In old movies and in many Disney films, there is a classic format for a love story: A beautiful young princess is in trouble, usually taken captive by a villain, a brave knight comes to her rescue, she falls madly in love with him, they marry, and live happily ever after. Alas, in reality, the princess is neither beautiful nor regal, the knight is neither brave nor noble, and the marriage is neither happy nor long. Love is not a crush; it does not just happen. Love is a relationship, a process of building a bond one step at a time. Only people who have made lifelong friendships and have been there for each other can say they love each other.
People like to remember the butterflies in their stomach when they think about falling in love, but that is not a foundation for a lasting relationship. If you feel butterflies in your stomach, it is more likely a bad stomach than real love. A superficial acquaintance is just that: superficial. It makes no sense to pick someone to share your life with just because you had a good time at a party.
You can meet anywhere, even at a party, but love is something you build. When you have been together for a long time and you have reached a point where you trust your partner to help you when you need it, and your partner trusts you to do the same, then you can begin to think of it as love.
There are two levels of love: The first is the one I just described, which is basically a strong emotional bond made of friendship and trust. The second, deeper kind is one where the lover lives to please the beloved and derives joy from that rather than from self-centered satisfactions.
Achieving this kind of love requires more than trust; it requires concessions, deeper and deeper concessions. “Love,” my teacher RABASH used to say, “is a pet that feeds on mutual concessions.” When two people constantly seek where they can make even more concessions in order to please the one they love, their love for one another will continually grow.
Therefore, the secret to a happy life is to keep feeding the love you have for each other with concessions, putting your partner first, and you second, if at all. If you live in this way, you will transcend time, your love will be infinitely stronger in the end than in the beginning, and you will never tire of each other or of life.
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