Article by Wendy McCance
When I was young, I used to wonder what love looked like, what it felt like and how would I know when I was in love. I remember talking with friends and family about what it felt like to fall in love and how I would know when I was struck by it.
No one told me the intricate details of what true love was really like. I’m not talking about butterflies in your stomach (that’s attraction) and I’m not referring to that feeling of anticipation and excitement over seeing that certain someone. I am talking about the love that gets you through the rough times and makes the good times great.
I have always been a bit hyper-sensitive to what my kids have witnessed as they are growing up. Although the two younger kids were really too young to remember much, my oldest saw everything that love was not. Since the divorce, I have remarried and have been happily in love for six years. My ex-husband on the other hand is on his third wife and the relationship they have sounds as toxic as the one I experienced. The kids are with their dad half of each week and see what a bad relationship is like.
Thankfully, the kids love my husband and he truly loves them as though they were his very own. When they are here, they see true love and all that accompanies it. It’s the hyper-awareness I have to what the kids have experienced that has made me do what my own family never did for me. I talk with the kids about love. I tell them what it is really like and also what it definitely is not. I’m hoping that by talking with them long before they begin to date that they will have more confidence and a stronger understanding of what they should look for when coupling up.
This is what I’ve told them.
*Two people who give each other respect. They build each other up, but never tear each other down.
*Fights can happen, but when there is love, the fighting is fair. No one puts the other person down or points fingers of blame.
*Communication is key. Without good communication, a relationship won’t work. This means that each person has their say without interruption. There is feedback from the other person as well as eye contact showing that they care and are listening to you and vice versa.
*The person brings you joy on a daily basis. You laugh a lot and are playful just like two kids.
*You want to do things for each other. You want to make each other feel cared for. You do these things to express your love not because you feel guilty or pushed into it.
*There is a lot of physical contact. I’m talking about a hug, holding hands, sitting up against each other and snuggling. It happens naturally because you just enjoy being near each other.
*You build the other person up to others even when they aren’t around. You are proud of them and can’t help but say some good things about them.
*You don’t keep track of who did what. One person doesn’t do it all. You are intertwined and work as a team.
*You talk about the future often because you know you will still be together and like to dream with each other.
*It’s not the words that mean anything (although saying I love you, or you look good is always a good thing to hear) it’s the actions. It’s easy to say anything, but actions tell the truth. Your partner should be someone who is looking out for you and wants to nurture you in a variety of ways.
Love is not:
*Verbal abuse such as put downs, screaming, or saying anything ever that puts you in a place of fear.
*Fear is NEVER a part of love. There is never a reason to feel fear in a relationship.
*Anything physical other than loving gestures is NOT love ever.
*You should never feel as though you are fending for yourself because the other person won’t be there for you.
*Being ignored or feeling overlooked on a regular basis is not love.
*Feeling as though you have no value in your partners eyes.
*Feeling as though you crave love and attention to the point that it has made you feel very insecure.
Of course I have not hit every point, but I’m sure you get the picture. These are the things that I feel are so important for my kids to know. I feel so grateful that I got a second chance with a wonderful man. I’m so happy that we are a good example for the kids every day. I am also comforted in the fact that the kids don’t just see what it is, but experience it with us. When the couple is happy, the kids are happy. The positive energy rubs off onto them and there becomes a nice comfortable cocoon of love and happiness that is spread through the family.
What does love look like to you? Were you lucky enough to experience real love within your own family growing up? Did someone ever tell you what it looks like or should feel like? I can’t blame my family for not teaching me what to look for. My parents had an unhappy marriage and screaming, insults and lack of support was the marriage that they had.
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