For the LOVE...!

For the love…

I have a good friend who frequently uses the expression, “For the love…”  When I was a kid, I heard a lot of adults use that expression with some variation. The three that come to mind are: “For the love of all that’s holy,” “For the love of God,” and “For the love of Pete.” I never knew who Pete was.

“For the love…” seems to be used when one is feeling exasperated, as in, “For the love of Pete… what in the world are you doing?” or “For the love of God, how did you manage to end up in this predicament?” I often heard this expression when people were exasperated and angry: “For the love of all that’s holy, I told you to get this room picked up two hours ago!”

My friend Catherine just seems to say, “For the love…” as a prelude to one of her always very funny stories, usually about her children. So, perhaps she is using it as an expression of exasperation and/or anger!

Speaking of love… what I saw of the verb “love” in my childhood also seemed to be accompanied with exasperation and/or anger. I never doubted whether I was loved by my parents or my siblings. But what I observed as “love” between my parents (who were, after all, supposed to love each other) was most definitely anger. In all honesty, I recall very few pleasant conversations between the two of them. Ever. Rather, there was either a lot of loud arguing (primarily after the kids were in bed where I guess they thought we couldn’t hear) or there was cold silence.

Hence, I learned to verbally fight a lot in my adult “love” relationships. I’m so glad I chose to learn there are healthy ways to communicate with my spouse, even when I am exasperated and angry. (And most often, I actually opt to use those healthy ways!) As a child, I learned passive aggressiveness and verbal aggression from my parents. They were married… they loved each other, right? That’s what we were taught. You grew up, fell in love, got married, and had kids. And you loved them.

That’s not the kind of love I wanted. But I was ill-equipped to know how to share healthy love in a marriage, especially when I was mad at my husband. So, l got help and learned how to communicate in healthy ways, even when I was furious. And so did my Lovebug. We went to couple’s counseling and individual counseling and family counseling. We learned how to express difficult feelings and to show love in healthy ways, no matter what was going on.

As a result, our love grew. Not just for each other, but also for ourselves as individuals. How’s that? When I acted in the way I learned from my parents (yelling, criticizing, silent treatment) I didn’t like how I felt about myself. I was ashamed and told myself what a bad person I was. As I learned and practiced (and practiced and practiced and practiced) to share my thoughts and feelings without yelling or being critical, I began to feel better about myself. I continue to be proud of myself when I express myself as a healthy adult in appropriate ways, particularly when I am really ticked off. It wasn’t always that way.

The more I like myself, the more I choose to act in healthy ways because I don’t want to feel that old shame and I don’t want to talk badly to myself about myself. I’m pretty sure it’s the same for Lovebug. Consequently, we both continue to treat each other more lovingly, with respect, kindness and compassion, even when we’re upset!

Oh – and that still happens. We definitely still get upset with one another. We’ve been married nearly 35 years! Of course we drive one another a little crazy. Now when I get exasperated or angry with him, instead of lashing out, I just think, “Oh for the love…!”