Dr. Matt Townsend
07/01/2020

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Standing in Love...So You Can't Fall Out!

married couple

Have you ever heard someone tell you that they “fell out of love”? Is that only true with romantic love? You rarely hear a mother say to her son, “I love you Tommy, but I’m just not in love with you anymore.” I would argue that no matter what love you’re talking about, you don’t have to “fall out of love” if you’re willing to “Stand in love”!  

Love doesn’t have to be a feeling that “falls” in and out of your relationships like a leaf blowing in the wind. It can be a more permanent part of all of our relationships, if we will learn how to “stand in love”.

If you can “fall in love” then can’t you also “stand in love”? Research by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson shows that humans are hardwired from birth to create this feeling of love, or as she calls also calls it, “positive resonance”. Love is a shared emotion that grows between two people when they act in loving and connected ways. Dr. Fredrickson in her book Love 2.0 argues that “Love is the essential nutrient that your cells crave: true positivity-charged connection with other living beings."

The research is clear that if you want to create more loving feelings in your marriage, you have to pay closer attention to the “micro moments” or small interactions you share with your spouse every day. Based on Dr. Fredrickson’s research, here are three conditions you can chose to bring to every interaction with your spouse to deliver the connection and love you both crave: Stand in Positivity, Stand In Synchrony and Stand In Charity.

So if it’s easy to fall in love, then it is obviously going to be harder to “stand in love” and feed each other that essential nutrient of love.  

Stand in Positivity 

couple on wedding day

Standing in Positivity in your relationships means you create shared, positive, emotional experiences with your partner as often as you can. Instead of letting your mood or emotions blow with the wind, you choose to bring positivity home. You rely on the fact that people sharing positive experiences tend to lean toward each other, while those sharing negative moments lean away. You trust on the fact that human beings are deeply attracted to positivity, not fake positivity, but real, sincere, consistent, hopeful, uplifting positivity.  

You’ve seen the basic healing mathematics of positivity taught by Dr. John Gottman that for every negative marriage interaction it takes 5 positive interactions to heal it. Regardless of what life circumstances come or whether both partners are filling each moment up with positivity, the principle of “Standing in Positivity” always pays the one practicing it. If you bring more positivity, you will feel more positive.  

Like a small flame of light, positivity can bring warmth and hope to even the darkest nights. The goal is to make positivity become more of the norm of your marriage, not the occasional highlight. So ask yourself, “Do you ‘Stand in Positivity’ in your marriage?” Do you bring consistently positive energy, support, validation, safety, openness, appreciation and laughter to your love? What can you do today to “Stand in Positivity” more consistently in your marriage?  

Stand in Synchrony

two women on a hikeJust as we’re attracted to positivity, human beings are wired to mirror the behavior and chemistry of those around us. This connectivity is called Synchrony where through mirror neurons in our brain, humans brains literally connect and get “In Sync” with each other, in affect, become one operating unit. Signs of synchrony abound in life and nature. For example, have you ever noticed when someone starts getting emotional or crying, that you start getting emotional? Why does laughter become contagious? Why do babies cry when their moms cry? Why do we startle when someone else trips? Or why do we react watching YouTube videos of other people getting hurt? Why do we naturally lean in when some leans in to tell us a secret? We are wired to be connected to the people around us. However, if we’re not trying to get in “sync”, amazingly we usually don’t. 

We can increase the likelihood of “Standing In Synchrony” with others “turning toward” them when they talk to us. This helps us to actually listen and focus on what they’re saying and helps us to connect more eye to eye. We can also turn off the distractions like tv, phones, social media when connecting with our spouse. The more time we make for each other to actually be in sync, the more responsive and attuned we are to the needs of the other. The more we practice Standing in Synchrony, the better we get at becoming “One”.

So how are you doing at Standing in Synchrony with your spouse? How much undivided attention to you give? How effective are you at turning off the other distractions and giving each other all of your heart and mind? What is the most important thing you can do today to truly “Stand in Synchrony” with your spouse? 

Stand in Charity

smiling coupleOnce we’ve created a moment where we’re standing in Positivity and Synchrony, the third and final component to truly bringing the love home is to “Stand in Charity.” Standing in Charity means that we are intentionally invested in the well-being of our partner. Charity is the ability to prioritize the needs of your partner even before your own. Charity allows you to actually lose yourself in serving your partner because you care that much for them. It doesn’t mean you don’t have your own needs and ideas that you could share, but many times, when you are “Standing in Charity” you realize that pursuing your needs in every moment isn’t as important to your character as Standing in Charity.  

Sometimes the best way to show your charity is to “Stand in Positivity” about something your partner said that normally frustrates you. At times charity means you “Stand In Synchrony” by listening attentively and being open to being influenced by your partner. Prioritizing your spouse’s needs and wellness in the moment can quickly become a turning point that generates emotional intimacy by deepening your connection.

Charity opens the door to trust because your partner will sense how much you truly care and that they are safe with you and you will protect their heart, allowing them to truly bond and attach with you. When your partner is safe knowing that you will protect them, they will they be genuinely open to hear your feedback and make the changes they need to make.  

Charity means we actually end up acting on the pleas and requests our partners have shared. It means we apologize when we’ve hurt them, and we forgive them when they have hurt us. Standing in Charity is seen when we do special things for our partner that we know will make them happy. Charity means I make the important things in my partner’s life important things to me. Charity means we put the toilet seat down! Charity means we serve without any expectation of being served in return. Standing in Charity means we are bringing our highest sense of loving to our marriage.  

So how effective are you at “Standing in Charity” with your partner? How well do you prioritize your partner in your life? How willing are you to be open and vulnerable with your partner? What is the most important thing you can do today to Stand in Charity with your spouse? 

Love is a verb, not a feeling and it is something we all must be willing to “Stand Up” for. 

If you don’t want your love to fall away, then take your stand and find a moment today where you can Stand in Positivity, Synchrony and Charity. Practice the art of loving others by standing by their side and creating the love we all so desperately crave.