Northwest Herald

Oliver: Classic film ‘The Princess Bride’ offers insight into what true love really is

This time of year, it’s hard not to think that true love has something to do with flowers, candy and gifts. Or at least that’s what society, particularly the commercial sector, wants us to believe.

But is true love a matter of a single day in February? Is it dependent on material gifts? Are only people who can heap tons of presents on their significant other capable of real love?

Or is true love a matter of a chemical attraction that burns white hot? What happens when that passion cools?

Is true love even possible, since statistics say that more relationships fail than succeed?

“There’s nothing better than true love in the whole world.” -- Miracle Max in the 1987 classic film “The Princess Bride,” which had a thing or two to say about true love and its possibility.

As it turns out, that movie also had a hand in helping me find my own true love.

I knew that my Tony was the one for me a good couple of years before I convinced him that I was the one for him. In part, he was “the one” because he passed my litmus test: He loved “The Princess Bride,” all things Dr. Seuss and Monty Python. To me, that meant he appreciated good dialogue, life principles that really matter and good comedy.

It also helped that he was a good-looking guy with an even-keel personality who showed impressive qualities during times of crisis. I knew all this because we worked together on the copy desk at the paper. You really learn about a person when facing tight deadlines or a computer malfunction a few short minutes before the newspaper needs to be finished.

Our love sprang from a mutual admiration, as well as a lot of shared likes and dislikes. In a lot of ways, he was perfect for me. His calm nature balanced out my feistiness. He never looked at my intelligence as something to fear or be intimidated by. And he always was my biggest cheerleader. That made it relatively easy to overlook the fact that he rooted for the wrong football team (Green Bay Packers).

“This is true love. Do you think this happens every day?” -- Westley of his relationship with Princess Buttercup in “The Princess Bride.”

Tony and I were best friends. Good thing, too, because for many years we worked together as well as lived together after we were married. It was nearly a 24/7 situation, and I know that neither of us would have wanted it any other way.

Tony told me he loved me every single day. When we didn’t work the same schedule, he would leave me notes if he left for work before I woke up. He’d drive to the newspaper every night to bring me a coffee, knowing that I’d only have a couple of minutes to talk.

He showed me over and over again how much I meant to him. I’d like to think that I did the same for him.

We must have been doing something right because more than once we had waitresses and store employees comment on how much we seemed to like each other. And more than one person said that we had what they hoped to find, aka #couplesgoals. I guess it showed.

These days, now that my dear Tony has been dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s disease for going on a decade, I’m happy that I had those good years. I’m happy that I appreciated and thanked him often for the wonderful husband that he was.

I had true love, and I’m forever grateful that I found it and that we celebrated it each and every day.

Love needs to be nurtured in the little acts of every day. It doesn’t have to be screamed from the mountaintops. It just has to be heard between the two of you. Over time, even if things change, that bond has been forged through all the good times and bad times you’ve weathered together.

“Westley and I are joined by the bond of love, and you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds, and you cannot break it, not with a thousand swords.” -- Princess Buttercup in “The Princess Bride.”

I feel much the same way about my dear Tony. His Alzheimer’s disease has taken away so much of the essence of what made Tony the wonderful man that I fell in love with.

Yet, what we had – and what I still feel – is true love. Not even Alzheimer’s can take that away.

Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

Joan Oliver

Joan Oliver

A 30-year newspaper veteran who has been a copy editor, front-page editor, presentation editor, assistant news editor and publication editor, as well as a columnist and host of an online newspaper newscast.