Sometimes we love because of the joy and satisfaction others bring to us. But loving what others do for us is not the same as loving them for their own sake. And a mature love loves also for the good of the other.
Enjoying the many benefits of relationships is expected. Others make us feel good, bring out the best in us, and help us to accomplish many things we could not on our own.
And naturally we love others, with a strong and sincere love, for these very reasons.
However, sometimes what we miss is that we love mostly for our own benefit rather than for the other. We love what others do for us more than we actually love them.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying what others bring to us. In fact, this often provides the needed chemistry and a solid foundation for the relationship.
At the same time, mature love does not stop here.
Mature love seeks to bring good to the other for their own sake.
For example, in marriage we might love the affirmation and support we receive from our wife. But our love should not be limited to these benefits. Mature love values her in her own right. How might we bring joy and life to her for her own good?
Likewise, we might love the fun, adventure, and insights a friend brings into our life. But even here, mature love calls us to love the friend for his own sake and not merely for the enjoyment we receive from him.
Love is still immature when the focus is primarily on our own gratification and what the other does for us.
A higher and more mature degree of love is reached when we are also concerned about bringing good to the other for their own sake.
By all means, fully receive and enjoy the many benefits of your relationships. And learn to love not for these benefits alone, but also for the sake of the other.
This is mature love.