Love (& a Whitman’s Sampler)


Image from: http://salvatoregigantephotography.com/blog/?p=585

Image from: http://salvatoregigantephotography.com/blog/?p=585
(& for more on the sampler, see the link to the video at the bottom of this post 🙂

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For children love is a feeling; for adults, it is a decision. Children wait to learn if their love is true by seeing how long it lasts; adults make their love true by never wavering from their commitment.”

― Orson Scott Card, “Pathfinder,” pg. 360

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For children, or for those in whom love has not yet matured, love tends to be a passive / reactive and emotional experience. Love is thought of as a feeling. According to this perspective, the more “real” the love—the better the love-match, the better the two are matched, the more the two people are “supposed” to be together—then the more intense the feeling (of “love,” infatuation, limerance, romance) and the longer and more effortlessly this feeling will last.

When the intense feelings for the other person begin to wane—as they always always always will—then the doubts begin to creep in: “I don’t love him/her” “Maybe I never did.” “What if this is the wrong person?” “What happened to all of the intense feelings?” “Why am I not tingling inside and as happy around this person as I used to be?” Et cetera.

The next step is usually to focus on trying to resurrect and reignite the feeling, the spark—date night, books on how to rekindle the feeling, couple’s therapy, et cetera—; or end the relationship and look elsewhere for someone new who will reignite the feeling, make us come back to life, make us feel alive, who we can talk to (and who will listen to us) effortlessly for hours, who seems to magically understand us, and who seems deeply into us and to love all of our little eccentricities and uniquenesses.

But there is also another—a third—and a much less tried way. It is the way of (what Covey calls) the “character ethic,” it is the way of inner growth and true self-development, it is the way that is advocated by and written about by the likes of David Schnarch, M. Scott Peck, Erich Fromm, Stephen Covey, Murray Bowen, Thích Nhất Hạnh, (and you can add St. Paul and Jesus and the Gospel writers to this mix as well).

These writers and thinkers all realized that the more a person becomes—not externally, in terms of prestige and power and physical beauty and worldly influence; but rather internally, meaning the deeper, the more reflective, the more self-developed (emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, and morally), and the better able to cope (in a non-medicated way) with daily life anxieties and stresses—then the more that will wean the person from relying so intensely on the feeling of love (and rekindling these) to motivate him or her into acting lovingly, and the more the person will behave in ways that are consistently warm, respectful, thoughtful, intelligent, virtuous, caring, considerate, good-hearted, win-win.

Therapy (of any sort) will always work best when it focuses on the self-development of the person or persons coming in for therapy. If you want a more loving relationship or marriage, consider working on yourself and becoming a more loving partner and human being, consider reading and thinking more and trying to learn more and more what love actually might be (in other words, begin weaning yourself of the likely childish worldview that envisions love as feeling and perhaps begin investing a bit more in the worldview where love is viewed as an expression of our level of person / personal development (depth of character, amount of spiritual growth, level of development of our conscience [Kohlberg]).

For children love is a feeling; for adults, it is a decision. Children wait to learn if their love is true by seeing how long it lasts; adults make their love true by never wavering from their commitment.”

And to become more mature in love—to become an adult in love—means developing those traits and capacities within ourselves that will allow us to deliver better on our end of our commitment and our decision to love another.

. . . . . . .

Now go on out and get your sweets a Whitman’s Sampler for Valentine’s Day!

Daym Drops Reviews the Whitman’s Sampler for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

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About John

I am a married, 46-year old, Midwesterner, with four children. My primary interest is in leading a very examined and decent and Loving life; my interests that are related to this and that feed into this include (and are not limited to) -- psychology, philosophy, poetry, critical thinking, photography, soccer, tennis, chess, bridge.
This entry was posted in M. Scott Peck, Mature Love, Mental Health, Orson Scott Card, Real Love, Spiritual Growth, The Examined Life, Truth, Waking Up, What is Love? and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Love (& a Whitman’s Sampler)

  1. hiddinsight says:

    Reblogged this on persuaded2go and commented:
    This post speaks to me tremendously today as I am well on my way to exploring what real love is all about–to developing the capacity to deliver better on my end of the commitment and to love another.

    • John says:

      Thank you for the re-blog, Hiddinsight, and good for you (as in AWESOME!) that you are exploring what real love may be and trying to develop even better the capacity to deliver on your end of your commitment!

      Warmest regards to you and yours,

      John

  2. loneyheart says:

    in general i agree… but i have learned that love is a two way street. You can have all of the loving feelings in the world toward a person and still not feel love. they can give you loving in return and sometimes it is still not enough. Decisions need to be made together if they effect you both as a couple. And who has the say about when the physical side of love is supposed to wain. There is something to be said about passion and desire. Even in your photo above the couple is well up in years. So tell me please if i am, as a healthy woman in my early 40’s supposed to happily give up on the immature, physical love, just because i have the grown up love. Does it have to be enough or can you have both?

    • John says:

      Thank you for reading and for commenting, Lonelyheart. And a very interesting question you ask.

      My point of view/answer is this: Romantic love & passionate physical sex are the icing, and not on the cake, but on the meat and potatoes and broccoli (or asparagus, or what have you). Everyone wants the cake and icing of love. Few people want the lima beans and collard greens and meat and potatoes of love. The meat & potatoes of love–the substantive part of love, the work of love, love that is active, proactive, a verb, that is growth-oriented, principled, imbued with much perspective (begins with the end in mind, realizes deeply and meaningfully that we are all fragile, brief, mortal, works in progress, wounded [some of more, some less than others]), focuses on what is good and noble and decent, et cetera–is an acquired taste. Most people will go out of their way to acquire a taste for red wine, but few will do so for love.

