“Buy Rolex. $20 only.”
A moustached guy offered it to me while walking in a busy street.
Wow. Didn’t Rolex watches sell at $5000 each?
Because he thought I was interested, the man opened his jacket and displayed other designer watches—such as Patek Phillip, Cartier, and Omega. “Choose what you want. $20 only each.”
That was shocking. I knew some high-end Patek watches cost $200,000. So how in the world could this man be selling them for $20?
Too bad for the watch guy, I don’t use watches. Stopped using them 25 years ago. To know the time, I look at the sun. On a cloudy day, I look at someone else’s watch.
But my buddy bought a $20 Rolex. It was a steal, he said.
Hey, it looked like a Rolex. It worked like a Rolex. It felt like a Rolex. But it wasn’t a Rolex.
Five months later, my friend was sad because his watch broke down. I told him, “What did you expect?”
Let me use this to explain why we have problems in our relationships.
How To Do The Great Switcheroo
Why do so many marriages have problems today?
Because many couples built their marriage on a pirated version of Love, not Love.
The pirated version of Love is Infatuation.
There was a time when I thought Infatuation was only for pimple-faced teenyboppers. Not true. Old fogies like myself aren’t exempted.
Not that Infatuation is a bad thing. It’s totally normal. Infatuation only becomes a bad thing if a person thinks it was Love.
I repeat: Infatuation is like a pirated copy of Love.
Foolish people think the pirated copy is real. When it breaks down, they panic or get depressed. They realize it’s fake. And their whole world crumbles.
Wise people know Infatuation is a pirated copy. They enjoy it while it lasts, but they know it was brittle and wouldn’t last. So secretly, they also bought the genuine article. (Note: Pirated versions are given; Real versions are bought. I’ll explain later.) So when the pirated version breaks down, the wise person does the great switcheroo. He pulls out the real thing.
Today, I’ll tell you how to spot the genuine from the fake.
I’ll describe the real deal—and how it’s the only thing that can save your marriage. But not only your marriage, but every other relationship you have.
Oh yes, so many people have relationship problems with their parents, or children, or siblings, or friends—because they don’t know what Real Love is.
I’m going to explain to you that Real Love is about dirty hands, not beating hearts.
Let me explain how this great switcheroo works…
“Father, we want to get married.”
When the engaged couple went to the priest to schedule their wedding, their hearts were beating for each other. It was so loud, the priest could actually hear it. “Dubdub. Dubdub. Dubdub.”
But he’s seen this before. How sweet lovebirds end up almost killing each other a year after the wedding. So he warned them, “As you know, feelings of love won’t last.”
And the couple said, “We know Father.”
But at the back of their minds, they’re saying, “We know Father that feelings of love won’t last for everyone else. But not for us. How can this feeling be fake when it’s as strong as a roaring volcano? It is as clear as the noonday sun, as eternal as the waves of the sea, as beautiful as the stars in the night sky.”
After the wedding ceremony, they have their honeymoon.
On their first night, the new husband watches his bride asleep, the moonlight streaming from the bedroom window onto her lovely face. He gazes at her long eyelashes, her pinkish cheeks, her parted lips. All of a sudden, she snores.
What does he say?
Six months later, it’s the same scene.
They’re at home. The guy sees his wife asleep, with the moonlight streaming from the window onto her face. All of a sudden, she snores.
What does he say?
What happened? Infatuation, the pirated version of love, disappeared. Real Love must now kick in.
But only if he has it.
Let me give you another example.
From Gazing To Gossiping
How do you know if a couple in the restaurant are not married?
If they’re physically close, touching each other, hand to hand, eye to eye, nose to nose, bad breath to bad breath—they’re not married.
Look underneath their table, and if their legs are intertwined and they’re playing footsies together, they’re not married.
If they don’t look at anything else but each other, they’re not married.
If nuclear bombs fall right beside them and they won’t even notice, they’re not married.
