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Marriage, Relationships, and Divorce Article
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Expressing Love

by Diana S. Dodson

To love someone is different than expressing that love. We can truly love someone with all of our heart, but may be unable to show that person through our feelings, our actions, or our communication. To express or show love means:

  1. To sometimes put the other person's needs first. A rule of thumb for this is to realize which person's needs are the most at any given time.
  2. To express how we feel, to be honest, and trust the relationship enough to be honest.
  3. To be sensitive to them when they are stressed, even if you may feel they shouldn't be stressed.
  4. To share in the household chores, and to help with the children.
  5. To perceive when to give help and when to let your spouse have their own space.
  6. To understand how your spouse feels, and respect one another.
  7. To show affection.

All of these ideas will help create a solid relationship, one that will be there in good and bad times. These actions will help the two individuals in their relationship with each other, with their children, and in their work experiences. When two people are working together to help one another, it can only enhance the relationship. When two people are going in opposite directions, they won't feel they are moving together in the relationship or reaching some common goal.

People say they love someone and want the relationship to work, yet show little action to substantiate their words. Actions do speak louder than words. If the relationship is really good and solid, yet goes off track at times, it makes it easier to come back when you know there is something good to come back for. When the relationship becomes stressed, it will be easier to drift farther apart.

Ideas and Examples to Try

Ask yourself whose needs are most important at the moment. Then try to help your spouse meet those needs. If your spouse is having trouble at work, it might be a good idea to postpone something, sit down, and help your spouse work through their difficulties.

One person's needs shouldn't become the primary focus most of the time. You should have a balanced relationship where you are both responding to the other's needs equally. If this is not happening and one of the two of you needs more help than you think you can give, you might want to look into counseling.

More information on making relationships work:
Interview: Barbara De Angelis
Tips From Divorcemag.com
Discovering Authentic Love
Keep Your Marriage Together
Making Your Marriage Work

Talk to each other. Let each other know how you feel and why you feel the way you do. Let the other person talk without interruption, and listen to what they have to say. Try to put yourself in their place. Try to feel what they are feeling. Talk without judgment. Ask yourself, "Would I put up with this behavior if the situation were reversed? Would I want me as my marital partner?"

Don't always focus on yourself. Listen carefully, and listen without thinking about what you are going to say. People are so busy thinking about what they need and what they want to say that they forget to listen.

Be happy for your spouse even though you are not completely interested in what they're doing.

Be affectionate, tell them you love them, and show it. Affection is shown in many ways: a kiss on the cheek, a card saying, "I Love You," little gifts, getting your spouse a cup of coffee, or giving the kids a bath. These are all little areas of affection to get you farther in the relationship and to become happier in all areas of your lives.

Think of extra little things you could do for someone who does a lot for you. If you know they really like a particular singing group, buy them tickets if the group is in town.

People need both the words and the action to know they are loved. Let them know that you appreciate what they do for you and show it.

Sometimes we have strong feelings for something or someone, yet have a greater need or stronger feeling that overrides some of our other feelings. Take love, we may truly love someone and not be able to show it because our greater feeling is fear. We may fear rejection or disappointment, overriding our love. Because of our fear we may not be able to express our love. Yet, we still strongly believe the feeling of love is powerful, even though we don't show it. The problem here is, if you can't show the love in the relationship, then the other person doesn't believe it exists. The stronger feeling is fear.

We need to try and accept that fear is a negative feeling and makes us feel worse than if we let the love come through. Even if we can't show the love, we will still be hurt if the relationship ends. So denying the love isn't necessarily the answer.

Think really hard about the way you feel. Sometimes people think they are in love because someone else pays attention to them. Attention doesn't always equate love. Sometimes attention means that someone wants to control you.

Diana S. Dodson has spent many years working as a counselor and mental-heath consultant for children, adolescents, and adult schizophrenics. This article has been edited and excerpted from It's Your Life, Take Charge! (Authorhouse, 2008). Read more about how you can be more proactive and understand yourself to a greater extent. A unique perspective on life translates into self-realization and learning how to be your own guide to your own happiness. Morris County NOW (New Jersey) produces a TV show called New Directions for Women and has asked Ms. Dodson to be a guest on the show on May 13, 2009.

For more articles on marriage, relationships, and divorce, visit http://www.divorcemag.com/articles/Relationships

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