Love in Action

Different people want different things. It’s a good thing too, isn’t it? Otherwise, we’d all want the same house, the same job, the same cat, and…the same mate.
Some folks believe that somewhere out there is a perfect partner, made for them. I don’t know whether that’s true or not.
However, I do believe that pairing up is helpful. Dr. Glasser’s choice theory says love and belonging as one of our basic needs, and a strong pair bond can go a long way toward satisfying that need.
It helps to know that we are the one special person in someone’s life. “You and me against the world” has a comforting quality, doesn’t it?
Long-married couples can grow together or grow apart. The original qualities that brought you together—beauty, wit, power—can fade with time, age, or disease. If you choose to continue to believe that you are right for each other and remain grateful for the gift of each other, you are also choosing to grow together.
But what if you are starting out in a new relationship? In a world where fakery and deception seem to abound, how can you tell whether you have a special connection with someone? How can you predict whether you will grow together or apart? The bigger question is: What does love look like, really?
Perhaps your new love is prepared to offer you the moon and the stars, the mountains and the seas…”All of these things, my love, I would give to you.”
Except, oh wait, they are not mine to give. But if they were, I would give them to you. Really, I would.
Soaring, romantic statements of love are lovely.
But the actions that reflect love are even nicer. When your partner brings you a sandwich, shows up to watch your softball game, or washes your car, you’re seeing a loving statement expressed as action.
This came to mind when Yvette asked for my opinion about her relationship. (By the way, I think that people only ask for another’s opinion about their relationship when they have some concerns, eh?)
Yvette’s description is: “He tells me he loves me; he’s devoted; he says he wants me to be his life partner. He gives me expensive (but impractical) gifts. He’s very romantic. It’s wonderful.”
However, Yvette continues: “I’m not invited to family occasions because my presence could cause tension. He believes in equality, so I pay half the expenses when we go out, even though he is much better off financially than I am. When I was sick, he didn’t call—he didn’t want to bother me. And I know it’s a small thing, but I don’t have even a closet of my own at his place.”
“I love him. I believe him when he says he loves me. What do you think? Am I being petty?”
What would you say?
Here’s my perspective. Different people want different things. Perhaps the relationship he wants is simply to have a charming companion for social events, someone to be the recipient of his romantic gestures, and to have the comforting feeling that he is not alone. When he has a partner, that part of his life is handled.
In contrast, perhaps Yvette wants a relationship of more depth—the kind of relationship where you know you are the most important person in his life.
What he is saying seems to meet what you want. However, what he is doing doesn’t reflect that.
Practically speaking, is this relationship need-satisfying for the two of you? The answer can only be found by the two of you.
A suggestion that I find useful for many situations is, “Pay no attention to what they say, but pay close attention to what they do.”

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