3 Essential Keys to Love: Choice, Constant, & Giving

My daughter is now of the age where she is seriously dating, questioning about true love, and asking what it means to be in a committed relationship. When it comes to matters of the heart, I tell her a specific memory in my youth that answers, “What is love” and “is he the one”? The answer came from an unlikely source, a catholic nun.
(Let’s go back in time…)

Love is a Choice

It is 1980 something. I’m sitting and feeling terrified as a newly minted high school freshman in religious ed class. A tiny Catholic Nun utters these words, “Love is a Choice”. Snickering sounds are heard with everyone giving each other a knowing nod, “what does a nun know about love”?

Then she asks the students, “Is love a feeling or a choice?”. She polls students to see where each fall into the category. The Nun asks us to shout out some favorite songs describing love. Popular love songs in the 80’s contain lyrics such as “feeling so good”, and “feeling so right” after making love. Yup, everyone agreed Love is a feeling. To which the Nun mocks jokingly, “Ha! If you all think love is a feeling, then you either won’t ever get married or maybe you’ll just be miserable!” A bold statement coming from a nun! Even my favorite love songs titled “Open Arms” and Bette Midler’s, “The Rose” are met with snickers. “Love is a flower and you, its only seed…” Seems very poetic to me! The nun asks us to take out our bibles and turn to 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 verses 4-8:

“Love is patient, Love is kind.
It is not jealous. Love is not pompous.
Love is not rude…It bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things. Love never fails…”

She points out accurately what the verse does not say, “love feels patient, love feels kind, love does not feel jealous”. The operative words are verbs: is, bears, hopes, endures. “Love is a choice”, she says confidently. It is our choice to bear, hope, endure, act with integrity, and give love. The nun, advises us to do an experiment and replace the word “Love” with a person’s name who is important in our lives. “(Name) is patient, (Name) is kind…” This lesson plan shifts my whole perspective about “love”. I keep this lesson in my heart during my dating phase. In my twenties, I can sense when a person is offering romantic love versus true commitment.

Choose Wisely

“I’d rather be alone for the right reason than be with someone for the wrong”. ~ movie, Somekind of Wonderul

This wonderful line from a movie saves me in my twenties. Finding myself in a troubled relationship, I reflect upon these words to give me courage to break up with my partner. I admit that despite the wise lesson I had learned in high school, I still find myself in the trap of romantic love. I am human. I am one year into a relationship with someone who does not meet the 1: Corinthian bible verse. Full admission, nor did I act in the same spirit towards my partner. This one line is the only thing I can remember about this movie. Fear of being alone and being extremely shy, is why I stayed in this relationship. Besides, everyone loves my partner, except I know I do not love him. I realize I’m in love with “being in love”. Hearing this line, must be a sign from God. Being with someone for the wrong reason will only bring heartache. If I am meant to be alone in this world, so be it! I am learning now as I am growing older, choice is empowering. If you ever find yourself in this situation, dear readers, choose wisely! I end the relationship despite the fear of being alone and the pain of letting go of the known.
My heart heals over time. Then one day, I meet a very nice boy. We say hi to each other briefly and go our separate way. A year later, I see this same nice boy. We recognize each other, say hello and go our separate ways. Another year later, I see this same boy, we smile because we recognize each other and this time we get to know each other. His name is Nick. We date and a year later we marry. This is the course of shy people. It literally takes us years. My husband lives the spirit of 1: Corinthians passage. He says I do the same for him. I tell my daughter this tale and emphasize, “Love is a choice”.

“Wait…love is a choice? Love is not an Emotion? What are you talking about?!!!” -Nikki

Love is Constant

Karla McLaren explains in her book, Language of Emotions, that “love is constant”. She writes:

“when we love truly we can experience all our free-flowing, mood state, and raging rapid emotions (fear, hatred, grief, or shame) while continuing to love and honor our loved ones.”  

The choice to love is useful in moments when you are being triggered with unpleasant emotions of frustration and anger. Love positions me to step back and take a moment to feel my emotions so as not to react (in another room if need be) and implement coping skills I’ve developed. I sit with my feelings and then only when I’m calm, think through my situation. Love holds me to a standard where I treat another person with integrity and compassion. I set healthy boundaries for myself and the other by communicating my concerns without tearing apart the other person’s self-esteem. I focus on the issue at hand to reach an understanding, compassionate solution, rather than winning at all costs. This is not easily done but my teens and husband offer many moments of practice. I’ve developed some good sea legs with their help.
My parents are great example of McLaren’s point “love is constant”. They celebrated their 25th anniversary with separation and divorce. Yes, even love is constant through a divorce. They both knew that partnership through marriage brought resentment and only through friendship could they continue to give to each other. Prior to their deaths, they gave each other support, understanding, forgiveness, and friendship. My parents are examples that you can love someone even if it means letting go.

Love is Giving

My belief that “love is a choice” does not sound romantic to my young daughter. This lesson, I still hold close to my heart. It guides me and my husband through the struggles of autism and losses.

children and elephant giving

We also believe,
“love is giving”.

We are willing to risk investing in each other so both of us can reach our full potential in exchange for eating lots of top Ramen noodles. It pays off to live and practice what you love to do. Through miscarriages, loss of parents, struggles of autism and depression we continue to give each other support with open arms.
We give each other space of forgiveness when we know we are prone to react with our feelings of anger, fear, and anxiety. We continue to give each other acceptance and encouragement, all culminating in acts of Love. There is no doubt, I would choose to marry my Nick again, in a heartbeat. I plant this seed in my daughter. My wish is for this seed to grow roots that are similar to my relationship with her father. Author Louis de Bernières in his book, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, accurately captures my relationship with my husband of 25 years. We make daily choices to give and it remains constant.
“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”

Spread the word

Remy Nirschl
—— About Remy Nirschl:
Remy is a writer, a mother to two wonderful souls, and a soul companion to her husband of nearly 25 years. Propelled into the autism journey in 2004 with the diagnosis of her son, this lead Remy to journey within as she experienced great losses and challenges. Trained in Caroline Myss “Sacred Contract”, this modality has given her the tools for clarity and empowerment. Remy is called into service as an Archetypal Consultant mentoring individuals in their soul journey.
Want to learn more about your other Archetypal Patterns?  Read more….

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. These words are beautiful and great counsel for all of us. I recently wrote about this topic as well and found your information similar. Every couple should read this just to be reminded of what Love really is. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you for these nice words!

  2. Yes, love is so many things! It is wonderful to give away. It is fulfilling to choose, you often get when you give love.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

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