Are you in love? Perhaps you have a sweetheart, are engaged or married. If so, how do you express your love? In the United States, partners do not hesitate to say "I love you." Not only is it common to exchange these words daily, but sometimes they are said several times a day. Yet, the divorce rate remains high. Why? Perhaps it is because words are hollow.
True, love needs to be communicated, but words are the weakest form of communication. After all, they are merely symbols, lacking substance. It is actions that count. William Shakespeare (1564 ~ 1616) did not say "They do not love who do not SAY they love." Rather, he said "They do not love who do not SHOW their love."
Yes, we communicate our love by showing or proving it. That is, we allow our actions to speak for us. Of what value is a husband's "I love you," if most of the time he is complaining and treating his wife with disrespect? But a gentle, kindhearted, generous, sympathetic husband bathes his wife with love without uttering a single word.
If you must express your love with words, don't just say "I love you," but explain what you mean by 'love.' For example, compare these two sentences:
1. "I love you."
2. "I respect, admire, and believe in you. I delight in your company and am proud and happy to be married to you."
Which would you rather hear from your partner? Which are you currently using?
But as powerful as the words in sentence two are, they will become tarnished, weakened, and crumble unless they are backed up with actions that prove you mean what you say.
Also, even if you are saying the right words to your spouse, if they are not said in the right way, they will be useless. For when your spouse interprets what you say, he or she will give just 7% weight in importance to the words you use. Far more important will be the tone of your voice (38% weight) and your body language (55% weight). These percentages come from the well- known research of Dr. Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA.
So, what Professor Mehrabian is saying is that when there is a mismatch with our verbal message and the tone of our voice and body language, the verbal message is discounted, ignored, or not believed. How do we make sure our words, tone of voice, and body language match perfectly? That's easy, be sincere! As long as you mean what you say, your message will get through loud and clear.
Did you ever stop to think why you love your spouse? One reason is the way he or she makes you feel about yourself when you are together. Armed with this knowledge, you can apply it to your relationship. That is, by encouraging, recognizing, appreciating, and praising your spouse, you will make him or her feel good in your presence, and this will stoke the flames of love, sustaining and developing your relationship. Someone else explained this principle by saying, "I love you not because of who you are, but because of who I am when I am with you."
Another reason we love our spouse is because of what we are not.
Although I have considerably changed over the years, when I first met my wife I was introverted and shy while she was outgoing and confident. Because she represented the ideal of what I wished to become, I was attracted to her. And I greatly benefited from the strengths she brought to the relationship. How have you benefited from your relationship? When was the last time you thanked your partner for their contribution?
But don't think only about your differences; think about how you are alike. For example, how do you feel when you are ignored, belittled, insulted, or unappreciated? That's exactly how your mate feels. Remember the pain and be sure not to inflict it on the person you love (or on anyone else).
Remember, too, your spouse is your mirror. In other words, he or she merely reflects how they are treated. If he or she is upset or unhappy it is because they are reacting to your behavior. So, if you don't like what you see, change YOUR behavior. Ken Keyes, Jr. explains the 'mirror effect' this way, "A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world: everyone you meet is a mirror."
Since your spouse will reflect to you whatever you give, why not give love? That would be a wise decision, for as Elbert Hubbard (1856 ~ 1915) said, "The love we give away is the only love we keep." Since we give away our love by taking action, let's look at some examples of how others have expressed their love for their spouse.
The husband of an acquaintance died many years ago. Yet, to this day she recalls, with tears in her eyes, how he told her every day, "I love you more than yesterday, but less than tomorrow." This simple act only took seconds to say, but each day it fanned the flames of love and left a mark that can never be removed.
In another example, the wife of a Toronto man who died in an accident fondly reported how after her marriage, her husband had a dozen roses delivered every Friday. In two decades of married life, he never missed a Friday delivery. Can you imagine how special and happy she felt? What is something you can do to make your mate feel special and appreciated?
An easy way to make your mate feel appreciated is to accept them unconditionally. Sam Keen explains it this way, "We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly."
Here is a clever idea that comes from Michael Webb: Buy your partner eleven real red roses and one artificial red rose. Place the artificial rose in the center of the bouquet and attach a card that says, "I will love you until the last rose fades."
For another 100 ways to express your love, visit Michael Webb's web site, http://www.TheRomantic.com and download his free ebook "101 Romantic Ideas." For still more ideas, visit: http://www.romancestuck.com/top-10/express-love-online.htm.
Why all this attention on love? Because as Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) says, "He who comes to do good knocks at the gate; he who loves finds the gate open." Yes, open the gate and open your heart to life's only true adventure.
Here are two more authors offering compelling reasons for us to work on our relationships:
"Love makes burdens lighter because you divide them. It makes joys more intense, because you share them. It makes you stronger, so that you can reach out and become involved with life in ways you dared not risk alone." (Arthur Gordon)
"Without love one lacks the warmth and emotions which create life, youth, and beauty. He is like a stagnant pond compared with a flowing, babbling, laughing brook. He depresses the life force in those around him instead of radiating sunshine to all who come near him." (Leon DeSeblo)
© Chuck Gallozzi
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