Have you ever found a recipe that you were just dying to try only to find out after you had made it that it just didn’t live up to your expectations? They look great. They smell great. We get excited to try them and then…not so much.
One of my most vivid memories of this happened to my mom. I grew up in a house where all the books we owned were cookbooks. So, my mom tried many recipes out on us at the dinner table. But none were as famous (or infamous) as the Tofu Cheesecake. That’s right, tofu cheesecake.
My mom had spent all day cooking for a dinner party at our house that evening and had made what appeared to be a delectable cheesecake for dessert. We (my dad, my brother, and myself) were all excited to devour it and dove right into it after we had our meal. I don’t know if I’ll ever forget the look on my dad’s face when he took the first big bite. It was screaming, “Warning, warning! Do not let this pass your own lips!” It was a dinner party disaster. Luckily, my mom had a back up plan to save the night because it was that nasty.
Sometimes we think we have everything we need to make something delicious because we’re following the recipe we’ve been given, but then it turns out to not be so great and we don’t know why. We end up asking ourselves, “Did I make it right? Maybe I left something out? It looked so good, what went wrong?”
This happens everyday in relationships as well. We follow the recipe we’ve been given and we input the ingredients we think are going to make a great relationship and then one day we realize that this isn’t quite turning out the way we thought it would.
Maybe it’s time to take a second look at our recipe for love and see if we’re missing some key ingredients for creating a remarkable relationship.
Ancient Wisdom For Modern Love
A few weeks ago I mentioned in my post titled, “Why Most Relationships Never Last (And How To Ensure Yours Does)” how we use the word love to describe a myriad of different emotions and how it might not be so useful to only use this one word to express the emotions we have for everything from sports, to pizza, to music, to our moms, and finally to our spouses. Maybe there’s a better way to describe this feeling we call love?
In ancient cultures they didn’t have quite the same problem that we have with this expression of the different kinds of emotion that can be present when we “love” someone. For example, in the ancient Hebrew culture there were as many as 7 different words for “love” and in the ancient Greek there were 4 different words. These two languages intersect in 3 ways that describe the ingredients that every great relationship needs to be successful in a remarkable way.
Ingredient #1: Friendship
The first thing you’ll notice in any relationship is the attraction to one another in a friendly way. When we share things that we enjoy in common, then we want to spend more time with one another. When we spend more time together we begin to have more fondness for each other. What develops is a companionship that carries the feelings of affection that we commonly refer to as “love” – the love of friendship.
In the ancient Hebrew, the word used to describe a best friend or committed companion as well as the feelings you have for that person is raya. Correlating with raya in the Hebrew is the word phileo in the Greek. Phileo means to regard with affection, to like, and to be fond of.
This is the most basic kind of love every remarkable relationship requires and it’s the one that’s easiest to understand. When you like someone and are fond of them, you can’t get enough of them. When you don’t care to be in someone’s presence, then you’re not likely to want to be around them any longer. Simple as that.
Is your relationship suffering because you’ve forgotten how to be friendly with one another? Before you give me excuses like, “It’s just not there, Jeremy,” do yourself a favor and remember back to the time when your friendship was the best thing you could have ever imagined. What were you doing? What were you saying? In what ways did you know you were friends? Take some time this week to rekindle the flame of friendship between you.
Add this ingredient back into your relationship for a little sweetness.
Ingredient #2: Passion
The second thing required to create a remarkable relationship is passion. Passion is the expression of our creativity in a relationship. When we’re attracted to someone in a sexual way then our desire is to satisfy that longing. When passion is present, then our relationships have an element of surprise and mystery to them that isn’t only satisfied by the act of intercourse. Like the tension that’s required for guitar strings to stay in tune, passion creates this tension between the two parties that makes the notes they play together sound better.
In ancient Greek, the word used to describe this type of love for someone is eros. It’s where we get our word “erotic” from. It’s the impulse to gratify our sexual longing. The word that correlates with eros in the Hebrew is dod (pronounced with a long O sound). Dod is the word that describes a lover and the act of carousal.
It’s that intoxicating feeling we get in their presence. When we feel desire overcome us for them and we feel desired by them. Passion is a necessary ingredient in a relationship because without it, something will always be missing. Again, because we use “love” to describe every feeling surrounding our relationships with one another we may be suffering from a lack of passion and become convinced that it doesn’t matter because we “love” each other.
Could your relationship use a little passion? If so, how can you create some tension between you? How can you add some element of mystery or creativity to the mix? In what ways can you elevate your masculine or feminine traits to attract the interest of your partner? It only takes a spark to get a fire going!
Add this ingredient back into your relationship for a little spice.
Ingredient #3: Commitment
The last (and most important) part of the recipe is commitment. Why is it the most important? Well, every other aspect of our relationship is instinctual and impulsive. The love of friendship and the love of passion rely on our emotions to create motion. The love of commitment, though, is the love of the will. This is the love that says, “I choose you. I serve you. I sacrifice for you. Without conditions.”
In the Hebrew, this word is ahava and it means an emotion that leads to lifelong decision; benevolence on behalf of another at cost to oneself. It is a word that describes a selfless kind of love that places the needs and priorities of others ahead of its own. The word in ancient Greek that correlates with ahava is the word agape. Agape describes an unconditional, others-first kind of love that takes action to serve the needs of those around them and sacrifice for the well-being of others.
This kind of love is a love without limits. This is the love that Jesus famously referred to when he said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” This is the bedrock of every great relationship. Without commitment there is no love. Sure there can be passion (and lots of it!), there can be friendship (with lots of fondness and affection), but if commitment isn’t present then the recipe won’t taste good.
Friendship will be tested by disagreement. When there’s no commitment, then your friendship will suffer and possibly cease. Passion will be tested by time. Tension always relaxes with time, but if you’re not committed to one another then you’ll look for that passion with someone else instead of creating it anew with your partner. Commitment is the most important part of the recipe because without it there will be no substance.
What’s your level of commitment to your relationship? Are you fully and totally committed to making your partner your highest priority? If you’re waiting to “feel” like it then you may be waiting for a long time. Commitment is a decision. A decision to journey together, tackle anything that comes your way, and grow in life as a team. Are you lacking commitment in your relationship? What are you waiting for? If you’ve got the other two ingredients and you’re missing this one, then you’ll never be satisfied.
Add this ingredient to your relationship if you want more substance.
Your relationship is sure to be remarkable when you use these 3 key ingredients in your recipe for love (and not in a tofu cheesecake kind of way).
Question: What happens when you have more than one of these ingredients than another? Does it make a difference in the relationship? You can leave a comment by clicking here.