How to refresh your loving connection

The common myth that love inevitably fades over time is only true for those who allow their love connection to stagnate. Keeping your love alive is not a gift, a miracle or a blissfully unique occurrence but an achievable state of interpersonal exchanges that produces mutual peace and love. How can pairs who have been in a long-term relationship maintain and refresh their vital, passionate connection throughout the years?

The debate about what helps individuals maintain a consistent level of happiness has raged for years. Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Is it then our thought processes that enable us to stay happy regardless of circumstances? In “Fact and Myths” Psychologist Michael Eysenck found that the assertion that “Your level of happiness depends simply on the number and nature of pleasurable events which happen to you” is a myth. Dr. Martin Seligman’s research found that the happiest students did not experience more positive life events than did the unhappy students. Studies also debunked the notion that money (beyond basic survival needs) buys happiness.

In “Beyond Money” Ed Diener and Martin Seligman found that “Supportive, positive social relationships are necessary for well-being.” They wrote “Experimental evidence indicates that people suffer when they are ostracized from groups or have poor relationships in groups. They define well-being as, “People’s positive evaluations of their lives, including positive emotions, engagement, satisfaction and meaning.”

It is clear that to achieve ongoing relationship satisfaction we need to avoid conduct that hurts our loved one and actively cultivate and practice behaviors that support and enforce our loving bond to our beloved.

Here are five mistakes that some couples make in their relationship: 1. They gradually begin to take their partner for granted and express no enthusiasm or appreciation for their beloved or his/her contributions to the union. 2.They focus on their own needs and may resort to ignoring, competing, criticizing or controlling the mate in their attempt to stay connected. 3. They become self-absorbed and abandon appreciating, validating, praising and connecting daily with their beloved. 4. They employ anger in blaming the mate for their own misery. 5. They resort to confrontational or hurtful language to feel empowered by derogating their mate.

To use a gardening metaphor, you would not expect your plants to thrive and bloom year after year without food, water, sunshine, pruning and attention. Humans need nurturing, love, attention, validation, respect and a loving connection.

Love is an emotion that must be shared to grow and flourish, cement the partners’ bond and create a harmonious union.

To refresh your love connection:

  • Tell your spouse often how fortunate you are to be with him/her.
  • Make it your habit to comment on everything you like about your beloved.
  • Abstain from behaviors that would be distressing for you to receive.
  • Practice expressing enthusiasm, excitement and admiration of your mate. These habits are contagious, reciprocated and can last a lifetime!

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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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