Tag Archives: love

Love Thy Neighbor

by Kassandra Lamb

easter eggs in basket

photo by Toelstede – Wikipedia-Name Nyks CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

Sunday was Easter. On a secular level, many of us are celebrating spring and rebirth on this day, with symbols like eggs and bunnies and chicks.

But Easter is one of the two most joyous holidays in the Christian calendar. It commemorates the Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after being crucified, after allowing himself to be tortured and killed for the sake of others.

Although the religious components of this holiday are matters of belief, most historians agree that a man named Jesus did live in ancient Israel, around the time of the Roman occupation, and he was crucified.

He could have saved himself. All he would’ve had to do was disavow everything he stood for. He could have lied to Pontius Pilate, told the man what he wanted to hear, and he would have skated.

But then we would have no conscious memory of his teachings, two thousand and seventeen years later. Martyrdom is often required in order to make a lasting impression.

Technically, I’m a Christian. I was baptized in the Methodist Church and I’m a confirmed Episcopalian. I say technically because lately I haven’t felt all that willing to publicly admit that I’m a Christian. Some folks have been giving Christianity a bad name.

One of the most important teachings of Christ is:

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Well, I don’t know about the “as myself” part. I’m pretty darn fond of myself. But I try to remain benevolent toward those around me. And I know Jesus meant everyone when he said neighbor. But we might as well start close to home.

I live in a college town, so those who are literally my neighbors are a fairly diverse lot.

Benevolence is easy with our neighbor to the left. She’s a white, middle-class, elderly widow who’s lived here longer than we have and loves to garden. Her yard is always neat.

IMG_0422 cropped

Directly across from us is a middle-class white man and his twenty-years-younger wife. They were also here before us and we always wave and smile when we see them. He has grown children close to his wife’s age. We don’t know the story behind that, but it isn’t our place to judge.

The family that has been the most friendly lives next door to him. They are a Lesbian couple with one child, a son. They were the first to greet us as new neighbors when we moved here, with a basket of cheese and wine and a lovely card.

Their son, who was 6 when we moved here, is now 20. He has a steady girlfriend now. I get a little teary-eyed when I see him cruising down the street in the pick-up truck that used to be one of his moms’ main means of transportation.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never officially introduced myself to the slightly swarthy-skinned woman and her daughter, who moved into the house on our right about a year ago. I haven’t even had many opportunities to give a friendly wave. They pretty much keep to themselves. Are they illegals? Or just shy?

None of my business, but I stand ready to wave and smile if I do spot them outside.

The single white guy next to the Lesbian couple doesn’t mow his lawn all that regularly. I find that annoying but try not to hold it against him.

The house on the corner is occupied by three (or more; it’s hard to keep track) students. Two of them drive motorcycles, but other than that they’re fairly quiet. So live and let live.

A middle-aged African-American couple moved in down the street a few months ago. They put on a new metal roof, added a freestanding garage, and repaved their driveway. The place looks really nice and I told them so, when they were climbing into their car one day as I walked past with my dog.

(I should point out here, lest I come across as holier than thou, that I am naturally a very outgoing person.)

photo by Alexscuccato CC-BY-SA-4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons

photo by Alexscuccato CC-BY-SA-4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons

I always feel better when I come home from my walks, and not just because of the satisfaction of good exercise.

All that waving and smiling brightens my own mood.

I wonder what would happen if everyone smiled and waved at everyone they cross paths with every day (yes, even in big cities up north). What kind of ripple effect would that have, internally and externally?

I know it’s been said before, but why can’t we all get along? And why can’t we start today by loving every “neighbor” we encounter?

Happy belated Easter, everyone!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological suspense series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Love Mellowed

by Kassandra Lamb

Love, like cheese and wine, tends to get better with age, in a mellow kind of way. Oh yes, it can go in the direction of moldy or potentially turn into vinegar, but more often than not, it mellows into a very deep friendship.

My favorite model for understanding love (if one can ever understand love) comes from a psychologist named Robert Sternberg. He put a whole new twist on the concept of a love triangle.

Sternberg's Love Triangle

First he distilled love down into three components: passion, intimacy and commitment. You might assume that these terms are self-explanatory, but when I was teaching psychology I was amazed at how many college students had never really thought about their definitions.

  • Passion: physical attraction (this one is obvious)
  • Intimacy: closeness through self-disclosure (sharing who you are, your feelings, your past, etc.)
  • Commitment: making the effort to maintain the relationship

The ideal love, that’s strong enough to base a marriage on, is consummate love, according to Sternberg—a fairly equal balance between these three components. A triangle with equal sides.

So what happens when the relationship “ages?”

old couple

(public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

Often the passion slows down. (Why do you think we have all those ED medications out there?)

Even if there are no physical problems, our energy levels go down with age. The number of nights when one or both partners are too tired to even think about sex increases.

The passion rarely goes away completely, although it can, especially if there is some medical reason why the couple can’t have sex.

But even then, a relationship that had a strong base to begin with will usually still be deemed a happy one by the partners. Why?

(photo by Mike DelGaudio-Flickr, CC-BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

(photo by Mike DelGaudio-Flickr, CC-BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Because the commitment and the intimacy have grown over the years. The couple knows each other, and trusts each other, like no one else does. And they have many years of shared experiences.

So the triangle has become skewed, with two long sides and one short one, but it’s still strong. Sometimes stronger than ever.

