This is a guest post by Mary Jo Pedersen.
Husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister, friend and friend. However love comes into your life, it needs tending.
There is no end to the number of experts who can tell you how to “keep love alive.” Talk show hosts, authors, therapists, and movie stars all wax eloquent about the ways of love. Yet my experience of being loved and of loving others has been the best teacher for me. I’ve worked with couples in ministry for more than 30 years, and their wisdom echoes that of many experts. These do’s and don’ts apply to any love relationship. You probably already know them, but it’s good to remind ourselves of them every now and then.
- Affirm the gifts/talents of the other.
- Say thank-you even for things you have come to expect the other to do.
- Admit when you’re wrong, and ask for forgiveness.
- Learn how to resolve conflict without hurting one another. When you cannot resolve important issues, seek outside help.
- Be dependable. Keep your promises.
- Listen with your ears and your heart.
- Give those you love your time and attention, showing that they are a priority in your life.
- Let them know you are on their team and that you support their dreams and hopes.
- Don’t hold grudges and let resentment build up; resolve differences openly and honestly.
- Don’t criticize the other in front of friends.
- Don’t engage in name-calling, blaming, and criticizing when you are angry.
- Don’t assume you know what he/she is thinking.
- Don’t take the other for granted.
- Don’t divulge the secrets of one you love.
There are times when I have felt unloved, and that’s when it’s hardest for me to choose loving ways. My faith helps me especially in those times. Because I believe that God is the source of all human love, I go to God and ask for help. I pray for a greater awareness of God’s love for me, and I pray for the grace to love others around me in that same way. It works.
Mary Jo Pedersen is the author of For Better, for Worse, for God: Exploring the Holy Mystery of Marriage.