In fairytales, true love usually wins out. The Beatles said that love is all we need. Most of us are hopeless romantics and we really want to believe that love is going to have the power to conquer all. Maybe that’s why the divorce rates continue to rise— we’re fooling ourselves.
Love is grand, but on its own, it’s not enough to keep up the momentum in a relationship. Love has been compared to a flower, and with good reason— it can’t thrive on its own. It needs to be nurtured and supported if it’s to continue to blossom. Neglect it, and it withers and dies.
There are four things you need in a relationship, besides love, if you want it to work.
When two people share a life together, it is an incredible leap of faith. There is no partnership more intimate than a relationship in which someone is sharing their very life with you. Lovers have to be trustworthy—honest, reliable, true to their word. They also have to be trusting—to have confidence that the other will never deliberately hurt or deceive.
Love has been compared to a flower, and with good reason— it can’t thrive on its own. It needs to be nurtured and supported if it’s to continue to blossom.
Without trust, you can never have a happy relationship— only doubt and suspicion. You can never truly let your guard down and become one if you can’t trust.
One dictionary defines respect as “a sense of the worth of a person” and “a condition of being esteemed or honored.” Your worth as a person is reflected in how your lover honors and esteems you. Respect shows the value— the essential worth— you put on a person.
How valuable are you to your lover? What does he think you’re worth? There are people who say, “Oh, I would kill for you; I would die for you! You are the sun, the moon and the stars to me!” But talk is cheap; the true measure of how someone values you is how he treats you (and the true measure of how you value someone is by how you treat that person in return).
Constantly disrespecting someone— cruel words, thoughtlessness, breaking promises, cheating, etc.— is essentially saying, “you are not very valuable to me.” That’s a toxic environment, sure to kill love.
Love has transcended differences in class, education, age, culture, religion— hey, there are even dog people and cat people who have found a way to make it work! Couples who make it work don’t have to agree on everything; but they do have to have values in common.
Couples don’t have to share every hobby or opinion. However, they do have to come to agreements on some pretty important life issues— how they want to live, how to handle finances or how to raise children. Couples have to agree on what they view as non-negotiable principles. They have to agree on priorities, what’s best for the family, and where lines get drawn.
People with different values simply have a much harder time doing this, and compromising one’s values can get more and more stressful down the line.
Real love isn’t looking at each other, googley-eyed; it’s looking out together in the same direction. Relationships are the ultimate partnership, and a successful partnership is rooted in team work. If two people are not working towards common goals, do not share plans about the direction they want life to take, then that relationship is nothing but a big tug-of-war.
After a while, that struggle can get exhausting. Compromises get harder and harder until you realize you’ve reached a stalemate— the only options are for one person to completely surrender, or for the two of you to go your own ways.
Trust, respect, common values and goals are for love what sunshine, rain and rich soil and weeding are to flowers. To nurture love, it needs fertile ground in which to grow.