By Niki Glanz, Ed.D.
“Love is a many-splendored thing.” Right? Romantic euphoria may play out differently for every couple, but few deny its potentiality. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here are a few excerpts from Memories to Momentum stories attesting to love’s sweet exaltation.
Doris, a retired visiting nurse and homemaker, now in her 80s reflects:
My husband had just come home to see me for a couple of hours, though we weren’t married yet. He had been overseas: Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, all of them. Before he went into the service, we didn’t even go together, but when he came home, it was like, “Yep!” I always told him that God was saving him for me. I believe it! I believe it!
See, my husband’s mother died when he was two, and he never had a home. He wandered all over the country; he even hoboed with Johnny Cash. After we got married, I baked him a birthday cake. He cried because he’d never had a birthday cake. So, I not only loved him, I made a home for him.
Of course, we had rough times like everybody else. But I dwell on the good things that happened. We had a very good marriage, just like my father and mother. Look – don’t get me wrong – my husband and I had disagreements, but if we had something to complain about, we talked to each other before we got angry. “Discussions,” I called it and never in front of the children.
Murray, a musician and building manager in his late 50s describes the impact of family members:
My grandmother on my mother’s side was a grand master at bridge. I never was very close to her husband, but he was a paragon in my mind about masculinity. He was bald and handsome: the strong, silent type. I loved the sweet way he treated my grandmother. Every so often she’d flip out – start screaming and saying very unpleasant things. He would calm her, “Oh, darlin’, OK, that’s fine.”
When I say that he was sweet with her, I don’t mean that he acted sweet with her. How you act is one thing, but how you are – Oh my God, the difference! I don’t think my grandfather had a non-genuine bone in his body. Of course, this was the first 20th Century generation; that generation had moral standards. Honor had great meaning to everything they said and did. Oh my God, if somebody puts that above anything else, you can rely on them. Yeah!
I never heard my father’s parents fight, ever. She was like, “Your way’s my way,” and he would always say, “But your way is my way, so it’s all the same way.” It was like dreamland: complete absence of conflict, complete trust, complete warmth.
It defined love for me: what love feels like, looks like, and acts like. It’s comforting and dependable. When my wife and I get heated with each other, we handle it right then. It’s not that we stifle ourselves, but we don’t get even with each other. They say, “You have to fight to have a good relationship.” Not necessarily.
Ambrae, beverage host at a natural-foods restaurant, in her early 30s, recalls a childhood episode:
Another memory between nine and ten is going into the garage of our house and seeing my parents get comfortable with each other. They had just gotten off work, and we [children] were already home. Being as I was the oldest child, I was looking for them. Our kitchen led into the garage, and I opened the door slowly. They didn’t hear me nor saw me.
My father is 5’10” and my mother’s short, just 4’11”. My father lifted her up a bit, so that he could kiss her. My father has an oval face, and hers is more round. He wore his ears low, and at that age, he did wear a beard. Both my parents have brown-toned complexions and a very slim build. I think they were trying to hide out, kissing and hugging each other. Obviously, they did not want me to see or they wouldn’t be in the garage. So as I opened the door, I closed it and walked away.
That was a beautiful experience. A lot of times parents don’t show affection, especially black families, because they think it’s something private. Of course, it doesn’t need to be over the top. But seeing my parents’ affection for each other showed me the love and the relationship between a husband and a wife. Just being in the household, alone, doesn’t express it. That memory sticks with me as an example for when I finally get married.
Doris, Murray, and Ambrae demonstrate that having good role models helps us achieve a loving relationship. Beyond the couple’s two lovers, others also benefit should one of them exhibit moral acts. Flushed with heartfelt admiration and affection, mates of such lovers tend to strive to become better people, opening their hearts to others and acting prosocially. The greater community typically benefits, say researchers Haidt, Power, Lapsley and colleagues. So yes, it’s true: “love makes the world go ‘round!”
You’ll discover more about the power of emotions in 59 incredibly diverse, true stories featured in Memories to Momentum by Niki Glanz. Available from Amazon in Paperback or eBook. Enjoy!