We live under a massive cultural delusion about the nature of real love. Propagated by mainstream media, from the time you're born you're inundated with the belief that love is a feeling and that when you find "the one" you'll sense it in your gut and be overcome by an undeniable sense of knowing. When the feeling and corresponding knowing fade (for the knowing is intimately linked to the feeling) and the work of learning about real love begins, most people take the diminished feeling as a sign that they're in the wrong relationship and walk away. And then they start over again, only to find that the now-familiar knowing and feeling fade again... and again... and again.
If love isn't a feeling, what is it?
Love is action. Love is tolerance. Love is learning your partner's love language and then expressing love in a way that he can receive. Love is giving. Love is receiving. Love is plodding through the slow eddies of a relationship without jumping ship into another's churning rapids. Love is recognizing that it's not your partner's job to make you feel alive, fulfilled, or complete; that's your job. And it's only when you learn to become the source of your own aliveness and are living your life connected to the spark of genius that is everyone's birthright can you fully love another.
Love is as love does. Love is an act of will -- namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.
By stating that it is when a couple falls out of love that they may begin to really love I am also implying that real love does not have its roots in a feeling of love. To the contrary, real love often occurs in a context in which the feeling of love is lacking, when we act lovingly despite the fact that we don't feel loving.
And as my favorite fiction writer on real love, Kate Kerrigan (author of a must-read for every engaged and newlywed couple, "Recipes for a Perfect Marriage"), writes in her fabulous essay, Marriage Myths: