Friday, August 24, 2012

Love Is a Verb

Love Is a Verb is the name of a book seniors were required to read for their senior year religion class. I remember most hated the book because it pointed out that love wasn’t this warm, euphoric feeling that came on you suddenly, but rather a day to day decision to act in a loving manner.  It made love sound like work. A few actually understood the message, and were anxious to explain to me, a teacher, how love works.

I may have been amused at their precociousness in believing they alone discovered the secret to love, but maybe I shouldn’t. All too often, we as adults believe love is a feeling. Using the blessed gift of hindsight, we can review our previous relationships and decide why they weren’t right for us or why we weren’t truly in love, or fell out of love. What we fail to realize is one of the parties involved, or both, failed to exercise loving actions.

This was brought home to me in two fashions.  In a documentary, What The *Bleep*; Down the Rabbit Hole, various smart people came together to talk about everything from the origin of the universe to the components of love. One woman insisted that love was a feeling where one day you could love someone, but the next day, because of a rumor or something they said, you didn’t. If you can fall out of love in a heartbeat, you never had anything in the beginning.

Often loved ones leave us via death or their own two feet.  Those left behind continue the act of loving them. Friends become irritated because you still managed to talk about the good times the two of you had together.  Sympathy usually lasts about two weeks. Sometimes we are going through a type of withdrawal where we are learning not to love them, or associate various things with them.

Sometimes though, a loving, but annoyed friend, might help you review your shared past to discover the person you lavished your affection on did not act loving at all. It is easy to tell someone you love them, but it is harder to show them. You show people by respecting them, and all they stand for. Sure, they have a crazy family, but you don’t mention it. 

On the Date Report, one woman measured potential partners by the sickness barometer. If she said she was too sick to attend an event and the guy dropped his plans to come over and take care of her, he was a keeper. She was using his selflessness-to forgo something he wanted to do to take care of her--as a sign of love. That could be. Personally, I like to be left alone when I am sick.

My grandmother was part of an arranged marriage, but she made a decision to act in a loving manner toward her husband. That is what most women in arranged marriages do; the outcome being a pleasant union as opposed to an acrimonious one.

When people fall out of love, what really happens? It is the excuse used most often for divorces.  My old English prof told me that once women decide to return to college their marriage is doomed. His reasoning was the woman wanted to expand her mind and grow into the person she always wanted to be before marriage and children. The man wants her to stay as the same big-eyed girl-child who thought he hung the moon. People change all the time but stay married anyway. What is the difference? Loving actions.

There are many people involved in relationships or are married who are constantly scanning for someone better.  The act of looking for someone better suppresses any type of loving actions or investment in the relationship. Your guy or girl might look like a potential hookup. One of the things that keeps your mate from straying is knowing they could lose the security of love and your loving actions.

Being loving is contrary to the media message that it is all about you. What you want is paramount. Gary Smalley, re-known author of relationship books, states that you cannot outdo a loving spouse.  He will treat you better than you will treat yourself. On the flipside, it is very easy to outdo someone who just hangs with you until someone better comes along.

Each time I’ve been dumped I took a moment to analyze the relationship. After my initial upset about being the dumpee vanished, I realized the man did me a favor. He didn’t treat me well when he commented on other women’s attributes. He never took in account my interests when we only did what he wanted to do or watched shows he liked. When he rudely ignored me while he was with work friends, it pretty much illustrated how unimportant I was in his life. It reminded me love is an action, not an emotion. It also made me wonder why I stayed.

People love to talk about chemistry, but you can have chemistry with a serial killer and not live to talk about it. There have been bad boys you may have found attractive. You may even have interacted with a few. In the end, it was painfully obvious they weren’t that interested in you.

We all have felt a spark when we’ve met someone. Maybe his hair reminds you of your first love. Her walk is practically sex on a stick. Whatever it is, you pause to consider this person. This is not love, but a simple physical reaction. You might go out providing you’re both willing. In the end, if you find yourself being the thoughtful one, doing the entertaining, constantly working the relationship, then you need to rethink things. While love is an action, it shouldn’t be that hard because the other should be acting loving toward you. His thoughtfulness begets the same in you.

Every day you choose to act lovingly. To your child, your dog, even your co-worker. Why not your significant other?

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