If a flash flood engulfs the entire restaurant and all the guy could say was, “Sweetheart, I love the color of your eyes as it reflects the brownish floodwater around us,” you can bet your life, they’re not married.
And how do you know if a couple in a restaurant are married?
If they’re seated far apart, so far a part, a six by six truck could pass in between them, they’re married.
If they look bored, they’re married.
If the whole night, all they do is talk about other people, they’re married. The wife whispers, “Don’t look at her, but the woman behind you is wearing fake eyelashes, fake jewellery, a fake Coach bag, fake anatomical parts, and a fake husband.” Being dense, the man turns around and asks, “Where? Where?”
Once upon a time, they had eyes only for one another.
Now, they barely look at each other.
What has happened? Infatuation, the pirated version of love, disappeared. Real Love must now kick in.
But only if they have it.
Spot The Difference
Let me now share five clear-as-daylight differences between Infatuation and Real Love:
1. Infatuation doesn’t require a decision. It just happens. You see a girl and boom—your hormones kick in and you want her. You don’t know why. It’s her dress. It’s the way her hair falls on her shoulder. It’s her smile. It’s the way she bites her fingernail. That’s why I said that pirated versions are free. But Real Love doesn’t just happen; Real Love requires a decision. That’s why Scott Peck says Real Love can only start after one has “fallen out of love.”
2. Infatuation, no matter what you do, lasts only for a season. You have these feelings of love swirling within you until something happens that breaks the spell. Maybe she’ll open her mouth. Maybe she’ll reveal her fangs. Maybe she’ll pick her nose. Maybe she’ll spend your money. Maybe she’ll introduce you to her mother. Maybe she gains 30 pounds. It could be anything. Infatuation can last for a few days or for a couple of years. But Real Love can last forever precisely because it’s a decision.
3. Infatuation is directed towards a figment of your imagination. You’re not attracted to a real person. You’re attracted to a projection of that person from your own imagination. Like Infatuation itself, you’re in love with a fake. But Real Love is directed towards a real person. You now know her strengths and weaknesses, and have accepted it all.
4. Infatuation is a spontaneous collapse of your boundaries. You get lost and you merge with the other. You’re enmeshed. You can’t survive without each other. But Real Love requires strengthening of both your boundaries; You actually don’t need each other, but you choose each other because you want to serve.
5. Infatuation is all about feelings. Dubdub. Dubdub. Dubdub. Cold palms, giddy spells, dazed looks, and feet on the clouds. But Real Love is about dirty hands. You don’t have to feelanything to love. Love is a verb, not just a feeling. Love is an action, not just a state. Let me repeat my message: I believe love is about dirty hands, not beating hearts. The essence of love isn’t feelings but service. Scott Peck says it so well—the opposite of love isn’t hatred; the opposite of love is laziness.
Your Physiology Affects Your Psychology
Here’s the thing.
I’ve found out that only mature people can love. Only mature people can do the great switcheroo when the pirated copy fails. They just pull out the genuine article.
Why? Only mature people have love within them.
Real Love has very little to do with the other person. A loving person can love because he is a loving person, not because the other person is lovable.
You may be asking me, “But Bo, is love dry? Isn’t there room for feelings?”
Of course, there is.
Here’s a secret mature people know in their hearts even if they don’t know it cognitively: Your physiology affects your psychology. Your feeling follows your action.
If we keep on doing acts of love, we increase our feelings of love. The more we “dirty our hands”, the more we find our “hearts beating” for the other.
To make this practical, let me share seven simple ways of dirtying your hands. They are (1) Help, (2) Prayer, (3) Presence, (4) Touch, (5) Words, (6) Gifts, and (7) Boundaries.
Love means giving practical help.
If you’re a mother, I’m sure there are days when you wake up feeling blue and you don’t want to enter the kitchen. But fifteen minutes later, where are you? Cooking in the kitchen, because some little people will get hungry. You don’t feel like doing it. But you do it anyway. That’s love.
