is too long for passion alone to support romance.
What is true love? It is only partially the thrilling, sexy, wonderful beginning of a relationship in which there is mutual attraction. When I think of true love, I think of the radiant smile on someone’s face when their partner enters the room. I think of my mother and father, who held hands at every opportunity until their 56-year-long marriage was ended by death. I think of the young couple who truly try to make each other’s life more pleasant rather than taking out their stresses on each other. I think of the little, loving things that happily coupled people do just to enjoy their partner’s pleasure.
The building blocks of true love are passion, appreciation, and consideration. People who love each other don’t demean each other. They don’t intentionally hurt each other, they don’t try to deceive each other, they don’t speak badly of each other. One study of couples in counseling found that the best predictor of an eventual marital breakup was one spouse showing a negative facial expression – like rolling their eyes – while the other was talking. Couples who love each other may certainly disagree, but there is still a rational part of them which says, “I love this person, and while I don’t agree, I’m sure that there is some reason my partner feels this way.”
True lovers think their partners are terrific, at least most of the time. They are proud of their accomplishments and tolerant of their foibles. They may complain, but it is usually with a laugh. When their partner truly needs their help, they don’t begrudge it in any way.
What can you do if you are still waiting for Cupid’s arrow to strike?
Don’t settle. If you don’t really enjoy your partner, and you don’t truly feel that he or she enjoys you, all the passion or companionship in the world won’t make it a love match. Don’t start a relationship thinking that you will reform the person. If you can’t love your partner as is, the chances are slim that you will ultimately have what you want.
Work on yourself. You can develop your own character – it’s never too late. Practice kindness, consideration, and a positive attitude in your friendships and family relationships. Learn how to communicate effectively and to resolve conflicts productively. The better developed you are as an individual, the greater the chances of your being able to form a sustaining, lasting bond with someone else.