Relationships and the Cultural Hobbling of the Concept of Love

Someone brought up the term relationship this weekend, ferreting around for a definition in this new day and age where there are no real rules or roles like there used to be.  I’ve qualified my own ‘thing’ as a relationship, and then wondered if that was truly an accurate representation.  As I often do with words that we take for granted, I went back to the good old dictionary to revisit the term and found Merriam-Webster classifies relationship as a multitude of things:

1 : the state of being related or interrelated <studied therelationship between the variables>
: the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship: as
 a : kinship
 b : a specific instance or type of kinship
3 a : a state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings <had a good relationship with his family>
 b : a romantic or passionate attachment

Thankfully, I’m not kin to the fella 🙂  Within the above parameters, I have a relationship.  Granted, one separated physically by thousands of miles, lacking daily interaction, and when we do interact, it’s via electronic mediums.  Does that lessen the connection?  It can I think.  However, I believe it can also deepen the connection, depending on the two people. There is the freedom to be you, and anyone who truly knows me, understands that to read what I write is to know me.  I feel many people communicate better via writing; particularly introverts. This relationship is fairly new, so I’ll suspend judgement on it at this time since we’re in stasis mode while he is temporarily rather off grid accomplishing some life goals in place long before we connected.

I recently have had the opportunity to converse with people who have the belief that they are no longer ‘in love’ with their partner.  I always have a snort of derision when I hear that.  Culture – movies, books, songs, all present love as something you almost cannot control.  It simply happens to you, like, chicken pox or something else airborne.  Lust, infatuation, physical attraction, it is my belief that those are the things that hit you viscerally.  Not love.  Love is an action, a choice, in my mind.  I liken relationships that have any length to them as entering that realm similar to the last five miles near your home; you know, the ones where most accidents happen because you’re simply not attentive, you’re driving on auto-pilot.  If we’re not careful, a long-term relationship can become like that, and can suffer from the same auto-pilot mindset.  It doesn’t help that we have oodles of sports channels on 24/7, or all kinds of Housewives and other soaps to watch.  Or computer games and social media upkeep. Those are auto-pilot activities as well.   The reality is that by the time you’ve seen your partner in every kind of bad way, and they you, infatuation is long gone.  If you don’t have the mentality of acting with love towards that person by active choice, then your relationship too, may become a statistic.   We give up easily on relationships, because hey, a new one can be found just around the corner or over there beyond the local fence where the grass looks oh so green.  Just as we should remain in focus within the last five miles near home, so too, should we keep our mate in focus.  All of us have faults, and sometimes it is just that particular fault that can endear us to each other.  The joy of two imperfections that match.  The accepting of their imperfections allows them to also accept our imperfections.

The reality is that long-term commitment takes guts and tenacity.  It sometimes means giving until it hurts.  My particular religious framework puts a marital commitment in the realm of vow-making before the Creator.  The last time I made that commitment, I was deadly serious; failing to honor a vow made before the Creator is nothing to trifle over in my world.  I knew, no matter what, that I was married until one of us died.   Please understand, I am not condoning abusive or dangerous relationships; but even if I had been in that, I would have had to remain married even if I did not live with my husband.  That is the vow that I undertook.  To marry again would require that same kind of commitment from me.  The one benefit that I do have, is that marriage is not required.  There is no commandment to be married.   But if more people eschewed the current cultural representation of ‘love’ and looked within themselves to develop their own meaning, perhaps there would be longer, love-filled marriages.  But hey, I am an idealist 🙂

So when you read these words, take a look at your partner and bring them into focus.  Take a moment to recall what attracted you to him or her.   Put down the book, or the remote control, or the laptop, or the iPhone and give them ten minutes of undivided, unprovoked love without any expectation of reciprocal expression.  Compliment them.  Hug them. Offer to help them with a chore.  Take an interest in something that interests them.  You just might be surprised 🙂

Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could
Barbara de Angelis

Love actively by choice.  Forgive quickly.  Forget even quicker.  Never go to sleep angry.

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