Love is something bigger than we are, and although it’s true that we need to love ourselves as human beings with all our frailties and shortcomings, love is much more. Love looks at the bigger picture, the one outside our navel gazing.
It is more than the movie romance or the pocket book novel. It’s bigger than the commercials and it’s beyond sex. Love is in everyday living, in the smaller building blocks of kindness and patience. It tempers our actions. When a human being is filled with love for another her or she rejoice when the other has success. There is mutual respect one for the other. Loving hearts are self-less, forgiving, and honest.
To love and be loved is the greatest gift of all, and one way the gift is given is a choice called marriage. Marriage is a commitment a couple makes to each other before friends and family. To take this step is to say to each other “I choose to enter into a lifelong partnership with you, to be there for you.” A successful marriage is built on a spiritual foundation that allows for the freedom to grow as two unique individuals. Within this relationship, each person strives to move towards wholeness of body, mind, spirit — and as each of the partners moves in this direction, her or she also makes the choice to enrich their lives with the concept of “us”.
How does one stay in love after 40 years of marriage? By spending time deepening an ever-growing friendship and doing those things we have just discussed. By being responsible for our own actions, continuing personal growth, encouraging each other, respecting the partner and celebrating each other’s successes. People in love are there for one another, not only in the good times, but in the hard times, the 90/10 times — the times when one needs to be carried for a while.
Anyone who believes that a marriage is 50/50 believes in an illusion. Human beings are whimsical creatures at best, prone to ups and downs. A healthy relationship will fluctuate with the ebb and flow of life. It will be 50/50 on occasion but then 90/10, 10/90, 40/60, and on and on. If someone is grieving, for example, or gravely ill it will be 90/10 with one person being a bearer of burdens for the other, and when the tide turns it will be reversed.
Love is to accept unconditionally, which means getting rid of the manipulation, the “I’ll love you if…” and exchanging it for “I’ll love you anyhow”. It also means giving breathing room to become more. A personal example of this is when I tried to learn to drive a motorcycle. My husband believed in me, he would not let me give up when I was frustrated and fearful. He encouraged me to be more, to tackle this thing of which I was so afraid. I did learn to ride the bike, and even though I discovered it was not really my thing, my husband respected my final decision to ride on the back of his bike with him.
Another example that is more recent is my lifelong dream to write. My largest stumbling block was myself, my own fears that I had to tackle as an individual. When I was able to get past these imagined fears my husband came alongside to become my proofreader and photographer. After a period of time and some smaller successes, he got me my dream workstation as a way of celebration. Why? Because he sees the bigger picture outside himself. He is patient and kind. He is God-centered as opposed to self-centered, and this is the source of love that fills him and is poured out for me.
Me, I struggle with patience but have been told that I’m kind. When I’m not navel gazing, I too am able to look outside to the bigger picture, becoming a loving individual to be filled and poured out to my other half.