Recently, I was privileged to do a counseling session with a beautiful older couple. They came because they wanted to hone their ability to love one another well, to expand their capacity to be present with each other and to look closely at what is both working and not working in their relationship. In short, they want to do what it takes to enjoy their time together more fully.
They are both in their seventies and have been together for the past three years. After thirty years of living on their own once their marriages had ended, they are now planning to move in together. They are making big changes including retirement and cohabitation, which will be an epic shift.
The way they love one another is nothing short of inspiring. I was moved by the field of kindness that blossomed in the room as they took turns speaking and listening, and how a stream of belly laughter flowed throughout the ninety minutes we shared.
Planted across from them in my big green suede chair, I noted the proximity of their bodies and the gentle way his hand steadily rested on her knee as she tenderly shared her challenges in their relationship. She gracefully persevered, her strong voice quivering as she spoke; this was a palpable moment of vulnerable sharing. I watched her peel the layers away from her heart, each moment becoming more real than the last.
I was struck by the depth of their commitment and how they will most assuredly walk side by side to the end of the road, co-stars in their final act. Recognizing the poignant depth of their partnership, I paused to let it in. The potency of their love was not lost on me and I inhaled the nourishment of its sweetness.
His radiance shone as he gazed at his beloved with adoration, tears welling up in his eyes. After a moment he proclaimed: “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”
She received him, their lips met and they kissed softly. There was a resounding finality to his words; it was the sound of enduring love — the kind of love that encompasses generosity, acceptance, and a willingness to evolve.
This incredible couple transmitted the essence of what it is to love without conditions, to be willing to take responsibility, to say the hard things that must be said, to listen without defending, to breathe through the awkwardness, to be radically inclusive--and, ultimately, to surrender into the extraordinary generosity of love.