The Art of Loving

The title of this post is an homage to one of the first books on philosophy that I read, which was Erich Fromm‘s The Art of Loving. It’s been a long time since I read it, nearly twenty years. But when I did, it had quite an impact. This blog however, started off as a comment in reply to posting on romance by Bridget Baker whose pieces I’ve started reading recently. My comment started getting too long, so I thought, bugger it, I’ll just do one as well.

This is a really good one to think about, especially when it come to keeping a relationship fresh and alive over the long-term. Many of us only see romance as being applicable as a way to getting what we want. A guy will turn on the charm, make a special effort at the very beginning of a relationship and then at special times like birthdays, anniversaries etc.. This is all fine and good but it won’t cut it in the long run.

I’ve written before about the need to cultivate relationships. The way I like to put it, is that we should indulge our friends. Relationships of all kinds require effort, investment, attention, if we want to keep them healthy. Except in very rare cases, relationships that don’t receive the necessary regular attention will eventually suffer. This is applicable in every facet of our lives of course, but it’s the most loving relationship that I’m thinking about now.

Like everything I write, my comments are based on my experience. My wife and I are coming up to our 5th wedding anniversary and the 10th of our relationship. I can honestly say that as every year goes by our relationship just keeps finding new heights as we learn and grow. We’ve learned both to accept greater responsibility for ourselves as individuals, while also supporting each other as we face our own challenges. At the heart of it always though is the strong and deep foundation of love and as time goes by though, I am learning more and more how important it is to express this love in many ways, big and small.

I’m learning that a deeply loving relationship relies on making romance a way of life – and even more than – making it a priority, up there with the other things that keep our day-to-day lives clicking over. It’s about placing a high priority on making the one you love feel as special, loved, and sexy as we know they are – and not just expecting that they know this instinctively. That doesn’t work. Love needs expression and that’s what romance is all about, expressing how much we love one another. Sure there are flowers and romantic dinners and the rest of it, but these are seldom parts of our everyday life. More important, I think, are the little moments throughout the day, taking moments to actually be present with one another, a touch, a gesture, a look. To love is one thing. Being loving is something else, and it is as Erich Fromm tried telling me a long time ago, a real art. So join me and practice being even more loving for a day and see what a difference it makes.

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4 thoughts on “The Art of Loving

  1. Thank you for turning your comment into a blog post! 😉

    Love is truly contagious, and romance helps the virus spread further. Being loving is a choice in how to interact in each moment, versus some external act. It is in the “how,” not just the what. This makes every moment an opportunity for romance. It is instantly accessible, and costs nothing!

  2. I really appreciate and agree with your comments. My husband and I are coming up on our 20th anniversary and our marriage is better now than it has ever been. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs, like every other couple, however as time has passed we have learned to truly become more loving in every way. There was a time where our road seemed full of rocks as we stumbled along trying to move forward. We reached a point where we could have given up and gone our separate ways, like many choose to do in today’s world. However, we chose to work through it and focused a great deal on our communication with one another and really trying to understand the other person’s point of view. That process brought with it a new found appreciation for one another and a created a much deeper and stronger bond between us. It was the process of moving through the rough patches and not giving up that created the strong bond we have today. Our marriage is stronger than ever and we are both not only happier, but more fulfilled in every aspect of our relationship. When both partners are focused on serving the other, and when both truly express appreciation the relationship grows in so many ways. I truly feel that we have had more love and romance in our lives the past 5 years than we did for the first 15. Sure it was there during the first 15, however it is much deeper and richer now. For that I am deeply grateful.

  3. First, congratulations on your up coming anniversary, that’s fantastic! I hope you have something really special planned.

    My deepest thanks for sharing your story also. It is precisely that decision to work through the challenges that has take our relationships to another whole level as well. This approach does require a mature approach, if I can call it that, and its one not often endorsed in a society based around quick and easy gratification for the most part. So when things start getting difficult people blame each other or throw their hands up and say ‘marriage doesn’t work’, all the while forgetting to look in the mirror at the one’s creating the relationship at the first place. I know some people look at us from a distance and see us doing really well and think that’s it’s all easy. This used to annoy us, actually it still does sometimes. We usually reply, that yes we are doing well, but it’s only because we’ve been willing to work through the tough times, especially when it scares us, and to learn and create the changes necessary in ourselves – to learn how to really love ourselves and each other in the way we all deserve.

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