“I finally met the love of my life!” Such joy is expressed in the proclamation of love. Whether the joy is ours, or the excitement belongs to a friend or relative, we come together to rejoice in love, and questions abound about this new and mysterious person. New love seems to give us unbridled cause to celebrate. Have you ever wondered if in fact everyone creates the same meaning out of this moment? Is there some universal definition of love that we all believe in? When we fall in love, we tend to see the object of our desire, and not much more. Perhaps there is some connection between this and the age-old saying “love is blind”?
There aren’t many of us that come up empty-handed when we try to recall the lessons we learned about love and relationships from our mothers, fathers, or other family members. Just as each individual is unique, so are our families and the messages we take in while we are growing up. If your parents were uncomfortable talking about love, you may have learned through the silence that there is something secretive or shameful about it. It is possible you learned that love shouldn’t be out in the open, or that talking about it or showing it means you are vulnerable or weak. Other messages may have come from watching your family’s interactions, noticing how much affection was (or wasn’t) displayed and how it was received, or how boundaries were respected or ignored. Perhaps you came from a divorced or single parent family and came away with a message that love is disappointing, or dangerous. I recall one very specific message my mother shared with me when I was sixteen. She told me, “Don’t ever trust anyone 100% with your heart. You can trust 90% and then keep that other 10% for yourself”. I listened to her advice, and although I never had the chance to ask why she felt this way, it did impact me. Our families teach us many lessons about love, and left unexplored, we may not be aware of how impactful these lessons are on our budding love lives or our expectations of love.
When you fall in love, do you know exactly what you are falling in love with? Is it a feeling you have that tells you “this is love”? Is it the ‘idea of love’ that you have fallen in love with? Chances are once you have that ‘feeling’, you aren’t doing much other than luxuriating in it. Let’s be honest, not much can compare. Now what if you closed your eyes and imagined that one special person you love and right there next to them stands their entire family along with their ideas, beliefs, and communication patterns, feelings about sex, affection, and gender roles? Would your ‘love feeling’ be any different? If we all learned that it takes two people, and the family inside each of their minds to make a relationship while we were growing up, how might that change the landscape of our expectations of love? If what they say is true, about love being blind, how can we see with clarity when we make the choice to open our hearts, minds, and life to another being?
What if instead of being blind, love was perceptive, mindful and discerning? Perhaps it is time to see love through new lenses, ones that allow space for what we hope for, what we dream of creating, and also for what already exists.
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