By Dr. Peter Kalellis
Once a year there is a time when love surfaces, reaches out and culminates to highest points. It is Valentine’s Day that we express our love in colorful flowers, elegant dinners, expensive presents and eloquent promises to love forever. Perhaps, this could be an excellent time to evaluate our love.
In most relationships, there is a potential for both love and selfish attitudes. The power of love brings to our lives a dramatic immediacy. With no time to dwell in the past or worry about the future, we live a life of on-going ecstasy. When our personal relationship slides from the magical to mundane, we become heavily laden with layers of the past and demands of the future. We look at our loved one and think, “You didn’t?” “I think you shouldn’t have.” All those silent demands cement themselves into a wall between our two souls, making love and trust difficult.
A relationship can become a heaven or a hell, depending on whether we bring out the best or the worst in each other and ourselves. Because attitudes are contagious, the result is usually mutual love or mutual indifference, shared interests or conflicts.
A SINCERE INTEREST
Sometimes sensual attraction is equated with honest love. Male and female are attracted to each other and meet each other’s physical needs and expectations. There is nothing wrong with that sort of attraction; it is part of life. But if, at some point in any relationship one or both cannot find satisfaction with each other, dissatisfaction sets in, communications suffer, resulting in distance. All this can be controlled or even avoided if we search and pursue the meaning of genuine love.
What is genuine love? It is a sincere interest in the well-being and happiness of the other person. Saying, I love you, needs to be accompanied by an honest and heartfelt interest in the other: In genuine love, self-reliance coexists with sharing. Genuine love understands and accepts the human condition of the other person. The other person’s uniqueness must be appreciated and respected.
Genuinely loving a person encourages intimacy. Greater emphasis has been given in recent years, and plethora of books and articles have been written about it. In a significant relationship, a couple with commitment to live together or an actual marriage, intimacy is not only desirable, but it is also necessary for the enrichment of their life. Because of its nature, intimacy consists of thoughts, feelings, loving interaction, and physical touch. Each person and each couple perceives intimacy differently. Intimacy cannot be a symbiotic existence, as in that of mother and child. When intimacy becomes dependency—you have got to take care of me, baby, because I love you. Or I want you to be near me all the time—the relationship becomes bondage. One person cannot expect the other person to be the total source of fulfillment and happiness. Such expectation is unrealistic, and it could easily cause trouble.
Our human potential is endowed with love, and it can release untold benefits too in our life. We will have better-living conditions, and there will be care and concern for the wellness of each individual. A cold and meaningless life is where love is lacking. What is the satisfaction or the meaning of life if we perform tasks for mere coexistence? When we live our life according to God’s will and purpose our body, mind, and soul culminate in love. This love becomes active and, true in its nature, radiates of itself and blesses whatever and whomsoever it touches.
If we desire genuine love, we must set up a lifestyle which attracts love. When we set ourselves under God’s grace, trusting in His everlasting love for us, and pursue the path of loving and living, then love would seal the union of people who love each other with a bond that endures even the adversities in life.
THOUGHTS YOU MAY CONSIDER
• As mature adults, we cannot expect unconditional love from another person. Human love is never unconditional. If we want and desire to have unconditional love, we need to get a dog,
• When we were children, we deserved and needed a type of unconditional love. But now as an adult, we can understand what it takes to be loved. We need to be lovable.
• As soon as we begin to have loving feelings for someone, we start to share our inner self—dreams, hopes, wishes, plans, and aspirations. Then we need to ask ourselves a question: is the other person willing to accept this type of our love unconditionally?
• When two people delight in each other’s presence in an environment of security based on mutual reciprocity and trust, expressing respect and caring, their love blossoms and becomes a most rewarding experience which will need to be nurtured to be maintained.
Dr. Peter M. Kalellis is a psychotherapist, marriage and family therapist, lecturer, and writer. He has a doctorate in clinical psychology and is the author of many books. He maintains his practice in Westfield, New Jersey.