Long-term marital bliss doesn’t occur passively. People have to actively look for ways to stay in love. As a Houston relationship therapist, I’ve seen that couples who are willing to put in the effort are most often rewarded by a deeper, long-lasting relationship.
Here are four essential factors that can help keep you in love for the long term.
One of the greatest gifts your partner will ever get from you is your loyalty. Loyalty not only creates but also sustains a strong, unwavering bond of love for and confidence in each other.
Don’t be sucked in by your friends when they start disparaging their partners. Don’t be tempted to criticize your partner just because you think they won’t find out.
Marital issues come and go at lightspeed — you’re constantly experiencing frustrations, then working through those frustrations and getting over them. That’s just how it works. But family and friends are biased, and if you vent to them, they’re far more likely to hang on to those temporary spats much longer than you. That’s not good for anyone.
Instead, become your partner’s advocate – their champion! Limit your sharing to those with the educational background (and the professional ethics) to maintain confidentiality for you and your spouse. Someone like a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist.
Even if your partner isn’t initially interested, make that first step alone. There is loyalty in that, too – loyalty to the relationship. Because one person can often change a relationship by looking inward and learning how to invite their partner to do the same.
When your partner is ready to work on the relationship, consider joining an Imago Couples Workshop. This is another fun and therapeutic way to put in the time without having to fully dive in to couples’ therapy.
Remember, you and your partner are a team. You may disagree on some issues, but always remember that you’re both on the same side. It’s you and your partner against the world.
Acknowledge that the Honeymoon Period Ends
There will come a time when you will feel like you are no longer “in love”. Know that this isn’t an end to your relationship. The love you have for each other simply morphs into a partnership.
Think of it this way: love is like a marathon.
Initially, you jump into it with great energy and joy (the honeymoon period). Later, things might begin to go less smoothly than you anticipated. Every loving and committed relationship eventually transitions away from that initial stage of romantic love to one where conflict and frustration abound.
In this “power struggle” stage, many couples begin to feel stagnant. But the strong feelings and reasons that made you start the race in the first place are still there. You just have to work harder to maintain them now that the physical and chemical “boosts” you got at the beginning are gone.
A bit of insight and education can help you transform this inevitable phase into real love. The Imago Couples Relationship workshop is one of the most popular – and effective – programs in relationship education for easing couples through that process.
Is that really necessary? Maybe, maybe not. But remember, this is the main period of your togetherness. It’s not just going to be “fixed” and go away. Acknowledging the tough times is a good start, but learning how to navigate them will make the journey together far more enjoyable, making it easier to forge on and carry your love for each other through good times and bad.
Your love for each other should be focused. But that can be difficult to maintain over time. Because life is full of distractions.
Work. Kids. Friends. Family. Hobbies.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have those things – you absolutely should! But you also need to create genuine, focused time for your partner at least once every day. During this time, communicate with each other and make it a priority to listen to your loved one.
One-on-one attention like this is what keeps people connected. Do not ignore it.
Attention and focus is great, but it’s just one part. You also need to show affection regularly.
How? That’s between the two of you!
There are as many ways of showing affection as there are stars in the heavens. So, think of how you can show that you feel affection for your partner.
Doing this will keep your love rich and vibrant. It’ll also remind you how much you love your partner and make you fonder of each other.
As you take these four tips to heart and practice them routinely, you will nourish and sustain a healthy relationship that’s filled with love for the long-haul.