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.