True love: How do you know it will last?
This can be a difficult for people to figure out, so I decided it was a good topic today. I hope you enjoy!!
By Erin Andersen
Barb Ely says she knew the moment she met Sam Ely that she would marry him. The Lincoln couple have been married for 58 years.
A study researches the ‘thin slicing’ of love
More love stories from our readers
Here are some other responses we received to our query, “How do you know you’re in love for a lifetime?”
* Eleanor Luebbe of Seward said her late husband, Arnold, loved her from the moment he set eyes on her.
“We dated one year. He was such a nice guy and we had fun,” she wrote in an e-mail.
“Then one day I had butterflies in my stomach, heart palpitations, and I knew he was the one I wanted to marry. The good Lord planned all this and we were happy for 62 years.”
* “He was bachelor Number 6 in my Match.com quest. (I) wasn’t sure about him since the previous five dates didn’t get too far,” Stromsburg’s Deena Kopetzky wrote of her husband, Wade. After a few weeks of online romancing, they had their first date on April Fool’s Day 2005.
“It was a first date I didn’t want to end. There was an instant comfort. I felt like I was home. My only concern: Did he feel the same? After only a week, he said, ‘I think I’m falling in love with you.’ My response .
The day she met Sam Ely, she knew.
Fifty-eight years later, Barb Ely still can’t explain how or why she knew they were meant to be.
I just knew.
Love. Magical. Wonderful. Mystical. Intense.
But what makes it last? And how do you know whether the love of your life will be the love for the rest of your life? What is the secret ingredient in the recipe for life-long love?
We asked our readers for answers. And we turned to a few “experts” who have studied couples, relationships and marriages.
In a nutshell: Lasting love takes patience, determination, commitment and perseverance. It can start at head-over-heels and love-at-first-sight, but that and passion are not enough to make it work.
Barb Ely was 16 and a senior in high school when her parents sold their Nebraska farm and moved to Blue Rapids, Kan. Barb was not happy about the move, especially to a house “that needed a lot of help.”
That help came in the form of Sam Ely, a local carpenter who had a son by the same name. The carpenter often talked about his son. Then one day, the younger Sam brought his father to work at Barb’s parent’s house.
“He was tall and handsome,” she recalled.
They talked and talked and talked, until it was time for young Sam to take his father home. In the midst of all that talking, young Sam asked her out.
While waiting for Sam to pick her up for their date, a friend called Barb.
“She asked me if I had met any cute boys yet,” Barb recalled. “And my reply was: ‘Yes, I met the boy today that I’m going to marry.’
“She asked me how I knew, and I said I just knew.”
Sam enlisted in the Air Force and went off to Texas while Barb stayed in Kansas to finish high school. Shortly after graduation, they married and moved to Amarillo, Texas.
Last month the Lincoln couple celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary.
“How did I know? I don’t really know how to explain it myself, but it definitely endured the test of time and, yes, we are still in love,” Barb wrote.”I will soon be 75 and Sam will soon be 80. We still ‘need’ each other and respect each other and love to spend time together.
“I really can’t explain it, but here we are, and we’re so grateful.”
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Many studies have looked at marriage — what makes it last, what makes it fail? And with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, some question whether the whole “till death do us part” idea might be archaic.
Not so, according to the Pew Research Center. While the research institute found that more couples choose cohabitation over wedding vows, nine of 10 adults eventually marry. And 70 percent of those say the purpose of marriage is fulfillment and happiness, not necessarily having children.
Despite all the statistics, a happy and strong marriage remains the American dream. But like all dreams, getting there takes a lot of work.
Ted Huston, a professor of human ecology at the University of Texas at Austin, has studied intimate relationships for close to 40 years. He says the seeds of divorce can be detected during courtship and are evident during the first two years of marriage.
In one study, Huston and his researchers studied 168 married couples from newlywed days to their 14th anniversary.
In simple terms: Good courtships lead to lasting marriages; troubled courtships foreshadowed future problems. How long a marriage will last is best categorized by the personalities of the couples: Early exiters, those divorcing within two to six years, tend to have “country music romances” from the start with tears and high melodrama; delayed-action divorces, those who split after at least seven years of marriage, are Hollywood romances — couples in love with love. Enduring couples have marriages that evolve and grow through time.
“The courtships and marriages that are successful are the ‘best friend’ ones, the ones that are slow and steady and unfold over time,” Huston said in a University of Texas article. “Positive feelings like trust and respect emerge, and the whole thing mirrors the evolution of any other kind of good relationship in life.”
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On their first date, Cathy Wilken’s husband declared that they one day would marry. Cathy admits she didn’t quite know how to take this declaration of love at first sight.
“But he meant it, really meant it,” the Lincoln woman wrote in an e-mail. “How can you not love someone who loves you so much?”
Forty years later, she knows what makes love last.
“The truth is, you’re not always in love. There’s never enough money. The kids drive you crazy. The dog ate your grandmother’s antique rocking chair. But if you’re in a committed relationship, you work through it,” Cathy wrote. “Maybe it’s stubbornness. Maybe it’s because my parents had 17 failed marriages, and I was determined that was not going to happen to me, to us.”
