Tools for Couples Happiness — 05 September 2010
Cultivating your love relationship

Does familiarity breed contempt? Are relationships doomed to go stale? Does passion inescapably lose its intensity with time? Yes – but only if you allow it to happen.

All these conditions may occur only if we yield to negative inner dialogue, neglect our relationship and submit to feelings of resignation. Actually, familiarity can increase compassion and love. And, if we do it wisely, relationships can stay fresh and crisp and passion can be maintained and heightened as it ages to perfection.

Most new life experiences such as: learning to drive, moving to a new community or changing jobs, may be initially accompanied by hesitancy, uncertainty and awkwardness that often diminish with familiarity. Why then should relationship familiarity cause a serious decline in connection to the point of contempt between lovers?

The reason is that contrary to life’s other adjustments, in which the goal is to adapt to an existing system – in love relationships our self-centered expectation is that the partner should adapt to us. When the honeymoon euphoria dissipates and certain needs are unmet, some disappointed individuals lash out at their mate with blame, ridicule and even contempt.

When both spouses are held responsible for the other’s unhappiness, they feel unsafe and retreat from each other. It is as if they store their love in the back of the refrigerator for safekeeping –only to be forgotten and gradually go stale. This neglect may be created for self-preservation, but ends up causing the further deterioration of the relationship.

Naturally, passion wanes and physical intimacy dwindles with lack of safety, feeling unappreciated and distancing from each other. For some, sexual contact becomes just a physical release and is no longer an act of shared, mutual pleasing. Resignation to an unsatisfactory connection sometimes is erroneously rationalized as an inevitable course of love and passion. Resignation to a less than vital relationship should not be acceptable – it only ensures the state of faded love.

Love researcher, Professor Helen Fisher states, “Romantic love is a powerful and primordial mating drive that evolved to find and keep life’s most precious gift—an appropriate mating partner.”

Once we found this unique treasure, how can we continue to count our blessings daily and cherish our partner for life?

• Understand that you both need to adapt to a new relationship, rather than your partner needs to accommodate you.
• Replace negative thoughts about your mate’s familiar habits with accepting ones. Often, the disliked ways are those that also please you sometimes. For example, being unruffled may be annoying but is usually coupled with greater acceptance of your imperfections.
• Approach your mate with kindness and accommodating spirit rather than withdrawing from him/her for safety. Neglect and avoidance only exacerbate the schism between you and creates a stale union.
• Do not accept that passion naturally wanes with time. When you maintain a positive view of your partner, stay loving during trying times and cherish your mate daily, your passion will be sustained for life.

Related Articles

About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

(0) Readers Comments

Comments are closed.