To Give is to Receive

IMG_0558Unresolved childhood experiences often result in unhealthy patterns and attitudes that can taint our relationships in adulthood.

One of my earliest memories is of watching my older brothers and cousins — all boys — play together. I felt left out and unloved.  I cried and wailed, “You don’t love me!”  Another memory is as a teenager getting ready to go out on a blind date. I told my older sister, “I hope he likes me.”  She replied she would think I should be more concerned about whether I liked him.

Like many childhood patterns, this need to be loved followed me off and on into my adulthood.  At times I found myself longing to feel loved.  Much of my behavior was based on this need for approval and love.  I was more concerned with getting than giving.  Too often I focused on my husband’s behavior and expressions of love or lack thereof, and placed burdensome demands on him if he failed to meet my picture of what love looks like.

Fortunately, I finally learned that the best way to receive love is to give it.  As I switched my focus, the rewards have been great.  How do I give love?  I have found that the most profound love I can give is to accept my life partner exactly as he is, without having to try to mold him into the image of my picture of the perfect partner.  When I do this, it is amazing how he transforms before my eyes.  Instead of all his negative qualities, I begin to see all his good and endearing qualities.  Free of my emotional demands, his words and actions are naturally more expressive of the love he has for me.

Of course, there are many little ways I can express love.  I can look into his eyes as he talks to me and listen with my full attention.  I can touch him and caress him as we go about our daily activities.  I can give him little gifts like fixing his favorite meal or doing a chore he usually does, such as changing a light bulb or oiling a squeaky hinge.

Switching my focus on giving rather than getting has been one of the best gifts I could give myself.  Expressing love is a powerful magnet that fills my life with ever-growing love.

Today I will find ways to express my love for my beloved.

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