“There is no better skill than love to make a relationship work.”
We can think of the different “can dos” to make a relationship work. Across the bookstore shelters, websites or media, relationship experts promote own experiences and techniques, tactics on how to give a good relationship. Yet when we do have a problem, then none of these “can dos” seem applicable.
I recall talking to a mother who was stressed over her relationship with her adolescent son. She had minimum contact with him except at the point of financial support provision. “…he despises me. Everything I do, everything about me becomes what he hates the most. He hates me.” The more I listened, the more I learnt the high level of anxiety of her, and how it influenced her interaction with her son. At the end, there seemed to be no solution – there was the same frown, same anxiety, same problem. Three years later, I encountered the mother again and I asked about the relationship. Out of my surprise, I was told she began to engage in short conversations with her son, and he grew in patience in staying with her.
Frankly there was no special trick the mother did, nor a dramatic change in her personality. What was special about her effort was her persistence in attempting to connect with her son. No matter there was no response or merely an annoyed frown received, the mother maintained her daily messages and the never forgotten meal cooked for him. No could imagine that three years later her son gradually initiated conversation with the mother. It is hard to determine the major driving factor of the change, yet without a doubt the persistent minor yet essential act of the mother’s love does matter. I believe that there would never be any impact if the mother merely did the same thing for only a short period of time, or the inconsistent provision of support.
Something more than the logical/right or wrong sense in the relationship
I believe what is mentioned above has explained love in more than a changing process from thinking for “self” to thinking for the others. This conveys the form of the seemingly simple, yet complicated form of love. I cannot simply ask myself to “nurture love” for the other person right at that moment. There are many people, including me, who may expect that, “A counselor must know how to understand and deeply feel for the others.” I wish not to put love in such way. If I tell myself that one should be equipped with “large amount of love, empathy and understanding” to be considered as “a professional”, gradually I find the feelings and attitude coming from me become no longer genuine, but are the posed acts “taken from the recall of the past accumulative training/knowledge to arouse the right feelings from the other person”. How can I truly think for the other person when my feelings are not genuine? How can relationship go on when there has never been a real connection? Perhaps that is how we choose to rather follow the thinking/judging part, in order to avoid the realness of self in feeling.
Time leads genuineness of love to the prolonged relationship
The genuineness of love requires time as the nurturing factor before it grows in spontaneity and depth. I believe that love is not controlled, but a natural flowing and emit of feelings and attitude. Yet also it is necessary for me to have the time of process with the person, such that the client and I grow in relationship and trust with each other. Certainly I cannot deny the possibility when the client does not feel anything, or they simply refuse to “waste time on something vague”. Yet in most cases I have been in, I find that when I let myself trust in such process of relationship, I also trust in the power of “time” to help work out the natural growth of my genuineness in feelings and attitude.
The Learning Process of Love
This is how the meaning of love grows into the deeper sense – it is a learning process in which one constantly attends to his/her qualities via the relationship, explores them and intends to change for growth in person, and then the better relationship. One example is the settlement between one thinking for self or for the others. In relationships, there must be certain space when we think for ourselves and the others, as we are bound to have impact on the others as much as we are influenced, e.g. in families, friendship, social network, work, etc. For instance, we strive for painting our own career path which no one else can work out for us, and yet for many, family is also an important element of consideration. Like the Indian parents who arrange the future husbands for own daughters regardless whatever plans the daughters may have held, or one is forced by the traditional social mainstream to stay within the same country for work after marriage for the stable family development, and the healthy growth of their own children. Such outer factors clash with our individuality, leading to the question “think for self, or for the others?”
Like in the case of counseling, I find that clients as well as I also face such question. For the client, having the courage to initiate self-change is a good empowerment process; yet to include the counselor, a total stranger, into such process is constantly challenging and confusing. For the counselor, it takes the same amount of pleasure as well as hard work on the repeated introspection of self. Only as time goes on as the client and I allow the seed of care/love to strengthen the bondage in between, and thus the developing spontaneity of rapport, and accumulative mutual trust.
Must there be the right way towards a good loving relationship? Instead of acting out the right choice from the question, I think that the real answer exceeds such sense. Instead of a yes/no answer, it is about how to love. To love, which means we do not follow the “right sense” of love because we need to do it, but because we want to. If we work on the relationship because we need to do so/the forceful obligation, we easily turn towards fixing the “bugs of problems”, and probably just getting the “right situation, right status” etc. Only genuineness helps with the nurture of love, and that requires time on the effortful building of such sense of genuineness, which leads to the right learning in the relationship.
Sounds like that for us to have a beautiful genuine relationship, we need to go on a ride of effortful journey.
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