"If you would take, you must first give, this is the beginning of intelligence" - Lao Tzu
The word love has so many different meanings to different people; and volumes of books have been written on the description of love alone. If we take the word in the Greek context, the word love is divided into two: agapi which is an unconditional love we have for our friends and family; and eros which is the sexual/romantic love we feel for our spouses and/or lovers (hence the origin of the word erotic). Defining these meanings of love can give us a clearer perspective of what feelings we may have towards our other half. Most successful relationships will start with an erotic love and through time, their love will blossom into agapi which is the more mature type of love. A successful relationship will keep the agapi without necessarily losing the erotic love.
John* is a successful business man who came to see me for some coaching. He sat down and staring at the floor he informed me “I love my wife but after 12 years of marriage, I feel that our marriage is dead. I know that she also loves me, but I don’t know what is wrong”. As the conversation went on, I asked John “how do you know that your wife knows that you love her?” “Well, I know that she does” was his reply. “Yes, but how do you know?” I gently probed again. “Well, I work hard and bring home money; I always make sure that she doesn’t go without”. “Does your wife understand that this is your way of showing your love to her?” I asked him. Following a long pause, he replied “I’m not sure, I haven’t really thought about it that way”.
This is a typical example of how we often assume things in our relationships. What one action to us could mean an expression of love, does not necessarily mean love to our other half. We all have different ways to express our love and although no specific way is right or wrong, we automatically assume that this will be received as an act of love from our spouse. So, “how do I know what my spouse’s interpretation of an act of love is?” You may ask. Simply put, ask them! It is amazing how often I see couples who take this form of communication for granted. We just assume that if I do this or that then my spouse will automatically feel loved, but how often do we really think about each other’s needs and how to fulfil them? We are all different in our own ways, with different needs. When our needs are met, we feel loved. When we feel loved, we are more willing and able to give love, thus growing and strengthening our relationship.
Here are some examples of acts of love:
1) Spending quality time together
2) Buying each other gifts
3) Being affectionate
4) Giving and receiving surprises
5) Being romantic
6) Giving/receiving compliments
7) Feeling validated
8) Acts of thoughtfulness
9) Giving each other space
10) Allowing each other to grow
11) Being supportive
12) Forgiving each other’s mistakes
13) Showing trust, respect and gratitude
14) Giving and receiving undivided attention
Add your own points to the list! Do you know which of the above examples are the most important for your other half? If not, now is the time to find out! You can make a date with your spouse that is convenient for both of you (with no interruptions) and go through the above list adding your own examples. Take turns in really listening to each other with no judgements. Make sure you really understand what her/his needs are and agree on what action needs to be taken to fulfil these needs. Make sure that you give promises that you can keep. Agree to make a habit of meeting regularly to reflect and talk about progress. Water and weed your garden of love to keep it growing.
What are the standards you have set for your relationship? Set your standard and make it happen, starting this month!
*names have been changed to protect client privacy.
Liana is a qualified coach working from Cyprus. Her work experience is management of a British Military Medical Centre in Cyprus but her dream was to become a coach. She has turned that dream into a reality.
‘All the hard work and persistence has now paid off. I am building my clientele, speaking at events and writing in a monthly magazine for the British Forces here in Cyprus. By writing articles covering my niche, I attracted more clients to my practice who wanted to be coached in order to have a happier marriage. As a result, I am now coaching clients on how to improve their marriage and the positive results that coaching has brought to their lives is amazing’.
You can connect with her through twitter @LIANAFERRIER
Posted 1988 Days Ago in: Coaching Articles
Aristotle once said that when you reach happiness, there's nothing else you'll want but to be happy. He explains that once this state is achieved, the feeling allows you to focus on living as your true self and express yourself without regard as to how others may perceive you.