Tuesday, December 20, 2011

on love...

so we actually have a pretty cool definition of love. it goes like this... the positive feeling you get when you focus on the virtues of another... one more time: love is the positive feeling you get when you focus on the virtues of another... and please note this is not lust- lust would be the positive feeling you get when you only see the virtues of another... (a.k.a. you see the person as being perfect)... however with real love, you see the whole picture and yet still choose to focus on the virtues (i.e. instead of the flaws)...
did anyone notice the exciting word in that last sentence? i'll help you out... CHOOSE... yes, according to this definition, love is a choice! a choice! amazing!

why so amazing? because if love is a choice, we can save ourselves from that horrible, ominous possibility that just as we fell in love with our significant other, so too might we just fall out of love...

if you would meet an expectant mother or father and ask them if they are going to love their child, they would answer 'of course!' without hesitation... and if you asked them if they would ever 'divorce' their child if that child misbehaved badly enough, they would probably also look at you like you were a little nutty and say 'no way!'... so how can it be that we can commit to such unconditional, unending love for someone we've never met and yet we suffer from a 50% divorce rate? no one gets married thinking they are going to be the ones in the divorce statistic (or if they do, that is beyond sad)... they get married to the one person in the world who they have hand-picked to be their life partner, and yet it still doesn't work out so much of the time! so what's going on?

in the Torah world, divorce under the proper conditions is neither forbidden nor shameful. in fact, if the circumstances demand it, divorce is even a mitzvah (a commandment)! but how do you know if that's really what you need?

in Judaism we see marriage as the union of two halves of one soul being reunited into their original oneness (nice, right?!) so therefore your spouse is not just the person you share your life with; your spouse is just as much a part of you as your limbs are... and if your hand hurts, do you cut it off? no. and if it really hurts, do you cut it off? no. and if it really really really hurts, do you cut it off? no! but when it turns green and starts spreading up your arm, you cut it off. so too with divorce. if your marriage is killing you, then it's time to end it...

ok so practically, how do we do this choosing love business... it starts with seeking out the positive... and here we get to a major jewish concept, seeing the glass half full- and not only is it half full, but any minute someone could come along with a nice pitcher of cold water and fill 'er right up, the potential is endless! but seriously, it really works, even with total strangers...

like let's say for example that you are running to catch a bus (that's how we roll in j-ru) and you totally almost make it such that you're even pounding on the driver's window as he's about to pull away and he totally sees you and drives off regardless, leaving you sweaty, tired, and very late for your important meeting... so what's the natural feeling? rage! how dare he! doesn't he have the common courtesy to help me out? he obviously saw me, etc, etc.... ok and what does the 'choose love' response look like? it involves putting yourself in the other person's shoes and giving them the benefit of the doubt... so you might say something like 'wow it must have been so hard for the driver to pull away when he saw me running and pounding on the door, but he is so conscientious to stick to his schedule, especially since traffic had already made him late and everyone else on the bus and the whole route would be thrown off if he stopped, and he probably has to deal with situations like that all day, with people being angry with him and rude to him... wow i hope i didn't make it worse and the rest of his day goes better...' how do you think you feel after both of those two scenarios? you missed the bus no matter what, but when you choose to love the driver, now you're happy, relaxed, and smiling, instead of skulking and driving yourself into a hole...

and how does it work with your significant other? example* (not true to life, don't worry husband!)... ok let's say i really need milk and i ask my husband to bring it home when he comes home late after work (because i can't drink black coffee and will faint if i don't get my morning fix, the baby needs her bottle, and the kids only eat cereal for breakfast), but of course, he forgets it... reaction 1: 'you *#$@! you are so inconsiderate and never think of me and now i'm going to have a horrible morning because of you!... (not a very good model for healthy relationships)... reaction 2: i feel the anger rising up, i STOP it as fast as i can, and quickly look for positive thoughts about my husband and the situation... 'wow he loves me so much he just wanted to rush home to see me and that's why he forgot', 'he works so hard to support the family that he was really distracted from his long day of work,' 'he will probably be really regretful himself when he realizes his mistake because he knows it will be challenging for me in the morning,' 'he is normally so reliable, i hope nothing's wrong'.... ok now that i'm in a positive frame of mind (and therefore getting that good feeling called love), i can say something that will actually build the relationship and build us closer like 'welcome home honey, i'm so happy to see you'... yes, i don't even have to bring up the milk right now! if it will just make him feel bad (and neither of us are going back out of the house to go get some), then i would be better off waiting for another time to gently ask him what the best way to help him remember is, whether it's an extra text, phone call, or something else, in order to actually help me get the milk next time! so instead of fighting, we are now more in love, and feeling closer and more connected! see? i told you it was amazing! and can you imagine doing this all day long??? i totally recommend it...

ok i think that's a long enough chain of thought for now, hope it was follow-able! questions/comments definitely welcome...

lots of LOVE for all y'all (ha i totally always wished i lived somewhere where they said y'all so i too could get away with saying it...)
laila tov (goodnight!)

1 comment:

  1. Hey! Your blog made me think about something that my husband quotes from Rav Kook, regarding "Ahavat Chinam - free love" Rav Kook says there is no such thing, and if you tell somebody "I love you Ahavat Chinam, for no reason" then that is actually pretty insulting and that we have to find reasons to love everybody - including those bus drivers - because everybody has something worth loving.

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