We believe in love, we just don’t practice it.
Maybe because we think love has no limits, no boundaries, that all is fair. Love conquers all and love never ends. Besides time, love is the greatest healer. And along with diamonds, love is forever.
If that’s true, what about the chart-topping occurrence of divorce? It’s said that love never fails, but it does. As for remarriage, those vows would have to be toned down to reflect this second-hand (or third or more) love. But they’re not.
Love is conditional. We love for different reasons, with the reasons shifting and shaping over time together and time separately. In the beginning, each of us has a different definition, based mostly on expectations. Usually kicking and screaming, the realization hits that being “in love” suggests a togetherness, a “we-ness”; it’s that definition that relationship is about. It’s a definition that must be known, spoken aloud, and agreed to by both parties and must be flexible enough to join us wherever we are in life. Most of the couples I see in my office are still clinging to a separate love definition.
In a purely selfish way, my attention comes to focus on invisible disability. And how that sometimes becomes a deal breaker when it comes to the limits of love. Besides losing partner-love (or maybe because of it), self-love takes a big hit when the cause of break-up may be disability or chronic illness. Don’t kid yourself (but you will) into believing that your definition of love is your partner’s definition. Remember that the definition of love morphs over time; love is defined by each partner because of all the elements that go into who we are at that moment.
I always disclose to my clients the fact of my MS; one time a client told me he couldn’t work with me because I was “broken”. Taken aback, I recovered enough to ask him to reconsider, to think about it until our next session. I’d never had a client be so direct and I’ll admit I was hurt to be judged for my disease. We did work together very successfully and, at his final session, he told me that he had come to realize that because of his severe anxiety, he was “broken”, too. I’ve never forgotten how moved I was that my invisible disability led to his introspection and greater understanding of himself. Best of all, he not only didn’t judge me, but he didn’t judge himself.
It’s crucial at the most basic, core level to actively and with intent search out love’s meaning. Taking for granted that your definitions are the same leads only to stalemate; bullying for agreement leads to worse. This love is about the “us-ness” each of you gives over; anticipating that it will not always be as you first described love in those first dewy moments, faces the reality of who we become together. Or if we do at all.