What is love anyway?
Couples often are faced with this question about love when they enter relationship therapy. It is like there is a tilt in the axis of their world. They are suddenly unsure if their partner really loves them. They are treating them in a way that feels at odds with their concept of love.
When we first meet of course we don’t engage in the heady world of philosophy. We don’t ponder motivations or contemplate the meaning of actions. We enjoy the feeling of being cared for wholly and completely.
It is tempting, perhaps even probable that we will grow up with an idealised for of love – the Disney version. As children we are shown cartoons and families where there are happy even comical endings. Hollywood films follow the struggle of characters through the trials and fallouts of falling in love. However, usually the credits roll as the happy couple walk happily off hand in hand into the sunset.
Rarely do we see the process beyond this as the deeper attachment forms and the ways that the couples come to the processes that will drive their relationship in the longer term. Uncovering the shared and individual values and struggling with the conflict that sits along with both. For relationships and conflict go together. If you learn to cope and deal with the conflict you can truly start to enjoy the relationship.
Albert Einstein once said “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”.
He of course was talking about the world of maths and physics, but there is perhaps a universal truth here. If we are not sure what we see as love, what we need, what we can give, then perhaps solving the higher problems in relationships will always be a struggle for us. The way we see ourselves and the limits we set for ourselves also set the limits in our relationships. It is important then that we both need to be loving and caring of ourselves within the relationship.
Love and relationships
Ultimately we looked at love to see if we could say what it was. One definition of love might be: the respecting and valuing another person with such intensity that it is more than a feeling, it is a desire to see what they, what you can become. It is more that what we can become it is what we can both grow into.
Yet the reality is that each of us will have our own definitions of love, which we carry forward with us into our relationships. This is not the love of Disney films. It is a love that is worked at and has a cost. The reality is that conflict is a part of the love experience. Being comfortable with discussing what you need from your partner is important for the love to grow between you.