Marriage Myth #3: If I don't "feel it" I am being Fake

               Let’s pretend for a moment that you and your spouse had an argument last night. Hurtful words were spoken. Neither of you was trying to understand the other… only trying to be understood. The conversation ended by one of you walking away from the discussion while the other kept raising the volume. You went to sleep that night with a tension between you that seemed to whisper thoughts of instability in your marriage.

               This morning you awoke with just enough time to prepare for the usual weekday where one of you goes about their tasks while the other deals with their respective agenda. The tension has subsided a bit but you both sense some emotional distance and you’re still somewhat annoyed. You hope that maybe they will somehow “see the light” today. As your spouse walks out the door, they briefly turn to you and, somewhat sheepishly, say “I love you”.

               For a split-second you are frozen. How do you respond to this? I don’t “like” you right now. Would returning an “I love you” be disingenuous? If I say, “I love you”, you might think I’m over it and/or that it was no big deal, but I’m still hurt and it does matter to me. Or, if I say “I love you” back, you might think I’m saying “I was wrong and you were right”, but I don’t believe that either. So, what do I do?

               Here’s the answer: Say, “I love you”!

Love is not how you feel, it’s what you do. When your baby burps up on your fresh, clean shirt, you don’t FEEL all warm and fuzzy. But, you CHOOSE to love anyway. How shallow is the concept that overall feelings toward your spouse have to be positive in order for it to be love! That idea is the recipe for a lifetime of one failed relationship after another.

               Here’s another spin on this idea: Do you ever withhold conversation from your spouse because you don’t feel like talking. Or do you ever shun your spouse’s physical advances because you’re “just not feeling it”. I know that I’m guilty on both counts, and, I will also cede that a fever of 103 degrees is a legitimate excuse to postpone either of these activities. However, every time we withhold affection, conversation, acceptance, sex, or any other loving act, we send the message to our spouse that they are on relationship “probation”… that your love for them is conditional upon circumstances or, more damaging yet, their performance.

But here’s one of the great secrets of life: The more I invest in a relationship by acting in loving ways, the more positive I FEEL toward that other person. You see, our feelings come from our perceptions. Our perceptions come from our thoughts. And, the biggest contributing factor to our thoughts is what we, ourselves DO!

So, here’s the summary: One of the most genuinely loving things we can do is to tell someone we love them at a moment when we don’t like them.

 

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