Love and relationships, these are tricky things indeed.
We grow up with beliefs that are part fake Hollywood love stories and fairy tales, part whatever we observed from our homes and care givers and part (and I think this is a big part) from how we feel about ourselves.
I am a big promoter of self love and self care and this is another area where it is really important. If you don’t have a good relationship with yourself, it’s much harder to have one with anyone else.
And it can be easy to fall in to thinking or feeling like if things are not happening a certain way, if he or she is not responding the way I want them too, wouldn’t my life be happier/easier/simpler if I just split?
Isn’t that why about 50% of marriages now end in divorce?
Because what they don’t always show in movies, write about in fairy tales or teach in school or even at home is that relationships and marriage are hard, they require both work and tender care. They need to be nurtured as you would a garden; making sure the soil is healthy, there is plenty of sunlight and water and the weeds are being tended to on a regular basis.
Love isn’t always about everything being easy and carefree. I wish it was and I wish life was that way as well. But as much as we strive to grow and learn about navigating the constant ups and downs of life, we can also work to grow and learn to have happier, healthier and more loving relationships. In marriage, with friends, with our children and always with ourselves.
I recently came across an article about love that I think gets it so right, it has stayed on my mind.
It’s a post called “The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Love” by John Kim
Here are a few of the terms Kim uses to describe unhealthy love:
- Being powerless.
- It has no boundaries.
- Unconditional and yet contingent.
- Immature, irresponsible and dependent.
And what he says about the healthy kind:
“Healthy love is feeling powerful and independent. It is grilled cheese and vegetable soup on a rainy day but not every day. Healthy love is patient, kind and accepting. Healthy love requires a tremendous amount of responsibility which involves communication on all levels and constant reflection. It is building trust, having faith and holding a commitment.”
So beautiful and he provides a great reminder about something that can be a challenge – communication on all levels and constant reflection.
It’s not enough that men and women have such different communication styles, different ways of expressing love and sometimes very different needs.
Because when things get tough, feelings are hurt and emotions are running high, this is the part that gets touchy but is so important and needs attention.
Miscommunication alone can account for such a large percentage of fights, disagreements and general misunderstandings.
And constant reflection is something I try to keep in mind as well.
Have I been closed off and distant?
Have I been evasive about what I want or need?
Am I giving the same attention, care and love I want to receive?
In this way, I hope I can keep being self aware and growing toward what I want – to maintain a happy, caring and loving relationship, today and in 20 years from now, with the ideals that are most important to me:
- Kindness, consideration and respect.
- Compromise without criticisms.
- Generosity without feeling taken advantage of.
- Clear, honest and open communication with continued confidence and trust.
Some of the most wonderful, amazing things in life can be difficult to achieve and take the most work but they can also be some of the things that fulfill us and sustain us, things we appreciate and value the most.
Like sharing your life, your dreams and your heart with someone you truly love.
*Although relationships do require work and commitment, any kind of mentally, verbally or physically abusive relationship does not. Trying to make them better rarely does any good and can put you and possibly others in danger. Those relationships are worth leaving and leaving for good.