October 2, 2008 Peter

What is Love Anyways

I think that I have written about this somewhere before but I didn’t check and I’m not going to. It was on my mind while i was working out so I thought that I would pass along some of my thoughts on it. When I come across the question if something is love or not I use a three part definition:

  • Statement of Commitment
  • Sacrificial giving
  • For the betterment of the one being loved.

Any meaningful relationship is about partnership and guardianship over that relationship. You look out for the best interests of the other person. You preserve that relationship through your actions, words, and even thoughts. Are you patient with them, forgiving, courteous, kind, faithful, gentle, as well as have self control over your unnecessary comments, criticisms and over reactions? The undergirding core support of the relationships is trust. We give a part of ourselves because it is the nature of the heart to bind itself. When we decide to give part or even all of our heart away, we, by default, are trusting that person with it. This heart is not a gift that has not strings attached but it is really a key. And unlike a gift there are expectations to this key if the key is accepted. And that is that you will protect how it is used.

But I thought you meant . . .

I know that there has been a number of books about meeting someone else’s needs or rather to at least speak to them in a way that they can hear and understand, AKA “5 Love Languages” from Gary Chapman. It is a great resource to help us understand how we see and relate to others and the world. It is important to know this because this is really the only way we know how to not only communicate meaningfully to the world but also (more importantly) how we interpret the world’s communication to us. How many times have we reacted inappropriately because of not necessarily a miss communication on the other person’s part but that we interpreted it in a way that was never meant as such? I know I have.

A poignant example of this would be the phrase, “I Love You.” If a man were to say this to his girlfriend, she is going to interpret that phrase in the way that she would mean it if she told him that she loved him. So, if she took his, “I love you” as, “I want to marry you someday soon” but he really meant, “I like where things are going and I care for you more than I care for any other woman,” then you know there are going to be some problems between the two. In the same light, if the man’s language is action and her language is words then no matter how much “meaningful actions” he does just for her, she is never going to feel as connected  she does when he sits down with her and talks with her face-to-face. As result, both are going to wonder what went wrong.

Although the “Languages” are good to know, there is a flaw in that the “languages” focus more on what we need and how our loved ones “should communicate” with us rather than using the information to better communicate with our loved ones. Yes, you are right…if i know how people should communicate with me then obviously I can use that information to communicate better with others. Let me pose a question then. When you read it did you first think of people communicating with others or how people should communicated with you? Let’s read what Chapman had to say, ”

“I made the assumption that if people knew how to express love effectively, they would be eager to do it. I now realize that assumption was wrong. Love languages are important ways to communicate love, but without a basis for the love languages, our words and actions are empty.”

In short, the love languages is the goal and not the means. Doing “actions” or saying loving “words” may make someone feel loved but it does not tell us why or even how to go about doing it. In short, there is not set foundation of why we should love someone with communication. Chapman points out this comment from a husband:

If it is going to take washing dished, vacuuming floors, and doing the laundry for my wife to feel loved, you can forget it!

He had the knowledge of what to do but didn’t have the why he should love her in that manner and hopefully she was loving him.

We may expect our loved ones to relate to us in the way, “we understand it.” This is not a bad expectation. However, if two people expect the other one to communicate in their particular language and their languages are mutually exclusive then not only will they not communicate but they will create much tension between the two.
Do you remember the Movie, “Saving Private Ryan.” Well, in the movie Tom Hanks‘ character, Capt. Miller is leading his men through a town that the Germans are in to find Prvt. Ryan. Well, a wall falls and the Americans and Germans find themselves facing one another with guns points yelling at each other. There is no translation of what the Germans are saying but I’m sure they were saying the same thing, “Put down your guns or I’m going to shoot.” During this standoff both the Americans and the Germans didn’t to shoot or be shot. As a result, a third party got involved and killed the Germans. I don’t want to make something that it is not but when relationships have expectations that are unclear and both are focusing on their “need” to be heard and communicated to then the principle still applies: Someone is going to get hurt and over time those wounds are going to run soo deep that a third party will ultimatly get involved.
Love consists of sacrificing your feelings FIRST for the betterment of the relationship and the person you are “loving.”

Love is sacrificing your feelings for the sake of understanding

Love is protecting the integrity of the relationship no matter what

Love is investing in the other person so that they become a better person

Love is creating an environment that both persons can grow to their true potential

Love is becoming one with someone such that where you begin and end ceases to exist

Love is having the same heart beat

Love is using your gifts and talents to support the weaknesses of the other.

Love can be so many things to so many but no matter what Love is to anyone, the fact of the principle will always be the same. Every interaction of love will It will always, ALWAYS make that person better than when you first found them. No matter how difficult it may be with the other person at the end of the heated discussion each should know that they are valuable and that there are no emotional barriers.

Remember the husband who said that he didn’t want to do certain things just so that his wife can feel loved? He is upset because he does not feel valued but really only someone that jumps over hurdles to make his wife feel a certain way. He probably did love her but she felt that he wasn’t communicating in a way that she appreciated and thus shut down. As a result, He shut down too. They has successful have built a castle with very tall defense walls. No wonder every interaction will be negative, defensive, and possibly even manipulative.

To think that this all could have been changed if one of them would have just sit down with the other and told them that they were loved no matter what and that this problem will be worked through. Love is an investment and the ROI will be as little or as much as you BOTH WANT IT TO BE.

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