A highlight of Valentine’s week for me was attending a concert at the Kauffman Center. The symphony and the jazz performers melded two very diverse genres into a beautiful union. One favorite piece was “Love Remains,” written by Pamela Watson of Kansas City. Her husband, the renowned saxophonist and composer, explained that this piece, written by his wife, was about despite the ups and downs, at the end of the day, love remains.
In my work with couples, this is the theme of relationships that last—enduring love, despite the challenges and rough spots that inevitably come up in relationships. What builds the endurance? First, it is commitment: not if a couple is going to work things out but how they are going to work things out. Scott Peck writes that after being in a marriage for a while, there may be as many reasons to separate as there are to stay together. The decision to stay together is the beginning of learning how to truly love.
Every partner wants two things: to be truly known by the other and to be prized and cherished, even so. Prizing another goes beyond tolerance and trying to make the other into a more suitable partner. Cherishing a partner is being able to see through the tarnish and remembering the silver that at first was so easy to admire and desire. In a successful relationship we like how we feel about ourselves and become our better selves when we are with the other.
Not all come into a relationship fully ready and mature enough to make the sacrifices that love requires and brave enough to begin something that makes us vulnerable. Love is an art that we can become better at. Therapy can be a help in a relationship that is struggling and move I and I to We.