03 October 2011

The Most Important Things I've Ever Learned (About Love) - #2




(Photos by the photographer, Rachel Thurston.)  


Here are some more notes on what I've learned about love.  This stuff has changed my life (!) and if applied very literally, I am confident it can change yours, too.   

You ready for this?  It's a lot to absorb.  But in the weeks following my first husband's departure, it was this nitty gritty that caused strangers on the streets of New York to stop me and tell me that I was "glowing" and "radiant".  (I wanted so badly to tell them the real reason why...)

  • To really show a healthy kind of love to your spouse, children, parents, family, coworkers, or friends, your emotional well-being cannot be dependent on them.  The source of your wholeness & your security as a person needs to be based on something else.  For me, the ups and downs of my well-being used to hinge on the love or affection from my husband, or my husband's  (or my own) approval of my looks, or the status of my baby-making, or on the goal of one day having a successful business.  I know what it's like to not have any of those things and to feel pretty miserable about it.  But now, I know better.  And so, instead of basing my deepest happiness & well-being on my husband or unborn children, I get my strength & healing from tapping into what I know to be the most powerful force of goodness & love & strength for all:  being at one with God.  That's a pretty tall order.  But it's available to me at ALL times, no matter what my circumstances are.  Until I was 30, I had no clue how to really do this.  It turns out that anything religious didn't really mean a whole lot to me before then.  But in a desperate state, I decided to give it a go & see what would happen.  I tried to feel that oneness every single day, and that's when the really, really deep & independent peace started.  And one of the best consequences of this?  Now having the sweetest marriage I could ever imagine.  :)
  •   When your real, deep peace is not dependent on your husband or kids, you remove that pressure from them to constantly satisfy you.  Know any moms or dads that hang their own personal happiness & well being around their children's necks and display deep inadequacy/disappointment/depression if their kids do not fulfill all their dreams of perfection?  Or, do you know any wives that are miserable because their husbands don't "fulfill" them in all the ways that they want to be fulfilled?  I see it all the time.  No matter how it's done, if someone is basing their own personal happiness on the behavior of another, no matter how much they think they love that person, they are actually not showing love at all.  Instead, they're loading on an unhealthy amount of  pressure, which can be felt for a lifetime.  I know way too many adults that sadly STILL feel inadequate or unsure of themselves, due to the pressure of their mothers or fathers.
I think applying these two above ideas to our lives is how we can develop what is called "unconditional love."  I know firsthand that there is NOTHING BETTER THAN THIS.  I learned how to love in this way and applied it to some of the most challenging experiences of my life.  I had never felt more powerful, happy, confident and well.  I am convinced it is the most important thing we could master in this life.  And learning to master this more & more everyday is truly the greatest endeavor of my life.

I would LOVE to hear what you all think about this....and I'd especially love to hear if anyone has seen these principles working in their lives or in their marriages.

-MK

P.S.  If you ever get the opportunity to attend a huge concert in the Great Lawn in Central Park, just do it.  We saw the Black Eyed Peas on Friday night and despite not even being fans of the group AND despite the rain, there was something just awesome about being in that park with 60,000 people.  

18 comments:

  1. Mara you gave really hit the nail on the head. True happiness does come from being at peace with self, God and loving those around you.

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  2. Hi there, I got an email about your blog and I'm not sure how but I'm glad I did. I totally agree with what you said and that is what I'm working on right now- finding my fulfillment through myself and being connected to something bigger. It really is vital for a healthy, lasting relationship. And like they always say, you can't expect someone else to love you, if you don't love you.

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  3. Susan - thanks so much for writing. Means a lot!

    Amanda - you're awesome. Glad you are on that road. You can rock it. Just having the desire to get there is HUGE and once you have that, the changes won't stop.

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  4. this is a fabulous post, thanks for sharing your blog with me. xoxo, Michelle

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  5. Mara,

    Thanks for sharing this. It is so true! I wish I'd realized this before I got married. When I was single I knew it, but had the misconception that my husband should fulfill every need once we got married. Thankfully, he was smarter than me, and incredibly patient. We've been married 20 years now (am I really that old?) And I feel like I've just learned that lesson and have felt so much joy and love lately. Thanks for putting that truth into succinct words. I might print this post as a reminder.

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  6. Very powerful and moving words and they came at a great time. I am loving your blog. You are an amazing woman Mara and I am so glad we met in Paris all those years ago.

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  7. Sage - Yes! I wish I had known this, too, before my first marriage. I was 25 then and thought I had my head screwed on straight. But now I can see that my happiness/well being was most definitely dependent on receiving love or affection back from my spouse. Not a healthy way to live (!) and most certainly doesn't breed any amount of lasting inner happiness. It's so much better on the other side! I am so glad you know this, too. THANKS so much for sharing your comment & inspiring me and anyone else reading.

