Tending The Sacred Flame: 15½ Love Practices To Stay In Love
Tending The Sacred Flame:
15½ Love Practices To Stay In Love
1. Love – Be verbal with your emotions. Choose to share what is in your heart for the other person. Tell them, often, how grateful you are. Create opportunities to share.
2. Peacefulness – Practice being peaceful. Guard against irritation, bitchiness and nagging. Be a space of non-reactivity. Don’t be quick to anger. Be safe space.
3. Enthusiasm – Be happy to see them, every time you see them. Stop what you are doing before they come in the room. Be present – while excited. Choose to do this!
4. Patience – Take a long view. Don’t rush decisions or force things to a crisis. Keep in mind the years ahead and the scope of your lives. Be patient with their progress.
5. Trust – Practice trusting your love. Even if they have broken your trust before, continue to practice a “feeling” of trust. Try not to keep “framing” them in the past.
6. Encouragement – Encourage your lover. Support them in their dreams and what is important to them. Acknowledge them. Be ready with compliments.
7. Mystery – Keep some mystery. Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t reveal everything. Be selective. Keep their interest, and intrigue. Choose to be compelling.
8. Prayer – Have sacred time together. A time when the two of you put your heads together and give thanks and make requests, and share your care for others.
9. Affection – Just be sweet. Be cuddly. Pet. Hug. Snuggle. Squeeze their feet in the morning. Take the time to admire. Develop pet names, and sounds.
10. Vision – Develop yourselves. Continuing to grow into someone amazing and wonderful. Have your own vision, and a common vision, and talk about it.
11. Creativity – Create together. Find some common, fun, pleasurable things you can do together, in the same room, even if you are doing different things.
12. Conversation – Cultivate meaningful conversations. Prepare in advance with interesting things to share. Learn about what they care about, be interested. Listen.
13. Humility – Just do it. Humility takes practice. Acknowledge your own faults before you judge theirs. Don’t let your ego rule the roost. Honor your love.
14. Forgiveness – Be quick to forgive. Be willing to take back hurtful statements or mistakes instantly. Do not hold grudges, they are infections. And forgive yourself.
15. Choose – Choose every day how you are going to show up in your life, and how you will be with your Love. Keep choosing all day long. Choose them again.
½. Really look, and really see, their beauty.
Always in February I am grateful that Valentine’s Day punctuates the gray days with red and pink and expectations of spending time loving each other. I live in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County and all along our lovely valley the dark landscape is speckled with hopeful color foretelling of Spring. The mustard in the vineyards shouts its annual arrival, we are here! The frail pink blossoms wake up and yawn, here we are! The orange trees, persimmon and pomegranate offer Winter’s final fruit into the altar of our hands. And the red, oh the red. All the shades of red flowers make me feel a sense of relief. There are even three yellow and purple pansies that lived through the Winter smiling up at me on my porch. The landscape and the city streets shout: It must be Valentines Day!
But what I want to write about this Twenty-Ten Valentines, Year of the Tiger, is not romantic love, or a once a year show of affection, but about lasting love.
Once you get the love of your life, how do you stay – “In Love.” Staying In Love is a cultivation, a plan of action, and sometimes a sacrifice. By “in love” I am not referring to being romantic, or even “hot” in the classical sense. I mean a general overall true affection and appreciation, a feeling of excitement when you see each other, a continued interest in the development of that person, and yes, the sparkle still sparks at least from time to time.
When my husband and I were first together, the sparkle between us was so alive, so palpable, so incredible, and though we were in our early twenties, we talked about what to do when it “shifted”…when the sparkle wore off and became something else.
We all know what that feels like, “the thrill is gone-ness” and we are all right to fear it, and prepare for it. It might sound silly, but we “got ready”. Sometimes I wonder if that was really a stroke of genius, that has made the difference because we tried at least to prepare, and therefore did not wake up one day, not sparkley and wonder,
oh where oh where has my little spark gone? oh where oh where can it be? And so we have committed to tending the flame of our love, diligently. We are alert, present, watchful and committed to growing in love. And, praise GOD, we are still IN LOVE.
Many, many couples experience that thrill, morph into something more than the thrill, something lasting and true. I only know about five couples at the most where they themselves would say they are still in love even after 3 years. This concerns me, plagues me really, I think about it too much, because of four of my most beloved, and closest women friends, who have gotten a divorce recently! When we are in our twenties, the whole world seems still possible, but on into 30 and 40, and we begin to know more and more people who are unhappy in relationship, and who are getting divorced! All of these, were once very in love.
Now I tell you true, that my marriage has been turbulent and wild. We are passionate in every way, firey spirited, opinionated and prideful in fights and the list goes on. But it has been 15 years, and through all of the turbulence, I will also tell you true: We are still in love. We are still excited to see each other every single day.
This is very rare. I know that. And because it is rare I don’t share much about our marriage because it makes people feel sad for what they don’t have in their lives.
When I started to write more about us, my single community began to complain…and my married community said things like: we aren’t like you. So I listened and I stopped. I don’t want to write about LOVE and make people feel badly about their lives! (I admit, I was slightly traumatized) But this is Valentine’s week and so I will write about Love, the love practices from my own marriage. With all of our trials, if we did not do these love practice we would most likely not have latest this long. The love practices are the space between the stars, that atmosphere which holds the whole union in concert with everything else, like the solar system, keeping things in order, while expanding…
This morning when I woke up I asked myself, just two days before Valentine’s day, if I had to pick 15 things that have made the difference for our marriage, our own love practices – what would they be? I am not suggesting this is the be all end all, it is just, my own list, which I am inspired to share with you that resulted from that inquiry. And since we have been married 15½ years, I thought that the perfect number. My husband is still sleeping, it is super early, and my key clicks sounds very loud! Shhh….I’m going to get a cup of coffee, light a candle and be right back…
Now it would be great if you could share this list with your partner – but most of you may not have that “kind” of partner. You don’t need them to practice it with you in order to do it – you just do it yourself and see what happens.
This Valentine’s Day, on the actual day, Isaiah and I will be beginning Lenton Season, and bowing to hundreds of people. At our church it is the beginning of the Lenten Season and Forgiveness Sunday. Where you ask everyone, even those you have not wronged directly, for Forgiveness. This is an uncommon kind of love celebration, but after 15.5 years of marriage, practicing asking for forgiveness over and over, including bowing to your own spouse and asking them, is really a very good idea.
We had our Valentine’s Celebration this week, well, we had a few of them, actually.
We just keep having them. We choose to. He even put my wedding ring on my finger again while we ate pizza and drank wine at Scopa. That was our last pizza and wine for over forty days…