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What is love? Therapy may help you find the answer.

My husband and I were married last week in a very small and very romantic ceremony near the beach where we live. It was beautiful and everything I’d hoped my wedding to be, a meaningful symbol of our commitment to each other surrounded by our family and friends.

It was an interesting period leading up to the wedding. It’s generally accepted that guys particularly, before getting married, go on the journey of doubt, questioning themselves about their readiness to ‘tie the knot’, a journey otherwise known as cold feet! Is she really the ‘one’? Do I want to commit to only one woman? Are we rushing into this? Am I ready for kids? etc. etc. I know I love my husband and I wouldn’t say I had cold feet but I did go on a very deep journey in myself, without even realising it initially, where I suddenly felt I really needed to understand the concept of love. What is love and how do we know when we really have it? This led me on a retrospective journey of my life as the questions kept whirring around in my head, demanding answers; Why have you chosen him? What is it about him that you love and why? Is it love or need? Does it stem from your relationship with your father? This question is the one that bothered me the most. Undoubtedly the relationships we form in later life are determined by our bond, or lack of a bond, with our parents and I just felt I really needed to understand all this before I made a commitment.

I did something that all of my friends told me not to do, I talked to my fiancĂ© about it. I was very fearful that he would feel rejected, feel I was questioning my love for him, but I was more fearful about us entering into this life together without understanding it all. So when I finally found the courage to tell him he did initially feel very hurt, but he moved on from that confirming why I’d wanted to marry him so much in the first place. He told me that I should do whatever I needed to do to answer my questions. We put our wedding off for six months and I did a truckload of reading and therapy.

It turns out I needed to do the therapy. I had a block in my mind from something that happened to me when I was young, something I had completely forgotten about but which, once unearthed gave meaning to all that I had been feeling. It was a difficult process digging up a lot of pain and trying to make sense of it but I did get through it and it has meant everything to me to understand myself more. I feel now that I’m not holding anything back from him, that I can be generous with him and not afraid. I feel I can trust him, I feel less defensive. I suppose I feel more free to give him my unconditional love. An essay that helped me through this time titled ‘What is Unconditional Love?’ by biologist Jeremy Griffith can be found here.

I recently heard that Michael Haneke’s film ‘Amour’ or ‘Love’ won the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or. The film is about a couple in the 80’s who are dealing with illness. The press articles all talked about the judging panel ‘falling in love’ with it. Humans love the idea of true selflessness and love, even if we don’t completely understand it, it’s in our human nature to want to love and be loved. We all yearn for it so deeply and if you are lucky enough, as I have been to find it, it’s worth doing it justice by giving it everything you’ve got. I think therapy is a wonderful thing for relationships, even if you feel it’s unnecessary, it never is. After all, relationship are hard — two people coming together with different life experiences, different views on happiness and love. For the most part those views are compatible but we humans are such a complex and varied bunch. Getting to know each other on a deeper level through therapy can only deepen our love for each other. It’s not that I felt more ‘in love’ with my husband or more romantic about our relationship. I felt that through understanding myself I got to know him more and I felt so much respect and love for the person he is.

I’m so glad that rather than letting my fear dominate my thoughts I took the time to understand why I’d chosen this man to spend my life with. If you like me are on the cusp of a big commitment to another person and are feeling afraid, I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with exploring that fear. It may not necessarily lead you in the direction it lead me and your partner may not be as understanding as mine! But it will make your life more fulfilling. I didn’t think I should need therapy, being in a happy relationship, about to get married, little did I know it would lead to such a wonderful understanding of love.

Jossie has found love and now having been on a deep soul searching journey she has found herself as well. She now feels she has much more love to give and is truly ready to start her life with her new husband. The work of the World Transformation Movement and Biologist Jeremy Griffith has been incredibly helpful to understand the world around her.

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