Five experts reveal the secrets to long-term love
[Read: New relationship advice to have a perfect start] This stage usually forces its way into a happy romance after a few months of blissful courting. It's been several years since both of you have been in a relationship with each other. Take it from the pros: This advice will ensure your relationship stays healthy in the long run. One thing that'll give you an advantage in the game of love? . Over the years, it's become increasingly clear to me that my Science explains why they're sidelined after one round—and what to do about. 1, People Give All the Relationship Advice You'll Ever Need advice, I mean , not shit the same bed part — especially after a few cocktails . that guy (or girl) ended up sulking back a few years later feeling like a moron.
- 1,500 People Give All the Relationship Advice You’ll Ever Need
They go through the motions of being together or involved but without bringing the energy, independence, and affection that once colored their relationship. The risk in fusing our identity with another person is that we often lose the respect and attraction we once held for that person. We also stand to lose ourselves in the relationship, rather than maintaining the unique qualities that gave us confidence and drew our partners to us in the first place.
When couples lose these real feelings for each other, rather than challenging destructive patterns in their relating, they tend to either throw away the relationship or sink deeper into fantasy for fear of losing each other or being alone. The good news is these feelings of excitement can be restored.
Fantasy bonds exist on a continuum.
Some couples are deeper into fantasy than others. Most people fluctuate between moments of being truly close and moments of substituting fantasy for real love.
By recognizing the degree to which you engage in a fantasy connection as opposed to a sincere form of relating, you can challenge negative habits and patterns, and experience new and exciting stages of your relationship.
On March 20, I will be hosting a CE Webinar on The Fantasy Bond, which will present a model for an ideal relationship that combines emotional closeness and sexual intimacy, while each partner maintains a differentiated and individuated sense of self. In the meantime, here are a few key ways to identify if you are in a fantasy bond and how you and your partner can go about changing it.
Loss of Physical Attraction — When we form a fantasy of fusion with another person, we tend to eventually lose some of our physical attraction to that person.
Relying on someone to take care of us or looking to them to complete us puts a heavy burden on our relationship. When we view our partners as the independent and attractive individuals they are, we can keep a fresh level of excitement and affection for them.
Rather than driving us apart, this separateness actually allows us to feel our attractions and choose to be together. Think about the state people are in when they first fall in love. They are drawn to each other based on their unique attributes. Their individuality is viewed with interest and respect, qualities we should aim to maintain even decades after being with someone romantically. Letting yourself go physically or mentally — When we reach a level of comfort in a relationship, we may tend to care a little less about how we look and how we take care of ourselves.
We may be more likely to act out without regard or consideration for the ways we not only hurt our partners but ourselves. We may gain weight or engage in unhealthy habits, drinking more or exercising less. They are often ways of protecting ourselves from sustained closeness. They often serve to shatter our self-esteem and push our partners away.
They also tend to have a deadening effect on our relationship, weakening our confidence and vitality. Failing to share activities — Early on in our relationships, we are often our most open, excited to try new things and share new adventures.
As we fall into routine, we often resist novel experiences. We become more cynical, skeptical, and less willing to do things with our partners. Consistently doing things that your partner perceives as loving will also help keep the spark alive. Less personal relating — When you do take the time to relate to your partner, do you still talk about anything meaningful? This is a one-way ticket to a toxic relationship because it makes your love conditional — you will love your partner as long as they help you feel better about yourself.
You will give to them as long as they give to you. You will make them happy as long as they make you happy. That is the truth. But you never want to lose respect for your partner.
Once you lose respect you will never get it back. Talk about everything, even if it hurts. But we noticed that the thing people with marriages going on 20, 30, or even 40 years talked about most was respect. My sense is that these people, through sheer quantity of experience, have learned that communication, no matter how open, transparent and disciplined, will always break down at some point.
Conflicts are ultimately unavoidable, and feelings will always be hurt. You will judge their choices and encroach on their independence. You will feel the need to hide things from one another for fear of criticism.
