Who – or What Do You Love?

Love – real, true, honest-to-goodness love – never ends. It can’t. Well, it can’t if you love a person. If you love a person, you love them no matter what they say or do … or how they change.

I hear so many divorcing couples say they stopped loving their spouse, or their spouse stopped loving them. And, if I have the time and inclination (and patience) I ask them what they mean. How does that happen? What in them has changed to cause their original conviction and loyalty to just quit?

Of course, most tell me that it wasn’t they who changed, but their soon-to-be ex who changed from the person they “fell in love with” into a different kind of person whom they didn’t like or care for or love. Their love, they tell me, just died.

But, I counter, love never dies; it goes on forever no matter how differently the other person may act. I ask them, “So, did you love that person, or were you just attracted to the way they acted or spoke or smelled?” Which is generally met with dead silence and blank stares. Which actually is answer enough.

So, I ask you: do you still love those whom you have claimed to love before? Do you really believe that love – real, true, honest-to-goodness love – never dies? Or do you believe it is dependent on how you are spoken to, or treated, or acted towards?

And if it is conditional on actions, do you love – really, truly, honest-to-goodness love – your children, say, when they are acting out, or when they say “I hate you!,” or when they turn their backs on you for someone else?
“But wait,” you say, “that’s different. He’s my child. It’s different.”

Oh? what kind of love do you feel for your child that you did not feel for his father or mother, your ex? Loyalty? Protectiveness? Deep in your heart concern and tenderness? Well, there you go. If you never felt any of those for your ex, then, in my humble opinion, you never loved them. You were, as the Wise Ones say, only “in love.” and that is a whole other animal from Love.

“Well,” you might demand, “just what do you think Love is, then?”
Far be it from me to try to define anything so elemental as Love. I am but a man who is shaped by his past, his chemistry, and his emotions, just like you. But I do know where to find definitions for those sort of Big Questions:

“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”

Any other definition – or opinion or attitude – about Love is based on chemistry and past illusions or disillusions. If you have ever loved someone – really, truly, honest-to-goodness loved someone – then you still care for them. You still love them. You may have, for some very good reason or another, moved on to another relationship. But that love is still there, in your heart and your memory. To deny it, either out of a perceived loyalty to a new love or out of belief that’s what you’re supposed to do, to deny it is wrong and damaging to you and everyone else you love.

Because, if you can convince yourself that you can dismiss love – real, true, honest-to-goodness love – for one person, then you begin to expect that you can dismiss love for someone else. And you begin to expect them to do the same to you.

It is NOT wrong to still love the father or mother of your children. In fact, for your children’s sake you should still love their other parent. Does that make you disloyal to your current spouse? Don’t be silly. Does it make you disloyal to your other spouse if you still love your mother or your father or your children? Of course not. Any spouse who tries to tell you that you should love only him or her is selfish and their love for you is seriously questionable.

As an adult, you have the ability to understand the human heart’s capacity for love. You have the mental faculties to understand that you can, for example, love one child with your whole heart, and another child just as completely, and still another child totally, too. The human heart (as we call our love-center) was Designed to be able to expand to the maximum we ask of it.

“Love – real, true, honest-to-goodness love – never fails.” It just grows to take in more people in your life. Only you can choose to give up on love. And when you do, you cheat yourself, your children, and everyone in your life.

Love one another.


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