Michele O'Mara

Love is a Verb

Filed By Michele O'Mara | August 14, 2007 11:19 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: advice column, imago therapy, indianapolis, intimacy, lesbian bed-death, love, therapist

My girlfriend and I have been together for a year and a half.. our marriage has died, literally. We don't have sex nor the urge, we fight constantly.. but we can't let go of that love we once had. What is your advice to save it?

Love is a verb. We generate love through actions - be that acts of kindness and thoughtfulness (sending notes, saying "I love you," offering a back rub, etc) or acts of service (i.e. cleaning the house, paying bills, running errands, etc). Love is something that we do, not something that we "have." So when you say you don't have sex and you fight constantly, I'm inclined to ask, "what love is it that you are generating that you can't let go of?" (read more about this)

Healthy balanced relationships involve three main ingredients, including: passion, commitment, and intimacy. It sounds as though you have a strong commitment (we can't let go of that love we once had), but you are lacking in the areas of intimacy (connectedness, respect, caring, compassion, sharing, etc) and passion (feelings of attachment physically and emotionally that create a sense of aliveness, excitement, and joy with one another). There are many reasons you may be struggling with the sexual aspect of your relationship (see my post on this topic).

If this is true, your work revolves around the areas of passion and intimacy. Seems to me you'd be best off focusing first on the intimacy. There's a great book by Mathew Kelly titled, Seven Levels of Intimacy, wherein he describes in great detail the ways in which we deepen our intimacy with another through sharing. If you are unable to share without fighting, well, then I must resort to my standard suggestion: seek counseling! If you're in Indy, come see me, if not, seek out a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist who is specifically trained to work with couples. (www.imagotherapy.com)

by Michele O'Mara, LCSW

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Question since I'm just getting around to reading this now...

How do you "work" on passion? Isn't that one of those things where it's either there or it's not? Intimacy I can see can be worked on - but how do you work on passion?

Passion is something we experience from the inside but... not the outside in, so it stands to reason that when we nurture passion within ourselves - be that through art, through spirituality, through compassion, through acts of kindness, with intention, the passion will extend into all aspects of our life, including our relationships.

When we are deep into a relationship, rooted in routines and predictable behaviors,same old sex, and conversations, and dinners, and bedtimes... we are at risk of going on automatic... losing sight of the posibilities that we are so focused on when we first partner. We have to intentionally wake up, choose to pay attention to not only our partner, but ourselves, in a way that invites our aliveness.

Passion takes many forms... none is usually as intense as that of a new couple; but passion can take on new shapes and meaning as your connection to your partner grows and deepens in meaningful ways.

Some basic steps to consider:

1) deal with built up resentments and frustrations (manage emotions)
2) share your thoughts, feelings and dreams (build intimacy)
3) support your partner's passions/interests and encourage their happiness with full force (compassion)
4) pursue your own passions/interests with vigor
5) be more passionate
6) have more passion