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Love through the generations: how love and relationships withstand the test of time


Each generation has their differences. Times change and people adapt but one thing that has always seemed to remain consistent is love.

Dr. Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at Cornell, joins “Take Care,” this week to discuss his new book, “30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationship and Marriage,” and how love has lasted throughout the generations.

Pillemer is the founder of the Cornell Institute of Translational Research on Aging and wrote his new book after the success of his first, "30 Lessons for Living: Advice from the Wisest Americans."

In a lot of ways Pillemer believes that young people today are looking for love relationships the same way their parents and grandparents were.

“I think we have this image that love and marriage have changed so dramatically that we don’t see the continuities. A lot of what [young people] want is similar to their parents and grandparents,” Pillemer says. “They want to get married and they hope to stay married to the same person.”

During his research and interviews, Pillemer found a few tips to help those looking for the right person.

“As you are trying to decide on a person, don’t do it all by yourself,” Pillemer says.

Family members, friends and even coworkers can be great tools to see how a relationship truly is. Pillemer says be attuned to not only what people think of your partner but how they treat people as well.

“It may not be as important on how they treat you but rather how they treat other people. Are they an angry person? Do they come home and complain about how they are treated at work?” Pillemer says.

Being able to judge if they are a right fit into your life is vital and is part of the understanding that all long love relationships have their ups and downs.

“We have come now to think of marriage as this heart pounding merging of the souls where everybody has to be happy all the time or people should start thinking of getting out of the relationship,” Pillemer says.

Pillemer’s studies showed that yes, love is important and no marriage should be without it, but it is hard and it takes work.

“It’s tough. It takes drive and resilience. Don’t expect it to be happy all the time,” Pillemer says. “Work and live through the hard parts.”

Many people believe that intimacy goes away when we get older. Pillemer, however, says that intimacy does not disappear but rather becomes more sublime and subtle.

“The whole idea of intimacy broadens and deepens between these long married couples,” Pillemer says. “One lady told me she felt intimate while holding her husband’s hand while at the movies.”

Intimacy, as younger generations know it, does not go away, it simply takes different forms like the holding of hands or touching one another.

Again and again, Pillemer heard one simple message that can be applied to anyone in a love relationship. Don’t give up.

“Love at any age is a beautiful thing,” Pillemer says. “Don’t give up trying.”

As generations continue to grow further and further apart for the first time in history, Pillemer urges younger generations to talk with older generations, listen to what they say and learn from their experiences.