I always found it interesting that in my counselling and psychotherapy training we never covered love. We talked about Freud, Klein, Jung, Rogers and so on - but the closest any of these got to love was Carl Rogers on unconditional positive regard.
Couple Counselling is also very similar. Not many couple counsellors know how to teach the men, women and couples they work with the path to love. They work with superficial layer - the arguments, affairs, and other relationship issues. Underneath all of this is a layer of relationship patterns, emotions, thoughts, actions and lack or love (or not knowing how to love).
The issues couples face - from arguments, affairs, detachment, hurt and pain are often caused on a deep level by a lack of love. For themselves and each other.
The relationship patterns become embedded and a natural part of the relationships. They only know how to respond with anger and pain. Rather than address the issues, some go and have affairs, others become detached or turn to drink or working long hours. This becomes the norm because they don't know how else they can respond.
I remember in school the nuns always talked about giving love. Doing things for others. Give. Give and Give. To put others first always. This may appear a great way to live, however it isn't balanced. For to really give, we most know how to received.
It took me a while to truly understand this as giving and receiving are both equal. John O'Donohue (the great Irish poet and philosopher) said there is certain meanness of spirit if you don't have how to received.
To reject someone's kindness and love towards you is in a way a slap on the face of the other person. How often do you brush aside a compliment from someone else? How often do you reject someone's support (even thought you need it)? How often do you choose independence over resting your head on someone's shoulders?
This is the same for love. To really love, we most also know how to be loved.
To really love and to be loved, we must also know how to love ourselves. This is the natural cycle of love.
It once again took me a while to really understand this!
A few years ago I was introduced to the concept of loving-kindness which is from the Buddhist tradition. It creates a pathway to offer ourselves love, kindness and care. This is extended to an friend, a loved one and someone we have a difficult relationship with.
That is unconditional love. To love others in the face of hardship and difficulty. To love others and not placed conditions upon that love. Such as if you have this job, this goal, this purpose only then I will love you. If you do as I say I will love you. If you meet my needs I will love you.
To love yourself and each other unconditionally gives your relationship space to grow deeper. You may still have disagreements of course or differences of opinions however that's all they are. They don't go further. You both move on and live with a love in your hearts and with each other - recognising that you and your partner are unique individuals with your own strengths and weaknesses and your own courage and challenges.
Here is a beautiful quote on love by Ann Landers:
Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.
If you wish to find out more about couple counselling in London and Bath please call us on +44 (0) 753 421 3557. We look forward to hearing from you and wish you a warm and loving day!
Sex Therapist and Relationship Coach
THE RELATIONSHIP EXPERTS International Relationship Experts John Donlon and Linda Connors have over 30 experience between them. They offer powerful and life changing relationship couple counselling and personal development programmes. They work with individuals and couples in the UK, America, Europe and Australia. If you are in relationship crisis are ready to take the first step into saving your relationship you can contact us on 0800 024 86 47.
John offers relationship advice, solutions and share their thoughts on love, relationships, marriage and intimacy.