There once were two old women sitting side by side at a cafe table outside of a bar that was next door to their retirement home. They were both close to the same age and knew each other since they were young adults. I don’t know exactly how old they were because “a real lady does not tell others her true age.” They were doing what they often did, waiting for a young person to come outside. Sometimes they would see a person who had been visiting a relative and ask them to sit a spell. They wouldn’t ambush the visitors on the way in, “now that would be rude to delay them from their intended destination”. They scoped out their victim, I mean listener and offered a place to rest a while before the drive home.
Unwittingly, the person would sit. Probably out of respect for their elders and not wanting to be rude. The women would offer the guest a glass of red wine as they would always order a bottle or two. Not coffee because caffeine is damaging to the memory cells in the brain. “We don’t want to see you as a resident in a few years, now do we?” they would say and laugh. Then they would offer advice, most of the time relationship advice, to the person brave enough to stay longer than five minutes.
The first woman would tell how she met her husband at a bank. She was a teller and he was a customer. He came every week to deposit his paycheck. She, being a lonely divorcee with a couple of children, was in the market for a new husband. She made quick work of flirting with him and they were married within a year. They went to church on Sunday and were on a few committees. From the outside, they had a great marriage. In the privacy of their home, things were different. The couple bickered more than they talked. They seldom did anything together. She had her bridge club and he liked to go fishing.“This is the part where she leaves out that he was another woman’s husband. She stole him.” the second woman would point out. The first woman would scoff, “and what of it? We were married for fifty-one years before he died, God rest his soul. We loved each other in our own way.” She would finish her story by saying, “Love isn’t all flowers and butterflies in your stomach. It’s building a life together. Raising children and being good members of the community together. It’s real life stuff like bills, illness and birthdays.”
The second woman would tell how she was restless in love. She had many suitors and enjoyed the wild passion of her youth. She was a Christian and was just as restless with churches. Though she read her Bible and prayed every day, she rarely went to church. She married four times. Each husband had good qualities but over time the marriages soured. Her fourth husband was the love of her life. She knew him the longest and their marriage had lasted for thirty-five years. There was never a loss of love or passion in their relationship. They never fought and they treated each other with respect. They spent as much time together as possible. She said, “We had the best sex life ever. He died happy.” The first woman snickered, “Well you had plenty of practice.” To which the second woman agreed. She would say that “real love is mutual respect and when he kisses you your skin gets all electrified. Its when he says your name and your heart flips a bit in your chest. It’s laughter and gentle caresses. It’s wanting nothing more but just to be in the same breathing space as each other.”
At this point, the guest would most often make an excuse about the long drive home or the lateness of the hour. They would bid these two ladies a fond farewell.
Both women claim that love was at the center of their relationships. One loved with acts of service. The second loved with touch and emotion. What the second woman had that the first one did not was correct priority perspective.
The first woman loved her husband for what he could to for and what she did for him made her feel worthy to be his wife. The second woman put love without conditions first in her thoughts and actions toward her husband. She loved him regardless of what he did for her. She just wanted his love.
To have perfect complete love in a relationship, love must be without prerequisites. Love is not self centered it is other centered.
Unconditional love is a choice. The power to love, to give love, and to walk away from love always resides with you. You choose to put love first or not. You make decisions every day based on that choice.
Want a real-life example? You can get mad at your spouse/partner because they forgot to do that thing you have asked them multiple times to do. You can refuse to watch a movie with them because, well they did not do that thing so you aren’t going to give them what they want. You could argue about it. That is conditional love, that is an incorrect priority perspective. You could ignore the thing, leave it undone. Sit on the sofa and let your person put their head in your lap, caress them while you watch a movie. Then after either let the thing go and do it later or wait for your person to do it. The result is no argument and you had the chance to strengthen your intimacy by spending time with your partner.
What was more important loving your person or the thing they did not do?
Love should be at the center of your relationships. Never conditional, never just an afterthought. Love should be the priority that all other actions and decisions are made.
Believe in love as your compass.