5 Love Lessons from 'Downton Abbey'

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The hit show is back tonight! Here's what we learned about love from Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley.

2.  We all want what we can't have. When Lady Mary's family initially tried to set her up with Cousin Matthew in an effort to secure the family estate, Lady Mary was repulsed and refused him. She turned her nose up to Cousin Matthew, dismissing him as a social-climbing nobody. Cousin Matthew wasn’t so keen on being with the snobbish Lady Mary either. However, as the two got to know one another and a relationship became impossible and forbidden, they quickly fell for each other, reminding us of an age old saying: we all want what we can’t have.

3. Sometimes things don't happen like you expect them to happen. When Lavinia Swire appeared in season two as Cousin Matthew’s fiancé and he seemed to truly LOVE her, it looked like a future for Lady Mary and Matthew was out of the question. It was hard to hate the pitiful Lavinia, who tried to do the honorable thing by staying with Cousin Matthew even after he was injured in the war and unable to bear children. Let's be honest though — we all breathed a huge (guilty) sigh of relief when Lavinia came down with the Spanish Flu. After she caught Matthew and Lady Mary kissing shortly before she died, she said, "I do have some self-worth, just not enough to make you marry the wrong person." Though it was unfortunate for Lavinia, finally, the road was clear for Lady Mary and Matthew to be together again. 

4. Don't settle for love. When Lady Mary became engaged to the scoundrel-like newspaper mogul Sir Richard Carlisle, who couldn’t hold a candle to Rhett Butler, she embarked upon a path which so many people follow when they stop believing in love and give up on their lives. With Sir Richard, Lady Mary’s eyes became vacant, her spirit lifeless, her attitude mellow and subdued. Even Lord Grantham and Lady Cora didn’t want their daughter to be with the cunning Sir Richard, despite his wealth and power. Thankfully, Lady Mary came to her senses and saved herself by bravely breaking up with her fiancé, even though he threatened to ruin her by exposing her scandal so the world would know she was “not virtuous.” Lady Mary didn’t care, having been freed at last from a lifetime trapped in a loveless marriage.  The lesson: don’t ever settle for love, or you’ll be preventing yourself from finding true happiness. 

5. Love isn't about being flawless.  American poet and author Henry Van Dyke once said, "Love is the heart's immortal thirst to be completely known and all forgiven."  There is no better example of love’s forgiveness than in Downton Abbey.  When Cousin Matthew is injured in the war and may never walk again or have children, all while being engaged to someone else, Lady Mary never leaves his side and accepts him for all that he is.  Likewise, Matthew dismisses any skeletons in Lady Mary’s closet (like the scandalous death of Mary’s first lover, the Turkish diplomat), when he so lovingly says, "You've lived your life, and I've lived mine. Now it's time we've lived them together." 

What do you think is in store for Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley in season 3?

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  • The average affair lasts 2 to 4 years.