Falling in love is a conversion experience.
Most of us start out as self-centred individuals and suddenly find ourselves caring more about someone else’s happiness than we do our own. Whatever may have been the initial attraction, in order to love with an authentic other-centred love we need to know the other; to really understand what makes this unique man or woman feel loved.
We cannot love someone effectively until we know them well. That takes time and it also takes some focused attention and conscious effort. It’s more than just knowing what their favourite food is, or where they went to school. We need to know what their Love Needs and Love Busters are.
are the gestures and habits which communicate love and acceptance to the other. Some common ones are: appreciation, affection, intimate conversation, sexual intimacy, domestic order, financial security, service, harmony, spontaneity, recreational companionship, couple fun, or shared prayer.
are those gestures and behaviours that have the opposite impact; they suck the sense of being loved out of a relationship like water going down a drain. Typical Love Busters include: keeping secrets, disrespectful comments, angry demands, independent decisions, broken promises, criticism, teasing, contempt, or a failure to apologise.
Once we know our spouse’s Love Needs and Love Busters it’s pretty simple really – meet the needs and avoid the busters. But it only works if you make a plan and commit to implementing it. Good plans meet three criteria – Achievable (simple to do and reasonably likely to succeed), Specific (not open ended but detailed enough to know when you do or don’t do it) and Positive (that is, the task focusses on what you will do rather than what you will avoid).
Starting with the Love Busters, choose one to eliminate this week. Think about when you are most likely to do a Love Buster and plan how you will replace it with a more positive action. For example, say your spouse’s top Love Buster is breaking promises. Maybe you are most likely to do this because you get caught up at work and then are late home. Maybe you can change that and maybe you can’t. What you can change is the promise. Resolve to only make promises you are absolutely confident you can keep. Plan what you will say when your spouse or child asks, before you leave home, so that you don’t get tempted into making a promise you can’t keep.
The following week, choose a Love Need to focus on. Again, plan the specific way you will implement that Love Need each day during the week. For example, if your spouse’s Love Need is admiration, you might plan to praise him/her each evening over dinner.
At the end of each week, evaluate whether that particular goal has been sufficiently consolidated before you focus on another Love Need or Buster. Don’t move on until you have firmly embedded your new habit and before you know it, you’ll be an expert lover!