Love is more than a state of being, something we feel, it’s also an action, something we do. This raises a basic question: What does “love” look like in action?
Love is wonderful. A secure, loving relationship builds us up to be more than we could ever be when it involves true action.
Expert Judy Kuriansky writes that love, in its most basic form, is “cherishing each other and holding one another dear.” It’s seeing an inherent value in the other person, which doesn’t depend on how they look or whether they are in a good mood on a particular day. It means wanting to spend time with them, respecting their opinions, even if you don’t agree, and building them up with sincere compliments.
Judy lists four “L” words, which characterize love in action:
Judy writes that love includes “being devoted to each other unquestionably, knowing you would not betray each other.” Loyalty includes being faithful, but also includes protecting secrets. If you talk about a private issue with your spouse and then “share” it with a “close” friend without your spouse’s permission, you’re betraying your spouse and/or your marriage.
Dr. Ed Wheat writes simply: “Never repeat to anyone else the things your spouse shares with you privately.”
Likewise, telling jokes or making embarrassing comments to friends at the expense of your spouse shows disloyalty.
Judy notes that “paying attention to what each other says” is a fundamental element of love. Accepting your spouse begins with knowing who your spouse is. You cannot know your spouse without listening to him or her. Test yourself with the technique known as “reflective listening.” When they’re talking, listen. Then answer, “What I’m hearing you say is …” and paraphrase back what your spouse has told you. If your spouse agrees with your paraphrase, your spouse spoke clearly and you were listening. If not, try the process again.
Judy notes that “humor is the most appealing characteristic that men and women find attractive.” Expert Corey Allan also writes that “laughter is beneficial to life and marriage” because laughter reduces stress; stimulates the immune system; releases endorphins, the natural painkillers in the blood; decreases systemic inflammation; reduces blood pressure; lifts your spirits; and helps keep your relationship fresh. Laughing together over a shared joke is part of love.
Expert Willard Harley Jr. agrees, writing that laughing and having fun together are important, especially for men. He notes that “spending recreational time with his wife is second only to sex for the typical husband.”
Judy writes that research has shown 98 percent of men in healthy relationships said their partner “is their best friend.”
Judy writes that “for marriage to survive the stresses and grind of daily life, flashes of lust are necessary to spark the union and keep you together.”
She lists some advantages of sexual intimacy: It helps reduce anxiety and tension, relieves minor pain and boosts the immune system. Regular sex helps regulate female hormones, which helps keep “the cardiovascular system healthy, lowers bad cholesterol, raises good cholesterol, maintains bone density, and helps the skin stay supple.”
Women’s Health magazine adds that sex “releases sleep-inducing endorphins so you snooze soundly” and increases oxytocin levels for both men and women, which improves their sense of well-being as a couple. For men, it also reduces the chances of prostate cancer, cuts the risk of heart attack and reduces the risk of stroke.
For love to be love it must act lovingly with devotion, loyalty, listening, laughter and healthy lust. Making loving behaviors a part of your relationship will add strength and joy to your marriage.
It’s not enough to say it, you have to DO IT.