Continuing from my last post, I share with you the four pillars, four constituents of love. If you see what I mean, I promise, by the time you finish reading this post, you’ll have a new perspective on love. What is love? Just having feelings for the other person, or wanting someone real bad is not always love; it may be, but generally it isn’t. Think of love as an object for a moment, an entity that is made up of four elements. You bring them together and love appears miraculously. In the absence of the primary constituents, what you experience may be strong attraction, it may be a crush, infatuation, something, anything but love. Let me start with an anecdote:
A man comes home in the evening to see his children, still in school uniform, playing barefoot in the street. He enters his home and finds that their school bags, their socks and shoes are lying in the living room. A further he goes and sees the dining table littered with open bottles of peanut butter and jam, dirty plates, bread crumbs. On his right side is the sink with a stack of dishes. The dinner’s not ready, and the whole kitchen is one big mess. Shocked and intrigued, he goes to his bedroom and finds the bed undone, his wet towel from the morning still lying there, and his wife, still in her night suit, reading a book.
“What happened?” he exclaimed, “the house looks as if a ghost did the rounds today.”
“Oh, that,” she said casually. “You know how you always say what do I do sitting at home all day? Well, whatever it is that I do, today, I didn’t do it.”
In our sense of self-importance, it is easy to underestimate, even overlook, the contribution of the other person. Your work may be different, it may even be harder but it doesn’t mean it’s more important. Love is about seeing the world through the eyes of the other person. This leads me to spell out the four factors of love. As follows:
When two people are living together, there’re going to be trying times, difference of opinions, disagreements and all. But, at that time, if you choose to be respectful to the other person and not be sarcastic or contemptuous, your relationship will remain intact. Even if you don’t agree, still, be respectful. It’s worth it. Each time you shoot words of anger, every time you belittle the other person or their contribution, if you mock them, a great blow is delivered on the delicate flower of love. It’s okay to disagree, it’s even okay to have arguments sometimes, but it’s not okay to shout and it’s not okay to talk down. For your own good, respect each other. When someone’s self-esteem is attacked, they’ll quickly, even if temporarily, forget what all good you’ve done for them. Why? Because self-esteem, self-respect, or even ego, is linked to the most innate, fundamental human aspect of self-preservation. Respect is not limited to just respecting the other person but their values too. They may have different beliefs than yours, a different way of thinking, of operating. You don’t necessarily have to agree, but if you wish to retain love, you’ve to, at the least, respect.
The second piece of the love-puzzle is care. It is love in action. You may tell someone twice a day that you love them but the first moment they need you and you are not there for them, what good is that love? If he or she’s sick and you don’t even give them medication, if they are scared or nervous and you make no attempt to soothe them, if you can’t make them feel good about themselves, if you can’t comfort or brace the other person, what good is that love? Care in words is important but care in actions is far more important. It doesn’t just stop at paying the bills, it’s about repaying the other person. Every word, every gesture of care fosters love. What do you do with the things you love, be it cars, gadgets or accessories? You take care, right? Therefore, what would you do if you really loved someone? You do the math.
I once read, “Nobody is perfect. And, I’m Nobody!” This is how many people live. They know they are not perfect but they believe and behave as if their word is the gospel. Compassion is about being kind towards the other person and their mistakes and not holding them hostage to your own self-perceived sense of superiority or perfection. Sometimes, when you don’t agree with them, or when you can’t understand their perspective, can you, at least, adopt a compassionate view and let it go? Forever justifying our thoughts, acts, and emotions, we are often compassionate towards our own mistakes. But, it is having compassion for the other person that heals love. I’m hurt but I’ll let it go says forgiveness. I’m sorry you had to do this, says compassion. Forgiveness sympathizes, compassion empathizes. And love? Love synthesizes the two.
The fourth and the final ingredient of love is appreciation. From a five year old to a ninety-five year old, appreciation makes the other person feel valued, it makes them feel loved, important. No one wants to be unhappy. Whenever you see good in the other person, express it, appreciate it and they’ll automatically want to do more good. You don’t have to do it artificially, you just have to look at their positive side. Everyone could do with a bit of appreciation. In a relationship, two people, day-in-day-out do numerous things that could be appreciated but the lack of the first three elements make them oblivious to the good the other person is doing.
After being married for fourteen years, a man applies for a divorce.
“On what grounds do you seek divorce?” the magistrate said.
“Your Honor, my wife has absolutely no table manners. She’s a disgrace at social dinners.”
“You’ve been together for fourteen years, and now, suddenly her table manners is an issue?”
“Yes, Your Honor, because only last month I read a book on manners and etiquette. She has none of them, I observed after finishing the book.”
As we grow and gain new perspectives, as our priorities change, often we want the other person to change as well. The other person, however, is going through his own set of lessons. Just because now you know more or know different doesn’t make the other person unworthy or unfit for your love.
Lasting love is always mutual. You can’t love someone out of pity or obligation, it won’t last. At the initial stages, love is a strong feeling and then a strong desire. Thereafter, it is an act, not the act of making love but the act of loving, it requires some effort from both sides.
Next time you tell someone you love them, ask yourself if you respect them, care about them, if you are compassionate and appreciative towards them. Yes? Now ask yourself if your actions show it too. Yes? It is love. And do you want them too? Yes? Big Bonus. Companionship, joy, togetherness, a sense of peace and security automatically find place in a loving environment. Love adds up.
And what if they don’t love you back still? For another day.