What good is love anyway?
It’s a deep emotion that can cause us to race and feel high and it can crush us into tiny bits. Love is bipolar. Either you are ON or you are OFF. And when you are OFF you are either building trust or searching for the exit. Love, trust, commitment, fidelity, depression, lust, companionship, confidant, tormentor, boss, savior, soulmate, all words that can be associated with love. So why are we so addicted to seeking love, attaching to another person, and then when things don’t work out (if they don’t work out) hating the past object of our desire?
What Good Is Love?
If love is shared our expression and enjoyment can be magnified exponentially by our companion’s simultaneous experience. If we can reflect love back to our partners we can learn to build one another up, to adore without judgment. Love when you are building a primary relationship is the glue, the fire, the burning sensation, that haunts every waking hour. I know I’m in love when I can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t breathe, without whispering my beloved’s name.
Falling in love is an experience that can transform our lives. For the better or the worse. When we are in love and things are going well, there is no mountain too high to ascend hand in hand with our beloved. When we are losing love and the ground is rushing up beneath our feet for a crash landing there are fewer things more painful. My entire soul, every fiber and pixel of my body flips from positive energy to negative energy. I lose my positive outline, my positive charge, and often I head through the floorboards and into the deeper basement levels of hell. This is called depression, but this post isn’t about that.
When We Share Love
We are tapping into our celebration of being alive. I am closest to God when I’m in love, when I’m in the arms of my beloved when I’m expressing love in words, song, deeds, caresses. I can see the spirit of God’s love for me in the eyes of a connected and impassioned lover. And this little exchange of grace is what makes lovers stay connected. If we can stay aware of the sacred journey of The Lover, we can remain true and committed to our joint future together. The three of us, YOU, ME, and THE BELOVED. Rumi would call God the beloved. He would also call his male lover, the beloved. Be like Rumi. Recognize God in your partner and love them with your heart and soul.
When We Lose Love
It happens. If you are single at this moment, every relationship you’ve ever had has ended. Perhaps not in failure, but in a mutual agreement to “move on.” You may still love this former partner deeply, you may say things like, “Once I love someone, I never stop loving them.” But we all know, at some point, trying to stay close to a former lover can be a challenge.
When we find ourselves in a redo, we need to take a pause before jumping back into the dating pool. It’s important to reflect on the hits and misses of our last attempt at finding a life-long lover. Was the timing off? Were our levels of joy a mismatch? Did our love languages clash in a way that was unbridgeable? Or, did something bad happen? Sometimes, things outside the relationship can cause a collapse. Let’s say a sibling dies. Am I able to be completely loveable when I’m grieving? Is my partner solid enough in their own healing to not be triggered by my sadness? Can we sail along through hardships, or do hardships tend to bring out what’s hard in our relationship?
What’s Hard In Your Life Right Now?
Can you listen to your partner talk about the hardships of their day? Problems with a friend? Dissatisfaction with work? Bitching about laundry and dishes and the mess that just keeps growing? When you ask your partner, “What’s hard right now?” you are inviting them to be honest, to be vulnerable, to open up their heart to share some of their pain.
When things get hard a relationship gets started on the heavy work of coupling. The honeymoon months are not always a good indication of how you will both deal with troubled times. And when troubled times hit one of both partners can head for the hills of isolation and escape. Sometimes men are blamed for being unable to commit, but sometimes it’s our fear of abandonment that causes us to abandon you before you have a chance to abandon me. Fkd up logic, right?
The answer is to find a way to express your joys AND your pains inside the relationship. When things get hard, don’t head for the hills, head for your partner’s shoulder. “Here’s what happened today, and I’m really sad about it.” When you join in a trusting relationship, this conversation is easy. The sad partner gets to express their feelings. And the receiving partner just listens. There is no fixing. There is no rescue. Just firm presence and love. (See Brene’s first TED Talk on Vulnerability.)
What Good Is Love If It’s Not Shared
Seeing a beautiful sunset is magnified if you are holding the hand of your lover. When we have moments of joy we want to share them with others. We want to have our joy reflected. Unadulterated joy comes when a couple can share the highs and the lows without needing to change or fix each other. “Let’s pause a moment and enjoy this song,” I say. “Let’s go for a walk and hold hands. I need to just be with you.”
Being in love with you is the greatest adventure of my life. (What I intend to say in my next relationship.) This adventure is more fun if I have a companion to share it with. I want to see God in her eyes and show my appreciation by remaining attentive, faithful, and present. I will not run. I never run. I stand in. I am learning to ask for what I want more clearly. And when my answer is “no,” or “I don’t agree,” or “I don’t understand you,” then I am sad but okay at taking the fork in the road in a new direction.
Love can heal your soul. Love can rip your soul apart. It is up to us to put our hearts back together and try again. If you learn each time you fail at love, you can get closer to finding and building a sustainable and loving relationship.
[Random aside: If Brene Brown got divorced would she still BRAVE with her ex?]
John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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