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Healthy Marriage Part 1 Getting The Love You Want

What is love? How can you have love in a marriage or get the love you want if you don't know what love is or what love means to you? I looked up in the Webster’s dictionary the definition of love and believe it or not they were 16 different kinds of definitions. They ranged all over the place. One was having strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties. Another one was having attraction based on sexual desire. Next was affection based on admiration benevolence or common interests. And I thought oh that one’s a little bit interesting. I'm not exactly sure if I think of that as love but maybe that's just my definition. When I think about benevolence religion comes to mind. People say they have a love for God or they have a love for whoever it is that they are spiritually connected to. So I could see that is benevolence. And then another one I saw said that love is a warm attachment. I don't even know what that means. What is a warm attachment? Defining love is really difficult because to define it you use a lot of other words that are not very concreate. It's not like when you're saying “oh this is a pencil and a pencil is in this case made of wood and it has led that runs through the center and you sharpen the end and you use it as a writing utensil and sometimes it has an eraser on the back.” That’s not how you can define love.

What Does Love Mean To You?

It’s almost like love is undefinable. However we all know what it is and we all desire it so it's something very desirable but there's no real definition for it. Because people define it differently love means different things to every single person. What is your definition of love? Sometimes people say that love is just a feeling you just know it. You know when you are in love or you know when you’re feeling love because it's this feeling. Then when you ask a little for a little more detail about what's this feeling they might say well it's kind of like a warm feeling in your body or it feels kind of like a tightening up in your chest. Sometimes people say that it's such an overwhelming feeling that it brings tears to your eyes. But again it's not super specific. Sometimes I hear people say love is made up of all of these different aspects. Love could be trust. It is supporting each other. Some say love is being able to communicate; you understand what the other person's perspective is or their experiences and they understand yours and that makes a loving connection. Definitions of love vary so not even the dictionary knows exactly how to define love. How then do you differentiate love from friendship? When we're thinking about the feelings I just described: its trust, support, communicating and connecting that kind of sounds like my best friend. Again how you differentiate between love and friendship or are they the same or they are different levels of the same thing? So in order to get love you need to figure out what loves means to you

Figuring Out Your Definition of Love

How do you figure out what your definition of love is? How do you get to understand what the definition of love is for your partner or your significant other? Because apparently there is no singular definition for love. We've talked about the Webster’s dictionary definition of love and we've talked about how love is very difficult to define and that it really is kind of depending on the individual. Each individual can have their own understanding or definition of what love is so when we think about love for our self what do we think about if we replaced the word love with makes me happy? What makes me happy? Sleeping makes me happy, eating coconut cake makes me happy but that's not really the kind of “makes me happy” that I'm asking you to think about. The kind of makes me happy is when I'm engaged with another person. When I'm in a situation where I'm in a relationship what makes me happy, what makes me feel good? When one thinks about it in those terms one might say it makes me happy when I feel someone's going to take care of me. This is also kind of a really broad statement so then we think what does that mean? Maybe that means being treated with kindness, maybe that means being respected, maybe that means being consistent, maybe that means like receiving small gifts?

Maybe it means when people find me important? So think about again what makes you happy and a lot of times in relationship to another person and a lot of times if we pile all of that up then we end up with love. When we are thinking about what makes us happy sometimes thinking about something really simple and small can be the best and the easiest. For me sleeping really makes me happy. I like sleeping a lot so if I can get an extra hour sleep and my family is not dragging me out of bed. My spouse isn’t calling me lazy or making passive aggressive comments to me because I’m sleeping an extra hour I actually feel loved. I feel like I'm loving myself and I feel like wow they're actually understanding that this is important to me and that feels good; makes me happy. I think that might be love or feeling loved by them because they understand me. So It seems like then when you want to get love out of your relationship you have to understand what love means to you and you also need to understand what love means to your significant other your partner. When you are trying to get love and you're not paying attention to the needs of your partner then it ends up looking really kind of selfish and nobody feels love when the word selfish is being thrown around. When you are thinking about getting more love in your marriage or more love in your life you have to think about the definition, about what it really means to you. How does it make me feel? Does it make you happy and pile all those things up next we have to communicate those needs that’s what these are these are needs

How to Understand Your Partners Definition of Love

How do you get to understand your partner's definition of love? A lot of times people think it's like a test or you have to guess. Why not just ask them in an appropriate way. You don't necessarily want to walk up to your partner and say “what is love to you?” That would be confusing. But if you're having conversation bring it up “I was I was thinking about what love means so what is love? How do you know when you're loved? How do you feel love? We want to ask these kinds of questions so that we understand what their definition is. My definition is significantly different than my partner's definition so ask and then you'll know it's not a test. This is one of those things where you definitely want to get all the answers up front just get all the answers so you don't have to make a mistake or go through trial and error. Also take responsibility and make sure your partner really understands what your definition of love is because if they don't understand what your definition of love is there's no way you're going to get your needs met. For example my definition of love is acts of service which means I like it when people do things for me when they help me out, when I can rely on somebody so that I don't have to do everything by myself. That’s referred to acts of service. My partner’s definition of love is more words of affirmation. He likes words of affirmation and physical touch. He likes to hear that I appreciate the things he is doing. He likes to hear that he's a good dad. He likes to hear that things are going well. He also really appreciates getting hugs all the time. That’s also a way that lets him “know.” When he hears the words of affirmation, when he hears or he feels the touch from a hug that gives him a feeling of being loved just like when someone I don't know does the dishes and I don't have to ask. I’m thinking “wow” I feel love when you're taking care of me. That's awesome! If someone were to be giving me hugs all the time I would probably think this person is kind of needy. What's going on here because it's not my love language. If you are “understanding” your definition of love and trying to understand your partner’s definition of love you will find more love in your relationship. Now this doesn't just happen automatically. It actually takes work.

Give Love to Get Love

If you understand each other's needs and understand each other's definitions of love then the hard part comes in. Then what do you do with it? Well part of it is being mindful. Just be mindful and pay attention if you’re in a situation where you can give your partner a hug because that’s how they feel loved, take advantage of that every now and again. The more your partner feels love the more love they're going to give back to you. Also it is not crazy to ask for love. Let's say part of acts of service is that I feel loved when my partner decides without me being involved to schedule a date night and I do nothing but show up. Well if he does that for me then I'm a lot more inclined to give him hugs maybe even have sex; it’s all related. The more kindness and the more attention you pay to your partner’s definition of love and the more they understand your definition of love then you’re going to get more love in your marriage or any relationship for that matter. But it's really something that you have to work on in a marriage because over the years we forget that at first you were running on a high where that love seems to be much more physical. You just have that feeling and it's like exciting and things are changing and moving quickly and you get to do a lot of things because maybe you don't have kids yet.

Catch Your Partner Doing Things Right

Then over the years especially 5, 10, 15 20 years down the road it's not as easy. The “going through life” might be easier but it's not as easy to find that love, to feel connected. So be mindful and really try to take advantage of those small moments when you can get love for yourself and when you can give love to your partner. I like to think of it as catching each other doing things right and take advantage to get more love. I talk about this with parenting too. Catch each other doing things right. It really shifts things and you will find more love. Be sincere, keep an eye open for opportunities to give your partner what they need so you can get what you need and everything will come full circle and you're both going to feel better in the relationship and you're both going to get the love that you want.

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