Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Love Is More Than a Dare

Love is a funny thing…it’s probably the strongest feeling we can experience, yet no two people experience it in the same way.

It can keep us up all night because of a fiery-hot, erotic/ludic/manic attraction to someone, or it can keep us up all night because of a child who is fiery-hot with fever.

Everyone carries an internal map of “love,” a “list” of those components that make up their one-of-a-kind definition of love. If all goes according to plan, our love partner knows each aspect of our love map (and how it was written), and pays careful attention to our unique characterization of love.

If at any point in time any part of our love map is violated (intentionally or not), the love relationship is threatened. This is why it’s so crucial to know one another’s love map—it’s impossible to meet a partner’s love needs if we don’t know what “love” is to that person!

It is from the earliest of all relationships—our parent-infant relationship and the attachment that takes place—that our ability and capacity to love (and allow others to love us) is shaped and molded.

And remember: Since love is a process that undergoes change over time, your definition of love is constantly under construction!  To experience consummate love, lovers need to every so often remind one another of their love maps (not during an argument. That would definitely fall into the timing-is-everything category!).

Let’s look back to the story of the young woman in the hospital, because this real-life story really has everything that an enduring, long-lasting, love relationship is all about.

As the author pulls us near the postoperative bedside of the young woman, it’s easy to envision the couple’s situation. We picture her forever-deformed facial features and wonder what we might do in that situation—would our love really be strong enough to withstand this tragedy?

Did you notice something that’s necessary for consummate love? Did you see the couple’s passion for one another? You see, passion doesn’t always necessarily refer to hot sex…but it does refer to that drive, that physical attraction between lovers.

Despite her now “clownish” appearance and twisted mouth, the husband went out of his way (this could be an entire lesson on love in itself) to assure her that their kiss would always still work…that the passion would always remain.

The intimacy in their relationship is seen in the couple’s closeness, the connection they share as they dwell in each other’s presence. There’s no doubt about it—the type of intimacy that survives any type of unexpected life event is the kind that develops slowly over time. It’s the bedrock of a long-lasting relationship.

Remember when I said that commitment is a decision that we make to intentionally love another person? And it’s a decision to maintain that love? Well, that’s not necessarily accurate. It’s more accurate to say that consummate love is a commitment to the commitment. Regardless of life’s circumstances. Regardless of [fill in the blank].

The couple’s commitment is seen as the husband bends down to kiss his wife. Though it may not seem that significant, that tiny little kiss assured his wife he would be there—ever after.

True passion. True intimacy. True commitment. That’s the stuff that lasting marriages are made of.

That’s real love. That's agape love. 

That's love that’s more than a dare.  

Take my love dare: I dare you (challenge you) to identify your love map. I dare you to identify your partner's love map. I dare you to love one another in such a way that no one or nothing can tear it apart. I dare you to stand up to today's divorce rates and do something about it. I dare you to love in such a way that your children won't settle for anything less in their own marriages. If your marriage is in trouble, I dare you to dig your heels in and fight for it! 

Are you in?

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