How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate  (excerpt from the book)



„Love begins, or should begin, at home. For me that means Sam and Grace, Dad and Mom, who have loved mefor more than fifty years. Without them I would still beseeking love instead of writing about it.”

„Love is the most important word in the English language—and the most confusing. Both secular and religiousthinkers agree that love plays a central role in life. We aretold that “love is a many-splendored thing” and that “lovemakes the world go round.”

Thousands of books, songs, magazines, and movies are peppered with the word. Numerous philosophical and theological systems havemade a prominent place for love. And the founder of the Christian faith wanted love to be the distinguishingcharacteristic of His followers.1 Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. For love, we will climb mountains, cross seas, traverse desert sands, andendure untold hardships.

Without love, mountains becomeunclimbable, seas uncrossable, deserts unbearable, andhardships our plight in life. The Christian apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, exalted love when he indicated that all human accomplishments that are not motivated by love are, in the end, empty. He concluded that in the last scene of the human drama, only three characters will remain: “faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”2 If we can agree that the word love permeates humansociety, both historically and in the present, we must also agree that it is a most confusing word. We use it in athousand ways. We say, “I love hot dogs,” and in the next breath, “I love my mother.”

We speak of loving activities: swimming, skiing, hunting. We love objects: food, cars, houses. We love animals: dogs, cats, even pet snails. Welove nature: trees, grass, flowers, and weather. We love people: mother, father, son, daughter, parents, wives, husbands, friends. We even fall in love with love. If all that is not confusing enough, we also use the wordlove to explain behavior. “I did it because I love her.”

That explanation is given for all kinds of actions. A man is involved in an adulterous relationship, and he calls it love. The preacher, on the other hand, calls it sin. The wife of analcoholic picks up the pieces after her husband’s latest episode. She calls it love, but the psychologist calls it codependency. The parent indulges all the child’s wishes, calling it love. The family therapist would call it irresponsibleparenting. What is loving behavior?

The purpose of this book is not to eliminate all confusionsurrounding the word love, but to focus on that kind of lovethat is essential to our emotional health. Childpsychologists affirm that every child has certain basic emotional needs that must be met if he is to be emotionallystable. Among those emotional needs, none is more basic than the need for love and affection, the need to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted.

With an adequate supplyof affection, the child will likely develop into a responsibleadult. Without that love, he or she will be emotionally andsocially retarded. I liked the metaphor the first time I heard it: “Insideevery child is an ‘emotional tank’ waiting to be filled withlove. When a child really feels loved, he will developnormally but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children ismotivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank.’”

I waslistening to Dr. Ross Campbell, a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents. As I listened, I thought of the hundreds of parents whohad paraded the misdeeds of their children through myoffice. I had never visualized an empty love tank insidethose children, but I had certainly seen the results of it. Their misbehavior was a misguided search for the love they didnot feel. They were seeking love in all the wrong places andin all the wrong ways…..”

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