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Opening to Love 365 Days a Year


kamurj

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Excerpted from
Opening to Love 365 Days a Year
By Judith Sherven, Ph.D., James Sniechowski, Ph. D.

Apologies

What's the big deal about apologizing? So many of us have such a hard time getting the words "I'm sorry" out of our mouths, much less with sincere, loving feeling. Is it that we'll lose pride, or tenderize some of the toughness around our heart? What do you lose? What makes it so hard to say "I'm sorry"?

If you can't feel genuinely sorry when you've hurt your spouse, then you're not really involved emotionally in your marriage. Something else has your commitment-like an image of yourself as perfect or impenetrable. Aw, shucks, give it up! Open your heart to the pain of your honey. Get over the pride and apologize. Mean it from the bottom of your heart. And make a commitment to change whatever you did.

You're not bad. You're human. Humans make mistakes. Humans can be shortsighted and hurt their loved ones. That's life. But that doesn't excuse not apologizing for doing it. Go ahead: Apologize right now!

I apologize with love when I've hurt my spouse.

Collecting

Are you a collector? Do you already have a collection that represents your marriage in some way? If not, consider the fun and sentiment of collecting something together that involves how you feel for each other, or something you both love.

For instance, if you decorate for the winter holidays, you might want to incorporate an ongoing collection of photos of the two of you together in holiday frames. If you both love a particular animal, you might collect them-as statues, figurines or the print on your sheets. If you travel, you might collect mementos from all your favorite places. The point is not to collect dust catchers, but to enjoy and display your love in a special way.

If you decide to start a love collection, be sure it's some-thing you both want to do. Do not strap your budget, and avoid becoming obsessed. The point is to love doing it together.

I can help us create a special collection
that expresses our love.

" Love" versus "in Love"

Being "in love" is really make-believe. When you love someone, you love them for who they are. When you're in love, anything from lust to laughter can prompt you to call it love, because when you're in love, you become a servant to the feeling, rather than a participant in a relationship.

In the beginning you can be in love all you want, but if you do not graduate to loving the other person, you stay in emotional adolescence. And it's in the name of being "in love" that so many childish and even dangerous sins of love get acted out-spying on him when he's out with the boys, looking through her wallet, listening to his answering machine, checking out her e-mail. And even worse: jealous fits, control of her time and whereabouts, hitting each other, revenge against his late nights at work. All in the name of being in love.

Don't give your heart to being "in love." Love the one you're with.

My goal is love, not being in love.

Use your Head

Loving well is not just an affair of the heart. It's also the product of a mind well used.

If you only trust your feelings, you can lose out on love. Not because your heart's out to lunch, but because it may get so swept up in hope and lust that it ignores that your "lover" is not really a candidate for intimacy. Or, if you've been terribly hurt by what you called "love," your heart may be so shut down it won't budge even for the greatest person on Earth.

So, stay alert. Don't let yourself get manipulated. Think things through. If things are moving too fast and you don't feel just right, stop and think about what's going on. What is happening that makes you feel anxious or scared? No doubt, you'll be able to think it through and clear your head so you can respond in a solid, mature manner.

Respect that God gave you both a brain and a heart. Never sacrifice one for the other

I will use my head, not just my heart.

Smiling

Do you enjoy when strangers smile at you? Or do you feel suspicious? Do you smile back? If not, why not? Unless you could be in physical danger by appearing to invite further contact, what do you have to lose in smiling at others? Nothing but your habitual distance from connecting with those around you.

Smile. That's right, take this moment and smile. Once you're smiling, try to feel depressed. Pretty difficult, right? When you smile you give your body and your soul a positive, feel-good message. When you smile at others, you give them a little taste of love.

As part of your daily meditation on practical spirituality, be sure to include smiling at others. Smile more at your spouse. See what happens. Smile more at your children. See what happens. Smile at the people you work with, especially those you really like. See what happens. Notice how a simple smile can transform the moment. Notice how you feel even more loving.

I smile lovingly at the world.

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