It’s time to change the meaning of the word “love”.
The word is used mainly according to the first definition given in the dictionary: “an intense feeling of deep affection”. In other words, love is what you feel.
Reading: What is the meaning of love
after years of talking to couples before, during and after marriage; and from talking to parents and children struggling with their relationships, I am convinced of the definition’s bias. love must be seen not as a feeling but as a represented emotion. to love is to feel and act lovingly.
Too many women have told me, with visible bruises on their faces, that the husbands who beat them love them. since they see love as a feeling, the word hides the truth, which is that you don’t love someone who you hit and abuse repeatedly. she may have very strong feelings towards them, she may even believe that she cannot live without them, but she does not love them.
The first love mentioned in the Bible is not romantic love, but parental love (Genesis 22). When a child is born, the parents’ reaction to this person, who did not exist so recently, is to feel that “I would do anything for her.” in doing is love, feeling is represented. This is why we often hear the phrase “you don’t act like you love me”. we know in our bones that love is not a single feeling, but a feeling that flows out into the world in action.
Among human beings, love is a relational word. yes, you can love things that don’t love you: the sky or a mountain or a painting or the game of chess. but other people’s love is directional. there is a lover and a beloved: you not only love, but you love someone. and true love is not just about the lover’s feelings; it is not selfish. is when a person believes in another person and shows it.
In Fiddler on the Roof, when Tevye asks Golde if she loves him after a quarter-century of marriage, his wry answer is exactly right:
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For twenty-five years, I washed your clothes, I cooked your meals, I cleaned the house, I gave you children, I milked your cow, and then you ask, “if that’s not love, what is?”
Of course it’s possible to do all sorts of duties for someone and feel little or nothing for them. love is not about being hired help. love is not an obligation made with a cold soul. but neither is it a passion that expresses itself in cruelty, or that does not express itself at all. the feeling must be linked to the action.
We would have a healthier conception of love if we understood that love, like parenthood or friendship, is a feeling that is expressed in action. what we really feel is reflected in what we do. The poet’s song is dazzling and the passion powerful, but the deepest beauty of love is how it changes lives.
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