I divide love up into having and doing aspects.
For example it’s important to feel secure in ourselves, and to have confidence. This means we will not take the comments of others personally or personalize them. Being secure in ourselves is a good start for being able to love and appreciate others.
We’re able to stand back and see the big picture and how the comments fit in, and realize they may not be anything to do with us.
We know our rights, we’re sure of our values, we respect ourselves and others.
It’s useful to have had good parents, but that’s pot luck with everyone. Good parents give us a sense of security, help us feel good about ourselves, help us grow up and show us how to love.
Some people never have this, including the parents, so they never learn how to love. They have never seen love in action, they have never or rarely experienced what it feels like to be loved, accepted just as they are, nurtured and valued, because the parents have never or rarely experienced it themselves, and didn’t know how to do this and couldn’t pass it on to their children.
Not having had these experiences doesn’t mean to say that all is lost.
Many parents lack skills insights and knowledge about how to raise children. They do the best they can. But people can learn to fill in the gaps of knowledge, experience, skills and insights and so enrich their lives. At least they can decide not to repeat negative aspects of their childhood if they have the insight to do this. They can stand back and have a look at their childhood and choose what they value, and choose to leave any negative stuff in the past, where it belongs.
Many things are important in a relationship. Regular and meaningful communication is vital. According to Dr. Rosie King in her book Good Loving, Great Sex there are a number of important aspects to wholesome relationships. These are: physical wellbeing, hormonal factors, neurological factors, personal wellbeing and relationship wellbeing.
Having these qualities helps in a relationship.
For some Doing aspects Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages lists five things as being important for a good relationship. These are 1.Words of Affirmation (positive communication), 2. Quality time, giving your partner your undivided attention and listening… 3. Receiving gifts (implicit – giving gifts as well and this can be a flower plucked from a garden, not necessarily expensive gifts). 4. Acts of Service (Doing helpful things for the other). 5. Physical Touch, (which can include sexual activity or just being affectionate).
Chapman points out that it is important to find out what the other person’s “Love Language” is because we can think we are doing the right thing but may find out for example that you are doing acts of service but your partner really would appreciate your undivided attention.
What is love?
Marital Counselors point out that “Romantic Love” or Limerance lasts about 2 years, and then the hard work of remaining loving, loyal, and becoming soulmates begins. So a couple has to have maturity to be able to handle the ordinary things of life and keep the romance going at the same time.
Having children can pose challenges, but couples need to remember to keep up with all the “couple” things, so they don’t grow apart.
For a list of doing things for a relationship it is hard to go past First Corinthians 13 in the New Testament of the Bible, which is often used in wedding ceremonies.
The writer of this says that he may have all manner of talents and successes, but if he lacks love then he (or she) is nothing (not quite true, but you get the message that love is really important.
“Love is patient and kind, is not jealous or conceited, or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record or wrongs, love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up, and its faith, hope and patience never fail. It goes on to say (verse 11) to leave childishness behind (to grow up!), and to keep love as a top value.
So if you are looking for a loving partner you could begin to look for someone who has these values, which are not solely found in those with a Christian background, but usually learned from good sensible loving parents/friends/relatives.
Look for someone who is patient, kind, not prone to jealousy, not arrogant, bad-mannered selfish or touchy. Especially, keep away from those who have a controlling or abusive personality.
In a relationship don’t keep a list of all the perceived slights and wrongs to bring up in the next argument. Keep to the facts of the matter and keep growing. The list from Corinthians is not a bad basis for a relationship, but of course needs working at by both parties. If it remains a nice “theory” which if it is not put into practice, then love is left as a concept, and loving is not happening.
Needless to say you don’t stay in a relationship where there is any type of abuse. This means physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, psychological, mental, social, medical, financial cultural, racial or spiritual abuse. If you feel controlled and powerless it’s not an equal and fair relationship. The perpetrator may be male or female.
Another factor which has emerged as being extremely destructive in a relationship is porn-watching. The watcher is usually male, it’s secretive, it devalues women, and the watcher grows further away from reality and his partner. In fact, Norman Doidge in his book “The Brain that Changes Itself” says that research shows that watchers are drawn further and further into more hardcore content having sadomasochistic themes “fusing sex with humiliation” (p102). The men found that instead of becoming more loving towards their mates, the opposite was the case. The men developed an addiction that corresponded to changes in their brains. Not a good basis for a loving and sexual relationship. This is not love but an addiction that needs treatment.
The Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying “the best partnership is where your love for each other exceeds your need for each other”.
He also says (The Essence of Happiness) “I think that, leaving aside how the endless pursuit of romantic love may affect our deeper spiritual growth, even from the perspective of a conventional way of life. The idealization of this romantic love can be seen as an extreme.
Unlike those relationships based on caring and genuine affection, this is another matter… It’s something that is based on fantasy, unattainable, and therefore may be a source of frustration. So, on that basis it cannot be seen to be a positive thing”.
So choose your lover carefully, make sure your loving is practical, and practiced on a daily basis.
And remember, nobody’s perfect!
© Kathleen Crawford