“Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.” – Anthony Robbins
Most people get married assuming that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: companionship, romance, sexual fulfillment, intimacy, friendship, laughter, financial security, joys doubled and sorrows and burdens halved. Most people pick their partner because they think/hope/assume that everything they’ve found with that person will either continue or get even better.
But the truth is that, in the beginning, a marriage or an intimate relationship only gives you a taste of these. The box is loaded with freebees and samples. Soon the box will be empty. Unless both people start putting things into the box.
Like Love, kindness, appreciation.
There is no Love in marriage. Love is in people. And people either put the love in marriage or keep it out.
There is no romance in marriage; people have to add romance and passion to their relationship or else the relationship will turn tepid and stagnant.
A couple must learn the art of and form the habits of giving, sharing, loving, being kind, being affectionate, serving, sacrificing, communicating, appreciating, forgiving, accepting, not sweating the small stuff, being consistent, and so on. In other words, keeping the box full.
Or else the box will empty.
That’s what happens when one or both people take out more than they put in, the box soon empties.
To keep the Marriage Box full requires that we be willing to work at the relationship (that we have a work ethic; that we give as much as, if not more than, we take; that we try to leave things as good as, if not better than, we found them), and that we be bring a healthy version of our “self” to the relationship (and not a depleted self, not an unproductive exploitative self).
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When you love someone, you put things into the box, you give, you invest, you nurture, you build. When you don’t really love someone—when you say you love a person but actually you don’t—you aren’t concerned with the box, you maybe don’t even realize that there is a box, because the “relationship” isn’t about the other person, it’s about you and about receiving.
When you love someone, it’s not about you, it’s about them, or it’s about BOTH of you. But it’s no longer just about you. When the relationship is no longer just about you, then there’s a box.
And when you love someone, you don’t just put into the box what is meaningful to you: you put into the box what is meaningful to the other person, what speaks love to the other person. That’s what makes it Love, giving, sacrifice, self-extension, going the extra mile, about the other person.
Most people are narcissistic in ways that they cannot even begin to imagine let alone even see. They are blind to how narcissistic/selfish they are. That also makes them blind to all of the ways that they take in a relationship as well as all of the little and not so little ways that they fail to give in a relationship.
When we love another person the relationship isn’t just about us anymore. When we love someone we don’t starve them, we give to them.
When we love someone love becomes a verb that allows us to put stuff into the box, give to the other person in a way that is meaningful to him or her and works with their schedule, not just ours, and works with their tastes and preferences, not just ours.
When we give in a way that works for us and when we give when we want to give or when we’re in the mood to give, we aren’t really giving or Loving the other person: that’s just that our narcissism temporarily not interfering with the relationship; that’s just our narcissism happening to coincide with the other person benefiting in some collateral way.
This is what most people call Love: their narcissism coinciding with and benefiting the other person collaterally. Instead of the focused intentional giving that is done out of Love, or that is about the other, the “giving” is really receiving where the focus is primarily on oneself and what one is getting. When the focus is primarily on oneself in a relationship, one is not actually Loving the other person, one is a narcissist who is using/exploiting the other.
When we love someone, the focus is on the other person, what we are putting in the box, the quality and frequency of what we are putting in the box, whether it matters to the other person, and whether it is good for the other person or will bring happiness to the other person.
When we don’t put stuff in the box, we starve the relationship or marriage. We are takers, not givers; narcissists, not Lovers.
It’s like the story of the two banquet halls. There are two banquet halls that are laid out identically with an abundance of delicious food. In one banquet hall the people are happy and well-fed. In the other, they are unhappy and malnourished. In both banquet halls, people have to eat with identical 3-foot long utensils. The difference is that in the unhappy hall, the people are unhappy because they are focused on trying to feed themselves, and the size of their utensils prevent them from doing so and also have them constantly getting in each other’s way. In the banquet hall where the people are happy, they are happy because they have learned how to feed each other, and to do so courteously, to give each WHAT the other would like to eat (this analogy assumes that the people themselves have a decent idea of what is good for them to eat and what is not).
The oft told inspirational story that compares the Dead Sea with the Sea of Galilee makes the same point. The Dead Sea is a dead sea because it keeps all of its water—nothing flows out of it and so nothing can grow in it; the water is too salty. But the nearby Sea of Galilee is full of life because water flows out of it.
When we love another person, we want to give to that person in a way that is meaningful to him or her; we want to be good to that person; our focus is no longer just on ourselves, but is also equally if not more so on the other. When we don’t Love the other person, our focus is only incidentally or sporadically or peripherally on the other, and not on the other as an end in him- or herself, but as a means, a prop, a tool, a slot machine for the gratification our wants and needs.
When we love another person, we don’t use him or her, we make the other person and his or her well-being and happiness just as important as our own. We don’t do things that will benefit us but will disrespect him or her. When we love another, we have the other person’s best interests at heart—and not just some of the time, but constantly. We have internalized the other person and their next interests so much that they have become a part of us, inseparable from us. This is not merging or glomming on or fusion without integrity; this is self-extension of the highest and most respectful order. This is fusion *with* integrity. This is what real Love is all about: knowing another person and their best interests and what they like and what is good for them well enough that we have come to naturally desire to give this to the other and not withhold it from them or starve them of it.
And it takes a certain amount of personal growth and self-development, a certain level of emotional maturity and character development, a certain amount of self-awareness and honesty and getting real and very truthful with ourselves, to get to this place and not be BSing ourselves about being at this place.
Simply put, a good percentage of people are BSing themselves when they say “I Love you” to their partner. They don’t actually Love their partner, they don’t treat their relationship like a living thing and nurture and tend to it and invest in it; they don’t see their partner as a REAL person, as someone with tastes and preferences (a love language) different than their own, with ways of wanting to be loved and cared for that are different from how they want to be loved and cared for. Most people say “I Love you” to keep up the ruse, to keep the game going, to maintain the status quo of what they are getting out of the relationship. Most people say “I Love you” because the truth would end things: “I am using you, and will continue to do so as long as your needs and wants coincide with what I am prepared to give you collaterally, incidentally, peripherally, as an afterthought. You are not my primary focus, nor are ‘we’ my primary focus; I am primarily focused on myself because that’s the level of emotionally maturity and psychological development that I am at. I have been stunted by dozens of things—my culture, upbringing, parents, friends, media, even myself—and so I have not grown enough to love and to give consistently.”
. Related articles:
How to Fall in Love Again (realtruelove.wordpress.com)
How Asking Just One Question Can Save Your Relationship (realtruelove.wordpress.com)
On the Benefits of Generosity to Your Marriage and Your Children (realtruelove.wordpress.com)
Falling in Love versus Being in Love and Genuinely Loving Another (realtruelove.wordpress.com)