We have been watching the most recent series of The Crown (yes, I know we’re late to the party!). It’s portrayal of Charles & Diana’s relationship is mesmerising and ultimately desperately sad. At their engagement, on being told by a reporter that they looked very ‘much in love’, Charles famously said “Whatever ‘in love’ means” and this got us thinking – what is love and what does it mean to be in love?
Naturally for our research the first place we went to was Google; ‘a deep affection/interest/feeling for something’. Great but not exactly exciting – where’s the passion?
Here’s our roundup of the key ingredients:
In a marriage we commit to stick with our partner through ‘better or worse, sickness or health’ for our whole lives. It’s no small ask. It’s a HUGE commitment. To stay with someone when you’re not sure you love them anymore or can’t remember why you married them, is really tough. But for many that commitment brings a love deeper than anything experienced in any other way. Commitment says (sometimes through gritted teeth) ‘I am determined that although we majorly disagree on this, we will work together to find the best solution for us’ and ‘I’m finding this relationship super hard but I’m going to do what it takes to keep us connected’ and ‘I’m committed to making our relationship the best it can be’.
This is a vital component of love. We tend to like someone before we love them. We tend to become friends before we become lovers and it’s vital we keep that friendship. We need to cultivate a relationship where we are companions, where we want to hang out together, do life together, laugh together, cry together. A friendship where the first person we turn to is our partner because they are our best friend.
Have you ever apologised when someone bumped into you with their trolly in a supermarket? It was their fault, but you said sorry! Compare this with the way we treat our partners sometimes and it can be quite different. The slightest thing can drive us mad! We find ourselves saying ‘why do you always/never do that?!’ It’s actually really hard to be aggressive and kind at the same time. Kindness looks out for our partner, brings them cups of tea and listens if they are down. Kindness comforts. Kindness cheers our partners on and encourages them to flourish. Compassion does these things too and also forgives. Compassion seeks to understand what went wrong and how it can be restored.
Acceptance feels a bit passive, a bit ‘que sera, sera’. But actually, there’s more to it than that. Yes, in acceptance we agree to accept our differences, but we also accept challenge. Perhaps it says, ‘if you see me doing something unhealthy or unhelpful, I’m happy for you to challenge me with that’. Perhaps it says, ‘I accept that you like to do things that way and I’m keen that we figure out how we can work together on that ‘.
These are our key ingredients but there are lots of variations. It’s a bit like baking a cake – you need some key basics, but other ingredients will be added depending on what cake you’re making (our favourite is coffee & walnut by the way – strong & feisty and a bit nutty!). What would you add?
Love – 5 tips
- Remind yourself (and your partner!) of what you first loved about each other.
- Write your own list of the key ingredients that make up your love for each other.
- Think about 1 thing you can do each day that shows kindness to your partner.
- Think about 1 thing that your partner does that annoys you and actively choose to ignore it!
- Ask your partner for 1 thing you could do for them that makes them feel loved.
Find out more about love in a relationship on one of our Time for Marriage Weekends.