When it comes to relationships, you have probably heard more than you can count that love conquers all and that all you need is love. But is love enough? As a child growing up watching tv shows, movies, or even music videos, they all depicted the idea that love was enough to make a relationship healthy and last.
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As you get older and mature and have gone through some relationships and your life own life experiences, you learn that love alone is not enough. It is necessary and is one of the foundations needed for a healthy relationship, but you need other ingredients besides love in a relationship.
Falling in love
Do you remember the first time you fell in love with your partner/spouse? Do you remember how it felt? I remember when my husband first told me he loved me when we were dating. At the time when he said it, I thought that he must be infatuated because how can a person fall in love after three months? But it is possible because we are now married. When you fall in love, it brings a rush of feelings and emotions, and you always feel that you are on cloud nine. Nothing your partner ever does can phase you because being on cloud nine and being in that honeymoon phase feels so good, and you end up overlooking other things.
We can often become blinded by love and overlook the other ingredients that make up a healthy relationship. At the time, we may even think to ourselves that love is enough, and with love, everything will be just fine.
It is easy to feel intense feelings towards someone, especially if we find them physically attractive, fun, sweet, and easygoing. But having a strong attraction towards someone does not equate to love. It may feel like love, but if you pause and reflect for a moment, you will soon come to realize that love has to be more than just a feeling. It goes beyond that, which is why it cannot be the only thing needed to make a relationship work.
When things get tough
There are so many external factors that influence our views on relationships. Most of us were raised to believe and accept that if something becomes difficult along the way, then it is not meant to be, so we give up then and there. Don’t get me wrong now because there are indeed some instances where ending a relationship may be the best option when things become difficult, and you start to see red flags that make you question how healthy the relationship will be in the long run. Read more about unhealthy relationships here.
So what do you do when things become difficult? Is love going to be enough to sustain the relationship at this point? I am sure you have heard the saying, “love is all you need, and if it’s meant to be, it will be.”
This false belief is a great tragedy that is affecting so many relationships today. Many have this notion that relationships should be smooth sailing ALL the time. But this is genuinely not the case; how can it be? As humans, we are all raised and shaped differently by our family, culture, and life experiences. When you go into a relationship, you and your partner are both bringing your own values, beliefs, opinions, and life experiences with you. With this, challenges are bound to arise because finding that balance to function as a unit is not always easy, and you need more than love to do it.
What is love?
As mentioned before, when you are in a committed relationship or marriage (committed marriage is a thing), for it to sustain itself, love has to be more than just a feeling, more than just an emotion, and more than just passion.
So then, what is love? There are so many definitions out there that describe love, and there is more than one type of love. Keep in mind that how you love a person might differ from another person who loves someone else.
Love is complex because it involves a mix of emotions, behaviors, and beliefs connected to strong feelings of affection. Love is a force of nature, and it is bigger than you and me. “You can invite love, but you cannot dictate how, when, and where love expresses itself. You can choose to surrender to love or not, but in the end, love strikes like lightning: unpredictable and irrefutable.” By nature, love is free. It cannot be bought, sold, or even traded. You cannot force a person to love, and you cannot control who loves you.
Love is action
Is love just a feeling, or is it more, and is love the same thing as being in love? These are topics that many people usually go back and forth on, and it can mean different things to different people. For me, love is more than a feeling of intense attraction, affection, and desires, especially when it comes to being in a committed relationship or marriage. Love is also an action word. Here are some of my reasons why it is:
- Love is having a willingness to prioritize your partner or spouse’s well-being or happiness.
- Love is choosing to commit to helping, respecting, and caring for another.
- It is taking care of someone even when they can’t or won’t give anything back.
- Love is learning your love language and your partner’s and making a conscious effort to express it to them as often as you can. Learn more about love languages here.
