I’ve always believed exceptional love affairs are possible. As a psychologist, sex therapist, author, and creator of the online couples immersion program Become Passion, I’ve dedicated my life to helping thousands of couples learn and practice the Three Keys to Passion. Even when my own love life was a messy mix from “I Do” to divorce, I continued believing in love!
Okay, I’ll admit that great love and passion that lasts a lifetime is about as common as a saxophone playing unicorn, but yes, it IS possible. My grandad taught me that.
Norm first saw his future bride as she walked into the community farm hall—one pretty girl among many—for the Spring Dance. It had been a long, cold, hard prairie winter. Grandad was tired, broke, and lonely. And then, in an instant, his life changed.
“Who’s THAT?” he asked the other farmhands.
“Oh, that’s Evelyn. But don’t even think about it. She’s engaged,” they responded.
My grandad famously squared his shoulders and said, “Not for long.”
As a child, I learned what great love looked like by watching my grandparents’ marriage.
When granny walked into a room, my grandad lit up like a Christmas tree. He told me that when he first saw her, he knew true love was real. He described her wavy blonde hair and eyes as blue as the sky on a Spring day.
All my life, I watched my Grandad treat his Evelyn with loving, kind respect. They talked about everything. They were a true team. She teased him about his foibles, he praised her admittedly uninspired cooking. There was love, tenderness, and humor. He romanced her with simple gifts and poems he wrote himself. And though, as a child and young woman, I never speculated about their bedroom life. My dad later told me he grew up in a one room house and their cries of love were not muffled by the thin curtain hanging by their bed.
No, their marriage wasn’t perfect, nor was it easy. They lost their first son to pneumonia at the age of two. They barely scraped out a living through the depression and WWII. Sometimes they argued and sometimes he drove her crazy. It was real love, filled with ups and downs, losses and grief, problems and challenges.
As I grew and studied relationships, psychology, sexuality, and more, and as I tried to crack the code, to find the recipe for long-term love in addition to the academic studies, the clinical work, and the training, I continued to learn from the most powerful love affair I knew—that of Norm and Evelyn.
Eventually, I created the Passion Triangle: The model for all the work I do with couples. Essentially, there are Three Keys to Passion; three keys to an exceptional relationship. When couples are strong in all three, this predicts happiness, attraction, connection, and yes, passion. In brief, these three keys to passion are:
- Intimacy – A deep sense of knowing and being known that develops through shared emotional connection, conflict management, and communication.
- Thrill – The ineffable sense of excitement, interest, and attraction to your partner – the feelings that sweep you up when you first fell in love.
- Sensuality – The entire spectrum of romantic, erotic, and sexual connection between two people – from hand holding to wild sexual delight.
Granny and Grandad had all three keys to passion in buckets – for over 60 years.
As is the way of life, however, even love that lasts a lifetime must eventually come to an end. My Granny died suddenly in her late 80’s. Norm was bereft, confused, lost. And it was only then that we discovered he had Alzheimer’s. My Granny had filled in the gaps for him, and danced their beautiful dance of relationship so skillfully the rest of us didn’t realize his memory was almost gone.
Grandad declined. We placed him in a wonderful memory facility. I visited often—me, the Love Expert, freshly divorced, sitting at the bedside of the man who was a true expert in love. I sought to understand how to love as he did and how I could teach couples to reignite love, closeness, and passion in their own relationship.
He couldn’t really speak anymore. He didn’t recognize us, but I would sit, read to him, and think of his wonderful life.
One day when I walked into his room, something extraordinary happened. At the time, I was in my mid-thirties, and I had wavy blonde hair and eyes as blue as the sky on a Spring day.
My grandad opened his eyes, saw me there, and he lit up like a Christmas tree.
“Eveyln,” he breathed. “You are here!” He smiled, closed his eyes, and rested deeply in the arms of his beloved.
So yes, when I teach couples that great love is possible, that with effort, grace, and courage the thrill can last forever, that the three keys to passion can be cultivated, I know it to be true.
These days, I practice the passion I preach with my second, and last, husband. And today, when he walks in the door, I light up like a Christmas tree.
Want to find out how your relationship rates on the Three Keys to Passion? – Take the Passion Quiz and Rate your Relationship: https://drcherylfraser.com/quiz/