Fill your home with love!
(Catholic Digest) Ė What is love? Itís an overpowering feeling, an intensely romantic high, an unbounded desire for the presence of the loved one. Right? Not exactly.
FILL YOUR HOME WITH LOVE: Marriage needs to be sustained by daily, loving acts of thoughtfulness, generosity, and helpfulness. (Photo Catholic Digest)
Love is not only a feeling, love is action. It is a consistent choice to put a loved oneís well-being and happiness ahead of our own. It is a commitment to nourish our relationship with another person in spite of how we may feel. When we love, we see someoneís need and go the extra mile to meet it.
Our culture is steeped in notions of romantic love. What most people mistake for love is the passion of a new relationship. The significance of intense passion in a relationship or marriage is often exaggerated; these feelings are important, but they are difficult to sustain over time.
Studies indicate that feelings of romantic love often drop off after the first few years of marriage. The discovery of irritating differences and annoying habits in oneís partner deflates the exhilaration of a new relationship. Problems need to be solved, work needs to be done.
Marriage needs to be sustained by daily, loving acts of thoughtfulness, generosity, and helpfulness. This practical side of love takes courage, effort, commitment, and acceptance.
In India, researchers studied the differences between couples who married for romantic love and couples in arranged marriages. Couples in romance-inspired marriages reported a decrease in their feelings of love after five years, but couples in arranged marriages felt more love over the years.
After ten years of marriage, the arranged marriages were described as more loving than the romantic ones, studies showed.
Why would that be? Perhaps couples who married for love didnít put forth the effort to sustain love through their actions. They took love for granted, viewing it as something that shouldnít require work.
Perhaps the couples from arranged marriages knew from the start that loving actions would be needed to inspire feelings of love in their partners. They made a conscious decision to act lovingly toward each other.
We change the way we feel by how we act. If we act in a loving way toward someone, over time we may feel love toward that person and inspire the person to love us back. Loving actions include deep confiding as well as affectionate touching. Besides creating feelings of attraction and passion, loving actions bring satisfaction, contentment, trust, mutual support, and understanding.
Our ability to love is limited by the amount of time and attention we have to give. Since we choose the recipient of our loving attention, the things and people that receive our attention tell us what we really value.
If there is a discrepancy between the way we feel toward someone and the way we act, our feelings tend to catch up and mirror our actions.
One woman lamented the actions and attitude of her husband. She felt he was the main reason for her unhappiness. As an experiment, she decided to be unconditionally constructive ó to turn on her warmth, charm, and love, and go out of her way for him for six weeks. Later, she exclaimed, ďHeís changed completely. Heís responding in a loving and sweet way.Ē
People canít resist love. If we love someone, it makes it easier for that person to love back. If we start loving first instead of holding back, we can change a relationship. Consistent love over time also changes the way people perceive us and feel about us. A relationship can improve even quicker when both partners strive to act more lovingly at the same time.
Choose Love Now
The path to love starts with consistently loving actions. Couples can choose to love by:
- Doing fun things together.
- Sharing decisions and work in the house.
- Resisting the urge to quarrel in moments of anger or frustration.
- Giving a partner affection and physical touch.
- Listening to and understanding a partnerís feelings.
- Talking about private hurts, dreams, and joys.
- Being compassionate when giving potentially hurtful criticisms.
- Supporting a partnerís emotional and personal growth.
- Expressing love, appreciation, and admiration for a partnerís special qualities, gifts, and actions.
Love is as love does. It is a mistake to wait for our feelings or our partnerís to change before we begin to act more lovingly toward them. If we act lovingly, feelings of love will soon follow suit.
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Article from Our Northland Diocese printed in the September 2005 issue of Catholic Digest.
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Republished by Catholic Online with permission of Catholic Digest (www.catholicdigest.org), a Catholic Online Preferred Publishing Partner.
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