“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” ~Sam Keen
I recently went with girlfriends to hear one of our favorite beach bands play. Since I turn into a pumpkin at midnight, I talked a friend into taking me home early.
While walking to our car, we witnessed a couple fighting. There was no pushing or shoving. Fists weren’t involved. Bizarrely enough, this couple was on opposite sides of the parking lot having their fight over their cell phones.
Due to the volume of their voices, the fight was easy to follow. Apparently, she didn’t give a rip about anyone but herself (his point of view) and he was a control freak (her point of view). There was much discussion back and forth and the words weren’t very nice, so I’ll gloss over that. However, what struck me about that fight was how pointless it seemed.
Did that couple realize how lucky they were to have each other? I wanted to scream at both of them, “What if something tragic happened to one of you on the way home tonight—would this fight have been worth it?”
I see too many couples take their relationships for granted. They forget why they fell in love. They forget the dreams they had and the plans they made. They forget their promises and commitments. The “healthy” of their relationships is based on personal happiness, rather than doing what is best for the both of them.
Love is a choice, not a feeling or an emotion. It’s a decision you make every day of your life. Even when your mate doesn’t take out the trash, or spends too much time at the mall, or when your new haircut or outfit goes unnoticed, or when poor financial decisions set you back—you can still decide to love.
Love is for better or worse. And when you choose not to love, you’ve given up and given in.
It’s a decision you’ll regret.
Take it from a widow that wishes every day that she had her husband at home to leave the toilet seat up, or scatter Popsicle sticks and papers all around the couch, or smoke stinky cigars in the house, or forget to pay the bills or pick up the kids. All those imperfections about your mate are what you will miss the most when they are gone.
Choosing to love isn’t always easy, but it is worth the effort. Here are some ways you can choose to love on a daily basis:
1. Let go of the little things. If you are truly honest, you’ll realize most of them are little things.
2. Give more than you take in your relationship.
3. Love without strings attached.
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
5. Look at the world through your mate’s eyes. Seeing things from their perspective helps you better understand their actions and motivations.
6. Pay attention to your mate. Look at them and focus on what they are saying or doing.
7. Before you blame, examine yourself first.
8. Let it be okay that you don’t see eye-to-eye on everything. Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.
9. Accept and celebrate your mate’s differences and uniqueness. Face it—you can’t change them, but you can change your attitude about their quirks.
10. Validate your mate’s feelings. Don’t try to “fix” their perspective or contradict them. Accept their feelings without judgment or correction.
11. Hold hands.
12. Work as a team. You are life mates, not room mates.
13. Be flexible with your mate. While consensus is always the goal, sometimes we have to bend to the other’s wishes.
14. Share your vulnerabilities and fears with your mate. A load carried by two is easier than one carried alone.
15. Be faithful to your mate, both emotionally and physically.
16. Don’t hide things from your mate. Trust is fragile—handle with care.
17. Send love notes—a card, text, voice mail, or message on a sticky note or the bathroom mirror will do.
18. Laugh. A lot.
19. Speak respectfully of your mate. They like to hear you talk about them favorably in front of others, but it means even more when you talk glowingly about them when they aren’t around.
20. Encourage your mate to be the best person they can be. Support their hobbies, learning interests, and passions. Be their biggest fan.
21. Apologize. And mean it.
22. Forgive. And mean it.
23. Develop couple rituals that are known only to you.
24. Work on goals and dreams together. Planning is half the joy.
25. Public displays of affection!
26. Say “yes” more often than “no.”
27. Appreciate the inner beauty of your mate.
28. Accept and love your mate’s family and friends.
29. Schedule time alone together, even if it’s just a walk around the block or drive in the country.
30. Love yourself. You can’t decide to love another until you can decide to love yourself.
Loving another person isn’t easy, and it can’t be based on feelings or emotions that fluctuate like the weather. Choose actions that show your love, and make the decision to do it every day.
Photo by Chrismatos
Cynthia H. Lynch is an educator, mother, and freelance writer living in the Deep South. She is a recent widow and writes about her grief journey on her blog www.27twenty-seven.blogspot.com.
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