I saw one of those inspirational photo things on Facebook this week that purported to say a lot about what loves is. Or rather, it said a lot about what love is not.
Love is not, according to the wisdom of inspirational infographs, ignoring someone. Neither is it raising your voice or lying or cheating or neglecting or forgetting to put the toilet seat down.
OK, fine. That toilet seat one might have been a stretch.
But this is not a stretch:
I have done some horrific things to people I love fiercely.
So, too, have I been deeply hurt by people who I know beyond a shadow of a doubt love me.
The way I am treated is not a measure of how lovable I am or how much I am loved. It is entirely possible to love someone and not have the tools to show that love effectively.
I bring this up because my husband and I wasted years of our marriage debating whether or not we loved each other. It kills me to see other people run in this same fruitless circle, fueled by these same misguided lies.
“If you loved me you would listen.”
“If you loved me you would remember the things that are important to me.”
“If you loved me you would be happy.”
The reality is that our love for each other was never in question, but it was how we loved and — more accurately — how we lived and communicated with each other that needed to change. It wasn’t feelings or emotions or even intentions that were lacking, but the tools to choose better behaviors. This argument over love only served to distract us from the real steps we could take towards being happier together.
In truth, I’ve found that declarations of love are rather easy to come by.
We are, all of us, loved.
It’s just that John Lennon had it wrong. We do need more than love.
It’s listening that takes work and can make or break a connection. It’s the ability to take responsibility for ourselves and relinquish the illusion of control over others that makes a relationship thrive.
Stop asking if you are loved and start asking to be heard. Refuse to debate the presence of love and demand a discussion about actions and choices. Do not let it be only love –or the fear of losing it– that binds you to another.
You are, ultimately, worth more than love.