Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Happiness is love. Love is...?

A friend of mine asked people on a yahoo loop to define what love meant to them. This was a while ago, and with my selective memory I'm afraid I've forgotten most of the answers. I do remember mine though.

I saw a one frame comic in the funny pages years ago that said, "Love is letting him have the last cold tablet." Yup, that about sums it up.

Like in the classic story, "Gift of the Magi" Della and Jim are more concerned about each other's happiness than their own, thus one Christmas Della sells her gorgeous long hair to buy Jim a chain for his pocket watch, not realizing that Jim sold his watch to buy Della tortoise shell combs for her long hair. No, they didn't bicker about it afterward. They realized their real gifts were the love they shared.

Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by the late M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled. That talk had a profound impact on my psyche. His assertion was that mature love meant wanting the other person's happiness as much or more than your own. That's been my litmus test ever since.

For anyone who wants to understand mature love, our spiritual connection, and relationships in general, I can't recommend his books enough.

Has a book ever impacted your view of love, life, or the world? Perhaps a movie or lecture or some other delivery system? Has that understanding helped you in your own life? Does it affect the theme of your stories if you write romance? Or perhaps, affect your view of how realistic the romance is if you read it?

I'd like to say my parents taught me what love is since they were happily married for 56 years, but unfortunately I interpreted the message incorrectly and wound up divorced...twice! My parents were complete opposites, and I thought that meant you could make a marriage work with anyone. Obviously I was wrong.

M. Scott Peck taught me what I needed to know after my second failure. Well, better late than never. My third (and hopefully final) marriage has been incredibly happy for 16 years. Twenty years of successful togetherness.

Please share (if you're brave enough) who or what taught you what love is, and if you have anything else to add to the definition.

10 comments:

  1. Congrate on your parents marriage. They have been married longer than I've been around!

    Love to me is accepting another as they are. Not to try to change that person, and willing to accept any changes they want to make in them selves. Because they are the only ones who can.

    It sounds like third time is charmed for you. May the good luck continue.

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  2. Ohmigosh, Ash, there's hope for me yet! LOL :) Well, love to me means a commitment and compromise and sacrifice that is not one-sided! :)

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  3. Thought provking post, Ash. I feel like I've been married all my life! And happily. I married at 18and many people have asked me how have you made your marriage last so long when you married so young. And I always say that we grew together rather than growing apart. That doesn't mean we think alike or even like the same things we don't. My husband is an accountant and everything in his world is precise and exact. I'm creative and like to color outside the lines, which he would never do.
    But on the important things we share like views as with church family, community, and country.

    Amelia

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  4. Thought provking post, Ash. I feel like I've been married all my life! And happily. I married at 18and many people have asked me how have you made your marriage last so long when you married so young. And I always say that we grew together rather than growing apart. That doesn't mean we think alike or even like the same things we don't. My husband is an accountant and everything in his world is precise and exact. I'm creative and like to color outside the lines, which he would never do.
    But on the important things we share like views as with church family, community, and country.

    Amelia

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  5. I wish I could say my parents taught me about honest marital love but that isn't true. Or I suppose I did learn what doesn't work. No, for me it is the example of other successful marriages I have seen - and there are more than one may realize if they look hard enough. Lessons can always be learned, even from those that failed. But I assert - MHO - that the best resource for what will lead to happiness in marriage (as well as in all aspects of life) is the Bible. Selfless love was taught there long before other authors wrote books on the subject.

    Thanks for an insightful post, Ash. See you soon!

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  6. I think having a baby has taught me what real love is. When you've been up all night with a crying baby who has thrown up on you more times than you can count, and you're sick yourself, and your arms ache more than any workout you've ever done, but you still don't put that baby down--that's love.

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  7. Shana,

    You're right. our children can teach us a lot about love.
    You reminded me of when my daughter had German Measles (1 month before she would have been vaccinated.)

    I held her and walked the floor for 3 days, I swear. Any time I put her down she screamed, so walking around with my baby in my arms was the only option as far as I was concerned.

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  8. Really great post, Ash! I think there are so many misrepresentations of love out there (ahem, the last season of the Bachelor, and then how the couple went on TV to talk about their break-up? Puh-lease), that young people get jade VERY early on about relationships. It took me a long time, but I've finally realized that love to me isn't what I read in a book or see in a movie, it's what I make of it! And luckily I've surrounded myself with people (my boyfriend, my friends, my family, etc) who seem to get that as well.

    But I do think all kinds of movies, books, media, etc. can influence and change your ideas of what love really is... But a big part of it all might be loving yourself first, so you can love someone else fully, too.

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  9. Great post, Ash!

    M. Scott Peck did it for me too. I loved The Road Less Traveled and it changed my life.

    I had plenty of examples of what not to do. My mother had been married twice, both horrible marriages. My father, had only married once, but there were more girlfriends than I could shake a stick at. I had a great understanding of what didn't work, what wasn't normal, but no idea was normal really was.

    The Road Less Traveled opened my eyes to so much and I don't think I'd have the happy marriage and the wonderful family I've had for almost 21 years without that book.

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  10. I'm still working on my definition, Ash. I'll have to get back to you on that one!
    Great post!

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