Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

This Love Story Will Never End

February 14, 2009

How do you make love last a lifetime? Better yet, how does the burning embers of love become even hotter, better and deeper as the years roll into decades and the decades into a lifetime and beyond.

If you are not soulmates with your spouse, it is because you aren’t doing enough. Some couples have euphoric beginnings but that is all it is, a beginning. Don’t expect to be your beloved’s soul mate before you’ve been there as your mate’s soul unfolds. It takes experiences where you prove to each other that you are emotionally empathic and connected during key moments.

Becoming a soulmate means expanding your universe to include another person who becomes more important than yourself. You integrate your love for other special things in life with the love you feel for your partner. You have discovered love. Love is not about finding the right person but being the right person.

Darlene, as I stir among the bed of embers of our great love, I find a story to tell - about the hot, deep-burning unquenchable coals and how they came to be.

The spark that started a bonfire. What can you say about young love? It starts quickly and explodes like wildfire. Young love is a flame, flashing in the brilliance of its upward leap. It is very pretty, very hot, and fierce. There was something in the chemistry that made it combustible - uncontrollably so. It was the way we came together - so opposite, so irrational and yet so attracted to each other.

Who can explain it? The coming together of two souls on a voyage of mutual discovery, seeing for the first time the amazing wonders of another human soul. It was emotional, euphoric, enchanting and entrancing. What great memories we have of the flames of desire, the bright hopes and dreams of tomorrow, and the soul-satisfying sharing of hearts.

That was the beginning and it could not last - the fire of lasting love can only begin when passion wanes. The emotional bond and our commitment we created by romantic love kept us together while we worked through our differences and conflict. We needed other forms of closeness and emotional bonding to be fuel for the seasons of life when young love becomes ashes and pleasant memories.

Sheltering the fire from stiff winds of adversity and from ourselves. By being faithfully available and responsive, I knew I could come to you for nourishment and warmth. Your fire was always lit, your flame pierced the darkest of nights.

When there was a wound or a hurt, I could retreat into the warm embrace of your arms. When I felt the sting of failure or a heart-rending loss, I knew was not alone.

We didn’t bring self-destructive habits into the relationship that would douse the wildest of fires. We did not let anger, addictions or infidelity scatter our flames apart. We tried not to be a source of worry or aggravation to each other.

We took responsibility for ourselves. We were not green wood that would not burn. When we lived with fairness, respect, and equality, the flames of love leaped up with a little stirring.

We did not let our self-centered notions of love place unreasonable demands on each other. We were careful to keep other priorities from becoming the fire we sought when we wanted excitement and comfort.

The bed of coals of our love is also protected from the wintry chill of unresolved conflict, painful differences, imperfections, selfishness, and weaknesses. Acceptance, patience, forbearance and forgiveness keep disappointments and hurts from smothering our fire with dirt, ashes and water-logged debris that don’t belong.

We built the fire each in our own way. We accepted each other "as is." You saw me for who I was, not for what you wanted or needed me to be, and loved me anyway. Your qualities balanced mine and together we make a great team.

Where did you learn such patience, generosity, tolerance and compassion? To live with dashed dreams, imperfections, weakness, and disappointment requires such acceptance.

Your love and honesty chipped away at my narcissism and slowly, ever so slowly, I have become a better person because of you. Together we worked on the tensions and issues that block our enjoyment. Beauty needs to be released, not extracted.

Your kindness is contagious. Being gracious supplants being right. Forgiveness is offered as a gift, not as a grudging act of sacrifice. Here we are, still imperfect, still flailing way at unsolvable problems with grace and forbearance, none of which threaten the fire of our love.

Tending the fire can be fun. You venture out and replenish our fire daily with energy, adventure, surprise, freshness, risk and novelty. You present me with a more evolved and interesting person than the one who left. I am your number one fan. Your excitement and enthusiasm, your joy and aliveness make me more alive and joyful.

Your laughter and humor unite us and brings us close for many bright moments. Our love grows when we can share excitement in our interests and activities.

Love is light-hearted. Love can be silly and full of laughter, easy going, and sustaining in imaginative, sometimes mischievous ways.

Your touching can ignite our fire. It can be a light touch, a gentle rub on my back, a finger touching my cheek or grazing our lips, just bumping together, holding hands or when our heads touch. You glance at me in a manner that steals my heart.

You are fun to be around. I love your company.

Love creates love. I became acquainted with love through watching you love me, our children and so many, many others. The glow in the coals is sustained by the gentle breeze of your sacrifice. Your generous, kind actions - some planned, some spontaneous - put my needs ahead of your own and brought out the best in me.

We do not have control over our passion. We cannot direct it. We have, however, choose to love because we can choose to do loving acts. Sacrifice comes from the active, choosing part of love based on our intentions. You have created love through your sacrifice. Sacrifice balances passion. Thank you for both the passion and sacrifice.

I have learned and am still learning how as much as being loved is wonderful, even better is loving another. "The pleasure of love is in the loving. We are happier in the passion we feel than in that we arouse." - L. Erdich

I remember how generously and tenderly you cared for me when my health was impaired. I have experienced your kind heart, your willingness to listen, your considerate actions, and your sacrifice on my behalf. I know that I have been difficult - I have made it much more difficult that it needed to be.

Your loving me has made it easy for me to love you. The more I love, the more capacity I have to love. The more I love, the more I am loved. The love I give comes back even greater than I gave.

"I will show you a love potion without drug or any ’s spell; if you wish to be loved, love." - Hecato

- Love must be expressed. Thank you for sharing your heart with me and making a safe place for me to share mine. In my troubles, I have found a friend. In my excitement, I have found a companion. In my confusion, I have found a caring and listening heart. Becoming soulmates is more about dialogue and conversation than it is about devotion and caring or even thinking or being alike. Thank you for a life long conversation.

Your touch has meant so much. Your gifts have been inspired. Your love has been spoken most loudly by your countless acts of selfless service. The flames of our love reaches heavenward, visible not only to ourselves but to others, especially our children.

"Know me. Understand me. Respect my differences and accept my weaknesses. Love who I am, not what you need me to be. If I can feel this from you, then I will feel safe and free to give you all that I have to give." - Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh

- Love takes time - a lifetime. It amazes me how different we are and how our differences complement each other. We are open to each other’s influence.

Your honesty has been a mirror to my weaknesses - you care that I am my best self and are not afraid to help me become better - even if it is unpleasant. Behind the unflattering mirror is the constancy of your love and encouragement. It has freed up my time and spirit to worry about things other than our relationship.

We have built and shared a faith, homes, children, grandchildren, career, friends, church service, and community life in the Dakotas and now Missouri. You have honored my life dreams and have sacrificed much for them. You have committed a lifetime to me and to the raising of our children. I can only hope I have done the same for you.

Our shared history includes common interests, travels, hardships, setbacks, births, deaths, marriages, joys and triumphs. You commented about what a rich and interesting life we’ve have had to this point - lots of memories of things appreciated and enjoyed together. These memories are ours and ours alone.

We became soulmates by sharing our journey of love. "Young love is a flame, very pretty, very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable." - Henry Ward Beecher

The best is yet to be.

Love, Val