I remember crying uncontrollably when Allie finally ended up with Noah. I couldn’t see how she could ever be with anybody else. What is it, if not true love, when two high school sweethearts remain in love years on end? If Allie were a swan, Noah would be her lake. If she were rain, he’d be her cloud. If she were a poem, he’d be her verse. Their intense love and never-abating passion easily grabbed my teenage heart and mind.
And then, I grew up. Suddenly, the love portrayed in The Notebook no longer seemed realistic. Real life couples rarely manage to stay in love for decades. More often than not, they end up together, try to make it work, and move on when they can’t. Don’t they? Well. Yes and no. Yes, because many couples do experience it. No, because it’s neither as simple nor as morose as that.
Love–when it is young and fresh–probably feels like morning dew trickling down a tendril. Or perhaps, like a spark of fire on dry wood waiting to be ignited. With time though, the dew evaporates and the fire dies down. Personal differences apart, there are several reasons a couple can find it hard to stay in love, especially if they started out very young. Family circumstances could be one. If a partner has to move to a different city or country, it could mean the end of the relationship. Of course, I’ve heard of long distance relationships, though I’ve never been convinced they can work.
But marketing professional Siddhartha Bhattacharjee and his wife are proof enough to rethink my scepticism. They didn’t just fall in love while in their early 20s. They managed to stay in love and cherish one another for 29 years thereafter. This, despite having to stay apart every other week as Siddhartha was often out of town on work. “We could tackle all changes and challenges together,” he says, “because we believed that it is best to take decisions based on the current situations, and not have anything pre-determined.”
It’s dangerous to put the onus on the partner in attaining growth. If we can fulfil ourselves, we’ll leave no room for unhealthy expectations from our partners.