A story that I read a long time ago, I can’t remember where, changed the way that I think about the word completely. A man was explaining how he was in a marriage that was struggling, and someone brought him to the realization that the problem in the marriage was love. Not “love” as in the noun, but “love” the verb. The man came to understand that he was not actually engaged in loving his wife, in showing love, in giving and doing love. The story explained that so many of us love passively. Once we have adopted the idea that love is there, we expect it to exist and be the glue that keeps our relationships together, and that just isn’t true.
For love to last we must nurture it. Just like anything else in our lives, we must take care of the things that are important to us or we risk the possibility that they may wither and die. We typically understand that we need to put a lot of work into keeping in shape, excelling in our careers, even parenting our children, but often forget that we need to put time and energy and yes, work, into nurturing our partnerships. It doesn’t sound very romantic does it?
That’s the thing. The amazingly romantic movies where the spellbound couple rides off into the sunset to live happily ever after, is completely unrealistic. I have a pretty damn awesome ever after…but I am not happy and blissful every minute of every day. I love a great love story, but I do realize that after the curtain goes down, she is going to have to put up with his dirty socks, and he will have to endure the interference of her best friend…and everybody in real life uses the bathroom. Romantic this is not. Realistic it is…and a much more stable foundation for a healthy relationship.
So on Valentine’s Day, though I do recommend flowers and a romance novel, the best gift that we can truly give each other is to remember to think of love as a verb. How do I love my husband, or wife, or partner? For that matter, how do I love all of the people in my life, my family and friends? What things have I done today, and every single day, to love people, to show them how much they mean to me? With my husband being in the restaurant industry, and myself having a floral background, Valentine’s Day is pretty heavily associated with hard work in our minds. Today, he is always at work on the holiday, so we have given ourselves more or less of a pass for the particular date. As far as gifts and romantic dinners on February fourteenth, I can’t say that there have been many in our twelve years. We do however; make a point to show one another how much we care, the same way that we try to each and every day. That is the best gift that I have to offer, because it has meant so much to me. I challenge you to redefine the way that you think of love. Define it as not a thing, but an action. You might be surprised at what a difference it makes in your life.