I was saddened to hear the news that Jovan Belcher, the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, who was a former high school football star from West Babylon, shot his girlfriend to death in their home, before killing himself in front of three team officials at Arrowhead Stadium.
This well-liked, young couple appeared to have it all. Money, success, good looks, and a beautiful, 3-month-old, baby girl. This leaves us all wondering, what went wrong?
The Ladder of Love is a classification system for relationships that I explain in great deal in my spiritual, self-help, book entitled Grant Me a Higher Love. Try visualizing that love is like a ladder. The top rung of this ladder would be Soul Mate love, which brings out the best in us. Many people are offered this kind of love, but few couples actually maintain it. Soul Mates love each other with their entire heart, soul, mind, and body. Soul Mate love further asks that we commit to that love and commit to healing. These couples are expected to treat each other as equals. No one is the master. No one is the slave, and certainly, no one is mommy or daddy to someone who won't grow up. It is the commitment to healing that seems to give people the most trouble. In order to maintain this high level of love, couples have to give up their addictions, learn to say what they mean, mean what they say without being mean about it, and stop re-living any of the dysfunctional patterns of behavior that they may have witnessed growing up in their own parents' homes.
In the middle rungs, on the Ladder of Love, we have the "old ball and chain thing," where we take each other for granted, and it pretty much looks like a sit-com marriage. Think: Marie and Frank Barone, the fictionalized couple supposedly from Lynbrook, Long Island, on Everybody Loves Raymond.
At the bottom of the Ladder of Love is toxic love or what I call Cellmates, who bring out the worst in each other.
Relationships tend to go up and down this ladder on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis. The trick is to have a toxic moment, but not a toxic month.
True Cellmates find themselves in a tragically destructive relationship, which ends in a courtroom, a jail, an emergency room, or a morgue. It becomes brutal love, order of protection love, and, sadly, headline making love.
What fuels toxic love? Unhealed childhood issues stemming from dysfunctional families, which may have been overridden with violence and/or sexual abuse. Pathological jealousy issues, drugs, alcohol, and/or mental illness also play a big role in these over-the-top, drama-driven relationships.
Toxic love serves a purpose in this world. When people have rage, which stem from unresolved issues, what are they going to do with all that anger? Give thanks that most people won't go out and gun down innocent people in a movie theatre, or act out in the form of road rage, but rather, they pick someone they love, who they can rage with behind closed doors, and then look normal in the outside world.
Even nice people can find themselves embroiled in a toxic love affair. They had no idea who or what they were signing on for. I call this falling for the princess or prince who becomes the beast. When the unhealed issues start surfacing and a nice person finds that they have fallen in love with a drug addict, sex addict, alcoholic, rageaholic, pathological liar, or gambler, to name but a few of the toxic scenarios, after a while the frustration level, hurt, and anger can build to explosive levels. Even nice people begin losing it.
Today is a good day to think about where your relationship is on the Ladder of Love. Are you taking your mate for granted? Are you not healing your issues? Are you having way too many toxic moments? Take some time to think about what your relationship is telling your children about love. Do you want them to grow up thinking that love starts out good and then it stinks?
Soul Mate love teaches our children peace, love, and joy. Mediocre love, where we take each other for granted and stop communicating, teaches our children cold war. Toxic love teaches outright war.
My prayers are with the friends and family of this young couple, and for their young daughter, who was left orphaned by this tragedy.
If you want world peace, then make peace within your heart, in your own home, and within all your relationships.