Many are familiar with The Sound of Music. Although the music and melody of the story often mask the very serious events associated with World War II, the story raises a number of themes that transcend the time in which it was written. Perhaps the strongest of these themes is love.
One scene, in particular, has had me thinking deeply about love and relationships. Rebounding from the death of his wife and looking to find a permanent mother for his children, Captain von Trapp woos a wealthy Baroness. When it is decided that the two will marry, a song about their courtship asks (and I’m summarizing), “with such wealth, how will love ever survive?” This question implies that it is only because of struggle do people fall and stay in love. It almost suggests that relationships only last when we feel tied to another person out of need. What does this say for the self-sustaining and independent people who come to a relationship not because they need to find a partner, but because they actually want to? Is it true that an “easy” relationship grows stale over time?
Perhaps that last question is a silly one to even ask. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen or experienced a relationship that is easy all of the time. In fact, I think there’s probably a balance of how hard or easy any relationship should be. What I think the song was actually suggesting was that there need to be things a couple can share; challenges they face and address together to form a stronger bond. In the end, it wasn’t the wealth that killed the relationship of Captain von Trapp and the Baroness. In fact, that was the only thing they really had in common. Instead, it was that the Captain was a loyal Austrian, while the Baroness was willing to compromise her loyalty to Austria when nationalism became a threat. She became Berlin to a man whose deepest love was for his home country of Austria.
What things do we compromise in a relationship? Are there pieces of ourselves that we willingly give up to be with another person? Or, are there things rooted so deeply in us that we wouldn’t sacrifice them for anyone’s love? Do we even know what those things are?
I pose these questions as a think about. In the process of falling in love, it is often so very easy to forget who we are. As emotions surge and the endorphins associated with new love mask all our other senses, it is important that we know what our “Austrias” are. These are the things we should never compromise. When shared, they will be the things that get two people through any struggle together. After all, there is no such thing as perfect. And what keeps us together is not the struggle. Rather it is the way we approach the struggle knowing that another person has our back – not because they need to, but simply because they want to be there.