Nurturing your love to build a strong relationship
I attended a beautiful wedding July 4th weekend. The couple, in their early 30s, wondered in their late 20s—would they ever find love? Leslie, the bride, had attended tens of weddings of her large friendship circle. Now, it was her turn to walk down the aisle.
As in many modern weddings, the couple shared with their community their deep sense of love and respect for each other by writing their own vows and sharing their love story. It was touching. Most of us older folks had tears in our eyes.
Of course, I thought about my own wedding, some 42 years earlier. Married in my in-laws living room, with only family and a few close friends, I felt the same way that Leslie and Lee felt this weekend. Four decades later, with half a lifetime under our belts, we still have the chemistry we had as young adults.
Yes, it is different because nothing stays the same. Our love and commitment have grown steadier and stronger, as we have navigated through easy and hard times. We raised our family, forged careers, and helped our parents live through illness and through their passing. Now we are the older generation.
Today, while visiting our youngest daughter, I beheld three generations of my beloveds—my wife, my daughter, and my granddaughter, nestled together on the bed, reading a naptime story. I again had tears in my eyes—I have been so blessed with great love.
So, how can we nurture this love, which will sustain us through the dark nights and difficult days of our life?
Remember what’s important. At the end of the day, it’s what we’ve put into our relationships that supports us. Jobs, careers, and friends will come and go. But we want to make sure that we are prioritizing time and energy for the people we love. It’s through acts of loving kindness that our relationships deepen—simply verbalizing our love is not enough. Love must be transformed into action.
It’s all about showing up. Show up as a husband, wife, friend, mom, dad, daughter, and son. It’s rarely convenient and sometimes uncomfortable. Don’t get distracted. There’s nothing more important.
Take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself is important. While it seems at odds with nurturing others, it’s important to keep your own tank filled with energy, health, and peace. When you have wellbeing, you have more to give to others. If you are depleted, it’s more difficult to show up for others. Don’t neglect yourself.
Acceptance. Learn to accept your loved ones for who they are, with all of their faults and idiosyncrasies. None of us are perfect. We can’t sculpt our loved ones into the people we want them to be. If they want to make change, it has to come from them. That doesn't mean that we have to like everything about them.
Don’t take your partner for granted. It’s so easy, over time, to simply take everything your partner does for you as a given. We think our partners know how much we appreciate them. We forget to let them know that they’re special. In addition to performing acts of lovingkindness, make sure to let the other person know who much you appreciate everything that they do for you. Be affectionate—hold hands, put your arm your partner, connect when you come home and leave the house, and make date night a regular event.
The goal is to make your love soar like a mighty cedar tree—reaching toward the sky but deeply rooted in the earth. It can stand tall and strong for a life time.