Not what you think it is
Four words the divorce lawyer James J. Sexton offers couples to prevent them ending up in his office are: Love is a verb.
Jessica Stillman expanded on this in an article on Medium.com (see link below.) Her message was so simple and pithy I shared it with four of my kids who have partners, although I don’t suspect in the slightest that any of them are heading for the divorce courts.
In his book, Mindsight, Daniel Siegel, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, also defines love. To him, love is a result of being present with another person:
When we see the mind of another person we bring the qualities of being present – curiosity, openness and acceptance – into our relationships, These qualities seem to me to be the essence of that over-used, often misunderstood word: love.
So, love involves either doing something for someone, or expressing curiosity, openness and acceptance of someone.
Recall a moment when you felt loved by someone. What was that person doing? What were they expressing?
Were they in another room wearing headphones? Scrolling on their mobile? Walking out the door with the intention to slam it? Was their implacable back turned your way or were they scowling as they faced you? Did they look bored? Did their narrowed eyes roll with impatience?
Probably not. When you feel loved, chances are the person who is doing the loving is close enough that you can see their eyes. It’s likely their mouth is shut and curving up slightly at the corners. They look receptive.Their whole body says, I’m here for you.
They’re packed full of curiosity, openness and acceptance of you. In other words, love.
These things need to be woven into romantic novels, something along these lines:
‘Want me to take out the garbage, darling?’ Hector queried, his whole body radiating curiosity, openness and acceptance. ‘Forget the garbage,’ Felicity gushed. ‘Just come and sit with me on this soft, cerise sofa.’
Joking aside, these three qualities don’t require a doctorate to attain them. Look in the nearest stroller down at the local park and you’ll see them on the face of the occupant. We’re born with these qualities. We just don’t pay attention to them, so they fall by the wayside of our lives and trundle into the gutter.
Love is a verb. It’s a doing word.
It happens in moments where curiosity, openness and acceptance dwell.
With love, Marlane
Link to Jessica Stillman's article: