Everyone thinks that for a dating relationship to stay healthy and to grow, love is an ingredient that must continue to exist in the relationship. They are saying, in other words that, as long as you still love each other, you will always stay together.
But that’s not true. Not love by the popular definition anyway.
Love has been a topic that undergoes long debates. Everybody wants love. Everybody likes love. Everybody wants to be loved and to receive love. But does everybody wants to give love, away?
Love, according to the Cambridge Online Dictionary is defined: to like another adult very much and be romantically and sexually attracted to them, or to have strong feelings of liking a friend or person in your family.
Love, it seems is more strongly associated with feelings, emotions, and attraction.
But, what is the guarantee that love based on feelings, emotions and attraction is the main ingredient in a sustainable relationship? Furthermore, are we only interested in sustainable relationship or are we more interested in a strong, enduring, healthy and growing relationship?
Anyone who is thinking or planning to enter into a dating relationship must carefully consider and ponder about this truth. Even more so, if they are about to enter into a marriage relationship.
Why? What’s missing? What is a relationship when there is no love?
Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to say that love isn’t necessary. Love is important, but I believe we need to redefine love.
Love based on feelings, emotions and attraction is love that’s bound to fail. That is because feelings are never sustaining. Emotions, in particular is fleeting. You cannot stay attracted to something or someone permanently. Feelings come and go. Emotion is like a roller-coaster. You can be high on emotion at one time and be entirely devoid of it the next. And that’s not our fault. Humans are designed that way.
In short, love based on feelings, emotions and attraction can never stood the ultimate test of love, which is time. Time will slowly, but surely erode even the strongest feelings and emotions. And that is actually good news for us. Our natural bodies do not have the ability to continually and constantly sustain a highly charged feelings, nor emotions.
An example of this is, have you ever sat down in a lecture or seminar where the speaker was constantly delivering highly charged speech, high in volume, high in pitch, high in energy, high in speed? At first glance, it might seem like the speaker might be very passionate about his message, but if you are caught in his pace, eventually you find yourself trying to catch your breath!
Do you know why we love good stories and good movies?
Any good stories or movies, should always have a climax and anti-climax. There are moments when the main character of the story winds down and rest and other moments when there is a great challenge he needs to overcome.
Our love life should also be like that of a good story. It’s not good for your body to be high on adrenaline all the time, which means love based on feelings, emotions and attractions is inevitably, short-lived.
Contrary to the popular misconception, what keeps a relationship together is less about love and more about character and attitude. It requires intentionality.
So, what should love be?
I believe that love has been incorrectly defined as something more akin to a noun. When you like someone romantically, or are sexually attracted to someone, isn’t that like saying, my current feeling says that “I like you, romantically”, or saying, “I am attracted to you, sexually.”?
Love, should be, first and foremost, a verb. Love is an action. Love is a decision. When someone says, “I love you.”, it should be accompanied by an action that reflect the word. Love based on action is almost always intentional.
I will admit that the feeling of liking someone romantically or feeling emotionally attached, adds great spice to an otherwise dull relationship. However, what happens when your feeling of like or emotional attachment is no longer there? How do you treat your wife of 20 years if the feeling is no longer around?
That’s where character and attitude comes in.
A person of character will continue to show act of love, making decision to continue showing love, despite their feelings. A person of character does not act based on feelings but out of his maturity to show love. A person of character will choose to do the right things, regardless of their feelings.
Character is so important in any relationship that if relationship is likened to a car, then character is the oil. Oil helps parts of the car that is meant to work with each other, to work together. Without oil, friction grows, and as friction grows, heats build, and thus the parts grind to a halt. Character is the oil of the relationship. Similarly, in a relationship, even for a most loving couple, if its devoid of character, the friction that will happen inevitably, will only bring heat to the relationship, and eventually, fire that destroys the relationship.
A person of attitude does not leave his / her partner in the cold when the feelings is no longer around. A person of attitude can always see the good and beautiful out of the seemingly bad and ugly.
Attitude is the ability to see the positive, the beautiful, the good, and to stay grateful despite all the facts against it. Taking the car analogy above a step further, then attitude can be likened as the headlights. The headlights continue to shine in the darkness, enlightening roads otherwise invisible during night times. It allows the car to continue going forward towards its destination even in times of darkness. In daytime, the car may be able to go forward because everything is clear and there is nothing that blocks the view. However, a car without headlights, especially during rainy day or night-time, will not be able to go anywhere. And so similarly, even with all its parts functioning well, it cannot go anywhere.
So, if you think that love alone is necessary in a relationship, think again.
If you have assumed that love is the only important ingredient for a healthy and growing relationship, you may need to rethink and readjust your assumptions.
How do we develop our character and attitude to help love to support and grow our existing relationship? Stay tuned for further updates by signing up to our mailing list and you will be the first to know when I publish my next piece on this issue.