A decent percentage of the emails I get are around shaky relationships. Sometimes it is about two people wanting to work it out, many a time, it is just one person trying to figure it out, a lot of the times, however, it is about a state of confusion. They write to me saying they are confused, they do not know if the other person is actually in love or if he is just being caring. They ask me if there are any signs, any way to find out. Well, love has never been a mathematician’s charm, it is like the tangent that touches the circle, but forever remains outside it.
Goswami Tulasidasa, the great poet-saint, writes a beautiful line in Ramacaritamanasa: Priti pranaya binu mada te guni nasahi begi niti asa suni, love without respect and the talented with arrogance, perish quickly. So, while there may not be rules set in the stone, in black and white, the palace of love does stand on certain pillars. However, before I lay the foundation, let me tell you that men and women love differently, they desire it differently, and they express it differently. Irrespective of the differences though, let me share with you the four pillars of love, I call them four Ms of love, and no, M does not mean myth in this case, here they are:
1. Mutual Care and Respect
This is the first, foremost, and by far the most important sign, requirement, pillar, whatever you want to call it, of love. When we love someone, we want to see them well, we want to see them happy, we even do things to give them that joy and pleasure. In a relationship, any relationship where love is an important factor, care and respect are unmistakable signs that love exists between the two. Your partner may not express the way you prefer, however, if his gestures show respect and care, you are in a loving relationship. Such care and respect is not limited to the person alone but also to what they do. Just because you cannot fathom what the other person does, workwise, it does not mean you are dumb or he is stupid. Care and respect for the other person and their endeavors, nurture the emotion of love.
2. Mutual Dependability
If you can depend on your partner, his words, his promises, and he can do the same, that means love is alive and kicking. Of little use is love which may have all the smooth talk but no dependability. Reliability outlives charm ultimately. Being charming is not going to pay your bills, it is not going to put food on the table, someone, perhaps both, need to get out there earn a living, to support each other. Dependability is comparable to the cogs of a machine, both need to be in sync to operate, if one gives up, it breaks down the whole operation. If you are not dependable but expect dependability from your partner, it means you are not being practical and it shows weakness of the character, not morally, just emotionally. Why? It requires inner strength to be able to love, the greater such strength, the more the capacity to love, the weak ones only ever get attached, they mistake their attachment for love.
A creeper that drapes around the tree to sustain itself but denies tree’s kindness, only shows its own ignorance.
3. Mutual Trust
There can be care and respect, there may be plenty of dependability, however, if mutual trust is missing, all is not well. Trust means your relationship is strong enough that you can share anything and everything with the other person, that, you have faith in yourself, in your partner, and in your relationship. It shows your relationship can weather trubulence. To err is human, it is only natural that life runs you through phases of vulnerability, of weak moments, of confusion, if you are dependable, if your relationship is sound, if you are a strong person, emotionally, spiritually, you will emerge a winner. You will be able to put your head down on your pillow with peace, you will be able to look in the mirror and smile, you will be able to keep your head high, not fuelled by ego, but supported by righteous conduct. A breach of trust signifies taking the other person’s love for granted, repetition of such breach means the relationship is now a bare bone skeleton of needs stitched together with the thread of requirements and lack of options, as opposed to a warm body of love, fragrant and attractive.
4. Mutual Sacrifice
Love grows on mutual sacrifice, and if it is truly mutual, you actually derive joy and peace by doing things for the other person. However, if only one of the person feels that he is sacrificing and the other is not doing their part, that is not mutual, it can be perilious, it often falls apart. The trouble is, quite often, both think they are making sacrifices and the other one is not doing enough. Well, well, sit down and work it out, be sensible, be realistic. Someone wrote to me once that her husband does not spend quality time with her, he does his duties but does not express his love, I asked her if she would rather have her husband quit his job and sit by her side. And I wrote to the husband asking if he preferred his job over his wife and family. They both worked it out. Wise ones. Ever wonder why it is called ‘falling’ in love, as opposed to rising, standing?
The greater the common ground, more room you have to play; it increases the quality of your relationship. Love allows you to take it easy, but it punishes you for taking it for granted. It comes on an as-is basis, love is about accepting other person’s limitations and acknowledging your own, it is about working with each other, working for each other, working towards each other.
Wonder what the four Ms of attachment are, of selfishness disguising as love? Me, my, myself, mine.