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Love is a Verb

Children walking hand in hand ( Photo by American Photojournalist William Eugene Smith)

Stephen Covey, on of the most interesting and prolific authors of this century wrote the following passage in his book: “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” when he was discussing proactivity (another interesting term that I will explain in a future post). If I may open a small parenthesis, I  would say that this book was translated to 38 languages and has sold over 15 million copies around the globe, not to mention that it was on the New York Times Bestseller list for the past several years. I hope you will like this passage 🙂

Covey wrote:

“At one seminar where I was speaking on the concept of proactivity, a man came up to me and said, “Stephen, I like what you are saying. But every situation is so different. Look at my marriage. I’m really worried. My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me. What can I do?”

“The feeling isn’t there anymore?” I asked.

“That’s right.” he reaffirmed. “And we have three children we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?”

“Love her,” I replied.

“I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”

“Love her.”

“You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”

Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”

But how do you love when you don’t love?”

“My friend, love is a verb. Love — the feeling — is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”

In the great literature of all progressive societies, love is a verb. Reactive people make it a feeling. They’re driven by feelings. Hollywood has generally scripted us to believe that we are not responsible, that we are a product of our feelings. But the Hollywood script does not describe the reality. If our feelings control our actions, it is because we abdicated our responsibility and empowered them to do so.

Proactive people make love a verb, Love is something you do: the sacrifice you make, the giving of self, like a mother bringing a newborn into the world. If you want to study love, study those who sacrifice for others, even for people who offend or do not love in return. If you are a parent, look at the love you have for the children you sacrificed for. Love is a value that is actualized through loving actions. Proactive people subordinate feelings to values. Love, the feeling, can be recaptured.”

Love is a verb. The feeling of love is a fruit of love, the verb. It is by our actions that we love and not by our words.

So Who is Stephen Covey?

Stephen Covey is the loving father of 9 kids and the grandfather of 52 children. He was born and raised in Utah in the United States and wrote a large number of books on self-help, self-management and leadership.

Books by Stephen Covey