We know there are times when we need to move on from loving feelings, where the other is always seen in their best light, to a real love, which takes account of our imperfections. We need to move also from disillusionment to the decision to love, to live our deep-seated values with a determination to decide for all time, because there is no room for superficial love. The willingness to love is necessary and one way to show this willingness to love is through tenderness.
Tenderness is affection, such as a hug, a cuddle, a caress. It makes it possible to express our vulnerability, our fragility, and to find a response to physical, psychological, and spiritual acceptance. Tenderness leads us to the essence of the other. It makes us aware of our partner’s existence, an understanding of them in all their aspects, both strengths and weaknesses. In this way, the heart of stone can be transformed into a heart of flesh. In other words, the underlying rigidity is transformed into our essential humanity.
Tenderness is a sweet internal strength, a sign of emotional maturity, a light. It only blossoms in hearts that are free, which are capable of giving and receiving love. It touches both men and women: our profound humanity and our call to love, to intimacy and communion. Tenderness, in its most profound nature, brings together two fundamental, permanent feelings written on our human hearts: the knowledge that we are loved and the desire to love. Desire and tenderness are born from the senses and become words and values: it is with words that we as lovers are recognised in our bodies, our feelings, and our values. And it is by the circulation of words that we will all nourish our relationships and bring them alive.
This is written by Paul and Bianca Smith of Marriage Encounter