Thursday, 20 March 2014

The True Meaning of Love

A shot of hubby and me at Raffles Hotel Singapore

Being in love is a beautiful process. It is about two people meeting, connecting and committing to each other. True love is not conditional. It is about putting your partner’s interest before your own. It is about connecting with a person mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Very often, people confuse lust with love. They meet someone for the first time, fall head over heels in love with the person’s appearance and assume that this ‘feeling’ is love. That feeling of anticipation, excitement and exhilaration is probably infatuation or lust but not love. This feeling of euphoria when you are in ‘lust’ with a person will not last, whereas true love is enduring and should be able to withstand the challenges that come along the way.

Love is not a noun (person or thing), it is a verb (an action). Therefore, for a relationship to grow and develop, both husband and wife will have to make constant effort to communicate and spend quality time with each other. The more effort you put in, the stronger your marriage will be. Hollywood teaches us that love is a ‘feeling’ and once this feeling is lost, the love is gone and it is time to move on to the next partner, only to experience the same thing all over again (falling in love, getting bored and falling out of love). 

Love should not be conditional. When you choose a partner, you should consider the overall package and it should not be based on just physical appearance or wealth. I have over eight years of experience in running a dating agency and have spoken to many single men and women on the qualities they look for in a relationship. Men usually list good looks as the most important quality in a partner while women state financial background as the determining factor in marriage. To me, connection is the most important. It is impossible for me to fall in love with a person just because of his physical appearance or ability to provide. Choosing someone solely for his ability to provide cheapens the relationship. With time, many things can change, beauty will fade, health will deteriorate and your spouse may also lose his job. Does that mean that you will forsake him/ her and find your own happiness? Absolutely No. A couple who is deeply in love should be able to go through thick and thin together. 

Love is not a feeling. It is a conscious decision. You choose to love a person based on certain qualities and commit to loving this person. Feelings come and go but true love remains. I have met many men and women who tell me that love is hard to sustain and they have fallen out of love after the first few years of their marriage. It is easy for couples to drift apart especially in a country like Singapore where people are busy working to pay for their condos, cars or simply making ends meet. Couples stop communicating and spending time together. As time goes by, they spend more and more time apart and start to lead separate lives. When I suggest doing things to spice up the relationship, such as sending love notes, going for meals together, they exclaim, “It’s too tiring!” Maintaining a relationship is similar to gardening. In order for a plant to grow, you will need to nurture it, fertilise it so that it will grow healthy and strong. Once you neglect the plant, it will wither and die. Therefore, if you are not willing to put in the effort in the relationship, you are better off being alone.

Love is not blind. When you decide to love someone, you have to accept him/ her as a package (both strengths and weaknesses). Do not go into the relationship thinking that you have the ability to convert your partner. More often than not, people who feel they can change their partners end up feeling resentful when their partners do not seem to want to change. You can be encouraging but it’s no point trying to force someone to be what he or she is not.

Here are some tips to make your relationship stronger:
-Allocate at least 45 minutes to an 1 hour to communicate with your spouse. Sharing your thoughts and feelings will help you to bond better with your partner.

-Make effort to go on dates at least once a week (without the kids) even if you have been married for over 10 years.

-Variety is the spice of life. Try to do different things together such as dining out at different restaurants/ eateries, going for holidays, movies, picnics etc.

-Send love notes, endearing messages to each other during the work day. This helps to break the monotony of work and make you look forward to seeing your partner again in the evening.

-Treat your spouse with respect. Do not scream or raise your voice at each other no matter how angry you are. Once the respect is lost, it is difficult to get it back.

-Whenever you have disagreements, try to talk it out and find solutions to the problems . Do not let pride get in the way or go to bed with an angry heart.Whenever you are upset with your partner, think of the following bible verse and it will calm you down.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” 1 Corinthians13: 4.

It is not easy to love someone, it requires patience, time and effort.  Once you have decided to love, do whatever you can to improve the relationship. 

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