Her marriage “secrets” read like a shopping list of affirmations: communication, respect, acceptance, determination, commitment, stubbornness, faith, forgiveness, fortitude, fun, laughter, love, affection, history.
“Mix it together. Add a dash of insanity and dysfunction,” she wrote. “I still get excited when I hear his car in the driveway. He sends me silly, affectionate text messages. We’ve stayed together because of love. We made a promise. Till death do us part. Forty years … and counting.”
All love changes over time.
“I thought I loved my husband when we got married, but it wasn’t until life threw a series of curve balls that I fell head over heels,” wrote Darla Reinwald of Lincoln.
“While I was still in college … we were expecting our first child. I was still attending school and working part time, but my husband’s job paid the rent. Then that job was gone … and jobs were hard to come by. Every morning at 5 a.m. he called Work A While in hopes of a temporary job. He didn’t want me to worry … thus the ‘secretive’ phone calls. I snuck up behind him one morning to hear his trembling voice say, ‘Please … I’ll do anything … any kind of work!’ My heart almost burst!
“Twenty-seven years later, he continues to seek to provide an atmosphere that allows me to grow and thrive, which makes me seek to do the same for him … and on it goes. This is not to say that we don’t feel like clobbering each other at times, but our circle is still unbroken,” Reinwald wrote.
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Author Carl Weisman can’t tell you exactly what makes a marriage work, but he can say that those whose marriages fail have a common regret: not listening to their instincts.
His book “Serious Doubts: Why People Marry When They Know It Won’t Last” surveyed 1,000 divorced adults. Three in 10 women told him they knew they were making a mistake before they walked down the aisle. And 50 percent of men and 70 percent of women admitted they got married despite their doubts because they figured their partner-to-be was the best they could do or was their only chance to marry.
Weisman’s advice: “Trust your gut.”
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That’s what Alfred Brejcha did.
“I met the girl of my life in October 1951 at the Pla Mor Ballroom,” the 83-year-old from Western wrote of his wife, Joan.
It was a Wednesday — singles dance night — with girls on one side of the room, guys on the other.
“I saw her, and I knew she was the one,” he wrote.
When he offered to drive her home, she declined, saying she would ride with her girlfriends. However, she suggested: “Maybe next Wednesday?”
But the next Wednesday she did not show up. In fact, she wasn’t at the Pla Mor all winter long. (Turns out she was in the hospital in traction for an old injury, Alfred wrote.)
Then on the Wednesday before Easter, Joan showed up.
“Easter Sunday was our first date, a dance at Pla Mor,” he said. “We had the same likes, thoughts …”
June 12 was her 21st birthday. He was 25. In front of her family, he gave her a rhinestone necklace and bracelet set.
“Then in the car I gave her a ring, and on Aug. 31, 1952, we were married,” Alfred wrote. “Fifty-eight years ago — and we still have the same thoughts, even the ones we forget we have.”
Jessica and Justin Baker had dated only a few months before they attended her grandparents’ 50th anniversary shindig, and Justin was introduced to the entire family.
“That same night, after the party, Justin told me he loved me for the first time,” Jessica wrote in an e-mail. “I knew that if spending a night with my family, surrounded by what love could be after 50 years, was what made him love me, then this was a special kind of love. At that moment, I knew I loved him, too, and always would.”
He proposed on Valentine’s Day 2007. They married Oct. 10, 2008. Their daughter, Hannah, was born July 20, 2010.
“I can’t imagine anyone better for my happily ever after,” Jessica wrote.
Truth be told, Barbara Bedlan of Fairbury was a happily-ever-after skeptic. She and her husband were from the same small Nebraska town and started dating their sophomore year of high school.
“He brought me home from a dance and kissed me, and I thought it was awful,” she wrote. “Then in the fall of 1968, our senior year, something happened … and whatever it was has turned out to be the most amazing married life of 42 years that anyone could imagine!
“But none of it has been easy, especially in the beginning,” Bedlan wrote.
“We were both 18 — young, full of dreams, plans. He was crazy in love and I was pregnant! In those days, if you were pregnant you ‘had to get married,’ so we did. Marriage and a child was the last thing I wanted. I didn’t know what I did want, but I knew I didn’t want that! So much of life was a blur … but as time went on, I would look back and I realize with each passing year that my life seemed to be part of a master plan; a loving, well-thought-out plan. God has always had my back and sent a man into my life who has done the same thing for 42 years.
“There has been pain and sorrow; mistakes have been made but the blessings and abundance of love and support has far outweighed the perils. Love has no common denominator but possesses characteristics that are vital to its survival: mutual respect, playing fair, sharing, knowing when to listen and when to talk, knowing when to give and when to take.”
How do you know?
You know when you understand what love is, Bedlan wrote.
“Love is a choice. Love is choosing to stay married. Love is saying you’re sorry. Love is making love. Love is laughing and being kind to each other. Love is family and friends. Love is knowing that life will be nearly unbearable without your mate but knowing you were the luckiest person in the world to have been married to (him or her). Love is truly forever!”
Have a blessed day
Love & Light