You’re the guy that understands that love is a verb. It’s not just three simple words of expression. It’s memorizing the sweet notes in her favorite perfumes as you stroll through Bloomingdale’s to buy her another signature scent. The handpicked flowers in her favorite color. The dinner reservations for two at your place, with the meal prepared by your hands. And most of all, the tenderness you extend towards her when you notice she’s had a rough day and she’s a bit bristly in tone with you. And despite all of this, you are consistently met with insecurity and questions like, “Do you really love me?” As frustrating as this can be, let’s break down the content and context of love.
Clearly, we all come from different places. Our life experiences shape not only who we are but how we see the world. The man “verbing” the woman he loves comes from a place where he saw his father adore his mother. He witnessed the distinct actions of love given by his father and understood that this was what love not only said, but did. Let’s consider that to him, the CONTENT of all he is displaying should say to her, “I am choosing you to love.” Seems clear, right? Not so fast.
The receiver of this content must filter the actions and words through the CONTEXT from which they come. She hasn’t overlooked the flowers or romance. But her background is one of seeing abuse. Her father was not tender with her mother. Physical and verbal abuse were pervasive in her home and the “apologies” were expensive gifts and an abundance of lovely words. Which can she now trust? The hope is that eventually his content outweighs the context she has seen in her life for decades.
If you find yourself seeing life through a skewed lens of dysfunction, be encouraged. The first step is to institute a filter to purify the messages you are receiving from your partner. Although the context inside of you says what he is demonstrating cannot be true and is fleeting, ask yourself, “What have I come to truly know about who he is? Is he a man who is impeccable with his word? Does he regard being honorable as paramount in his daily life? Is he consistent in his character and integrity?” If the answers to these types of questions lead you back to, HE CONSISTENTLY SHOWS ME WHO HE IS AND THE MESSAGE IS LOVING AND KIND, choose to challenge the context where your emotions rule the ability to receive something pure. Secondly, practice gratitude for the love being shown to you. Even when it’s difficult to believe that this goodness is for you, tell your partner that you appreciate them and their kindness. Sharing these words will provoke the negative context in you to adjust its focus on the content that is being demonstrated. Not to mention give your partner a hopeful outlook that what they are sending towards you is acknowledged. Finally, remember that the impact of learning to receive goodness in one area of your life opens you up to have more goodness in other areas. Such things as the ability to secure close and loyal friends, a new belief that a good job could be for you and not just others, etc. Trusting that your life is not a perpetual dark cloud is liberating. And please don’t forget, rainbows tend to peek out after the worst storms.
As for the man who loves deeply and openly, don’t lose heart. Believe that your love can eventually serve many purposes. One of which is to help heal the trauma the person you love has experienced. After all, relationships are meant to be a place of shared wholeness and mutual healing. It’s what we all deserve.