That electrifying feeling you get when you meet someone and fall in love is one of the most perfect moments in this life. The first blush may not last, but it can grow into a different kind of love – one that offers more subtle joys. It is possible to have a vibrant and long-term relationship in a world where many couples are giving up on their relationships. Some couples have found a way to keep their relationship interesting and passionate. They’ve remained supportive friends and lovers even through difficult times.
Brother and sister, Gillian Pierce and DJ Pierce were inspired by their grand-parents’ 74-year love story. They created the Global Glue Project to honor and celebrate our unions.
Gillian and DJ have been interviewing couples in fulfilling long-term relationships to learn how they make it work. The result is a website that features interviews with couples off all ages, races, sexual orientation or religious backgrounds. One thing we learn from watching these interviews is that love is a crazy kind of glue and if you are bonded in the right way, you will never come apart.
First Wives World had the pleasure of speaking with Gillian and DJ about the inspirational stories of love that they share through the Global Glue Project.
Your great-grandparents were married for 74 years. How inspiring that must have been for you. Were they the inspiration for the Global Glue Project?
DJ:Our great-grandparents were in fact the inspiration for Global glue Project. They represented a dying breed, a pastime we seldom see anymore: a true life-long relationship.
My sister and I used to visit them in West Virginia when we were very young. Even though they were in their 90's, and married over 70 years, they seemed to still be happy and very much in love.
It is our search for how they did it, through capturing the wisdom of many other couples that defines the very purpose of GGP.
Through the years, and through my own relationship struggles, I have thought about them and have become increasingly fascinated by their success as a couple.
Even though the world is changing, the principles behind The Secrets of Sticking Together remain the same.
Where did you find these amazing couples? What I noticed is that as individuals, these are all people I would like to know. They have beautiful and true smiles and they exude warmth. Do you think that is one of the reasons that they have been able to build a strong relationship, or did you get the feeling that because they were loved, the other person helped them to become the person that they are?
Gillian: The first part of this question is easy: so far all of the couples are either people we personally know, or have found through word of mouth. In that way, their community selects the couples. We ask folks we know to ‘nominate’ couples that seem to have a healthy and happy relationship. Then we ask the couple if they both feel that their relationship is happy and healthy, and if they are willing to share their wisdom with us. The more candid a couple is, the better.
This second part is a great question, and really difficult to answer. I think individual happiness is key to a successful relationship. Whether the person was lucky enough to know happiness throughout their lifetime or if they had to work on happiness within the context of a relationship is hard to know. Those couples that talked about unhappy childhoods and the work they did on themselves within their relationship are in my mind incredibly fortunate. Those people found supportive partners who did in fact offer emotional security and a strong foundation, from which both partners can flourish. Again, I think those people are extremely fortunate, since the likelihood of a successful relationship is higher if both people have a secure foundation to work from. It is of course easier to have a healthy relationship if you have had healthy role models, and not all of us have had that. We hear over and over again that individual happiness and self-love must come first.
People are hungry for love stories in a world where there is so much negativity. These couples all have gone through difficult times, but their love has grown stronger. Those of us who haven’t been able to make it work want to know what the glue is that holds people together. Did you discover what that glue is, or is it a secret recipe that each couple must make on their own?
DJ: It is true that every person on this earth wants to be loved. And therefore we all care about finding it, or making it better. But the question is, are we all willing to do what it takes to have it?
So many of us - myself included - have often thought that there is some magic thing that will happen one day and it will all fall into place and I will never look back.
But what is so clear about successful relationships is that relationships are not "easy." They require a desire from both members to work at love - to communicate with each other, to cultivate trust and compassion toward each other.
It is evident that those who have that special thing we all want have found ways to find it again and again through their commitment to the relationship itself.
Has interviewing people like David and Christopher, Sharon and Jermaine, Helen and Sydney and all the other wonderful couples given you hope? How have the couples you’ve interviewed enlightened you and what is the most surprising thing you have learned about making love last?
Gillian: Absolutely, Glue interviews have given me hope about what is possible. I think the most enlightening thing is that it isn’t rocket science. We all want to know the ‘secret,’ when in fact the ‘secret’ is pretty basic: communication, compromise, kindness, and commitment. One of the key words here is commitment. Even the happiest couples go through their ‘stuff’ and consider leaving at one point or another, but the key is knowing that all relationships go through cycles, and even when it is difficult you have to choose to come back to your partner. All of us are capable of doing that.
Watching couples kissing is especially wonderful. We all need that comfort and physical intimacy. Did you find that the couples, even if they were older and maybe not as sexual as they used to be, still had that physical affection that is missing in couples that end up divorcing? How to keep that alive seems to be a big problem for people, did you gain any insight into this?
Gillian: The kissing was DJ’s idea and Gillian questioned it when she was in China. It did not seem culturally appropriate to ask the Chinese couples to kiss. In the midst of their debate to keep the kiss or not, Helen and Sydney’s interview settled it, the kiss stays. Helen and Sydney’s kiss scene is priceless, after DJ asks them to kiss Helen has a HUGE smile on her face and DJ says, “How does that make you feel Helen?” Helen replies, “It makes me feel really good. We haven’t done that in a long time, so thank you, DJ, for suggesting it.” DJ then says, “How about one more” and Sydney confesses, “I want to, I want to kiss you all the time, but you got to let me.” It appears that their physical intimacy has dwindled, but this scene captures how important physical intimacy is, even just a kiss.
In terms of keeping it alive, Laurie and Will talk about the critical need to design and schedule your sex life. Gillian wrote a wonderful article about scheduling sex called Sex on the Calendar for Elephant Journal.
Tommy and Kia. Photo courtesy of globalglueproject.com
You not only make beautiful documentary films, but the entire website is such a pleasure to spend time on. The way that it is formatted and the navigation is brilliant. How did this all come together?
DJ: Thank you. Saying and acknowledging this means a lot.
GGP has such big dreams. We believe in the value of this content and in making a lot of it.
But since our goal is not to merely entertain, but to become an inspirational resource for couples, it was important to design a user-friendly experience that makes finding a short piece of specific content quickly and easily.
This means not only having multiple search tools, but most importantly, editing the content to be "web-ready" - rather than just being a video online, every Glue Film is broken into color-coded chapters to make sorting through them rewarding- even in very short periods of time.
We set out to make globalglueproject.com an original, fulfilling place. And with more time and funding, it will only get better.
How can people get involved with the Global Glue Project, either as a couple who want to share their story, or in some other way?
Gillian: Beginning with our Kickstarter campaign, we are covering our travel and shooting costs by asking the couple or their family or their community to sponsor their Glue Film. Pricing starts at $1,500 including our travel. We also have a “how to” crowd funding sponsor packet, which is a great way to get your entire community involved and invested in your Glue Film. Currently, there is a couple in California who lost their four-year-old daughter last fall, and their friends have come together to fundraise for a Glue Film for them in hopes that their Glue Film will help them heal, as well as celebrate the amazing Glue they have shown through their loss.
Last month we sold out a screening at an independent theater in Boulder, the response was overwhelmingly positive and the feedback included the benefit of watching the films with community and conversation. We will continue the Boulder screenings every other month. We would like to offer in person screenings in other locations, so if anyone has a connection to a local independent theater in your area and can help us get the word out, we would love to come do a Glue screening!
Thank you, Gillian and DJ, for sharing these stories of love.
Please check out the Global Glue Project and their Facebook page and share your stories in the comment box below.