Sitting on my back deck, I’ve been thinking about how important my relationship is to me, and how important romantic love is to so many people.
I don’t think a single one of us said to ourselves, “I hope one day that I have an interesting, average, and ordinary relationship. I hope we don’t fight very often and I hope that we connect sometimes, perhaps even having sex once or twice a year!!!”
Nobody says that! Nobody ever says that! And yet, somehow this is what many couples are left with over time.
How do we embrace the realities of life? How do we deal with the ups and downs, the unavoidable challenges, while at the same time rise above it, without pretending?
Is it possible to be a happy couple, a joyful couple, even in the face of everything that comes our way?
There was a time when we hoped for, prayed for, and even worked for, having a happy, joyful, and amazing relationship. What if instead of hoping we spent more time and energy building something, putting the relationship on track? Could we then realize our dream of having a happy, joyful, and amazing relationship, no matter what?
Yes! And after interviewing happy couples of ten years or more, they all agreed, having this caliber of relationship takes developing a new kind of thinking, one that will encourage a profound way of relating to our partner, and our lives. It will require practicing the “Language of Love.”
Love is always the answer, and it is more important than our circumstances.
It is more important than our judgments, our opinions, winning, or being right. Love is bigger than all of it. Everything bows to love. So then, let’s put love first. Let’s put the relationship first!
Understanding, and developing the Language of Love
The Language of Love is FORGIVENESS. Now, have an open mind and keep reading. I know you have an understanding of forgiveness and that you’re likely very good at forgiving or, at least, you try to be. But in this post, we are going to see forgiveness in a new way, a deeper way.
There was a 1970 movie that became the highest grossing film that year. It was called Love Story, starring Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal. From that movie came a famous line, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.“
Saying I’m sorry is one way we view forgiveness. What if there were varying degrees of forgiveness? From the first degree to the highest degree?
The first degree is the most common and rather ordinary. Not to minimize it, but it’s just not the kind of forgiveness we are looking for, when referring to the Language of Love. We’re seeking the highest degree of forgiveness, one that is only accessible by using the practice of letting go.
Why is the first degree necessary?
The first degree of forgiveness may not be inspiring, but it is necessary for human interaction. Why is it necessary? Consider those times that you’ve made an error, a mistake. You were sorry, and you wanted to be forgiven. In some cases, you were, and in others, maybe not. By the same token, there are those who wronged you that you either forgave or you didn’t.
The first degree of forgiveness requires language, there has to be a dialogue, whereas, the highest degree of forgiveness is dramatically distinct. It is the Language of Love, and though often without dialogue, it absolutely communicates.
Let’s break it down
The best way to understand this degree of forgiveness is to break it down.
The Language of Love is to be forgiving.
For, as in you are for something. Like a fan is for their team. You are for-giving. Not giving as in gifting, but rather, giving as in to allow for.
So it is in this realm of allowing for, making room for, that is the Language of Love. The access begins with letting go of our automatic reactions. Reactions to our partner not being how we think they should be or how we would prefer to have them be.
We allow for, and give room to, however they are in the moment. That’s FOR-GIVING, allowing for the way one is, or the way one can sometimes be. We let go of finding reasons to be upset. Letting go of our automatic reactions, that’s the access to the highest degree of forgiveness.
This certainly doesn’t eliminate having conversations that will impact the future. On the contrary, this is exactly how we gain entry to those kinds of conversations. It is truly the most constructive way.
The first degree of forgiveness requires an action, a doing or saying something; while the highest degree of forgiveness is deeper, it’s an attitude.
The highest degree allows for breakdowns. It accepts that they will happen. It allows for problems, troubles, and insecurities. It allows for another’s humanity and our own. It recongizes that something will always be happening at varying degrees of intensity and on either side of the scale, good for me and sometimes not so good for me.
This degree of forgiving allows space for whatever is happening, it doesn’t resist. Rather, it allows for it, includes it, and makes room for it.
The Language of Love eliminates judgment. Of course, the judgment of others, but also the judgment of ourselves. Judgment of the past, one’s flaws, failures, and even accomplishments. Judgment robs the experience of love. Forgiveness, on the other hand, allows for the experience, the expression and the expansion of love, no matter what.
No matter what!
It is this kind of forgiveness that, after a major challenge, allows a couple to be whole again. It determines their future. Each day and every moment, you and I create how we will respond in the face of what’s happening, in the face of any circumstance. We can give power to our reaction or give power to the practice of letting go. From there, we can re-create our relationships.
Long-lasting, happy couples that I interviewed have this in common: They are forgiving, they practice the Language of Love.
It is a practice.
They want to be married or coupled, they want to thrive, and that’s what fuels the practice. They develop the highest degree of forgiveness through practice and they make it natural.
Maintaining high degrees of love in a relationship is ongoing. Relationships are not necessarily easy, but they are extremely rewarding.
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” –Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled
Life is simply life.
Thomas Kuster has trained inside the work of Peter K. Gerlach – Parts and The Internal Family, Patricia McDade – Consulting Alliance, and is certified through the HEARTMATH Institute and the Awakening Coaching Alliance. His systematic approach, The Heart Path, along with his unique point of view, helps couples and individuals see new possibilities for their relationships. Thomas started his coaching career in 1995. He designed and produced a classroom series for couples called Partners For Life, partners committed to a lifetime versus a life sentence.