I've been thinking a lot lately about relationships (of various types) and what love means. I've learned a lot about love in regards to maintaining a healthy relationship, or a relationship period, and I want to quickly share it with you guys.
For the majority of my life, I wasn't in a position to learn what lasting relationships require. Nor did I care to search for the answer. I thought that if you just put two people together and fate works out, the relationship will too. Or maybe if two people were strong enough to put up with each other everything could work out. Forget being happy. More recently I've realized that this idea a lot of people, especially young people, have about struggling through relationships or settling has nothing to do with the real thing. Yes, any relationship will have its difficult points because it consists of two different people coexisting in the same physical, mental, and/or emotional space. But love shouldn't mean struggle and pain. Instead it is listening and working to understand and compromise through hard times. Love doesn't mean someone changing for you. It means you bringing out the best in your counterpart. Love doesn't consist of one party striving to carry the relationship. It consist of two people devoted to maintaining a relationship that is as healthy as possible.
I could go on for days about small lessons I've learned, but what I really want to share, the biggest lesson I've learned is that love is a series of millions of choices. Choices one must make second by second to forgive, to understand, to learn, to communicate, to sacrifice, to consider...to continue to love. Love is not a feeling that comes over you and lasts forever. It's a conscious decision to remember and constantly act on the friendship, support, attraction (physical, mental, and emotional) and commonalities that draw you to a person in the first place. In the process, you'll find more things to love about a person. Without making that decision, though, love can't manifest. Like faith, it's dead without works.
Years ago, I didn't even realize what it felt like to love someone. Now I can reflect on my relationships with those around me and truly evaluate whether or not I am displaying love. Actually taking the steps to love everyone instead of just some is another decision I've yet to make, but I've come a long way just learning some of what it takes. (Baby steps.) Love is work. But, it's so worth it.
In your opinion, what is love? Drop your answers in the comment box below.