How do you do ‘Hi’s’ and ‘Bye’s’ with those you love? To keep a love relationship healthy it is best if every (yes every) ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ experience includes at least a brief love connecting and sharing experience. Every “Hello, I’m home” event is best done with a hug, a pat, a caress, a nuzzle or a kiss. Going past each other to whatever you want to get to next without any expression of connecting love can be detrimental to your love relationships. Likewise, every “So long” is better done with similar brief expressions of love.
In some relationships the lack of such love when parting can lead to hours of vague anxiety, worrying “is anything wrong”. Starting off time together with a little demonstration of love means that the following time is more likely to go well. Ending a time together with expressed and received love actions makes your next encounter more likely to be a bit sooner, a bit better and a bit more wanted. People who start and part with love are seen as having better attitudes, better cooperation likelihood, less stress and a host of other small but significant benefits.
Many couples and many families I see in counseling for reasons of deteriorating relationships have not been greeting each other or saying goodbye to each other with any love at all. Sometimes there is no greeting or saying goodbye what so ever. Often when I get them to experiment with a little ‘start and part’ love action improvement begins. This is one of the simplest and quickest ways to start toward the repair, or enhancement, of a love relationship. Notice that this is the way most pet dogs (who were put in the world to teach us love according to an old Indian legend) do it. Actually many apparently love- connected mammals greet and part with what looks like shows of affection. So maybe love starting and parting is natural.
It is not only failing love relationships that often lack this love expression ‘start and part’ behavior. ‘Blah’ and ‘in a rut’ stagnant, and semi-functional relationships frequently exhibit this lack of love ‘start and part’ way of doing things. So, I would like to suggest you check out how well your love shows in ‘start and part’ situations. Might you do well to greet your spouse, children, friends, and maybe even yourself with an improved, more love demonstrative ‘start and part’ set of actions? Would you like to dedicate yourself to starting every encounter with a brief but sincere show of love? Be sure to do that before you try to take care of anything else each time you encounter a loved one even if you have been away from them only for a brief amount of time. When coming together after work, going to the store , visiting with others, etc. making some action to lovingly touch, saying words of love followed by asking “How are you feeling” delivered with a loving tone of voice and loving facial expressions are usual ways to create a pleasant and caring environment.
Coming in from outside while saying a term of endearment like “Hello, Sweetheart”, giving a good morning kiss upon waking, smiling at first sight of one another, and adding a caress or pat are also quite helpful. Departing with similar sentiments and behaviors works in much the same way. If you already do these sort of things ask yourself how can you improve? If you don’t already do this sort of ‘start and part’ love might you want to dedicate yourself to making a plan to do so, and enacting it? If when coming together you usually begin with some sort of practical ‘what’s to be done’ talk, or ‘what has been done’ inquiry a sense of low grade aggravation is likely to grow. If the last thing said on departure is something like “Remember to mail the letter, pickup the cleaning, do your homework”, etc. that person’s return to you is less likely to be happy.
If the last thing said is a message of love the reverse is true. Get the practical messages said but end with an expression of love. If the first thing said upon coming together is “Did you remember to pay the bills, do your assignment, call so-and-so”, etc. a small dose of subconscious emotional abrasion may occur. That abrasion experience could later lead to growing difficulty, or at least to fairly strong disappointment. If instead a happy “Hello, darling, it’s so good to be with you”, or something like that, starts a new encounter with each other it is much more likely to go smoothly. Usually it only takes 20 seconds or less to start or part lovingly. The return on your loving effort can yield hours of happier time together. Of course you can take longer than 20 seconds and do it even better if you want to.
If you are the recipient of loving ‘start and part’ behaviors do you soak them up, reciprocate in kind, and cycle the love being offered? Ignoring, or quickly moving away from such tokens of love deprives yourself and your loved one from the healthy, positive effects of these small important actions. Unfortunately, in our fast paced, often goal oriented and impersonal daily lives there is an insufficiency of loving behaviors, so savoring those love actions that do come your way can enrich your life. A good love relationship takes good love teamwork. Good teamwork love takes good sending and good receiving. Being a good receiver and an equal participant when a loved one initiates a ‘start or part’ love action helps the process of good teamwork love quite a lot. So, if a love ‘start or part’ action comes your way take it in and send some back.
People sometimes say to me things like, “Dr. Cookerly, doesn’t starting and parting with love get to be an empty habit or meaningless activity”? It can if you let it but it doesn’t have to. Be creative! Also all around the world friendly, affectionate greeting and parting rituals make life work better. It’s healthy for those in all loving relationships to develop their own, informal love rituals. If you get a sense that your rituals are beginning to feel empty or meaningless that might be a message from your inner wisdom-filled subconscious to do them better.
So, here’s a simple challenge. Make an experimental ‘start and part’ with more behaviors of love action plan, and carry it out. Then see if you and those you care about like the results.
As always – grow in love!