      In general people are slow to wean themselves from what is sweet and what is easy; we prefer fun to work, ease to difficulty, frosting and cake and icing to meat and potatoes and lima beans.

      When a person learns what love really is, romance and passion become choices that the person can freely choose to engage in and to nurture. Passion becomes an expression more of oneself and level of inner growth and sense of purpose, rather than something that is so specific to the other individual. In romantic love, as it is most often envisioned, it is the other person who brings out one’s passions. One is a dead lifeless thing until this other person comes along. Then suddenly one is fully alive and full of passion. In mature love, one is passionate not just because one is alive, but because one is alive and growing and self-aware and one’s life is infused with purpose, meaning, depth. And so this passion is brought to the table. It may certainly be increased and amplified by finding another who is similar. There is a synergistic effect.

      But when a person is still immature in love and in life, then the want of romantic love and limerance and sexual passion is stronger to fill in the voids. Those same voids can be filled–though not likely completely so–by real self-development, by developing depth, by developing our character and conscience, by becoming better critical thinkers, by reading better books, et cetera. And as those voids are filled in this way–the way of real “self-love”–our “need” or want of romance will decrease, and our ability to be romantic with our partner in a healthy way increases.

      What do you think?

      Thank you for your question, and for reading and for commenting.

      Warmest regards,

      John

      • Carin says:

        John, I think I might grow to love veggies more than Betty Crocker, that’s what I think! (though ironically, shared a large box of Whitman’s chocolates at my office Valentine’s Day. ) 🙂 Wow. Tremendous thoughts here…one should never lose sight of love, its meaning, its nuances. Thankful to have read this.

        • John says:

          Hello Carin,

          Thank you for reading and fro commenting. And I am very grateful that you found this post and site and that what you are reading here is resonating with you! Veggies are indeed delicious. I didn’t think so as a kid, but I was served a fair amount of frozen veggies and lima beans (my dad loves those; I still haven’t developed a taste for lima beans!) back then. Plus the palate of many a child is often fairly narrow and basic, and tends towards what is sweet. But as an adult, our palate expands, we acquire new tastes, we can deal better with bitter and with more complex flavor profiles; not to mention in regards to veggie, eating them fresh or steaming or even grilling them makes all the difference!

          Thanks for reading and for joining in the discussion, Carin, and I hope to see you around here some more!

          Warmest regards,

          John

  3. I was wondering how you were going to deal with Valentines Day… very thoughtfully done.

  4. Ceilia says:

    You articulate a fuller version of loving than I have been practicing lately, and this post comes to me at a time when I am ready to move toward that fuller version. Thank you.

    • John says:

      Hello Ceilia,

      You are welcome; and thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. Love is indeed likely something much different than the romantic ideas and ideal we grow up believing in and wanting. This site is definitely dedicated to exploring and articulating a fuller version of loving, and pointing to other authors and thinkers who have espoused a similar fuller view. I hope you will stick around and continue reading and commenting.

      Best wishes on your journey, and warmest regards,

      John

  5. I love…I mean…really like this piece. Thank you John, as always, for the inspiration.
    J.

  6. iceman18 says:

    Great post! Embodies all the reading that I have zeroed in on as I work to become that better person in contribution to my marriage. Thanks for the read.

  7. Biocadence says:

    Nice to meet you! I’m so glad you found my blog, as that is how I found you! I enjoyed this article very much. I remember the Disney and Hollywood movies I absorbed as a kid, and what they taught me about love. Yikes! The delirium of falling in love is awesome, yes?… what Scott Peck in “The Road Less Traveled” refers to as a gift of trickery that pushes us to trust another person to such an intimate extent. Staying firm in commitment beyond that exhilaration opens something else, and the way you describe it resonates. My husband and I have been together since college. Despite our beginning to date when he was 19, his emotional maturity and clarity have always been nearly startling to me. On my end, though, I learned to look inward for love (allowing for a richer experience of mutual respect and sharing outwardly with him) in the depths of our decade+ together.

    Thanks for your writing. I will definitely return for more!
    Annie at Biocadence

    • John says:

      Hello Annie,

      Thank you for reading and for commenting. And I am happy to have found your site as well.

      And I agree–hanging in there beyond the infatuation / limerance / hoodwinking phase can and does open us up to a deeper and more fulfilling level of loving and being loved. Most intimate relationships begin by the people involved placing far too much emphasis on whether a certain feeling is present or not (thanks, stinky Hollywood 😛 ), and not enough on whether the relationship makes sense (or whether two people click or will connect well) at a deeper level. It’s a tough message to hear, especially when one is young, thinks one knows it all, is full of raging hormones and desires, and is “in love.” At that stage in life, one “feels” so certain that there is an irrefutable correlation between the intensity of the feeling and the rightness of the other person as a life partner, and there is an irrefutable correlation between the depth of feeling and the amount of deeper compatibility.

      But not so.

      In fact, if anything the two almost appear to be inversely related, especially the younger the two people are!

      Too much heart and too little thought is how most love matches are made.

      Thank you for reading and for commenting, Annie.

      Warmest regards,

      John

  8. Pingback: Love Is More Than A Feeling—Much More Than A Feeling; It’s A Virtue | What Is Real True Love?

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