I haven’t been in many long-term relationships. So I’m often curious about how successful couples manage to not only “make it work” but how they love and like each other after years of life’s waves crashing at their shores.
They fall in love with each other over and over. They choose to be together. They grow together. They love each other a day at a time. Who doesn’t want a love with lasting power? We may love the butterflies, but once it’s over, we want something to keep our hearts warm through the every day, with some romance here and there. It’s said that a huge part of the human experience is to share it with another.
How DO the long-lasting happy couples do it?
It seems that the secret isn’t a secret at all. It’s in understanding the word… and I’m a trained linguistic, so here goes.
Love is a verb.
The Merriam-Webster defines a verb as:
grammar : a word (such as jump, think, happen, or exist ) that is usually one of the main parts of a sentence and that expresses an action, an occurrence, or a state of being
Because relationships involve at least two people (and that’s enough for me personally), the relationship is alive. Because relationships are alive, they evolve, grow and change. A relationship is an organism, a being and beings imply actions as much as states. In fact, states are often fleeting moments in between actions.
Love is an exchange, which you can see in friendships, in parent-child relationships, in romance. The exchange is an action, or rather a series of actions. Love, is inevitably, a series of actions made from a place of awareness and intention.
Love, whether romantic or otherwise, is absolutely an aspect of an intentional life.
Every day is a chance to start fresh. I often forget that I am powerful and that with each sunrise, I am renewed in my creative ability. There’s no way to know the future and all we have is now. So why not make the choice to love?
I’ve been in my relationship for over four years now and it’s the longest and most honest one I’ve been in. I’m free to be me and I learn how to love even the less likeable traits of another human being. It’s a challenge, and some days, as he puts it “we don’t like each other’s behaviour very much” but “we are committed and we love each other”. What he means is “I chose to be here and I choose it again.” It’s rewarding and I’m still standing by his side. There are certainly factors that influence my choice and I try to keep three things in mind when making my choice.
The 3 things that affect our choice to love: Presence, Change and Free Will
- Presence: It’s important to keep in mind that we’re in a relationship with the person in front of us today. We can talk about yesterday and tomorrow, but do we love who’s in front of us right now? Can we connect? Is the overall picture still of a healthy, fulfilling relationship? Is this person (and am I) acting out of love and if not, is that something I can help with? We need to bring awareness back to each other, to right now. What can we DO now to show this person we love them? Because the present is a gift, we must think in terms of gratitude and grateful people offer thanks. Why not an act of love?
- Change: The one constant in life is change. Living beings also grow and evolve. Actively rediscovering each other as we grow is a crucial part of the process of love. As people, we step forward, we fall back, we leap, we soar, we crash. Our process is messy. There are internal factors and then, there are external factors. Our interests vary, we learn new things, we integrate new lessons. We make new friends, we get new jobs. We undergo a plethora of temptations (from too much sugar to a spending free to wondering what life would be single). Sharing these experiences with your partner and making the relationship a spiritual practice of communication and participation will help grow together.
- Free Will: This part is implied in change. We’re in relationships with at least another person. The notion of “one” might be romantic, but it’s not practically true. We’re two parts of a greater whole, but those parts are people, with minds, hearts, souls and bodies over which only THEY have dominion. This is super hard to swallow for any Type A or codependent person (ahem, I know first-hand), but you CAN’T control the other person. Nor should you want to. Learning the balance between respecting yourself in your values and allowing your loved one space to BE is incredibly difficult when it doesn’t suit you (it sounds terrible, but that’s the human truth!). Letting go of control means we’re vulnerable, but it’s the only way to love someone completely for who they are. Express your needs, be respectful and let go!
Essentially, to build (and rebuild) loving relationships, to withstand the waves, we need to adapt. Our relationship is never the same. We then move past habits and beliefs that have become ingrained and no longer serve us. We need to bring our awareness back to the present and focus on loving actions to take. That’s how we show and feel the love we share. To be loved, we must first choose to love. We give before we receive, but we also need to know how to receive. That, in itself, is a bit of a challenge. But love helps us rise to the occasion.
We need to push ourselves (and each other) gently into conjugating love for our relationship(s), or we become complacent. Love is a verb. Take action!