Valentine’s day is a perfect time to consider the love relationships in your life. It’s a perfect time to think about the people who nurture and support us.
You might be fortunate to have many love relationships in your life. On the other hand, you might stop reading right now thinking that love relationships are about romantic love. If romance is a past memory or something that has given pain and heartache, you don’t want to stress yourself by thinking of such relationships.
But, please, read on. Love relationships aren’t only about romantic love.
Various Kinds of Love Relationships
Love relationships come in various forms besides romantic relationships. Experts tell us that we fall in love many times and in many ways. Sometimes we forget how much reciprocal love is exchanged with family members, friends, neighbours, and, even, with animals.
The romantic spouse, partner, significant other relationship is usually the first type of love relationship that comes to mind as Valentine’s day approaches. Romantic love usually begins with a teen age crush that leaves you feeling exhilarated, infatuated, energized and silly — all at the same time. For some lucky people the first love of teen age years never ends.Many people unexpectedly fall in love in their 60s, 70s, and 80s and report similar feelings.
You are truly blessed if you have a ‘forever and always’ romantic relationship based on trust, respect, compassion, and continuing attraction that lasts for years. In a lifetime, more than one romantic love is the norm. Broken hearts and painful endings are as much a part of a love relationship as the exciting and intense phase of connection. It’s common to experience trilling romances that last for weeks or months.
My husband and I celebrated 50 years of marriage in September 2016. Not every day has been a romantic love-in, but we’ve worked hard to create a love relationship that has grown and changed through the years — just as we’re each grown and changed.
Love relationships with children, grand-children, great grand-children, nieces, and nephews can be as special as romantic love relationships. Whether a child is a biological child, an adopted child, or a step-child, no parent ever stops loving their child even during times when relationships may be strained. Emotional ties with children create bonds that provide connection, security, and comfort that endures through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood.
Our parents are responsible for teaching the first lessons of love. How do you characterize the love relationships with your parents? My mother was widowed when I was 12. There were countless sacrifices on her part to help me launch successfully into adulthood. I’m happy that I used precious vacation time to travel across Canada for regular visits as she grew old and frail. I miss the many cups of tea with shared secrets of womanhood.
For readers fortunate enough to have parents who are still alive, showing love and appreciation through small acts of acknowledgement is easy. Phone calls or text messages are helpful. If geographical distance permits, occasional outings, and frequents visits are valuable. In some families, past hurts make contact with parents stressful as there is no love. Although forgiveness is difficult, the love relationship with a parent can’t be ignored.
It’s said that our siblings know more about us than our parents. The love you feel for a brother or sister, or a step-sibling, is based on the intimacy of shared family experiences during childhood and adolescence. Sibling relationships can be frustrating, uncomfortable, and filled with past grievances. When adults resolve sibling differences, the result can be an enduring, supportive adult relationship. Having lost both of my siblings to cancer, I think of them every day and miss having someone with whom to share precious family memories.
Long lasting friendships provide another type of love relationship. Friends provide social connections based on common interests, hobbies, shared experiences, and similar values. Gratifying and strong relationships with friends can offer support in times of crisis. Relationships with friends are entirely voluntary. They become the ‘angels’ in our lives. The companionship and encouragement of a good friend is a love relationship that brings happiness, inspiration, and laughter into each day.
Let’s not forget that relationships with pets also bring love and smiles. Dogs, cats, and other furry critters form strong emotional bonds with owners. The companionship of an animal combats loneliness for many people especially those who live alone. A few months ago my heart was broken when our fourteen-year old cats had to be euthanized. We need our pets as much as they need our love and care.
The most important love relationship starts and ends with you. How is your relationship with yourself? Do you take care of yourself emotionally? How’s your physical health? How’s your mental and spiritual health?
All of us know that good relationships can never be taken for granted. This is especially true for self love. Taking care of your body, your finances, and your home are forms of self love.
Self care takes time. For me, it often comes as solitude. The hours spent writing my journal, walking familiar trails, and puttering in my den give time for thoughts of gratitude, thoughts of forgiveness, and thoughts of aspiration.
Life is busy and relationships can be complex. Stopping, even for a few moments to consider the love relationships in our lives brings deep satisfaction and inner peace. Love relationships sustain, give wisdom, and teach lessons. When we acknowledge the meaningful and powerful influences of our love relationships, our lives grow richer. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!