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How To Keep Love Growing Through All The Ups And Downs


The relationship expert on i.village.com, I am the author of many books on relationships and Zen including Living By Zen, (Timeless Truths For Everyday Life), www.livingbyzen.com Some other books of mine include Zen And The Art of Falling In Love, (Simon And Schuster), Zen Miracles (Finding Peace In An Insane World), Wiley, and Why Men Leave, (Putnam), What He Can't Tell You And Needs To Say, (Putnam).

We are meant to live a life of love. However, no matter how successful some are in other aspects of their lives, they wonder if it's possible to have the same success in love. Although things may start out wonderfully in the beginning, there is always the fear that it won't last, that difficulties will arise, feelings will start to change. Then when things alter, as they naturally must, many have the mistaken idea that the love is disappearing. . They wonder what went wrong.

Nothing went wrong. Change is natural and inevitable. It does not mean that the love has gone away. That is a mistaken idea of what love is. We simply have to know what love is, and how to keep it growing, through all the ups and downs.

The Perfect Partner

When we initially fall in love, we feel we have found "the perfect person." A tremendous excitement takes over. We project many wonderful qualities upon our partner and block out any faults. Then we feel that we, too, must be so wonderful to have a partner who is so ideal. For many there is the feeling that they have finally discovered someone who will be able to give them all the love, approval and inspiration they have sought all their lives.

This is a huge demand to make upon another person, but it happens anyway. When this demand is not fulfilled, a deep disappointment can arise. It seems as though the partner has failed us, but in truth it is the unrealistic demands we have made that is causing pain.

Guide 1: Take a close look at what you are expecting from your partner.Is it possible? Are you setting yourself up for a fall?

Realize that no one can make up for years of upset. No one can give you all you need to feel whole. You must learn to love, grow and become whole on your own. You must become your own best friend, and also learn to be a friend to the other

After a period of time, when we feel more secure in the relationship, it is inevitable that reality starts to set in. Different qualities in our partner become obvious. It's hard to keep pretending that the person matches all our dreams. It is at this point that questions and doubts start to surface. Perhaps there is a desire to "change" the other to meet our image, or a feeling that if they loved us enough, they would naturally change.

Both stop a moment and think carefully. Another person does not exist to meet all of your needs and dreams. This is not love. It is using anotheras an object to meet our needs. This desire itself cause our pain.

Guide 2: No one has to change for you to love them. Nor do you have to change to be worthy of love. You can never change enough to please another person. The work of love is to be able to love the other just as they are, and to also love yourself.

The work of love is the work of learning to accept the other person, and also to accept yourself. Love is not a feeling that stays the same all the time. Love is a verb. It grows as we face change and difficulty. Love grows through actions we take, through understanding and through developing the ability to really know who the other is and to really become their friend.

"A feeling that is here one minute and gone the next cannot be called love."

Kabir. cc/Dr Brenda Shoshanna/2005

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Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D., psychologist, speaker and author is a long term Zen practitioner whose work integrates Zen and everyday life. The relationship expert on i.village.com, she offers workshops and talks on relationships and is the author of many books. The most recent is Living By Zen (Timeless Truths For Everyday Life), http://www.livingbyzen.com. She is also the author of Zen And The Art of Falling In Love, (Simon and Schuster), Zen Miracles, (Finding Peace In An Insane World) and many other books. She can be reached at topspeaker@yahoo.com Her personal website is http://www.brendashoshanna.com


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2005