How To Make A Relationship Work, No Matter What - mindbodygreen
And this is when the cracks in the edifice begin to appear. Of course, this means showing respect, but that is too superficial. You have to feel it deep within you. I deeply and genuinely respect him for his work ethic, his patience, his creativity, his intelligence, and his core values.
From this respect comes everything else — trust, patience, perseverance because sometimes life is really hard and you both just have to persevere.
I want to enable him to have some free time within our insanely busy lives because I respect his choices of how he spends his time and who he spends time with. And, really, what this mutual respect means is that we feel safe sharing our deepest, most intimate selves with each other.
Because without that self-respect, you will not feel worthy of the respect afforded by your partner. You will be unwilling to accept it and you will find ways to undermine it. You will constantly feel the need to compensate and prove yourself worthy of love, which will just backfire. Respect for your partner and respect for yourself are intertwined. Never talk badly to or about her. You chose her — live up to that choice. Common examples given by many readers: NEVER talk shit about your partner or complain about them to your friends.
If you have a problem with your partner, you should be having that conversation with them, not with your friends. Talking bad about them will erode your respect for them and make you feel worse about being with them, not better.
Respect that they have different hobbies, interests and perspectives from you. Respect that they have an equal say in the relationship, that you are a team, and if one person on the team is not happy, then the team is not succeeding.
Have a crush on someone else? Had a weird sexual fantasy that sounds ridiculous? Be open about it. Nothing should be off-limits. Respect goes hand-in-hand with trust. And trust is the lifeblood of any relationship romantic or otherwise. Without trust, there can be no sense of intimacy or comfort. Without trust, your partner will become a liability in your mind, something to be avoided and analyzed, not a protective homebase for your heart and your mind.
Five experts reveal the secrets to long-term love
We have so many friends who are in marriages that are not working well and they tell me all about what is wrong. A large percentage of these emails involve their struggling romantic relationships.
These emails, too, are surprisingly repetitive. A couple years ago, I discovered that I was answering the vast majority of these relationship emails with the exact same response. Then come back and ask again. If something bothers you in the relationship, you must be willing to say it. Saying it builds trust and trust builds intimacy. It may hurt, but you still need to do it. No one else can fix your relationship for you. Nor should anyone else. Just as causing pain to your muscles allows them to grow back stronger, often introducing some pain into your relationship through vulnerability is the only way to make the relationship stronger.
Behind respect, trust was the most commonly mentioned trait for a healthy relationship. But trust goes much deeper than that. If you ended up with cancer tomorrow, would you trust your partner to stick with you and take care of you? Would you trust your partner to care for your child for a week by themselves? Do you trust them to handle your money or make sound decisions under pressure? Do you trust them to not turn on you or blame you when you make mistakes? These are hard things to do. Trust at the beginning of a relationship is easy.
What if she is hiding something herself? The key to fostering and maintaining trust in the relationship is for both partners to be completely transparent and vulnerable: If something is bothering you, say something. This is important not only for addressing issues as they arise, but it proves to your partner that you have nothing to hide.
Those icky, insecure things you hate sharing with people? Share them with your partner. Make promises and then stick to them. You cannot build that track record until you own up to previous mistakes and set about correcting them. This is hard and will likely require confrontation to get to the bottom of. Own up to it. And strive to be better.
Trust is like a china plate. If you drop it and it breaks, you can put it back together with a lot of work and care. If you drop it and break it a second time, it will split into twice as many pieces and it will require far more time and care to put back together again. But drop and break it enough times, and it will shatter into so many pieces that you will never be able to put it back together again, no matter what you do.
Figure out as individuals what makes you happy as an individual, be happy yourself, then you each bring that to the relationship.
You are supposed to keep the relationship happy by consistently sacrificing yourself for your partner and their wants and needs. There is some truth to that. Every relationship requires each person to consciously choose to give something up at times. Just read that again. This is the person you chose. It will only backfire and make you both miserable.
