What Love Is and What Love Isn’t People often equate love with many things, but in a marriage what defines love is clarity. Here are 10 points to take into consideration about the love you give and receive. BY SHERRIE CAMPBELL, PH.D.
It will be difficult to accept the love of others when you can't love yourself.
“ Sometimes saying 'I love you' is a way to avoid the emptiness which exists in the marriage. It can act as a band aid instead of a real life giving force.”
Marriage is our greatest teacher of what love is and what love is not. When we learn what love is not it gives us a better idea of what to look for in an effort to find what love is. For something so simple, love—or the idea of love—can often bring us more confusion than clarity. Simply, love should feel good and sometimes love feels bad.
What Love Is
1. Love is open. Love should not be used to dictate to another person what the rules on their behavior should be. Love does not ask people to shrink to make others more comfortable. Love expands, it does not demand.
2. You can feel love in your gut. Your gut will tell you when you are in a relationship where you are not being loved, respected or treated kindly. If you are being treated poorly by any love in your life you do not have to stay in that relationship anymore. Love should make you feel secure not diminished.
3. Love is fair. Love is not about trading. Love does not make bargains or set limits. Love wants for the ever expansion of each individual in the relationship. No one who truly loves you would want to control your actions, what you can and cannot have what you should or should not do to make another person feel secure.
4. Love yourself. The first love relationship you should have is with yourself. If you love yourself you will attract another healthy person to your life to love you back. So, love yourself first, trust yourself first and all positive relationships in your life will be born out of that.
5. Love gives permission. Being in love should not mean you give up your hobbies, your friends, your passions or individual tastes in life. Love should not be about giving things up, it should be about developing yourself and your life even more. Love should encourage each person to be more and more of who they already are.
What Love Is Not
6. Saying "I love you." This should not be used as an avoidance phrase. Love should be expressed when it is deeply felt. Sometimes saying “I love you” is a way to avoid the emptiness which exists in the marriage. It can act as a band aid instead of a real life giving force.
7. Love doesn’t need proving. Love is not something to have to substantiate to someone over and over again. You can literally lose yourself trying to prove yourself. You cannot fill up someone’s insecure places no matter how hard you may try. If they don’t love themselves you cannot make them feel your love.
8. Love isn’t a good reason to ignore other deficiencies. If you are consistently not fulfilled and satisfied in your marriage then you need to consider why. Maybe you need to love yourself more or communicate your love better. If you have major underlying problems, love alone won't wash those away.
9. Love is not a reason to be miserable for the rest of your life. We often stay in an unhealthy marriage out of fear, obligation and/or guilt. Living this way, allows fear to dictate your decisions rather than love. Address the real issue—and seek professional help if necessary.
10. Love is not a reason to accept substandard treatment. You do not deserve to be treated poorly. Take a moment to think about that. Love does not treat people poorly. Never stay somewhere abusive in the name of love.
If love has become confusing and overly painful this may be the first sign you are experiencing what love is not. Love is gentle. Love is open. Love is something to love and not to fear. The more secure you are in your life the higher quality love you will find outside yourself.
Little Life Message: True love starts within you.
Dr. Sherrie Campbell is an author and a licensed psychologist with more than 19 years of clinical training and experience. She provides practical tools to help people overcome obstacles to self-love and truly achieve an empowered life. She is a featured regularly on national online media and has a successful practice in Southern California. Get her free article on "Five Ways to Make Love the Common Ground in Your Communication." Receive free insights from Sherrie through her Facebook community. For more information visit www.sherriecampbellphd.com.