I recently viewed a German documentary on YouTube called “Trotz aller Unterschiede: Liebe!” (In spite of all the differences: Love!). It was the story of three couples who defied all conventional wisdom, fell in love and got married.
The first couple consisted of a woman who was 6’4” tall married to a man whose height only came to 5’4”; a one-foot difference. The stark contrast between their heights shown in the video walking hand-in-hand through the streets caused many stares and whispers. If their heights had been switched, with the man being a foot taller than the woman, there wouldn’t have been as many gawks or whispers. The couple had two children and at the time of the interview were happily married for 18 years.
The second couple was a 38-year-old woman married to a 20-year-old man. She was his high school teacher, and after he graduated, they fell in love and got married. This couple causes nearly as many snickers and open-mouthed stares as the first one. People assume they must be mother and son until they see them hand-in-hand or with arms around each other. Again, if their ages had been switched with the man being the one who was 18 years older, although unusual, would have been more acceptable to society. Because of her age, the 20-year-old man had to be resigned to the fact that it would be a childless marriage. Despite much against them, their marriage is thriving.
The third couple is made up of a man who is a truck driver and a woman who is the head doctor at a reputable hospital in a large German city. Interestingly, few people notice when they walk hand-in-hand through the streets. But when they explain their professions to new acquaintances, the concealed gasps are even more pronounced that those for the first two couples with great physical differences.
Although the Central Europe that I am familiar with does not have a caste system, there are certain expectations about one’s place in society that are more firmly entrenched than in the USA. For example, a construction worker I knew in Switzerland was criticized (gossipped about) for driving a Mercedes Benz. Although there was nothing to prohibit him from driving this vehicle, it was considered to be too much of a luxury for position. He was trying to feign a higher station in life than his job dictated. These unwritten laws tend to keep people in their place.
So imagine the difficulty of rationalizing a woman doctor, a LEAD doctor, marrying a truck driver. The differences in status were beyond imaginable for German society. The doctor’s mother, in particular, was unrelenting in her criticism of this uneven social coupling. Yet their marriage works. Both love what they do for a living and have much non-job-related interests in common to keep their free time full of shared activities.
In spite of these huge differences, and in spite of their society’s perceived notions of how couples should be formed, these three survived glares and gossip to have thriving marriages.
Perhaps we could learn a lesson from these couples. Things aren’t always as they seem. Things don’t always have to be done as proscribed by conventional wisdom. Love conquers all stereotypes, prejudices, expectations and social norms. As the Beatles sang, “All you need is love,” and as Jesus said: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).