From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

Keeping the Passion of Love Alive

Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep burning, unquenchable.

Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman

Imagine that you’ve decided to build a fire, perhaps while you’re camping, or at home in your fireplace. You carefully choose the logs, the kindling, and after lighting a match to start the fire, you watch over it until you’re sure the fire is burning strongly and steadily. Then you sit back and enjoy the comforting warmth, the delightful play of the flames, the magical light. You don’t need to be as vigilant about keeping the fire blazing, since it has enough fuel for now. But at some point, when you notice it’s getting a little colder, or the light is growing dim, you realize that the fire needs your attention again. And so you rouse yourself from whatever you’ve been doing and add more wood, or adjust the position of the logs so that, once more, the flames can rise high.

Even if you’ve neglected the fire for a while, even if it appears to have died out, you see that the embers still radiate a deep, orange glow that can only be created by hours of extreme heat. The embers are deceptive, and they contain great power within their quiet light. Although by themselves they produce no flames, they can ignite a newly added piece of wood in seconds, suddenly rekindling the full force of the fire, transforming the dormant coals into a roaring blaze.

We can learn a lot about the passion between two lovers by thinking about what we intuitively know about building and maintaining a fire. When you first meet someone and fall in love, you carefully court and seduce him or her, adding the right amount of intimacy, the perfect amount of commitment until the fire of passion flares up between your hearts and your bodies. For awhile, this blaze burns brightly on its own and you grow accustomed to the joy it brings into your life. How lucky we are, you tell yourself, to have such a passionate relationship!

But one day, you realize there is less light, less heat between you and your mate, and that, in fact, it’s been that way for some time. You don’t feel the same intense degree of physical attraction, the same desire to unite, the same stimulation you once felt with each other. The passion is gone, you may conclude. I guess I’ve fallen out of love. This relationship is over.

How many people ask themselves, at this critical point in a love affair, if the fire of passion has died down simply because no one has been tending it, because no one has added the fuel necessary to keep it burning? How many people walk away from the smoking embers of their marriage, certain that the fire has died out, without noticing that the coals of love still contain enough heat to reignite into flames, if only they are given a chance?

Respect the fire of passion, the fire of love. Understand that to stay alive, it needs to be honored, to be cared for, to be tended as diligently as you would tend a fire you had built in the wilderness to help keep you warm and safe from harm. Feed the fire of your love with kindness, communication, appreciation and gratitude, and it will always blaze strong and brightly for you.

Barbara De Angelis, Ph.D.

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