Loving and You – A recipe for Valentines Day
Soon Valentines Day will be upon us. The day when we proclaim to our loved one and the world, how loving our relationships really are. Many ask why do we need a special day for that? Indeed why? Love is not something one can put a time limit on, or celebrate one day and refute the next. We don’t fall out of love in a hurry either. When there is a breakup, it hurts.
Unfortunately, over time we may come to realise that not all our relationships are good for us. This can be very hard to admit, especially when we are very much in love. There are some things that are essential for a healthy, loving relationship. This includes honesty, trust, respect and open communication between both people. Also, a willingness to compromise for both parties. In a healthy relationship there is a balance of power. You and your partner respect each other’s independence and are able to make your own decisions without fear of retribution or retaliation. Big decisions that affect you both however need a mutual decision.
It is also important to remember that not everyone is perfect and that all relationships can go through ups and downs. Relationships take a bit of work, commitment, and a willingness to adapt and change with your partner. Whether you have been in a relationship for a short amount of time or for years there are things you and your partner can do to help build a healthy relationship.
What makes a healthy, loving relationship?
Everyone is unique and that makes every relationship unique. Part of what makes a healthy, loving relationship is sharing a common goal for exactly what you want the relationship to be and the direction you want it to go. This can only be known by having deep and honest conversations with your partner. By maintaining a meaningful emotional connection with each other, you will both feel loved and emotionally fulfilled. There is a difference between being loved, and feeling loved. Feeling loved, makes you feel accepted and valued by your partner, meaning they truly ‘get you’. Sometimes, relationships can be stuck in peaceful coexistence, but partners don’t truly relate to each other emotionally. While the union may seem stable on the surface, a lack of ongoing involvement and emotional connection will only add distance between the two of you.
Fear has no place in healthy relationships because it is OK to have respectful disagreements between the two of you. Some couples talk things out quietly, others not so much. The key in keeping your relationship strong, is not to be fearful of conflict. You need to feel safe enough to express things that bother you without fear of retaliation. Healthy relationships resolve conflict without humiliation, degradation, or insisting on being right.
Remember that no single one person can meet all of your needs. In fact, expecting too much from your partner can put unhealthy pressure on a relationship. It’s important to keep your own identity outside of the relationship, and your connections with family and friends, as well as maintaining your hobbies and interests.
What is love really?
Love is a complex human experience. It can bring so much gratification, while at the same time remain a mystery. No matter how much we love someone, the risk is that one of us, might get hurt. However, perhaps we can all, at some point in our life, find that one lasting relationship where no one gets hurt.
Loving and spirituality
Many spiritual practices teach a way of life filled with compassion and loving each other. These often rely on basing your happiness from within yourself instead of seeking fulfillment outside oneself from another person. Some spiritual traditions, such as Buddhism, put forward the idea that if you base your happiness on external conditions, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and dissatisfaction. The Buddha explained that it is the emptiness you feel inside that makes you want to identify with something that is outside. Instead, connect within. Human beings crave fulfillment. This leads to attachment with others and often that can be mistaken for true love. However, it is coming from place of lack from within. Whilst it is true your partner can definitely add joy to your life, the cultivation of happiness has a greater sense of lasting when it comes from inside oneself.
What do you really own?
Remember that in a world that is constantly changing we don’t really ‘own’ a person. Not your partner, not your children, because each person has their own journey. Whilst a person is in your life you are part of their journey, and they are part of yours. However, you existed before them, and if they move on, or you move on, they will not cease to exist simply because the relationship is over. It is erroneous to try to hold onto things that you never ‘own’ in the first place. Even our own emotions, ideas and patterns in life change, depending on what is happening at the time.
In any relationship, understanding is important. Understanding nourishes loving. It is important for you to find a way to understand your partners suffering and feelings. In order to develop understanding, one needs compassion. Jumping to your own conclusion without empathy will simply undermine your relationship and create mental expectations of another person. This can lead to disappointment. So, what is the solution? Perhaps if we stay focused in the present moment and accept what it brings? What if we step back from the situations that try to ensnare us and reason whether our demands and obsessions are realistic or not? Can we give each other the space to reach a place of true love for the other?
So, never fall in love?
My spiritual teacher, Swami Chinmayananda of Chinmaya Mission, used to say, ‘never FALL in love’. Why? Because when you FALL in love it suggests you lose yourself, your clarity of thought and everything else falls with it into a world where you drown in your emotion. Then those desires and expectations erupt and you become disappointed when they are not met. Instead, he used to say, LOVE. Simply LOVE. Love from the heart and in spite of whatever is happening. Have a genuine love for your fellow humans, for animals, for nature and the whole world around you.
If you can love like that it will be returned to you and you can walk fearlessly through the world. But you don’t love for the returns. You love because you are love, you become love and as that grows it attracts to you all that you love like a magnet. You become the shining beacon that draws to yourself what you need and you share and give to others what they need. A perfect balance, a perfect harmony that is grounded and not based on selfishness, attachment or neediness.
This lets you stand in your individuality. It allows you and your partner to grow, to share and to complement each other. So, on this coming day of love, Valentines Day, what can you do to harness that love that is fulfilling, endless, nurturing? How can you express it? Perhaps do something a little out of character for you, unexpected, surprising? It’s not really about the flowers, the chocolates, the dinner – we all know that. It’s about sharing a life in peace and harmony. Not just on this day…but every day…one day at a time. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY EVERYONE!
(pic thanks to Shopify Partners – Burst)