Antonio replied, “Sometimes we talk about sex but you know, Darma, I think you’re right except I’m not at all sure I know how to talk about love. When you talk about love what all do you talk about”? Darma responded with a pause and a sort of stammer then said, “Maybe I don’t know how to talk about it very well either but I think we need to try.”
Antonio and Darma share a common problem that afflicts and contributes to the destruction of many a couple, also some families and some friendships. They don’t talk about love enough. Because of that insufficiency the love in those relationships may go undeveloped, unrepaired, may wane, become stagnant, weaken, deteriorate and if there are other troubles – may die. Those who love each other have a much better chance of keeping their love alive, healthy and growing if they learn to talk about their love and about love itself.
Unfortunately our English-speaking heritage is particularly deficient in teaching us how to effectively talk about love. Part of this comes from a time in which the English peoples feared love meant sex, and sex meant sin, and sin was bad so they thought they shouldn’t and, therefore, wouldn’t talk about love. Consequently our English-speaking customs didn’t develop or include much of a language for love itself. Another part of our poor love-talk-ability comes from the wrong headed, destructive, macho training of men for whom love was mistakenly thought of as a weakness and a far too feminine thing. Thus, it became unmanly to be anything but silent on the topic of love.
For a time English-speaking churches talked about love but then they abandoned that for talking about faith, and correct belief, even though the New Testament clearly teaches love is greater and more important than faith. Love as a word having to do with great and powerful caring, compassion, courage , nurturing, protection and high joy was surrendered to those who wanted a ‘nicer’ synonym for sex. Sadly for some our inability to talk about love has led them to believe love does not exist, or can’t be understood, or it has led them into very mistaken, destructive understandings of love (see the entries “Love’s Definition series” in the left column, and the “False Love series” in the Site Index under ‘F’).
Many couples, families and friendships don’t do very well at the naturally needed maintenance, repair, nurturing, healing and development type of talk required to keep their love relationships healthy. So many couples talk only about love when a love relationship starts to go wrong or already is in deep trouble. Others may get some ‘love subjects’ talk done but they may not do enough love talking to really keep their love lively and growing. Some talk is better than none, but learning the wide range of important love related topics available and talking about them all is far better.
To help you with talking love and doing a good job of it here are a dozen guidance questions containing various love topics for you and those you love to practice talking about. I suggest you go to a loved one and say, “Let’s talk about one or more of these” and, thereby, see if you can work toward the highly rewarding and enjoyable goal of really being able to talk constructively about your love relationship and love itself.
1. Do you talk about how exactly those you love want to be touched, i.e. harder or softer, higher or lower, faster or slower, etc. when you’re trying to convey love to them? (See the entry “50 Varieties of Love Touch”).
2. Do you know which of the eight major groups of behavior that convey or demonstrate love is most important to you and to those closest to you? (Read Recovering Love Part Two, a book by yours truly).
3. When a loved one talks to you about a problem in their life do you know how much they want you to respond with empathy, advice, expressions of care, instructions, commiseration, reasoning, sympathy, suggestions, hugs, silence, solutions, cheerleading or anger at who or what they are angry about? (See the entry “Love Positive Talking”).
4. Do you and your loved ones talk about how affirmational you want your verbal interchanges to be, i.e. filled with praise, compliments, thanks, appreciation, and other positive remarks?
5. Can you talk to someone that loves you about how much and how well you do or don’t go about healthful self-loving self-talk?
6. With those you love do you talk about how to work together to avoid speaking in ways that harm your love relationship and then about the love words you really want to hear?
7. Can you identify, label and speak clearly about at least a dozen enjoyable emotions love can help you feel, and then can you identify and talk about the guidance messages brought to you by each of those emotions (See “Emotional Intercourse”)?
8. Do you and your romantic love interest do well at initiating and carrying on intimate, precious, tender, love talk?
9. How well and how often do you and your romantic love interest ask for what you want when it comes to showing each other love?
10. Are you doing a good job of sharing your love history, your love thinking, your love actions, your love hopes and the various emotions love causes you to feel?
11. Do you talk with those you love about love’s compassion, love’s affection, about feeling cherished, about the bravery of love, love’s preciousness, love and trust, love’s rapture, love’s healing ability, love’s spirituality, love’s kindness, along with the ways of lasting love, mature love, healthy love, protective love and enriching love (read Dr. Bell Hooks’ book All About Love)?
12. Do you and those you love talk about how you can grow your love, conquer with love, heal with love, survive with love (read Love and Survival by Dr. Dean Ornish), nurture with love, teach love, enrich life with love, worship with love, inspire with love and do sex with love (see the entry “Making Love or Having Sex?).
Hopefully that’s enough to get you started on ‘talking about love enough’ if you’re not already doing so. Let me suggest you set yourself a goal of talking about love with someone at least once a week. It’s also good to read about love at least that often. Doing that is likely to assist you and those you love in becoming far more love oriented, love empowered, love effective and life victorious (read Dr. Helen Fisher’s book Anatomy of Love and Dr. Erich Fromm’s book The Art of Loving).
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
Are you good at enjoying talking love?
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