Lasting Love in a “Hook-up” World
Janice Shaw Crouse
August 28, 2001
A couple of weeks ago, my seatmate on a flight from Louisville to Pittsburgh was a 20-year-old college Junior, Brett. As we talked, he told me about his parents’ divorce and about his sister living with her boyfriend for five years before marrying him because she wanted to make sure that they were compatible.
I commented that the co-habitation myth-that living together is good preparation for marriage-is one of the most destructive forces affecting young adults today. The facts are clear, I explained, living together is NOT good preparation for marriage. I added, “Actually, it is far more likely to be a prescription for divorce. The norm is for couples that live together to break up; they don’t generally get married. Too many of those who do get married after living together, end up divorced.”
That is the usual pattern. And, Brett ‘s sister followed the pattern. Her divorce just a year after she and her boyfriend married, coming on the heels of his girlfriend dumping him, was devastating to Brett.
He said to me, “I don’t believe in true love anymore. It just doesn’t last!”
“Oh, but it can last,” I said to that young man. “You are looking at someone who is proof that lasting true love IS possible.” I explained that my husband and I would be celebrating our 40th anniversary the next week and that our marriage is as alive and vital-romantic and passionate-as it was when we married in 1961. I told him that my husband and I are still sweethearts and that we love each other dearly and intensely.
He was clearly surprised. He had NEVER seen an example of a happy marriage. He didn’t know anyone who had a successful marriage.
Sadly, that young man is not alone. Many 20-something and 30-something men and women don’t believe in true love anymore. They have experienced the emptiness of serial “hook-ups.” They have lived through the pain of their parents’ divorce. The resulting sense of betrayal has produced a deeply ingrained fear of making commitments that they aren’t sure they or their partners can keep.
I assured Brett that any couple that is willing to make their relationship a top priority can share a romantic love that will remain intensely passionate and exciting through the years.
But like anything of value, true love does not come cheap. There is a price to pay. A couple has to be willing to work together through all the growing pains of creating a romance that is uniquely theirs.
That “uniqueness” feature is very important. God intended romance to be a grand, “til death do us part” adventure; true love does not come from a one-size-fits-all approach. The secrets of romance aren’t found in magic formulas or push-button solutions. When selfishness rears its ugly head, as it inevitably will, it takes a strong commitment to honesty, patience, and forgiveness to get things back on track. Anger, hurt and resentment have to be dealt with or they will corrode the relationship. Both the man and the woman must be willing to build the other one up and put the other’s needs ahead of their own in order to develop trust in each other. And, both of them-the husband and wife-must be prepared to grow as individuals and as a couple over the years as the relationship matures and evolves through the various stages of life.
When the couple invests the requisite time, energy, attention and devotion to their relationship, there is less temptation to try to recreate the excitement of “first” love by seeking new partners. Instead, the depth of love and devotion-the new discoveries that the couple can make with the love of their youth-helps to “inoculate” them against the attraction of a superficial fling with someone new.
When so many couples settle for shallow relationships, it is important for young adults to see that it doesn’t have to be that way. They need to know that love has the potential to grow in amazing, exciting, wonderful and satisfying ways and that romantic love between a man and a woman can grow deeper and more fulfilling through the years.
Life cannot be perfect-we don’t live in a perfect world.
But, with effort and with liberal doses of forgiveness, a couple can rebuild even when they’ve been stupid or selfish-or when the stresses of life have taken their toll.
These human conditions are the norm, but when we fail-when we blow it, when we fall short-we can, through repentance and with humility, experience renewal and have a second chance. And amazingly, the foundation of marriage can be stronger and the rewards can be greater when we begin again.
That is a wonderful truth; it is a message of hope! The evidence of lasting true love is something that today’s young adults need to see. Maybe then, they will believe that it is possible for them.
Janice and Gil Crouse attended 6th and 7th grades together,
met again when both attended the same college
and married after they graduated.