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  8. Hi Mara. I am new to your blog, it was recommended by my friend Julie D.(she lives in Brooklyn). I just wanted to say thank you for writing this. I too was divorced several years ago & can relate to several things you've mentioned. I didn't know blogs existed back then or I would have thought to maybe write some of what I went through too. This has brought so many memories back and that I need to get back to that spiritual place I was then. Here's to unconditional love and happiness :)

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  9. Wow! What a wonderful post. To be completely honest with you I often find myself being that mother and wife; very dependent on the emotions and attitudes and love that is coming from others. When all around me is well then I am well but when my husband is upset and my children are cranky I get the same way. I don't like being this way at all and I am seeking change. That is why I am so happy to have found your blog. It is full of examples and guidance on how to help me become a better me. Above you said "Until I was 30, I had no clue how to really do this". So that is where I am now and I feel so terribly stuck. I just don't get the steps to doing this, to becoming what you mention above. I try so hard each morning when I wake to have a fresh happy attitude, I try so so hard to not let the chaos around me pull me done but usually a couple hours or at most halfway through my day I am the cranky exhausted mother and wife that I so badly don't want to be. This example is what gives me the impression that I am not letting Gods love be my support. But how? How exactly does one get to that. That is my big frustration. I am a convert Mormon and I believe wholeheartedly that this Gospel is true. Please help me to know the path that leads to this peace and independence. How do I too feel what you feel? 

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  10. Brandy - terribly sorry for the delayed reply! THANKS for the wonderful note - I can't even express how much your kind words mean to me. thank you so very much :) OK, so HOW? Well, I had a unique situation when I figured this out. Everything that was most important to me (husband and having children) was taken from me. So I had the benefit of being stripped of those things and seeing that what I was left wit...which was the belief that even though I couldn't have children + my husband just left me, I STILL had a purpose in this life...my purpose was to learn how to love (in the Christ-like way) so that I could become closer to reaching my divine potential. BUT-I realized that THAT purpose was enough...it was enough to trump any other thing that I had ever worked for or desired. I clung to this purpose. It was all I had. And I found that I was more joyful working towards that than anything else I had clung to prior. That purpose was my reason for continuing on. SO - to apply it to motherhood....tricky, cause it can be a constant roller coaster of emotion which is hard to break free from...but I still think this concept applies very very to motherhood, as it is certainly not a walk in the park. So what I would recommend is when husband and kids are cranky...think less about YOUR desires and YOUR agenda...and think more about what your REAL purpose is here. It is to learn more love, more patience, more forgiveness, more joy. Let that dominate. So if your kids are cranky, you can be aware that they'd be better off with a stable mom in that moment, and so you can try & not let your heart react to their behavior (this doesn't mean you don't discipline your kids in whatever way you do - but what's important is what is going on in your heart in those moments - are you reacting out of love or anger.) Know that while you can't control other people's behavior, you can control your own. The goal is to have more peaceful moments (even when faced with unpleasant situations) and less cranky, drained or quick to frustration moments. It really is just *a change in purpose*. A change in working on the things that matter the very most. A good place to start: just work this week on being AWARE that you do have a choice in those frustrating moments. Maybe just start with that...just work on stepping back in your mind and being aware of what's happening, as it is happening. GOOD LUCK and write more if you want some more clarification. Seriously. And sorry this comment is probably disjointed. Kinda tricky just writing such a long comment in this little box. :) Have a great week! xoxox

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  11. Hi Mara! I happened on your blog and LOVE your mission on reaching out to others about love and marriage. It is so important in today`s world, where the media teaches us more about love than anything else -- and to be blunt, the message they send out is rather dysfunctional. I got married in August and about 1.5 years ago, I actually ended my dating relationship with my now-husband. And God really made 2 things clear to me in the 6 months that followed 1) I could choose a life of singlehood or marriage, both are equally difficult with their own challenges, but whichever one I choose I have to live a life that glorifies God and 2) exactly what you hit on the nail in this post - dating and marriage is not about MY happiness (which the media always makes it out to be - I`m not happy, I deserve to be happy, so I`m leaving). It`s about loving your spouse... and then being amazed by the returns and blessings.

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  12. Sorry - I posted before I was done that final thought... so it is about loving your spouse, being a source of God`s grace in his or her life, and not expecting them to be THE source of happiness in your life.

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  13. Wow. I'm currently going through your whole blog, and i love it, i was planning to comment once i was done with every post, but i love this one so much, especially because i am learning this today. And im not married yet. but learning about loving oneself, and being totally dependent on God rather than on me or other people's view of me. Leaving that stage was/has been difficult. It's an every day battle. But I feel so much more worth it, and much more beautiful as I endure this process.

    you two are an inspiration... but i'll keep reading. and im hoping i find more emails as i make my way through it! :)

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  14. I think this is exactly what I needed to hear today. I already commented on another post, but I really am so grateful I found your blog. I have now started at the beginning and am going chronologically from start to end :) Thanks again for the words. You are inspiring.

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  15. Mara, I found your blog today and have been soaking it up for hours. I am in that dark place internally. My outer world has responded in kind and I do not wish to stay in this energy a minute longer. I love that you mentioned in another post how God's love had little meaning to you for most of your life because you had heard it said so often. Just yesterday I said the same thing to a well meaning friend. Now, I see how your life is transforming and I will choose to believe God's love for me is tangible, and that I AM his daughter. I have allowed the enemy's messages to be more believable for too long. Also, this post was spot on with what has troubled me the most in my life. I realize I must find God's love within to be able to truly love others. I am on a mission. Thanks again for blessing us with your hard won wisdom.

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  16. I need this more than I can say. Thank you for the courage to write your feelings. I've always connected best with people who put themselves FULLY out there. You're great :) Thanks for all the insight!

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  17. though I´m not married, I can say love is important at every stage of our lives, and love starts by loving ourselves. wonderful blog. thanks for sharing.

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