Most of us think of love as a feeling; an emotion that washes over us when we meet that right person. At first we’re swept up with everything they do and can’t wait to see them again. All emotions are cranked up to the max and the intense brightness lights up everything. We’re happy. We’re in love.
As time slowly passes the feeling starts to fade — it’s still very bright but the madness of it all has tapered and leveled out. You aren’t always consumed by what your love is doing or thinking. You’re off that initial high.
As more time passes real world problems begin to surface. What drew you to that person is now beginning to get on your nerves: financial problems, disagreements, or annoying habits. The rose colored glasses are off and what you see before you is a real person, the fantasy you initially fell in love with is fading away and replaced with a real person.
From The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey:
“My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other that we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore, and she doesn’t love me. What can I do?”
“The feeling isn’t there anymore?” Stephen inquired.
“That’s right,” the man affirmed “and we have three children we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?”
“Love her,” Covey replied
“I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”
“You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”
“Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”
“But how do you love when you don’t love?”
“My friend, love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is a fruit of love the verb. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”
Love is a verb. It’s an action requiring your involvement your active participation. You cannot sit back and expect the world will serve it to you. You cannot expect that your relationship will continue to provide love while you’re not putting in any effort. Love has to be earned and must be continually fought for.
Think about what you’ve done lately to earn love. What actions have you taken?
Are you willing to…
1. Sacrifice. When we enter a relationship we can be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of change that takes place. We change who we are as people. Our lifestyle, our habits, our hobbies all change. But giving up a part of ourselves is a sacrifice that we need to be willing to make in order to receive something greater in return. A relationship – a marriage, is a joint venture that requires continual work, improvement, and commitment. If you find yourself asking “Well what have you done for me lately?” be careful. This is certainly not in the spirit of making a relationship work, acting as if you’re on the same team or cultivating love in the relationship. In fact, asking this type of selfish question is usually a deal breaker in the end.
2. Listen. I find that most men have a rather strong urge to solve the problem when talking about any issue. I don’t mean to make this a broad sweeping statement it’s just an observation of the men I’ve talked to in my life. Similarly, women can be so chatty, on guard or defensive at times, that the men can’t get a word in edgewise and when they do we jump all over them without hearing them out. A sure fire way to let someone know that you care about them is to simply listen. Listen without judgment, criticism or handy hints to solving the problem. Sometimes we all just need a quiet supportive ear.
3. Empathize. Empathy is the ability to share and understand someone else’s emotions as if they were our own. This can have a profound effect on the type of relationship you have with another human being – it creates a very deep and meaningful bond. Everyone is capable of empathy but not everyone has mastered it. Imagine what it’s like being your partner. What do they go through? Just for a moment try becoming the other person and truly seeing the world through their eyes. You’ll likely get a greater appreciation for who they are, what they do, and what they’ve overcome.
4. Appreciate. Appreciation is an expression of gratitude. When you appreciate a loved one you are saying that they are a special and significant part of your life. Take a minute and think of the ways you have shown appreciation of someone you love – a spouse, a family member or a close friend. You don’t need to buy expensive gifts or go on extravagant holidays to show appreciation. Next time you want to show appreciation for a loved one try simply saying thank you, spend some alone time together, and listen to each other keeping it positive and upbeat. Appreciation asks for nothing in return but it gives everything.
5. Affirm. When you pay attention and focus on the ones you love most you can tune into what makes them tick. By paying attention you can incorporate loving actions and words into every day that affirm what they mean to you. Affirmations include physical contact like hugging and holding hands or running your fingers through their hair. It also includes giving time, attention, gifts, or kind words. Your affirmation of the one you love should not be conditional to reciprocity (i.e. don’t wait and simply do it in return) . Relinquish the fear of looking soft and go out on a limb and affirm your partner FIRST. Show him that you care about the real, authentic, and imperfect him. That you’re there for him always even as others come and go.
Love isn’t just a feeling that washes over you and lasts a lifetime. It is a gift that requires attention, work and dedication. What you put into that love is what you will receive back. Why not change how you think of love today? Make the change — love is more than just a word ... it's something that you do not just feel...
Love is a verb.