How to be happily partnered for life


Long-term couples who share a tender connection with each other fascinate most observers. It is expected that time will preserve loving couples’ contentment and ease with each other, but not the original vibrant, loving engagement of their youth.  How do these envied mates succeed in accomplishing this long-term state of bliss?

We expect new couples to emanate a happy glow when they are together. Their positive, enthusiastic delight with each other charms us even as we anticipate it to fade with time. Regrettably, for many mates it does. So, how do the “forever lovers” defy familiarity and routine from dampening their ongoing unique connection?

Long-term lovers are blessed with the early awareness that a happy union is not a given but a cultivated state of being that must be tended to, fed and nurtured to survive and thrive.

Researcher Emily A. Impett and associates at UCLA identified three major contributors to relationship stability; “1. Satisfaction, defined as the balance between the extent to which the relationship was perceived as sexually gratifying and emotionally supportive as balanced by costs, which were attributes that the partner disliked such as frequent conflicts or financial burdens. 2. Quality of Alternatives, refer to the individual’s assessment of the rewards and costs that could be obtained outside the relationship such as other partners, friends or family or time alone. 3. Investment the length of time together and joined properties and financial investments.” The researchers summarized, “Individuals who are highly satisfied within their relationship and perceive few appealing alternatives will be highly committed to their romantic relationships.”

In the “War of the Roses: Analysis of Betrayal and Forgiveness” Caryl E. Rusbult and Associates recommend four specific actions that couples need to undertake to keep their bond intact. “A. Derogation of alternatives, driving away or disparaging tempting alternative partners. B. Willingness to sacrifice, forgoing desired activities for the good of the relationship. C. Positive illusion, maintaining an excessively favorable evaluation of one’s partner and the relationship, and D. Accommodative Behavior- Accommodating rather than retaliating when a partner behaves poorly.”

The above research findings and recommendations match the clinical evidence witnessed in therapy. Couples who choose to capitalize on the positive aspects of their relationship, disparage attention from others, hold fast to their high regard for their mate and behaviorally accommodate the needs of their beloved, are the most successful in preserving their union to the satisfaction of both mates.

The process of being satisfied with a life mate is akin to any other quest for attainment and preservation of satisfaction with a career, friends, family, hobbies, skills or even cherished objects.  It requires a personal focus, positive attitude, forgiveness of errors and appreciation of essence to achieve satisfaction and pleasure.

To be happily partnered for life:

  • Dispel the notion that luck, magic or good fortune creates enduring, happy relationships.
  • Use your focused attention,  positive intent, kind attitude and accommodating conduct to validate your mate and achieve a satisfying long-term love connection.



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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.

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