“HOW DO I LOVE THEE? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS…”
The title comes from the first line of a love poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She goes on to explain, most beautifully–
“How Do You Love Somebody So They Know They Are Being Loved?”
For you, is love something you feel that motivates you to do things, or something you do that enables you to feel loving?
The Little Prince, speaking to a garden of roses about love, said,
“You’re beautiful, but you’re empty…One couldn’t die for you. Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”
Feelings change, are affected by adversities, and just dissipate over time. In the event that you only behave in loving ways when you feel like it, the long-term projection for your relationship might not be as rosy as you’d like.
What do you do every day to “love” your career, nourish and support it, and think about its well-being, past, present, and future? Do you schedule the time to do what you need for your business or career even if you’d rather relax by yourself? Do you get input from experts? Go to conferences that are inconvenient? Do some things you don’t enjoy because the payoff is worth it?
What do you do to “love” your sweetheart?
Every day, what do you do to nourish and support the things that matter most to them?
“Here is my secret, the fox said, it is quite simple:”
“One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
What Makes Your Love Feel Loved?
There are at least five ways people understand love.
In The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman lists five general ways that people can understand that they are loved:
1. Words of Affirmation; compliments, encouragement, kindnesses, words of forgiveness, said to Sweetheart and about Sweetheart even when he or she isn’t present. Trust me, people in your circle will share what you said!
2. Quality time: togetherness, a quality conversation that includes emotions and self-revelation. Listen to your partner’s way of talking (Stream of consciousness? Factual and to the point?) and do your best to converse on that level. Activities you do together even if you learn to enjoy it only because you want to be with them and they enjoy it.
3. Receiving gifts: give gifts that show that you thought about the other person. Your time and energy is a gift of yourself. Pay attention when they get excited about something and make note of that as a possible gift.
LOVE IS WHAT YOU DO!
4. Acts of service: This doesn’t mean do for them what you would like them to do for you. It means to do for them what they would like you to do! Pay attention to the one you are with, not to stereotypes of people of that age, gender, status, and culture.
5. Physical touch: this does not always need to result in sex. Find out where, when and how your partner feels happy when touched and then do it as they like it.
You probably enjoy each of these love languages but in different degrees. Find the three strongest languages your sweetheart speaks and spend enough time to let them know that their happiness is equal to your profit margin. Just as in business, your focused, attentive actions will be much more effective than random energy.
ACCEPT THE LOVE OF YOUR BELOVED! IT’S THE CARING THING TO DO.
“In those days, I didn’t understand anything. I should have judged her according to her actions, not her words. She perfumed my planet and lit up my life. I should never have run away! I ought to have realized the tenderness underlying her silly pretensions. Flowers are so contradictory! But I was too young to know how to love her.”
―The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Both my late husband and I came from families that were loving, industrious, and low income. In my husband’s family, people carefully chose a thoughtful card for the birthday of someone they loved. The care that went into the long search for the card was the gift. In my family, the whole day belonged to the birthday person, who chose which foods would be eaten for each meal and the special (free) activity for the day. Our mom made a cake designed by the birthday person who often received a few presents, some of which were made by hand. Cards were an unnecessary expense.
The first time the man who was to become my husband gave me a beautiful birthday card, smiling shyly, I opened it, smiled, and waited expectantly. He seemed a little baffled and then asked if I’d expected something else. Insulted, I told him my life insurance agent had sent me a card, too. He was terribly hurt. So was I. I spoke to my mother and by our birthdays the next year, we’d discussed our expectations and merged them.
Sometimes you need some help from outside of the relationship to see what’s really there! I have special programs to help couples keep the spark in their relationships! Contact me at [email protected] or ClarityAndPossibility.com.