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I’m sure you listened to hundreds of songs about love before you really knew what it was all about, and maybe if you’re like me you still aren’t sure what to make of it.  The songs talk about the one and only love, can’t live without it love, steamy love, cheating love you name it there’s a song for it.

Movies are the next place we get our lessons in love from at the tender age of PG 13.  In most movies love is equated with sex, if you think you love someone the next step is sleeping with them, but that just seems to complicate the plot and the lives of those involved and happily ever after is just for fairy tales.

Books and magazines talk about finding your “soul mate”, the one person perfect for you, the one you’ve always dreamed of.   Websites have all sorts of compatibility tests and matching procedures to find your dream mate but will you recognize him or her when he/she arrives, if he/she arrives?

What are you thinking of love, what are you looking for in an intimate relationship?  Have you had “true loves” in the past, what went wrong? Are you blaming yourself for poor choices or perhaps the other for not being who they proclaimed to be or changing after awhile or worse yet after marriage.  Do you really know yourself, who you are in an intimate relationship?  Were you loved and appreciated as a child for who you are?  Did you feel like an outsider or a nuisance? I know I sure did.  It was like I dropped in from another planet, if they said black I preferred white, and it wasn’t just my parents, my sibling was from the same family mold.  I think now that a lot of it came from me being born to a mom lacking confidence, living alone in a strange place with a husband gone in the Pacific during WWII and a dad who didn’t see me for the first year of my life.  There was no bonding and I’ve found it hard to open up and trust another.

I’ve discovered that love is a choice not a feeling.  Sure, feeling influences our choices but the choice is what sustains the relations for the long haul.  In times when 50% of marriages end in divorce it’s important to consider that choice very carefully and to complicate it further  we are coming to the partnership from very diverse backgrounds, traditions, cultures and values.  I flippantly brushed off the importance of similar backgrounds as a young woman, chalking up that advice to prejudice and fear but I’m older and wiser now (I hope!) and realize that the fewer differences you have to resolve in a relationship the easier it is to get on with the bonding and building of the marriage.

Many marriages break up because they’ve “lost that loving feeling” as the song goes but if they had made a conscious choice to create  a life long relationship, even though the feeling evolves over time is also sweetens and endures.  That’s why often “Love is lovelier the second time around” if we’ve learned from the first time around. What’s better than a partner you can share you deepest darkest secrets with safely or you can count on to always be there no matter what, a parter who mirrors your existence and can and will attest to your life.  Nothing can be better than that.

When the illusion of a “loving feeling” is what is pursued, a revolving door of relationships results and families with children with multiple parents further complicates the stew and creates more conflict and stress.  Children suffer the most and fail to learn the giving nature of a choice based relationship and home.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for “staying together for the children”, I grew up in a home like that, devoid of any warmth, tippy toeing around, hiding out in my room or staying outside as long as possible or losing myself in a book.  The thought and choice has to be made up front if at all possible.  We must raise our children to know themselves and value who they are and their commitments.  We need to choose to really know who our partner is and consider and put their needs and concern before our own, commit to helping them grow and be the best they can be.  Love is egoless, and the more we consider the other the more we will be considered in the process or at the worst, the happier we will be and the less we will care about some of the things we thought were so important in the beginning.

Love is not a word to be used lightly, it comes with a lot of responsibilities and baggage.  I wish you all that kind of love (and me too!)