Most of us love to love and want our love to last. Yet so many relationships deteriorate over time. For those of you who have finally found your beloved, what you share is far too precious to lose sight of or take for granted.
Relationship researcher John Gottman found that happy couples create a 5:1 ratio of positive and negative interactions. Here are some tips toward securing these "reservoirs of positive feelings" that will make you want more and get you through the growth edges when they arise. This is the stuff that takes us the distance:
For your relationship to be and remain juicy and wonderful, like every living thing, it must be fed and fueled. After you take care of yourself, your relationship deserves to be your next priority, since it is the very relational foundation on which all that all else lies. It needs to be tended to, nurtured and revitalized to keep romance alive and evolving.
Healthy integration of the "I" and the "we" in your relationship requires transitioning a self-focused stance into making room for partnership. That requires loving consideration on a daily basis. It's about creating a win/win formula to living your best life together. Schedules can get busy and stressful to manage at times, and we can certainly fall into the habit of neglecting our partner. But you are always just one sentence or gesture away from nourishing your relationship and finding your way back to one another. Without question or excuse, make time for "date night," quality time that is just for the two of you. That's how you began, and that is why you are together, so live it and enjoy!
Energy flows where attention goes. Remember why you fell in love, why you chose your beloved. Focus on what you have, and it will expand. What you appreciate appreciates in value.
After the infatuation wears off and years go by, many of us know what it can feel like to start focusing on the disappointments and "sweating the small stuff." Next time you feel yourself going there, try to pause and affirm to one another: "I choose us." See how quickly it can transform where you put your attention and priority. Experience how much more intimacy and joy springs forth.
An effective strategy to effect positive growth and transformation in your relationship is to "be the change" you want to see. If you want more of "something," start with giving what you want to receive. If you want more patience, be patient. If you want more affection, express your love more demonstratively. Then watch what happens -- it does work!
"Small graces" are the little ways we show kindness, respect, admiration and consideration for one another. What do you know that makes your partner feel seen, heard and loved? If you want to get back the sexy zest in your relationship, rekindle your romance by giving and receiving these small graces daily. By the same token, an important component to intimacy is also the willingness to openly, gracefully and joyfully receive love in return. In doing so, you are nourished and give back to your partner the joy of giving. When you both commit to loving and giving more rather than keeping score, magic happens.
Spend quality time recovering, resolving and learning from any conflict that may arise. When we push down feelings, what we resist persists. What we bottle up will eventually blow.
Healthy partnership offers a mirror for personal growth. When you face challenging edges, there is so much that you can apply to your individual and collective advantage. Every perceived "problem" is a wonderful opportunity for discovery and breakthrough.
Taking mutual responsibility is key, and owning what is yours is essential. If ever you hear yourself saying, "You are making me miserable," or, "It is your fault because...," these are clues that you detoured from the interdependent track onto a codependent one.
This incorporates our capacity for self-reflection and the ability to release resentments or any desire for retribution. When we can look our beloved in the eyes with a genuine expression of apology and/or forgiveness, it builds a strong foundation of safety, deep trust, understanding and resiliency.
Nothing is static or stays the same in life, thank goodness! We are beings that have the potential to develop and evolve through time. In order for our relationship to remain alive, vital and lasting, it must give breathing room for differences, change and expansion. We must allow time, support and celebration for personal, partner and collective growth.
Each year you will celebrate your anniversary, another year you have shared your lives together. Use this as an opportunity to pay homage to the blessing of your beloved. Create a ritual around this acknowledgement and celebration. See one another with new and fresh eyes, as you cherish the history from where you have traveled, delight in where you are and dream of all that awaits you.
Follow Marcy Cole, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/marcycole