A recent love story has been floating around the internet, pulling at heartstrings all over the world. It is the story of Kenneth and Helen Felumlee, an Ohio couple, who were married for 70 years and died only twelve hours apart. A photo of them, young and in love, now recognizable by many because of its coverage and no one can deny that their love story is swoon worthy: they eloped over state lines so that they could legally marry—they married two days before Kenneth turned 21, the required age to marry in Ohio. They couldn’t even wait two days! And they never slept a night apart, something that is difficult to achieve in today’s society. And back in February, the love story of a New Jersey couple that grew up together, were married 67 years, and died within two days of each other was receiving an abundance of similar news coverage. People love these stories and many people hope to have their own story like this, one of a long lasting love that doesn’t even end in death because the lovers go together. Many would argue that this type of a relationship is unrealistic, but if every year there are multiple stories like Mr. and Mrs. Felumlee’s, it is achievable. It’s just drastically harder to grasp this kind of relationship in the society that we live in now.
I hate to bring up ‘hook-up culture’ but it seems relevant. The habit of hooking up with multiple people and not getting into deep, serious relationships is preventing people from finding the one person that they can cultivate a loving and lasting relationship with. Each individual is not at fault; it’s the idea that has been instilled in our generation to believe that finding just one person is not realistic or the ‘right way’ to date. Also, culture deters people from marrying young even if they believe they have found the one. People don’t want to believe that their first love is their one love. People fear that they are ‘leaving the party early’ if they marry before 25. People think they are selling themselves out if they put their partner and their relationship before themselves and their career. These are all qualities that have developed over time and developed after the loving couples mentioned above married.
So what are we to do? Are those fairy tale love stories a dying breed that none of us will ever be able to achieve? Is there anyway to make those fairy tales reality? If some couples can do it, can’t everyone?
Emulating the dating habits of the past, the ones that worked, and realizing the importance of placing a loving relationship before work without any shame, is a starting point. Those couples never would have lasted 70 years or more if they kept looking for someone else after they’d already found the one. They wouldn’t have lasted if they let their romance come second to trivial parts of everyday life. The realists out there will doubt the plausibility of succeeding in a multiple decade, committed romance. However, if both people in the relationship want this kind of love, it’s achievable. Love is more than how it is portrayed in the media and in pop culture. You can’t let the ideas and so-called norms of popular society affect the way you treat your relationship. If you want a love that lasts forever, you have to treat it like one. You have to remember the story of the Felumlees and the other love stories—that don’t have to be only true in fairy tales—and make them yours.
Photo Source: Bullet Salvador Photography www.bulletsalvador.com