Everyone knows a fire unattended eventually extinguishes with no chance of resurrecting the flames that once burned bright and warm. It takes tending, prodding, refueling and fresh oxygen to be sustained. Relationships are much the same. They take work, time and attention. They do not flourish left alone: they fade, wane and ultimately suffocate.
Since parents are the image of healthy relationships to children, attending to adult relationships is a gift to offspring. Let's admit it, love takes work and commitment. A loving relationship is not a given. It does not happen in real life like in movie land. "Happily everafter's" do not magically dwell overhead like clouds of fairy dust. All too soon, conflicts arise presenting challenges even in the best relationships.
In this month where love is celebrated, let's do a little maintenance and attend to our "love fires." I just heard a collective moan from worn-out moms and dads that can't handle one more "to-do." I get it. I understand the demands of children, home, work and community involvements.. It can be all consuming and emptying. But take another perspective. This is not about what you will give. It is about what you will gain: fulfillment, balance and a renewed love.
Embers of love lie beneath all that happens in a home. Perhaps its warmth has cooled or flames reduced. Fires can reignite; warmth and light return. It just takes some tending. Your relationship is worth it.
Stoke the Embers
The element of surprise is not to be overlooked. Everyone likes a surprise from a loved one. Don't go for the big ones—think small. Hop over and sit by them on the couch. Open the door. Cook a favorite. Catch a few dance steps in the living room. Send an unexpected text. Leave an "I love you" note. Hold hands.
Fan the Flame
Breathe some life back into the embers. Some use a bellows, puffing life into the heart, while others breathe slow wisps. Try an unexpected whisper in an ear. Look through old photos, maybe even a wedding album. Remind yourself where it all began. Remember how it felt when they were all you could think about. Relive favorite dates. Take a stroll down memory lane. Or, if possible, take a live visit to the places of the "firsts"; first date, first kiss, your engagement or first vacation together.
Throw on a Log
Every fire needs a new log from time to time. Is it time to add one? Engaging together is fuel for love and passion. It takes intentional focus to reconnect. You can try talking alone, writing a love letter, spending an evening at home, going on a date or a walk, or taking a weekend away or vacation. Every healthy relationship requires time. If it is withheld, the fire will surely go out.
"Love cannot endure indifference. It needs to be wanted. Like a lamp, it needs to be fed out of the oil of another's heart, or its flame burns low." - Henry Ward Beecher
Glance across the table. How's your fire burning? It doesn't require a lot, just a little thought and action. A glowing blaze is worth it.
Gotta run...Got a fire to tend.
Elaine Stone, mother of three, lives in Spotsylvania.