What's Love Got to Do With It?
Our modern history has made "love" the Holy Grail of life. Everyone wants it. Some can't find it. Others seem to lose it. Marrying for "love" is our societal norm - despite 40-50% of all marriages ending in divorce. I often wonder if we have confused love with something far more fleeting.
It's helpful to distinguish between attraction - that call to mate that is likely driven by biology; and love, that ultimately is a learned and intentional behavior.
The problem with using attraction as the guide for lifelong partnerships is that it has little to do with values, or compatibility or life goals. While attraction and the chemistry that underlies it can certainly be powerful and intoxicating, eventually we sober up and learn that all that glittered, was not, sadly, gold.
When love is intentional, it becomes a spiritual practice. We often hear of "conditional" vs. "unconditional" love. "Conditional" love seems like an oxymoron, that is, a phrase that contradicts itself. William Shakespeare wrote in Sonnet 116: "Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds". I would agree. When we choose to love we are choosing to say "yes" to a future with endless unknowns. Love enables us to consciously evolve - in fact it INSISTS that we do so. As people and circumstances change we are called upon to change as well. Of course few of us are eager to be thrown out of our comfort zones, so we typically resist change - particularly when that change needs to be within ourselves. Love, however, demands it.
It's said that in Spring a young man's fancy turns to love. This Spring, after a year of isolation, I began to reflect on the subject and wondered what we mean when we say we feel loved. I came to the conclusion that I feel loved when I feel understood.
One of my favorite couples' counselors, Rich and Antra Borofsky, http://www.beingtogether.com/
often speak of 2 people each having their own movie going on with each the star of their own story. So that at any moment, where there are 2 people interacting there are 2 surprisingly different realities happening. When we love, we seek to understand the other's movie, from their perspective, as well as share our own. We give up the idea that our movie is the correct interpretation of reality and accept that another's interpretation can be equally valid. When we love, we WANT to understand another's reality rather than impose our own. It's not always easy, but that's the challenge of love: It will constantly demand our self-evolution.