The Beatles were on the money with almost all of their songs, but on this one, I'm afraid that they got it wrong. Unfortunately millions of Beatle fans that took their word as the holy truth found themselves deeply disappointed when they found out that love was not, in fact all that they needed. Nor despite the reassurance that "It's eeeeasy" that also didn't prove to be the case. I realize that there may still be many diehard Beatles fans out there that still believe that love is easy and that it's all you need. From my experience, however, neither of those claims is true.
Of course some things and some people are easy to love, like a newborn baby, especially if it's your own, or a cute little puppy, or Mom's delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies, or that beautiful Porsche convertible that just pulled up next to you at the stop light. But to deeply love another adult human being with our whole, being, seeing their every aspect as being divine and perfect, with complete vulnerability, open-heartedness and absolute and mutual adoration... it's a great theory but have you noticed that it's not all that eeeeasy. In fact the way that the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke put it, "For one human being to love another, that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation."
It is easy to feel loving feelings towards someone, particularly when we find them physically attractive, fun to be with, funny, charming, sweet-smelling, and especially, if they laugh at our jokes! But having a strong attraction towards or desire for another person isn't necessarily love. It is easy though to confuse the two. Love asks more of us than to simply feel a strong attraction to another person.
It asks (or demands) that we put our own desires and preferences aside and replace them with a desire to serve the desires of our partner, not always, but probably more often than most of us would want to.
It requires us to be willing to be wrong and to resist the temptation to project blame on our beloved.
It requires us to experience more lessons in humility than most of us want to.
It requires us to restrain ourselves when we feel the impulse to say or do something that would gratify our ego at the expense of our beloved's happiness.
It requires us to constantly seek to discover what I can give to another rather than to live in the question of 'What's in it for me?'
And this is just for starters.
And inherent in the myth that "love is all you need" is the notion that love is enough.
Enough to get you through the hard times that tend to show up for all of us from time to time in our lives.
Enough to avoid conflict.
Enough to overcome all obstacles
Enough to heal all wounds
Enough to prevent future wounding
Enough to keep you healthy
Enough to never be lonely again.
Enough to live happily ever after.
And enough to make you whole when you feel broken.
Not that love won't make the road through life's inevitable difficulties and challenges a lot less painful to navigate through and won't enhance your life with feelings of goodwill, happiness, and well being. It will. It might even enhance your health and extend your longevity. So please go ahead and as another 60s song advised, "Put a little love in your heart". But don't get too attached to the idea that love is all you need, lest you find yourself deeply disappointed when that does not in fact turn out to be the case and you decide that since you love your beloved, but things still aren't going according to the way they "should" between the two of you that he or she must not love you.
Which might lead one to ask, "Well then, what else is it that you need in addition to love? Funny you should ask. Besides love, here are a few other things that will help to get you through the night:
Skill in dealing with the differences that show up in ALL relationships (even those where there is lots of love).
Patience for those not-so-rare occasions when things aren't going exactly the way you had planned.
The ability to really listen and to resist the temptation to interrupt or "correct" your partner when (in your opinion) she doesn't know what she's talking about.
Self-acceptance. Otherwise you'll judge and reject in him whatever you judge and reject in yourself.
Compassion. For your partner and you-know who.
Integrity. Walk your talk
Courage. Contrary to popular opinion, like getting older, love ain't for sissies.
Vision. The ability to see what you can experience when your intentions are aligned with each other.
Trust and trustworthiness.
And last but definitely not least.
A good sense of humor because love is too important to be taken seriously.