Love cannot be measured. It cannot be placed in test tubes in a science laboratory or placed on the great scale of life to determine whether or not there’s enough. The anxious/sensitive mind longs for a definite answer to the questions that swirl through its brain – Do I love you enough? What is enough? Do I love you as much as you love me? – praying that a divine hand will reach down from the heavens and seal the relationship with a stamp of approval. But love is not an exam you take in school where you can receive a letter grade. It’s not a handful of precious jewels you can place on a scale to determine its worth. It can’t be quantified, graded, or weighed. Love cannot be measured.
You long to measure love because the hypervigilant part of you wants to make sure that you have what it takes to create a healthy, passionate long-term relationship. This part of you – your sentry or gatekeeper – believes that if you could answer this one question, you would have your guarantee and you could move forward knowing that you had done your due diligence. If you’re like most people, you’ve scoured the relationship ad nauseum under a high-powered microscope making sure that you’re a good enough match. But the gatekeeper isn’t satisfied with good enough; this part of you seeks perfection to allay its fears of making mistake. There is no perfection when it comes to love – or life. There is only trusting that what you have – if it’s solid and loving – is enough.
What is enough? What’s fascinating to me about relationship anxiety is that it often begins with, “Does he/she love me enough?” and then flips to “Do I love him/her enough?” The common word? Enough. We’re looking for evidence of “enoughness”, which really pares down to a question of your own worthiness: The belief of I’m not enough becomes projected onto your partner in the from of “Do I love him/her enough?” until you’ve slipped down the rabbit hole of trying to answer an unanswerable question.
The real question, the one that stops the perseverating on the unanswerable questions in its tracks, is this: Is my partner someone with whom I can learn about love? If he trustworthy, reliable, and committed to our partnership? Does she support me and truly desire what is in my highest good? If the answer is yes (and if you’re here I would bet a lot of money that it is), then it’s time to replace, “Do I love him/her enough?” with “How can I grow our love?”
Love cannot be measured, but it can be grown. We don’t grow it through trusting the fates and finding “the One”. We don’t grow it by reading the ten tips in Cosmo and then magically having more and more passionate sex. We don’t grow it by good luck. We grow it by a lot of hard work. Contrary to every message we receive in this culture about love, the way to grow love is through action. Here are numbers 8 and 9 from Winifred M. Reilly’s wonderful article in the Huffington Post called “36 Things I Know After 36 Years of Marriage“:
9. Marriage is a “learn on the job” proposition. None of us comes into it with all the skills we need for success. When the going gets rough it’s most often a sign that we need some new skills — not a sign that we need a new spouse.
10. Struggle in marriage is not only inevitable, it’s necessary. None of us can grow a strong and healthy relationship without having to face and resolve difficult issues.
Just like we grow awareness in our minds by practicing mindfulness and we grow stronger bodies by exercising, we grow love by practicing love, which means learning the skills and actions of the heart. We grow love by focusing on what’s working in the relationship, by filling up our own inner well of self, by actively connecting to gratitude, by initiating loving reunions, to name a few of the Love Laws and Loving Actions that help you open your heart and grow your love and attraction for your partner. Love is a skill that can be taught. Some people learn these skills by osmosis if they grew up in homes where they witnessed a loving and healthy marriage, but for the rest of us (the vast majority), we have to learn the skills of love from the ground up.
Like many statements of a life lived from the core of Self, if might sound paradoxical to say that love cannot be measured but it can be grown. How can we grow something that cannot be measured? And how do we measure its growth? We don’t measure growth. We feel growth. We see the effects of growth. We notice the tender petals of our hearts opening more and more often, and we welcome in the quiet shimmer of joy. When love grows, fear shrinks, and when fear shrinks we reunite with the core longing of our hearts to do what seems so simple and yet eludes us much of the time: to give and receive love with our loving, open partner.
Are you ready to learn the Love Laws and Loving Actions that will help you shrink your fear and grow your love? If so, please join me for my fifth round of Open Your Heart: A 30 day program to feel more love and attraction for your partner, which will begin on January 31st, 2015. Registration is now open.