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…go together like a Horse and Carriage.

Too bad it’s no longer 1910.

I’ve yet to wed so maybe, as Porsha proclaimed to Kenya Moore recently, I don’t know the “convictions of a wife”. However I have experienced 2 proposals and witnessed my share of unions, reunions, and Waiting to Exhale moments that I don’t feel the need to shy away from the subject. Plus–I DO believe in marriage. I think it’s possible to find that one person who enhances life’s journey; I just think it’s rare. It seems to me, marriage has become more about a day and a status change and/or a prerequisite to everything else that adulthood has to offer (without being judged), that once the butterflies and romance are gone, you’re left feeling like the subject of a really bad joke and eventually the owner of, some very, hefty, legal fees (I hear you find out who you truly married during divorce…yikes!).

In Chapter 1 of The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman asks you to complete the following: “There would be fewer divorces if only people ______________.”

How would you fill in that blank?

I entered “valued love”. (I think you could also substitute divorce for a variety of phrases and the statement would still be applicable. As Michael Bolton said — “Love is a wonderful thing” :)) In general, I don’t think people actually understand love enough to appreciate it or respect it–often taking it for granted in the name of some deep-rooted, unresolved, issue stemming from a period in their life when “love” got the best of them–when someone who was supposed to love them did not. So instead of expressing love, people go through life expressing what they believe to be love. And because their experience(s) with “love” are mislabeled, they carry the same, misinterpretation (pain) from person, to person, to person. Spouse, family member, friend, colleague, foe…

So how do you value something you’ve never had, or experienced, or had minimum exposure to? What if you are the product of the most tragic of circumstances, and the concept of love really does escape you? If these types of thoughts run through your head then I hope I can help to solve the riddle. Love is an expression/reflection of the acceptance of you, by you. If you didn’t get the proper nurturing as a child, then this is where you must start. Learn to love and value yourself first. As an adult, you have the tools to work it out, you just have to want and choose to.  It may require professional assistance but the key is that you’re ready and willing to accept who you are, not whom you think you are. That is true love–unconditional acceptance of the notable and negative aspects of your character (we all have both). It’s only then that you will be able to recognize that same quality in someone else. If you fail to get to that place, you will attract people into your life whose sole purpose is to help you to find your way. It may come in the form of pain, but you have to learn to love yourself first, there’s no way around it. You’ll know you’re there when you start to feel liberated, and free to be whoever you were meant to be; in the face of your biggest critic, you will smile at their lack of power over you. Once you’ve put your time in, you will value that love, and protect it at all costs. You will also truly understand love and therefore be able to express it towards another human being. In accompaniment, you will understand when crossing paths with someone who does NOT understand love that it has nothing to do with you. (For the record, this type of awareness should happen right away, if it takes you 2, 20, or 40 years to figure out the person doesn’t understand love, then there IS something relative to you in the midst. Like I mentioned, people will come in and out of your life until you learn the hard lesson of not just accepting but being proud of who you are.)

Once you are on familiar terms with love, then you are equipped to navigate the terrain with someone else. You will know the diligence required to remain in love. You will understand that it’s not some euphoric feeling or cloud 9 where you can reside permanently. It is a conscious, continuous, concentrated effort for you to accept, for the other person to feel liberated, and for you to collectively feel proud of the life you are creating together. Good things come to those who work, and love is no exception. A love that lasts requires a conscious, continuous, concentrated effort (not a ring, ceremony, or honeymoon) on behalf of two people who have first graduated from the school of self-love, people that love who they are, not who they want, wish, or are perceived to be are the only ones truly capable of loving someone else.

In general, I try to keep my posts short, and to the point, but it’s very difficult with this subject; I could easily carry on. Love is the MOST searched word in the English language. People are seeking that which can only exist within themselves to the tune of billions of dollars and it fascinates me to no end. I too have had my share of hardship on the subject and continue to expand my thoughts and feelings about it daily. By no means am I an expert or have the expectation that I will be some day. But communication, respect, physical attraction, compatibility and anything else we may look for in a partner are not worth a thought if we haven’t covered the basics: Do I truly love myself? Is that love something I’ve worked hard on and come to value? and Can I say the same for the other person I would like to have a relationship with?

When two people know what it takes, they’re sure to have what it takes. Whatever they don’t have, they’ll go out of their way to find, all in the name of love.