Building Solid Relationships: Love is the Framework
Updated: Jul 6, 2022
Building Solid Relationships Part 1
Trust is the Foundation, Part 2
When we think of thriving relationships, we often notice the love that flows. Love is the lifeblood of a relationship. However, it needs a healthy body or structure to flow through. When the framework of the relationship is falling apart, the love starts to dissipate.
Just as you need to keep your body intact to keep your blood flowing, you must guard the framework of your relationships to keep the love flowing. As the last article indicated, the foundation of trust must be firm to support the frame. The next article will address the protection from the walls, which are strong character traits.
Love is complicated. It is a feeling, but it is also a commitment. There are different types of love that apply to different relationships. You have unconditional love, brotherly love, and an erotic form of love. In a marriage, all three types are important to have. You will typically have unconditional love for your children and brotherly love towards your friends.
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When a couple falls in love, they usually focus on the eros, erotic version of love. There is physical attraction and the brain goes berserk with the sensation of falling in love. Eros love can be exciting and passionate, but it can also be fleeting. It doesn't have the depth to survive challenges and can run its course flit away. It often returns, but you may feel it strongly at times and mildly at other times.
When it comes to reigniting eros, oxytocin is important. It is the bonding hormone your body releases when you have skin-on-skin contact with another person. Regular skin-on-skin contact is important to keep the oxytocin flowing. You get small doses from hugs and hand-holding, but much larger doses in the bedroom.
Agape, the unconditional type of love, is strong and steady. It may not trigger the same emotional passions as eros, but it stands the test of time. It requires a deep commitment to the other person. It is fiercely loyal and consistent. It requires forgiveness and patience. It is in the relationship for the long haul.
Phileo, or brotherly love, enjoys the companionship of another person. It is a non-sexual love that binds hearts together over time. You see this in marriages where couples just enjoy being together and share a deep friendship in addition to the physical love they have for one another.
There often comes a time in a relationship when you don't "feel" the love. It can be frightening and disheartening, but it is also normal. This is where you rely on your agape love to get you through. Perhaps your spouse is going through a crisis and acting in unloving ways. Or maybe the trust in the relationship has been broken. But oftentimes, it's just a phase. Emotions run in cycles and one of those cycles is feeling bleh. Give it some time.
If you recognize that there is a problem that needs to be addressed, make it a priority. If trust has been broken, it must be repaired. If life has just become busy and you haven't made your relationship a priority, it's time to rearrange the schedule. Emotions can change so quickly! Sometimes just deciding to make your marriage a priority and having a talk about it changes everything. If it takes time, stick it out.
Keep in mind, waiting out a bleh cycle is very different than enduring abuse or being a doormat. If there are problems to address, address them! I am 100% for doing everything possible to make a relationship work, but it takes the participation of both people to make that happen.