(Dr. Norquist is on vacation this week. We are re-running a letter that was published earlier in this column.)
Dear Dr. Norquist:
I love how good I feel when I’m newly in love with someone, my world feels cheerful and sunny, like nothing could go wrong. Then something goes wrong in the relationship and I feel let down or disappointed or angry or frustrated, and that good feeling disappears.
How can I get that feeling back? I’d love to be able to be in a relationship for a long time and still have that great feeling. How can I keep it alive?
Dr. Norquist responds:
A friend of mine once said to me, “The secret to maintaining a happy, loving relationship is for both parties in the relationship to put in more than half.” The relationship I felt and observed between he and his wife after 54 years of marriage was so loving, rich and devoted that it served to uplift others around them. When you are in touch with that inner fountain of love, it can’t help but spill over into the lives of those around you. He greeted everyone, stranger, friend or family, with open-hearted love and respect and genuinely wished the best for everyone. I believe my friend had mastered the art of keeping alive that newly-in-love feeling that you are talking about.
My friend passed away this week, after a long, painful bout with cancer. At his funeral, many shared how his love touched their lives. It occurred to me that my friend had made the best possible use of his God-given time here. For what could be more meaningful and fulfilling than devoting your days to loving and respecting, in whatever way is most appropriate, all those with whom you come in contact. What could possibly bring greater richness to a life then to live in an “in-love” state, the state we experience when we are open-hearted, accepting and wishing the best for others.
I believe this state is not so much dependent on another’s love, as it is on being in touch with your own inner experience of love. It starts on the inside, not “out there” somewhere. Many spend their lives searching for that perfect other who will give them the love they need, never recognizing the source is not in the other, but rather, in that spark we all carry within. You can keep that feeling alive by mastering the art of living open-heartedly, with all of life.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns.Ó 2016 Chaitanya Counseling Services