Every one of us has deep inside of us the hunger and thirst to be appreciated, to be recognized to be accepted but most of all to be loved, for who we are, not what we ought to be. It is this hunger and thirst that can make us eternally happy in this world as we wait to live in the next or the saddest people that ever lived on this earth. Well, we all have our love dreams. We dream of meeting this guy who will sweep us off our feet, who will be perfect for us, treat us perfectly, marry us and we live happily ever after. I remember in my teenage years I used to say if I found a guy who would sing me Joe’s I wonna know I would quit school.

Love according to Wikipedia is an emotion of a strong affection and personal attachment. Dictionary Thesaurus defines love as a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person; a beloved person. Further to this, love is also defined as a virtue representing all of human kindness compassion and affection and “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. Love may also be described as actions towards others or one ‘self based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.

Love can either be impersonal or interpersonal. Impersonal is that which is expressed towards things one is passionate about for instance goals, objects, animals, activities, principles, outreach programs among others. These are things one is deeply committed to or truly values. Interpersonal love refers to love between human beings. It is a more potent sentiment than a simple liking for another. Interpersonal love is most closely associated with interpersonal relationships. Such love might exist between family members, friends, and couples. Interpersonal love is my concern in this topic, especially that which exists between couples.

Every time one talks about love, the first kind that comes to mind is this. Every person dreams of their first love experiences, envies others’ love, falls in love once in their lives, and gets fascinated by it. If it was not so fascinating, then how do we explain the number of movies screened and songs composed for love or out of love? It then must be a very powerful force, seriously, to make one die for it, or out of it. It should also be a very beautiful thing, how then do we explain the stories of Cinderella and snowhite and all the other beautiful “they lived happily ever after”. It also must be beautiful because those who are in love glow, radiate, the love, smile more and frown less, are less angry, are more satisfied with life, and would do extreme foolish things in the name of it. In the name of Love, we do crazy things, in the eyes of love we see beautiful things, in the hands of Love, we experience wonderful moments, in the name of love, and we live life to the full, no fear, no regrets, no pain, just LOVE. This is because, in love we find acceptance, of who we really are, not who we ought to be. According to Allan Hardman, in an article, Acceptance as the highest form of love, he explains that to accept a person exactly the way he/she is, without judgment or resistance, is to love in a very different way from the bargaining in the dream of the planet. He goes further to highlight that Love as acceptance says, “I see you, and I see the perfection that you are as a creation of the divine life. I am ready to receive you as you are.” Citing the example of the Eagle warrior, he says that she loves because it is her nature. She has no attachment to how her love will be received, or returned. She loves because it makes her happy to love. The eagle warrior is so selfish that she loves all the time, so that she can be happy, all the time!

Love is the sweetest of all emotions and acceptance of situations of life is the surest way of avoiding all tensions and frictions.  Each human being craves to be loved by others, because love is a form of divinity, which we all possess. It is a form of unmixed bliss, which is at the core of our very being. Love is an expression of this bliss. Unconditional love (love without expectation) is the core of spirituality.

The Christian understanding is that love comes from God. Christians believe that to Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength and Love your neighbor as yourself are the two most important things in life (Mark 12:28-32) . The  Apostle Paul glorified love as the most important virtue of all. Describing love in the famous poem in 1 Corinthians, he wrote, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” (1 Cor 13:4–7). He further calls upon people to love one another, “Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7–8). Christian theologians see God as the source of love, which is mirrored in humans and their own loving relationships. This implies that to ultimately love, one has to be so in love with God, and with self such that Love thus overflows to others. Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his first encyclical on “God is love” that a human being, created in the image of God, who is love, is able to practice love; to give himself to God and others and by receiving and experiencing God’s love in contemplation i.e. loving those around him. In Christianity the practical definition of love is best summarized by St. Thomas of Aquinas, who defined love as “to will the good of another,” or to desire for another to succeed. This is the explanation of the Christian need to love others, including their enemies. As Thomas Aquinas explains, Christian love is motivated by the need to see others succeed in life, to be good people.

Happiness is what we all want; and misery is something which we all want to avoid in life. The simplest formula to achieve both these is to adopt love and acceptance as the basis of our life. How does one bring about feelings of extreme love to one and all in life? Such an attitude can only be possible if one thinks of every being as a form of the divine. There is God dwelling inside each one of us, who deserves to be worshiped and loved. By the virtue of our confirmation, we are instilled with the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. The spirit being the third person of the trinity thus transforms us to divine state. It therefore implies that when we love others, we love the God in them thus we Love God too. According to Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali, the basis of real love between people is spiritual. To see another as a spiritual being, a soul, to be conscious of that reality is to have spiritual love. Each person complete within, independent yet interconnected, recognizes the state of another. True love thus is when one soul has love for another soul. The true love is emotions that originate initially in the spiritual heart. The deeds of true love are done under the control of the developed intellect against the background of these emotions. This then means that when one loves the soul of the other, which is perfect, the imperfections portrayed by the human person ceases to exist. Hence we come across statements that love is blind or even deaf. When spiritual love prevails, neither internal nor external animosity, hatred, neither anger nor jealousy is possible. These negative feelings are transformed to the costiveness in the coolness of love. This love, spiritual love, according to Dr. Ghali implies not dwelling on the weakness of others. Instead there is concern in removing one’s own defects to give more happiness and not sorrow. The true love also means one cannot bear to see weaknesses of another for whom there is love. There is an honest desire to correct what is inaccurate, which is carried out with the feeling of love and the power of words. When there is a balance between the love and the power of words, no matter how bitter the message, it will touch the heart of the other and will be experienced as truth. I believe this in couples thus becomes true when they usually say they have found someone to perfect their imperfections.

Loving one another is habit, a way of life. It is not a onetime statement but a continuous expression of it in word and deed. Nurturing this love in courtship requires continued involvement. Love is like a flower, and, like the body, it needs constant feeding. The tender flower would wither and die without food and water. And so love, also, cannot be expected to last forever unless it is continually fed with portions of love, the manifestation of esteem and admiration, the expressions of gratitude, and the consideration of unselfishness (Ensign, 1977). What are some “little things” that can keep love and friendship alive in marriage?  Kenny Rogers sings of “Buy me a rose, call me from work, Open a door for me, what would it hurt, Show me you love me by the look in your eyes, these are the little things I need the most in my life”. We need to take time and learn the little things that make our loved ones go “Awww”, that which reminds them that we care. Appreciation of these things also goes a long way in saying “Thank you darling, it means the world to me that u did this”. My boyfriend saved the Memorial Day of my late little brother. I was touched to know that he would remember such a day. It’s a special day for me, and he made it special to him too. Most of us get into relationships, assuming we know what the other person needs or appreciates, there is so much fallacy that has been introduced by soap operas and movies, but one thing is not everything there in is right and not everything there in is wrong. The Kenny Rogers’ song, Buy me a rose, gives great example of the effects of assuming. We need to really find out what matters to our spouses and nurture it by making it more special. If he loves swimming, learn how to swim, if she loves badminton, try to play the game with her, it might give her so much pleasure to just teach u.  If we can “perfect love” in our lives, the next generation will draw from this well too.

The couple in love has to be committed to always putting each other first in their relationship with each other. The first thing you notice in all highly successful loving relationships is that those who purport to be in love recognize that their relationship is not about you and me, it is about US. Discovering that YOU are not the center of the universe is the hallmark of a great relationship. Actually putting another human being number one is a powerful indication that you are truly in love. Do not look to your own interests but let each of you look to the interests of the others (Phil 2:4). The couple in love has to be committed to democracy in their relationship. Successful loving relationships are egalitarian i.e.  the relationships, or rather participants in the relationships  understand that theirs is a shared relationship. If one person has all the power and makes all the decisions, it is NOT love. The couple in love has to be committed to ensuring their mutual happiness. True love is not just about ensuring your happiness. More importantly, and often for the first time in your life, you actually enjoy and are motivated by ensuring the happiness of someone other than yourself. It is a good feeling. Some great thinker once said that love is discovering that the happiness of the other person is essential to your own. The couple in love has the values of absolute trustworthiness and integrity in their relationship with each other. If you cannot trust the one you love, then it is not true love. The most successful loving relationships report that they trust their mate unequivocally and without hesitation. To violate that trust is to undermine and, ultimately destroy, the relationship with the one you say you love. The couple in love has to be committed to caring and unconditionally loving one other. When you truly love someone you do so without conditions. It is not about loving you IF . . . True love is unconditional. The couple in love has to be committed to being mutually respectful towards each other. There is a Golden Rule in true love and it is borrowed from the bible teachings “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Do not expect to be treated with respect when you are disrespectful to the one you love. Respectfulness is at the heart of all great loving relationships. The couple in love values their mutual sense of responsibility for each other. People in love have to care for each other in ways that they have never cared for another human being. They feel a sense of responsibility for another person that they have never felt before. It feels so good to put another’s needs above your own. To do so is to love deeply. The Core Values of all successful loving relationships are at the heart of the matter. If you and your mate master these values, your love will, in all probability, last a lifetime.

However, in as much as the beauty and perfection is discovered in love, and true acceptance experienced herein, human beings have been caught up in patterns of behavior which has distorted the value and ability to trust one another with feelings and intentions. One minute there is love, the next this love is betrayed and is no longer there. This results into intense sorrow and pain. Thus human souls remain thirsty for true love, even one drop, without which they continue to wander around in distress searching and searching. Yet in their search, they can truly open up to the true love they once experienced due to the wounds left by love betrayed. Don’t give up on love though, grass is not greener on the other side, and if it is, it has been watered. It has taken effort. Many a times, we argue and fall out with our parents, brothers, sisters etc. But we do not give up on them. We still love them. Why then is it so easy to give up on love between couples? Is the chord that binds us really that thin? Is it really because they do not matter? Or is it that they matter too much? Why do we hurt each other so bad? What if that person was our brother, sister, son daughter best friend? How would we want them treated? Can we treat each other likewise? Can that universal good surpass that hurt that we may inflict?Why do we treat each other as AOB or as objects to be used not persons to be cared for?

People say love is not a bed of roses. I believe love is a bed of roses. Not just the petals but also the thorny garden or rose bush that needs a lot of care. In fact I would say love is a rose garden. Roses are beautiful flowers, the most loved flower in the whole world. They’re also known for being one of the most fragile and time-consuming flowers you can attempt to grow on your own. They can catch diseases as swiftly as they can sway in the wind. Taking proper care can seem like a very taxing, and time consuming thing to do. They are the most difficult flower to manage and keep healthy. There are many small things that have to be done to keep them looking their best. Pruning, cutting the dead and damaged branches, sharpening your hand shears before pruning, mulching, protecting your bushes, feed them water often, keeping the area around your flowers cleared, feeding them proper nutrients, preventing them from diseases infestation among other taxing responsibilities of rose care. Love requires the same level of nurturing, and just like rose petals are beautiful as they are harvested, and reflect the fruits of the hard labor of a rose farmer, a well nurtured love will also flourish and bloom with continued nurturing. The only difference will be, while rose petals wither at some point in time, well nurtured love is eternal. Yes, it proceeds beyond the human mortality, to the immortal world. So let’s learn to love, and love truly, and nurture this love so that when we are at our deathbed, we may have the chance to look back and say, for the joy of it all, I loved and loved truly, and in loving someone else learnt to love and love grew from me to him/her and to everyone our lives touched. It blossomed. Then we can smile and kiss the world goodbye.