The Beatles were on the money with almost all of their songs, but on this one, I’m afraid that they got it wrong. Unfortunately a lot of Beatle fans found themselves disappointed when they found out that love was not, in fact, all that they needed. And despite the reassurance that “It’s eeeeasy”, that also didn’t prove to be the case. Although there may be many diehard Beatle fans out there that still believe that love is easy and that it’s all you need, from my perspective, neither of those claims is true.
Of course, some things and some people are easy to love, like a newborn baby, especially if it’s your own, or a cute little puppy, or Mom’s delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies, or that beautiful Porsche convertible that just pulled up next to you at the stop light. But to unconditionally love another adult human being with your whole being, with complete vulnerability, open-heartedness and absolute and pure adoration… it’s a great theory, but not all that easy.
The great poet Rainer Maria Rilke put it in slightly different terms when he said: “For one human being to love another, that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.” It is easy to experience loving feelings towards someone, particularly when we find them physically attractive, fun to be with, funny, charming, sweet-smelling, brilliant, and especially if they laugh at our jokes! But having a strong attraction towards or desire for another person isn’t necessarily love. It’s easy though to confuse the two. Love asks more of us than to simply feel a strong attraction to another person.
It asks (or demands) that we put our own preferences aside and replace them with a desire to serve the highest good of another; not always, but probably more often than most of us would want to.
It requires us to be willing to be wrong and to resist the temptation to project blame on our loved one, even when it’s perfectly clear to us that they are at fault.
It requires us to experience more lessons in humility than most of us want to, or ever thought that we would need to.
It requires us to restrain ourselves when we feel the impulse to say or do something that would gratify our ego at the expense of our beloved’s happiness.
It requires us to constantly seek to live in the question:
“What can I give to another?” rather than: “What’s in it for me?”
It requires us to forego our desire to be right in favor of a willingness to be wrong.
And this is just for starters.
And inherent in the myth that “love is all you need” is the notion that love is enough.
Enough to get you through the hard times that inevitably occur from time to time for us all.
Enough to avoid conflict.
Enough to overcome all obstacles.
Enough to heal all wounds.
Enough to prevent future wounding.
Enough to keep you healthy.
Enough to keep you from ever feeling lonely again.
Enough to make you whole when you feel broken.
Enough to live happily ever after.
Not that love won’t make the road through life’s difficulties and challenges a lot less painful to navigate through and won’t enhance your life with feelings of goodwill, happiness, and well being. It will. It might even enhance your health and extend your longevity. So please go ahead and as another 60’s song advised, “Put a little love in your heart”. But don’t get too attached to the idea that love is all you need, lest you find yourself surprised and disappointed when that does not in fact turn out to be the case and you decide that since you love your beloved, but things still aren’t going according to the way they “should” between the two of you that he or she must not love you.
Which might lead one to ask, “Well then, what else is it that you need in addition to love? Great question!
Besides love, here are a few other things that will help to get you through the night:
Skill in dealing with the differences that show up in ALL relationships (even those where there is lots of love).
Patience for those not-so-rare occasions when things aren’t going exactly the way you had planned.
The ability to really listen and to resist the temptation to interrupt or “correct” your partner when (in your opinion) she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
Self-acceptance. Otherwise you’ll judge and reject in him whatever you judge and reject in yourself.
Compassion. For your partner and you-know who.
Integrity. Walk your talk
Courage. Contrary to popular opinion, like getting older, love ain’t for sissies.
Vision. The ability to see what’s possible when your intentions are aligned with each other.
Trust and trustworthiness.
And last but definitely not least, and most frequently underrated…
A good sense of humor. No kidding!