In “The Devil’s Dictionary” Ambrose Bierce defined love as “temporary insanity cured by marriage.”
Poor cynical Ambrose Bierce. He never met my relatives. Take my Aunt Bessie, who became the bride of Francesco Cappella in an arranged marriage. I’m told they met the morning before their wedding, raised a family of 6 boys and 6 girls, and were married for 55 years. My Uncle Giulio and Aunt Helen, introduced by my father, brought up 2 girls and 5 boys, and were married for 62 years. My own parents had been married for 49 years when my father died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Did marriage “cure” their love? These couples were kind to each other, worked hard every day, sometimes quarreled, often bickered, but were always constant. We kids knew they would be Ma and Daddy forever.
Those who read Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s moving column two weeks ago in the Sunday New York Times appreciated that Ms. Rosenthal knew about love. If you are lucky enough to experience that kind of bonding—that recognition of completeness that comes from true partnership, Bierce’s definition may make you chuckle, but you don’t buy it. Romantic love may change with the passage of time, but after 50 plus years of marriage, I can tell you that my heart still beats a little faster when I see my husband smile at me from across the room.
I’ll close with something from Mr. Rogers, whose birthday was yesterday: “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” Not always easy, but always worth the effort.