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5 Tips for Finding Lasting Love

  • by, on Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:22pm PDT
Photo: Thinkstock

As told to Leigh Newman

In Robert Olen Butler’s quiet, moving novel A Small Hotel, a husband and wife offer their respective reflections on their marriage—on the day they are scheduled to be divorced. Here, he shares his vision of long-term love in his own life.

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1. Love and will: My parents met when he was 14 and she was 16. Both of them had lost a parent very early and had not experienced much love growing up. They were determined—and it was an act of wills for both of them—not to pass that on. They were married for 71 years. Never a day went by in our household when the word “love” was not used frequently. I’m deeply grateful to both of them. I feel like I was given the capacity to love from them.

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2. How I know when I’m in love: I want to read to a woman at night.

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3. One thing I’ve learned: The absence of expressed love is often as harmful as not loving.

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4. Another thing I’ve learned: Takers do not turn into givers.

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5. Love and growing up: What ennobles us humans is that we can act against our own impulses when we know they’re wrong. We can do the thing we don’t want to do out of love for another person.

Original Story