From the Publisher - February 2017
From the Publisher
“If we lose love and self-respect for each other,
this is how we finally die.”
— Maya Angelou
February is the time of year when all eyes turn to love. A day, February 14, Valentine’s Day, when we make a special effort to let people know we love them by showering them with a sea of pink and red hearts, cupids, cards, chocolates, candy grams, flowers, dinners and champagne. It is a beautiful day for most because we have expanded it to not only include lovers, but also children, family and friends. There is only one flaw with Valentine’s Day: It is just ONE day.
Love deserves more than a day. In reality, if we want to love fully, we should act as if Valentine’s Day is everyday, sans the commercialism. Since I have been going through divorce proceedings, I have been extra observant of couples and their interactions with each other. I see some hanging by a thread. Because of my deep hurt, I even wonder at times if love is real. I think back on my 24-year marriage to analyze what I did wrong. What WE did wrong.
After much thought, I know exactly what we did wrong. We dabbled at love. Love is too precious, exciting and special to dabble in. I have come to this conclusion when it comes to love: Be all in or not at all. That is what love deserves; in fact, it demands it to survive.
So what do I mean by dabbled at love? I mean, our love for each other—and there was much love for each other—was never the center of attention. You see, love is the life force of a relationship. If you’re not plugged into the life force, you eventually die like anything else that never gets plugged in. I think we made many things our life force—children, work, extended family, television, iPhones, kids’ sports, food, even community—just not love or each other. While some of these things listed are important, none of them have the power to sustain a loving relationship.
I see this happening all around me—couples feeling disconnected from each other, partners feeling lonelier when they’re with their spouse than when they’re not. It’s an epidemic and it’s killing marriages. This situation is a sad state to be in because it’s a never ending cycle—I feel disconnected because you don’t (hear, see, get, listen, interact, pay attention) to me, so I don’t (hear, see, get, listen, interact, pay attention) to you and now we both feel disconnected, yet keep going through the motions of marriage, until one day the marriage is dead and no one has the strength to resurrect it.
I want to encourage any one in this situation, who is still married, to get off the disconnection merry-go-round. Wake up and save your marriage. I know it will be uncomfortable and you will probably wonder why you’re plugging into something that quit working years ago. Think of it this way: We put effort into keeping many things in good working order—cars, phones, computers, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, gardens, etc. What have you done lately to keep your relationship in good working order? I know you’ve heard the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” What I’ve come to firmly believe is: The grass is greener where you water it.
I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t “water” my relationship. But, it takes two. It’s very difficult when you’re all but wilted to gather the strength to “water” someone else. However, one of you has to, or you both end up wilted, dried out and emotionally dead.
Every day is the day to put love first. Just as you plug in your phone, plug yourself into love. I don’t know why I wasted so many years not plugging in. This is what I could kick myself for: Losing hope and being afraid of rejection. I wasn’t brave enough to love when I didn’t feel loved. I wasn’t brave enough to connect when I felt disconnected. I let it get like a car that hadn’t run in years and decided it wasn't worth the effort. I was wrong. In most cases, it’s always worth the effort.
My friend just restored a Model A that hadn’t run in 14 years. When he got it, it had been sitting in a barn since 2003. When he opened the car door, a rat jumped out. He found wheat in the carburetor where rats had built nests over the years. This car was a junker. In three weeks, he had it running like a charm. What did it take? It took a lot of TLC. It took hours of attention. It took getting inside the heart of the car—its engine—and figuring out what was broken and fixing it. It took some new parts. It took some of the old parts being cleaned, repaired, and oiled. It took the desire to make it work again and it took a lot of hard work and heart.
Relationships are no different. Even if a relationship feels like it’s been stashed in an old barn for years, it just needs some dusting off, TLC and hard work. It’s getting to the heart, which is the engine of every relationship, and figuring out what is broken and giving it the attention it deserves.
Go home and love like you never have. Love is worth the risk. Life is too short to dabble in love. The choice is yours. I hope you choose love.