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Anjuly Mathai
Anjuly Mathai

LOVE ACTUALLY

Third time lucky

Third time lucky

A new report says that everyone has only three chances to fall in love, and it is important to take them all

Bright Side, an online platform, recently published a story about how a person can genuinely fall in love only three times. The first is the fairy tale love where you are filled with the kind of feeling you read about in fairy tales. The way our relationship looks is more important than how it really is. The second is the complicated love, where we choose an incompatible partner and, to make the relationship work, sacrifice our true selves. The third is the mature love which comes at a moment when we have given up waiting for the ‘right partner’ to come along. “It doesn’t appear to be perfect but it is a genuine relationship characterised by a feeling of extraordinary ease—something that cannot be explained with words,” says the writer.

Perhaps you need to fall in love three times with three kinds of people to arrive at the blinding truth. But then again, perhaps you can fall in love with the same person in the three different ways that are mentioned in the story. I know this to be the case in the lives of my married friends and family members. After the end of the fairy tale love, the bickering starts and it goes on endlessly as each partner tries to mould the other to his way of thinking. And then, once mature love settles in, the thoughts and behaviour of the couple become similar while the glorious differences in their personalities remain intact. This is the miracle that the right marriage brews.

My parents tell me this is so and in their case, I know this to be true. Their personalities are very different but over the years, their patterns of thinking have merged so that almost on every occasion, they reflect each other’s opinions and ideas. Each can complete the other’s sentences.

This is not to say that everything is hunky-dory in marriages once mature love settles in. My grandparents are both nonagenarians and they still bicker constantly. If you see them arguing, you will think that any minute, one of them will pack their bags and leave. But I have seen the deep concern that each has for the other. My grandmother insists on monitoring each of my grandfather’s meals and my grandfather is obsessed about ensuring that my grandmother takes her medicines each day without fail.

In a TED talk, Robert Waldinger, the director of a 75-year-old Harvard study on adult development, says that it is not fame or money that makes us happy and healthy in life. It is the quality of our relationships. Men and women in healthy marriages live longer and are less prone to developing dementia and other signs of brain deterioration. I have a theory that if my grandparents didn’t argue so much and instead led sedate and satisfied lives, they wouldn’t be so sharp or healthy in their old age.

The problem with books and films is that the story ends where the fairy tale love ends, possibly with the couple holding hands and walking into the sunset. This misleads you into thinking that that is how things are going to be for the rest of their lives. But give them a couple of years and they are probably going to be tearing each other’s hair. And if they are lucky and truly in love, they will keep on doing so for the rest of their lives. 

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