“How much love is enough?” I was thinking about love recently and this question popped into my mind as I pondered. I wondered about this, because I see so much hunger for love every time I meet a new couple in counseling.
A couple will come in and they will tell me their issues of what is usually wrong with their partner. They often have very great details of how much their mate has hurt them. I will listen to these stories and I am always left with the same feeling. They are all hungry for more love from the other.
All of us at some time in our lives have received something good from someone who really knows us. Look back on your experiences in your life, especially the ones that formed you into who you are now. See if you can find those special people who you felt understood you. These are the ones who really know us.
All humans want to be accepted for who they are. But most of us have many experiences where people did not fully accept us, in fact many of us were formed by people who had strong opinions that clashed with ours. If you got in trouble a lot, this happened to you.
“What makes a good relationship?” Sounds like a trick question, doesn’t it? It’s like being asked what is beautiful, or what is happy. It’s one of those questions that might be answered differently depending on who you ask. There might be many answers to the question.
Every one of us who is in a relationship can look to elements in our connection with our person and say, “I like that part.” We might think of our mate and know that when they do that certain thing they do, we really like it. All of us have some things in our union with our mate that we cherish.
I was talking with a friend recently and he told me something very interesting. He said that the two most common words used in all of history, the two words written about the most throughout time are the following: love and freedom.
Wow, I thought. These are such profound longings that in all the words used since the beginning of modern humans, love and freedom are what people write about the most. So I think it’s only fitting that you and I explore what these mean in our relationships, and I think they are exactly what everyone is after.
We all know what it feels like to feel love. We are also keenly aware of what is feels like when we don’t feel it. So if we know what it feels like, can we describe what it looks like? This is such a difficult question, and it’s so hard for many couples to really describe what love is. So let’s give it a go.
As I think about this, I wonder if it might be easier to describe what it is NOT. I was talking to a client recently and she was telling me how she loves her man very much. When he asks for something she goes out of her way to give it to him. For the client, this is an action of love.
Another client was telling me about a vacation where her husband was trying to make his two daughters happy by buying them everything they wanted. And they were still not happy. So I think it’s OK to look at what love isn’t in these two examples.
Doing things for your mate with the expectation that they will be happy is not love.
It’s funny to think of not being good at “living” life. All of us, as humans, pride ourselves at being effective. Every one of us does things to the best of our ability. And yet, many relationships are not satisfying to the people in them. And many people wonder why being in a relationship is so hard.
Well, there are good reasons for relationship challenges. For starters, where did you learn how to be in a relationship? Maybe you saw some movies or watched other people. Maybe you saw examples of what not to do and vowed to do something different. Or perhaps you had examples that you thought were good but they are not proving to work in your current relationship.
I worked with a couple recently. The man was very angry at his wife. The man wanted his wife to end a work situation that he resented. He resented this work situation very much and considered this to be the problem, the only problem in the marriage.
The marriage was suffering. The wife was unhappy. The husband was unhappy. He believed that if she left her work situation the marriage and their happiness level would improve. The wife however, LOVED her work and derived a lot of joy from it.
She felt empowered by it and carried a great sense of pride over what she had accomplished. These feelings were discounted by the husband as proof that he had been left. His anger prevented him from feeling anything except her not valuing him.
In our relationships, the little things can mean a lot to us.
This morning as I was making my tea and waiting for it to brew, I thought “I have 3 minutes. I could empty the dishwasher.” So instead of taking the teapot into the other room and relaxing into my chair to begin my day, I started to put the dishes away. I believed I could finish it in that amount of time.
As I was bringing the glasses over to their cabinet I thought of how much my husband does for me. He was the one who loaded the dishwasher and started it. He was the one who cooked an amazing dinner the night before and because I was very tired he offered to do the dishes, (normally my job) for me.
I was driving recently and while looking out the window saw an old man with white hair. He was tall and appeared in good health. He had this look in his eye, a young sort of gleam that spelled mischief. I caught him in the action of reaching for his ladies hand. It was a cold night and her head was buried in a hat, but I saw a huge smile brim across her mouth when they connected.
She took his hand and looked up at him. He looked at her and they locked eyes as if they had just met. It felt so fresh I thought for a moment they might be on a first date. But the friendliness of the action had a familiar feel to it and reminded me that they have probably held hands many, many times before.