Finding true love is everyone’s desire, but it isn’t everyone’s experience. One of the reasons why we fail in our future love roles is because we failed to develop competence with the love opportunities of the past. Particularly in romantic relationships, few are able to sustain their love for each other beyond the initial honeymoon phase because they assume that love is a feeling. My friend love is more than a feeling, love is a skill. The feelings of love may fade but it is the skill of love that remains with you. When those love skills are exercised consistently, the feeling of love can be recreated over and over again. This is the key to the success of long-tenured relationships. One must, however, understand that the love skills you need in romantic relationships, must have been developed in your non-romantic relationships.
This is why those who are failures at their non-romantic relationships are bound to be failures in their romantic relationships. Our non-romantic relationships represent the most potent opportunity for us to develop the love skills we need to excel in our romantic relationships. I will endeavour to list them according to their ascending importance.
Loving yourself is the greatest education in the art of loving the familiar. No one is more familiar to you than you. So your ability to love yourself portrays blossoming self-esteem and self-concept. Though taking the love for yourself too far is what creates selfishness, one must learn to handle self-love like one would handle salt in our meals. A pinch of salt in your meal will be highly appreciated, but a bag of salt in a plate of food will be catastrophic in consequence. On the other hand not loving yourself at all will predispose you to abuse by love vultures whose job description is to feed on those who lack a healthy self-concept.
LOVE YOUR FAMILY
Your family represents the second degree of familiarity that requires your love input. You probably have lived with them and you get to see them every day. This familiarity has a way of breeding contempt, conflicts and in some cases enmity. Your ability to excel at loving them is your greatest training at loving in spite of complexity and diversity. This skill is bound to serve you well in your romantic relationships when differences and conflicts emerge. All you need do is draw strength from the fact that you remained committed to your family in spite of the prevailing complexities, so why won’t you do the same for the love of your life? This is perhaps why some people probe the quality of your family relationships before attempting to start a family.
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR
Your neighbours are unique in the sense that they aren’t likely to be bound by blood to you. Rather they could be bound by geographical or professional affiliations to you. They also represent a high degree of unfamiliarity to you with their different cultures, norms and behaviours. Loving them teaches you what it means to love a people you may not like, it teaches you to love the unfamiliar, it also teaches you what it means to love without options. Very few people are wealthy enough to choose their neighbours, most people get to put up with them. There is however a degree to which you will need to put up with the love of your life, no matter how compatible you may be. Loving your neighbour grants you that competence.
LOVE YOUR FRIENDS
This actually is about loving those you already like. I am fully convinced that marriage in itself is a glorified friendship. Those who don’t know how to be a friend are poised to fail in marriage. In my continent, a lot of emphases is placed on having esoteric sanctions before choosing a life partner. Most consult pastors, prophets, witch doctors and Islamic priests to determine the love of their life. While I respect their desire for accuracy, friendship is the most powerful engine of accuracy in marital decision making. Even if God told you to marry someone who isn’t your friend, it is bound to have the kind of marital failure that Gomer and Hosea suffered in the Christian Holy Book. Friendship is key.
LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
The zenith of emotional mastery and maturity is the ability to love those you don’t like, as well as the ability to love those that don’t like you. If you excel at loving those you don’t like and those that don’t like you, loving those you like and love won’t be a challenge for you. In fact, loving them will be a walkover for you. In reality, you learn more about how to love from your enemies than your friends. Enemies force you to develop amazing love muscles when you love them. When you retaliate in hatred your love muscles get weaker and weaker. Hating your enemies develops in you the competence in hatred, and such won’t serve you well in love relationships. So beware of hate.
Nobody who awakens the lover in them by excelling at love in these five contexts will have any challenge at being a life long lover to their better half. I hope you will get into love gym of life and start developing some love muscles today. It will serve you greatly in the days and years to come. I love you.
THE GREATEST IS LOVE