Valentine’s Day: Not a Review of The Five Love Languages

Category: Weekly Columns

We’ve met some very interesting couples over the years. Interesting in that they were so different from each other, yet they found each other and had what we viewed as terrific relationships. Since my wife and I also have solidly different backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions, we find these other couples fascinating. In light of Valentine’s Day, let’s take a look at these couples, us too, and talk about love. Note: You may enjoy last year’s Valentine’s Day column, Guys Hate Valentine’s Day.

My parents were the epitome of a love affair, for 66 years of marriage and 73 years knowing each other. However, their backgrounds were similar with the one exception that my dad came from a lower-class family than my mom and, in those days, that mattered. But, their race, values, and religions were the same. Their story will be the subject of my second Valentine’s Day column this year so stay tuned.

Dan and Fionna (names changed) are friends we met on a trip. They were pretty much as diverse and opposite as can be and even had a local paper cover their relationship on exactly those grounds. Dan is White, Jewish, liberal, and a lawyer. Fionna is Black, Christian, conservative, and works in the non-profit sector. For a while, we actually thought they had us beat as even more diverse than us…but there was one big exception on which they had agreed. They chose not to have kids.

Given how much we adored them, we felt sad for the kids that might have been and the incredible parents those kids would have had in Dan and Fionna. But, I’ve always espoused that if you don’t want kids, DON’T HAVE ‘EM!

We’ve traveled with Dan and Fionna several times and enjoyed their company immensely. Evidently, both families accepted their love and marriage so, thankfully, that was not an obstacle for them.

The other couple is Eddie and Nicole (names also changed). Eddie is a Social Media and #DadChat buddy who I’d spoken with but hadn’t met until a few weeks ago when he and Nicole were in town for a high school reunion. They met in high school. They were high school sweethearts. And, though they wouldn’t confirm it one way or another, I think they were each other’s “First (and only) loves!”

How many high school couples ever really work out? Eddie and Nicole have been together over 14 years, married 7. They have two small kids. Eddie is Black and was raised by his mother, a Baptist preacher. He described his childhood as happy, but quite poor. Nicole is White, Jewish, and didn’t suffer quite so much economically, but faced some serious challenges when her mother died very young. Politically, they are on the same page.

Their families did NOT approve, at first, so they had that obstacle to overcome in addition to all the other obvious ones, including the fact that Dan’s job has included a lot of travel, leaving an ambitious Nicole to choose to not work and stay at home with their kids.

I was completely in love with Nicole and Eddie, both because they were adorable and because the smiles on their faces when they looked at each other were addictive in its sweetness.

Now, let’s consider Debbie – my wife – and me. I want YOU to weigh in, based on my possibly biased review, which couple you think is the most diverse and perhaps faces the most challenges. It doesn’t matter a hoot, but I’m curious what you think?

Our marriage is a second one for each of us. Debbie had been married 14 years and had no children. I was married 10 years and had two boys 24/7, who were 9 and 12 when they met Deb. I’m White, Jewish, a moderate conservative, and a very out-there personality. Deb is Chinese, Christian, also a moderate conservative, and with a much softer demeanor.

When she hooked up with me, we had to “marry” not just each other but my two boys, two dogs, and her and her one dog. I literally hired a dog-whisperer to introduce the dogs because one of mine was pretty dog aggressive. Deb was unwilling to meet my boys until and if there was a serious commitment between us.

When that happened and she did meet the boys, it was naturally a bit awkward, but my younger one immediately bonded with her while my older one, still bruised from his mother’s abandonment, was cautiously skeptical.

It’s all worked out. The dogs got along. The boys eventually both embraced Debbie, and we’ve been married four years with our oldest having left home to begin his college career this past fall.

Love is always a challenge. Do you think having commonalities is a requirement for a relationship to work? Do the differences described in this column among these three couples suggest success or potential failure in the long run? Finally, I invite you to share YOUR story of love.

Note: The mention of The Five Languages of Love in the title of this column is simply because that book was incredibly revealing to us and I think merits review at another time and is quite relevant to all couples looking to find their language of love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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