Have the courage to be who you are, and most importantly, let your partner be who they are. Those are the two people who fell in love with each other in the first place. What do I mean? Have your own interests, your own friends, your own support network, and your own hobbies. Overlap where you can, but not being identical should give you something to talk about and expose one another to.
People sung the praises of separate checking accounts, separate credit cards, having different friends and hobbies, taking separate vacations from one another each year this has been a big one in my own relationship.
Some even went so far as to recommend separate bathrooms or even separate bedrooms. Some people are afraid to give their partner freedom and independence. BUT, more importantly, this inability to let our partners be who they are, is a subtle form of disrespect. What does it say for your respect for yourself? Drives me nuts when I see women not let their husbands go out with the guys or are jealous of other women. We have changed faiths, political parties, numerous hair colors and styles, but we love each other and possibly even more.
Our grown kids constantly tell their friends what hopeless romantics we are. And the biggest thing that keeps us strong is not giving a fuck about what anyone else says about our relationship.
I can get on board with that.
Among major life changes people told me their marriages went through and survived: Amazingly, these couples survived because their respect for each other allowed them to adapt and allow each person to continue to flourish and grow. You know who they are today, but you have no idea who this person is going to be in five years, ten years, and so on. You have to be prepared for the unexpected, and truly ask yourself if you admire this person regardless of the superficial or not-so-superficial details, because I promise almost all of them at some point are going to either change or go away.
In fact, at times, it will be downright soul-destroying. Which is why you need to make sure you and your partner know how to fight. Much like the body and muscles, it cannot get stronger without stress and challenge. You have to fight. You have to hash things out. Obstacles make the marriage. What Gottman does is he gets married couples in a room, puts some cameras on them, and then he asks them to have a fight.
He asks them to fight. Successful couples, like unsuccessful couples, he found, fight consistently. And some of them fight furiously. He has been able to narrow down four characteristics of a couple that tend to lead to divorces or breakups. Stonewalling withdrawing from an argument and ignoring your partner.
The reader emails back this up as well. Out of the 1,some-odd emails, almost every single one referenced the importance of dealing with conflicts well. Advice given by readers included: Never insult or name-call your partner. This solves nothing and just makes the fight twice as bad as it was before. Yeah, you forgot to pick up groceries on the way home, but what does him being rude to your mother last Thanksgiving have to do with anything?
If things get too heated, take a breather. Remove yourself from the situation and come back once emotions have cooled off a bit. This is a big one for me personally, sometimes when things get intense with my wife, I get overwhelmed and just leave for a while. I usually walk around the block times and let myself seeth for about 15 minutes.
But all of this takes for granted another important point: Be willing to have the fights. Say the ugly things and get it all out in the open. This was a constant theme from the divorced readers.
There were times when I saw huge red flags. Instead of trying to figure out what in the world was wrong, I just plowed ahead. And instead of saying something, I ignored all of the signals. You can be right and be quiet at the same time. In fact, his findings were completely backwards from what most people actually expect: To me, like everything else, this comes back to the respect thing.
Compromise is bullshit, because it leaves both sides unsatisfied, losing little pieces of themselves in an effort to get along. Conflict becomes much easier to navigate because you see more of the context. A similar concept seems to be true in relationships: But how do you get good at forgiving?
What does that actually mean? Again, some advice from the readers: Some couples went as far as to make this the golden rule in their relationship. And you both agree to leave it there, not bring it up every month for the next three years. When your partner screws up, you separate the intentions from the behavior. Not because they secretly hate you and want to divorce you. They are a good person. If you ever lose your faith in that, then you will begin to erode your faith in yourself.
And finally, pick your battles wisely. You and your partner only have so many fucks to givemake sure you both are saving them for the real things that matter. One piece of advice that comes to mind: Some things matter, worth getting upset about. Like Chinese water torture: Is it worth the cost of arguing? Eventually your kids grow up, your obnoxious brother-in-law will join a monastery and your parents will die. You got it… Mr.