Saturday, May 6, 2017

WHAT DOES LOVE LOOK LIKE?



It is easy to ask what love FEELS like, and it is a legitimate question.  But our feelings can be intertwined with parts of our past to which we have no conscious access, and we just assume the feelings are about what’s happening now and often they are not.

So it can actually happen that we are in a loving relationship with a loving partner, but have feelings of abandonment or rejection. Again feelings that are triggered from outside our consciousness from something in our past, and often we have no explicit memory of the past event or events.  And so, based upon those feelings, we may erroneously conclude that our partner does not love us.  Again, we are looking at our feelings and not what our partner actually does for us.  Yes, an interesting phenomenon worth our exploration, and we will do just that in the next blog because feelings are very important, just not our ultimate or sole source of information for making relationship decisions or judgments.

For today, we will focus on what love looks like.  Can we recognize it when we see it regardless of what we might be feeling?

*So our feelings suggest that our partner is moving away from us or getting ready to abandon ship, yet he or she offers to make us breakfast.

*We spend our day at work replaying the morning argument and feeling misunderstood, unloved, and unappreciated. And then we come home to find our favorite drink and appetizer on the coffee table.

*Or we may find ourself engaging in heated and opinionated "discussions," over politics and the like and left with feelings that suggest our partner is hell-bent on proving us wrong all the time.

One of my clients told me that when this happens for him, without realizing it, he is unconsciously engaging with his Dad who never seemed to appreciate his "brilliant" insights into life.  And unwittingly and again unconsciously, he thinks that maybe the person he loves will give him what he always wanted from Dad.  "How crazy is that!" he said to me. He went on to say that his partner suggested that he simply grieve what he thinks he never got from Dad, and then he might be able to stop chasing it in the relationship.  "Is that love or what?" he said to me.   
    
I will always remember a particular "conversation" with Roberta where I was complaining about the infrequency of our love-making.  She looked at me and said, “I make love to you every time I pick up your dirty socks and underwear.”  I sat there stunned. What could I say?  For a split second, I wanted to lash back and remind her of what her side of the bed looked like, but I realized I was missing her point and just being defensive and playing tit for tat rather than really listening.  She had asked me a zillion times to put my dirty socks and underwear in the hamper, and yes, I heard her alright, but somewhere in my male brain I thought, “What is the big deal where I put my dirty socks and underwear?  The floor is as good a place as the hamper.”  I know, I can be a jerk sometimes! But on that day, I got it.  And it was my first real lesson in seeing what love looks like in contrast to what it feels like.

So share with each other, what does love look like in our relationship?  No debating, no commenting, no judging, no arguing!  There is no right or wrong here.  Just share and really listen.

Perhaps as a starter, we can read out loud together St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, verse 4.  New International Version (NIV)

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

When I checked out the original Greek, this English translation is quite accurate.  That is not always the case in Scripture.  

It is worthwhile noting that the Greek word for love in this passage is agape.

The website https://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html, says that this Greek word agape is not used to describe romantic or sexual love nor even friendship or brotherly love.  It has the connotation of “faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will....agape is used to describe the love that is of and from God.... ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8).  Agape is also used to describe our love for God (Luke 10:27)...."

So what does love LOOK like for us in our relationship?  Not what does it feel like, but look like?

If you have a question about relationships, please leave the question in the comment section, and I will answer the question here on this blog.  Or you can email me a question at vrbmft@verizon.net.

If you're interested in finding out more about the book, check out the website or order directly from Amazon.

Thank you so much for reading and leaving your comments, and thank you for investing in your relationship.  The book is easy and fun to read and will support you growing up in your relationship.