7 Tips Beauty & the Beast Taught me about Love
Beauty and the Beast was always my favorite Disney movie growing up as a little girl. I loved the strength, kindness and brave heart of Belle and this story assures the power of true, good, and beautiful love. Here are some tips from the movie that we can adapt to our own relationships:
1. Friendship paves the road to authentic intimacy
Friendship is the most beautiful stage to really meet someone and know who they really are – not the masks but who they are. There is no need to impress, and no need to fake it. There is a freedom that comes with friendship to be who you are. Belle and the Beast start as acquaintances, and then friends. Unlike most Disney movies, it isn’t instant butterflies, roses and sunsets for the two of them. Their friendship is hard. It can be uncomfortable, it takes work and they compromise for love of each other. To preserve the friendship, they make sacrifices and learn to support each other.
2. Bring out the best in each other
True relationships inspire holiness and brings out the best in the other. Virtuous relationships invite us to step outside of ourselves and not settle for mediocrity but strive for greatness. The beast is inspired by Belle to be more heroic and sacrifice his well-being for love of Belle. He wants to be a better person because she inspires him to be a greater man. Belle is also inspired by the Beast’s love for her and goes out of her way to ensure his safety and warn him that his life is in danger. As women we have great power to draw strength and virtue from men. Archbishop Fulton Sheen says: “To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, and goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women."
3. Don’t be discouraged if love is messy and takes time
Love isn’t an instant spark or an immediate infatuation. Love must be more than feelings – it must be a choice to will the good of the other. In the beginning, Belle despised the Beast and thought he was a heartless monster but slowly her heart softens and grows to care for the Beast and his quirks. Love takes effort, hard work and practice. In the meantime, she stays put, she doesn’t back down from her convictions and tries to work through their seemingly opposite temperaments. You can find out your temperament through this quick test: http://personality-testing.info/tests/O4TS/
4. Appearances aren’t everything
Sometimes we can be motivated to desire someone who is the most attractive, the sportiest, the most accomplished, the smartest and the list goes on. It is good to keep our standards high but wanting only superficial goods can only take you so far. The beast is scary looking and Gaston is objectively handsome but who is the true beast? Interior beauty and purity of heart trumps external beauty because that is what lasts when the wrinkles appear and the grey hair sets in.
5. Love must be a free choice
Love cannot be coerced or forced. It must be freely given and received. Only when love is free, can true intimacy grow. A free choice involves sacrifice and heroism. Belle is rescued by the Beast and she could have left him to die but she decided to bring him back to the castle. As Belle and the Beast grow in friendship, Belle reminds us that there cannot be love without freedom. The Beast proves he really loves Belle when he gives her the chance to leave or stay. The Beast lets her go to respect her freedom and encouraged her to choose the greater good for sake of her.
6. Take time to learn each other’s love languages and hobbies
What do you love? Can you share your passions with another? Can you use your gifts and shared interests to foster intimacy? The Beast knew Belle liked books and dedicated his huge library to her just to make her happy. Sharing in another’s interests is key to growing in love and relationship. Belle knew the Beast didn’t adhere to table etiquette so she got on his level and drank soup from the bowl like he did. You can find out your love language here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/
7. Don’t be afraid to say sorry and initiate reconciliation
Saying sorry and having that tough conversation can be the most difficult thing. But it takes so much bravery and courage. The Beast apologizes to his servants for their cursed predicament and initiates a relationship. It was beautiful to witness the Beast feel Belle’s love as they reconcile at the end and she declares her love for him. She doesn’t want to leave him ever again and that communication and demonstration of love heals him.