What is love, really?
Why love is important. The beauty and sorrow.
Love, according to the Oxford Dictionary: )
- an intense feeling of deep affection.
“babies fill parents with feelings of love”
2. a great interest and pleasure in something.
“his love for football”
- feel deep affection for (someone).
“he loved his sister dearly”
2. like or enjoy very much.
“I just love dancing”
Regardless of what our opinion of love might be, it is a basic emotion that every human needs. It is the most important emotion we experience and that we can give. Beyond powerful to its very core and it can be both good and bad, depending on how a person perceives it and how we live by it. Love is not only an emotion, but it also becomes an action.
The difficult aspect of it is that everyone interprets it differently and therefore responds differently to it. In essence, it is the fundamental basis of our psychology and upbringing. There is no perfect formula because we are all different, but the rule of thumb is that if you received it as a child from your parents and those around you, you should be able to give it and receive it more easily. Those who did not receive love but rather toxic, negative emotions will find it difficult to give it, express it and often have a distorted concept of how to live within the realms of love. Sadly, it can be manipulated and where it should be pure and innocent can become negative, selfish and toxic.
The 4 types of love in Greek first defined by C.S. Lewis
You may have heard about the 4 different types of love. 4 different emotions bottled into one English word. Sadly, the English language decided to use one word and lump all 4 different aspects together. Almost, seemingly, watering down the meaning. You can love a burger and yet love your spouse. The same word “love”, that you have for your car, for your possessions, your kids and for God. We toss it around, throw it in different directions and sprinkle it over everything. “Oh, I love that.”
There is the opposite side of the coin too
With handing out love so easily, we also tend to take it away just as easily. When our love is seemingly lost – it can turn to hate. What we loved so intensely, we can start to dislike and eventually hate. A relationship gone bad, a food overeaten or a bad experience with a possession that didn’t last the way we expected it to. Our love can become fickle.
C.S. Lewis, a Christian author, explains the 4 types of love so well.
Affection covers an array of loves. Like animals, the care of mother to babe is a picture of affection. It relies on the expected and the familiar. Lewis describes it as humble. “Affection almost slinks or seeps through our lives,” he says. “It lives with humble, un-dress, private things; soft slippers, old clothes, old jokes, the thump of a sleepy dog’s tail on the kitchen floor, the sound of a sewing-machine…”
Affection can sit alongside other loves and often does. For example, when a man and woman fall in love it is often because of certain affections – a particular location, experience, personality, interest – that begin to wrap around the couple so to make love an expected and familiar part of their shared lives. It’s the familiarity of, “the people with whom you are thrown together in the family, the college, the mess, the ship, the religious house,” says Lewis. The affection for the people always around us, in the normal day-to-day of life, is the majority of the love we experience, even if we don’t label it.
Friendship is the love dismissed. “To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves,” says Lewis, “the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it.” Why? Perhaps we know it’s the most time consuming, the least celebrated, the one we could live without. Perhaps too, as Lewis says, “few value it because few experience it.” Romance lends itself to conception, affection enables us to have a sense of place and belonging, and charity provides a track to redemption.
But friendship doesn’t provide the same level of productivity, if we want to state it in a consumer mindset. However, Lewis thinks friendship likely has closest resemblance to Heaven where we will be intertwined in our relationships. We develop a kinship over something in common and that longing for camaraderie makes friendship all the more wanted. “Friendship must be about something,” Lewis says, “even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travellers.” Think about it too. Friendships have begun faith movements, developed entire areas of thought, and contributed to many projects from art to business.
Different than friendship, lovers, “are always talking to one another about their love” and “are normally face to face, absorbed in each other,” says Lewis. The danger in romantic love is to follow blindly after a feeling of passion. Then, we celebrate the passion and think its absence means such love has died. Certainly, true romance is not so fickle.
Though the feeling is useful. “The event of falling in love is of such a nature that we are right to reject as intolerable the idea that it should be transitory,” says Lewis. “In one high bound it has overleaped the massive wall of our selfhood; it has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being. Spontaneously and without effort we have fulfilled the law (towards one person) by loving our neighbour as ourselves. It is an image, a foretaste, of what we must become to all if Love Himself rules in us without a rival.” There’s a reason Scripture teaches this bond of man and woman, from Genesis onward, is the picture of God’s love for the world, Christ for his bride, the church.
When we discover afresh that romance is more deeply set than the drivel served up by our culture, than we will more rightly hold our spouse in the model of unconditional love.
