Love as a Verb
More Than a Feeling
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | September 2018 (edited March 24, 2022)
Love is seen by how we treat a partner. When irritable, or stressed love still reigns. Love is intentional action of honor and respect.
Loving is easy when we feel loving. We feel warmth and closeness and act accordingly. Most healthy and a large portion of the unhealthy act this way. When we feel love in our hearts, we pass it along. There is no glory in this. We are just the puppet of a feeling. But what would happen if we saw love as something that we do—an action; not just a response to a feeling? Loving someone would not be an excuse for poor behavior or selfish manipulations. Instead loving someone would mean we act lovingly towards them. Love becomes an action verb not a noun once possessed we just sit around and reap its benefits.
When feeling comforted and joyous, we naturally treat our partners well—most do anyhow. And if we are involved with someone who is unpredictably mean, while smiling, we should run from their malignant vileness. Treating others well when feeling loving proves nothing. However, the manner in which we treat a partner when feeling irritable or annoyed is more telling, coloring a much broader picture of the relationship.
These imperfect moments are gifts to reveal strength of commitment. Loving action during disagreement, tiredness, and disappointment display the content of our heart. Here in these fractured moments, intentional actions of love give birth to security.
These imperfect moments are gifts to reveal strength of commitment.
Loving when Irritated
When emotions rumble, we must seize the opportunity to solidify the relationship. When a partner returns home after a has a taxing day at the office, naturally the mood carried home isn’t welcoming and warm; the normal emotional support, gentle glances, and friendly flirts are missing. Too many believe love is a noun, something they possess with certain rights.
When a partner fails to engender the warm feelings, they quickly sour and retaliate. The bad mood from the office explodes into a bad evening at home. One bad day ignites insecurities and morphs into something destructive.
Both partners have responsibility to work through these moments. One partner for support and the other by not projecting emotions unduly on the innocent partner. But in the struggles, needs are left unfulfilled. Love must meet these challenges with positive action, giving support and comfort.
In strong relationships, the roles of receiver and giver constantly switch as circumstances demand.
See Staying Close During Conflict for more on this topic
"Love as a verb isn't dependent on how you feel or even what you think. Instead you make an unconditional commitment to the other person."
Overly-self-focused partners may offer obligatory words of support; but when the superficial attempt fails, they quickly become frustrated, exploding with anger or pulling away with withdrawal (see Relationship Drama). These self-protecting acts of narcissistic entitlement show their partner that unless you bring your best self to the table, you will not be served. In these behaviors, love is seen as a feeling not an action. When actions don’t create pleasant feeling effects than (with this version of love) you will be punished.
"Once the honeymoon wears off, love is primarily a verb, and to love someone is an active experience. Love is action. Love is commitment. Love is making your partner a sandwich even when you don't 'feel' like it."
Sheryl Paul, M.A. | Huff Post
We Must Have Realistic Expectations of Our Partners
Ridiculous expectations that a partner will always be loving asks partners to be unhuman. We build trust by working through the ebbs and flows of positive and discomforting emotions, knowing we will be supported even during the hurtful, struggling, and anxiety ridden days. This security only is built through the consistently of loving acts given when life doesn’t feel so loving.
"You've probably heard the saying that "love is a verb", and there's a lot of truth behind that. Love isn't something you can just say it's something that you need to do. Therefore, love is action."
Stephanie Kirby | Better Help
Selfishness and Love
The selfish exploit this need, painting a picture of need that never heals, leaving little or no room for a second heart. They seek a medal of honor when they cowardly refuse to give. The cowardly lover claims to be the night in shining armor. When the relationship is at the brink of destruction, they painfully chime, “no one will ever love you like me.” They blur the facts, dismiss reality and continue to mistreat.
Books on Loving
Expressions of love that wait until we are exhausted and ready to flee are self-serving and without merit, merely a forceful attempt to dissuade the consequence of their unloving actions.
This record has played a thousand times, the guilty lover returns just to find, once again, that when forgiveness is given, poor treatment returns. They live in the noun-ness of love. Love is an object in their world, once love is possessed nothing more needs to be done.
Love is a verb—an action. Not a one-time action, but a series of actions that testify of care, concern, and security. Love that exists as a verb occurs continuously during countless small moments, even when we are tired, sad or angry.
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