From the very beginning, we seem to have at least a pretty good idea of what love means to us. We know what it looks like to each one of us. We grow and form who we are in the various stages of our life and come to a realization of what love looks like to us in each type of relationship.
What does love look like to YOU?
In the different types of relationships such as, parents, siblings, your partner or spouse; we have ideas of how the relationship will be. I call these ideas, “blueprints”. These blueprints drive us to act a certain way in the relationship because of our expectation to what needs we have and whether or not they are met.
When you realize that a relationship is one-sided perhaps, or that the relationship doesn’t meet your needs, you most likely will become disenchanted, bored or even downright miserable.
For example, I can tell you that as a Mother, I believe Mothers should nurture, laugh, hug, and smile. Besides that, they should be giving, supportive, and be a good teacher.
I didn’t have any of that growing up, but I somehow had this belief even at that time. Because my needs weren’t met as a child, I felt insignificant and lonely. This was made worse by how my parents’ love – or lack thereof – didn’t align with what I thought it should have been.
You may have experienced this kind of disappointment before in your relationships. It’s a tragic feeling to expect one thing from the most important people in your life, and yet receive something far less than that.
In my marriage, I believed that a husband should adore his wife. A husband should see her sacrifices, talents and appreciate all that she does. A husband should touch his wife, look longingly in her eyes with adoration, as well as laugh and play.
My marriage was far from any of these ideas from the very beginning. I was committed to being the best wife anyway, and being committed to the vows that I made. Giving the marriage all that I had was what I’d committed to. Living in a one-sided marriage, I was miserable and felt trapped and most of all unloved.
You Have A Responsibility To Love
There are books written on the topic of “love languages” such as “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman (affiliate link), which talk about not just having an understanding of how the people in our life need to feel love but also, a realization that we have a responsibility to love them in that way.
When you sit back and look at your relationships, as yourself these questions.
- Do you understand how love is perceived by each person you’re involved with?
- I mean, do you really know what love looks like to them?
- Do they need more hugs than you?
- Could they need more verbal connection and casual talking than you?
- Do they need to discuss passions and ideas more than you?
In And Out of Love
We move in and out of love through out our day. It’s so easy to transfer our anxiety and anger from daily stresses onto the people we love. We have a responsibility to learn a better way to respond to our stresses don’t we? That’s easier said than done.
How many challenges have you created in your life by reacting instead of responding?
We create prisons sometimes by reacting to situations, people and comments instead of remaining neutral. This prison is a life full of bitterness, resentment, and worse, anger. At the extreme, our prisons are full of people that reacted without considering the long-term outcome. Relationships are especially sensitive to this same phenomenon. Have you ever said something in the heat of the moment that you later wished you could take back?
This is no way to stay in love. By no means could you feel love in the presence of any of your relationships.
Imagine how responding effectively could change your life for the better!
Learn to notice your emotions. Simply noticing that you’re emotional is the first step to avoiding an overreaction. Can you see the circumstances that led to a poor response? It can be easy to nip it in the bud if you do.
Be sure to manage your emotions before you approach a situation in your relationship. This can help prevent the discussion from erupting into an argument. Emotions are much easier to control before they continue to escalate.
Use emotion to your advantage. Being emotional about an issue is simply a measure of how meaningful it is to you. Give the emotional issues in your life your full attention. However, it’s questionable that strong negative emotions have value beyond this function. Negative emotions exist to inform you that something is potentially wrong.
The Challenge To Love Fully
You’re in relationships whether you want them or not. You get to decide what these relationships look like. Most of all, you have the responsibility not just to them, but also to yourself to make the best of it. I realized that my marriage could not blossom and I had a responsibility to myself to love myself fully.
We can only do ONE of TWO things in this case. Accept the relationship as it is, or change it. In the beginning, I chose to make the best of how it already was. I accepted the limitations of his love style. Finally, I came to my senses. His needs were being met, while mine were not. This is when I decided that the relationship needed a change.
That’s all that we can do. Often in relationships, communication and an equal desire to stay in love or keep the relationship a happy and fulfilling one is enough to turn things around. That is the difference. Both people in the relationship need to be of clear mind as to what love looks like to each of them.
We all need an understanding, a commitment and a dedication to take responsibility of our own role in making not just ourselves happy but the other person as well.