Some couples explain what love means to them.
1 Love means you never feel alone. "You are taken, and that is such an amazingly secure and lovely feeling that it cuts you off from a whole area of sadness, longing and loneliness," says Stella. "I have this great thing, she is the love of my life. Billionaires would spend their billions trying to get this if they didn't have it, and yet it is not quite what you expected in the romantic sense. It's like success or fame ... in that it just seals you from the opposite emotion, which is very bad. It so reminds me of having that best friend at school."
2 Love is feeling at peace with someone. "Sometimes we just spend an evening with him reading over there and me reading here, and we don't have to say anything to each other, or even go to bed at the same time, but there is this deep sense of companionship," says Evie, who is in her 50s and has known her husband since she was a teenager. "It's fantastic, so comfortable and priceless, and I am really glad that we found our way through the really difficult times."
3Love is about sharing the day-to-day minutiae of life: "Those everyday routines which unite us more than the clamour of passion," as Isabel Allende says in her memoir The Sum of Our Days. "When we're apart it is this silent dance we miss most. We each need to feel the other one is near, always there in that intangible space that is ours alone."
4 The trouble with romantic love is that there is little room for ambivalence, for the rough and tumble, for the shifts in power as circumstances change. It is too rigid, and does not afford each a sense of their individuality, as distinct from their lives as a couple, when it is those spaces between your love which allow it to grow into something lasting. The myth that we each have a soulmate doesn't help.
"Our edges do not fit together so neatly as two torn halves of a stick of wood or a broken plate," writes Robert Solomon in his book About Love. It is the differences which create dialogue and make life and love more interesting.