The Art Of Love Is Fluidly
Do you believe in the art of loving?
Are you using the art of loving in your relationship, or are you still searching for the magic?
Perhaps you practice the art of love on your partner, but don’t get any in return. This disparity is common and creates the backdrop for many discussions in my therapy office.
Talking with my client Brody a 35-year-old radiologist the other day, he told me how sad he was that Fiona his wife of 2 years expected him to comply with her plans for their social life without question. Apparently she believed that obedience was the essence of the art of loving a spouse.
Rigid Views About the Art of Loving in Marriage Creates Disharmony
His idea about the art of loving in marriage was completely different. It involved his wife being genuinely interested in whatever project or topic he got excited about. When he realized that she had agreed to go with him to a car show just to do her duty, he was bitterly disappointed didn’t want her to go. He didn’t like the pretense born out of duty. He didn’t feel good when Fiona behaved that way with him. He didn’t want to pretend to either. He wasn’t interested in her weekend plans for barbecue with her friends, and he wasn’t going to lie about it. He was angry and resentful at being expected to conform to her wishes. Brody felt alone in his excitement about the latest driver-less car show.
The Art of Love Means Creating an Elastic Band of Togetherness
Marcella a 27-year-old wife and her 30-year-old husband Jerry had a tough time finding common ground on how they should execute their roles within the marriage. She expected Jerry to make the kids put their toys away before dinner. Her dad had been the one to make the her and her siblings tidy up stuff and if they didn’t he wouldn’t read them a story before bed. So she expected the same from Jerry. She refused to join them and do it together, and she refused to get a housekeeper to keep the place tidy. Jerry expected Marcella to make healthy breakfasts for the kids before they went to school and got anxious about the fact that his wife didn’t care as he did about feeding their kids wholesome nutritious foods like his mother did for him and his siblings. Jerry refused to choose the foods, buy them, prepare them and feed them to the children himself. It was her job and she was letting him down by not performing as expected.
As you can see there was no fluidity in terms of helping each other, sharing tasks, joining in or taking turns. Both Jerry and Marcella protested, sometimes by fighting and other times by making cruel remarks to each other. Their wish for their partner to be exactly as they wanted trumped everything else, including the effect on their children and the viability of their marriage. Neither of them had any sense of how important it was to use the art of love to help them jibe and flow as a smooth duo.
What does the art of loving involve?
- The art of loving your partner involves fluidity
So here are a few ways in which you and your partner can practice fluidity in your relationship and keep it fresh and nourished.
- Anticipate and tolerate your partner if they shift from being energetic and reliable to tired and unavailable without taking it as a personal rejection.
- Welcome your partner back from the tired place to a more engaged place without holding grudges or resentments about their previous tired state.
- Create space for understanding your partner’s motives and intentions if they forgot something, or failed you in some way.
- Accept that plans aren’t written in stone – go with the flow in terms of mood, needs and purpose in the moment – rather than operating in a rigid manner that tolerates only one way of acting.
The art of loving your partner involves some mixing and matching
Most people go into a partnership with expectations and fantasies about compensating for the bad stuff in their childhood and or in their parents’ relationship. These wishes and fantasies have been brewing and hardening for years. The wishes become an internal ‘formula’ that directs the way the couple behave. The fantasies become a rigid scaffold on which the relationship plays out. When each partner has a rigid preset structure of wishes and fantasies that they expect their loved one to fulfill, the result is a massive clash. There is no meshing, melding or mixing.
My 28-year old client Josh, recently became a parent to a lovely baby daughter. He expected his wife Paula to be enthralled with the infant and never tire of playing with her and taking care of her. He expected that he too would feel the same joy when he was home from work. He also anticipated that when the baby was put to sleep, he and his wife would find comfort and joy in one another. The art of loving for him involved a constant and continuous palpable joy in being with his loved one. Paula on the other hand had a very different interpretation of the art of love. She felt that the art of love involved her partner taking all responsibility off her shoulders. The art of love for Paula meant being indulged with guilt free time to herself.
Couples need to be elastic in their views and expectations of what each one can and should provide for the relationship to flourish. They need to adapt to one another as they actually are, not as they imagined them to be, or try to force them to be.
Here are a few ways that you and your partner can use the art of love to develop an elastic relationship style and interaction pattern.
- Talk about and share your expectations of each other as much as possible. The more you put your fantasies and wishes into words, the more chance you have of checking out the possibility of having them honored. As you and your partner come to know each other’s secret wishes you can begin the process of mixing and meshing to create a new more realistic scaffold that both can use as a relationship tool.
2.Express your disappointments when they occur. Remember when you discovered that there was no tooth fairy, or that your parents had sex? Your world fell apart! The world was never the same again. That’s how it is when you discover that your partner doesn’t view love the way you do. Once you see them as they really are, and not through your prior lens, you have the chance to see the real beauty and gifts in your partner and in doing so, you are introducing more elasticity into the art of love.
3. Think of one way you imitate your parents relationship. Choose another way that you and your partner create together – something new that works for you as a couple.
Fluidity and elasticity are the life blood of a living breathing relationship. They are the keys to the art of love which ensures the stability and fulfillment of your relationship.
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copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2016