Relationship Advice: 3 Kinds of Love
There are three kinds of love:
love as a feeling, love as a decision/choice, and love as an action.
The confusion of these three kinds of love is the cause of much needless pain and suffering.
In an attempt to clear up this confusion, let’s take a closer look at each of these three kinds of love.
Love as a feeling.
Oh, what a feeling. Let’s face it, falling in love feels great. So does being in love. Throughout the centuries, poets, writers and singers have all extolled the glories of being in love.
Only problem is that it doesn’t last.
Sorry to bring you back to Earth with such a jolt, but let’s be honest. The emotional high that we feel just doesn’t last on a day-to-day basis.
Remember the phrase “and they lived happily ever after”? Even though this phrase can be found at the end of most fairy tales, our culture seems to have accepted it as fact.
“Well,” you might be saying at this point, “aren’t we sounding cynical today.” Maybe so, but if you’ll hang in there with me, reader, it’s going to get better really quick.
It’s natural and normal for the feeling of love to ebb and flow in a relationship. That’s why it’s so important to understand that in addition to love as a feeling there are two other kinds of love.
Love as a decision/choice
Love is also a decision and a choice. There are times when we do not feel like loving in any way. In relationships, however, we are called to love even when we don’t feel like it (sometimes especially when we don’t feel like it).
Authors Gary Smalley and John Trent said:
“Every enduring marriage involves a commitment to an imperfect person.”
What this means on a day-to-day basis is this: We may sometimes say to ourselves when thinking about our partner,
“You know, I really don’t like you very much today.”
Then this needs to be followed by, “and I’m going to love you anyway.”
The choice and decision to love, even when we don’t feel like it provides the sense of security necessary in a relationship to make it through the inevitable rough waters.
Love as an action
In addition to being a feeling and a choice, love is also a verb.
We can have the feeling of love, we can decide to love, we can understand all that there is to understand about our relationship, but we won’t get very far until we take action.
Some couples I have worked with are very good at describing what is wrong with the relationship and/or the other person. It reminds me of what actor and comedian Lily Tomlin once said:
“I personally believe we developed language because of our deep need to complain.”
One of the biggest myths about marriage goes something like this:
“If you really loved me, then you would (know what to do, know what to say, know what I like, etc.).”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Instead of complaining about our partner’s behavior, we can simply ask for (request) what we would like. Sometimes that will be a request to do something. Other times it may be a request not to do something.
It goes something like this:
“I would like you to (fill in the blank).”
Then your partner gets to say either “Yes, I can do that” or “No, I won’t do that, because (fill in the blank). What else could I do that would meet that need?”
In this way, we can put hands and feet onto the feeling of love. The really curious thing is that when we decide to love and take action in this way, it can lead us back to that feeling of love.