Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Love Requires Relationship


Bis Art Print
Hanson, Pamela
31.47 in. x 23.6 in.

Buy at AllPosters.com
Framed   Mounted

There are quite different understandings of the nature of loving. Monastics throughout the world, for example, have held that the most fundamental experience of love comes not from relations with other people but from an inward experience of Being itself. Such an experience has been described as bliss, enlightenment, mystery, or light. Within Christianity the term agape is used to denote the love of God for human beings. It is a Christian contention that we are obligated to love others—indeed, that we can be commanded to love others because we have been loved by God.

Our present Western understanding of love, however, is more strongly sociopsychological. Whatever self-love we have acquired depends on our having been loved by others. Our parents, friends, and lovers have significantly shaped, if not totally determined, our capacity to love. Thus, our experience of having been loved provides us with inner prescriptions as to how we should go about our own loving. It is not possible for us to grow and develop unless our basic human need for love and acceptance has been met adequately.

To most people, love means caring for others, looking after them, seeing to their well-being, "for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, . . . till death us do part" 6 People often assume that because caring is very much related to the amount of time spent with those we care for, the longer the relationship, the more caring there will be and the more loving. Thus, they ask: "Isn't it important that marriage be for life?" "Must not any partnership last a long time for it to become a deep and meaningful experience?" "After all, what do people know about love who have not had the responsibility of caring for another person over the years?"

Indeed, caring is a significant part of what we mean by "working" at a marriage, and it is an important part of any intimate partnership. For this reason this book has a lot to say about loving in partnerships. But such a conception of caring for others must be balanced by an awareness that the members of a partnership also must work toward their own self-actualization. Caring for one's partner is only half of the relationship, for it is also important to care for and nurture into being one's own creative, growing self.

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