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by David Truman

Hearing the front door shut, a fellow awakens from never-never land to his couch and reality: his wife is home and she'll want something. Sure enough, she plops down beside him, and starts the torture: She stares into his face pleadingly, scanning his eyes for some sign of life in their love desert. But this time he responds with uncommon frankness to her silent request: "I love you, dear," he says. "You'll just have to trust me on that, because I don't have the energy or the inclination to do anything for you right now."
She: "Come on, show me the love you feel."
He: "How much work does it take to convince you?"
She: "That's not a good question, honey; love isn't drudgery. Why don't you ask how much love it takes to turn the work of loving into a pleasure?"

For intimacy to work, love must remain a living creative enterprise.

Now, this fellow hopes love is a state of mind, because that would save him a lot of effort. Still, hoping won't make it so.
Anyone will agree that tangible expressions of love enhance a relationship, but if you say loving action is required, people are liable to call you names, tell you that requirements are no fun, and run off looking for the nearest place without a phone. Nevertheless, what passive people find in their lazy intimacies is as thrilling as a parking lot -- a heart full of emptiness, a bond of estrangement.
On the other side of the coin, a little effort goes a long way. Loving acts can turn any relationship into a lush garden of delights, overflowing with gorgeous flowers of vibrant sweetness. Suddenly, a great love that could have sunk into a deep coma -- so deep, perhaps, that people would begin to question it -- bursts happily into the realm of the living.
The I-love-you bugaboo
The presumption "Since I love you in my heart, why should I have to love you in action?" can be a real killer. Here's how the presumption evolves:
1. Love is a condition. Once we decide we love someone, we start to think of our love as a fundamental condition: "I love you, and that's the way it is."
2. Love runs on its own. The love-is-a-condition idea lulls us into thinking of love as a perpetual motion machine that more or less runs on its own: "I've never stopped loving you."
3. Love that runs on its own needs no demonstration -- it should always be assumed. Now that we've decided that our love runs on its own, we think we don't need to show love as much: "You know I love you, why should I have to prove it to you?"

Being passive hurts relationships just as much as unkind behavior or neglect.

To follow the "of-course-I-love-you" logic to its conclusion, the assumption of love almost seems to excuse unloving behaviors: "Sure, I treat you poorly, darling, but you know I love you."
To undo the I-love-you bugaboo
To undo the I-love-you bugaboo, all we have to do is examine it closely. It falls apart under scrutiny.
If we basically love the person, do we always love them? When we say, "I've never stopped loving you," is it true? More importantly, is it sufficient? For physical beings, the concept of love is insufficient: we need tangibles, not just concepts: "Don't just believe that you love me, don't just feel that you love me -- show me you love me." If we really love someone, we want to show them.
How much time do you actually spend actively loving those you care about? Add it up!
In many, if not most relationships, demonstrations of love are infrequent or weak. To prove that point, let's assume for the moment that we love someone only when we love them actively. Ask yourself: How much of the time do I actually spend actively loving the people I say I love?
Even if we construe the term "active loving" as liberally as possible -- including gifts, service, and direct sharing of good feelings directly -- we still don't spend much doing it. Of the few hours of "together time" couples share, most are consumed talking about functional concerns, eating, washing dishes, and the like. Active loving and nurturing could add up to only minutes per week. We could be dying of thirst ten feet from an oasis! Therefore:
1. Wherever we are starting from, we would do well to increase the quantity of our loving expressions.
2. Given the small quantity of time we spend loving, the quality of the exchange had better be good.
The quality connection

No action is loving in and of itself. An action is loving only if we LOVE while we do it.

So many relationships fade as they sink into patterns of low quality love expression: the routine peck on the cheek, the flat "Love you" at the end of a phone conversation -- warm and exciting as a dead fish. We only really love people when we are intentionally loving them.
When a woman gets flowers and feels loved, it's because her boyfriend is actually loving her while giving her the flowers. He isn't giving flowers instead of loving her, or presenting them as if the flowers themselves were love. He knows better.
Do it

Our loved ones deserve quality love from us; and we deserve to live it.

Love is an action verb after all. To feed our loved ones sound emotional nutrition, all we have to do is express our love frequently and in a high quality fashion, with a good dose of love power -- energy and emotion -- behind our actions.

by David Truman

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