The conversation around love seems to keep popping into my conscious surroundings and interactions lately. A few of us…in my world….seem to be in an inquiry around love and what it actually is.
A work associate asked the question the other day, “How do you know if you’ve met the right one?”
The New International Webster’s defines love:
1. A strong tender affection; deep devotion, as to one’s child, parent, etc. 2. The affection felt by two persons who are sexually attracted to one another. 3. A person who is the object of another’s affection. 4. A very great interest or fondness: love of leaning.
John Gray of Mars and Venus fame has a terrific book called Mars and Venus On a Date and he outlines quadrants that formulate the ingredients of a “soul mate” in his opinion. I happen to subscribe to this view. He maintains that having spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual compatibility are essential to laying the foundation of a soul mate connection. He also feels that there are evolutionary stages to building and fortifying relationship potential and they are attraction, uncertainty, exclusivity, intimacy and engagement. In his educated outlook, these stages should be followed carefully and in sequence as to allow the greatest possibility of solid relationship incubation.
Harville Hendrix, Ph. D. is a Clinical Pastoral Counselor who is known internationally for his work with couples. He and his wife Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D. co created Imago Relationship Therapy and developed the concept of “conscious partnership.” Their partnership and collaboration has resulted in nine books on intimate relationships and parenting.
Imago Therapy is effective as a way to create stronger relationships. It offers insights into the unconscious agenda we bring to our relationships. I’ve read his first two books and have participated in his seminars and therapy and the basic premise of his work is that we are subconsciously attracted to partners who remind us of our parents. Both positive and negative characteristics surface and then we are forced to heal emotional wounds that we share. The confusion for many couples arises when one partner wants to project their emotional dysfunction onto the other because it is too painful for them to see in themselves. Then, they tend to move on to the next relationship with the same wounding and blame patterns unless they are really motivated somehow to “fix” it once and for all. Hendrix offers healthy communication steps to begin to understand each other and grow in love and awareness.
Of all the exercises in Imago Relationship Therapy, we now regard Imago Dialogue as being the most effective tool for satisfying our innate yearning for wholeness and connection. Developed with my wife Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D., Dialogue is the language of love in all relationships. Ultimately, the three steps of Dialogue are - mirroring, validating, and empathizing –
Other philosophies are based on the principle of putting the needs and comfort of your partner first. Not in a codependent or unhealthy way, but rather as a mature “contribution to the corporation” (as my grandpa calls his marriage…the corporation). Being proactive and nurturing and letting reciprocity take its course.
In Passionate Marriage, David Schnarch, Ph.D. outlines some of the wrong reasons why people get together…..not love……
Low self –esteem
Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.
- Captain Corelli's Mandolin6. "Love is the beauty of the soul."
In a perfect world we would be healthy and whole and ready for relationship. Yet reality is that there are many broken families and mistreatment that leaves deep emotional scars and eventually, one will be forced to heal this inside if one is to be successful in relationship.
Have you done your work? Are you still blaming others for your emotional wounding?
What is your definition of love?
Sharing common experiences, having a biological / chemical attraction, sharing common values and desires, respecting each other’s differences, aligning in spirit/emotion/intellect/sexuality, knowing how to disagree/argue with compassion, doing your work outside of the partnership, feeling ‘safe’ and passionate with your partner, honoring your word and commitments, finding someone with lots of money (just kidding….seeing if you’re awake), wanting to stay in it during the times you contribute more to the corporation than your lover, and then the good old bonding that comes from our brain/body chemical plant…the psychopharmacology that mother nature threw into the punchbowl to make things tingly and cohesive… …the pheromone party.
What’s your recipe for Love?
What’s in your life is what you choose. Choose consciously and powerfully!