Love is a powerful concept, emotion, and energy. Apparently it makes the world go round. I can believe that. It describes a possible connection with others at the deepest level. And we know that there is a large range of what type of love you can feel. But above all, love is a choice. It’s a decision. We choose to love someone despite their flaws, hurts and pain. And how much love we end up giving in our marriage is the result of how much love we have to give. But that requires our “love tank” to be full as well as filling our partner’s. Because no marriage can run on empty love tanks.
Imagine for a moment driving around in your car every day with the fuel gauge light constantly on.
I know that when that happens to me, I become far more nervous and focused on just how far I can still go before ending up on the side of the road.
Driving around also becomes way more stressful because instead of just getting from point A to point B, your whole attention shifts to whether you still have enough in the tank to make it.
Well, the same principle applies to marriage.
We each have a “tank” of emotions that must be filled to be able to use it.
Emotions are the fuel for our actions.
Have you ever heard the expression about being empty or ‘wiped out?’
Well, that’s what happens when you try to run on “empty” for too long.
People eventually get ‘burned out’ when they neglect to fill their tank up.
And the same is true for your “love tank.”
Our love tank needs to be full most of the time if we want to 1) go the distance and 2) do so having peace of mind.
That essentially means the need to feel loved by your spouse (and family) is a primal need that fills you and gives you meaning in your life.
When that need is met, you’ll feel more fulfilled and consequently be more inclined to do what needs to be done to help your marriage become and stay healthy, happy and intimate.
It’s when our “love tank” runs on empty for too long that our “performance” also starts suffering.
It’s like when you notice your car’s fuel light going on and you instantly driving more cautiously and nervously.
It doesn’t make for an enjoyable journey.
Now, what you need to understand at this point is that because we don’t always get our needs met in a way that fills us up, we might be tempted to start looking for other sources of “fuel.”
Like material things.
Or a business or a job.
Or other people, like our kids, friends, and sometimes even someone else.
But you need to understand that these things will never fill up your love tank in a way that is necessary for your marriage to thrive.
It might be a temporary relief or “fix,” but it’s not a long-term or even healthy solution.
Because at the heart of all marital relationships is the desire to be loved by your spouse.
And when each of us feels loved in a way that fills our love tank, our ability to compromise, communicate well, interact healthily, and engage in positive behaviour strengthens our relationship, increase accordingly and significantly.
Let me repeat that …
when each of us feels loved in a way that fills our love tank, our ability to compromise, communicate well, interact healthily, and engage in positive behaviour that strengthens our relationship, increase accordingly and significantly.
The inconvenient truth, unfortunately, is that without feeling loved and cared for by your partner, the relationship is often doomed to fail given enough time.
Because being loved and having a connection with others are one of our primary human needs.
So filling the love tank of your spouse should be your primary goal in your marriage.
Like some other relationship experts, I’m also a huge proponent of the idea that marriage is a place where we come to give rather than get.
When we make that mindset shift and reflect it in our daily behaviours, our relationship almost instantly benefits from it.
But I can understand why so many couples focus on “getting” rather than “giving.”
When our needs aren’t being met and our love tank is empty, we start operating from a place of desperation and neediness.
And when that happens our attention shifts from filling our partner’s love tank to getting our own filled up, even at the expense of the overall quality and experience of the relationship.
But when your tank is full, and their tank is full, everything else becomes so much easier.
Communicating becomes easier, doing things for them becomes a pleasure, and having things done for you becomes a bonus that you truly appreciate rather than expect.
Underlying many couples’ marriage problems are empty or even less than empty love tanks.
And it’s hurting them and their families.
The point here is that we were made with the capacity to give and receive love.
But when that’s lacking, we feel the consequences of it.
So, the question we need to be asking ourselves at this point is,
How am I filling my partner’s love tank, daily?
Moreover, we also need to ask ourselves other important questions like,
- How am I failing to fill my partner’s love tank?
- How am I perhaps even poking holes in it?
- Why do I struggle to fill my partner’s love tank?
- Why do I perhaps feel empty all the time? Even when I know they’re doing what they can to fill me up.
- Is something else going on?
- Do I perhaps lack love for myself which causes me to always be on empty?
- And if so, where does that come from?
These are all important questions to consider because irrespective to how we got to where we are, having empty love tanks will hurt us the same all the same.
Final thoughts …
Let me just say finally that we are each unique in our needs and our abilities.
What I mean is that what makes you feel loved (fill your love tank) may not necessarily fill your spouse’s love tank.
For example, you might enjoy and cherish words that boost you and compliment you.
That’s what you want.
But your spouse may feel loved when you spend time with them.
Or when you hug them.
There are at least five different languages of love as detailed by Gary Chapman in his book, “The Five Love Languages” which I wrote about yesterday.
You can read it here.
At the end of the day, learning those languages and using them to show love and fill your spouse’s love tank up, and enjoying the response, is what makes life worthwhile.
It’s about giving and receiving love from people we love and care about.
It’s about filling our love tanks up through our own and the actions of our loved ones.
It’s about happiness.