Bob Hollander, JD, LCSW-C and Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, Guest Authors
Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
When partners meet, the magic of love just happens. Feelings of romance, desire, excitement, chemistry, abound effortlessly. We are convinced that we have found our true love, the one who will always be there, never disappoint us, or leave. We base lifetime commitments on these exhilarating feelings and settle into a false sense of safety and security.
The simplistic belief that love will last forever is a myth. After the chase is over, we relax and put forth less effort to please. We begin to take each other for granted. We get busy. We stop doing small acts of love. No one every told us that, left on it’s own, love will go away.
The truth is that romantic love creates a wonderful flame, a great beginning, but it will not keep burning unless the fire is stoked. Love has an appetite and it needs to be fed, lest it starve to death.
What we have learned about love is that you have to actively “give it.” Remember the words in John Mayer’s song, “Love Is A Verb:”
Love ain’t a drug
Despite what you’ve heard
Yeah love ain’t a thing
Love is a verb
So you gotta show, show, show me…
That love is a verb
Here are our top ten ways to give love:
1) Tell’m. ~ How often do you tell your partner you love her? We don’t mean the “Love ya” as you are walking out the door or finishing your phone conversation. We mean using words to tell your partner authentically how much she means to you. It could be out loud, or in a card, a poem or a text. Bob sometimes tells other people how much he loves me in front of me. Though I blush, it makes me feel good.
2) Surprise’m. ~ When was the last time you did something special for your partner? Not on an anniversary or Valentines Day; but a random act of love, “just because.” Flowers, a small gift, a special meal, a backrub, a foot massage, doing a chore (without being asked) are ways to express that he is special to you. One time I surprised Bob and had his whole family come down from New York to visit. He was so grateful; he couldn’t stop thanking me. Good thing he likes his family.
3) Unplug. ~ Are you “on” all the time? Carve out “electronic free” time – no cell phones, no texting, no email, no Facebook. You may be surprised at how good it feels, like you have been set free. We don’t realize how much our electronics control our lives. Bob and I put our electronics away after 9pm at night and spend time together.
4) Initiate connection. ~ How often do you think to initiate conversation, hugs, kisses, a date, a weekend away, a fun or new activity, sex? We hear couples complain a lot about this. “He doesn’t take me out on dates.” “She never initiates sex.” We are so busy doing everything that we have to do, that we forget to initiate connection and closeness. Bob and I often reach out to express affection. It’s a wonderful gift.
5) Be playful. ~ Does life feel too serious? As adults we have so much responsibility, we stop being playful. Remember fun? Take time out to be spontaneous. Think like a kid. Go play ball or Frisbee. Go to a trampoline park or an amusement park without the kids. Our favorite times are going to vineyards for a picnic and dancing.
6) Forgive and let go. ~ Do you hold grudges? Talk through conflict instead of sweeping it under the rug. Listen to each other’s point of view. Everyone is right from his/her perspective, even if you don’t agree. Embrace it, face it, apologize, forgive and let go. Bob and I have learned how to face our conflicts in a way that brings us closer. And we teach other couples to do the same.
7) Be generous. ~ How giving are you? Give of your love, your money and your time to each other. Fill each other’s cup. Create love habits. Nurture the connection, the passion, the emotional and erotic feelings. Bob and I have always carved out time for dates. When our kids were young we went away for weekends a few times a year to give to each other and our relationship.
8) Accept’m. ~ Do you accept each other? We all have our own quirks, personalities, annoying habits. Often we try to change our partner. Choose your battles and accept your partner’s idiosyncrasies. Bob used to be chronically late and I responded by being chronically angry. One day I decided to accept this about him. When I let go of my anger, he was on time more often. Imagine that.
9) Look’m in the eye. ~ When you talk do you make eye contact? So often in session with couples we notice that people don’t look at each other. When there’s a problem or when expressing deep feelings, eye contact is the path to true connection. When Bob and I talk deeply we always do it face to face.
10) Connect Head, Heart and Hormones. ~ Feed what we call the “Head, Heart, Hormones” connections. Work on all three to nourish love. Head means communicate, share, listen, validate each other. Heart means do small acts of love to express your caring. Hormones means have sex. Nurture all parts of the relationship and it will last a lifetime.
In how many of these ways do you express love? Share this with your partner and remember, Love Is A Verb.
All titles and credit go to John Mayer, Columbia Records, and © 2012 Sony Music Entertainment.
Copyright © 2014 by Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD. Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, is a licensed counselor and co-founder of Relationships Work, an innovative therapy practice and online resource center. Together with her husband, Bob, they encourage couples to consciously co-create their relationships in order to achieve a deeper, more intimate connection. You can visit Relationships Work online at: http://www.RelationshipsWork.com. Follow them on Facebook.
Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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