Did you ever find that you had to lose everything to understand what you truly had?
That’s the story of Bob and Gloria Farley and their incredible love story that survived even after a car accident robbed Bob Farley of his memories, making him forget he was a husband and father of two children.
I had the privilege of meeting with the Farleys in an interview for the OWN Network. After hearing their story, I was compelled to meet them. A family man myself, I had to know how a love survives, endures, even thrives after a 32 day coma, years of rehabilitation, a couple having to fall in love again and a man searching for his place in a family that – to him – appeared to be strangers.
Both say they have a much stronger relationship now than they had before the accident.
You don’t have to lose what Bob lost to keep your love strong, but there is much you can learn from this couple when it comes to staying together.
1. What we want takes work but what we want to keep requires harder work: Bob constantly says that couples should “fight to understand.” For them, it was fighting to re-learn each other after such a crisis, but the same can be said for whenever we start to get distracted and lose focus on our relationships. We have to fight to keep them strong and close. We can’t let them wither without putting in the work.
2. Asking “what can I do for you”: Every single day when Bob wakes up, he asks Gloria “what can I do for you?” I found this to be so profound I immediately started asking my wife the same thing. The first few days she thought something incredibly bad had happened that I waiting to tell her. Then for the next few days she was still so surprised I was asking she had nothing for me to do. About a week later, when she realized I was consistently asking, she started dolling things out. But then what happened next is the real lesson from Bob and Gloria: My wife reciprocated at a higher level, which drove me to deliver at a higher level, which rose her ante creating a cycle of love, caring and emotional reward.
3. Daily 15-second kisses: This is something Bob told me off-camera, right before we started taping. He said, “Watch this,” and walked right up to his wife and planted one on her. What struck me about this was a few things:
A) Fifteen seconds is actually a long time.
B) When I tried this with my wife the first time, I found myself consciously counting the seconds (I’m not a big kisser) but after a few times, it felt like a mini-escape and actually made me enjoy kissing. I found it actually “takes you away” from the stresses on hand.
C) Physical intimacy is very important. I noticed that bob couldn’t keep his hands off of Gloria, and I’d never before seen a man in his 60s act this way towards his wife. It was incredible.
4. Surround yourself with people who love you: As a result of the accident, Bob and Gloria found out quickly who their truly supportive friends were. They then methodically closed ranks. To this day, they maintain a small circle and keep them very close, even moving in their daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.
5. Never stop learning: What I truly adore about Bob, in particular, is that he wants to learn more. He fights to be better every day. Ultimately, this is the underpinning of why he’s made such substantial progress and also why his relationship with not just his wife but also his children continues to grow.
When you look at the love in your life, ask yourself: Am I willing to work for it?
Falling in love seems so light, exciting and easy. But are you willing to do it all over again after things have gotten tough? After years have gone by and time and circumstances have changed us? It’s not typically a car accident that makes a couple become strangers. Changes in desires, needs, age, career, family, anything can cause you to drift away from those you love. You can find yourselves lying as strangers in your own bed when there was no accident, no catalyst that caused your malaise but the simple passing of time.
Are you willing to fight for that? To fall and stay in love and keep it growing and getting better when the initial thrill of passion as subsided?
Every relationship – whether with a spouse, a friend or family member – takes work to stay healthy and strong. And if it ever feels too hard, think of Bob and Gloria.
They overcame Bob having to learn how to eat again. You only have to focus on making sure those you care for the most know you’re willing to make those small adjustments. To stick with it.
To see love through.
QUESTION: Is there any challenge that a marriage/long-term-relationship can’t overcome? How do you know the difference between what’s worth working out and what is beyond repair?