“What is the key to a successful relationship?” I asked Anna and Ezio while we were finishing up dinner. “Marisa, it’s learning to tolerate the other person,” Anna said. She and Ezio spend their time between their two homes outside of Rome — in the countryside and at the sea. Together they have forged a life in which they proudly raised their daughter and now provide care for their teenage granddaughter as well. Anna didn’t grow up with a father and Ezio assumed the role along with being a faithful husband. Although seven years apart, he described that once he made the commitment to marry her, he no longer was selfish. It was about protecting and guiding Anna while she learned how to nurture him. To this day, Anna will reach for his hand while he sleeps as a gesture of comfort, letting him know she is happy that he is there. If she wakes before he does, Ezio walks around the house until he finds her.
“Maybe he thinks that I escaped!” Anna remarked with laughter. They celebrate happiness together and lean on each other in times of difficulty. When Anna suffers from intense back pain, it becomes Ezio’s suffering too. Although it displeases him to see her not well, he joked that perhaps he suffers more of the consequences due to her bad mood. Once again, he reinforced the key word: tolerance. They strongly believe in the value of family and the sacredness of their union in which they have worked hard to maintain for almost fifty years.
“In the beginning, relationships and marriage are always hard. You need to learn about how the other person is made and how to understand them and yourself. Immaturity turns into maturity. Things you don’t understand at 30, you understand later on,” Anna said. Ezio explained, “Two different people have two different brains, ways of thinking. One day you can wake up with one thought and the next day think something else — and that’s just what we do as individuals. Now there is the consideration for the other person who you have committed to and how your thoughts impact their thoughts. Like Anna said, “It’s learning tolerance.”
Anna continued, “It’s also finding strength and patience. I have learned to keep quiet, otherwise there would be an explosion.” Controlling emotions, deciding which issues to discuss, thinking outside of yourself while also considering what your partner may be feeling or going through are important. “After five minutes of taking a walk or fresh air, it all passes. Of course I am talking about the little, stupid things. If there is something serious, that’s a different story.” Anna and Ezio both agreed that silence brings resolution to a difficult situation. It prevents hurtful words from being said… that once out of the mouth, can’t be taken back.
Ezio retreats in silence by reading a book. Whatever is in his sight, he will pick it up and take a few minutes to clear his mind. “You know, Marisa, that solutions to many of life’s problems come directly from the lines in a book?” I honestly never thought about it. But once he discussed this coping skill, it made a world of sense. “It was Franz Kafta’s book entitled, Contemplation, in which Ezio discovered the short story “Bachelor’s Ill Luck.”
After reading it in his late twenties, something shifted in him. He made the choice to confront his fears and become the man he knew he could be. He certainly didn’t want to pass his life alone and in regret of losing a good woman. Anna disagreed, “The book didn’t change you, I did!” He replied with a smile and a nod.
“If I could give advice to men today it would be to honor your woman. Treat her as a flower; nurture her and let her open up to her full potential in her time. Once she does, she will captivate you with her scent,” Ezio said as he adoringly smiled at his wife. It’s her signature scent of her cooking that continues to give him great pleasure in protecting his precious flower. This is a true love story; one that we too can create in our own lives with patience and tolerance — both for ourselves and our beloved.