“Love is not determined by the one being loved but rather the one choosing to love.”
In the midst of every day stresses, I sometimes forget that love is not reciprocal to an action or being. Love is something I freely give to my husband. I don’t love him because he puts the dishes away or takes out the trash when I ask him to. Whether he does these things or not does not change my feelings for him.
Yet in times of high emotion, the simple act of forgetting to do something or say something can hurt. I spoke yesterday about how my perspectives changed when I became a mom. Things that meant more to me before have lower value compared to the bigger picture. I need to do that with my husband too.
It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday especially in times of great stress. The simple act of sitting on the couch and checking the mail while the other person runs around packing and dressing and getting things ready for a trip can make the other person feel as if he/she isn’t pulling their weight. During these times I need to stop and ask myself, is this really a big thing? A month from now, is this going to matter?
When I was 9 years old, an Aunt asked me why I loved my mother. In retrospect, I think that is a loaded question but as a nine year old you don’t think these things. I told her I loved my mom because she was my mom but she prodded for another reason. I thought about it and said, “I love my mom because she gives me things. If I need anything, she tries to help me.” My Aunt told my mother my response and I was scolded. I was told that I shouldn’t love my mother because she ‘gives me things’ and that I made her look bad in front of the family. I didn’t know how to react. I recall I was hurt and the incident left a little scar. I was too young to understand why how I loved my mom was wrong and later on as a teenager I was bitter that my mother didn’t know better that a 9 year old’s definition of ‘gives me things’ isn’t just about physical objects. I remember trying to figure out how I was supposed to love my mom but was too young to understand. I suppose I was probably part of some sibling rivalry.
So today’s exercise asks, has my love been based on my spouse’s attributes & behavior? No, it hasn’t been and it still isn’t. I just need to remember that. Love isn’t about who does the laundry or who writes a love letter anymore. It’s about freely giving yourself to the other person just because. No one should ask, why do you love. You love because you love.
The exercise included doing something to display my love is given freely and without reciprocation. I must admit this is hard as I feel like this is something I do naturally every day. Last night, I made some soup especially for my husband. I guess that counts. He said he didn’t want it but I could tell he could use the tummy warming effects of a homemade soup. He’s been feeling under the weather lately so at 11pm, when he arrived home, I had a fresh bowl of soup for him and I let him sleep the night through when BG woke up at 3am.
How do I feel about it? The same I suppose. I mean, even if the exercise didn’t call for this, I would have done it. Sure, I’m tired today. Cooking soup all night and caring for our baby in the wee morning left me a bit harried and tired today but I would do it all over again if I had to. I’m not asking for an award or medal. I do it just because I love him.
Some of these exercises I believe are meant to bring us back and reevaluate our perspective in a long term relationship. They seem a bit simplistic but I think they help us remember what is truly important.