Love.

Who doesn’t love being in love?

It’s what we long for. It’s what we live for. Be it the amorous love with a life-partner, the loving support between two best friends, or the high we get from hearing a Beethoven concerto.

Love is what we seek, consciously and subconsciously.

I, for one, am a sucker for romance. It’s the underlying theme of all my favorite songs and movies. Westside Story, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient… yeah, I’m one of those sappy romantics.

But what happens when all the ushy-gushy feelings of passion and excitement fizzle into a more grounded, every day routine? For some, it’s not so fun anymore but like I said in Let the Good Times Roll, this stage in a relationship is where solid unions find their footing. Where we’re put to the test and our true character surfaces.

Love is a verb.

Yeah, I know it’s also a noun but in it’s strongest sense, love is a verb.

You wanna feel love, give some love.

You wanna bring back that loving feelin’? Try lovin’.

I love what Stephen R. Covey says in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People when a client came to him for marital advice. The man claimed the love had died between him and his wife. Here’s part of the conversation:

Covey: The feeling just isn’t there anymore?

Client: That’s right. And we have three children we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?

Covey: Love her.

Client: I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.

Covey: Love her.

Client: You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.

Covey: Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.

Client: But how do you love when you don’t love?

Covey: My friend, love is a verb. Love- the feeling- is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?

Covey then goes on to say that viewing love as a noun is being reactive whereas treating love as a verb is being proactive.

If our feelings control our actions, it is because we have abdicated our responsibility and empowered them to do so… Love is a value that is actualized through loving actions.

In other words, we are at the mercy of our feelings if we allow our them to rule our life. We hand the keys to our kingdom over to feelings once we deem them our master. And since feelings are fickle little suckers, it’s not such a good idea to put them in control. This principle affects not just our romantic relationships but every other aspect of our lives like work, money, and friendship.

But how often do we rely on feelings to guide us?

As a society we’ve been given this false perception of what love should be. We are taught that if the feelings fade, something’s wrong. Or we’ve been fed this idea that love comes with pain. Tragic love stories abound in cultures worldwide.

Anthony and Cleopatra

Romeo and Juliet

Kris and Kim

Drama is fun and exciting on-screen but in real life, it’s shaky ground on which to base a marriage or long-term relationship.

Even science points to the reality of feelings.

The feeling of “falling in love” is the result of a chemical reaction in our brains involving dopamine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine, among others. It’s been scientifically proven that these feelings of lust and passion fade quickly and are almost gone after 3 years.

[Clearly the chemicals fizzled out much quicker for Kim Kardashian. She’s on TV-time after all.]

But if you’ve been connecting with your partner over the years in meaningful ways and not part of a goofy reality show, the chemical oxytocin will be there to save the day.

Oxytocin is the chemical that’s released in the brain during sex which promotes a feeling of bonding between the two people. Hugging, kissing, and deep conversation stimulate oxytocin as well. It’s also the chemical that’s released when a mother nurses her child. This is the chemical glue in relationships. And so long as we take action with our love, oxytocin will be there to bind us to our mate.

Analyzing love like this can take the mystery out of it, I know, but I feel it’s important to know this stuff. Knowledge is power and if we know that eventually those lustful feelings will fade and it’s normal, we won’t be so blindsided. It’s better to be equipped with the proper knowledge to ensure our couple longevity.

Wanna read more? Here’s some juicy reads:

National Geographic article, True Love

Dr. Helen Fisher’s website, a leading expert on love

Why Do Those In-Love Feelings Fade After Time?

Time Magazine article, Biology: The Chemistry of Desire

Next time we’ll talk more about keeping the love alive. But for now, let’s play love doctor! What are your thoughts on all this science stuff? For all you married folk out there, how do you keep the love alive? Any tips you can lend? Inquiring minds would like to know πŸ˜‰

Photos courtesy of integrityhr.com, en.wikipedia.org, amolife.com, masters-of-photography.com

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