Dear daughter and sons, you are growing fast, and someday you’ll have to conquer a little monster that lives in your heart; LOVE. I don’t raise children, nor teens, … I’m ultimately raising adults. So buckle up, read this, understand it, and get it right. Learn to love love (not a typo, think verb and noun), with all its flaws, daggers, and magic. I pray you will be peaceful, happy adults, and love plays a big role in those two factors. Understand it from the beginning.
Nobody is a genius at love. Nobody has written instructions; it is too volatile a feeling to be anchored to the shore of one’s heart with a step by step layout; How impersonal. So these are not instructions, but a guideline of FIVE factors that make up love. Don’t forget* these factors come from my point of view, and I stand in the middle of a successful marriage; So which came first, the good marriage, or these factors? The chicken or the egg? I wish for you a marriage like mine, I wish for all your generation the same. This is my attempt as a mother to try to create happier and more lasting unions among a growing generation – aiming big here, I know. 🙂
This is what I know about love… It is both difficult and magical. A successful relationship (marriage, union, partnership, or dating) is the hardest thing to keep up, especially when kids are already involved (you already know I don’t sugarcoat anything for you, right?)
I promise you heartbreaks; don’t let this catch you by surprise and break you, just know these will come. Some parts of love are fairytales, some are not; your heart will scar, become stronger, and you will move on; I promise this too. Quick sidenote* You can’t anchor someone to your heart; you can’t force them to love you. You see, free will is indomitable, and that’s where love lives. This is the part about love that hurts; when that someone wants to leave, but you fail to let them go. Let.Them.Go. The right person for you will be effortless, you will know the difference.
Ok, on to my five factors… passion, intimacy, admiration, respect, and tolerance.
Pop-up math quiz* What happens when you only give 20% of each of these five factors? You DON’T get a whole, you still only get 20% of love. You must give 100% of each factor to sustain 100% love. And since love is mutual, both you and your partner must give their 100% EACH. Because 50%+50% equals only 50%. Do I make my math clear?
What do these factors mean? Passion, intimacy, admiration, respect, tolerance. To keep things simple, I will use him and her interchangeably; but know that everything will apply to both.
Passion… the chemistry between two people. Physically and personality wise. You will magically know if it’s there or not. And you’ll want to hang on to that person if it’s there. BUT this is only one fraction of love… so don’t jump into “you’re the love of my life” yet, even though it’ll feel like it.
Intimacy… The closeness two people hold among each other. Can you speak to each other in a comfortable whisper; can you have a small conversation like that? Can you sit in comfortable silence, and hold each other; just hold? Do you know what makes him tick with anger, happiness, sadness, and passion? Do you know her troubles, and are you comfortable with them? Better yet, is she comfortable telling you her troubles (friend and family woes, personal stuff, financial hardships, anything). Do you know how she likes you to hold her hand, or hug her when you’re in public? Can you look at each others’ eyes and silently share something between ONLY you– not on social media (even if you’re in the middle of a crowded room)? How much deeper do you know this special person compared to his family and friends? And are you comfortable keeping that depth between you for the rest of your life? This is intimacy.
Admiration… We’ve talked about the first two (passion and intimacy) which will be the beginning of any relationship. The next three factors (admiration, respect, tolerance), are the ones desperately needed to sustain a relationship through the hardships that usually crumble love to pieces; and with it, broken hearts, broken families, broken lives. When you meet that person you want to “keep”, you must find something to admire in him – and stick to it. A personality trait, a career trait, a discipline trait, anything that strikes you. You see, when you admire someone, you automatically respect. I admire the way your dad always wakes up early to head to work – it’s dedication as a man to his family, and his responsibilities. A
nd because of this, I respect him as a man and leader of us as a couple, as a father, and as a physician.
Respect… Love turns into respect; true love, the tolerant and lasting kind. There will be hard times where every bit of passion, intimacy, and admiration will be tested. We are all imperfect, different, and flawed. When these hard times come (and they will), search your memory for that which you admire in her, and put your focus into it. No relationship is ever perfect. It is a CHOICE to hang on to each other. You’ve already made it as far as passion, intimacy, and admiration; respect comes next, and it doesn’t come alone, it holds hands with tolerance. Trust yourselves in the decision you’ve taken to hang on to each other, and choose to tolerate those imperfections, by focusing on the positive – that which you admire.
Tolerance… Have you understood how he works under pressure, under love, under financial troubles, under pure joy? Can you look beyond her flaws and trust your decision to love what IS perfect to you? Not 100% of a person is ever going to be perfect, it doesn’t mean you give it all up when the first flaw hits you. Tolerance means you BOTH have the maturity to look past that because you know the person you chose to love has beautiful qualities as well, which you will get to see if you hang on to what you DO admire, with passion, intimacy and respect. Love goes full circle.
When you learn to understand love, you know you can expect perfect moments, you will make beautiful memories, you will remember your intimate details and cherish them. Hang on to every bit of that, you will need to dig it up when love begins to fade, when hardships threaten your union, or your vows. Love love (verb, noun); with all its flaws, daggers, and magic. You chose that partner, trust your choice, go back to your memories, and make them work for as long as you both live. Because it is particularly during the hard times, that you are stronger together, even though it won’t feel like it… you are always stronger together.