Denise Cummins Ph.D.

Good Thinking

Love in the Twilight Zone

Would you trade in your spouse for a younger model?

Posted Feb 14, 2016

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"How can love survive in such a graceless age", asks Don Henley of the Eagles in his song Forgiveness.

How indeed.

We live in a time when celebrity marriages last about as long as a New York minute, where George Clooney (age 55) tells Ellen DeGeneres he would never hook up with someone over fifty (click here), and women look forward to being "cougars" in middle age, proving that they still desire and are desired by young men. The message is that love is synonymous with good sex and romantic excitement. And if and when those begin to fade, it's time to move on, preferably to someone younger.

For Valentine's Day, I instead offer you one of my favorite vintage Twilight Zone episodes, entitled Trade Ins. (Click here) An elderly couple visits a medical facility where they can trade in their their old bodies for brand new shiny ones. The catch: They only have enough money in their life savings for one of them to go through with a trade.

They decide the husband should be the one to do the trade because his body suffers more from more age-related pain and because he believes he'll be able to earn enough money over time for his wife to get a new body, too.

The husband gets his robust, virile, new body, and is elated. He leaps around the room, does push-ups, and talks excitedly about all the things he and his wife will do now. Travel the world. Take risks. Have a ball!

In his excitement, he grabs his frail elderly wife by the shoulders, and in that moment when their eyes meet, they both realize something: She probably isn't robust enough to keep up with her newly young husband, and probably won't live long enough for him to earn enough money to pay for her trade in.

The ending of this 23 minute episode gives viewers a glimpse into true, selfless, ever-lasting love that stands the test of time.

Consider this a Valentine to my readers from someone who has been happily married to her best friend since 1982. And we're still going strong.

Denise and Robert Cummins 1988
Source: Denise and Robert Cummins 1988
Denise and Robert Cummins, 2012
Source: Denise and Robert Cummins, 2012

Cheers!

Copyright Dr. Denise Cummins February 14, 2016

Dr. Cummins is a research psychologist, a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and the author of Good Thinking: Seven Powerful Ideas That Influence the Way We Think.

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