Last week we learned that the search for love dominates a good portion of our adult lives. We discovered (most of us already knew) that it was the one force that inspires us, thrills us and can drive us to our knees when taken away. With all the power that it yields, once we find it, great care should be applied to preserve it.
That, for me, is one of the greatest ironies in life. People will fight for love, pursue it, lose friendships over it, leave family because of it - but the one thing they seem to forget is how to nurture and cultivate it. So often, once we land our prize, we begin a slow downslide into emotional apathy. And nothing kills love quicker than indifference.
This week it is my hope to share some insight on the steps to take to keep love flourishing and vibrant. To make it worthy of the songs sung, poems written and movies directed. To keep it something that we will continue to love. You don’t invest in a car (or any other valuable commodity) without expecting to maintain it. The relationship with your love is no exception.
So, what are those tools to keep love running smoothly?
The Golden Rule – As simplistic as it may sound, just following this one life truth would save many a floundering relationship. If we all treated our partners the way we would like to be treated, can you imagine the joy? Unfortunately, if we are not careful, we can fall into the trap of taking them for granted. We focus less on their needs and concentrate on ours. Take this challenge. Wake up every morning and commit to doing or saying one thing to make your partner happy, feel safe or take care of a need. Do this without expecting a reward or a returned favor. Just do it for the love. It is very difficult to lose connection when we stay in tuned to what they need. I promise if you do this consistently, the outcome will be powerful and significant.
Learn Your Partner’s Love Language – Most of us have heard of, and maybe even read, the book by Gary Chapman called “The Five Love Languages”. In it, he talks about how each of us have a primary and secondary emotional language that we speak/respond to. The key to maintaining a healthy love life is to learn to speak your partner’s love language. This can be challenging, because we tend to speak in our own, but that can translate into chaos. Much like being in a room with someone from a foreign country. No matter how clearly and sweetly you spoke to them in English, if they don’t understand it, your message will not be heard. If you are not sure what their love language is, look for clues in how they demonstrate love to you. Or better yet, research this together and discover how both of you can transform your relationship. I might delve into this later in a separate post, but to learn more now, here is where to find some information.
Make Time For One Another – I know of no one in this world that thrives when left alone. Of course, we all go through times when we need our solitude, and some of us are more introverted than others, but we all need human contact and the contact from our partner is of utmost importance. A kiss good-bye in the morning and eating take-out in front of the TV (or cell phones) does not constitute togetherness. I understand we are all busy, but I also believe we make time for the things (people) we really want. It may take creative scheduling and plans will fall through occasionally, but you need to spend quality, interactive, emotional and physical time with your partner. This develops closeness, intimacy, and a special connection that holds the bond intact during times of stress, struggles or insecurities.
Last, but certainly not least, RESPECT. This is really a culmination of all the above paragraphs. The only other thing I want to add in this category is keeping your business; your business. One thing that really bothers me is to hear people trash talk their significant other. I am not sure what they think is gained by this behavior, but I have never seen anything good come of it. Do NOT gossip about your relationship with anyone. That is disrespectful and harmful. What you tell friends or family can never be unsaid/unheard. Turning to someone of the opposite sex for ‘advice’ is a horrible idea. A relationship will only sustain itself when both parties close ranks and work out the good and the bad together.
As I close, I do want to point out that sometimes you do everything you know to do, and it still falls apart. I do not have an answer for why this happens as there are a myriad of reasons. Some people are just not ready to be in a relationship. Some are damaged and need healing. Others just enter them for entirely the wrong reasons. I cannot tell you if the person you are with was the wrong choice or if the issues reside on your side of the fence. What I can tell you, is if the above steps have been lovingly and consistently followed and the relationship still doesn’t make it, then it was not the right relationship/person/timing.
My Hopefuls, it was my goal today to provide some tools and strategies to maintain one of the most precious intangibles of life. I absolutely believe in these steps and I would love to hear any feedback from you guys on your own tips and how you make love work every day!
Love AND Hope With Abandon!