Aging and love mellowing are subplot themes in my new release, Book #9 in the Kate Huntington mysteries. The main character, who was in her 30’s when the series began, is now dealing with menopause and an angst-ridden pre-teen daughter.

But that doesn’t stop her from chasing down leads to unravel the latest mystery!

Official release day is this Saturday, 2/18, but it’s now available for preorder.

Just $1.99 during preorder and for 5 days after the release! (Goes up to $3.99 on 2/22)


ANXIETY ATTACK, A Kate Huntington Mystery, #9

When an operative working undercover for Kate Huntington’s husband is shot, the alleged shooter turns out to be one of Kate’s psychotherapy clients, a man suffering from severe social anxiety. P.I. Skip Canfield had doubts from the beginning about this case, a complicated one of top secret projects and industrial espionage. Now one of his best operatives, and a friend, is in the hospital fighting for his life.

Tensions build when Skip learns that Kate—who’s convinced her client is innocent and too emotionally fragile to survive in prison—has been checking out leads on her own. Then a suspicious suicide brings the case to a head. Is the shooter tying up loose ends? Almost too late, Skip realizes he may be one of those loose ends, and someone seems to have no qualms about destroying his agency or getting to him through his family.


Your thoughts on the mellowing of love with age?


Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological suspense series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

What Love Language Do You Speak?

I had planned to start a new Just For Fun series today on how emotions are expressed in different languages. But as I started to research the word ‘love’ (in honor of Valentine’s Day), I stumbled on a very interesting book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, by Gary D. Chapman. (I know, I know, it’s #2 on the Amazon Bestseller List; but I almost never read non-fiction now that I’m retired, so I hadn’t really looked at it before.)

Dr. Chapman’s five languages of love are:

Words of Affirmation
Quality Time
Receiving Gifts
Acts of Service
Physical Touch

house wrapped up as a giftNow that’s a gift! (photo credit: Howard Dickins, Cardiff, Wikimedia Commons)

Chapman contends that our romantic relationships start to erode, especially after marriage, not because we love each other less, but because we’re not always speaking the same language of love. Now this is not a male-female ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’ thing, although it often gets misinterpreted as such.

Men say, “Why are women so demanding? My wife (or girlfriend) is always complaining.”

Women say, “Why can’t men get it. All I want is ____________ (fill in the blank with one of the above languages).”

And both genders think it’s because the other gender is clueless and/or incomprehensible.

But all too often, according to Dr. Chapman, what is really going on is that the couple speaks different love languages. He’s buying her gifts while she’s craving quality time. She’s giving him affection when he wants words of affirmation.

And the great thing about this book (books actually, he has a Men’s Edition as well) is that it asks specific questions to help you figure out (a) your preferred love language, (b) your partner’s preferred language, and most important of all, (c) how to change your way of communicating your love so that your partner really ‘hears’ you

Now here’s my take on this. Languages 1, 2 and 5 are not just ways to convey love. They are also about the emotional needs we all are seeking to fulfill in relationships.

One of the things we all need from our friends and lovers is unconditional acceptance. This is what’s conveyed via Words of Affirmation: I love you just the way you are. I think you’re great! I believe in you.

Another critical component of a healthy relationship is emotional intimacy, defined as emotional closeness based on self-disclosure. If we don’t spend Quality Time together, the emotional intimacy will erode.

And we all need Physical Touch. This has been proven by research. Babies and young children can fail to grow physically, and sometimes even die, if they receive no physical affection.

elephants being affectionate

Even elephants are affectionate! (photo credit: Ronald Saunders, Wikimedia Commons)

Perhaps Physical Touch is where there is somewhat of a gender divide. Men, especially in their randier younger years, are more likely to associate affection with sex. She gives him a hug in the kitchen. He tries to steer her toward the bedroom, then wonders what happened when she gets mad.

Folks, there is a difference between affection and sexual touch! And everybody needs some of both.

First Lady Nancy Reagan sitting on Mr. T's lap and kissing him on the forehead.

First Lady Nancy Reagan on Mr. T’s lap, kissing him on the forehead, 1983. (public domain)



We need some of this:









couple kissing

(photo credit: GFDL, Wikimedia Commons)



As well as some of this!


Is it hot in here? *fans self*




But back to Dr. Chapman’s books. One of the things I like best about his message is that he doesn’t buy the “well, that’s just not me” excuse. He points out that if you want your mate to feel loved, it is not enough to convey that love in your own way, i.e., language. You HAVE to convey it in the language that is most meaningful to your partner. Or they will not get the message!

This makes all kinds of sense because we can change our behaviors a lot easier than we can change our internalized emotional filters. For example, my husband is great at picking out just the right card, with heartfelt sweet messages inside, and he never forgets a special occasion. (I on the other hand, have been known to produce a last-minute, rather cheesy-looking birthday or Valentine’s card on my computer; need to work on that.)

*leaves computer to add Valentine’s card to grocery list*

Okay, I’m back. I very much appreciate his cards (receiving gifts–his language) and intellectually acknowledge that they are sincere expressions of his love, but I don’t feel as loved by them as I do by his undivided attention over a nice dinner (quality time–my language), or by a nice back rub (physical touch–you already figured that out, I’ll bet 🙂 )

What about you? What is your preferred language of love?

(1) Dr. Chapman also has books about the “languages” children and teens use to communicate. Check them out on Amazon.

(2) Some of the info in this post was obtained from Rubin, G. (2011). Which Love Language Suits You and Your Partner? Retrieved on February 12, 2013, from Psych Central.

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

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