Years ago, a Broadway musical called RENT swept New York with its message of learning how to live and love in a world that seems cold and uncaring. Its most famous song reminds us to “measure your life in love”. But as simple as those words sound, is it something we can really accomplish in our lives?
A baby will not survive long without love and attention. Even as an adult, we seek love and approval first from our family, then our life partner. Despite the tendency of modern society to gloss over emotional needs in favor of short-term material satisfaction, human beings need love in order to live.
In a loving relationship, you give love and receive it. If you don’t, you walk around with a heavy heart and develop physical illness from the stress. The term “broken-hearted” was given its name for a reason.
How do we express love? By giving time and attention to another. If you are always seeking attention and never giving it, or make no time for those you love, you will suffer a break down, either physically, emotionally or both. If you are always seeking for the other party to listen to you without extending the same courtesy, the imbalance will attract anxiety and stress. No one will want to hear what you have to say, which will cause even more stress!
Likewise, if you are always the giver, a dysfunctional relationship will result. You may become resentful, or even be resented by the very person you wish to please. Overly generous people who give until it is a detriment to them are often surprised to hear the recipient of their gifts describe the feeling as “overwhelming” or even “suffocating”. Giving too much of yourself to the point of suffering makes others wary of you, which will only breed mistrust and growing resentment of the perceived demands you place on them by literally giving until it hurts.
True love blossoms and thrives when two people trust each other. Love can still exist without trust, but it is stained with bitterness, pain and caution. In order to establish trust, truth must flow freely between both parties.
When we hide things out of fear of the consequences, we create the potential for an even more disastrous result. If a husband is afraid to tell his wife that he spent all day with his client, who happens to be a gorgeous woman, he will arouse suspicion if she ever finds out. Conversely, if he simply discusses it with his wife that day, trust is established from the very beginning.
Many people go through life never understanding what trust really means, or the balance of giving and receiving in familial and personal relationships. Instead they swing wildly from one side to the other, or stubbornly stick to only one side of the process while they feel like they’re dying inside—and in many ways, their soul really is suffering deeply. Only by accepting the fact that real love means giving of yourself and accepting what the other has to give you, sharing each others’ happiness and pain equally without resentment, can you learn to love both yourself and others; only then can you “measure your life in love”.