Just as there are many ways to have a healthy, fulfilling marriage, so there are many ways to love. In order to widen our perspective on romantic love, it’s helpful to break down the phrase “I love you” so that we start to see its variance. And when you break it down, you see that there are so many ways to love your partner.
There’s the appreciation you feel when he does something thoughtful and kind, like brush the snow off your car in 20 degree weather or buy your favorite kind of bread.
There’s the comfort you feel when you come home at the end of a hard day at work and she’s there, waiting for you with a plate of hot food and your favorite TV show cued up.
There’s the gratitude you feel when she attends the twelfth family gathering of the year.
There’s the warmth you feel when you see him across the room and know that he’s your guy.
There are the tingles you feel when she kisses you, maybe not every time, but enough to know that a spark still burns between you.
There’s the trust you feel when you walk through a difficult conflict together and emerge stronger than ever on the other side.
There’s the awe you feel when you remember to remember how rare it is to find someone who “gets” you and who you “get.”
There’s the softness you feel when you focus on one physical quality in your partner that melts your heart and brings a smile to your face.
There’s the joy you feel when you listen to your favorite song together or have a blast on the dance floor.
There’s the contentment you feel when you read together but separately before going to bed.
There’s the feeling of stability that grows when you nurture the garden of your marriage year after year, enduring challenges and celebrating joys, and always knowing that you support your own and each other’s growth and happiness.
We live on an abundant planet. There isn’t just one fruit to be enjoyed in summer, not merely a single sweet plum to delight in as the first juice runs over your fingers; but cherries, blackberries, strawberries, melons, grapes, nectarines, peaches. Such miracles!
Likewise, there are so many ways to love. When we attune our awareness and widen our consciousness to include these variations on our narrow cultural definition, we know that romantic love is multi-colored and multi-dimensional. It’s infinitely richer than the images presented on the big screen, infinitely more nuanced and alive than the one-dimensional feeling of butterflies that sometimes initiates a relationship. It’s appreciation, comfort, gratitude, warmth, tingles, trust, awe, softness, joy, contentment, and stability (to name just a few words for love). It’s real and honest, and when we commit to loving one person with whom we can learn about, it becomes one of the most fulfilling and meaningful paths we can embark upon.
Sheryl Paul, M.A., has counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, her Home Study Programs and her websites. She has appeared several times on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, as well as on “Good Morning America” and other top media shows and publications around the globe. To sign up for her free 78-page eBook, “Conscious Transitions: The 7 Most Common (and Traumatic) Life Changes“, visit her website at http://conscious-transitions.com. And if you’re suffering from relationship anxiety – whether dating, engaged, or married – give yourself the gift of the Conscious Weddings E-Course: From Anxiety to Serenity.