If love is a feeling and an action word, what does it mean to be in love then? Is it more than just loving a person? Well, it’s simple (sort of). In addition to everything mentioned above, being in love with someone is emotionally charged. You feel a strong desire for that person (not just physical, it is beyond that). When they are not around, you yearn and have a craving to be around them. You also desire the happiness of your partner, admire them for who they are, and you feel motivated to be a better person.
Love is complex! But wait! There is more!
Types of love
The ancient Greeks studied love and classified them into different types.
Eros: erotic, passionate love
Sexual or passionate love. There is a sexual attraction and physical desire towards someone with little control, and it can dissipate quickly.
Relationships built solely on this type of love tend not to last long.
Philia: affectionate love
love without romantic attraction and is between friends or family
Storge: Love of the child and familiar love
This deep-rooted love is between children and parents and best friends. It is built on acceptance and a deep emotional connection.
Agape: selfless love
This is the kind of love that is given whether or not it is returned. It is the highest level of love to give. It is love without the benefit of self. It is the foundation of lovingness for all humanity. It is essential in the process of forgiveness.
Ludas: playful love
This is child-like and playful love is found at the beginning of relationships. It involves playing, teasing, flirting, and excitement.
Pragma: long-lasting love
A bonded love that matures over many years. It is an everlasting love between couples that put equal effort into the relationship. It involves synchronization and balance.
The love in which you recognize your value and self-worth. You set boundaries and do not ignore your personal needs. It is linked to your confidence and plays an integral part in helping you to find your
Is love enough for your relationship?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question because love looks different for everyone. Love is a feeling, but it is also an action. It is one of the foundations needed to build a healthy and long-lasting relationship, but there are more ingredients needed. Trust, honesty, loyalty, respect, and boundaries are some of the elements you must have, but here are five others you will need:
1. Your individuality and a sense of happiness
Your independence and happiness are of utmost importance whether or not you are in a relationship. When you are in a relationship, it is more important to keep your independence still and know what makes you truly happy as an individual. Maintaining your own identity in a relationship is necessary for your relationship. You were “you” before you were a “we.” Focusing on your own individuality will strengthen your connection because you will both be “coming to it as fully actualized humans, instead of defining yourselves by the relationship.”
Know your self-worth, the essence of who you are, and maintain healthy boundaries between you are your partner. If you lose yourself, forget your interests, give up your goals, and forget about your happiness, then the relationship is already on the wrong path.
2. Communication skills
This is so much easier said than done! Communication is one of the main ingredients needed in a relationship. Without it, there is no room for growth in the relationship. Good communication involves two things, speaking and listening. Most of us in a relationship often tend to do a lot of talking but are slow to listen. Be open, transparent, and calm when speaking, but at the same time, be open to listening as well. This is something that needs to be done consistently and not once in a while.
3. A sense of safety and security
Do you feel safe and secure in your relationship? If the answer is no, you have to take a step back to assess if there are red flags indicating that your relationship may not be a healthy one. When you are in a healthy relationship, you have to feel safe and secure. Being in love or loving your partner won’t be enough if you do not feel safe.
4. A balanced flow
Balance, Balance, Balance. You need it! A lop-sided relationship is not the way to go! Being in a relationship is all about balance. There are equal parts of willingness, dedication, commitment, and give and take. Both partners are equally invested in the relationship and want the best out of it. The minute a relationship becomes off balance (it will happen, we are humans, and things happen), you quickly hit the pause button and take time to reset. Understand that you and your partner are two separate people with different views, opinions, interests, dreams, and goals and coming together to function as a unit.
After the honeymoon phase is over in both a relationship and marriage, the affection can dwindle. But how can you get that bright flame back? Is it gone forever? Is that the end? This is why love is more than just a feeling because when the spark starts to dim (and it will from time to time because life tends to get in the way), you have to start taking action quickly. Start doing the little things that go a long way—making breakfast for your partner, holding hands, giving a random kiss, playing the PS5 together, or taking random/spontaneous trips. It shows your partner you care, and they matter, and that flame will start to get brighter as the days go by.
Love is complex but it is beautiful.