As the red-and-white, chocolate-covered haze of Valentine’s Day fades, let’s take a moment to look at what’s at the bottom of the mush that surrounds the reason for this day.
What is love? Is it the warm and fuzzy electricity you feel when one certain person walks into the room? Is it the candlelight glow and rose-colored glasses? Is it feelings and emotions?
Or is it the stick-with-it-through-thick-and-thin determination and devotion that holds people together in the storms of life?
The truth is, feelings come and go with skittish unpredictability. Building a life on them is like seeking out some quicksand to build a new skyscraper on. Warm fuzzies aren’t bad at all, don’t get me wrong, but they are the icing on the cake and not the main course.
The love that lasts is built on trust, dedication, and mutual respect.
True love, romantic or otherwise, is wanting the best for the other person and being willing to sacrifice your wants to achieve that. It may be a foreign thought if you’re used to the idea of love as a way to get your needs and wants met. Truth to be told, love really means unselfish give-and-take that doesn’t give up when things get tough or you aren’t getting what you wanted out of the relationship.
I enjoy reading interviews of couples celebrating decades of marriage. They show what love looks like in a powerful way. Hearing their stories is such an inspiration. They look back fondly on their younger days when there wasn’t much money but they could always make it work since they were facing it together. You can hear their abiding respect for each other simply from the way they talk.
These couples are a testament to the strength of lifelong loyalty and perseverance. It may be hard work, but they say it is worth it and clearly still enjoy being together just as they did when they were first starting out in life. The best part is seeing how they used the joys and challenges of the passing years to grow closer to each other. Facing life together, not accepting failure as an option, they held each other up when it got tough and formed a united front against whatever the world threw at them. And that, folks, is what true love looks like.
At the end of the day, do we want to put in the effort to build a solid foundation and commit to something so challenging as real, lasting love? The other option is a life of selfishly chasing after the latest new thing that feels exciting.
As for me, I want to build a love that lasts, and one that quietly shows the world how beautiful it is to know and love each other deeply enough that the winds of circumstance and the ebb and flow of feelings can’t shake it.
MARTHA HOFFMAN, of Earlville, is a former Times teen columnist and a sophomore at Illinois Valley Community College. She can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.