If you want to find the test for true love, you must see whether it elevates or not, whether it uplifts.
Has it expanded your thinking? Has it helped to expand the scope, the field that your love covers? If a wife says to her husband, "Now that we are married, you must spend all your time with me," then that love is not an expansive love. If the husband and the wife say, "Let us together spend our time helping others, and in this togetherness we may enjoy each other's presence and derive inspiration from it," then it is love. Love that binds is not love. Love that frees is love.
In a large number of cases the love relationship fails because it binds, it delimits your scope. Only when the two together increase each other's capacity for love is it love. And if they set such conditions that the capacity of either is decreased, then it is not love; it is something else. So let it be very clear in the minds of those who claim to be entering a love relationship of any kind - be it marital or simply friendship, the love between parent and child or between child and parent - let this criterion be followed: Together what shall we create for the world, for others, for the souls that come our way? In what way shall I help you to increase your capacity for increasing the field of your love? In what way will you help me to increase my capacity for increasing the field of my love?
So that love then becomes a worship of God. Then love between the two of you becomes a service to the rest of humanity. Otherwise, it is an attitude of selfishness. And selfishness has a way of destroying those who maintain such an attitude. Love that says, "You should be bound to me, and I should be bound to you, and we should exclude the rest of the world now and its needs," that kind of love also will eventually destroy the lovers. Such a marriage or friendship will not last.
Many people try to experience all the fruits of love immediately, impatiently, right now - "I want it, all of it, this minute; give it all to me today." Such a love has no patience. It does not grow. It is said that the love of the mean, the lower kind of love, is like morning shadows that start out very large and then diminish with time. And the love of the more elevated kind of people is like afternoon shadows, that start very small and grow as the evening approaches.
Love is compared to the mixing of milk and water. Milk takes all of its qualities and imparts them to the water so that the two cannot be seen as being separate anymore. An ancient poet says, "The water was so grateful for this act of giving on the part of the milk - as a result of this total absorption of the two, even though milk is far superior to water - that without questioning, without measuring, it imparted its great qualities to the milk, so that when the two were combined, one would mistake the two taken together to be milk itself. And the water was so grateful for this kind and generous gift that when the two together were put over a fire, before the milk would burn, the water would allow itself to evaporate. "Before anything happens to the milk, let me be evaporated." The poet stretches his imagination still further and says that the milk was so angry about the fire causing the evaporation of his friend, the water, that he boiled over and quenched the fire.
But I like the first part of the milk and water metaphor: That all the good qualities of the milk became manifest as though they were qualities of water. The qualities of two people in love should become such that you no longer claim these to be just entirely your good qualities, but that they are shared in common. Whatever good comes out of either one of you, you attribute it to the other. Whatever comes out of the joint effort of either of you - or the separate effort of either of you - you attribute it to the other: "Not me; you did that." "Not me; she did that." And whatever good comes out in either of you, also attribute it to the other. "You caused it for me to develop thus. You helped to elevate me in this manner. You gave me motivation." This union of milk and water is the best metaphor for any friendship, any union, any love.
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Many people come to me who are unhappy in their relationships: "Oh Swamiji, I'm not getting along well with my husband. Should I continue the relationship or break away?" I don't want to be the person to say, "Break away," and I also don't want to be the person to say, "Continue your misery." When people come to me in this way, I give them a list of four questions to ask. First I say, "Okay, does this person have any good qualities?" "Oh yes, he's very nice at times. But he has all these faults - this fault and that fault and this fault." Well, fine, but now you decide. The first question I say to ask is - you would like to change something in him - have you, without any negative emotion, without pointing an accusing finger, in a calm voice, in a good frame of mind, told him, "Dear, have I told you that I am uncomfortable with this and this and this?" Not in a moment of combat or to score points, but in a factual way have you made it known?"
Secondly, do you think that the person loves you enough to want to change for your sake?
Then thirdly, if the person does want to change for your sake, is it within his/her capacity to change at this time? These are my three standard questions.
And then there is a fourth question: If you have made this person aware of your difficulty but s/he does not want to change or does not have the capacity to change, then do you still feel attracted enough to this person's other good qualities so that you want to stay in the relationship - so that if you broke off the relationship you would miss him/her?
Some men go to work, and at work from morning until evening they are cursing their wives. And I tell the wives, "They are so dependent on you that they cannot go through a day without thinking about you all the time. They are not neutral; they are dependent."
So now, in this situation you have made your difficulty known. The person either does not want to change, or the person does not have the capacity to change. Now, if there are some of those good qualities to which you were originally attracted which are still there so you say, "Otherwise s/he is a nice person," are they sufficient to make you want to continue the relationship in spite of the bad qualities? Do you still want to remain in the relationship?
If you don't want to remain in the relationship, then the principle is that you break the relationship without leaving much pain behind? Whenever you have to break a relationship, try not to leave pain behind, either in his mind or her mind. Do it in such a gentle way that you do not leave pain behind - at least from your end. The pain that you leave behind also follows you in your mind.
And if you don't want to break the relationship, in spite of the person's faults, then enjoy what is there to enjoy. Don't suffer what there is to suffer; enjoy what there is to enjoy. If you have to remain in a relationship or in a situation, then don't suffer what there is to suffer; enjoy what there is to enjoy. Put your mind on that. Concentrate on that. Put your mind to that. Cultivate that. Enhance that. Encourage that. Remind the person of that. Remind yourself of that - those moments, those pleasures, those good things. Over a period of time, with some patience, these good parts you are encouraging will overcome the bad parts, and you will be the richer for it. But, you see, not to create pain for yourself or others is a very gentle, internal art.