Tag Archives: Love

Is love a feeling or a choice?

Every living person craves it. Of course, some will deny it. Some still don’t understand it. Some even have a warped and twisted view of it, while others will live in pursuit of an elusive concept of it.

Consider it a warm and fuzzy feeling or a day-by-day choice, it remains the one thing in life that every living person wants in some form or another.  Love.

Whether it be love for another human being, for a partner, a parent, a child, a friend – we are all capable of love, although our translation of it may differ.  For me, romantic love has always been about ‘feelings’.  You know what I’m talking about:  that all-consuming feeling when you first meet a prospective partner, the way their touch can set your skin on fire, how a simple look can speak of a myriad of future promises … all those happy, excited and euphoric ‘feelings’ of being in love and of being loved.  For a person like me, a person who wears their heart on their sleeve, falling in love is actually quite easy.  But staying in love when the initial blaze has waned is a far harder task.

love-300x287Staying in love requires a directional movement from the conditional love square on the game board to the unconditional one.  Unconditional love is considered true love, and true love has staying power.  It means learning to love another person without expecting anything in return.  It also means putting the needs of that person above that of your own. For example, when you say your marriage vows, you pledge to commit to and love your partner for the rest of your days “until death do you part”. It doesn’t mean loving that person for as long as you still feel loved by them or until that person no longer gives you what you need.  I wonder how many people really know what they’re getting into when they pledge before God to honour, cherish and love their husband/wife for the rest of days?

When the light-hearted, seemingly easy side of love fades, a decision needs to be made.  That decision requires a bit more than just feeling like you love someone, it requires effort, hard work, commitment and an actual choice to love.  It may even require frequent reminders as to why and how to love.

I believe that most of us battle with unselfishly loving another person such as our partner. I know that I do.  I can go a step further and admit that I even battle to love myself; so trying to love another person unconditionally is far more complex that I would like it to be.

Luckily, while love is open to our own personal interpretation of it and is sadly influenced by past experiences and hurts, unconditional love has only one definition and one set of rules:

•   Love is patient and kind.

•   Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

•   Love does not demand its own way.

•   Love is not irritable and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.

•   It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

•   Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

(1 Cor 13:4-7)

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When to follow your heart

From famous quotes and song lyrics, to words of advice and the guiding life stories of others, we are told again and again to listen to our hearts, to follow our hearts, to be directed by our hearts. 

Apparently the heart knows best; and if we follow the heart’s instinct over the mind’s logic, we are set for success. Personally, I’ve chosen to believe my heart over logic. “The heart has eyes which the brain knows nothing of” in the apt words of Charles H. Perkhurst.

But can our hearts lead us astray? The blatant truth is that yes, it can! François de La Rochefoucauld tells us that “the heart is forever making the head its fool”.  Another profound insight is that “the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Our hearts sometimes desire things which we know – if we practise rational thinking – are just not plausible or even possible.  Sometimes, what our hearts crave is just plain wrong!   That’s not to say that dreams and ambitions are wrong, it’s just that each situation we encounter warrants a bit more of a combination approach:  listening to our heart AND that of logical thought.

Follow your heart

I’ve fallen in love with men that I knew were not right for me, pursued relationships in full knowledge that they were doomed to failure, trusted people despite the facts … and in short, have made many bad decisions that could’ve easily been avoided if I didn’t just follow my heart blindly.

The moral of the story is to “follow your heart – but take your brain with you.” (unknown author)

The last romantic – part 1

Since my early childhood, I’ve been in love with the notion of being in love.

I blame two factors for this old-fashioned romantic frame of mind, the first of which can be attributed to the warm and fuzzy fairy tales of damsels in distress and knights in shining armour told to many a young girl.

English: : Prince Charming meets Cinderella in...My generation, and that of my mother’s and my grandmother’s, have grown up reading these soppy stories. “Happily ever after” is a guarantee and all we need to do is wait patiently for the hero to ride up on his powerful steed and sweep us off our feet.

The second factor to blame is of course Hollywood! I echo the sentiments of my fellow blogger, Laughing.Loving.Eating: “Hollywood: you lie!”. All those classic Doris Day, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies of yesteryear have taken their toll. I become all soft and mushy at the mere suggestion of a man courting a woman. My mind conjures up thoughts of elaborate romantic gestures, public declarations of undying love and perfect moments of pure bliss.

No-one prepared me for the harsh reality of love and relationships. It’s the thirteenth fairy tale never told to little girls: Prince Charming sometimes never arrives, and if he does he’s often late for his appointment.

Relationships are hard work and very seldom a bed of roses. This is what I’ve learnt in my thirty-five years:

  1. Love is an ideal concept characterised by feelings only. Real love is a choice – every morning on waking, you make a choice to love your husband/partner.
  2. Compromise and communication are two key pillars in a relationship. Without either of these, a relationship will never reach its full potential.
  3. Complacency and apathy are stealthy relationship assassins. It takes daily effort to keep a relationship fresh, exciting and harmonious.
  4. Sex can be likened to a candle: the flame burns bright and strong at the beginning of a relationship, but eventually dies down to a small, warm glow … which still, by the way, lightens a room.
  5. Every man has a knight in shining armour in him, but is far from a knight in shining armour.
  6. A husband/partner should never be expected to emotionally fulfil a woman completely. A woman needs good friends to share her life with and a support structure in family and friends to keep her strong and balanced.
  7. A relationship is not defined by how great the good times are, but how you get through the bad times.
  8. A husband/partner doesn’t need to know everything! Sometimes, what you think is insignificant or of no consequence, could actually hurt him or create insecurity if he knows.
  9. You don’t need to do everything together. Having your own interests, style, hobbies, friends etc. is healthy.
  10. Most importantly, learning to love your husband/partner in the way he understands – and vice versa – will make the biggest positive impact in any relationship. Dr. Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages” is truly an eye opener.
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