If you’re a husband, I’m sure there are days when you go home tired from work. But you see your kids. And even if all you want to do is lie down on the couch, you decide to play with them. You don’t feel like doing it. But you do it anyway. That’s love.
If you’re a child whose parents are older, I’m sure you want to help them. Sure, you’ve got your own problems now, but doesn’t stop you from serving them. You don’t feel like doing it. But you do it anyway. That’s love.
Love means praying for your loved ones.
Perhaps your father was a horrible man. And you hate him. But you decide to pray for him.
Sooner or later, God will answer your prayer. God will change him, but He’ll change you first. Your father gets blessed, but you get blessed too. Ultimately, you become a more loving person.
You pray whether you feel like it or not.
Love means spending time together.
Not just being physically together, but also being emotionally together.
That could mean a father playing with his kids. Or a daughter visiting her aging parents. Or siblings going shopping together. Or friends laughing over pizza. Or a couple taking a walk.
There’ll be times when you won’t feel like bonding together.
But you do it anyway. That’s love.
Love means physical affection.
One day, a couple walking to work noticed a man passionately kissing a woman. “Why don’t you do that?” said the wife.
“Honey,” replied her husband, “I don’t even know that woman!”
People aren’t machines. They need to be touched. Holding hands, pats on the back, shoulder rubs, hugs, and kisses nourish and heal people more than you can possibly imagine.
Again, there’ll be days when you don’t want to kiss or hold hands or hug. But you do it anyway. That’s love.
Love means verbal or written expressions.
When was the last time you told your husband, “Thank you for working so hard for our family”? When was the last time you told your wife, “Thank you for being a great mother to our kids”? When was the last time you told your mother, “Thanks for serving me all these years”? And when was the last time you actually said, “I love you”?
You might argue with me and say, “Bo, I don’t want to be a hypocrite. When I say it, I must feel it.”
Here’s my question: Are you just your emotions?
Or are you much more than your emotions? Are you also your spirit, your soul, your mind, your imagination, your will?
Love means giving tokens—or symbols of love.
To you, your gift may mean nothing. But to another person, a small, inexpensive gift from you could mean the world.
Love means respecting the boundaries of the other.
Love means giving space to the other and letting the other person grow on her own. Love also means letting the other face her own responsibilities.
I like it when my wife goes out with her girlfriends each week. I like it when she takes up other interests. I like it when she grows and flourishes as an individual. I like it when she tells me, “Bo, I need some alone time. I’ll just go window shopping for awhile.” So I pray over her, “Lord, I claim in faith that she’ll be faithful to those words, that she will indeed go ‘window’ shopping only. Thank you, Lord, for this miracle!”
Love Is Service
I dedicate my last story to all those living away from their loved ones today—Overseas Filipino Workers, Migrants, etc.
Many years ago, I met Alice, a Filipina teacher in Brunei.
She was my host and took care of me while I was there. When I woke up early one morning, I noticed that she was on the phone. But she wasn’t speaking.
She explained that it was her beautiful ritual of love to her husband. Years ago, her husband suffered a stroke and he became paralyzed. So she went to Brunei to work for the family.
And what was this ritual of love? Alice would wake up at 4 in the morning to call her husband. (This was before the days of cell phones and text messages.) But because they could not afford long distance calls, they agreed that the husband was not to answer the phone.
Instead, the husband would allow the phone to ring.
He would allow the love of Alice, symbolized by the ringing, to fill their house and to fill his heart.
For 8 years straight, Alice did this beautiful ritual without fail.
Until he finally passed away.
That’s what love is.
Not like feelings that come and go.
Not like moods that are here today and gone tomorrow.
Love is simply done, day in and day out.
Because it’s eternal.
It was Mother Teresa who said, “Service is a fruit of love”.
If you love, you will serve.
Go now, and like Mother Teresa, dirty your hands.
May your dreams come true,
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