Love is a Verb

           Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish
           its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and
           wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.    Anais Nin

Many people think of love as a passive feeling.  Either I love someone or I don't.  Perhaps at the beginning of a relationship that may be true.  However, as a relationship gets beyond the infatuation stage, the relationship requires maintenance.  Some have used the metaphor of a garden.  For the garden to flourish, one has to water, weed, and sometimes fertilize.  Feelings of love diminish without one's partner nurturing the relationship.

When relationships wither, there is a significant falling off of small, caring behaviors, such as a kiss hello or goodbye, asking about the others day, asking if the other wants something from the kitchen when you go, and an infinite number of smaller behaviors that convey love, affection, attention, etc.  At these times, one too often feels “What have they done for me, lately?”  This inevitably strains the relationship further. 

The caring behaviors help maintain a foundation of the relationship.  One thinks at some level, “They still care about me.”  Conversely, the lack of caring behaviors erode the foundation of the relationship.  Thoughts begin to be more frequent, “They don't care about me, anymore.”

Relationships are threatened when one insists that the other has to act first.  This can quickly lead to a stagnation and even a stalemate in the relationship.

If your relationship is strained, deciding to be the person to act first will help jump start a revival of the relationship.  If the other person continues to not respond in kind, the relationship is likely in serious trouble.  This may mean that things have gone too long without being watered or perhaps the other is a taker, not a giver.  Or it may mean the other is preoccupied with other things in their lives, at this time.  If the other continues to not respond, a calm, rational discussion is in order.  This does NOT mean “You never...” as that almost guarantees that conversation to be counter-productive.  If discussion fails, consider couples counseling.

In conclusion, tend to your garden!  If things are strained, be the first to act.  Doing so will maximize that the relationship will be revitalized.


Mike Miller, PhD



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