Everyone wants to love and be loved, despite the fact that – for most of us at least – love is a source of suffering at one time or another.
This may be because we tend to confuse love with desire. Desire can be overpowering, leading us to act without contemplating the possible consequences.
Our most primal desire is to survive. Our most primal fear is death. Related to this is the fear of living and dying alone, without anyone to help us and with no one caring when we’re gone.
In Cambodian culture, people are encouraged to create a stable family, which begins with finding love, arranged or otherwise. A couple has children, and expects their children to be near them until they die.
As with so many topics, when thinking about relationships it is best to let go of binary thinking, which reduces issues to two mutually exclusive possibilities.
By moving beyond this, we can start to accept life and death as illusions. To stop fearing death is to be free of attachment. In turn, letting go of attachment is to free ourselves from suffering.
“Fidelity” helps us understand that you cannot love another properly if you don’t love yourself.
This may be easier said than done, but it is the foundation of any healthy, long-term relationship. If you do not know how to love yourself, author Thich Nhat Hanh tell us, you are less able to appreciate your partner’s love for you, and more likely to doubt it.
Have you ever wondered why many (but by no means all, of course) members of the older generations, such as our parents and grandparents, were able to keep their relationships alive throughout their lives.
They didn’t just run away whenever they felt a doubt or hit a problem in the relationship. They endured, or have endured, enough hardship to know that a relationship is something that takes work.
Nowadays, our lives are so easy, our tolerance for work so low, that we tend to run away in the face of adversity.
To find someone with whom we can share love is the first step in any relationship. You may have found a relationship that allows you to love both yourself and your partner, and feel you can sustain it over the long term. Or you may be stuck in an unhealthy situation, and are facing a decision on whether to leave or try to make things better. Either way, this book has much wisdom to offer you.