“Couple Celebrates 80 Years of Marriage!”
Just a sensational headline? Incredibly, no!
The latest in a number of marriages highlighted in the news over the past year tell the remarkable story of Mitchell and Mattie Atkins of West Philadelphia.
Married on January 14th, 1930, they were honored recently by family and friends at an anniversary party celebrating an incredibly rare 80 years together.
Mr. and Mrs. Atkins join a very small but extraordinary group of other couples who have celebrated an 80 year wedding anniversary. What are the secrets these amazing unions hold for us? Is it possible for love to last a lifetime?
Bill and Marie Decaro held the distinction of being the longest married couple in America on June 19th, 2009 when they celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary. When interviewed, they both said that laughter helps make every day special.
As does good communication, it appears: “We don’t believe in getting mad at each other, we express ourselves, but that’s the extent of it,” Mr. Decaro said.
In Britain, Walter and Beatrice Postings, married on March 27th, 1929, related the following in an interview at their anniversary party: “It’s all about give and take”. Mrs. Postings is even more succinct saying, “I just love him and that’s it.”
They still hold hands on their frequent walks and when enjoying each other’s company in the lounge at the residence home in which they live.
Is love destined to fade? Clearly, the answer is no. But there are things we can learn from those who have formed such a deep and lasting connection.
It’s Mr. Atkins who reveals many of the “secrets” that we as therapists know and impart to our clients. Let me share three of the most important with you now:
Secret #1 Don’t Deny the Power of Chemistry!
“She was the prettiest thing in the whole world,” said Mr. Atkins, 97. “And she’s still the loveliest, he said. “I fell for her right away, the first time I saw her. I liked the way she dressed and her hair. She was active. She was energetic.”
Ah, the power of attraction is chemistry; it sets the relationship in motion and as Mr. Atkins so movingly relates, it can last a lifetime!
Romantic love, symbolized in art, song, literature – and movies (!) as “Cupid’s Arrow” and “Love Potion #9”, is actually chemistry between lovers.
Endorphins, the “feel good” hormones, are responsible for that first rush of excitement and pleasure. Known as the romantic love stage, this is the initial time chemistry is felt between the couple.
Once the relationship deepens, Oxytocin, a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter, known as the “cuddle hormone” is released helping form a bond and increased level of attachment to one another.
Derived from the Greek for “swift birth”, Oxytocin was most commonly known for its effect in three areas: 1) the stimulation of breast milk; 2) the stimulation of uterine contractions during childbirth; and 3) maternal bonding.
In fact, recent research shows that Oxytocin has a great deal of effect on our social behavior as well. Produced by both males and females, Oxytocin has the added benefit of producing feelings of security and contentment. It’s responsible for our feelings of calm and connection with our lover and is key to bonding.
Interestingly, Oxytocin is unique in that the more that is released, the better the feelings and feedback, and these feelings in turn release more Oxytocin.
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