In my previous post on true love, I summed up observations suggesting that our idea of true love is skewed–heightened to an almost impossible goal. If true love is a false expectation, what hope do we have? Is true love then not achievable?
I can’t say this for everyone, but I do feel that there’s a difference between true love, as popular media paints it; and realistic love – one built on experience and choice. Often, I ask people what they look for in a relationship. Often I get responses along the lines of:
- The Right Chemistry
- That Magical Feeling
Today, I finished The Seven Levels of Intimacy by author and speaker Matthew Kelly, and I feel that he is right in saying that love and attraction aren’t just feelings, but decisions as well. In chapter 5, he tells us a story of a man who was faithful to his wife and had 3 wonderful children, but wanted a divorce. “I just don’t love her anymore,” the man explains.
I wonder how many people feel this way. If love is merely a feeling based on chemistry and that gut feeling, then random emotions and hormones would direct the lifespan of our relationships. Matthew Kelly says:
“Love is not a feeling. From when we are very young, through powerful mediums such as movies and music, we are conditioned to believe that it is. The result of this conditioning is that we allow our actions to be dictated by our feelings.
Rather than asking ourselves whether a particular person is going to help us become our best self, we simply allow our feelings to take us wherever they will at any particular moment. And I don’t know whether you’ve noticed it, but feelings are one of the most inconsistent aspects of human person.
Love is a choice, not a feeling. Feelings comes and go, and if we choose to base our most important relationships on how we feel at any particular moment, we are in for a rough and rocky journey. Love is verb, not a noun. Love is something we do, not something that happens to us.”
So realistic love is actioned through decision? I guess it’s possible. Arranged marriages in the past and present somehow work out, regardless of chemistry.
Kelly adds an anecdote from Stephen Covey:
On this particular day [Covey] had been presenting a series of talks about pro-activity: the idea that as human beings we are responsible for our lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.
After his presentation, Covey was approached by a man who said, “Stephen, I like what you’re saying. But every situation is so different. Look at my marriage. I am really worried. My wife and I just don’t have the same feeling for each other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t
love me. What can I do?”
“The feeling isn’t there anymore?” Covey asked.
“That’s right” the man reaffirmed. “And we have three children whom we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?”
“Love her,” Covey replied.
“You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”
“Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”
“But how do you love when you don’t love?”
“My friend, ‘love’ is a verb. Love –the feeling — is the fruit of love, the verb. So love her.”