Love is a noun. As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, love can be a “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties; attraction based on sexual desire: affection and tenderness felt by lovers; affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests: an assurance of affection”. It can also refer to a “warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion”, as well as “the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration: a beloved person”.
Therefore, we can conjugate it in many ways. We can “fall in love”, get “hit by love”, or simply “be in love”. However, I believe seeing only love as a noun is very limiting, as it gives the impression that we are passive, that love just “sort of happens” to us, when we are ready and when our heart is open.
True, we do need to be ready to welcome love, and accept to be loved as much as to love. And I do believe in love at first sight, and in the magic surrounding a romantic encounter, and you feel that this guy, this girl, might be “the one”. When you are consumed by passion, and can’t keep your hands of each other.
But then you have to choose love, if you want that burning desire to grow into a strong and lasting relationship. Just like you get to choose happiness, instead of waiting for it to happen, you have to choose love, day after day. In fact, you have to choose to love, to make your love grow into something beautiful.
Love is not only a noun, it is also a verb. And for me, it is very much a verb of action. As the excitement of the first days, months, starts fading, as we get into a set routine, busy with to-dos and house chores and grocery shopping, it’s easy to forget to love. It’s easy to get critical, to stop caring, to take love for granted. I’m the first to plaid guilty, as I’ve realized lately.
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
This is a dangerous and slippery road. The thing about relationships is that it rarely stays at a fixed point. If we stop paying attention to one another, if we stop caring as much, it stops growing, and eventually starts to perish.
The good thing though is that it might not be too late. If we catch ourselves soon enough, we might be able to fix it. We can choose to love again. We can choose to be there for each other, to take care, to be kind. If we believe that it is worth it, we can choose to make it work. Like our grandparents for whom divorce wasn’t an option, and who made the conscious choice, even though the decision might not have been theirs at first to be together, to get through joys and sorrows together, to let go of the little annoyances of the everyday life. They were ready to accept each other’s flaws as part of who they are, not trying to change them, or thinking about all the “What if” of other possible relationships. Their love grew into something bigger, deeper than passion and desire. They choose to work as a team, and to get through the crazy adventure life is together.
Let’s make it work for us too. Let’s choose not only love, but to love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, It is not proud. It does not dishonor others, It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)