[Editor's Note: While this article is written about the love between two people in a relationship, its information and advice can be applied to all relationships, with friends, family, co-workers, and the "world-out-there".]
The Beatles were on the money with almost all their songs, but on this one "All You Need Is Love", I’m afraid that they got it wrong. Beatles fans who embraced this song as the holy truth probably found themselves deeply disappointed.
Love is not, in fact, all you need. And despite the Beatles’ reassurance that “It’s eeeeasy,” that also isn’t the case. Many die-hard Beatles fans still cling to this song’s promise, but in our experience, it’s just not true.
Of course, some things and some people are easy to love, like a newborn baby, especially if it’s your own, or a cute little puppy, or Mom’s delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies, or that beautiful Porsche convertible that just pulled up next to you at the stoplight. But to deeply love another adult human being, seeing their every aspect as being divine and perfect, with complete vulnerability and openheartedness....
As you may have noticed, realizing that isn’t all that eeeeasy. It is easy to have loving feelings toward someone when we find them physically attractive, fun to be with, funny, charming, and sweet smelling, and especially if they laugh at our jokes!
But being strongly attracted to another person isn’t necessarily love. It is easy, though, to confuse the two.
Love asks more of us than simply feeling a strong desire for another person. It demands that we put our own preferences aside from time to time and replace them with a desire to serve our partner. It requires that we must:
- be willing to be wrong.
- resist the temptation to project blame on our beloved when we feel disappointed or upset.
- experience more lessons in humility than most of us want to.
- restrain ourselves when we feel the impulse to say or do something that would gratify our ego at the expense of our partner’s happiness.
- constantly seek to discover what we can give to our partner, rather than living in the question “What’s in it for me?”
- be vulnerable rather than defensive when we feel threatened.
And this is just for starters. Inherent in the myth that “love is all you need” is the notion that love is enough to:
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- get you through the hard times that tend to show up for all of us.
- avoid conflict.
- overcome all obstacles.
- heal all wounds.
- prevent future wounding.
- keep you healthy.
- never be lonely again.
- live happily ever after.
- make you whole when you feel broken.
Not that love won’t make navigating the road through life’s inevitable difficulties a lot less painful. It will enhance your life with feelings of goodwill, happiness, and well-being. It might even enhance your health and extend your longevity.
So please, go ahead, and as another sixties song advised, “Put a little love in your heart.” But don’t get too attached to the idea that love is all you need, lest you find yourself deeply disappointed when that does not turn out to be the case. This can lead to unnecessary doubt. If you love your beloved, and things aren’t going according to the way they “should,” you might decide he or she doesn’t love you.
All of which begs the question: “What else is it that you need in addition to love?” Besides love, here are a few other things that will help get you through the night:
- Skill in dealing with the differences that show up in all relationships, even the ones with lots of love.
- Patience for those not-so-rare occasions when things don’t go exactly the way you had planned.
- The ability to really listen and to resist the temptation to interrupt or “correct” your partner when you disagree.
- Acceptance of your own mistakes. Otherwise, you will judge and reject in your partner whatever you judge and reject in yourself.
- Compassion for both your partner and you-know-who.
- The integrity to walk your talk.
- The courage to keep trying.
- The vision to see what you stand to experience when your intentions are aligned with your partner’s.
- Trust and trustworthiness.
- And last but definitely not least, a good sense of humor. You’re going to need it.
* Subtitles by InnerSelf
©2016 by Linda and Charlie Bloom.
Reprinted with permission from New World Library.
Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams
by Linda and Charlie Bloom.
About the Authors
Linda Bloom, LCSW, and Charlie Bloom, MSW, married since 1972, are bestselling authors and the founders and codirectors of Bloomwork. Trained as psychotherapists and relationship counselors, they have worked with individuals, couples, groups, and organizations since 1975. They have lectured and taught at learning institutes throughout the USA and have offered seminars throughout the world, including China, Japan, Indonesia, Denmark, Sweden, India, Brazil, and many other locations. Their website is www.bloomwork.com.