Tonight, I had two mallards (male and female) that appeared on my front lawn while I was grooming the flower beds. The male was very aware of his position in this animal kingdom. He was dutifully watching over his lover as she nested on the grass. They moved their seats when I got up to cart the weed barrel, down to the road, for the garbage men tomorrow. The male moved carefully behind the female, keeping an eye on her that no one would disturb her. As she foraged under my fir trees, he continued to gaze on her and make sure she was taken care of. What a beautiful sight to behold.
Healthy, authentic love is exactly this. Two people taking care of each other, watching over one another, doting on each other. More is written online about unhealthy, abusive, narcissistic love – it would seem, than healthy, loving relationships and with this, it causes negativity to shine over couples. As a result, they are always picking on one another based on what they read. How can we expect couples to succeed if they don’t know what good honest love looks like?
Love is not about sex and yet it is a necessary spice to reward one another with and keep things exciting. Love is not about romantic date nights and yet this is another herb to add into the mix. Love is not about gifts, cars, houses, money, or trips to the Riviera. The latter is nice if you have the money, but it doesn’t create love. Love is not shared interests and yet this is a nice thing to have in common. It is respect for one another’s interests and even joining in on their interests, just to show you care.
Love is about meaning. This means two people share certain words with each other or memories or moments – rituals of connection. Love is about turning toward the other when they are speaking and listening, and then respecting what they have to say. Love is about fondness and admiration for the other person. Love is that excited feeling that you get when the phone rings and you know it is them. Love is when that ding sounds when up pops an email, when they are on your iPad VIP list, that puts a smile on your face.
Love is a person you can be vulnerable with and can make mistakes with and know that they have your back. You can be the biggest fool in the world, but they stand by you nonetheless. Love is when you have conflict with your partner because you feel safe arguing with them and voicing your concerns. Then later in the day you return to them to revisit the conflict, repair the damage, and then rebuild the relationship. Love is making up after the conflict to remind each other how much you love each other. It is that moment after that empathic discussion, with appropriate apologies, when both of you are turned on by the level of respect each shares for the other.
Love is communicating with each other at the end of the day and sharing what your time was like when they were away. It is that ability to listen to one another and commiserate with the other without siding with their enemies.
Love is prioritizing your partner such that no other male or female takes precedence over them. Love is trusting that you have this respect from your partner so that you have no reason to feel jealous of any other. Love is keeping your eyes on them and not another. Love is sharing your concerns with your partner and not someone else.
Love is kind and compassionate for the other person, when they are sick or worried, tired or in crisis and not complaining about having to do so. It is holding them up when they are down.
Love is washing up after they cook dinner. It is asking if they need anything from the store. It is taking their clothes to the dry cleaner or adding their things in with the wash.
Love is getting to know your partner so that you are prepared for the change of expression on their face.
Love is sharing values and having the same or compatible goals in life.
Love is two healthy adults who have differentiated from their parents and are able to be self-sufficient on their own; without turning to mom and dad anymore.
How do we have true, honest, healthy, authentic love? We take our time to nurture this by talking and listening with love. We create a sacred bond with one another by establishing boundaries that both agree to within the context of their relationship. We honor each other’s values even if it is slightly different than our own. Not paying lip service but practicing and showing our partner that we heard what they said; with our actions.
Healthy love is based on mutual trust, love, respect, faithfulness, admiration, passion and communication.
If you read this and feel confident that this is what you and your partner share, then you have a lot to be grateful for. If not, some work needs to be done to re-establish what is missing between the two of you. Now comes the tricky part. Does your partner feel confident as well when they read all of this? If not, listen to what they have to say and ask them what they need from you so that you do have healthy, authentic love.