This is our chief aim, the unconditional love of the Father given to us through his Son. Affection, friendship and romantic love are each the training ground for charity to grow. It’s also a rival to the three. Lewis mentions St. Augustine’s deep loss of a friend who says that such desolation is what occurs when we give our heart to anything but God. “All human beings pass away,” says Lewis. “Don’t put your goods in a leaky vessel. Don’t spend too much on a house you may be turned out of.” Yet, we are made to love, and we are in want of it. If we play it safe, we are not living out the Gospel, but burying the coin in the safe ground, as the parable says. Lewis reminds us:
There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
5 love languages by Dr Gary Chapman
The 5 Love Languages is a concept by Dr Gary Chapman, discovered after counselling thousands of couples. It was understood that couples were misunderstanding one another and their needs. Misunderstanding how they need to feel and be loved, therefore creating a pattern of miscommunication, often resulting in problems and hurts. All because their way of giving and receiving love was different to that of their partners.
He found that the likelihood that your partner’s love language is the same is unlikely. So, when couples have different primary languages, there are bound to be misunderstandings.
Words of Affirmation
Simply put, the Words of Affirmation love language is expressing your love for your partner through the words you use; words to affirm and build them up, to express your love and affirmation of them. It is, in essence, the words you use to show them and tell them you love them. You are praising, appreciating, and encouraging them. If this is someone’s primary love language, they receive love through the words spoken to them. A kind, encouraging word is literally love poured out to them and this is what fills up their love tank. Any words will do: from messages, quotes, letters, a compliment to any words spoken or written to show that you care about them and what they mean to you.
This love language is centred around a person’s undivided time: giving quality time to your partner with no distractions and interruptions. By putting down your phone, smart device, and anything that is distracting of your time, you are showing your loved one that they are the most important priority. You are showing that you are giving them the one commodity that is most vital to them. It is important that, for the people who receive love in this way, you are showing them that quality is more important than quantity. Listen to them; look them in the eye; make your time together focused. By doing that, you will be filling up their love tank.
This love language is all about touch and physical affection. When this is someone’s primary love language, they need to have your touch: they need to be held. Apart from sex, they need to be hugged, kissed, a hand on their arm, a small massage. It is important that when you are in this person’s company, they need you to physically touch them in a caring manner. They want to be close to their partner, so a cuddle will always go down well and fill up their love tank.
Acts of Service
If this is someone’s primary love language, it is important for them to know that you care by doing acts of service for them. From small acts to big acts, they speak volumes for those who receive love in this way. Whether it is washing the car, making the bed, doing the laundry, buying some groceries, fetching the kids from school. Whatever it is, when you do acts of services for them, without being asked to, it speaks their love language, and they feel appreciated. You will find these people often are found doing small kind acts of service for others. Do this for them and you will fill up their love tank.
If receiving gifts is someone’s primary love language, then receiving small gifts and treasures is how they receive love and affection. They do not necessarily place massive importance on the gift itself, but rather the act of giving and receiving a gift. That act of taking the time, money, and effort to purchase something for them is what is important. Knowing that when you saw a certain item in a shop and thought of them and you bought it, or even made it for them, is what is so rewarding and appreciated. They feel as if you know them and have taken the time to express that. By gift giving, their love tank is filled.
The end result
When you speak someone’s love language, you are telling them you appreciate and love them. There is nothing more beautiful and purer, than being spoken to in your language: your love language. By honestly living, sharing and showing love in the manner that is most important to you will benefit every relationship you have, whether with your spouse, your child, your friend or even a work colleague. Remember, by caring for others and showing them love, you are saying that you care about them. It’s a selfless act of kindness. Do you need to find out your love language? Do the love language quiz and read the book to find out more.
The Bible phrases love so beautifully
The Bible says so much about love, that God is love and God loves us. But probably the most beautiful of all the love scriptures, poems and compositions is this.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Living in Love
Knowing the different facets and aspects is incredibly powerful, for you and your relationships with others. It makes you more conscious of the love and emotions you are giving and receiving. Instead of being tossed around by different emotions that might be called love, you can decipher whether, what you are experiencing, is the truth and that the purity of love is being expressed. Measuring and weighing up what you are feeling and how others are behaving is important; love is pure and honest.
Love can express hurt and jealousy but how it is being communicated and expressed is vitally important. It is just as important to know and understand that some do not know how to express it; they are immature in this area. If this is you or someone you are in a relationship with, talk to them, open the communication up.
Maybe counselling or relationship coaching will help. Do not just give up without a fight, or a plan to possibly fix what you might think is broken. Remember we were not all raised the same, some people get muddled and confused by what love is.