Each of us has a longing to be loved and we would like to be loved unconditionally. Think about that for a moment. Wouldn’t you like to be loved even though …? (Even though you have a zero balance in your bank account? even though you can’t dance? even though you’re overweight or underweight? even though you have bad acne? even though you only speak one language? Even though you’re a lousy cook? Even though—what ever it is—warts and all?). Of course you would.
I would love you more if only…
So if that’s what you want, then let me ask you this question: Have you ever loved anyone else unconditionally? NO conditions. No “if onlys.” You love them just the way they are right now with no thought of changing something after you’re in a committed relationship or married? Really? You don’t have the thought in the back of your mind that you can get her to lose weight, or you can get him to control his temper—later? You truly don’t have secret plans for a total or partial makeover later in the relationship? (After all shouldn’t he or she be more like you?)
The three necessary ingredients in a lasting, mutually satisfying relationship are love, approval, and appreciation and these elements must be bilaterally present in unconditional love. I think of this as cherishing. The formula? Love + approval + appreciation = cherishing.
You may believe that you are “head over heels” in love and are ready to ride off into the sunset with the beloved and spend the rest of your life with him or her. But before you rev up the engine perhaps you ought to think this through.
Warm, fuzzy feelings or red hot passion is wonderful—we all need it now and then. But when things cool off, then what? Love is much more than that and incredibly hard to describe. However, when you put approval and appreciation in the mix, it’s easier to define and cherishing more aptly describes it than the overused word “love.”
Let’s do a little exercise:
Get out a piece of paper and pen or pencil. Make four columns. Label them Love, Approval, Appreciation, Needs to Change. Get a clear image of your beloved in you mind and in each column write what you love the most about him/her, all the things that meet with your approval, all the things you appreciate, and what he or she needs to change to make the relationship with you a lasting one. Be honest. If that nail biting habit she has or his habit of chewing with his mouth open drives you crazy, put that on your list in the “change” column.
If almost everything you write has to do with physical attributes and appearance do a reality check. Twenty or thirty years and several children later, this will all be changed—aging has a way of doing that. And how lengthy is the “needs to change” column? What will you do, think or feel if none of those changes take place? Do you have a long list in the love, approve and appreciate columns? If they are very short, then there’s very little cherishing going on at this time in your relationship and you better not take that drive into the sunset.
If you think, “I would love you more if only …” then you better think again.