Relationships

Love Lessons No. 4: Love Is a Haven

The sacred space of give-and-take

Posted Feb 29, 2012

As I considered a final topic for this mini-series, I began reflecting on all the different kinds of love we have in life: love in romantic relationships, in marriage, in friendship, and in family. I was reminded of where it all begins, in the experience of love from our mothers. Mother love is the blueprint of all later love relationships. We seek our whole lives to recreate the good of what we had as babies from our mothers—or to discover for the first time what we needed but never really had.

When I get in touch with my own need and longing for love, pictures come to mind. I picture a warm place to come home to, a listening ear, a compassionate and forgiving response to my foibles, a protection from the storms of life in the world-out-there, and a place to rest from the weariness of wrestling with my personal demons. I begin to see love as a sanctuary, love as a safe haven.

It reminds me of that simple truth: a friend knows you as you are and loves you just the same.

Real love heals us on the inside. It nourishes us, relieves us, cleanses us, and strengthens us. Real love also works on us. It sharpens us, transforms us, and grows us. The aim of real love is not to keep us as babies in our mother's arms, but to grow us up so that we can become loving people ourselves.

Another way of saying this idea is that real love is mutual love. It is a two way street; it is a give-and-take. When we feel grateful for the love that is given to us, then we become generous in giving love in return.

The give-and-take of gratitude and generosity gets a positive dynamic going between two people. This means that the haven we receive from the other is also the haven we provide for the other. For me, this love lesson is the most valuable of all.

Copyright 2012 Jennifer L. Kunst, Ph.D.

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