Often when people call for counseling and I ask them what is the matter, most of the time I hear, “We just can’t communicate.”
This is a catch all phrase that means we don’t understand each other and it is hard on both of us. I get this, especially since I have been working with couples for 20 plus years.
I know that there is a person who feels very deeply about life and another person who thinks almost exclusively in their head. I have seen this in every couple I have ever counseled.
How do we learn about love? In this world we probably see Disney movies, watch other types of stories, and just believe that someday we will love someone. But where do we actually learn about love?
In our relationships, that’s where. We fall in love with our mate and everything is perfect for a while, and then things start to change. We don’t feel as loved as we did in the beginning and we start to wonder what is wrong with our partner, or we might wonder what is wrong with us.
But this is normal too. The beginning stage is not meant to last. But how do we know what to do when things get tough? Here are some of the things I have learned about love.
When we are in a relationship and we get our feelings hurt we often forget that the person who hurt us is one we love. We might even see them as the enemy because they did something to us and it made us feel bad.
But what if we had the ability to remember all of the good qualities in the person that we fell in love with? Wouldn’t that make it a lot easier for us to return to our connection with them instead of hating them for what they did?
Yes, I know this is a big stretch for many people, but here is the thing. Most of the time when our feelings get hurt it is not intentional. We might make it into a war, but the beginning misunderstanding is usually just something that didn’t feel good.
When we are in a relationship with another person, we often have a hard time being ourselves. We have our own habits and likes and dislikes that are uniquely ours and not our mates. But often when we strive for what we want we create conflict with our partners.
We will never be the same as our mate. And there are plenty of reasons why. We usually think very differently than they do. If we don’t know this is very common, we might even think that there is no way that we can ever understand each other because we are so different.
When I work with couples, I sometimes hear how one partner wishes the other could show more compassion. The person asking for this is often unhappy because they are expecting something from the other person and they are not getting what they want.
Compassion in relationships is essential. Compassion is true understanding of another person’s pain and hurts. And compassion is what leads to healing for all of us.
But how do we learn compassion? If you were cared for tenderly as a child and as a young adult you might have an idea of what it feels like. But even after we have experienced feeling compassion, are we able to give it?
Any one of us who has lost someone special due to death, knows this terrible pain. It is in most circumstances unbearable because we haven’t felt anything like it ever before and it drops us to our knees.
I know when my brother died suddenly I couldn’t breathe. I know I didn’t want to breathe. I was just in such turmoil I couldn’t tell which end was up. I am wondering if you have felt this way too?
“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.
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.
I had some relatives visit recently, among them a 5-year-old boy who loves “Frosted Mini-Wheats.” For those of you that don’t know, this is shredded wheat with sugar pasted on one side. When I was a little girl I used to live on sweet cereal. So when the relatives left and the box of cereal remained, I claimed it as my own.
For a couple of days I had this lovely cereal for breakfast, feeling like a child again. But on the third day when I went to grab the milk I knew there wasn’t enough for my husband’s coffee the next morning. There was a little left, but not enough for the two cups he drinks daily…
When we find our special person and we feel connected to them in ways that seem magical, we begin to believe, in parts of our body, that this is what we have been looking for all our life. This feeling we have with our person is the real thing. We want it to last. We all want our relationships to go on and be this way forever.
All relationships begin this way. Then other things start to happen and people wonder where that beautiful, wonderful feeling went to. Couples still say they love each other, but sometimes they don’t feel loved by one another. Sometimes, people wonder if their partner—the one who loves them—really loves them.