Is your love all that it should be?
"Love one another and you'll be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that", says Michael Leunig, an Australian writer.
Relationships define the quality of our life. How selflessly we love determines the quality of our relationships.
We all need a reminder on occasion of what truly devoted, sacrificial love looks like. I certainly do. I'm guilty of slipping off into a selfish, greedy place in my heart. It seems it is all too easy to fall victim to this way of thinking. Of course, when we do, our relationships suffer for it.
The Confusion About LoveConfusion and misunderstanding about love reigns supreme in America. It seems we have a very shallow and ill-conceived notion of love, especially as it relates to marriage. I say this because so many marriages end in divorce. It is hard to find someone over thirty-five that doesn't have at least one failed marriage in their past.
I don't think our confusion is intentional. It seems to have been somehow passed down to us. Where the initial confusion began, I haven't the foggiest. However, sorting it out seems critical to the longevity of our relationships and marriages and therefore to our happiness.
Here is some of the WRONG thinking about love that persists:
- Love is a feeling – "We just fell out of love." You've probably heard this before as an explanation for why a couple parted ways. This notion implies that love comes and goes like any other mood.
- Love must be equal – We want love to be tit-for-tat. We feel their must always be a balance in the amount of love I'm giving and that I'm receiving. If this equality of love isn't met, then we are offended and upset.
- Love should be easy – We want love that meets our needs without complication. We don't want to have to exert effort. Love should just be. Messiness or difficulty implies a love problem.
- Love should always work out in our favor – In other words, we think love should cater to our needs. If it isn't, then there must be something wrong with our mate and their love for us.
- Love should tolerate all our flaws – This really goes back to our idea that love should be effortless. We don't think love should demand anything of us.
Loving Others Selflessly"The life and love we create is the life and love we live." What a powerful thought, by Leo Buscaglia. It is also a humbling one if your relationships aren't what you want them to be. How can you improve your experience of life and love? Well, you can love more selflessly.
Here is the RIGHT mindset for selfless love:
- Love is a firm decision – Feelings are too fickle they come and go on a whim. Selfless love is a decision. It is a firm commitment. One that you follow-through on even when you don't feel like it.
- Love is sacrificial – You must give of yourself sacrificially well beyond what is comfortable if you want love to endure. Love should not be entered into lightly. If you aren't prepared to make sacrifices in what you want for love's sake, then don't get into a serious relationship in the first place.
- Love endures much – Life is not always easy. It has its unexpected complications. That's why marriage vows include, "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health…" Selfess love is long-suffering. It endures the hard times and presses on to enjoy brighter days beyond.
- Love is demanding - Real love requires a lot from you. It is going to ask that you put some of your desires aside. It is going to ask you to become a better person. It is going to ask you to give and compromise at times when you don't want to.
- Love reigns – Love demands that it comes first in your life. It won't always be easy or uncomplicated. There will definitely be times that you won't feel like loving. Just remember, "The life and love we create is the life and love we live."
Selfless love, the kind that will last a lifetime, is big. You should never underestimate it or enter into it lightly. However, it can also be the greatest thing you ever do with your life.
I'm still working on my love. I'm sure I will never perfect it. I have a long ways to go. However, I won't give up. After five years of marriage, I've tasted a bit of what it is and I want more.