I saw the most amazing movie yesterday – The Young Victoria, a cinematic portrait of Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne and her courtship with Prince Albert. It’s a small slice in the life of this long-lived and quite respected monarch, but it’s a potent one. For unlike many royal’s Victoria did indeed marry for love, and the growing relationship between the two young people, their clear and obvious delight in each other’s company, respect for each other’s intelligence, and genuine concern and care for each other’s needs, was not only beautifully romantic, but inspiring.
The film ended as their first (of nine!) children was born. And as I walked out of the theater, I couldn’t help but think that their love story was only just beginning at that moment, and wish the film could go on and on into the rest of their lives together. For as exciting and enchanting as fresh love is, it truly does become sweeter when it stands the tests of time.
Watching Victoria and Albert, still just teenagers when they first become acquainted and fall in love, I couldn’t help but recall the early days of my own first love, when every moment together was charged with heady excitement, when each day held the anticipation of new discoveries, when each touch was electrified with meaning and desire. It’s not realistic to expect human beings to retain those kinds of feelings about the same person for decades and decades, and after 33 years of marriage, it’s not always easy to reconnect with those feelings.
While realistically one cannot return to those exciting moments of young love, I think you can reconnect with those feelings by coming to a deeper appreciation of what true love does become over time. Being together for decades means surviving so many things – happiness’ certainly, but also trials and tribulations. Life changes, for good or ill, can test true love, but also strengthen and sweeten it. Recalling all the times my husband has stood by me when I was sad, or lonely, or frightened, reflecting on the ways he has supported me emotionally and practically – these memories are just as sweet those of the times we’ve laughed together, or shared the pleasure of watching our son grow up, or savored moments on foreign hillsides or simple walks in the park. Having this good and gentle man beside me for every moment of life, even when it (and I!) are at our most unlovable, still makes my heart flutter with excitement.
Standing the test of time is one of true love’s greatest gifts. It’s easy to forget how rare and important that is, easy to let the day to day routine usurp the small, sturdy gestures that keep love alive. I was touched by Eternal Celebration, Blue Mist’s story for Write On Wednesday this week, and the words of her character who says “Who remembers Valentines Day when you’ve spent 40 years in the marriage?” But really, isn’t 40 years of togetherness all the more reason to celebrate? For love that lasts so long, through the roller coaster ride of modern life, is the truest kind of love indeed.