The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost. – Gilbert Chesterton
Knowing how someone wants to be loved and then providing that love are two separate things. Sometimes marriages and other relationships end because either one person does not understand how to love or meet the needs of the other; or one partner refuses to meet the needs of the other.
To love consciously is a choice. Mary Beth and I often say being married is very similar to having another full-time job – you get out of it what you put into it.
Our marriage is like a savings account. My wife and I make deposits into it never expecting we may need to make a withdrawal. However, when we do request a withdrawal there are no associated penalties.
Yes, we argue over the temperature in the car or who really forgot to feed the dog, but when it really matters; when it really counts, we make the conscious choice to give each other the love that is requested and needed.
With over 23 years of marriage under our belts, we have found the following strategies work best to love intentionally; to love authentically and to love consciously.
A simple “thank you” in response to a trivial or ordinary item can make a significant difference. It only takes a few short moments to utter these two words, but the impact can be felt for a very long time.
Showing gratitude is also the best strategy for ensuring the things you are most grateful for continue to happen. When we stop and tell our partners what we are grateful for, we are also telling the Universe. By making the effort, the conscious decision, to express our thanks we are in a better position of receiving more of it in the future.
If you want your partner to be grateful, it starts by you showing gratitude, first.
Be Happy, Not Right
Here’s a question for you, “Would you rather be right, or happy?” Too often our pride and egos can keep us from enjoying intimate relationships. We stew over what we think are injustices, but are perhaps only misunderstandings.
We carry grudges and do not show enough grace, passion or forgiveness to the person we care most about. Our need to be right can overshadow our need to receive, and give, love.
Take a look at what your pride is costing you. If intimacy is strained and the relationship is off track you may want to reconsider the value of your anger or self righteousness. Here’s the thing: You may be right in the argument although you partner thinks otherwise, but you will never be wrong when you put your partner first. Happiness always feels better than vindication.
No Day But Today
What would you say to your partner if you knew this was the last day you would be together? Would you complain about the television being too loud, or would you remind your partner of their value and significance?
Life does have an expiration date. This isn’t meant to be a downer – just a reality we all share. It’s what you do with this information that will make the difference. While it’s very difficult to sustain a high-level of connection and passion on a day-to-day basis, there are some simple things you can do to convey your partner’s importance to let them know they are important today:
- Kiss your mate at least twice a day
- Leave a quick note just to say “hi,” or “I love you”
- Never do anything you wouldn’t want your partner to know
- Be fully present when they need to talk or share something important
- Make the effort to spend some time together each day
- Give a compliment
- Make your partner feel important
Judgments are often times rooted in perception, not reality. Judgments are also a piece of how you see the world, not the way the world, or in this case your partner, actually exists.
The harm with judgments is resentment and anger are typically the outcomes – not the change that is expected. When a judgment is made, there is an implied belief the behavior or trait being judged should be corrected. However, the person receiving the judgment does not always share the same expectation.
As a result, communication is impaired, connection is deteriorated and conflict ensues. To love deliberately and consciously requires loving your partner with a different filter – a cleaner filter that does not have the residue of past contaminants.
Be Aware of Your Own Thoughts & Feelings
Loving authentically is dependent on loving yourself, first. Before you share love, and share yourself with someone, it is important to beware of what you want. Reality suggests, however, we fall in love and begin relationships before we have a clear idea of our own true feelings.
When this happens, there is still plenty of time to discover your needs – this is called growth. Give yourself opportunities outside of the relationship. Build friendships and pursue interests on your own.
A good relationship exists when both people can live without the other, but choose to be together. A relationship built on a foundation of sharing different interests cultivates more life and depth into it.
You own your thoughts and feelings. These make you unique and keep you grounded with who you really are or growing to become. By doing so, you are in a much better position to love freely and honestly. Nature has a way of taking care of those things we put the most energy in and want to grow even stronger.
The power of love extends its reach when we will love intentionally. Real love, authentic love, springs to life and is sustained when we make the choice to feed it with our deliberate passion. Our souls are nourished when our partners realize we know how to love them.
There will be a day when I no longer share this life with my wife. When that day arrives, my hope is she will know my intent was to discover exactly what she wanted and my conscious choice was to give her more of that.
Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender
Alex’s new book, Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender, is now available (get 10 free Peace and Balance tools when you order).