"Real love is only what you give," writes Kate Kerrigan in her brilliant novel, Recipes for a Perfect Marriage. In our me-centered culture that promotes the highly dysfunctional myth that love is a feeling your partner ignites in you (he makes me feel alive; she makes me feel whole), it's easy to fall into the thinking trap that if you're not feeling enough — enough love, enough attraction, enough desire — there must be something wrong with the relationship.
Yet the paradox and well-kept secret is that it's in giving that you ignite the feelings. Your partner can't make you feel alive; aliveness is a quality that you cultivate by learning to attend closely to your inner world. Your partner can't make you feel whole; wholeness arises when you devote yourself to a daily practice, like yoga, meditation, or journaling, which helps you to connect to your intrinsic wholeness.
When you give to your partner from the seat of your own alive wholeness, a beautiful relationship unfolds between you. In other words, giving to get love or validation or as a way to fill yourself up doesn't work, but when you can give from the filled-up place inside of you without condition or expectation, your relationship will transform.
How do you give in ways that makes your partner feel truly and deeply loved?
1. Learn your partner's love language
Giving to your partner means giving in a way that he or she can best receive. An immature or self-centered way of giving seeks to give to another in a way that would like to receive. If you feel most loved by physical touch, you're likely to express your love through a lot of affection. But what if physical touch isn't how your partner feels most loved?
This is where learning the Five Love Languages can be extremely beneficial in a relationship. You can take the test here, but most people already know just from reading the list of love languages which are theirs and which are their partner's. The five Love Languages are: