Love Rests on Choice

Real love can emerge only when there is choice.  If Sam is obliged to treat Carly exactly as she demands to be treated, then what is there for Sam to do but follow instructions?  If Carly gets to make all the decisions, then Sam is not really a full partner.  It is only real choice that allows romantic love to flourish.  Jack can tell Jill he will love her for the rest of his life, but he still has to wake up every day and do so.  If she hovers over him and rates his love for her by the hour, it will quickly be extinguished.  Jack will get tired of the judgments and the pressure to perform.  We cannot be forced to love.  As much as choice is a responsibility, it also provides the freedom to love and care and forgive.  The risks we take when we choose to love one particular person and the resulting uncertainty are the ground upon which true love emerges.

How remarkable is it that your lover continues to spend time with you, listen to you, and try to make your relationship work of his or her own free will?  How wonderful is it that you lover continues to have sex with you and to parent your children?  Your lover’s devotion and willingness to plug away day after day when there are sleeker and newer models to meet is a blessing.  We need to let our lovers know how amazing they are and how grateful we are.  We need to make offering gratitude a priority in our lives and in our marriages….

When you feel grateful for your lover, you are able to feel forgiving toward him or her.  Forgiveness is a positive emotion that can actually restore some of the damage done to your body by anger and stress.  When you are focused on your problems and grievances, your body is under stress.  Your stress chemicals are active, and you feel tired and beaten down.  You blame the offender for your distress and feel disempowered.  Feeling grateful and forgiving can wash away the stress and relax your body and mind.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 132-133

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