Who’s Responsibility is Love?


Holding-on-to-a-Relationship

Recently I’ve talked a bit about losing the spark. Losing the spark is all too common in long term relationships. Due to any number of reasons, over time many couples get to a point where they still love the person, but they are no longer IN love.

I recently read a blog written by a woman who “lost the spark” in her marriage. She ended up having an affair, and was in the process of a divorce. Interestingly her husband still wanted things to work out, but she didn’t. She had an affair. To her this act was proof that something was wrong in her relationship, and after that her heart wasn’t in her marriage anymore. She wasn’t interested in rebuilding.

Now, I don’t know anything about her situation other than what she wrote. Maybe the relationship was terrible. Maybe she didn’t understand what love really is, and as a result was disappointed in her marriage. Maybe there were other issues such as addictions, mental health or abuse. Who knows.

The only thing I do know is that if her heart wasn’t in rebuilding, then any efforts to rebuild were doomed to failure before they even began. Relationships require effort. If you don’t truly WANT it, you will never be willing to compromise and put in the effort required to be happy. As they say, garbage in, garbage out. If you don’t put effort in, then you shouldn’t be surprised if things don’t work out very well.

But this story and others like it got me thinking:

Who’s responsibility is it to maintain feelings of love? And what do you do if those feelings fade?

Holding On To Love

One of the mistakes I think many people make is the belief that love is something you “feel”. Something that’s either there, or it’s not. Seen this way, love is a passive thing, or something you receive.

I don’t think love should ever be passive. And the feeling of being “in love” is only a small part of love. When you think of love as a feeling or something you just receive, you all but ensure that love will fail. You need to actively work to maintain love, or over time that “feeling” goes away.

Maintaining these feelings of being in love is the responsibility of each of us. Love requires effort on the part of both people. It is not your partners responsibility to keep you feeling “in love”.

Yes, your partner should treat you well. They should show you affection and make you feel valued and loved. And those actions make you more likely to return gestures of love and affection, after all, we all like to feel valued and appreciated.

But love isn’t just something you receive. Ultimately your feelings for your partner are YOUR responsibility. And in order to maintain love, these feelings need to be nurtured.

It is up to you to make your partner a priority in your thoughts and in your life. It is up to you to value and appreciate your partner. It’s up to you to focus on the positives in your life together instead of the negatives.

If you don’t and the feelings of being “in love” start to fade? Well, that’s as much your fault as it is your partners (probably more actually).

holdingOnIsTough

Focus on Each Other

To keep love strong you have to focus on each other, and focus on the positives.

I’m not suggesting you ignore the negatives. Perfection doesn’t exist. Everyone has flaws, and everyone makes mistakes. It’s important to ensure you are communicating about those and not ignoring them, but you also need to accept them and not allow anger or resentment to poison your relationship.

Look at the good things both in your life together and about your partner them self. What are the thing that make them who they are to you? What are the traits that you love? Personality, intelligence, compassion, quirks. Whatever they are make sure they are about your partner as a person.

From a guys perspective, the absolute LAST thing you want to hear is about how great a provider you are, or how great a father you are to the kids. If that’s all you can think of you may as well just ask us to stand up and then repeatedly kick us in the groin – because that’s how it feels. Yeah, it’s important that we are good at those things. But that’s not what we want.

There’s a stereotype of (shallow) guys wanting a woman because she’s young and hot; and (shallow) women being gold diggers and wanting men for their bank account. Women don’t want to feel like a receptacle for sperm? Well men don’t want to feel like you are only there for the utility we provide.

We ALL want to feel valued for who we are.

Always Do Your Best

In the blog I read, the woman gave up on her marriage. When a relationship has negative momentum, it is easy to get caught up in that negativity and feel that things will never get better.

I’m a cheerleader for long-term relationships, and I think that short of abusive situations most relationship can be not only saved, but can be amazing. Yes people change, but part of relationships is growing and changing together.

There is no “magic person” out there who everything would be perfect with. Love isn’t just received. The success or failure of a relationship is up to both people and what they put in to the relationship – not just what they are getting out of it.

Sometimes things don’t work out though, and that’s fine. At the end of the day the most important thing is to be able to truly tell yourself that you tried. That you put yourself 100% into it and you did your best.

TryYourBest

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17 thoughts on “Who’s Responsibility is Love?

    • Thanks. Too bad the actual practice of relationships is harder than the theory 🙂

      That said, I’ve never understood the whole concept of falling out of love.

