I grew up next door to my parents’ best friends, and they were like second parents to me. I could go to Betty with my problems and she would listen to me and always have wise words for me. As an only child, I was blessed to live next door to their children so that I had children to play with.
Now, my dear second parents Betty and Morrie Markoff are the oldest living married couple in the US! Betty is 100 and Morrie is 103, and they have been married for 78 years. They are still sharp, still live on their own – and still love each other!
The last time I was in Los Angeles, I visited with them and was deeply moved by their continued love for each other, as well as by the clarity of their minds. They are amazing!
My client Serena asked me:
“With so many people in the world, I don’t believe there is just one person for everyone, so how do you know when you have “the right one”? A lot of articles say to have realistic expectations that romantic love does not last, so how do you know the difference between being out of this stage or whether you’ve fallen out of love? Can love last a lifetime, and what are some of the things one can do in a relationship to keep the love alive?”
I agree that there isn’t just one person for each of us. Learning to know who is right for us is a process of becoming right for ourselves first. The more you learn to see, value and love yourself, the more easily you can discern who is right for you.
When you meet someone you are attracted to and with whom you feel an emotional connection, ask yourself these questions:
Is this person open to learning about their self and about me?
Are they able to stay open during conflict or do they just get angry, righteous, blaming, shut down and withdrawn or resistant?
Are they truly caring or are they giving themselves up to please me and control me? Are they ‘nice’ or are they truly loving?
Are they interested in what interests me, or are they self-absorbed?
Do we have similar values concerning religion, spirituality, money, child-raising, animals, the environment and politics?
Does their lifestyle indicate a sense of taking responsibility for loving themselves – emotionally, physically, financially, relationally, organizationally and spiritually?
Do they operate from honesty and integrity?
Am I bored with them or do I look forward to spending time with them?
Do we feel inspired by each other?
Of course, it takes time to get to know someone, so I always recommend that people refrain from having sex too soon, as this can cloud your intuition about this person. One of the most important things in choosing the right person is learning to trust yourself regarding what you feel and experience with this person, and you might bypass your inner knowing if you get too involved too fast.
“Can love last a lifetime, and what are some of the things one can do in a relationship to keep the love alive?”
As you can see from my dear friends who have been married for 78 years, love CAN last a lifetime. We keep love alive when we continue to do all we can to be open to learning about ourselves and about each other, and are devoted to deeply accepting each other with all our human flaws. We keep love alive when we choose to be kind, caring, tolerant and respectful of each other, even when we are triggered by the other’s unloving behavior. We keep love alive when we focus on the wonderful essence qualities of our partner – the qualities we fell in love with – rather than focusing on their ego wounded self and coming from our ego wounded self.
It’s a tall order to keep love alive, but what is actually more important than learning to love ourselves so that we can deeply share our love with our beloved?