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The Look of Love in Brazil

Today in Rio de Janeiro we saw the look of love from two lovebirds who have been in love since they were eight years old.

We had the great pleasure of interviewing Attilio Borriello and his bride of 51 years, Arlette. And trust us when we say this – they look like love! They are the look of love.</p>

<p>Attilio and Arlette are from San Lorenzo, Minas Gerais, Brazil, the third largest metropolitan area of the country and about a four-hour drive from Rio. They were in Rio visiting family, and we were introduced to them by their 23-year-old grand daughter, Cristiana.

We were blessed by the opportunity to interview them today over lunch at A Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema) restaurant. For those of you who have read our book entitled, Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage, you know that we have traveled the world over these past 26 years interviewing successfully married couples. Our recent travels have brought us to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Let us say up front, Attilio and Arlette are a near perfect match for the profile of successful marriage we have found in our travels around the world. In fact, their marital relationship of nearly 52 years is a mirror image of the long-time, successfully married couples we have interviewed over the years. They are what love is!

Over their 51 years of marriage they have birthed three children and are the proud grandparents of six grandchildren. They speak often and adoringly of their extended family.

In fact, one of the endearing characteristics of life in Brazil is the focus on the family. Many have told us that the principal reason the divorce rate in Brazil is only 20% of the divorce rate in the USA is because of the strength of the family. Divorce is certainly allowable in Brazil, but with the loving support of the extended family, it is not the choice of first resort for most Brazilians as it often is for many who live in the USA.

But as in all marriages, the most important determiner of success and longevity is the relationship between husband and wife. That relationship, in the end, trumps everything else. In the case of Attilio and Arlette, their relationship is amongst the most loving and supportive relationships we have ever witnessed. Our interview with them reinforced everything we have learned about successful marriage over the years.

In a nutshell, here is what makes their marriage work so well.

First and foremost they love each other deeply. You can see it in their eyes. You can see it in the way they lovingly and adoringly gazed at each other during the course of our interview with them. And you could see it in the way their eyes teared up when we asked what we have come to believe is the most important and telling question about the best marriages – “Can you imagine life without each other?” Their answer to this question was an emphatic “No!” Attilio went on to report that he “Doesn’t ever want to think about it!” To these two lovebirds “death to us part” is the only way their marriage on Earth will ever end. They have committed their lives, their love, and their sacred honor until the end of time.

Secondly, Attilio and Arlette, learned early on in their relationship that to disagree from time to time is natural, even in the best marriages, but to escalate the disagreements into heated arguments is to be avoided at all costs. They have mastered the art of compromise. They have learned that a raised voice only exacerbates their occasional disagreement over an issue. Arlette reported that they both have learned to back away when they disagree over something and come back to the discussion later when the emotion of the moment has dissipated. Wonderful advice don’t you think?

And there is no question about it – Attilio and Arlette are best friends! They were friends long before they got married and have sustained that friendship throughout their marriage.

When asked to describe his friend, Arlette, Attilio used words like, “wonder women,” “my wonderful friend,” “the best women in the world,” and “a strong person.” Arlette described Attilio as her “best friend,” “her hero,” “her lover,” “her everything!” The endearing terms about their friendship flowed from their lips. Their friendship is truly, “A Beautiful Love Story,” the name they reported to us they would give to a book written about their enduring marriage.

Truth is, there is so much we could write about our new friends. There is so much we could say about them and their love for each other. But for now, we will summarize what they believe to be the most important reasons for the amazing success of their marriage over the years beyond the previously stated reasons:

Share and do many things together; always try to look your best for each other; be respectful of each other unfailingly; endeavor to interject variety and spice into your relationship; help each other to stay healthy (the right foods, annual physical exams, properly taking medications, etc.); share life’s burdens; remember the special moments together; talk about anything and everything with your spouse; and above all else, touch each other often during each and every day. We would call this advice, advice to live by!

One final note to share – when Attilio and Arlette celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary (their Golden Anniversary) their family gave them a big celebration party at the JW Marriott Hotel on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. Their room number was 714. Our room for our stay in Rio is 714! In addition, their granddaughter, Cristiana, works at the Marriott and checked us in and arranged for our interview with her grandparents. And the parallels continue – our daughter’s name is Kristina. We think there is a good omen in there somewhere!

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

Authors of Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book 2009 Nautilus Book Awards
(Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.

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