Life After Divorce . . . Is Love a Feeling or a Decision?

By Lindy Earl

It is great when love is a feeling.  It kind of sneaks up on you.  You find yourself smiling, for no obvious reason. You’re quick to laugh. You find yourself in a good mood all the time. You don’t even know exactly when the love began, but the feeling is there.

Other times, love is a decision. When people are being difficult, you need to decide to love them anyway.  For instance, your Significant Other is going through a bad time for whatever reason – job loss, death in the family, whatever – and their mood reflects their feelings.  It is your job, your duty, your obligation to choose to love them during their hard time.  You need to decide that you will love them through this time. When times are bad, and money is short, and you don’t see responsible behavior – you need to decide to love them. When they are sick, just physically ill, so are difficult to the point of rude, and it can be very hard to feel loving but very easy to feel irritated – you need to decide to love them.. 

It can be even harder to love someone when they aren’t our Significant Other.  On your way to work, you need to choose to love the driver who cut you off.  You can show that love by slowing down and not blasting your horn.  Once at work, you need to choose to love your colleagues, even the chatty ones who are keeping you from accomplishing your work.  Even the lazy ones who cause you more work. Even the silly ones who don’t seem to understand life, so why are they even employed here?!  Yep, you need to choose to love them.

And we can find all of these types of people in our circle of friends.  The chatty people who don’t understand that we need time alone.  The lazy ones who are making us do the dishes, again, by walking away from them. The silly person who makes you wonder, how do they get through life and pay their bills?  AND . . . these characteristics can all be seen in the same person.

When love is a feeling, it’s easy to overlook the small irritations. You don’t mind picking up the jacket that didn’t make its way into the closet, again. You are happy to make, serve, and clean up supper.  It’s okay that the chores didn’t get done on time. It’s easy to be forgiving and flexible.

When love is a decision, however, all those irritations suddenly balloon and seem more frequent to boot.  It can almost seem that they are doing things to intentionally annoy you! They know very well that slurping through a straw is like nails on a black board to you, yet there they are, slurping away. Something that was forgivable, or overlooked, not so long ago, is now on your last nerve.

When this is the situation, the decision now changes – do you want to love them through it? Several factors can enter your decision.  Are you already married to this person? Has the relationship been going for a while or is it relatively new? I was in a relationship with a gentleman for about six months when it became obvious that it was not going to work.  If it had been a ten year relationship and/or a marriage, we might have made it.  But after six months, the decision was to bail. Maybe, in future, one or both of us will find the feeling that will lead to a decision to love somebody.

Sometimes love is a feeling.  It’s a great way to start a relationship. It’s wonderful to find yourself in that state.  Other times, probably more often, love is a decision we make. And you often need to make that decision time after time and day after day.  That’s how relationships work and that’s how relationships last.

That’s life after divorce.

            Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.

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