I have had some interesting conversations lately with friends, family and colleagues. The topic is about love and the difference in gender when it comes to expressing love. Not sure why and, trust me, I have not initiated these discussions. I have heard all kinds of opinions. So on the assumption that nothing can be held against me in a court of law, I will do my best to fill you in on some of the thoughts I have heard. These conversations have been initiated because of my son’s wedding this upcoming weekend. I have been asked to officiate at the wedding and so in preparation of that, the word love keeps arising to the surface. And no, I am not a minister as someone suggested today. I got myself a one day, one wedding license.
So the first thing I did is go online to check out the definition of love. The Webster’s dictionary defines love as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person”. Excuse me. No reference to weak knees, palpitating heart, cold sweats and dizziness. Okay, I can live with that. Allright then, what is the definition of affection? Webster’s defines it as “a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something”. Hey, that sounds doable. Not as ominous as I had expected it to be based on some thoughts and opinions I had heard.
So why is it that men have such a difficult time expressing this to their significant others? I am reminded of an episode of Two and a Half Men. Charlie is walking his girlfriend (don’t ask me which one) to the door. Just before she opens the door she turns to Charlie and says “I love you”. Charlie is flustered for a second and then says “Thank you”. Not good. It’s hilarious to hear him try to talk his way out of that one. I just had a colleague tell me her brother-in-law buys flowers for his wife once a week and has done so for the five years they have been married. Okay. That is somewhat outside of the norm. Another man told me that he had told his wife he loved her the day they got married and if that ever changed he would let her know. Okay. That is an extreme the other way. One person told me that if his wife would not say “I love you” on a daily basis he could not think of why he would stay in that relationship. Is that what it takes? A verbal confirmation? Or do we show our love through other ways?
I get the distinct feeling that as men age they have more difficulty with the L word. Are they feeling trapped? Will the mere utterance of “I love you” push them into some abyss that promises no return? Or are we overthinking it? Are we complicating an otherwise simple issue?
In preparation for my son’s wedding I am trying to focus on relationships. I refer to the quote ``Relationships provide us with identity, purpose and direction. In essence, relationships are a life giving, life defining, life nurturing process”. To be involved in a relationship requires open, honest communication and a real desire to understand the other person. It is not a matter of being right or wrong. When we communicate, when we show our partners the willingness to listen and understand, we are working positively on our relationship. That defines us. That gives us direction. That gives us purpose. Perhaps that is love. Perhaps it is that simple. Make it a good one.