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Love and Marriage Article

Love In Ipanema

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

Today, we spent another splendid day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil seeking the answer to the question, “Why does such a passionate and romantic country like Brazil have a divorce rate only about 20% of the divorce rate of the United States?”  Our travels and interviews are getting us closer to the answers to that question.

As a refresher to our current travels, check out our article “Marriage In Brazil” on our website.  This article will give you the backdrop to our current research focus in Rio.

We have already interviewed several successfully married couples in Rio and have others scheduled for this coming week.  But today, we decided to go to the famous Rio de Janeiro restaurant called A Garota de Ipanema, formerly called Veloso Bar, for lunch to get a better understanding of the culture.  If neither name rings a bell; let’s take a short trip down memory lane together.

Back in the 1962, a Brazilian songwriter by the name of Antonio Carlos Jobim collaborated with fellow Brazilian, poet Vinicius de Moraes, to write a wonderful bossa nova song entitled, “The Girl from Ipanema” (A Garota de Ipanema).  The English lyrics were written later by American songwriter, Norman Gimbel.

Over the years the song has been performed by Frank Sinatra, Astrud Gilberto, Madonna, and Stan Getz to name a few, and by numerous female artists, including Shirley Bassey, Petula Clark, Ella Fitzgerald, and The Supremes, as “The Boy from Ipanema.”  “The Girl from Ipanema” as performed by Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz, won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965.

The Girl from Ipanema goes like this:

Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking.
And when she passes, each one she passes goes – ah!

When she walks, she’s like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gentle.
That when she passes, each one she passes goes – ooh!

Ooh, but I watch her so sadly.
How can I tell her I love her?
Yes, I would give my heart gladly.

But each day, when she walks to the sea,
She looks straight ahead, not at me.

Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking.
And when she passes, I smile - but she doesn’t see.

She just doesn’t see.
She never sees me. 
She never sees me.

The lyricist, Moraes, later described “The Girl from Ipanema” as “the exemplar of the raw Carioca: a golden-tanned girl, a mixture of flower and mermaid, full of brightness and grace, the sight of whom is also sad, in that she carries with her, on her route to the sea, the feeling of beauty that fades, of the beauty that is not ours alone — it is a gift of life in its constant, beautiful and melancholic ebb and flow."

After talking with and observing the Carioca’s (people who live in Rio de Janeiro) for the past several days we have concluded that they are not only attractive and vibrant, but they have insights and perspectives about love, marriage and life that we could learn much from.
Here are the lessons we have learned so far:

  1. To the Cariocas, family matters above all else.  We have been amazed to see so many extended families walking down the streets of Rio, in the neighborhoods, and on the beaches together. As we sat today at A Garota de Ipanema, we watched members of multiple generations embracing, chatting, and laughing as they gathered at the street corners and outdoor restaurants. It is not uncommon at all to see Grandma, Grandpa, husband and wife, their children, uncles, aunts and other members of the family being together on their strolls.
  2. When we ask them why divorce is so low in their country they tell us that they surround each other with love, and when times get tough in their relationship, they support each other – they surround each other and their extended family with love.  How can you get divorced within that context?  The message here is this – we are a family and families stay together.  Divorce is out of the question for most.   Just work it out.  Seek the support of your extended family and all things are possible.  There are lessons to be learned from the Cariocas.

  3. As beautiful as the “Girl from Ipanema” was, beauty does not last forever.  There is an ebb and flow to life.  Being beautiful does not sustain life or love.  In the end, what sustains us is our love for each other and the support of our extended family.  To hold the love of others in our heart is to value love above all else – above beauty, above youth, above position in life.

When the girl from Ipanema goes walking by she might capture your love, but her beauty will not sustain that love.  True love is sustained when two people commit to each other their lives, their love, and their sacred honor. 

The lesson the Cariocas have taught us about marriage is that divorce is usually not an option for them because their entire extended family values the sanctity of marriage and surrounds each couple with sustaining support and love.

Our trip so far has been enjoyable and eye opening.  We will report more of our findings later in the week.

Love Well!

Additional Resources:
Marriage Advice
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Marriage Quiz
Marriage Book
Love Advice
Love Experts
Marriage Experts
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