What a title for a post. The truth is I don’t think anyone can fully understand “love”. But we feel it, experience it, react to it, adapt because of it, and so on and so on. So how is something so impactful in our lives so difficult to understand? It is after all just a chemical reaction within us. But…the more pieces there are to a puzzle, the more difficult it is to put together right? So think about all of the ways we interact through love, both with others and ourselves. It’s a lot of moving pieces isn’t it? And the only thing we can do is try to break it down as best we can in order to attempt to make any sense of it. So here are three main areas I think of when I think about “love”. Sacrifice, selfishness, and high running emotions.

Sacrifice

It’s not really all that difficult to make small sacrifices in our daily lives. Helping out the person in front of you at the grocery store who is short a couple of bucks, or going to a restaurant that you don’t like for the sake of a friend. These are simple in the grand scheme. And even in a relationship making sacrifices is easy in the beginning. For those first few months your putting someone else ahead of yourself and it makes you feel really good to do so. As with anything else though, it takes time to get to know someone. And over those few months you are also learning more and more about the person you are with. Hopefully for the most part they are good things, but other things will present challenges and leave you asking yourself, “Can I live with this?” or “Can I live like this?”.

I’ve been faced with these questions after those several months of thinking everything was perfect. It’s one tough task to take on, especially when these things catch you off guard…and they will. It doesn’t mean it’s all over though. How you react to these questions and these situations is what determines the future. Over react and you might just mess up the best thing that’s ever happened to you. Under react and you’ll likely be setting yourself up for encountering the same issue again in the near future. So how do you properly react? With a normal, calm conversation that may include compromises from both sides or sacrifice from one side. If you really do love someone and don’t want to lose them, that’s just what it takes. At the same time, we shouldn’t sacrifice our own sanity in the end. If we really can’t live with something in particular, or can’t come to an understanding over the issue, then the sad reality is that it’s likely to not work out. Yes, you can smooth it over right now perhaps, but how long can you handle your sanity chipping away? Weeks, months, years? At some point it will catch you. So it’s best to really try to work something out that is mutually favorable.

Selfishness

The previous portion I just mentioned basically covers the selflessness, so now it’s on to the selfishness. When we are in love we are also very selfish. And I mean on so many different levels it isn’t even funny. While we might think we are sacrificing for the sake of our loved one, we might be terribly mistaken. We tend to focus on those sacrifices for the other person. So we may not even properly realize the areas where we are being selfish. If I agree to give up something I enjoy for the happiness of my partner, then I’m not focused on the fact that I’m the one who always chooses what movies we watch, where we eat, or what we will do for the day. Instead I’m focused on how good of a person I am for giving that one thing up.

Yet again, I know what this is like. I have lived and continue to live it. I have always been a selfish person. And some selfish things I realized along the way, and others were finally brought to my attention after a very steep slump in my relationship. What’s the remedy for this one then? In my opinion it’s communication. This is the key to a healthy relationship as a whole, and it definitely plays a huge part for this category. If you feel like your partner is being selfish, then someway, somehow, it is best to let them know. There are ways to go about this without pissing them off. I’m not saying it will be an easy conversation. But between two level headed adults, this topic can be approached in a delicate manner. Because as I mentioned, this individual may not even be aware of the problem. Or in my case, I was aware of some (but didn’t see them to be as big of a deal as they really were), and I wasn’t aware of others at all until they were brought to my attention. From there, I can only take it one day at a time and try my best to improve. No one is perfect and there will be days that I will fail. And that’s when support from my other half can really help. You have to support the ones you love, even when it’s difficult.

High Emotions

Perhaps my biggest struggle if I’m honest. When I am mad, I’m very mad. Trying to tame the beast when I’m upset is not an easy thing to do. It’s like my body is filling up with something and eventually I won’t be able to hold it all in. But my anger toward my partner is stronger than my anger toward someone like a friend or co-worker. That seems fair though right? I mean I love this person more than a friend or a co-worker. My emotions as a whole are stronger toward this person. For better or for worse, this is how it is. Though I may have love spilling out of me (so to speak) for the love of my life, I also have other emotions that do just the same depending on the situation.

This is the one area that I don’t really have an answer for. I suppose it comes down to self control. Practicing the controls of your emotions in various situations. When your excited, don’t over do it and annoy the hell out of you partner. When your sad, sure let your partner help you, but don’t put so much weight on them that you drag them down too. Remember, they love you, and seeing you like that can really bring down their mood too. And above all, when you’re angry…oh the hardest emotion to control by far…you have to try something to calm yourself. Deep breaths, take a drink of something, pace the floors, lay down…literally anything that can help you, even the slightest bit. Don’t forget to think before you speak too. Oh I’ve struggled with that one, especially via text messaging. Typing a message doesn’t take but a few moments and clicking that send button takes the least amount of time. Don’t fall victim to your own stupidity. Take a few minutes away from your phone, or just by yourself to calm down a little and THINK about your next words. I’ve made plenty of mistakes not doing this, but I’ve also saved myself from some big ones by following my own advice.

Just like people, no relationship is perfect either. If you buy a house and don’t put any work into it for 30 years then you’re going to be left with an old, worn looking, outdated house. You get out of it what you put in. Relationships are the same.