More than being in love, be love. Then you will never stop loving!
Someone wrote to me wondering, “Why do people, who fall in love and get married, fall out with each other?” Good question. This happens all the time. Many factors contribute to a marriage or a relationship breaking up. But principal among them is the fact that the couple have lost the ability to love; not just each other – but to be loving themselves.
Let’s understand love and loving in the context of relationships.
When two people come together professing love for each other, all they are saying at first is that they love the way each other is, they love the experience and they love the circumstances that have brought them together. They soon start exploring each other – physically that is. People often talk of a great chemistry between young couples – that’s nothing but an expression of their sexual energy. Then they start experiencing the non-physical side of each other. It is this constant exploration that keeps them engaged in each other and together.
Then what goes wrong over time? First, when their exploration goes beyond the physical, they realize that they don’t like certain things about each other. “He smokes way too much and I hate his breath.” “She talks a lot and shops like a maniac.” Next, the way they experience each other has become predictable, boring. The thrill of meeting her at a coffee place or texting sweet nothings is no longer there. She knows he’s busy chasing deadlines and he knows she’s tearing her hair between her work and looking after the baby. Both know that they will be exhausted when they meet – even having sex then becomes a mechanical exercise, merely to meet a biological need. So, what’s there to experience anew? And finally the circumstances that brought them together have changed – people meeting and dating each other when single is a dramatically and diametrically different context when compared to them living together. Whether in or out of a wedlock, living together is a lot of work – the dishes have to be done, the meals have to be cooked, the beds have to be made, the floor has to be mopped, bills have to be paid. So, when circumstances change, the way people look at – and experience – each other changes.
There lies the crux of the problem. Love, the way it is understood and practised in relationships today, is flawed. Whereas love is really about being compassionate for another person, no matter what the circumstance is, love today, sadly, has become an expression of selfishness and ego. Over time and through living together, when you find qualities in your partner that you can no longer tolerate or accept, you are basically telling yourself that you love yourself more. Which is why you find your companion’s tobacco habit or tendency to flirt or workaholic nature unacceptable. Which is why even sex has become boring. Which is why you cannot accept your partner in the new, changed circumstances. Consider the conversations that couples have after a few years of living together: “You no longer care for me.” “Do you know how much I do for you?” “You just don’t have the time for me or for the children.” “You are drinking way too much and I don’t like it.” “Is there someone else in your Life that’s taken you away from me?” All the reasoning is focused on how you are being treated by your companion. It’s your view. It is self-centered and does not immediately invite a mutual perspective. I believe the key lies in dropping your ego, your desires and your selfishness. Stop looking at what you like or what you want. A better way would be to simply observe your Life with your companion. And ask yourself what you both can do together – about whatever needs addressing. Magically, you will find the romance blooming again – irrespective of age, physical condition and circumstance.
I have learnt that it is more important to be love, and to be loving, than being “in” love. When you are “in” love, you can be “out” of it too. But when you are love – you are loving. Period. I learnt this from my wife. We too came together, 27 years ago, through a confluence of liking each other, enjoying the experience of being with each other and the carefreeness that our circumstances then allowed us. But soon things changed. I developed a ruinous habit of chewing tobacco, I became obsessed with my work and decisions I took with our business caused it to blow up and landed our family in abject penury. But my wife’s love for me has remained unchanged. When I understood why she continued to be loving – despite my excesses and the circumstances that we found ourselves in – I gained great insight. She is selfless and sees the entire journey as something that always involved the two of us. She never saw my destructive habit or my Work-Life imbalance or my poor and costly decisions as her problem. She saw it as ours. This is what I mean when I say you have to go beyond yourself – and drop your ego – if you want to be love and be loving! When you are loving, and not just in love, you are relating to the other person. You are not simply imposing conditions or demanding they be met. Instead your relating helps you make the exploration – that began when you first came together – an ongoing process, now in a new set of circumstances. And it keeps the experience of being with each other, for each other, engaging. Remember: Living and loving always happen only in the present continuous!
Of course, when you have tried hard, selflessly, to make your relationship work, and you have discovered that it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, the best thing to do is to let go! Do it very calmly. Just let go. An important aspect of being loving and selfless is to give the other person, no matter how you have been treated, all the freedom and compassion. A divorce or separation turns messy because you ask, “What’s in it for me?”. Instead ask, “What can I give him or her that can make his or her Life better?” Being loving means giving the situation, the context, the relationship and the person all that you possibly can – physically, materially, financially and spiritually.
So, don’t ask where’s all the love gone? Just be loving. In your loving, and being love, you can make Life beautiful – for you, for your companion and for your precious family!