Love often and love hard. I’m sure that many of us have heard this before. We go about our lives everyday, thinking about the day ahead of us. For the majority of us, we don’t consciously tell ourselves to think, breathe, or move the blood throughout our bodies. These actions are on auto-pilot. Our brains are a constant whir of activity and they keep churning thoughts or ideas without pause. The brain is thinking, the heart is pumping and the lungs give life to every breath we take. We don’t think about it and we are blessed that this activity is seamless.
What about our deliberate actions? By nature, we tend to be social people, some more or less than others. You may go to the hairstylist, for example. A conversation begins and you seem to connect. You love your new hairstyle and how it makes you feel. The hairstylist listened and seems to know exactly what makes you feel good and you want to treat this person well. You talk to them and learn all that you can to make this person happy, too.
And, you repeat this behavior with your waiter/waitress, the salesperson in your favorite clothing store or department store and so on. You are forming relationships and connections everywhere that you go. This is exciting! And, this behavior continues throughout our lives.
All of these relationships are quite meaningful in one way or another. We like being liked. At some point, we will decide that some of these connections will be everlasting. Others will be replaced or discarded.
This is similar to our most personal and intimate relationships. There are subtle differences.
You meet someone. Something about this person intrigues you or has awakened something inside of you. You feel that you need to talk to them and learn all that you can about them. Time. There is not enough time in the day with this person. Need more. At some point, you have shared countless conversations, meals, activities and feelings. This connection has become the most important thing in your life. It’s all that you can think about and it is all consuming.
Running parallel to the most important relationship in your life are all of the other minor relationships that you have formed and those relationships that are yet to be formed. And you continue to give of yourself so freely to keep all of these relationships healthy. They make you feel good. And you are content.
Many years later you find that you have been going to the hairstylist or dentist for long periods of time. The length of these relationships is baffling to you. The epiphany! You think, “Gee, I’ve been going to my hairdresser for 25 years.“ Or, “Wow, I’m so surprised that I’ve been going to the same dentist since I was a teenager.” This is both astounding and heartwarming. You couldn’t imagine moving on or replacing either of them. You feel as though you have been through so much together, albeit superficial.
Meanwhile, the most intimate and personal relationship that you call “your life” is chugging along. You and your partner have been together for quite a while. There are routines and you really don’t think about it so much anymore. It just is.
There are times when you would rather go to your favorite restaurant with your partner than stay home for dinner because you really like the banter with the waiter or waitress. You are looking forward to one of your minor relationships and you tip this person well. All of you feel good. There has been a shift in your lives and your minor relationships seem more important to you. And this behavior has become more regular.
It is obvious that your most primary relationship hasn’t been nurtured. One or both of you stopped sowing the seeds of this garden and the fruit of your love is dying on the vine.
What are you going to do?