I have been on this earth for over 50 years, and sometimes that fact alone freaks me out especially because it’s not been an easy half century.

For a long time I believed that love was pain because my experiences of love have been catastrophic, crazy and only occasionally cathartic! 

And it’s just recently that I have begun to believe in, and understand, what true love really is.

If we listen to the media, true love is hopelessly romantic; the Disney fairy tale, the heartbreaking country song, or the idea of a lifelong partner with a big white wedding and happy ever after.

I’m sorry folks, but I don’t believe in this.  

True love requires attention and affection. It demands honesty and rigor. It is not complacent. It needs passion, effort, and a determination to make it the best it can be, by everyone in the relationship.

Do you live like this?

True Love requires commitment; the commitment to relentlessly never give up on something until the very end.

We live in a throwaway society. We reduce, reuse and recycle on many levels.

Please don’t do this with those you love in your life.  

When I was in marriage counseling I was determined never to give up. I had to make it work. When my therapist told me “Gail, you can only give up on this love when you truly feel you can look in your daughters’ eyes and tell them you gave it everything you could and it still didn’t work. Then and only then, can you let go of the dream of true love with this man”.  It took me 6 years to let go.

True love has to have passion to start, and ongoing passion to survive.

Most of us are familiar with the stirrings of passion with new love. The honeymoon phase is exciting and the love drug “oxytocin” flows through our bodies like a raging river, allowing us to overlook flaws at the beginning. But those same flaws will eventually become annoying to us and many people give up and move on when it comes to this stage.

True love means we look past the simply annoying, to find the best in ourselves, our partner and the relationship.

If our relationship dies of “weariness, witherings and tarnishings” we must not forget that we need to work on ourselves. We must remember to “not go looking at the speck of sawdust in another’s eye, when all the time there is a plank in our own eye”. It is so easy to think we are perfect and it’s not us that might be the problem.

Look in the mirror.

True Love is honest.

Brene Brown has become famous for her TEDx talks on shame and vulnerability. Her mandate is that we must be able to have the difficult conversations or else we will foolishly believe our relationships are real when in fact they are not.

Wholehearted living means we are willing to tell the truth for us, and be authentic, even if it’s a difficult conversation.

It is from this sharing and caring that we create and maintain the foundation for True Love to live on, and on, and on.

True Love is kind and gentle, yet strong and powerful.

The dichotomy of true love is that it can break you down, and build you up. Broken hearts mend, but at the time, love can nearly kill you.  I have cried a river three times in my life for what I believed was true love.  I won’t lie, I’m still not exactly sure about this thing called True Love, but I do know that it can hurt like crazy, and have me feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the world, all in the same day.

True Love is magical, but it doesn’t happen by magic.

We must work at True Love.  We need to be willing to put in the effort if we want real intimacy. Love dies because we forget or don’t know how to “replenish its source”.  We must feed it, nourish it, share it and own our part in it.

We must bring ourselves fully to the table or “it dies of blindness, errors and betrayals”.

We must recognize when it is dying, and take action.

How do we do that?  

Here are some simple ideas to spark a re-connection with your lover and bring you both back to each other.

  • Simple eye gazing – Look in your loved one’s eyes for 2 minutes – no talking.  
  • Listen to each other (without responding). Hear the words and feelings.
  • Touch each other lovingly (and non-sexually) to reignite passion.
  • Learn what love means for yourself and your partner by completing the Five Love Languages quiz.  Feed the other’s love language, and ask for what you need.
  • Read a book you are both interested in … taking turns together to read aloud.
  • Slow down your lifestyle together.
  • Take time to explore each other in a new way.
  • Hold hands frequently (all the time knowing the hands connect to the heart energetically).
  • Sit side by side in a restaurant, instead of across from each other.  Feed each other.
  • Have a bubble bath together, just for fun.
  • Enjoy the adventure of life, together and apart.
  • Reminisce about how you met.  Tell each other the story.
  • Take photos of each other and keep them on the front of your phone.
  • Gave at each other softly, openly, vulnerably. Do it naked if you dare.
  • Do simple things for each other so your partner knows they are important to you.
  • Relax and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Walk in the woods and draw on the energy of nature together.
  • Drink hot chocolate wrapped in a blanket together in the cool evening.
  • Gaze at water at sunset saying nothing.
  • Enjoy the majesty of the stars together in the middle of the night when the world is quiet.
  • Snuggle under cozy blankets sharing favorite childhood stories in early morning.
  • Always honor each other. Trust each other. Talk to each other.

It doesn’t matter if true love is with your lover, your friend, your child or even just yourself. What matters is that you recognize it and feed it the right kind of care and attention it needs.  

When we know and understand our own “planks” we are much more accepting of others’ “specks”.

Commitment and passion, so vital for the journey, are the bread and butter of any real relationship, and it must always start with our relationship to ourselves first.

Start today. And start small.

Start by enjoying this cool little song by Dave Barnes.  “Loving You, Loving Me.