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My son calls me to share his exciting news. He is in love. His voice is full of enthusiasm and he can barely contain himself. “Mom, she is the most beautiful girl in the world, both inside and out.” I smile. I encourage him to tell me all about it. My son is 21 years old. He is a college student whose life is wrapped around his Internet business and classes. How giddy am I that he has finally found time for a date and love? Ahhh...The signs of love.
Ironically, later in the day, my daughter calls. She is in a college that competes with her brother, an hour away. They are three years apart but born on the same day. They have a relationship like twins, close and fun, so they enjoy the competition. “Mom, how do you know when your in love? I mean what are the signs?” Again, I smile. It’s an age-old question and I feel just age-old-enough to answer it.
I am 46 years old, and I’ve been married for 25 years. Not just married but married to my best friend. It has been a great union, although not always bliss. I mean how realistic is that? If it were always bliss, how in the world can we really qualify it as love? Love endures. However, it’s been a great time full of wonderful memories that we are still making. We still hold hands, we still support each other, and we still disagree. It’s full and deeper than those first years and worth every minute.
So I tell my children, love is many things and comes in many forms. Young love is giddy and fills the senses with pure happiness. It’s an intense energy that pulls like a magnet and makes life suddenly seem completely perfect. I tell them they will know when love is real when it manifests itself in the most important ways.
Real love will give and receive. It’s a mutual desire to be happy together. That requires compromise. You are no longer alone and it’s no longer all about you. It’s now about two of you and it requires give and take.
Love is intimacy that has nothing to do with sex. Do you feel comfortable sharing your most private thoughts with this person? Will this person hold those thoughts in safekeeping and share his thoughts in return? Communication will become the most vital tool in a marriage, so it’s important to have a foundation of trust and the ability to talk honestly now.
Love is supportive. Does this person support your hearts desires, your talents and abilities, your dreams? Do you in turn support his desires, his talents, and his abilities? A marriage is a two way street that should encourage the dreams and goals of the other. Life is short. If you are in a relationship where all the focus is on the success of only one partner, then the sacrificing partner will eventually resent it and the trouble will begin.
Love is not about looks. Okay, he is very GQ. She looks like a model. So what? Looks are temporary. The question is do you only feel great around this person when you’re out showing him off? If so, love will be short lived. In fact, it’s not love at all; it’s really a greedy kind of infatuation that only serves to make you look good. Get past the superficial. Physical attraction is only one small part of true love. In other words can you spend time with this person without kissing, touching or sex and enjoy it? Are you as in love with his brain and personality as you are with his looks?
Love is not about changing him. If you have a list of things you just know you can change about him after you get married, it’s time to stop and rethink the relationship. Love is not about changing him. Life will change both of you over time, but you must realize right now that you can’t change someone else. Only yourself. If you’re constantly convincing yourself that you can change this or that about him, think again. ‘Cus it’s not love, it’s just your next project.
Love…likes. Yep, after time love becomes secondary to like. In fact, after a number of years of marriage and kids, love can be taken for granted. Of course you love him. But do you like him? Do you see yourself laughing, playing, and spending volumes of time with this person after the hard facts of life set in? Friendship is so important to healthy love. Now we certainly have friends we are not in love with. However, if we can’t be friends with the person we believe we are in love with, watch out!
Love makes us feel good about ourselves. Some attractions are unhealthy and always leave us feeling bad about ourselves. With every meeting we spend time making excuses for that person or telling ourselves “we will do better next time.” This is not love. This doesn’t mean you can’t have moments when you feel badly, but they are the exception not the rule. If the majority of your time is spent making excuses or feeling badly, it’s not a healthy union.
On the other side of this is the clincher, the quotient that some have the hardest time accepting. Love is about the disagreement. It’s hard to get through life without disagreements. They happen to everyone. Those that say they never argue either lie or are just not that close, which is a little scary. Now, I’m not talking about knock down drag out screaming and yelling. That’s just not healthy or productive. I’m talking about disagreeing. I have told my children when they think they are in love, to wait until the first disagreement then they will know for sure. How you disagree with a person is telling and it determines both the strength and the kindness of that person. It also speaks of their ability to resolve and move on, their ability to forgive. A disagreement is the test of love. It’s not IF you disagree, it’s if you can and still love.
My daughter now feels more confident about her vision of love. We don’t yet know if my son is indeed in love. They are still wide-eyed and perfect to each other.
What I know about love is this. It may tingle at the beginning and light your heart on fire. Sometimes I think we are born young and beautiful to catch the attention of the opposite sex and to inspire that initial attention. However, just like children love must grow up to be healthy.
It moves past the physical to a spiritual, meaningful place where even wrinkles and weight are still beautiful. It may even be more beautiful than the perfection of youth because it comes with the bond of enduring through life’s struggles together, hand in hand. It raised children. It took care of aging parents. It bought the first home with little or no money and then finally went on to buy the dream home, which was more stressful than either could have imagined. It took vacations and played board games as a family. It worried together on their children’s first dates. It frustrated over broken down cars. Simply put, it lived. However, every love started out young and grew. Love has qualities just like a person, and it’s those qualities that determine if it is real.
All I know about love I learned in twenty-five short years of marriage. That at 5 o’clock in the afternoon I can hear my husband’s old used truck rattle down our paved, tree-lined driveway and my heart sparks again just like it did yesterday and the day before. He is home and I smile. I am a woman in love.
Is He Your Soulmate?
The term "soulmate" often carries visions of mystic astrological card readings, reincarnation and destiny. But you don't have to believe in anything supernatural in order to have a soulmate. Your soulmate is someone who lights the fire inside of you, whom you love unequivocally and who shares your worldview. So does your guy make the grade or are you settling for a relationship that's just "nice?" Find out now if he's your soulmate