(Above: Sarah and John Churchill, the first Duke and Duchess of Marlborough)
I really like Valentine's Day. I mean, how cool is it that we have a holiday that celebrates romantic love?
Love is the most powerful emotion there is. When it's going right, it can send you to the heights of exaltation. When it isn't, it can send you to the depths of despair.
For some people, love lasts only a moment. But for the lucky ones, it can last a lifetime.
Take John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough (and ancestor of Winston Churchill), and his Duchess, Sarah Jennings Churchill. They were the original power couple: He was the greatest military hero of his day, and she was the queen's best friend.
They fell madly in love the instant they met in 1655 and stayed that way until the Duke's death 50 years later, their passion undiminished. After the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, when they had been married for more than 30 years, Sarah wrote in her diary, "The Duke returned from the wars today and did pleasure me in his top-boots."
He couldn't even wait to take his boots off!
Then there was Harry Truman and his beloved Bess. In 1945, shortly after the Nazi surrender, Truman held a summit conference with Churchill and Stalin in Potsdam, Germany. After one session, the president got in his car to ride back to the castle where he was staying, and he gave a lift to a young Army public relations officer.
The officer said, "Mr. President, if there's anything you need, just let me know. Anything, you know, like women."
Truman glared at him and said, " Listen, son. I married my sweetheart. She doesn't run around on me, and I don't run around on her. I want that understood. Don’t ever mention that kind of stuff to me again."
"By the time we got home," remembered the driver, "he got out of the car and never even said goodbye to the guy!"
Another faithful husband was Paul Newman, who explained why he never cheated on his wife, Joanne Woodward: "Why go out for hamburger when you can get steak at home?"
Ditto for 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who remarked to his wife, Mary Ann, on their 25th anniversary, "My dear, you've always been more of a mistress to me than a wife."
And I have a special place in my heart for American colonial poet Anne Broadstreet and her husband, Simon. In 1678 she wrote this poem:
If ever two were one, then surely we,
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If every wife was happy with a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
But my favorite pair of lovers is Jerry and Betty Ford. One night, a few years after Betty kicked her longtime alcohol addiction and founded the Betty Ford Clinic, Jerry came home from a plane trip.
"A nightcap will help relax you," she said. "Let me make you one."
"No thanks," he said.
"No, really, I don't mind," she said.
"I don't want one," he repeated.
"But we always used to have a nightcap before we went to bed," she reminded him.
"Yeah, and I never enjoyed it."
"Then why did you do it?" she asked, puzzled.
"Because," he said, "I didn't want you to drink alone."