. . . that makes unhappy marriages.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
Despite the wonderful Beatles song, [https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=all+you+need+is+love+beatles All You Need is Love], I’ll throw my lot in with Nietzsche at this point in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, among other things, love is . . .
- Critically important
- Body, mind, spirit, and soul deep
- Encouraging each other toward your best selves
- Kindly challenging when needed (please read “[https://www.paloaltoonline.com/blogs/p/2021/08/13/couples-and-premarital-say-something-once-why-say-it-again Say Something Once, Why Say it
Again]?” before you open your mouth!)
- Regulates your nervous system
- Wired into the brain for connection, safety, pleasure and joy
Unfortunately, love is not enough without friendship. I used to believe that love could conquer all. It can’t without a strong foundation that makes up friendship:
- Caring about your partner on par with caring for yourself
- The relationship matters more than each individual (that’s why I say that in couple
therapy, the patient is the marriage; not either of you)
- Wanting to know everything about each other so you’re there to cheer for one another, support one another when curve balls arrive, and rejoice in who you authentically are.
From [https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/friendship Good Therapy]:
“There’s no absolute definition of what does or does not constitute a friendship. However, some common traits of friendship include:
- Some degree of commitment, both to the friendship and to the other person’s well-being.
- A desire for “regular” contact with the other person. “Regular” contact could occur once every two days or once every two years.
- Mutual trust, concern, and compassion.
- Shared interests, opinions, beliefs, or hobbies.
- Shared knowledge about one another’s lives, emotions, fears, or interests.
- Feelings of love, respect, admiration, or appreciation.”
I had more than a few relationships end when I was younger because there was love without friendship. Based on my own childhood, in order to be safe (not abandoned), I tried to be what I thought my partner wanted and needed me to be. But what I actually did was give myself away–I abandoned myself. What those partners actually needed was me! For me to be myself, authentically. As you’ve heard me say, “If you don’t show up, who gets loved?” I can attest to the fact that it’s painful and lonely to have one’s persona or mask be loved. And it was my own doing (my 100% of responsibility), and my partner’s willingness to know my persona–to not dig deeper (their 100% of responsibility). I don’t blame them, though. I was just done with not being myself.
I went to therapy, did the hard work, and grew to reach a point where I love myself; not in an aggrandizing way: just me with my flaws and exquisite self. As is inside of each of you.
I reached a point where I was clear that I need to be loved as I am. Lo and behold, I live in a healthy marriage in which my husband is my best friend.
Loving a person as s/he is doesn’t preclude asking your partner to change for the health of your relationship (which is different than wanting it to be all about you).
Experiment with giving in all Five Love Languages, and take the quiz to learn what each of your love languages are. I know, it will not be comfortable; it will be beneficial to your relationship and stretch you to grow:
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
Remember there are small, medium, and large ways to give within each love language. Practice giving in a variety of ways. For example, Acts of Service can be as simple as bringing your beloved coffee in bed, tanking up his/her car, organizing an outing, all the way to planning an amazing vacation. Go small. Go medium. Go big. I know, we live in a society in which it’s all supposed to be Go Big, or Go Home! Yet that’s not an authentic way to live all aspects of your life.
Get to know and befriend yourself; grow to love yourself. Then you’ll be in a healthy position to love and be friends with your partner–the person you go to first when anything great or awful (or in between) happens.