A need for this discussion was mentioned by both u/88Will88 and u/SteelSharpensSteel the other day on a post. It got me thinking, so I figured I'd give my spin on it and see how others view it.
When we show up here, there is a magnitude of reasons that we are in a shitty marriage, but the underlying theme to all of it is too much beta. We then go through a rigorous regiment of becoming more masculine and introspection to reach a point of self actualization. When we get here, so much has changed, but so much has stayed the same. I, as well as I'm sure lots of others, have had a hard time articulating "do I love my wife?"
What is love?
I love high quality IPA beer. I love a steak that's so rare I honestly question if I should take it off the grill. I love that feeling of shaking while I'm in the locker room drinking a protein shake. I love my dogs in their complete unconditional love for me. I love my kids knowing that, barring disaster, they will always be there and they are the most important thing in my life. I love sex.
These are all measurable and tangible things. They stay at a constant state of love and unless I chose to change, they always will.
But I love my wife...
As mentioned above, when we decide to stop playing the game as feminine men, this is one of the things that change. We no longer believe in solemates, fairy tale romance and unconditional love. When you start to see that the love she gives you has a price tag, it makes you question what kind of love you should give in return. Sure, when my balls are drained, my favorite dinner is on the stove, she has been doing things that make my life a lot easier of her own accord, I feel love for her. Even something as simple as bringing 2 beer out to the garage when I'm busy on a project and listening to me ramble on about my new saw.
This becomes a sort of conundrum though. If she isn't doing those things, and I subsequently don't feel that love for her, am I simply writing the biggest covert contract of all?
The best way I've been able to understand this is that love is something I give her. I choose to give it when I see fit, and I choose to not give it when I see no need. It's not something I take or deny her of. Simply something I give. My love is a gift. She appreciates this gift, as it comes with undivided attention and the "fun drty". When I choose not to give this gift, she is met mainly with indifference. Sometimes even contempt and hatred.
It's not really a conscious decision I make either. So it's not a keeping score/tit-for-tat kinda thing. More of a natual course of action. The difference between this and the way I used to love her is in how I don't expect it. If she wants to use it as some sort of bargaining chip, I don't play that game.
Maybe this isn't the right way to view it, but how I spent the first 12 years of our relationship seeking her love, by giving her mine irregardless, did nothing but give her the upper hand by living in her frame. Now that my love is a gift, she appreciates it so much more.
How do you view love? Thoughts?