People think they’ve fallen in love, yet as Anne and Joel Issacs write, “We would not normally make a commitment based on a feeling we know is temporary.” People also think they’ve “fallen out of love” when in fact love is a verb.
The Issacs go on to say “The practice of love is perhaps best understood as the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’ person’s spiritual growth [not religious.” Notice they use the word “practice” as it is an ongoing effort.
Being in a happy, healthy relationship requires kindness; toward yourselves and each other. It requires putting the relationship first, while keeping in mind each individual’s needs. That means making decisions based on what’s best for your marriage, not what you want, or think you need.
It’s a simple, yet revolutionary concept.
I’ve written a bit before about the idea of creating a constitution for your relationship; all decisions are made based on that. It’s putting your partner’s interests on “equal footing” with your own.
All of the small, medium, and large things you do for your partner build intimacy and love. Get in the habit of loving each other in your partner’s love language (take the online quiz 5 Love Languages. The quiz is kind of lame, but the information gleaned is so valuable).
This is especially important for when you face challenges as an individual or as a couple; you’ll know how to keep loving, supporting, and holding each other up through whatever happens. This too, will bring you intimacy.
After a while you can be in the upward spiral of love and care, and as we joke about around here, “This is what you get for how you’ve been acting.” But even if your partner hasn’t been acting “right” still practice all these tools. One person can change the course of a relationship. Hopefully after a while, your partner will get on board.
All of humanity is wired for connection, craving to be your true self. As I told my son about his girlfriend, “If she treats you well and helps you be your best self, that’s a great relationship.” Help your partner be who s/he truly longs to be. Bring out the best in each other.
It’s a choice, a verb, how you treat your beloved.