In a recent hit song, Bruno Mars sings his heart out to a woman who did him wrong. The verse lyrics go like this:
“I’d catch a grenade for you
Throw my hand on a blade for you
I’d jump in front of a train for you
You know I’d do anything for you
... but you won’t do the same.”
Taken literally, this guy sounds like he is psychotic at worst or deep in lust at best. The woman sounds pretty bright because she isn’t going to follow his self destructive lead. I enjoy running to the beat of the song, and I think it is a great “break-up” song. The other day while I was running and listening to it, I began wondering what we would be willing to do for the person we love.
How far are we willing to go to save a relationship?
One of the first questions I ask couples is “How important is this relationship to you?” You may think this an odd question because if it wasn’t important, why would they come to see me for help?
The reason I ask is because many people want to have a better relationship, but they aren’t always ready to do the work, make the sacrifices, and let go of their ego in order to create a great relationship. Sometimes people become selfish, and they begin to say “ME” and think “ME” and their partner’s feelings are not taken into account.
When you say you will do anything to save this relationship that means you will do anything except, of course, allow abuse to you or your loved one. Perhaps instead, what it should mean is that you are going to negotiate all matters with your partner to resolve them in a way that presents a win/win for both.
This month we are celebrating LOVE.
Real love is something invaluable to all of our lives. You cannot know how to express your love, until you know what your partner values. What does love look like to your partner? You may shovel the snow to show love, but if your partner needs to be hugged and told they are more precious than anything else in your life, you could shovel 10 feet of snow and they wouldn’t feel loved. If your partner feels loved when they have a home cooked meal and you pride yourself by saying, “ I love you” every day before you leave for work, but then are too busy to take the time to cook, you may be rejecting them without understanding their withdrawal. You expressed love your way, but not theirs.
One of the best ways to know how to love your partner is to watch them love others.
When people love others, they give you many clues into what they value in a relationship. They love automatically so it will be their most honest form. Another way to find out how to make your partner feel loved is to ask them. I have had more success asking men this question than woman. Men are more direct and don’t seem to feel guilty or self-conscious about telling you what they need.
Women are a bit more hesitant and are under constant self scrutiny about how they are being analyzed by the person listening. If you reassure the woman that you want to genuinely know, many times she will open up and tell you.
Below are some ideas that may help you understand what loving your partner looks like.
1. Ask your partner how they know you love them. Ask them what you do that makes them feel loved. Write it down. Never make light of it or laugh. It is serious and in the end, it can help salvage your relationship.
2. When you perform what signifies love for your partner, for example cooking a home made dinner, make sure you say aloud, “I did this because I know it symbolizes love for you.” Your partner will feel loved, and special. They know the work that went into it, and they appreciate your thinking of them. They also know you listened to them, and this makes them feel more loved.
3. Never keep score of who is showing love more often. Love is real; it is serving of another person because you value and love them. It comes from the heart, not the pocket book. With real love, the scale is always unbalanced.
4. Along with asking your partner what love looks like, ask them what you do that damages your love. Write those down and work on avoiding them. If you slip up, catch yourself right away (the tendency is to hide these behaviors so your partner won’t notice) and tell your partner up front, “I am sorry, I messed up. Please forgive me.”
5. A good relationship is all about negotiating. It is about not letting “me” get in the way of “we.”
I don’t recommend taking a grenade for anyone, nor would I personally throw my hand on a blade for anyone. Although this may change if I saw it in reality; sometimes we don’t know what we would do for another. Less dramatic and risky is to ask and watch your partner how you can show them love.
Humans can survive without money, but not love.
Why not share with your partner what being loved looks like to you?
–Mary Jo Rapini
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