Can anyone ever completely figure out love? No, because the mysteries of love and how to make it work baffle even the most well-intentioned individual. From parenting to marriage, friendship to business relationships, most find their best efforts often fail, and disappointment finds its way into their most valued sphere of life.
Why is this? It all comes down to a basic orientation in how one views themselves and others. In other words, since Adam, people have been looking out for number one, which is the surest way to destroy a relationship. People tend to think of themselves first instead of the relationship itself. They are trying to get what they want instead of seeing the needs of others. And because of this self-orientation, they destroy all chances of getting what they want and need, which is love.
Most people think of selfish people as being difficult. But self-centeredness comes closer to the accurate description of a truly selfish person. What it means is that someone views life primarily in terms of themselves.
There is a quote that says, “To interpret any event only in terms of how it affects oneself is to live on the doorstep of Hell.” How true that is!
When one is self-centered, it often guarantees the failure of love. For love is an attachment between two people, and the self-centered person denies the reality of the other. This person sees others as extensions of himself—they exist to make him happy, serve his needs, and regulate his feelings or drives in life. And when they fail to do that by having an existence of their own, he has an adverse reaction, such as anger, withdrawal of love, controlling behavior, or rejection.
This orientation to another person being more of an object for self-gratification than a person makes a genuine attachment impossible. Love requires two people—not one person and an object. To look at every event only in terms of how it affects oneself involves never adapting to the wishes or needs of someone else or sacrificing something for the sake of someone else.
Love is not an easy thing to accomplish in this life. It is complicated because people try to please themselves instead of achieving love; as a result, they lose the love they wanted in the first place. Never forget this: love doesn’t just happen—it takes work. Every person must do the work to avoid the love killer of being self-centered. And never forget the commandment to “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34). Anyone struggling to figure out love with their spouse, or soon-to-be spouse, can attend New Life’s Intimacy in Marriage Intensive Workshop.
Dr. Henry Cloud