How Do Your Characters Love?

From Writers in the Storm:

[The story I’m writing] is about a woman, her children, her faith, her marriage, and a little bit how easy it is for modern women to get lost in the tumult of obligation. It explores how dreams and ambitions can be both independent of a woman’s roles in life, and yet undeniably intertwined with those roles.

There are many kinds of relationships that are tricky ones, but particularly when they are relationships where partners can both love and hate equally, simultaneously, and then defend one another with unwavering conviction.

The complication of relationships, as near as I can tell, comes down to how the characters love and how they feel loved.

As it is now 2020, I’m working on the assumption that most readers have at least heard of The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This 1995 book explored the ways that people demonstrate love and the ways that people feel loved, and I think the ideas presented within are essential for authors writing any kind of love relationship.

Before that, C.S. Lewis wrote The Four Loves, a religious and philosophical exploration of the way people love and why they need to love. (This book is free on Kindle Unlimited.)

. . . .

I’ve got a few forms to consider.

1. The Parent Relationship

I know some people who cannot think of their parents without a feeling of bitterness and betrayal. Others have an unwritten agreement of mutual politeness and still others will keep their parents apprised of the occurrences in their lives on a regular basis.

The question for your character is how does he feel about his parents, and, if applicable, step-parents or guardians? How does he demonstrate those feelings when in proximity of these people? Is it similar to or different from how he expresses their feelings?

This can also be something to consider in the situation that character is the parent, how they feel about their children, how they think their children feel about them.

2. The Sibling Relationship

A great depiction of the sibling relationship can be seen in the way that Jane and Elizabeth Bennet interact with each other in Pride and Prejudice, and the way that Marsha and Jan Brady perceive their relationship in The Brady Bunch. Both of these have times when a sister is frustrated; both have a time when a sister is supportive.

The question for your character is how does she feel about her siblings? If she’s an only child, how does she imagine it might have been to have someone to chat with? When something great happens for a sibling, does your character feel the draw to celebrate or perceive yet another mark on the sibling measuring stick which she will never be able to attain? What kind of an event would launch your siblings from the status of feuding to allied?

Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm