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Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Hard Kind Of Love

Love isn't a feeling - it's an action (this was inspired by Lindsey Bell's post at Do Not Depart).

What happens when you hit those dry spots in marriage, when you just don't feel the love?

Love anyway, because that is what you promised to do.

Easier said than done, I know...when your husband walks out the door in the morning, and you realize ten minutes later that he wasn't just starting the car, he's already left for work...and he hasn't said goodbye.

How do you love, and avoid the temptation for an eye for an eye?

There are a couple of steps, that maybe you can use top get there.

  • First, it's not about you. When a mate's behaviour gets distant, and you feel far from loved, it's not something you did, or the way you look, or the fact that you whistle while you work in the garden. It's all about an internal temperature that's changed.
  • Second, withdrawal is often a symptom of depression or illness. When someone doesn't feel good about him-or-herself, that individual starts feeling worthless...nothing to say, really, because "I have nothing worth saying, that anyone would want to hear."
  • Third, there are changes in body chemistry, such as hormonal levels, that can affect the mood more than we know. Women know a lot about this, obviously...but it can happen to men, as well. It's not necessarily "male menopause" (which does have a chemical root, it seems, though it's no excuse for the red Corvette and the 21-year-old blonde); rather, it's a change in testosterone levels, driven by stress.
  • Finally, it may just be a bad habit. Men do this all the time; they get to a rushed part of life, leave the house without a kiss, and just keep doing it. Does this mean that men are pretty clueless in how they live, and how it affects their wives? Yes. It does. Men are clueless. "Wow, I didn't realize I was doing that!" It's not that he doesn't care. It's not that he doesn't value the kiss and hug. His "mind" is just somewhere else. Kind of like a shelf with an open back - push something in the front, something else falls off the back.
Clearly, there are more ominous issues that can cause distance to grow, but not as many as we often assume...and making an assumption that "it's bad" can actually make things worse.

So, what to do?

Don't change in response, to the best of your ability. if your guy is tending to leave without saying goodbye, ambush him, and initiate the goodbye yourself.

If he doesn't talk, talk anyway. Make every effort to engage him. Play up to his ego, even...not being condescending, because that's one place men are often not Philistines...but bring up the things you really admire about his character, and his work.

Encourage him, and refrain from things that could be construed as criticism. men can be sensitive to this stuff, too...what you think is a statement that the house seems kind of small, sometimes, will be taken by a man as a slap against his role as a provider. If he's having trouble, this can make it worse.

Finally, remember that in the end, you are responsible for your own feelings, and that you can only help someone...you can't make him feel better, and you can't change him

Love is action, love is grace, love is support.

You can be love.

If you have a moment, please stop by at my other blog, Starting The Day With Grace.

8 comments:

  1. Such a great post - full of great tips! It reminded me of Bob Goff and how he recently told a room full of 2000+ women that men will become who we say that they are! Wow... (and I think it can work the other way too... women become who men say that they are, too!) Our words are so powerful... we may as use weild the power for good and speak life! Great reminder!

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    1. That's exactly it -like raindrops on stone, we form each other with the words we use casually.

      It's so easy to think that the 'big talks' are the ones that make an impact, but it's the small ones that really add up over time.

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  2. Thank you, Andrew, to sharing this information about "love"! Love IS action, grace and support. And, we ARE all responsible for our own feelings. I am learning this; I am learning that HE doesn't MAKE me feel bad or say ugly things back to him, just as I don't MAKE HIM...so much to learn and re-learn and remember!! Even in his dementia, he CAN be loving and he CAN be "semi-abusive" (I say "semi" because he isn't abusive; but can do some major verbal remarks that hinge on being abusive.).

    Thank you!!

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    1. Thank you, Barbara...we have so much cultural baggage to overcome here.

      "You drive me crazy!"

      "You Made Me Love You."...nice song, but not very good psychology.

      It's a choice for us.

      And my prayers are with you daily.

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  3. Great advice, Andrew! I love the analogy of putting something the shelf of a man's mind and having something else fall off the back ;).

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    1. It is so tru...ooh, look, a CARDINAL!

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  4. You can't make someone change but you can help someone feel better. True and something we need to remember both on the receiving and the giving ends!

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    1. It can be so hard to keep the perspective from both sides!

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