Do you know what feared word is a prerequisite for keeping love alive?

The Valentines’ deluge is here again – bringing attention to love, romance and the challenge of finding and maintaining fulfilling relationships. Do you know what feared word is a prerequisite for keeping love alive? Vulnerability!

The reason most hearts fly open to babies is that they are vulnerable–open to giving and receiving love. You know they can’t hurt you, so you relax, let down your guard and enjoy the sweet flow of love that arises effortlessly.

Interestingly, when you first fall in love with someone and they fall in love with you back, you both feel some of that same safety again. New love surrounds you like a shield — enabling you to be completely vulnerable with each other. You may not even notice the ‘you’ and ‘me’ so much, it’s just us, all us, all the time and it feels great.

At some point, however, when the cupid dust settles, you begin to notice that sometimes your beloved does things that wound you. Ouch! If you don’t know this rude awakening is the beginning of enduring love, you may start thinking maybe you two aren’t right for each other after all. You may end the relationship and start looking once again for that perfect person who will never hurt or aggravate you. If you stay, you may start subtly or not so subtly erecting barricades in your heart…protecting yourself from these and future wounds. That once gushing love now becomes a feeble trickle.

So what’s the solution? The simple answer is speaking up. You need to feel safe enough inside and out to tell your beloved what doesn’t feel good and to listen to what you’ve done that wittingly or unwittingly hurt them. This also happens to be great advice for keeping your sex life juicy. Come to think of it – speaking up also works to keep your heart healthy, guts untangled, and your whole body, emotions, mind and spirit alive and vital.

Set some ground rules. No dumping of anger and insults. Commit to heartfelt listening. Get ready to get off it…i.e. get good at taking responsibility for your own unconscious behavior. Get even better at sincere apologies and making amends. Have lots of ‘do-overs.’ Become the shoulder your lover can lean on even when it’s you who’ve have hurt them.

It takes inner strength and outer safety to speak up. If you don’t have that yet, get support from friends, family, pastors and/or counselors. Don’t give up. You deserve to be heard and held tenderly and lovingly. You also deserve to experience the profound pleasure and joy of love that not only lasts but expands and deepens.

Penelope Andrade, L.C.S.W.
Licensed Psychotherapist

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