People say that if you want a long-lasting relationship you have to work at it. But it’s love, right? So it shouldn’t be work. It should be fun. And at first it is. You run yellow lights to get home fast after work, knowing she’s there. You feel like you’re magnetized to his body, you’re so drawn together. You just can’t get enough of each other.
But at some point, maybe months, maybe years, down the road, the effervescence begins to fall flat as a day-old can of opened ginger ale. You still love him, but your pulse no longer quickens at the thought of him. You still love her, but that cute little thing she does is beginning to annoy you. You still love each other, but you’re not crazy in love anymore.
How do you stay in love for the long haul?
First, you have to make up your mind that you are going to stay in love no matter what. This is the love of your life, and he’s worth fighting for. He’s worth insisting on remaining close. He’s worth facing your fear of intimacy. He’s worth re-evaluating your defense mechanisms. And he has to want it too.
Here are some suggestions:
- Make your partner happy. Seems obvious, and sometimes it’s as simple as a bouquet of flowers. But think about it. You know what he wants out of life. How can you help make it happen? You can support him emotionally. Anything else you can do? Maybe while he’s burning the midnight oil writing his novel you can bring him a cup of coffee. Give him a back rub. You don’t have to say a word. You just have to let him know you’re on his side.
- Make ‘em laugh. Everyone gets crabby sometimes. But start your relationship by being determined not to get angry over the little things. Try to see the humor in your partner’s peccadilloes instead of getting pissed off. Just refuse to let things get to you. Make a conscious effort to laugh about it with your partner. Oh, and when something genuinely brings you joy or tickles your funny bone, be sure to share. Yes, even that cute kitty video on Facebook. Every time you laugh with your partner you are building a deeper bond.
- Show and tell. Many people say, “I love you.” At the end of every phone call, for example. But if it sounds like a rote recitation without much thought behind it, then it probably is. Say it like you mean it next time. Make eye contact. Give him a soft touch on the arm. And then show it in thought and deed. Fill up the car the night before so she can drive to her early morning appointment on time. When she’s especially busy, ask what item on her “to-do” list you can tackle. Take the babysitter home when he’s dead tired. You get the idea.
- Release the dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s pleasure center. Just trying something new—like a restaurant—will help release dopamine in your system. Try something new with your partner, and you’ll both get a boost. Explore new places, share experiences outside your routine, discover things together. And yes, try new things in the bedroom if you both want to. You’ll expand your horizons and share a bond with your partner.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.