The universe loves partnerships! Humans are wired to learn and maximize their own potential in the context of key relationships. And it’s been noted that, in adulthood, couple relationships serve as top-notch schools that, by design, offer a series of ongoing opportunities for partners to, ideally, grow and heal themselves, break free of old comfort zones, and bring out the best in, hopefully, both self and the other.
At least that seems to be the goal of nature. Certainly, the yearning for a partner companion with whom to share life joys and challenges, is real. Wired into our dna.
The field of neuroscience backs this with recent findings that show the human brain is above all a social organ. Besides, there are so many wondrous things in life to learn and experience; why go it alone, if you don’t have to?
Someone to share joys and struggles is a biological directive that can bring out our best, at minimum, keep us growing.
And research shows that married people are overall happier and healthier; however, the fact they’re married doesn’t necessarily make them happier. For this, each partner needs to learn and habitually act in ways what sustains their own sense of inner connection to life, self-love and authentic relating.
For many, this driving force can consume much energy throughout life, and in some cases, where fear is the driving force, can turn into an obsession, or addiction.
Genuine love and happiness are inside jobs – and myths and fairy tales mislead many to look for treasure with a bogus map.
What are the ways of genuine love?
Perhaps one of the most insightful definitions of love comes from a groundbreaking, classic bestseller by Dr. M. Scott Peck from the 1980s, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (a must read!):
“Love is the will to extend one’s self for purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” ~ SCOTT PECK
This defines love in terms of a conscious mindset and actions both partners necessarily brig.
A closer look points to at least four critical components and three agreements as follows:
FOUR COMPONENTS OF LOVERS IN A CONSCIOUS-LOVE:
1. A set intention or goal for conscious-love action.
To foster a genuine love, each partner views love as conscious actions, or conscious-love, and not merely a feeling. Conscious-love is a moment by moment awareness of optimal options and choices, that is, in any given moment, to thoughtfully response, to regulate inner reactivity, in order to do what is in the highest and best interest of both self and other. Love is and inside out job.
2. A reciprocal process of both oriented to own and other’s learning and growth.
A love that enriches the growth and wellbeing of each partner is one in that enriches both partners and the relationship. And this takes two persons fully and mutually engaged in their own and the other’s growth and wellbeing. If it’s one sided, a toxic relationship will form. Evidence of genuine relating between two adults is that it does not reflect the dynamics of a parent-child relationship, i.e., in which one in the responsible one and the other remains clueless and passive in tending to own and others’s feelings, wants and emotion-drive needs. One sided giving is not giving at all! Literally, it the arrests the other’s emotional growth and development.
3. An awareness of balance and connection between own and the other’s inner emotion-drives and fulfillment.
Both partners responsibly act to promote a balance between a healthy love and care of for own emotion-needs, wants and dreams, and healthy care and love for the other’s (to avoid the toxicity that results when both get absorbed in meeting needs, wants of self or the other).
4. A view of love and care as a dedication of each to an ongoing process.
Each partner is dedicated to nurturing the relationship as an ongoing process that treats love and one another as alive, thus the necessity for continual effort, in the same way breathing keeps body alive by replenishing oxygen supply or tending to a plant needs ongoing effort.
THREE AGREEMENTS BETWEEN TWO LOVERS IN A CONSCIOUS-LOVE:
The above four components are lifelong attributes of a healthy, lifelong love relationship between two partners. To sustain the energy and work needed to tend to a healthy relationship with self and others, however, there are 3 conscious choices to energize and seal them with the 3 agreements below, which guarantee optimal emotion states of mind and body: Commitment! Wholeness! Collaboration!
Agreement One: Commitment! Why?
Commitment is a vow two partners make to keep their relationship strong and vital, and that means to learn and test and discern what strengthens a relationship, and what harms and weakens it. One of the most challenging things for partners to learn to let go is the myths that romanticize male dominance based on gendered oles, and the associated fairy tales of love as “happily ever after” that depict love and love partners more like objects than real human beings. The fairy tale expectations and myths, for example, that say “love should feel easy” and “it shouldn’t be work” are setups for failure, at best misguided. Nothing in life can be approached with this attitude, not a career or job or raising children. Success is realized to the extent commitment is present. Only a wholehearted commitment of two partners ensures the lifelong benefits of two actualized happy individuals in a committed relationship.
Agreement Two: Wholehearted Love! Why?
A wholehearted love is one in which each person in the relationship fully experiences themselves as fully human, that is, wired with amazing inner capacities for creativity that, safe to say, can safely be described as miracle-making! Love makes the world go around. It is who we are, in essence, as human beings because it describes out most powerful drives from the first breath to the last. No powers to dominate and destroy can compare to kindness and caring, compassion and tenderness. The governing forces of life as we know are, indisputably based on: the Golden Rule. For those open to learning how life works and doesn’t, that is wisdom, an inevitable boomerang effect. What we put out returns. Even the mirror neurons wired into our brans speak of this dynamic.
Agreement Three: Collaboration! Why?
It takes two persons, working as a team, to strengthen and build a vibrant, long lasting relationship. Collaboration reflects an openness to work, to change, to find optimal solutions in the highest interest of all concerned. In the words of Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most response to change.
The bottom line is that for two persons to succeed in creating a healthy, lifelong love relationship, the work of each in learning to grow and heal and love and fully accept self as a capable and loving being is foundational. Without this foundation, a relationship remains weak and at risk.
A healthy relationship both nurtures and is nurtured by two persons oriented to their own and the other’s growth and wellbeing. It cannot be done by one (that is only possible between a parent and a young child). Nothing is more powerful, conceivably, than two partners that are each invested in their own and other’s growth, health and wholeness, happiness and well being, and that understand the power of collaboration to optimize and expedite and create miracle-making synergy.