      I try to practice what I preach, and for me, I take time to think about and appreciate my wife every day.

      I’ve always been a glass is half full kind of guy, and I try to see problems as simply opportunities for improvement.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. So you got me thinking as to if there’s a link between being responsible for my own happiness and responsible for the love I have in my relationship. Both of these are controllable by myself. Just as I decide how happy I am, I wonder if I can determine how much love I feel and have in the relationship?

    What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm, that’s a great observation. I’ve written a fair bit about happiness, and how happiness is a choice. I acknowledge that it’s not so simple as saying “I’m going to be happy”. Rather, there are life choices and decisions (largely around coping mechanisms) that lead to unhappiness. We are the only ones who can make changes, and decide to come up with better coping mechanisms. But often we don’t, and instead we blame other things – a person, a relationship, a situation. Whatever.

      I would suspect you are right. The people who are likely to see themselves as victims or who exhibit learned helplessness are also people who tend to have chronic unhappiness. These same traits likely also lead the same thinking process that makes someone believe love is just a feeling, or just something that happens.

      If you accept that you control your own happiness, you are likely more able to accept that you are also responsible for the love you have in your relationship.

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  2. You know this hit home with me. We’ve learned all about the feelings of “in love” and just bc there’s no spark doesn’t mean there’s no love. We learned the hard way. Great post, will read for years to come and share with my partner. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are all sold on the hollywood idea that being in love means intense passion. You see each other and you’re weak in the knees and you’re looking to make out all the time.

      Then life hits, and kids hit, and you don’t take enough time nurturing your relationship – and one day you wake up and think “is this all it is? Is this love”?

      One of my favorite bits about love is the park bench scene in Good Will Hunting. Robin Williams is talking to Matt Damon, telling him how he knows nothing about love. He talks about real love being a life of experiences shared, and being someone who will be by their partner as they battle cancer. I can’t remember all of it, but it was pretty powerful.

      To me, TRUE love is much deeper than just lust. I think couples on the whole do a crappy job of keeping the romance alive. We all can and should do better.

      But we shouldn’t mistake a lack of romance for a lack of love.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said. I do understand the concept of falling out of love through experience unfortunately. But I still agree with your observation that probably any relationship could thrive eventually with enough nurturing. Though for me, I discovered together with my ex-husband that the difference between going for that or leaving each other was defined by the question ‘how much effort are we both willing to put in?’ Due to a couple of very hard to overcome differences we decided that we’d probably needed to put in zen-monk-levels of effort, and were not willing to. That was sad at first, but also funny enough led to a loving kind of letting go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Eve, welcome to thezombieshuffle.com.

      You make a great point about effort. Sometimes you look at the effort needed to keep a relationship alive, and you simply aren’t willing to do it.

      I totally get that, and I think it’s admirable that you were able to look at it and come to that realization.

      Where I get sad is when people simply don’t bother and don’t even try. Or they think all the effort should be made by the other person and not them.

      Many relationships fall apart, and 6 months to 2 years later people look back with regret and wish they HAD put in the effort. That happens far too often, and seems something that would be avoidable with a bit more effort and empathy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I agree, that is sad. It’s been a difficult thing for me too, seeing my own role in the troubles between us. I think that’s goes for my ex as well. It’s hard for us people to see ourselves clearly most of the time, and see beyond our own convictions about the other. I remember how shocked I was to notice that I actually had a lot in common with his mother – in the way I treated him. Not good at all, and pretty hard to swallow, haha!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been married a long time and I never denied my husband sex. When he had major losses, or any negative issues, sex was a comfort for him and a connection between us. Did I always WANT to have sex? No, but he did and he is my husband and I love him. It was my gift to him. Unconditionally. He usually woke me up that way. Days with work and children sometimes wore us out but a good night’s rest and love making started the day just right. He was always a thoughtful lover. A man who only thinks of his own needs is not. Now my husband is very ill. I miss that part of our lives but I have never thought of an affair. I married him for better or worse.

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    • I’m sorry to hear that your husband is ill. The illness of a loved one is one of the most difficult things anyone can go through. I have never really experienced it, but my heart goes out to you.

      You make an important comment when you refer to your husband as a “thoughtful lover”. When it comes to sex, I think it is not just about the physical act. It is an act of sharing and connection, and it should be as much about what you give as it is about what you receive.

      Like

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