“Some love sustains.  Some love smothers and kills.”

I had just had lunch with a friend who had just celebrated 46 years of marriage when I heard the statement, “Some love sustains. Some love smothers and kills.”

I couldn’t help but wonder how people love in a way that sustains marriage for 46 years. What are the ingredients that separate sustaining love from smothering love?

I am sure there are books written on the topic, but a few things randomly strolled across horizon of my mind.  

  • Sustaining love respects the unique gifts of each; smothering love is always trying to reshape the other. 
  • Sustaining love adapts to a growing soul; smothering love can’t allow the other to grow and change.
  • Sustaining love wastes time with the other, playing in the heart; smothering love is all about working it out.
  • Sustaining love follows energy; smothering love demands conformity.
  • Sustaining love gives what it can; smothering love  constantly demands what it needs.
  • Sustaining love forgives offense; smothering love holds onto grudges.

Sustaining love make it possible for each individual to not only be sustained, but to be nourished. You know it exists when each person is flourishing in who they are. They receive something in the relationship that contributes to their having the power to become their best selves and the courage to give those selves to friends, family and world.

I don’t know about my friend’s marriage and what he would say has fed their relationship for 46 years, but I suspect there was a lot of sustaining love going on. Each gives of themselves to the other and allows them space to grow into who they can be.