Is Love Enough To Sustain Itself?
This Query was inspired by my cousin, Albert. Back in June, I asked the question “Do you believe in love at first sight?” In the comments, Albert said that, for most people, “Love” is not enough. Well, that got me to wondering what other people might think, and here we are.
One of the things that is very interesting to me, but not surprising, is that we all speak to our own experiences. I mean, I know this happens and it’s only natural, but it has never been so clear to me as it has been since I started interviewing people for these Queries. When people elaborate beyond the yes or no, you get to peek through a little window into what is important to them, what their personal experiences have been and what makes them form their opinions. And it’s fascinating.
This Query is no different. A few people felt that love could be enough, and my friend Vicki made a very thought-provoking statement that there are times when love is the ONLY thing keeping two people together. Mostly, people felt that, for the long haul, love takes work from both parties. In the original comments, Albert had said, “I believe love, “true love”, is the giving of yourself 100%… it’s not 50/50 (I’ll love you as long as you love me). Pride keeps most of us from giving all of ourselves!”
Here is what some other people said:
—Beverly: If you get a good one, it is.
Toni: Don’t you think you have to work it?
—Beverly: I’ve seen it in the movies (laughs).
Toni: Didn’t Big Momma say, ‘Love is like a garden, you have to water it and take care of it to make it grow.’
—Jeff: What Toni said.
Michelle: Toni said what Big Momma said.
—Jeff: What Toni said that Big Momma said. I tell you what, though – except when it’s with children. I think you have to make a marriage work, but when a child is born, it’s instant. A forever love.
Beverly: If you can’t talk to the person and you can’t communicate, then your marriage is not going to be substantial.
Vicki: Is love enough? I think love is the only thing that keeps a relationship going. When times get tough and all you want to do is pull away and get on with your life and there is only one reason you can come up with to stay and that one thing is LOVE. Then love becomes and always will be the glue that keeps you going, and you try to work out the other petty issues in your life. When everything else in your life is good the Love just gets stronger.
Julie: No. A resounding no. Love does not pay the bills, it doesn’t put dinner on the table. It doesn’t buy diapers for the kids.
Bridget: No. There’s more to it than just love. Like…I love my purse, I do. I love my purse. I love my sunglasses. I love my phone. Do I expect it to love me back? No.
—Abena: So, you’re talking about love in the sense of…
Bridget: No… You can love multiple things.
—Abena: You’re not talking about a romantic love. Yours is not…
Bridget: There’s so many different levels of love. Just because you love something doesn’t mean that it’s going to sustain.
—Michelle: What about in a relationship?
Bridget: There has to be respect involved, there has to be trust. There has to be no drama. There have to be other aspects other than love.
—Abena: I believe that true love does sustain itself.
Bridget: You are a romantic.
—Abena: Yes, I am romantic. I believe that true love can sustain itself. Julie talked about love not paying the bills, but I think that if it’s true, true love, it doesn’t really matter if there is no money. Or if you don’t have jobs. Sometimes I ask my husband if…would you still love me? It makes him think. But I think if it’s true love it would sustain.
Michelle: My friend said that sometimes the only thing that’s left is the love…
—Bridget: …that is true…
Michelle: …it’s the only thing keeping you together.
—Abena: Yes! Yes! Sometimes it gets really… And then you’re like, I do love him. You go back to the moment when…what do you see in this person, why are you with this person and you do love this person.
Julie: The emotional part of it, yes, that can be a constant. But love also takes work. You can sustain the relationship and the feelings to withstand everything life throws at you…it’s work.
—Michelle: Maybe it does exist in some cases for some people, but it has to be the right person, because it’s love and compatibility.
Julie: Right, sometimes I believe it’s not enough. It may be enough for one person in the situation, but it may not be adequate, it may not be what is needed for the other. I do not believe you can just have love and that’s going to be enough. Anything that you care about takes more than just emotion. There’s got to be action! There’s so much more to it. I love my job, but if I’m not here, I’m not going to have my job. There’s got to be action to the feeling. You’ve got to make it work.
Janet: Yes, with God’s help….however, I would not go out with anyone or marry anyone who didn’t have Faith in God.
Virginia: There are all kinds of love; the only true LOVE is that which comes from the LORD JESUS.
—Gloria:We have the same answer.
Bridget: You’ve got to work for it – you can’t just have love.
—Gloria: It must be coupled with respect, as well. You should also have loyalty.
Bridget: …honesty…communication…you have to have…you have to know that they’re going to be there for you, that they have your back. Love is never enough. I know people who have been together forever, and they have to work at it every day.
—Donna: I think every relationship you have to work at it…but some come easier than most. My husband and I have give and take, you know, compromises. We compliment each other, where he maybe lacks in it, I take that and where I lack in it, he takes over.
Rebecca: You mean between people or within a person…?
—Logan: For a time, yeah.
Michelle: How long is ‘for a time’?
—Logan: It depends on the people and the amount of devotion they feel for each other.
Rebecca: I don’t think so, if you mean between two people, it takes way more than love for a couple to survive. You can love them and want it to work, but without good communication, without integrity, without respect it’s not going to ever last. But within yourself…I can love me, but that’s not enough to keep me from getting depressed, to keep me from getting up every day feeling a certain way. And for that, you have to have the right thoughts, and you have to communicate with yourself. Just like if you have a baby…I can love her, but if I don’t have a good communication with her and if I don’t treat her with respect and kindness, when she’s twenty, she might not love me back. I don’t think love exists in a vacuum.
—Michelle: Logan, what do you mean about…that love sustains itself in the short term?
Logan: Because when you love somebody it kind of clicks and works until one of you breaks it off.
—Michelle: But why do you break it off, if love is enough?
Logan: Something better comes along.
—Rebecca: Then that’s not love.
Logan: Something better doesn’t have to mean an object or a person, it can be a situational type thing. You can love somebody, but it’s never gonna work and then something better comes along situational-wise and you learn to love something new.
—Michelle: That is a good point – you can end a relationship even though you still love that person.
Rebecca: What Logan is saying makes sense in that you could love somebody, but it just runs its course and it’s time to quit. But it doesn’t support the theory that love is self-sustaining.
—Queen: No. You need a relationship…
—Queen: …communication. You need to have fun.
Princess: You need to be able to laugh.
—Aimee: No, definitely not. You have to want to be around each other. And if we’re talking about husband/wife situations, I know people that just don’t care to spend time with each other. I think it’s very sad.
Michelle: Why do they stay together?
—Aimee: That’s a good question.
Tom: That again, is one of those broad questions. How are you defining love? If you are defining love as a giving, a caring…is that self-sustaining? No, it needs to be fed. In my particular belief, everything needs to be nurtured. The thought, the idea, the concept…the poet’s idea of love, yeah, that can sustain itself because that’s just a concept. The real thing, the real love, the real interaction between people, it can overcome a lot of things, but the flame has to be kept alive in this case by two people. The desire, the want to, the feeding of it, the nurture of it…that’s got to be there. Again, it’s such a broad question. Are you defining love as the chemical or the emotional?
—Michelle: Logan said yes, love is enough to sustain itself, at least for a while. And my thought was that’s not true love. I guess that’s where my perceptions were coming in is…”True Love”.
Tom: So that’s an interpretation that you have to make for yourself. In my opinion, love is something that needs to be fed. The poet’s love is…
—Michelle: …a romantic notion…
Tom: Yes, it’s a notion, it’s an empty. It’s something that maybe that poet lacked when he wrote it, or thought he had and missed. I’m not saying that people don’t write – and they do – great love things when they’re in love, when they’re in the endorphins, in the chemical reaction. But even the chemical reaction needs to be fed. It all needs to be fed, it needs to be nourished.
—Jacque: I kind of agree with Tom, that you’ve got to…I don’t want to use the term ‘work at it’…
Tom: It is work at it. And you’ve got to give it a chance.
Tom: Nowadays it’s too easy not to give it a chance.
—Jacque: It’s too easy to walk away.
Tom: I’m talking about it’s a different standard. Society has set the standard, and the standard says you walk away. You don’t nourish it like you used to.
Jim: I’m a caregiver for my wife. l love her dearly. And I told her when we got married that I’ll love her till she dies, no matter what the circumstances.
—Michelle: So love is enough to sustain that promise that you made?
Jim: But it’s very, very, very, very hard.
—Rhonda: If it’s true love.
Jim: Really, it’s a position that you have no choice.
—Michelle: Do you feel like there really is no choice? Or is it because you love her that there is no choice?
Jim: Let’s say it in another way: Love is something that is developed. I love my dog…but…I don’t love him the way I love my wife.
Vicki said (above), “Then love becomes and always will be the glue that keeps you going, and you try to work out the other petty issues in your life.”
As I’m reading this for about the fifth time, it occurs to me that, in this way, Love does sustain itself. Vicki, you clearly say that you have to work at it – “you try to work out the other petty issues”. But why do you work to solve those issues? Because of LOVE!
So, if Love is the reason you work it out, then you can conclude that Love sustains itself: it feeds it’s own fire, it spurs you to action. In this frame of thought, communication and trust and laughter…these become the tools Love uses to sustain itself, rather than the framework on which it is built.
I still believe that most of us are not able to Love in that way. I think most of us need that framework to keep our Love from collapsing. Maybe not all of it, but at least that one thing – respect, integrity, trust – without which Love would fall down and die. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just part of being human.