BBC Culture

What's the secret of enduring love?

  • The Shapirshteyns

    After her grandfather’s death, American photographer Lauren Fleishman found a series of love letters he had written to her grandmother during World War II. They were married for more than 50 years. She started taking intimate portraits of older couples in New York for her project Love Ever After, with photographs accompanied by recorded interviews in which they tell their stories. “When I began this project, I was looking for the most important rule for a lasting relationship,” she says. “It turns out that all of the couples were so different ... But they make it work, and I think at the end of the day that is the most inspiring thing.” This photo shows the Shapirshteyns on Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. “What is the secret to love?” says Ykov Shapirshteyn. “A secret is a secret and I don't reveal my secrets!”

  • Yevgeniy Kissin, Midwood, Brooklyn

    "We met each other at a dancing party. It was January 1938. My friend invited me to the party, he said there were a lot of beautiful young girls. Another cadet with high boots had approached her, but she didn't like high boots and so she said no to him. I was the second one to approach her, I had a different uniform, but I'm still not sure if it was my uniform or my face that attracted her to me."

  • Moses Rubenstein, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn

    "Now I am going on 88. My wife is 85 and I'm only wishing for another 5 or 6 years of life. This is all we want. We don't want to live much longer. As a matter of fact, I always say to my wife, I wish I could reach 94. This is the aim of my existence. I'd like to see my grandson earn a living and my granddaughter get married. We want them to be happy the way we were."

  • Golda Pollac, Mill Basin, Brooklyn

    "We knew each other before the war but we never spoke. He was with other girls because he was much, much older than me. You know he was very nice looking! He was a tailor and he had a place where he made suits for men. When we came back from the war he had gone to my sister’s house. I was staying with her. In August of this year we will have been married 63 years. I would say love came little by little. Not right away. We were young and he was older but I liked him. He spoke to me in a very nice way."

  • Sheila Newman, Flatlands, Brooklyn

    "I was having a problem in school because I had to write a music paper and I had never written anything about music. It was my mother who had suggested that I go see David because he knew so much about music. So I went over and I thought maybe he would write it for me! But he said no, I'll help you but you have to write it yourself. He always had very high standards. After we wrote the paper together he asked me to go to a party with some of his army friends. You know, I had never thought of him romantically! He looked at me the way a man who has just come out of the army would look at a sexy woman."