Hey Guys! It’s Dad!
I don’t often quote the Bible, but this one sure fits the idea I wanted to share with you today.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
“I love you.”
When those words are sincere, heartfelt, there’s almost no better feeling. But words aren’t love. They may be beautiful, articulate, filled with rhetoric and art and expression and passion and truth. They may inspire deeds of love. They may be so persuasive and impactful that they change the course of dreams and lives and families and generations to come. But, in and of themselves they aren’t love. Saying it…doesn’t make it so.
If you’ve ever felt love, true love, you know how magical it can feel. That emotion is the highest form of joy, at least as far as I’ve experienced. That emotion, that feeling…it’s a thing. It’s a noun. So how do we find that thing? How do we feel that thing? Perhaps most important, how do we keep that love alive.
I have felt what I thought was love. I have loved. I have felt true, effortless, inspiring, energizing, exciting, passionate love. And I have lost it. Many of us have. But through my desire to love I wanted to learn more about how to keep love thriving, vibrant, new, fresh…like a first kiss. Through my readings and watchings I came across the following conversation between author/mentor/coach Stephen Covey and a close friend of his who had fallen out of love with his wife. It changed how I see love, how I feel love, and how I give love…forever.
Mr. Covey’s friend dejectedly shared, “My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me. What can i do?”
“The feeling isn’t there anymore?” I asked.
“That’s right,” he reaffirmed. “And we have three children we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?”
“Love her,” I replied.
“I told you; the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”
“Love her.” I said.
“You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”
“Then love her! If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”
“But how do you love when you don’t love?”
“My friend, love is a verb.”
This part really hit me. He said, “Love – the feeling – is the fruit of love, the verb. So, love her. Serve her. Sacrifice for her. Listen to her. Empathize with her. Appreciate her. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”
So if you want to feel love, it comes from doing the things that true love inspires.
That sounds simple and natural. Right? But here’s where this simple truth gets a little more complicated.
Think of the things that true love might inspire you to do for your partner. You love her. You want to comfort her and show her appreciation. You want to do something sweet and thoughtful for her. A nice dinner out? An unexpected gift? A weekend away? Flowers on the counter? Those are great and natural ideas…
What if your partner is struggling to stay on a particular diet? That well intended invitation to dinner out could force her into an awkward place. She’d either have to decline your kind hearted gesture or say yes to dinner and break her diet; her commitment and promise to themselves.
What if your partner is worried about your budget? What if she is really, truly grateful for the unexpected gift, but is going to worry all month that bills might not get paid?
What if your partner worked all week and has been looking forward to a warm shower, some cozy pajamas, closed blinds, and some relaxation at home this weekend? What if she just wanted to make sure that the chores were all done for the upcoming week, so she didn’t feel so stressed out? What if that weekend away, although beautiful and romantic and well earned…is the exact opposite of what she needs and wants? Maybe your partner is on a diet AND is worried about the budget, AND is exhausted from a brutal week filled with responsibilities?
Here’s where true love (love, the verb) comes in. In order to truly love her, you need to listen. You need to check in. You need to stay engaged, guys. Know your partner. Know her ups and downs. Know what makes her frustrated and angry. Know what brings her peace and smiles and laughter. To know her is to love her. Love…the verb. Know what she needs and wants. Share what you need with her…from her…without inhibition. Your openness with her will encourage openness with you which might lead to you to a Friday evening…
…cooking a healthy dinner at home that supports your partner’s nutritional goals…
…then not just making sure her favorite pajamas are clean but sneakin’ ‘em in the dryer for a few minutes when she’s in the shower so they’re soft and warm when she gets out…folded…on the foot of the bed…next to the card that you made her (not bought her) that’s filled with sincere love and appreciation. And yeah, they can be right next to those flowers you got her (that didn’t break the bank ‘cuz you didn’t go away for the weekend), and that add just a touch of traditional romance to her evening.
The dinner will be eaten. The pajamas? Back in the laundry. The flowers will die. But the way you made her feel never will, because you showed her that she matters. You loved her. You showed her that you love her enough to simply pay attention and to put her goals and fears and thoughts and emotions first. You were listening. You love her.
Some say that true love takes work. I don’t believe that to be the case unless you’re considering “labors of love” to be work. Yes, it can take sacrifice. Maybe you wanted to go away over the weekend. Maybe you wanted to go out to dinner. Maybe you wanted to buy her a gift. So share that with her openly, that that was what you wanted for her, for you, for you both. There will be a time and a place for that. But the love you feel on this particular Friday night will certainly be true, and it will certainly be the fruit of the respect, consideration, and love that you gave.
In my experience, the “work” that you put into that peaceful, relaxing Friday night isn’t work at all. It’s a gift! The “sacrifice” feels good. The whole evening, although it took planning and execution…was effortless, and the love was true. It will be remembered, and often reciprocated in its own way in its own time.
Love, the noun. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever known. If it’s missing, if it’s facing…then love!
Love is a verb.
I love you guys, and I feel loved.