What makes a relationship last - part 1
"We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection" ~ Dalai Lama
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all knew the exact ingredients for a lasting relationship?
And not just any lasting relationship – because many unhealthy relationships continue beyond their use by date - but a healthy, meaningful and satisfying partnership?
The good news is that there are particular, specific ingredients that have been proven as necessary for lasting relationships. They sound simple and they are, yet no-one said that love and modern relationships are easy and don't require effort.
This is part one of a four part series on what makes a relationship last. Here's how to get started:
Know one another
It might sound obvious, but how well do you really know your partner? What do you know about the little things in their life? What matters to them? Who are the important people in their life now? What was their history before they knew you? What have been the major events in their life? Who have been the most important people in their world? What are their goals, dreams, worries and stresses? What did they do at work today? What’s their favourite way to spend time? What relaxes and soothes them when they’re distressed? What’s one of their hobbies? What makes them laugh? What’s pleasurable for them?
Asking questions like these, and knowing the answers, is an ongoing process that requires updating regularly. Couples who do this are better able to cope with conflict and stressful events.
The more you know about one another, the stronger your connection.
Give one another space
There’s an old saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder and it’s true.
It’s possible to get too close, to live in one another’s pockets, to make every decision together and do just about everything together, going through the motions of predictable daily routines, day in, day out. Too much of one another, especially within the constraints of everyday life, tends to decrease our desire.
We all need space for ourselves, to be away from our partner, some people more than others.
The beauty of space is that it’s where desire for one another blooms and thrives.
Longing makes us want our partner more. Time apart grows intimacy. But not too much… finding a balance is a dance, and it’s different for every couple.
Be affectionate, adoring and appreciative
The “honeymoon” phase of a relationship has been well documented.
It’s the beginning of a relationship that can be filled with desire, strong sexual attraction, infatuation, and a whole lot of hope for what the relationship will be.
It usually lasts around 18 months to two years, then it becomes clear that romantic attraction will no longer sustain the relationship. The real work of love begins. Love is an action.
Many couples at this stage can start to introduce, and then fall into, patterns of communicating that can bring down their relationship. One in particular is showing contempt towards one another.
To protect their relationship from this, couples in healthy, meaningful and satisfying relationships show affection, adoration and appreciation towards one another, and they do it every day.
A few examples of how to express these qualities:
· “I love you for ____”
· “I’m grateful for the way you ____”
· “Thank you for being so ____”
· “I like the way you _____”
· “I’m proud of how you ____”
· “I appreciate that you are ____”
The more you’re affectionate, adoring and appreciative of your partner, the more respect, love and trust you’ll develop and experience in your relationship.
What can you focus on now to strengthen connection, desire, respect and trust?
Remember, it only takes one partner to become the change they want to experience in their relationship.
I'll be back next week with part two.
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Photo by Kristina Litvjak